Written by Lilisha Chetty
Professional photography by Ryan Bharath – Centuric Media
In June last year, a group of us travelled to Mauritius on vacation. We were utterly shocked to say the least about the way animals are treated in Mauritius. The island has hundreds of thousands of strays. Dogs are starved, severely ill, and almost every female we saw was pregnant or just had pups.
A gentle soul
Along the beach of the hotel, we met our Hanna (as we later named her). This black-and-tan dog was a gentle soul who wandered alone along the beach in hopes of getting fed; the hotel has a strict no feeding policy.
Hanna would sneak up on guests and just sit alongside them, possibly pretending she had owners. We began smuggling food from the buffet, and after meal times, I’d go back to my room and she would follow me.
She’d be fed on my balcony and every night she’d sleep there. We tried convincing her to come into our room but she resisted, possibly due to experience with hotel staff and security and also needing a quick escape. Many evenings hotel security would shoo her away from our balcony.
Making a deal
The bond between us grew. She began waiting for our return after our daily activities and would accompany us on walks on the beach, returning every evening to sleep on our balcony.
As our departure loomed, we started to panic: what would happen with our special girl? We got her a name tag so she’d be easily recognised, and we made a deal with two hotel staff to keep an eye on our girlie, whom we’d named Hanna. After a heart-rending goodbye, we returned to SA with heavy hearts, keeping in touch with the people from the hotel.
But we weren’t going to give up on this dog. We did our research and immediately embarked on a crowd-funding campaign to bring Hanna to South Africa.
A joy to have
Exactly one week after we left the Island, Hanna was picked up and taken to a vet where she was microchipped, sterilised, and vaccinated. The vet kindly arranged a private foster for her until she was able to fly. She had blood drawn, which was sent to the State Vet in SA for testing, and the results were sent back to Mauritius.
We continued our fundraising campaign to fly Hannah home. Fifty-three days after leaving the island, we were reunited with Hanna at the airport. She immediately remembered us and began to calm down. Before we knew it, we were on our way home with our special girl.
Hanna has adapted well and is a joy to have. She loves her food, enjoys playtime and spends much of her day napping on the couch. She’s even started kissing us, which she never did before. Hanna is home!
We weren’t planning on getting another dog as we already have four others – Olaf, Elsa, Anna and Roxy – but we fell in love with Hanna and we needed to show the world that anything is possible. People so often say when coming back, “we’re going to make a difference”, but then seldom do; we return home and soon forget what we saw.
Paws in Motion
But we couldn’t forget. While awaiting Hanna’s test results, we created Paws in Motion and managed to get six dogs rescued from a nearby park of our hotel. We’d feed them daily and even bought a large amount of dog food and asked park caretakers to feed the dogs.
The Paws in Motion team includes me, my husband, Gavin, Nishana Maharaj and Niven Deonarian (founding members of Paws in Motion).
We continue to raise funds to pay for the dogs we’ve rescued and work closely with a few rescue organisations in Mauritius to assist financially with the cases they deal with daily. Visit Hanna’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/bringhannahome/ for more information.
Our backabuddy link is as follows: