The Diary of Dan

7th Jun, 2019

Dan’s story is a long one, but it’s one that shows just how much love can change the world. These excerpts from Dan’s story are shared, as written by Maggie Steenkamp, the founder of Pretoria Animal Buddies, and Marthina van Rensburg, Dan’s new human.

Professional photography by Emma O'Brien Photography

Excerpts written by Maggie…

6 Nov 2018

We start off begging this morning, because we’ve been asked to assist with the capture of a dog. And, although we have a dog trap, we can by no means take in another dog. We’re faced with overdue vet bills, current dogs without homes, and significant time constraint on our personal work.

But we have to… we received news of a dog lying in the veld. There has been a rescue attempt, but he is wild! That’s our type of boy; we like them wild!

After some to and fro, we’re informed that he’s been contained in a yard that’s apparently his “home”, but they no longer want him. He cannot be caught, and we’re asked to bring a trap. Tanya Strachen, our on-site volunteer, sits with him from 9AM, trying to gain his trust. We name this wild hound Dan, and we wait.

Danny isn’t going anywhere; our boy won’t budge. He’s had calming meds (which we know can make them a bit angry – and that he is), we cannot risk a volunteer being bitten, and although we know it’s only fear that will make him bite, he could cause damage. So we’re left hoping for some new news soon. At the very best, he’s been secured in the back garden for the night.

A little patience and a lot of luck: that’s what we need right now!

7 Nov 2018

We’re getting ready. Today, Dan, you’re coming home! But, before we go on, I have to tell you Dan’s story. How did Dan end up lying in the veld?

As it turns out, Dan had a friend; another dog with whom he spent time. Wollies Animal Project had picked him up after the public spotted what they thought was a dead dog. They managed to pick up the injured dog and rushed him off to the vet. But Dan, Dan had waited for his friend to return to the veld.

The injured stray was called Kaleb, and we wondered if the universe somehow had something to do with two rescue organisations picking two names so connected to each other – Daniel and Kaleb.

Facebook followers were enraptured by the story of two dogs, best friends… but there was another story to tell.

Daniel was not a stray. He had a home. He had an owner.

They didn’t want Dan, and they didn’t know where Kaleb came from or to whom he belonged. Daniel had to go!

They tell us that Dan was locked up in the garage when he was a puppy, because he’d run out the gate. It’s unsure how long Dan was locked up as he’s now an adult dog, aged ±3 years old. Dan still breaks through the gate/palisade and spends his days across the road in the veld. The neighbourhood complains, and they try to contain him inside the property, but he manages to escape and now they want him gone.

But Daniel is not going anywhere.

With the trap set, we wait and wait!

And by midday, we were successful!

Dan was inside the trap, and we were relieved to have the day end with a safe and easy capture.

Our boy is scared.

We often mistake our own wants and needs and try to instil them in our rescue animals.

We bath them, when they’re happy being dirty. We feed them dog food, when they’re happy eating scraps. We give them a bed, when they want nothing more than to live outside. We give them safety, when they want freedom.

Dan is scared. There is no happy ending. He’s petrified.

We have no idea how he’ll cope in a foster home. We think ourselves to be experienced; only to be halted yet again by sight of fear. A dog so scared he poops himself. That’s what he feels. There’s no wagging tail tonight. Instead of jubilation, we are silent tonight. We will wait with Dan until he understands.

8 Nov 2018

Dan is struggling, and so are we. We SO desperately want to love him. But he does not like us very much. We want to hug and kiss him, but he growls and snarls at us! We bring him treats and chicken… Dan doesn’t like chicken… or us! He doesn’t like the blankets nor the soft bed. He doesn’t like our food. Still no tail wagging. No happiness. Goodnight Dan.

9 Nov 2018

KALEB

We find Kaleb in the hands of our very good friends at Wollies Animal Project. He was taken to a vet immediately, was still receiving vet care, and was unable to travel. He’s been bitten by an African Bont Tick, and the wound in his face is severe.

