Rescuing Rover

27th Feb, 2019

Written by Sigrid Jefferies

Photography by Sigrid Jefferies and Alicia Thomas

The brown-and-black dog was standing in the busy road, eating something, unaware of the danger he was in, when my husband, Michael, and I saw him on the 25th of October 2018.

Hit by a car

We were on our way to a family reunion weekend in the town of White River, Mpumalanga province. We were close to the God’s Window turnoff before Graskop when we saw him; of course, we slowed down, but the car in front of us didn’t. They knocked him over and just sped off, leaving him lying in the road.

We were utterly horrified and immediately drew to a halt. Getting him into the car was quite a mission, as he was hurt and afraid; in the process he bit my husband’s finger, but, fortunately, it wasn’t serious. Michael rode in the back with the injured dog to keep an eye on him – we were afraid that he might try to jump out.

By then, he’d calmed down and lay peacefully against Michael’s leg, although he must have been in pain.

The dog’s front leg was hurt and we decided to leave him in Graskop at a vet, but when we got there, it turned out that they didn’t have one. We got hold of White River Animal Hospital, and although it was after hours and this was a stray, Dr Michael York was kind enough to wait for us. He examined the dog, which appeared to have no serious injuries, gave him pain medication and antibiotics, and kept him overnight for observation.

Always on our minds

At our weekend accommodation, we couldn’t get that gentle brown face and soulful eyes out of our minds. We wondered how he was. We wondered where he was from. And we wondered about adopting him…

The following morning we returned to White River Animal Hospital to see how he was doing. The very kind Michelle van Wyk from White River SPCA had already collected him as he was well enough to go. So off to the SPCA we went to discuss his adoption.

When we saw him, our hearts broke: he was terrified and hiding at the back of his cage. As it turned out, however, we couldn’t just take him – there’s a mandatory “pound period” (10 days) during which the owner has a chance to find him. But nobody came forward to claim him, and so the adopting process began. We named him Rover. Our boy went for his microchip, injections and, as Michelle van Wyk called it, “to empty his purse” (to be neutered). Soon he was ready to come home.

First day blues

It was with great excitement that, on the 11th of November 2018, we drove the 800 kilometres to collect and bring our new fur baby home. Rover was very shy and afraid in the car; we made him as comfortable as possible.

At home, he inspected the whole yard and made friends immediately with Zimba, our seven-year-old Jack Russell, and senior Jack Russell Bungy, adopted from SPCA Louis Trichardt seventeen years ago.

There was, however, a problem: Rover was still terribly scared and headed into the garden where he hid and wouldn’t let us touch him. It took time and patience, but, with plenty of treats, I eventually lured him into the house. He immediately dashed to hide behind the couch, where he felt safe. Not wanting to stress him further, we placed food, water and a blanket for him there and left him to himself. 

Our shadow

We weren’t about to give up on him, though. The next morning, with more treats, and lots of love and patience, Rover let us touch him. From then on, we left the doors open and he came into the house when he wanted. Initially, he only came into the kitchen and lounge, but on day three – breakthrough. He came in by himself and made his way all the way through the long passage and into our bedroom. From then on, he was fine and got more confident with every passing moment.  

Now he follows us all the time and we can do with him what we want. Rover loves cuddles, to be brushed and going on his walks. I also take him to dog training school, Love on a Leash, with Alicia Thomas. He enjoys going to school and is so clever and eager to learn.

We think he’s a Chow and German Shepherd cross; his tongue has black marks and his tail looks like the Chow. But, really, who cares – he’s simply the best! Rover is such a sweet, darling, good, and loving boy.

Rover, my shadow, we love you.


Thank you to White River Animal Hospital for helping our boy. Thank you to Lawrence Khodobo from SPCA Louis Trichardt, who did the home inspection. And thank you to Michelle, who loved and cared for him so much at the White River SPCA – they are tops.