Written by Monique Quénet / professional photography by Nicole Castanheira
On the 29th of August 2016 I was sitting in my car, terrified. I was waiting for the minutes to pass until I could see my mom – she was fighting for her life in ICU.
To try and distract myself, I started scrolling through Facebook. A friend of mine had shared a video. I opened it. As soon as it started to play, I was utterly in love. I knew this skinny little white-and-brown girl with the crazy ears needed me. What I didn’t realise at the time was how much I needed her…
A new name for a new life
Emails were sent; days passed; my mom slowly began to improve and I was approved by Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayalitsha to adopt Enzy, as she was then named. On the 15th of September Enzy boarded a flight in Cape Town to come home.
I met my little girl for the very first time in the Pet Lounge at OR Tambo Airport, Johannesburg.
Enzy and her heartbreaking history was in the past – a Pit Bull female used for breeding, confiscated by the Mdzananda Animal Clinic and nursed to health after being just skin and bones and a broken soul. To celebrate her new start I gave her a new name: Daisy-Mae.
What had I done?
I was overjoyed…and absolutely terrified. What had I done? I had promised to be this three-year-old Pit Bull’s mom. I had never adopted an adult dog and had no experience in dealing with an animal that had suffered from abuse!
Initially when I tried to touch her she cowered. She had such untreated allergies that, instead of being white, she was pink. And on top of it all she hated cats – I have three.
But, day by day, things began to change. I could touch her occasionally. With cortisone prescribed by the vet and brown rice mixed with chicken, her skin improved. However, she chased my cats on every occasion she got. I despaired but I persevered – I owed it to Daisy-Mae.
One day when I got home from work, instead of being looked at with suspicion, I got a “Happy Dance”. My heart melted. I don’t have the words to describe the joy I get watching Daisy-Mae blossom. While I don’t know anything about her past other than her rescue, it’s clear that she’s learning about love for the first time.
Just over two months ago when she went to sleep she curled herself into the tightest ball she could contort herself into. Now she flops down, spreads out and snores like a little tractor. I used to try to play ball with her and she’d look at me as if I was mad, with no idea what was expected of her. About two weeks ago I found her happily rolling around on the carpet playing with her ball.
Now when I hold out my hands Daisy-Mae walks to me and puts her head in them. While driving to the park I’ll see her crinkled snout poking between the seats, and when I lean over and kiss her I get licks in return.
Every day Daisy-Mae and I go for a stroll. A route that used to take me 25 minutes now takes us 90 minutes minimum! I’m pretty sure she has it in her head that her role in life is to show every person she can that Pit Bulls are the most loveable, misrepresented dogs on earth. She will lead me 300 metres off course to go and greet a perfect stranger, even if they don’t want to be greeted. And children – she is OBSESSED! I have never seen a gentler, more patient dog in my life. There was a Trick-or-Treat walk at our local park on Halloween. Daisy-Mae went as an angel kitted out in a tutu, wings and a halo. I was sure the outfit would be off in minutes, but two-and-a-half hours and about 500 excitable children touching her and posing for photos with her later, she was still fully dressed.
Who saved whom?
I adopted Daisy-Mae wanting to give an unwanted dog a home and love. Instead I have been adopted by her. I’ve had dogs all my life but I have never felt the unadulterated joy I get from watching my funny-looking girl learn about life.
Yes, there were times when I really did question if I’d made a mistake. The beginning was rough, but as I write this today with Daisy-Mae fast asleep on the couch beside me, I can’t imagine my life without her or remember what I did before I got her.
Everyone wants the cute puppy – I did as well. Instead I got a three-year-old dog that never got to be a puppy. I could not love Daisy-Mae more. She is my little Pit Bull princess with crazy ears, missing teeth, a ridiculous bark and saggy tummy.
You can also make a difference
I would like to encourage you to open your heart to a shelter pet and change his/her life forever. If you are not able to adopt a pet you can still help in some way. The Mdzananda Animal Clinic has a membership programme – why don’t you sign up to become a “Paw Member” and make a monthly donation? You can also make a once-off donation or collect much-needed food, cat litter, collars, and leads.
Daisy-Mae and I have signed up as Paw Members and we change one pet’s life per month. By donating R100 per month we cover one week’s food for one pet per month. Can we encourage you to do the same?
Adopting Daisy-Mae was the best decision I have made in a life littered with bad decisions.
May many more little lives be changed forever.