Facebook followers are shouting at us “Dan wants Kaleb”, “Dan misses Kaleb”, “Dan is sad for Kaleb”. A volunteer visits Kaleb and brings back his blanket in the hopes that it will bring Dan happiness. Dan is still not happy with us, but at least he’s using the bedding provided for him to sleep on. He now has Kaleb’s blanket. This weekend there’ll more time for volunteers to spend with Dan.

He prefers to lie on one spot, only getting up to eat and drink water. He’s stopped shaking and will lie and watch, but there are no actions from his side to interact. We’re pushing him or actively trying to get him to respond to humans. For now we’re simply happy that he’s safe.

Dan is content.

This soon changes…

10 Nov 2018

We had a very difficult afternoon/evening with Dan yesterday. We’re never sure why some dogs act or react the way they do – could it be that the smell of Kaleb made him react? We’ll never know.

But Dan actively tried to escape yesterday. Erica Burger (co-founder and co-director of Pretoria Animal Buddies) and Tanya managed to catch him again. After hours they got him contained inside the trap again. For his own safety, he was placed into a crate and sedated. In the morning, he’ll go to our boarding kennels. Dan spends the night sedated inside his cage.

We feel so helpless.

11 Nov 2018

We had Dan in his cage en route to the kennels and we thought we’d pop in to let Kaleb and Dan see each other. The introductions were calm, and the humans showed more excitement than the dogs. Kaleb was very happy to see Dan and immediately climbed into the back to be with him, happy to be near his friend. Dan was still under sedation, so his reaction was calm and he accepted Kaleb’s closeness.

We didn’t quite get the reaction we hoped from Dan, but Kaleb was glad to see him. We took our time and just let them be. We’re still not sure how these two souls ended up together but are sure that Dan and Kaleb are not a bonded pair.  

Dan was still feeling the effects of the meds, and we used the opportunity for the vet to give him a quick vet check, just so we could be sure all was well. We confirmed with Wollies that Kaleb had received an offer to adopt and would be homed as soon as he was healthy and discharged. We asked if there was maybe a chance that Kaleb’s new owner would offer for Dan if they were made aware of Dan’s plight?

No. It’s okay; we know that Dan has a home somewhere. We will find it.

We settle Dan into the kennels. We’ll assess his behaviour. We’re unsure as to his future. We have to be sure Dan is placed in a safe environment. He actively tries to escape. He’s definitely not ready for a new home, and we’re still not sure just how much he can be rehabilitated.

For now, we’re going to give Dan time to get all the drugs out of his system and let him rest. Today was a good day – not a happy day, but a good day. We’re grateful to have him safe at last.

But we were wrong!

12 Nov 2018

We have a problem. Dan is actively trying (and succeeding) to escape from the kennels.

We were called out this morning at 8AM by the staff to tell us that Dan had managed to escape from his kennel. He was confined to our highest security enclosure. Sedated again, and now locked inside a night box. There’s no garden, no window, and no openings at all to manoeuvre an attempt to escape. We have a serious problem.

As of now, we don’t know what the next step is for Dan.

We cannot make him available for rehoming.

We cannot keep him locked up.

We cannot keep on sedating him.

So this is what we need – A HOME.

Not immediately, but soon.

IF we get an offer to adopt from a suitable home, we can look at ways or means to rehabilitate Dan. If no suitable home is available, we’ll have to put Dan to sleep.

We have limited time – another reality is that we’re facing Christmas time. Our own kennels are fully booked for the holidays. As of 3rd of Dec there’s NO space available.

We asked for a miracle. Instead, we got an angel!

Excerpts as written by Marthina…

12 November 2018

9:28. I received a frantic phone call from my adult daughter, Erika Dippenaar, currently staying in Carletonville. 

“Mommy, did you see my Facebook tag?”

“Hmm… no….” (I don’t visit Facebook as often as the youngsters do.)

