New best friends


Written by CLAW’s new Director, Taren Welthagen

Photographs supplied by the International Fund for Animal Welfare – IFAW  

Three blind men, arms linked, were walking together down the road that passes the IFAW’s Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW) clinic in Durban Deep.

When we saw this intrepid trio, CLAW’s Cora Bailey and I were concerned that they might not be aware of the enormous pothole – more like a sinkhole than a normal pothole – which had opened up in the road, thanks to the illegal miners (known locally as “zama-zamas”) who’d been doing a bit of “landscaping” around the clinic and among the hills around Durban Deep. So we offered them a lift home, an offer which not only allowed us to get to know three extraordinary men, but also paved the way for a little bit of magic.

A rescued dog nobody wanted

As we chatted, our admiration for these visually impaired men grew. Every day they do a round trip of about 15 kilometres, walking from home to a workplace where they are undertaking computer studies.

During our drive one of the three, Dyanti Molefe, mentioned that he loved dogs, so we suggested that he visit us when he was ready to adopt. Not many days passed before Dyanti appeared in CLAW’s waiting area, looking for a friend.

We chatted about what he was looking for in a companion and one dog jumped to mind: our dear Vincent. 

Vincent is a German Shepherd mix, about four years old, who had been rescued from appalling conditions. On arrival he was as thin as a rake; as he’d been tied up on a very short chain, he had little muscle tone, or an understanding of freedom and space. But under CLAW’s care he’d blossomed into one of the kindest, happiest dogs we knew. He’d been with us for several months, and in that time he’d become a lifesaver, donating blood for some very sick dogs.

We had featured him often on the CLAW Facebook page, but no one had shown an interest in offering him a home. So we got Vincent out of his run and handed his lead to Dyanti so they could see what they thought of one another. 

“Dyanti, meet Vincent.”

It was probably the most tactile and intimate introduction we’d ever done; Dyanti’s gentle hands running over Vincent’s face and flanks.

“I’ve found my brother!” he said.

Vincent behaved impeccably, and after their initial meet and greet, off they went around the yard, Dyanti with his stick leading the way and Vincent pressed close to his leg. I’m not ashamed to say that the lump in my throat quickly became tears of happiness. This was magic, right here, in our yard. 

A home check was quickly done to ensure all was in order for this wonderful duo to be united. One or two changes had to be made to ensure Vincent’s safety, a task taken on with gusto by Dyanti’s older brother.

When we received the call that all was ready and we could take Vincent home, Sheena Dale and I were like kids at Christmas, excitedly piling into the bakkie (pick-up), smiling and laughing as we ferried Vincent to his new “Dad” and home.

The welcome committee was lined up to greet Vincent like a long-lost relative: no question, this lovely boy had found his family. I couldn’t help but wonder if the universe had kept Vincent in the yard all that time just so he could meet Dyanti, as a more perfect pairing I have yet to see.

We paid Vincent and Dyanti an impromptu visit to see how they were all getting along. It was late afternoon; as we arrived, we could see the top of Dyanti’s head as he made his way to the gate. As we hopped out of the bakkie, we could see Dyanti giving his new companion a huge hug and pat… and gentle Vincent’s tail responding with an enthusiastic wag.

Magic. Pure magic!

Note: This article first appeared on www.ifaw.org