Written by Lesley Gaigher, Committee Member – SPCA Louis Trichardt
Professional photography by Emma O’Brien
What the SPCA Louis Trichardt Inspector found when following up a call in early November 2017 left us all numb inside, disappointed and ashamed of the human race…
The dogs were in shocking condition
A concerned citizen had called to report three badly neglected Standard Poodles belonging to her neighbours. The three black dogs were in shocking condition – they were absolutely filthy and heavy lumps of matted fur caked in dirt weighed them down and covered their eyes; beneath this, their undernourished bodies quaked in fear.
The dogs were starved; the only food our Inspector could find was what the neighbour had been feeding them over the wall. A filthy swimming pool was their only source of water. Unbelievably, the dogs were not abandoned – they had an owner living right there but they just didn’t care for them.
We couldn’t leave them like that and the owner was advised to sign the dogs over to the SPCA, which they did.
A new beginning – and a makeover
We decided that the first thing they needed were new, dignified names for their new beginnings and we decided on Fabian, Frieda and Faye.
Despite being skin and bone, terrified and extremely neglected, their spirits were far from broken – there was still a sparkle in their big, brown eyes. We knew that, with some intensive care, we could nurse them back to being the stately animals they were meant to be, as all French Standard Poodles deserve.
Next up, we needed someone to take on the massive challenge of getting rid of those awful dirty dreadlocks. The Blouberg Animal Clinic’s Doggy Parlour were superstars and got them back into tip-top shape.
But, once the matted fur was gone, their true forms became evident. All three of them were just skin and bones and had smelly ears (an obvious sign that things were amiss). Fabian in particular was looking worse for wear; he had an awful eye infection to add to the list.
New homes and new lives
We gave them a day or two to adjust to their new surroundings and then posted their pictures on our Facebook page. The race was on!
Their post was shared to numerous other rescue pages and the “network ladies of Facebook” worked feverishly to help us find suitable homes. We were inundated with enquiries and applications and were thrilled to find the PERFECT new families for all three of them, all in the lovely Jacaranda City of Pretoria!
Faye was the first to be adopted and got a fancy new name – she’ll henceforth be known as Millicent (Millie for short). She now resides with the Klagsbrun family and her two new four-footed siblings, Crystal Star, a Wire-haired Fox Terrier, and Sheba, another black Standard Poodle, adopted from the Maltese French Poodle & Yorkie Rescue SA in 2016. Millie’s brand-new soft bed, highly nutritious food and Yvonne’s loving arms were ready for her even before she’d left the kennels. Millie was by far the least approachable of the three and I’m so confident in saying we found the best home for her. Yvonne is clearly a soft, patient, loving lady – who will give her all to restore Millie’s faith in humankind!
Next up was Fabian. Of the three, he was in the worst shape. How lucky for him that his new family are the Le Roux’s – Chelsea is employed at Afrivet, the biggest truly South African animal health company, who have most generously pledged to help nurse Fabian to full health. The list of medicines to help ease his skin conditions, bad eye and ear infections, joint supplements, grooming tools and toys that Chelsea has received from Afrivet is staggering!
Fabian still has a very long road to recovery ahead of him. He will need to undergo surgery on his eyes and has great difficulties eating, due to poor dental care in the past. But Chelsea is committed to giving Fabian the happiest-ever-after. He will never again be neglected, left to starve or to feel like no one is watching out for his well-being. He’ll be loved and cherished, just like his new furry companion, Maxine, also a rescue pooch.
Last but not least
Last to leave was dear Frieda. She was adopted by Debbie Agenbag and Grietjie Lee. Debbie is the owner of WildTrail SA and a true warrior woman. Frieda has the most outgoing personality and fits into her new family like a dream come true. She’s a sparkling girl who loves all the attention from Debbie’s mountain biking Riding Group, the “Rocky Chicks”. She’s already starred in their latest photoshoot where she completely stole the show. And how fitting that the name we chose for Frieda appeals to Grietjie – who is an art exhibitionist? (I couldn’t make this stuff up even if I tried!)
Grietjie celebrated her birthday with a trip all the way from Pretoria to Louis Trichardt and back to collect their new beloved girl, while her new Standard Poodle brother, Bruno*, was waiting (im)patiently for her to arrive. I’ve been receiving such heart-warming updates and it is obvious that Frieda will now have the best life ever! Thank you, Grietjie, for choosing to spend your birthday on the N1 highway to take Frieda home.
*Bruno was labelled a “too busy puppy” by his first owners and, luckily, he found his way to Debbie and Grietjie, who were able to give him the outlet for his enthusiasm.
Written in the stars
Thank you to Yvonne, Chelsea and Debbie – our animal angels. Your three new fur kids fit your families like a glove. It was written in the stars and we know that they’ll be showering you with unconditional love, endless gratitude and provide for countless giggles for the rest of their happy days.
Since all three families live in the same city, they agreed to meet up for a play date and I was absolutely ecstatic when Emma O’Brien agreed to come on board and be the official photographer for the happy event! I’ve always admired her work and dedication to help promote rescue animals. There was no one better suited for the job!
Their story is a true testament to what can be done when organisations join forces and work towards something greater than themselves. MAGIC will always follow!
An update on Faye (now Millie)
Millie’s new owner shares: “Returning home from our farm in the Waterberg with Crystal Star and Sheba, my husband Steven and I casually chatted about ‘perhaps’, at some stage, adding another dog to our family. I decided to ‘just look’ at some rescue sites online.