“Mom, please go see; I tagged you in the story of this dog, Dan. They’re going to put him to sleep because he’s not reacting well to anything they’ve tried so far.”

“Erika, I’m not a vet…”

“No, mom, he isn’t sick. His heart is broken.”

“Now what am I supposed to do? These people work with dogs every day of their life. What can I possibly add to make things better? If whatever they did, didn’t work for this boy, I’m sure there’s not much I can do to make a difference.”

“Mom, just try! Just be you.”

So as not to disappoint my daughter, who believes that I have magical powers, I checked the Facebook tag. I didn’t read the whole story, because I was very busy with my own stuff, work, studies, home renovations, and all sorts. To put her mind at ease, I wrote a “general” comment: “This boy wants to go home”. Good. Now at least Erika will see that I did read the article and will leave it at that.

Unfortunately, she didn’t. 

11:10. I received the second call from Erika.

“And? What are you going to do?”

“Erika, what do you want me to do?”

“Do what you always do! Go save him!”

11:30. I make my first call to Maggie Steenkamp of Pretoria Animal Buddies. 

“Hi, my name is Marthina. I’m so sorry to bother you, knowing you have so much on your plate now. I was tagged by my daughter on Facebook regarding this dog named Dan. Would it be acceptable if I request visit time with Dan? I’m not sure what I can accomplish, but I have some humble experience in dog saving…” 

By this time, I expected Maggie to discourage my efforts… I mean, how many calls does she receive, every day, from people who think they can do things better? What makes me different? Nothing! There’s absolute no reason why she would welcome my unprofessional assistance! It would be just another addition to her problems… so I thought.

“Absolutely, Marthina! Any help is needed! Whatever you can bring to the table is one more thing we can say we’ve tried! If it doesn’t work, and Dan doesn’t respond, we can rest assured that we’ve tried absolutely everything!”

Wow, I did not expect that! 

“Thank you so much… hmm.”

“Maggie…”

“Yes, Maggie. When will it be okay to visit Dan? I can be there tomorrow at 15:30?”

“Great, I’ll organise with the shelter to be prepared for your visit. Please let me know what’s happening!”

And so, I went on 13 November 15:30. Armed with a plastic bag and raw game mince. My journey just began… and I didn’t even know it yet!

13 November 15:30

My first visit to Dan 

I’ve read up on Dan on Facebook by now. I read that Dan is not well. I learnt that Dan is not eating, cannot be touched, doesn’t respond well to people or other dogs.

I understood that Dan was slipping away. What I didn’t understand or know is why, but that doesn’t change anything. There was so much pressure! From experience, I know that time and consistency are the ONLY things that can make a difference in his reaction and behaviour, and I don’t have that. I have just one chance to make these people, and Dan, believe that I can do magic, like my daughter believes. I prayed for something remarkable to happen that day, and I believe in miracles.

I approach Dan’s shelter with caution. I found exactly what I learned from Facebook. Dan doesn’t want me there. He’s in hiding mode. He chose the corner furthest away from me, lies down and watches me cautiously. I ignore him and fumble with my plastic bag off mince. And then, I notice, Dan is lifting his head!

Was that positive enough? Let’s push for more! I mimic eating from the bag… that got his attention. I put the bag down and walk away, finding myself a good spot, out of his way. 

Great! He stood up and walked towards the bag… and oh my word!, he eats! HE EATS!

Before I could jump on Cloud 9, Dan had two more visitors. Very disappointed about the interruption, I watched these two ladies approach Dan and exclude me. I couldn’t help and feel a little jealous. They seem so “in touch” with him. What am I even doing there? One of the ladies politely asked me to leave because her time is limited, and she wanted to spend as much time as possible with Dan while she could.

Not knowing my place at that moment, I left quietly. I wanted to get so much more from the visit, but just had to accept that there are more people who wanted to try and save this dog. I’m not alone and have to share!

On my way home, I call Maggie and express my annoyance towards the interruption in my visiting time. 

