My furry family


Phoebe, Peter Lewis and Dexter

Written by Viv Lewis

Professional photography by ICapture Imagery

Fluffy and Dexter are truly rags-to-riches dogs. Both had suffered terrible neglect and punishment for normal doggy behaviour. And both went on to find a wonderful home with the Lewis family…

Animals galore

Like most animal lovers, I’ve always had the propensity to save animals of any type – dogs, cats, horses, you name it. I drove my parents nuts as a child (and beyond) but never have I (and my husband) been so thrilled to be chosen as the very lucky couple to have been allowed to adopt two such special little dogs – Phoebe and Dexter – from two different rescue groups.  

I’ve always had Rottweilers (including rescued Rottweilers) – amongst an array of mostly rescued small dogs – without ever having had a problem; everyone always got on very well. So we had no fears about bringing a new dog into our home with our rescued Rottweiler, Bindi.

His owner threatened to euthanise him

Dexter, a Biewer Yorkshire Terrier (quite an uncommon breed), was rescued by Fallen Angels after the owner had found him much too lively and was threatening to have him euthanised as they couldn’t cope with his high energy level. The little dog was smacked for chewing the children’s toys and was chained in the backyard. He was also not house-trained and, I suspect, came in for lots of hidings for doing what a puppy does.

Fortunately, they decided to surrender him to Fallen Angels. When my friend Michelle Scholefield posted on Facebook looking for someone to adopt Dexter, I was instantly smitten. Dexter simply had to come and live with us.

Bindi and me

After meeting his foster mom, Kelly Grande, we brought the bundle of fluff home and introduced him to our gentle Bindi. They were instant companions. I’ve rarely seen such an instant friendship; it went way beyond just liking each other – they truly loved each other. Despite Bindi’s size and Dexter being a complete hooligan with her, she was always gentle with him. They were truly inseparable. She was a wonderful dog who, despite having had a shocking start to her own life, gave nothing but love in return to all of us. She was a larger-than-life character and much loved. 

Bindi had helped him overcome his fears and mistrust. He initially suffered from terrible separation anxiety and she taught him that it was fine to be left at home when we were out. She’d been such a rock for him, teaching him trust, teaching him that all the toys in the house were theirs and could be chewed to their hearts’ delight, and teaching him not to be worried about thunder and other loud noises. She could not have been a better role model.

Play in peace, Bindi

So when, 10 months later, Bindi had a stroke, leaving her anxious, confused and with paralysed hind legs, we were all absolutely devastated. The vet explained that there was no other choice than to have her humanely euthanised. We were broken-hearted – and totally unprepared as she’d been in excellent health up to that point.

Dexter was distraught without his friend. For two days, he didn’t touch a bite of food. He looked everywhere for her. He was grieving for his friend. 

A new friend

Weeks went by and we decided that it was time to get Dexter a companion. Almost immediately – once again via my friend Michelle – we heard about little Fluffy, a young Maltese Poodle found tied to a fence in Salt River; at just over a year old, she’d already suffered a lifetime of terrible neglect and ill-treatment. She was taken into foster care with Lorraine Rabie, who spent ages gaining her trust.

It was Lorraine who brought little Fluffy to meet Dexter, who was initially a little cautious. But it didn’t take long for these two little high-energy dogs to start tearing around like mini maniacs – it was clearly a match made in heaven.

Dexter and Phoebe, as we renamed Fluffy, are wonderful companions for each other – both being high-energy dogs. They love their box of toys and play endlessly and happily all day. They also have very serene times – but always together.  

I cannot speak highly enough of, and thank, all the rescue groups who, without being compensated, work relentlessly for all the abandoned and abused animals out there. My husband and I feel very honoured to have these two special little dogs in our lives – which could never have happened if it wasn’t for the wonderful work these people do.

I have no other words but “Thank You”.

FLUFFY’S STORY

Every day, the neglected Maltese Poodle was tied to a fence on a short leash at her home in Salt River, Cape Town. At night, the little dog was locked in the bathroom with a sandbox and punished if she messed.

Animal-lover Megan Cousins saw her plight and convinced the owners to surrender Fluffy to her. The once-white coat was so neglected that her hair covered her eyes and the fur had matted into clumps. Once the matted fur was shaved off at the grooming parlour, it became clear how underweight she was – only 4kg.

A new life for Fluffy

Despite everything, Fluffy wanted and gave nothing but love. That night, she went home with Megan, where, for the first time in her life, she was allowed to run free in the yard. She had so much fun playing with the children, running until she was so tired that she plopped down, then hopped back up and did it again. Megan couldn’t keep her, so Lorraine Rabie took over fostering.

Fluffy had been badly abused and had many challenges to overcome, but Lorraine was determined to help her. The first step was house-training her – and here Lorraine had help from an unexpected source: her German Shepherd, Sasha!

Lorraine recalls, “She became a very confident little dog, with a great personality – she just loved life. The highlight of her day was to go for walks in the greenbelt, where she would run like the wind and the excitement of freedom resulted in huge bursts of energy, and she’d sprint like crazy in circles. Sasha and Fluffy played from morning till night and became best buddies. You couldn’t help loving her!”

Finding a forever home

But Fluffy needed a forever home and, eventually, the day came for Lorraine to say goodbye: “After numerous attempts to rehome fell through, I received a call from Viv Lewis, who wanted Fluffy to meet her little dog, Dexter, her husband and her in Fish Hoek. It certainly sounded like the most caring family and wonderful home.

“Within half an hour the two dogs were tearing around like two little maniacs and, within days, everyone was ecstatic with the new addition to the family, the adoption was finalised and she was renamed Phoebe. 

“At last Phoebe had found her forever loving home where she could play with a doggy friend and be loved unconditionally.”