Our Rosie


Written by Karen Oosterbaan, foster mom for Shaygam’s Shelter and Janet Rhys

Professional photography by The Being Project

The little Maltese Poodle-mix lay near death, collapsed amongst drifts of rubbish in a ditch. Her golden curls were matted into lumps, her elderly body was weak and emaciated, and she had very few teeth left in her tired mouth. Hout Bay animal rescuer Shaygam Newman, founder of Shaygam’s Shelter, moved swiftly, lifting her out of the hell she’d fallen into and rushing her to the vet.    

We’d never seen a dog in such a bad state! Aside from her undernourishment and matted fur, she was literally covered in fleas and ticks. But it got much worse…

The little dog was crawling with maggots

Rosie was taken to Penzance Veterinary Clinic in Hout Bay, who came to the rescue and examined her after hours. In order to get a better idea on the situation, they had to clip off her coat. That’s when the sheer horror of her state became apparent: under the chunks of filthy fur, maggots had begun eating into her skin.

Multiple wounds infested with the creepy-crawlies and their eggs were exposed by the clipping, horrifying the volunteers and vet. How she’d survived this long is a sheer miracle. Bit by bit, she was cleaned up before being placed on a drip and made comfortable for the night. She was weak and in shock, but at least she now stood a chance.

Now it was up to her to make it through the long night ahead.

A rosy future

Fortunately, this little fighter opened her eyes to a new day and I fetched her to foster her. Initially, I called her Maggie. For the first three days, she paced the inner perimeter of the house without resting. I picked her up, rocked her to sleep and then put her into her bed where she would sleep until I woke her for food. After reluctantly eating, the pacing would start again.

It was so sad to watch. Gradually my hope of her finding her forever home with someone to love her was dwindling. After another trip to the vet for her daily antibiotic shot, I decided to change her name. The name Rosie came to mind as I thought that if I called her this her future would become rosy!

She had a new chance at life

That very afternoon I received a message via Facebook from a lady named Janet who was adamant that she wanted this sweet little girl. As delighted as I was, I felt that I had to be honest with her: I suspected Rosie was potentially suffering from dementia – not a good prognosis.

But that didn’t deter Janet in the least; she was still hell-bent on having this little darling in her life. Part of me was loathe to let her go as I’d fallen in love with her but knew I couldn’t keep her. She deserved a wonderful home of her own.

The very next day, Rosie miraculously eased up with her pacing. She also began looking more alert and was eating a little better. It was as if she knew that she now had a new chance at a life with someone who would love and care for her. It was absolutely wonderful to see this happen. Her little body was still so sore to touch and she tried to bite every time I picked her up, but at least she was looking alive again.

On the Wednesday, six days after I’d brought her home to foster her, Janet arrived to fetch Rosie. I could see immediately how much she already loved this scruffy, scar-riddled little creature. Of course, I shed a tear or two as I waved them goodbye but my heart was light because I knew that she was going to be in the best place possible.

Blossoming Rosie

I have visited her twice since then and each time she has looked better and better. Her fur is growing in beautifully and her big, dark eyes are shiny and bright. She follows Janet around all the time and goes to work with her every day, along with Janet’s other elderly dog, Goldie. Janet regularly sends me photos of “our” darling little girl.

Rosie has been such a lucky little girl; firstly to be found by Shaygam and then to be loved so by Janet. She deserves all the love she can get.

Little Rosie will forever have a special place in my heart: a brave little girl who survived against all odds.

Janet Rhys, Rosie’s owner, shares…

When I read about the sad plight of little Rosie, who had been rescued in January 2017, on Facebook, I was deeply affected by the miserable life she’d had. I immediately knew I wanted to make sure she would never be afraid, cold or hungry again.

I went to meet her at Karen’s house in Hout Bay and it was love at first sight. I felt so sorry for the poor mite; she was so sore that if you needed to pick her up she would snap at you – rather unnerving but, as she has no front or canine teeth, an empty threat, poor lamb.

The first few days were stressful for her and she took every opportunity to dash outside and patrol the grounds. Fortunately, we’re completely and securely fenced so she couldn’t get out. After a few days, she became more settled; she began following me around, stopped snapping and tolerated cuddles.

Goldie and Rosie come to work with me every day; in the mornings they rush to the car to be lifted in, and both have beds and blankets on the back seat plus a food and water bowl (and another bed at the office). Set for the working day!

Although she still ignores the other animals, she’s making friends with Goldie, another rescue – a Chihuahua-mix dog. Rosie is a happy addition to my very large and diverse animal family and I’m making sure she will live out the rest of her life in the lap of love and luxury.