Background: I’m an accountant. I’m very punctual. I’m practical. I can balance things. I believe in exact science. You can set your clock by me. Maggie explains that the lady I met when visiting Dan is his guardian angel. She rescued him TWICE after his breakaway escapes. She fought for him. She is the reason he’s there! She is Erica Burger.

I felt so ashamed for feeling jealous, for feeling disappointed, for feeling annoyed, for feeling dismissed!

We made peace on Facebook… publicly, and she accepted me as part of the “Rescue Dan” Team. Now I have a status! I have solitary fixed visiting times with Dan!

Excerpts as written by Maggie…

14 November

A kind man with some VERY impressive letters to write after his name visited Dan today. Gordon Banks (Dip CABT (NOCN UK) CAPBT SA Practitioner IMDT). I half feared what the good man had to say, but here are the most important things for now: Dan must stay on his daily medication for up to 14 days, and after that he’ll assess Dan, and work out a programme for us to follow with him. For now, we must keep Dan on his diet of chicken, livers, and highly nutritional food, to build up his health. Dan can’t be kept in the kennels with no human interaction, but he stressed the fact that we must only allow a handful of people to visit Dan, and Dan must form a bond with these people. What we need from you: people committed to visit Dan, not only once but enough to form a bond. Christine Puren and Marthina are two of those people who are already committed to visiting Dan. Dan is making progress. He was more active this afternoon, ran a few circles, and Christine says he even gave a cute bark to chase away the annoying flies. We still don’t know what next week will bring, but for now, this is what we know.

I had an excellent response from Dan this afternoon. He is alert and curious. And then, a huge breakthrough: Dan eats from a plastic bag! Sometimes the obvious is what escapes us – Dan eats from a plastic bag and he’s a whizz at it. And he prefers food raw. It’s like putting a puzzle together. 

16 November

Dry food gets introduced to DAN. What does a dog do when you mix dry food in his mince? He licks it all off! And leaves the dry food… such a clever boy!

Erica Burger and Marthina made a pact today. Time is running out and there is shelter space only until 3 December! Dan is not yet ready to be rehomed and does not yet trust people. What will we do?

Between the tears, laughter, and fear, Marthina calls her beloved husband, Albert:

“Lovie, can we build a home for Dan?” 

She clearly gets what she wants when it comes to this man sent from heaven! And so, the journey begins!

17 November

Dan got his own umbrella today, kept one wary eye on the water sprayer, and loved his lunch of ox livers. Christie and I visited today, and later on, Marthina will too. Our boy is still a cutie pie and will only allow you to touch him when he feels comfortable enough. Today, he let me comb his fur for a few minutes. At one stage, while cleaning his kennel, he thought I was going to try and catch him, but I only gave him a nudge on his bum to get him outside; he gave me a look of “hmmffffph” and walked outside with more poise than the Queen of England.

18 November

Dan is settling in well. Everyone is now in a confirmed routine. We call them Dan Rehabilitation Team. Their dedication is unbelievable. They visit Dan every single day. I think God sent them. Food remains an issue, although I do think he’s busy winding these ladies around his paw.

They bring him treats, and snacks, and every single raw meat known to mankind, but as soon as they introduce any form of dry food, he simply turns up his nose and waits for them to produce the untreated raw mince which they always pull out of another bag. There’s a long way ahead for Dan, and we know he’ll eventually adjust to dry food.

For now – everyone simply enjoys being his carers, loves looking at him, and is grateful he’s safe.

Excerpts as written by Marthina…

20 November

LADIES & GENTLEMAN! BUDDIES, FRIENDS AND FAMILY! We have a tail wagger!

Dan quickly sat down to hide his embarrassment, and I started sobbing snot and tears. Finally, I do believe our boy will be okay. To see his tail wagging and him rolling on the grass is an absolute gift. Our boy is getting better, in body and in soul.

