4th May, 2018

Written by Lesley Gaigher, Louis Trichardt SPCA Committee Member

Professional photography by Image Blossom Photography

Have you thought about what will happen to your dearly beloved pooches when you have to depart this life?

Although it’s not something anyone wants to think about, I urge you to make provision for your animals, just as you would do for your children. It’s not a decision someone else should be left to make on your behalf; YOU are the only one who knows best what should happen to your animals when you are no longer there to take care of them.

Grieving and homeless

Boerboel Tessa was one of those dogs who, all of a sudden, was left without a refuge when her dad passed away. The dear pets grieve the loss of a loved one just as much as the family – maybe it’s even worse for them, because they don’t necessarily understand where their people have disappeared to.

Without provision in the will stating how and where she should be looked after, Tessa was sent from a loving home to be kept at a business as a guard dog. The poor soul is terrified of thunder and lightning; imagine her peril when the storms hit at night when she was all alone… 

Luckily, someone had the presence of mind to notice that she was suffering in her new surroundings and asked if we could help find her a new, real home where she’d be a part of a family.

Of course we jumped at the opportunity and this gentle girl arrived at the Louis Trichardt SPCA in the middle of February 2018.

The perfect fit

Our brilliant photographer, Alicia Thomas, took the best pictures of Tessa – her smile was magical! People were falling over their feet to spend time with her in the kennels; she was just such an endearing dog! But her new family eluded us. Until…

Rona-Lee Johannsen commented on Tessa’s post – she’d recently lost her darling Labrador, Jess, just hours after Dr Volgraaff had to perform an emergency sterilisation. Jess had a very bad infection and sadly could not be pulled through. Tyson, her boy, clearly missed his friend. From the looks of it, Tessa seemed to be the perfect fit. 

We were so thrilled to witness the initial introductions when Rona-Lee Johannsen and Aleck Muller brought their big boy, Tyson, all the way from Musina to meet Tessa. The two gentle giants got on swimmingly, proving that, with proper introductions, an adult dog can most definitely be homed with another. 

We needed to be certain…

Rona-Lee is confined to a wheelchair due to a horrific accident in 2012 when the school bus she and her fellow teammates were travelling in overturned en route to a hockey tournament.

Tyson is very attentive to Rona-Lee’s needs and extremely protective of his Mom. Naturally, we all needed to make dead certain that Tessa would also be gentle around Rona-Lee and not jump on her and flip her wheelchair.

Also, there had to be no doubt in any of our minds that the two dogs would get along since Rona-Lee would have been in a tremendous predicament if the two dogs decided they wanted to have a scuffle.

Love at first sight

All of our concerns dissipated when we saw them interacting. If there was ever a better pair than Tyson and Tessa, I’ve yet to see them. From the get-go they were kind to each other and oh so playful. It was surely a mutual feeling of love at first sight!

Both Rona-Lee and Aleck could also not contain their excitement of adding this special girl to their family. Aleck had a few days off work to spend at home helping to make the transition easier. We’ve since received the most endearing photos of the pair bonding. I’m sure Tyson is over the moon to have a new friend and Tessa appreciates that the family saved her from kennel life. 

Aleck and Rona-Lee are an inspiring couple with a real spark and lust for life that’s infectious. Despite any setbacks – they will LIVE and LET LIVE!


By Rona-Lee, Tessa’s new owner

My baby girl, Jess, tragically passed away a few hours after Dr H. Vollgraaff had to perform an emergency uterus operation; she had pyometra, a very bad uterine infection. A few weeks after Jess passed away, Tyson was pining for Jess and was lonely while we were at work. We tried searching for the perfect friend for him, but to no avail.

Some of our friends told us about people selling puppies, but we didn’t want a puppy – we wanted a grown loving dog in need that Tyson could play with…

Looking for a loving family

After a lot of searching and phone calls, my Mother, Nelie Carstens, who works at the Limpopo & Blouberg Vet in Musina, came to my house on Saturday the 10th of March and showed me the pictures of Tessa on the SPCA Louis Trichardt Facebook page.

I immediately knew that Tessa was meant for me, Aleck and Tyson. I also knew it was the weekend and that the SPCA would be closed, but I just couldn’t wait to find out if Tessa was still available for adoption. So I commented on her photos asking if Tessa was still there, patiently waiting for a response; not even an hour later Alicia Thomas from the SPCA responded and said that Tessa was still looking for a loving family.

After all the arrangements were made, we took Tyson for a 100km road trip from Musina to Louis Trichardt to meet Tessa for the first time on Tuesday 13th of March. They got along from the moment they saw one another – not even one fight between them; we then knew for sure that Tessa was, without a doubt, meant to be with us.

She also had pyometra

With the home inspection and paperwork done, Tessa went in for her sterilisation in Musina the next day. After the operation, Dr Vollgraaff carried Tessa to my car and I could see the pain she was going through in her eyes. Just as any worried mother would enquire about her child, I asked if this was normal.

Dr Vollgraaff informed me that it turned out that Tessa also had a uterus infection but, fortunately, not as bad as Jess’ infection. He assured us that Tessa would be okay – and he was right! She’s happy and healthy after the operation.

Things to learn

Tessa still needs to become more house- and wheelchair-friendly. She initially seemed scared to come and go into the house but I believe she will start following Tyson into the house when she feels safe and loved again. Tessa also started showing more of her loving personality towards us by lifting up her foot (like she’s giving us her paw) when we give her attention.

I’m a paraplegic in a wheelchair, due to a school bus accident that occurred when I was in Gr.11 in High School Eric Louw, Musina. Tessa is not yet very used to the wheelchair and she comes to stand in front of me, giving me no space to pass her – like she’s protecting me.