The Bravest of Hearts


Written by Kerry Arrow and professional photography by Infinite Memories Photography

From wounded stray to pampered pooch, Angus Braveheart’s story is truly one of rags to riches.

On the evening of the 8th of January 2015, Samantha Jayne Broadhead was on her way home from work in Witpoortjie when she glanced out of her window to see a light-coloured dog hopping along the grass verge. She immediately stopped her car to try and help this obviously distressed soul. “I tried to coax him towards me but he was very scared and submissive. Eventually he started belly crawling towards me. It was then that I noticed the harm that had been done to him. His ears had scabbed over and his tail was bleeding, his toes were bleeding, his tendons exposed. I freaked out. I got some tow rope as a lead, put him in my car and rushed him to Roodekruin Vet. I didn’t know if they would even take him, being a stray. I certainly didn’t expect them to look after him the amazing way they did…”

The vets estimated him as being around one-and-a-half years old, and suspected that his injuries were a result of muti collectors because he was found near a squatter camp. Staff named him Braveheart, because he had survived his ordeal, and posted his pictures on Facebook, asking for donations to pay for his surgery.

Friendly Facebook

Now this is where the story gets interesting. My mom had joined Facebook a couple of months earlier on the sly because she wanted to see what was happening with the Scottish Terrier Rescue Group (she has six Scotties). She is friends with the ladies running that group who followed Roodekruin Veterinary Clinic on Facebook. When Roodekruin posted the pictures of Braveheart, it went viral. Everyone shared what had happened to him and tried to get as many donations as possible.  

When my mom saw the post on 10 January, she decided she would donate money too. The following day she called me, telling me the whole story and how she was planning to donate. She then casually said “And I think you and Arthur should adopt him.”

Arthur, my boyfriend, was working in the Ivory Coast at that time – I couldn’t even talk to him about it, but he’s a huge animal lover and we had spoken about getting a dog before. We both have a soft spot for animals with special needs; I had owned a blind dog named Emma who was my whole life and sadly had to be put to sleep due to seizures, while he’d owned a three-legged dog, Sharky, who’d lost his leg in a dog fight and then died years later from tick bite fever.

I thought carefully. That night I called my mom and said: “We’ll take him!” After that it was very nerve-wracking; we could see on Facebook that another lady had put her name down to foster him and we were so nervous that we wouldn’t get him. I went to visit Braveheart the following Friday, and my mom, sister and I visited again the very next day. Every Saturday after that, I visited him until it was time to bring him home. When my boyfriend returned, I told him the whole story and we both went to see him. Eventually Charmaine from The 9th Day did our home check – and we were approved!

The surgery

In the meantime, the vet had collected enough donations to operate. Sadly, they had to amputate his tail, two toes on his left foot, and his ears. Poor Braveheart had to stay in hospital for over a month while he recovered. He was in bandages, had stitches and a cone, and was very irritated and itchy all the time – but he was always so sweet to people. It was probably the first time in his life he’d had a warm place to sleep, food to eat and was getting love and attention. He was extremely thin when I first saw him but he slowly started to gain weight every week. The ladies at Roodekruin would give him biscuits all the time, and the helpers would take him for walks; they were all truly amazing.

On the 14th of February we collected him – he was our Valentine’s Day gift to each other. We had him neutered, microchipped and vaccinated, although he still had his cone and the bandage on his paw. In the beginning it was a bit tough as he’d never been disciplined and was attention-deprived – we were learning as much as he was.

Coming home

We felt that he needed a proper name so, when we got him, we added the name Angus (much easier to say when you have a ‘hyper’ dog), which he now knows. Slowly, we started to teach him some manners and about life in a home. In the beginning, he didn’t know what a bed or toys or a ball were. He slept on the floor and just looked at his toys with a confused expression. But now he loves his beds – he has three – and his toys, especially a ‘cow’ teddy bear that his ‘gran’ (my mom) bought him and a cricket ball from Arthur. He loves sitting on the couch, and has almost claimed it as his own. He thinks he’s small and tries to squeeze into any spot he can get to just to be close to us. And he loves eating, his favourite treat being a marrow bone, which he gets once a day.

He used to snap at strangers and people called him ‘Angry Angus’, but now I take him to work with me and, slowly, he has learnt that no one is going to hurt him. Now he gets excited when we go to work. He has his own bed there and everyone likes him – and he likes them because they all feed him (no wonder he’s not hungry when we get home).

Once all his stitches were removed and the bandages taken off, we bathed him – I think that was the first time he’d ever been bathed because the water was brown and very stinky. He was so scared that Arthur had to get into the bath with him. We then brushed him and put baby powder on him and he really looked great! Now he loves baths. His hair is shedding a lot because he was so malnourished, but it seems to be getting better. He absolutely loves Arthur and me, and gets a little anxious when he can’t see or hear us. He suffers from separation anxiety, which we’re working on.

Baby steps

Once a month, the Scottish Terrier group gets together and goes on a Scottie Walk at Emmarentia Dam. Almost a month after his rescue, he went along – and he loved it. He wanted to go swimming with the big Pit Bulls, but he still needs to learn how to walk off a leash (we’ll get there eventually). Sometimes people mistake him for a Pit Bull because of his ears and I do get stares and remarks like, “What did they do to his ears?” Little do they know that we saved his life...

He is very happy, and, considering what he’s been through, is so sweet and trusting. He's also naughty and gets ‘hyper’, where he goes charging through the house and jumping over the couch. We love having him in our life and he’s like our child. He is so expressive with his face and paws; it’s almost like having a toddler running around.

My mom, sister and I have joined just about every rescue group and page on Facebook, and my mom is donating almost every week to help a different charity. I even started Angus Braveheart’s page because so many people wanted to see how he was doing. None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for Samantha stopping to rescue him, social media and the kind hearts of the people at Roodekruin Veterinary Clinic and everyone who donated to help him.

Follow Angus Braveheart on https://www.facebook.com/braveheartsjourneythroughlife/info?tab=page_info

  Photo credit: Kate Kruse Photography