22 November

Dan doing so much better every day. He’s clearly glad and excited each morning, and the excitement continues after he eats his breakfast. This morning, he was walking up and down past me, but I remained still and didn’t try and touch him. He then lay down, in front of me, facing me. I just chatted with him in my normal excited voice. I also put his food down between my legs and kept my hands still. He’s cautiously now eating his food in the “danger” zone, but he doesn’t show excessive anxiousness.

His excitement continues in the afternoons when I arrive. I’m now not giving him his food first thing, and instead wait for him to approach me and ask for it. He’s making soft noises looking at the food, which I reward then with a nice bowl full of healthy options and variety. He’s also now eating dry pellets; however, it’s not his food of choice.

After his meal this afternoon, he rolled on the grass, and then came straight towards me, lay down on the grass with his nose touching my foot. I still refrain from touching him, and I’m merely waiting for him to let me know it’s okay to touch him. When I leave, he stands up and follows me to the fence, with his tail wagging, and watches as I drive away. Soon after I leave, he turns around to find a shady spot for a nap. This routine will continue until he’s 100% okay to come home with me.

25 November

Dan started to make play moves today, and this is a gift like none other. We’ve started construction on Dan’s new home and are preparing for his big move by 3 December. He’ll have a home for Christmas!

27 November

Today we revealed the secret of Dan’s new home to all the supporters!

We could no longer postpone. Dan is not happy in the shelter. He’s scared of the people mowing the lawn, cleaning the cage, or just walking past. Dan has to move quickly. At this point it feels as if we’re moving two steps forward and three steps back. Dan is upset. He’s spent too long in the kennels, and we really must move him.

Excerpts as written by Maggie…

There’s no excitement (other than from all of Dan’s followers and supporters). We’re stressing and vomiting and anxious and moody. But we must move Dan.

Although we’ve managed to secure kennel space for December, it’s not the ideal situation for Dan’s rehabilitation. The kennels are busy and noisy, staff are under pressure as they manage increased numbers of pets, and Dan will not cope.

Marthina has built Dan a house with a safe enclosure. There, she’ll continue his rehabilitation without interruptions. We’re hopeful that this can be done by the end of next week (sooner if possible). We know we’re rushing his relocation and we know he needs more time... we’ll try to minimise his fear and stress as much as possible, and if possible, sedate him for the travelling.

3 December

Moving Day is announced to be Wednesday 5 December, at 9AM. It’s going to be okay. I feel like vomiting. We have a plan and a vet, Dr Kate from Mobi Vet, and his new enclosure is ready; everyone is super excited and it’s going to be okay!

I still feel like vomiting.

It is going to be okay.

Soon, Danny, soon, your next journey will begin…

Marthina reassures me:

“Maggie, it’s going to be ok... now I feel like vomiting... oh my word...you make me stress... but it’s going to be ok. I will not leave his side for a second. I will even sleep with him the first night, and the second. And the third... make sure he’s fine, talk through the night... do whatever it takes. I have grandchildren... I’m good at that! (I build the house big enough for a small family anyway!). I know Dan will be confused, scared at first, but I also know seeing me all the time will put his mind at ease. I promise you, with all my heart, Dan will come first, no matter what! The environment is calm. There’s little movement although his garden is in such a way that he’ll be part of our daily routine if he chooses to be; otherwise, there are lots of “safe” places if he chooses to be alone. There’s no noise, only nature. He has a huge garden with nice green grass, lots of shade, lots of sun, lots of trees, a little bit of bushveld; everything a dog can dream of! Now, I wonder if I try to calm you, or myself! I feel like vomiting, but it’s still going to be okay!”

4 December

Respect for a lady who, from the moment she laid her eyes on our Dan, fell in love with him. She never skipped one visit, she paid vet bills, she’s built him the most beautiful home a dog could have, she fed him the tastiest food, but most importantly, she gave him her heart. And he gave her his heart!

Homecheck passed with flying colours, she worked herself to the ground getting everything in place. Dan, your new life starts tomorrow.

