One lucky Lady



Photo credit: Cindy Armstrong

Written by Allan Perrins – Animal Welfare Society of SA, Head of Communications and Resource Development

Photography by Jaque le Roux and Allan Perrins – AWS SA

The story of two young brothers from an impoverished background who went above and beyond to find help for their sick dog, Meisie, captured hearts, lifted spirits and showed that there is indeed much hope for the future.

Shoes can wait

I was thinking of how best to illustrate how we put donors’ funds to good use when, midway through my rather technical document, I was alerted to two young brothers, fourteen-year-old Peter and eight-year-old Gerry Cedras. They had brought their very sick dog in for treatment.

These two heroic little souls had walked for miles from one of the local farms in mid-winter, covering some really rough terrain, urging and carrying their beloved dog, Lady – who they prefer to call Meisie (meaning “girl” in Afrikaans) – who was dying, all the way to our clinic in Phillippi.

The youngsters left home in the dark at 8AM and arrived at the Animal Welfare Society in Philippi at approximately 12PM; a gruelling four hours later. Gerry made the trip barefoot.

His brother, Peter, had saved R7 that he was going to put towards buying Gerry a pair of shoes but felt that the shoes could wait and opted to rather spend the money on saving Lady.

She had severe “tick-bite fever” 

Lady/Meisie, who resembles an otherwise well cared for black-and-tan Husky cross of approximately one year old, was examined by our vet. She was found to be suffering from ehrlichiosis, a type of tick-bite fever which can be fatal, especially if left untreated. So, this intrepid pair who’ve become household names, almost certainly saved her life.

The young dog’s condition was dire. She was running a high temperature, her mucous membranes were pale and her breathing rate accelerated; all very typical signs of tick-bite fever.

Meisie was given a blood transfusion and placed on a drip to keep her hydrated; she was prescribed a course of medication and fed a specialist diet to help aid her recovery.

Her prognosis has gone from guarded to good, and she’s now well on the road to a full recovery. Before being returned to her expectant family, she’ll be vaccinated, treated for ticks and fleas and, of course, spayed.

They put her needs first

The brothers clearly adore Meisie and noticed that she was unwell when she went off her food – a sure sign that all was not well.

They didn’t want her to suffer and deteriorate, so they cleverly decided to bring her to the Animal Welfare Society for assessment and treatment at their earliest opportunity. We NEVER turn any animal in need away, regardless of affordability by the owner, so they came to the right place for help.

What really impressed me about Peter and Gerry is that, despite the almost insurmountable odds, they made a plan and unselfishly put Lady’s life and needs before anything else.

We hope that their devotion, compassion and initiative inspire other pet owners to take equally good care of their pets, to be alert to when their pets appear unwell and, very importantly, to treat their pets for ticks and fleas – and to never hesitate to seek professional veterinary advice and care.

The best ending

Our mantra is “Rescue the Mistreated; Save the Injured; Love the Abandoned”. Everyone who’s had a hand in helping Lady has walked this talk.

This “case that says it all” resulted in me abandoning my complicated, comparatively soulless attempt at showing donors how their funds are put to good use. Meisie’s story is all that’s needed to illustrate. Whatever we end up investing in saving Lady will be money well spent and undoubtedly warm our donors’ and supporters’ hearts.

There’s no hope of recovering any of Lady’s treatment costs from her indigent owners, and, really, the fact that they love and care for her so much is reward enough. But we do hope that this heartwarming story, which has captivated animal lovers from around the world, will inspire everyone to get behind us and show their support for the Animal Welfare Society of South Africa so that we can continue to assist other deserving cases like Peter and Gerry and their best friend, Meisie.

This story is like a fairy tale comprised of the most wonderful characters with the best possible ending.

Baie dankie

Peter and Gerry, who visited Lady whenever they could, are very mindful of the massive effort put in by everyone. They’ve thanked the team countless times for saving their best friend’s life and for being instrumental in the amount of good fortune that has spontaneously come their way since the story broke.

They are two kind and gentle souls of very few words and don’t need to say a lot for us to know that they care and are extremely appreciative.

“Baie dankie” (thank you very much) and knowing that Lady is on the mend is more than sufficient a response for everyone who’s rallied to their aid.

Happy family

Henna and Jerome, the boys’ parents, are humble folk who appear to have been dealt a tough hand, but they too need to be acknowledged for bringing up their boys so well despite the odds.

Every time someone visited their home, the first question Henna asked was: “When is Lady coming home?” The children from the community made the trek to and from the Society almost daily, and every time they visited there was an air of anticipation that they would be allowed to take Lady home. 

It is said that patience is a virtue and that all good things come to those who wait, but after being necessarily confined to a kennel for almost four weeks, Meisie-Lady was itching to go home, and the boys were equally keen to have her back.

Having survived a close call, and knowing how much she was loved not only by Peter and Gerry but by her entire community and everyone captivated by this remarkable story, we were not going to rush the process. But their wish was finally granted on Friday the 7th of September when our head veterinarian, after thoroughly examining Meisie-Lady, decided that she was well enough to be returned.

Home sweet home

When the children were told that Lady could go home their little faces lit up. It was so heartwarming to listen to them discussing who would get to fit Meisie-Lady’s new collar and harness and who would hold the lead on their walk home.

As the eldest, Peter felt that it was his duty to ensure that she arrived home safely, but he was mindful that this might upset the enthusiastic little entourage who’d faithfully accompanied the boys on their regular visits. After a lively debate lasting several minutes (which allowed the hospital team time to make some minor adjustments to her newly fitted collar and harness) it was unanimously decided that they had each earned the right to hold the lead for a part of the way.

Without further ado, the happy little clan fondly waved goodbye and made their way back home, arriving safely several hours later.

We’ve been back several times since the reunion and can happily report that Lady is doing well, as are the community who benefited enormously from the kindness and generosity of everyone who was moved by the incredible tale of Peter, Gerry and their best friend, Meisie-Lady.

To have been privileged to tell the world about these two remarkable little people, and instrumental in both gentle Meisie-Lady’s recovery and alleviating of this family’s plight, is one of the highlights of my almost 18-year-long animal welfare career.

This happy tale has earned the Animal Welfare Society of South Africa immeasurable goodwill, respect and recognition, and deservedly so. They are selfless and always put the animals first.