When I read Niki Moore’s short story, The Visitor, I wept. It’s a story of a lifesaver and lives lost. I had recently said goodbye to the last of my pet dogs. It was the first time in 49 years that I no longer had a cat or a dog, a hamster or a fish, neither a bird nor even a snail in a home-made terrarium.
The first rescue
I knew it was inevitable that my dog and I would part our ways, and it wouldn’t be funny ha-ha nor funny peculiar. But I never imagined the emptiness it would leave. I had no idea how sad I’d feel and how dull life would become. I mistakenly thought having no pets might bring relief – one less responsibility, one less being to account for and be bound to. I thought I’d feel a little freer. I feel ashamed admitting that.
I told a friend’s sister how awfully quiet everything was and how I’d wake every morning hoping to be greeted or return home looking for my friend. I kept checking water bowls that were no longer there and locked gates for their safety. The house was eerily still and far too tidy. Even the teenagers commented on it – they who pay little attention to much other than their own interests.
My friend’s sister came to my rescue and forwarded me an advert to adopt two mini poodles. It was in that moment that I knew I wanted to home another pet, or two, and I responded. For unknown reasons and unreasonable delays, these two were not to be mine but it was clear that I needed to keep looking.
SPCA my second rescue
I took myself (and my two-legged teenage dependents) to SPCA Tshwane. And there we met Molly and Sila. They were a little younger than I’d intended and a little bigger than I’d imagined, but their tails were wagging and their paws were begging. Molly had been returned to the SPCA as the children to whom she had been given as a puppy had grown bored. Sila had been one of too many dogs. They had been in kennels alongside one another for a good few months. Once the paper work was done and a home visit approved, we fetched our new companions less than a week later – two days apart as one still had to be sterilised and micro chipped.
In bounced life and in tumbled joy. Just like that! Overnight, my mood swung from down and lethargic to smiling and energetic. My home was filled with two beautiful life forms, unsure if they should be eager to please or wary and worried. They needed just a teeny bit of assurance to know they would be cherished, and I needed just a teeny bit of tail wagging to know I’d be loved (to the moon and) back.
A long-dormant nesting instinct kicked in; toys were made and beds prepared. Things were moved around to welcome our new residents and introduce them to their new home. In turn, Molly and Sila sniffed about, jumped on couches, screamed around the garden and quickly seemed to feel right at home. They barked and growled, rolled over and played. As much as they (two) are friends, we (three) are companions.
I’m still working hard at teaching the rules. There are a few chewed items and at least one empty flower pot – nothing that several treats and a little obedience training cannot solve. It’s all good and I feel great. Their tails wag and they are always delighted to see me.
Molly keeps trying to catch lizards …
And Sila knows he can’t …
Two dogs have found an owner to love. I have found my spirit again and my home is no longer dull, tidy and empty. These are my delightful companions and it’s a perfect arrangement.