5 December 09:00 – D DAY!

It’s done. He’s home. It didn’t go without a fight and blood (mine!). Unfortunately, the first sedation was not enough to put Dan out completely, and a second sedation was required. But also, Dan had to be reversed prior to relocation.

Upon arrival, Dan was ready to fight and escape.

Excerpt as written by Marthina…

We had a bit of WWF Wrestling Mania – Maggie and Erica won, but it was sore and they found themselves lying under a lemon tree, but Dan is now safely inside his new night box and fighting off the meds. He has the most unbelievable new enclosure, with full galvanized fencing and steel-enforced night box.

Excerpts as written by Maggie…

We will give Marthina time to settle in with Dan, however long it takes.

Marthina adds:

“And now I want to give ALL the glory to the two most amazing people I have met in a long, long time! If it wasn’t that stressful, I would have made a video of the move! Erica and Maggie can play for the Springboks. Dan was not cooperating... but Maggie and Erica didn’t give up. I nearly suffered a heart attack! Anxiety took hold of me, and all I could do was run around. I honestly felt at some point we should not have done this! But we did, and with their experience and absolute determination, Dan is safe. THANK YOU, ERICA AND MAGGIE! NOTHING was possible without you girls!! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

5 December

Dan has settled in just fine. Just like we found him. But now he’s in a safe and loving garden.

A place he can call home!

Excerpt as written by Marthina…

5 December 14:00 

Dan meets Amber!

From the first time their eyes met, they were in love! Amber, a dog that comes from the same type of background as Dan. She knows his pain. They immediately bonded and started to play. What a gift!

Excerpt as written by Maggie…

Our hearts are bursting with joy: way to go, Dan! You know when doing a home check, we also look at how the other family members like animals. Dan got a home with a mom and dad who have bent over backwards for him. They’re a tight bond, and together they make a good team.

Dan has a friend! Or two, or three, or four…..

Excerpts as written by Marthina…

7 December

Dan meets Pebble, Withond, Patch, and Ziggi – he immediately gets along with five of the pack of eight!

Dan remains in his enclosure, and the pack can visit Dan twice a day for a few hours. Dan adopts his new circumstances very easily. He’s still fond of his raw food, but good dry food is also included in his diet.

Dan still gets locked up at night in his night box until such time I feel confident enough to open the “doggy door” for a night walk! Dan’s enclosure is opened every morning before I leave for work, and his friends visit him until I leave for work just after 8AM. At 3PM, I return from work and allow his friends to visit until 6PM. After his play date, Dan enjoys a bowlful of dinner and delicious treats.

Each night Dan gets “Pensie krap” at 10PM. He voluntarily enters his night box and lies down on his bed when I enter the enclosure. I then sit down with Dan. We talk, sing, scratch stomach and kiss… although on his bum! At 11PM, each night I close the night box.

Dan’s routine is crucial for me to gain all the trust possible. He needs to rely on me and my behaviour. If I can keep that constant without sudden surprises, Dan will learn to trust. 

Changes will slowly be introduced, but for now, we keep all the same, day in and day out!

25 December

Dan is home for Christmas! There’s a big party and Dan is part of it! Dan’s enclosure gets its own decorations. Dan is very curious about it, but it doesn’t scare him a bit!

The whole family visited today! Lots and lots of people! Dan is very excited each time a vehicle arrives! Dan loves children! For now, we keep them on the other side of the enclosure, but it’s clear that Dan is intrigued by them!

All the visitors get a chance to greet Dan… one at a time. Dan isn’t too interested in the men, but he loves the women! My daughter even gets a chance to gently stroke his back, without Dan acting out!

Dan’s Christmas treat… a whole beef leg! Slightly cooked… just the way he likes it!

Excerpts as written by Maggie…

26 January

Dan’s Doggy Door in his night box gets opened for the first time at night!

The news is happy news – this family has settled into a daily routine which involves all the dogs except Charcoal, who spends hours with Dan inside his enclosure. They’ve become furry friends and there have been no issues.

