CJ’s Journey


Written by Louise Spagnuolo, Founder of HART – Helderberg Animal Rescue Team

Professional photography by jani.b

The day we rescued CJ was a day we were in the right place at the right time.

It was the 13th of May 2017 and we’d gone to Tableview to collect four donated kennels from Purple Kennel Project. We were on our way home and running late because of the road closures; we were hot and thirsty and decided to stop at the Engen on the N2 towards Somerset West to get something to drink. Little did we know that we were about to get so much more…

Highway rescue

Our hearts nearly stopped when we glanced over and saw this poor bony dog slowly walking along the road in the heat – onto the N2. We stopped in the middle of the road, doors open, cars whizzing by. The exhausted tan dog didn’t even attempt to get away, he was so grateful to be off his sore feet. Chantelle Burkner, one of our volunteers, scooped him up and put him gently in the car; ticks were crawling all over him and his eyes were so sad.

Engen has a “dog stop” (where you can let your dog stretch its legs), thank goodness – a lifesaver. He had water and a little food but he didn’t gobble it down, which was a concern. But now that we’d rescued him, we had no idea what to do next. We had nowhere to go with this poor, lost soul; we sent hundreds of messages to no avail. In desperation, we ended up driving to Animal Welfare Helderberg where we begged for help for this boy. Clare Bezuidenhout, a regular volunteer, was on duty and she kindly offered to put him in a treatment cage. CJ, as we named him (after his rescuer’s son), was given tick and flea treatment for the millions of ticks and fleas that plagued him; he guzzled a bowl of water and was then checked over by the welfare vet the next day. 

CJ’s angels 

CJ had Erlichea (a severe tick-borne illness), a fever, and demodectic mange which had caused black bald patches on his face and legs; he was underweight and had scars and one lop ear from old ear haematomas. He’d clearly suffered neglect for some time but, aside from all that, was surprisingly not in too bad a shape. Candice and Erin Bakehouse offered to foster CJ and so his journey began. Candice was 39 weeks pregnant, but that didn’t stop her from bathing the old boy as soon as we dropped him off. CJ had four baths before the water was clear.  

He was so weak that he couldn't stand on his own and had to be carried outside to do his ablutions. As a result, he had loads of “accidents” and poor Candice spent hours washing blankets and floors. When Candice had her baby girl her amazing husband, Erin, took over.  

Another angel was Martin Theron from Get Dog Food Online who arranged with Doggobone for a three-month sponsorship of raw food for CJ. This really has made such a difference to CJ’s recovery and his hair is growing back beautifully. We felt it was time for him to find a forever retirement home and put the word out on Facebook. And it wasn’t long before he found one…

One of our foster families had recently had to say farewell to an old boy named BP, who was found after the fires in Somerset West in January. Adel Dunbar and her family very kindly offered to open their home to CJ. Collecting him and taking him to his new home was just wonderful.

We cannot thank the many people who donated money, food, good wishes and time to this boy; we are forever in their debt.