From kennels to KUSA

15th Dec, 2016

Written by Janine Lee and photography by Hilette Hatting

Meet Pepsi - rescue dog extraordinaire! Pepsi came in as a stray to Animal Welfare Society in Port Elizabeth and was never claimed. Animal lover, Talita Van Eeden, had been looking for rescue dog for many months. Talita was not breed fussy, only wanting a medium size dog that would get along with her two cats, Kitsani and Sneusie.

How Talita found Pepsi

Talita spent many hours visiting the various pet shelters and organisations in the city searching for her new best friend. On one of her visits to Animal Welfare, a cute black-and-white Border Collie-type dog with a wagging tail immediately caught her eye, but it was not meant to be. This dog was in isolation at the time and wasn’t available for adoption.

Fast forward three months and Talita was still searching for a dog. So, she made another visit to Animal Welfare. And there was the same cute Border Collie-type dog that she had seen months ago, tail still wagging and eyes bright and hopeful – and, this time, the dog was available.

Talita adopted the bright-eyed, tail-wagging dog and named her Pepsi. And so their journey began.

The trouble with Pepsi

For the first four months, Pepsi was a nightmare on four legs. She had no social skills with humans or other animals. This is typical behaviour of a dog that has been neglected. Talita was not deterred. She was adamant that Pepsi would not go back into the system to become another statistic of a “returned rescue dog” due to behaviour issues.

Someone put Talita in contact with Annie Manners, a Port Elizabeth animal behaviourist. Annie has an unconventional approach to solving dog behaviour issues; her methods are well researched and she leaves no stone unturned to get owner-dog specific solutions for her clients.

Working with Annie was life-changing for both Talita and Pepsi. When Talita first brought Pepsi home she was nothing short of a “destroyer deluxe” making short work of shoes, bedding, R50 notes, toilet rolls, and everything in the garden. You name it, she destroyed it. Destruction was all in a day’s work for this girl.

Talita says Annie is the sole reason Pepsi is the dog she is today. After dealing with Pepsi’s behaviour problems by building confidence in social situations with tricks, positive reinforcement and general good energy, it was time to look for a new challenge. Annie suggested agility…

From destroyer to star

Today, at the age of three-and-a-half, Pepsi has advanced to her top grades in both dog jumping and non-contact agility in a record time of just 14 months, and has a host of rosettes to her name. This is the first time a dog has advanced at such a rate in this sport.

Not only is Pepsi excelling as a working dog in agility but she is also trying her paw at being a trickster. This incredible dog performs a number of tricks, much to the delight of all who get to meet her.

What next you may ask? Well, the sky is the limit for this duo, from kennels to KUSA (Kennel Union of South Africa), and, who knows, the casting couch could be next because this pooch wants her name in lights. So watch this space…


Action photography by Julian Munro