Excerpts as written by Marthina…

Dan doesn’t actively try to escape. He slept with his night box doors open last night for the first time.

7 February

Dan’s enclosure is being enlarged – yes, again – I don’t think his enclosure is big enough, but also to give Dan more access to the larger garden, but still safely confined inside his own enclosure. Dan is not yet let out, but rather let IN…There’s no set time structure on when Dan will be ready to be allowed outside his enclosure. There’s no rush. I don’t feel that Dan’s story is finished yet... not until Dan is home inside. With them.

18 February

Dan goes to school

It’s a new year and classes have started for Dan. He’s learning how to become a dog. A dog that has toys lying all over his new bigger enclosure that he has absolutely no idea what to do with. Dan has started lessons in “How to be a Dog 101”. As always, Dan’s girlfriend, Amber, is ready to teach her man the rules of play. Dan is quite spoilt and has no idea how to entertain himself. But, as always, his momma Marthina is there cheering him on – just like a new mom – hiding in the bushes on the first day of school.

25 March

Dan leaves his enclosure.

DAN FANS GET READY!

Dan has left his enclosure (until he gets a fright and runs back inside).

Excerpt as written by Maggie…

It’s with absolutely great respect and admiration to Marthina that we can announce Dan’s new status as RELEASED. Dan and Death, another of Marthina’s dogs, have still not found a relationship and are still being kept apart. That said, Dan’s enclosure is opened each afternoon when everybody is home, to play with his friends until such time dinner is served. He still goes inside at night to sleep in his night box and is closed in every night.

Excerpts as written by Marthina…

7 April

Dan enters the house for the first time…

Although a little wary of his surroundings, Dan is very curious and very, very happy to be around the family. He wants to see what’s inside this house… Dan only got to the kitchen. He’s a little discouraged to walk past Tara, another of our dogs – Tara will not be moved, so Dan will just have to build up the courage to do so.

Tara is blind, deaf and very, very old. She has absolutely no interest in Dan; however, there’s a new smell and Dan wants to investigate Tara. Tara has no sense in this youngster, and with a quick growl, resulting in Dan running for his life to his night box, Tara ended the investigation quickly. Well… so she thought… it repeats itself every 15 minutes, until Dan realises Tara is not going to eat him up! He must just tiptoe past Tara, who’s not even aware he was there!

Guni is Dan’s brother from another mother. Both male, same size, weight and almost the same look, they immediately get along just fine! Both were very excited and played for almost half an hour non-stop until they had no choice but to lie down and rest! 

11 April

Dan is inside!

After four days of trying and failing, Dan eventually got courage to walk past Tara. He’s now playing (and ruining my carpet) along with his six friends in my living room. (Tara can’t play, Tara sleeps!)

Behind the safety gate sits Charcoal. There’s no animosity, but also no love!

Charcoal is an alpha male, 72kg solid hard Boerboel/Labrador. Charcoal is trained, but he doesn’t enjoy this interloper in his home.

Dan will remain in his enclosure during the day and gets his chance every afternoon to explore the back garden and house under supervision, while Charcoal is locked in the front yard.  

This routine will remain until such time Charcoal’s dog trainer is comfortable that a meeting is safe. This allows for a story for another day…

It’s five months later now. For now, Dan is as normal as can be…

He allows us to rub him, jumps and plays when we get home. He eats dry pellets, and he plays with toys. Dan doesn’t try to escape, and he enters the house easily. He gets along with almost everyone and cautiously likes children. But he’s not entirely there yet – we still can’t make sudden movements, love him too vigorously, or break any segment of his routine.

Excerpt as written by Maggie…

24 April

Dan’s journey has reached its end. Dan is home. There’ll be no rehoming, no offers to adopt, no uncomfortable stays in strange places. While there remained some tension in the air between Dan and Charcoal, they were formally introduced to each other and went on a long Sunday family walk together. Dan’s long journey to safety and love has come to an end.

Dan is safe, Dan is happy, and Dan is... home.