Amazing Amber

21st Sep, 2018

Written by Sharon Blackwell and Renee Rossolimos

Professional photography by Kritzography

In June 2009, a Rough Collie and a Boxer were bought in to the Benoni SPCA as strays. Both were microchipped, but, as the microchips hadn’t been registered, we couldn’t locate their owners. Whilst the Boxer was soon adopted, beautiful Amber lay quietly in a corner, waiting in vain for someone to notice her. That’s how Amber came into our lives.

She was depressed

Day in, day out, Amber lay on the cold concrete floor; she refused to go inside her warm comfortable kennel. She sadly watched everything going on around her, never moving from her spot on the floor. It was clear that this gorgeous girl was depressed.

I dearly wanted to adopt her, but neither of us had much money and I’d already applied to adopt Amy the office dog; we’d handed in our resignation forms and were moving to other jobs so we could earn enough to rent a house and adopt her. 

Time to go

No one showed any interest in the quiet, withdrawn Collie lying hopeless and depressed in in the corner. No one. Meanwhile, animals were streaming in and there was just no more room at the inn, and so, eventually, Amber was scheduled to be put to sleep. Because I spent a lot of time with her daily, I said I would be the one to do so, so that she’d be with someone who really cared. My heart was broken.

That morning, I knew what I had to do. I walked into the building, straight to the office and up to the forms; I picked up an adoption form and filled it in – with Amber’s name on it.

The house that we were moving into (which was in the area) was inspected by the SPCA and approved. And, on the 5th of July 2009, still drowsy after her sterilisation on a cold winter night, Amber was carried into her home and placed gently onto her very own bed. There’d be no more lying on the concrete floor, depressed and hopeless, for her.

Amber was home.

We all enjoy success stories about animals that overcome hardships, the brave and the courageous. And we’re fortunate enough to witness Amber’ brave steps every day.

Mental pictures

Four happy years went by with Amber, and we were so glad we’d adopted her. But then she began to lose her eyesight. She slowed down, and the days of happily running after her sister were over; the running turned into gentle steps as her mind tried to make mental pictures of her home.

Sometimes she stumbled and sometimes she fell, but Amber always just got up and continued on her path, and she still played.

We moved again and spent time with her going over every part of the house with step-step-step – wall! Everything was done with voice commands and she adjusted well.

An unfortunate accident

Then, nine months after we’d moved house, on the 20th of July, our Boxer and German Shepherd came running to enthusiastically greet us after we’d been out… but there was no sign of Amber.

We panicked and called out for her, hearts in our throats. That’s when I saw her: she was on her stomach, crawling painstakingly along, trying to get to us. Our first thought was that perhaps the other two had attacked her, but nothing like this had ever happened in our home before; there was always harmony among them.

We grabbed a blanket and used it like a stretcher while a friend contacted the vet to say we were on our way with an emergency.

Although we’ll never know what happened, we think we can piece things together. The water from outside our property has been stolen a few times, with a truck being used to fill up. Amber was barking when she heard them doing this, and Oliver the Boxer, who’s naturally very protective of the property, ran from the other side of the yard and collided with Amber, knocking her off her feet. We think that Oliver did try help to her up as she was covered in saliva. No bite wounds were found and no attack took place. It was just a very unfortunate accident.

Hard decisions

Amber was x-rayed and found to have a dislocated hip. Her leg was strapped to her body after her vet successfully put her joint back into place (after four attempts). She had to walk on three legs and get plenty of rest while we waited for it to start healing.

Sadly, the procedure was not a success, and we were faced with some hard decisions. We weighed up our options, knowing that euthanasia was definitely not an option for us. She was blind and old and would now face another big challenge, but she was still happy, playful and otherwise healthy.

Eleven days later, Amber’s leg was saved by her vet, Dr Chrystel Conradie. She removed Amber’s femur head; most of her muscles had to be put back together as best as they could because they were apparently very damaged. 

Once Amber’s stitches were removed, she started her stretching exercises as well as some walking, but always with one of us holding a sling underneath her for some support. 

Our everyday hero

We’re so fortunate to witness Amber’s strength daily as she gets up and starts walking off on her own (with the two mothers running after her). Amber is a hero every day. Each morning she wakes up we can celebrate her success of showing others that, whether you’re blind or have any disabilities, you can get up and show the world just how far you can go.

With special thanks to Dr Chrystel Conradie and all the supporters at Tails and Whiskers Charity Shop for all their support – and a special thank you to all who kindly and generously donated towards Amber’s operation.