Healing Hunnybunch

22nd Feb, 2019

Written by Jolanda Vorster & Lenell Hattingh, co-founders of Bulldog Rescue Angels (BRA) 

Professional photography by Emma O’Brien Photography

Miss Hunnybunch Lady Juliette is her official KUSA name – the sad little brown-and-white Bulldog girl that was given to us two days before the Easter long weekend in 2018.

Hunnybunch was extremely sick, emaciated, covered in leathery bald patches, and in such a  bad state that we weren’t sure if she’d even survive the weekend.

Rescuing Hunny

A very special angel in the Free State took pity on her and took her in. He’d lost his own dog to cancer a week before and convinced her owner to give Hunny to him. She was a breeding bitch at a “breeding facility”, and despite her awful condition, she’d recently weaned a litter of puppies.

It soon became clear that he couldn’t give her the care she needed to recover from her shocking condition. Her rescuer then arranged with a family member in Gauteng to contact us in order to arrange that when he visited for the Easter weekend, he could bring her with him and surrender her to us. We could then get her the medical treatment she so desperately needed.

The depressed and frightened Bulldog was taken to Craigview Vet Hospital on the East Rand on the Thursday afternoon before the long weekend. She was initially treated for pneumonia and severe mange (half of her body had to be shaved for treatment); she was severely underweight and malnourished. Hunnybunch was just a sad bag of bones. 

Appeal for help

Helping a dog like Hunny is costly, so Bulldog Rescue Angels appealed for donations on Facebook.

The horrifying photo of a mange-ridden, sunken-eyed, emaciated Hunnybunch made such an impact on so many kind-hearted people within the Bulldog community that they very generously donated more than enough money to get her all the treatments she needed and some more.  

Jolanda Vorster was kind enough to volunteer to foster our desperately ill, sad Bulldog once she was discharged from the hospital.

Time to heal

After that first vet visit, she slept straight through for two days, only waking to eat some high-quality Bulldog-specific food and take her medications. After her long sleep, it wasn’t long before a very friendly little girl emerged – one that was ready to start her new life.

Our first priority was for Hunny to get over the pneumonia, gain some weight and get her skin in better condition before we could even think of having her spayed and have a specialist surgeon look at her breathing (she was making a lot of noise when she was sleeping).  

It took well over a month before she was strong enough to see our Surgeon, Dr Ross Elliott, at Bryanston Vet Hospital. Sadly, Bulldogs are prone to having breathing issues, and a lot of them actually need to have their soft palates trimmed down to ease breathing and ultimately extend their life expectancy. Hunny was one that needed the operation too.  

The recovery period of a dog from the soft palate operation is at least three to six weeks of rest and relaxation. It’s strongly advised that they don’t do any exercise at all for at least a month post operation. Hunny recovered very well and was back to her normal self after about two weeks, but we kept her subdued for the required period to avoid complications.  

Getting a dog like Hunny into a healthy condition takes a lot of time, effort and money. Bulldog Rescue Angels have spent close to R20,000 on good-quality food, supplements, and vets’ fees to get her to look this good. Having a loving family and being well cared for helps too. We can honestly say that her life is so much more enriched since her rescue compared to being a breeding bitch in a kennel. Unfortunately, Bulldogs will always have health issues, and Hunny has had her eyes and ears treated since then. But, as any Bulldog owner knows, it’s not cheap and easy owning a Bulldog, but their love for humans is unlike any other breed of dogs and that makes it totally worth it.  

Homeward bound

Four weeks after her surgeries we began looking for a new home for Hunny. She was in a foster home with another Bulldog but showed guarding issues with food, something not uncommon in dogs that have been starved. We decided then that we’d place her in a home with no other pets where there was someone at home most of the day; a quiet home that could spoil her with love and attention.  

We had many people offer her a home, but one stood out from the beginning: an application from Hayley Kimmings on behalf of her dad, Robin. Their previous dog had passed on a little while before and they were looking to adopt another dog for the family. After meeting them a few times for casual walks at Lonehill Park, Hunny became a member of the Kimmings family in June 2018.  

Hunny absolutely loves her new home. She gets daily walks to the shops and back, and many neighbours go to say hello to her at home; she’s kind of famous in the street. She adores sleeping in front of the fireplace in winter and playing with the rocking chair – she barks at it and then paws at it until it starts rocking. She’s her dad, Rob’s, shadow and adores their young grandson. 

We couldn’t have asked for a better home for Hunny than the Kimmings family, and we’re so very happy that this girl has found the best forever home possible. 

The Kimmings family share…

Hunny has touched our family’s lives like no other, bringing so much joy and laughter to every person who has the privilege to meet her. The day Hunny arrived at our house it was as if it was her home already; it was truly meant to be, and the best Mother’s Day gift one could ever ask for. 

The connection that she has with our whole family is unbreakable, as she fits in with such ease. The impact that she has made on our lives is something that we’ll cherish forever. She’s taught us that there’s always light at the end of every tunnel, as strength and hope can get you through anything in life. This precious addition to the family shows us every day how beautiful and special life really is.

We cherish Hunny with all our hearts; she’s made this family closer and happier than ever. Her hugs are the best hugs you could ever experience. It’s the best feeling to come home to the happiest dog jumping into your arms, giving you the most lovable hug you could ever receive.

Hunny’s health has improved tremendously since she became a part of our family. She’s eating extremely well and receiving lots of care and treats. Whether it’s playing on the grass outside, swimming in her own little swimming shell in the heat, or her most favourite activity, sleeping in the sun, she does everything with the biggest smile. We’ve not only gained a new family member and friend, but we’ve also gained a very determined protector, as Hunny lies in front of our front gate, barking at anyone or anything that comes near the house, as well as learning the sound of the doorbell and running to the gate with such determination upon it ringing.

One cannot describe the amount of love that we have for this bundle of joy. We’re all so proud of how far she’s come since we first met her, and how grateful we are for this blessing that’s become a huge part of our family.