Written by Ursula van der Westhuizen
Photography by Colette Bodenstaff
When my nine-year-old boy, Max, sadly passed away on Christmas Day 2018, I noticed that three-year-old Bella kept searching for him. I told her I’d fix her sadness and find her another brother.
I’d been looking on Facebook animal sites but couldn’t make up my mind, because I wanted them all! By some miracle, I hooked up with Judy van der Westhuizen from KAR (Khetani Animal Rescue). I told her my story and asked her to keep me in mind.
It wasn’t long after this that she told me she’d found the perfect dog for my family. Judy sent photos and I fell in love with this boy because he looks like my Bella. Adoption papers were signed, and Kim Tully, who assists Judy with home checks, popped over to see that we were a suitable home. We passed with flying colours!
Helene Haworth from the Harrismith Animal Shelter arranged for Daan to be neutered, and I paid for his stomach to be stitched at the same time to prevent bloat. We had to wait a week for him to recover fully before he could travel.
Pet transportation was very expensive, and Helene Haworth offered for her daughter, Michelle Cunningham, who lives in Kloof, to bring him to me. Unfortunately, Michelle could only bring him on the Sunday and I wanted my new boy on Saturday morning so that he could be introduced and settled in before I had to go to work on Monday.
When Daan was ready to travel, I decided to get in my car and fetch him myself. I got up at 2AM in the morning, packed some warm blankets, and was on the road by 3AM.
My work colleague, Kaysie Upfold, offered to join me on the drive so that I wouldn’t have to travel alone. She could also hold Daan while I was driving, because I wasn’t sure how he’d react in a car. It was a three-hour drive there, and it was freezing when we got to Harrismith just after 6AM.
I was so excited when Daan came around the corner; he just rolled over on the grass and wanted a tummy rub. After getting him in the car we covered him in warm blankets, he got comfortable, and off we went back to Kloof. He was so well behaved in the car. I dropped Kaysie off and he just kept lying on the back seat, looking out of the window every now and again.
Carl Jordaan, a dog behaviourist, met me at my house to make sure the introduction went well – and it did.
I then gave each dog a big bowl of yummy cooked food. Daan loved that; his tail was wagging the whole time. I could see that he was a bit scared and unsure to come inside the house, so I just left the side door open for him to walk around and explore in his own way and time. During the night, I kept calling him to get onto the bed with us, but he just lay on the carpet.
The next day he followed us everywhere and started running around and playing with all the toys. He was a bit more relaxed. Later that night, he slowly climbed onto the bed next to me, got comfortable, and snored away.
Daan has since settled in nicely. He loves playing with his new brother and sisters. He’s a happy boy, has such a beautiful nature, loves giving kisses, and follows me everywhere when I’m at home. I don’t have children, so they are my babies. I leave Daan and Bella out during the day so that the big ones can run around and play without having the little ones under their feet. They all play together when I’m at home.
The following week, I arranged for the doggie parlour to come to my house and give them all a nice bath. Daan really enjoyed that.
I also have four parrots, and in total I have nine animals.
I’m a very over-protective mom and my animals’ happiness, safety and health come first at all times. All my time is dedicated to my animals.
All I can say is that Daan has a loving home now and that my Bella is happy again.
Helene Haworth of Harrismith Animal Shelter adds…
We receive regular updates on Daan from Ursula. She absolutely adores him and says he thinks he’s a tiny dog, squeezing into the small dog’s bed. He’s gained weight nicely and is now tipping the scale at 50 kilograms.
Ursula was recently looking for him and couldn’t find him, and there Mr Daan was, all comfortable on the couch. He’s very happy at home with his new family as he has the best mum ever – from being a farm dog that was sleeping outside to now sleeping on his mum’s bed.