“Well, you can imagine my surprise when three bedraggled Standard Poodles stared back at me from the SPCA Louis Trichardt Facebook page. My heart jumped!
“We prefer female dogs and here were three poodles – two of them females. I immediately got hold of SPCA Louis Trichardt and got the ball rolling by chatting to Lesley, who was most helpful. To cut a long story short, after a home check by SPCA Pretoria our new poodle of ‘18 months’ (our vet in Pretoria believes her to be no more than eight or nine months) was ours!
“With great excitement that Saturday, my sister and I made the long drive to Louis Trichardt to fetch our new pup, who we’d decided to rename Millicent – Millie for short.
“Seeing her for the first time was sad – she was an emaciated, terrified, skittish little thing with a very sparse coat, which she scratched nonstop. Once home, she hid away or sat in the furthest corner of the garden hoping not to be seen. Millie froze when anyone came near her, and in order to feed her I had to actually pick up this frightened pup to bring her inside as she refused to come near us.
“She was starving and had a ferocious appetite. At first, I only fed her by hand so that she could get used to me; now she only gets one hand-fed meal at lunchtime and her other two meals are in a bowl.
“We’ve had her for a couple of weeks now and she’s filled out nicely and looks great, with a gorgeous black coat. She’s amazingly bright and already sits on command and stays when told. And she follows me like a shadow. She’s adorable and our other two dogs have accepted her totally. Crystal Star and Sheba have taught her all about the joys of afternoon walks, riding in the car, weekly grooming sessions and lounging on chairs and beds (as well as chasing lizards and birds!).
“We still have one small hurdle waiting which we’ll tackle next year – a rather large umbilical hernia that needs to be fixed. It’s not life-threatening, so only when she’s fully settled will we even contemplate having it seen to.
“In the meantime, we’re just enjoying the experience of having a puppy in the house again, one with boundless energy and full of mischief!”
An update on Fabian
Chelsea, Fabian’s new owner, shares: “We were looking for a companion for my Pitollie (Border Collie-Pitbull), Maxine. I had a Standard French Poodle about 12 years ago and absolutely fell in love with the breed, but it didn’t seem right to buy one if there are so many pooches left in shelters.
“Then my mother tagged me in the post shared by Louis Trichardt SPCA. When I saw what she was tagging me about, I immediately phoned to hear if they were still available. I was informed that only Fabian was ‘left’ – my mother and I decided we just had to adopt him.
“It’s not that we felt sorry for him – furious at the previous owners, yes – but we knew he had great potential. We also knew we would be able to give him the love and care he deserves and needs. Terrified that someone else would adopt him, I applied the very same day.
“When we got him, it looked like he would break at any moment, he was so fragile. If you went to pat him he’d cringe and sort of collapsed. On the long ride back home (to Pretoria), he sat bolt upright for hours, only starting to lie down when I went to sit next to him. We knew we wouldn’t be in time to have a vet check him out in Pretoria, so we made a stop in Nylstroom. The vet prescribed new medicine for his eyes, gave us supplements and cut his eyelashes (which were growing in the direction of his eyes).
“Finally, we arrived at Fabian’s new palace. The arrival and first couple of days were something else. Maxine was intrigued by this new fluffy pooch and wanted to make friends; Fabian, however, wouldn’t allow her to come within a metre, nor would he allow anyone to stand near him. Our five cats freaked out completely – they all looked like they’d just got out of an electric chair with their hair standing on end. I gave all of them calming medicine, which worked wonders.
“Maxine was extremely confused but she seemed to know he was hurt and showed herself to be an amazingly compassionate dog, softly climbing into Fabian’s heart.
“Nowadays, Maxine and Fabian are inseparable. They are like two naughty toddlers! I wake up with two wet doggy noses breathing into my face at 4am and they will not stop begging until they get an invitation up onto the bed. Needless to say, I only get about 5cm of my bed between four and six am...
“At first, Fabian couldn’t even eat out of a bowl; his teeth were also injured from chewing stones or steel and he could barely see. Although he still needs to pick up some weight, grow back his beautiful hair, and have his teeth fixed, Fabian is smiling again. He is a dog again. He is playful. He is curious. He is clever. He is loved. He is cared for.
“Most importantly, he brings happiness into our hearts.”
An update about Frieda
Debbie, Frieda’s new owner, shares: “Frieda is the most amazing lady and it’s as if she’s been part of the family forever. Her tail is always in the air and wagging like crazy.
“I’m a member of the SA Poodle Rescue Facebook page where someone shared the story about the rescue and the terrible state the three siblings had been found in. It broke my heart when I saw this.
“We already have one Standard Poodle (our second one) and we absolutely love the breed. We know how loving and beautiful they are so it was just unimaginable and unacceptable that these wonderful animals never got the love and care they deserved. When we saw this, we also knew that our Poodle would definitely not mind having a sister and a companion, so the decision was an easy one. The whole process filled us with an immense sense of compassion and great eagerness to create a better life for Frieda.
“Frieda has the spirit of an angel and is the most gentle, loving and happy little thing that has ever entered our house. Although she was very neglected previously, she clearly never lost her spirit because she walked in and simply claimed her place in the house and in our hearts.
“She was clearly not used to playing much but Bruno did not take no for an answer and he is slowly but surely teaching her to play again. She now loves ‘fetch ball’. She still needs a bit of special care to nurture her back to 100% health but we’re all (Frieda included) eager and committed to the process.”