Written by Nedine Naidoo for Rescue Rehab SA
Professional photography by Hey Doggo
I remember hearing someone coming towards me and, not knowing what to expect, I kept my eyes closed and waited to feel one last rock or even a strike.
But she paused. The woman radiated kindness and I could sense the anticipation in her.
For the first time, I felt important and put all my strength into opening my eyes and trusting that this one could be different. She smiled broadly as our eyes met and, I swear, she even had a joyful tear in her eye. Then again, so did I.
I could hear another dog barking and one person said to the other that it wasn’t going to work to take me in the car (I think because of the other dog). I remembered what my life had been like and accepted my fate. I couldn’t help shivering – I’d been lying in the cold and icy rain for some time.
To tell you what happened next, you probably wouldn’t even believe me.
My nose twitched and I smelled something yummy. There in front of me was a pile of crunchy dog-food pellets – just for me. How did they know that I was going to be lying here beside the road, stomach hollow from hunger? How did they know I needed them? Well, it didn’t really matter how, I’m just glad they did because, boy, was I starving!
They brought out a leash to keep me close. Nobody has ever wanted to keep me close; they encouraged me to go away. This was my first smile as I started to think that I may just experience love before the next winter.
I savoured the taste of every crunch that didn’t break my teeth, but before I could eat more than a few bites, a big white car appeared. Two people jumped out and rushed towards me.
My heart was pounding and I didn’t know what was happening. Was this the end? Did they think that I was somebody else? Were they going to chase me away now or shout because I’d eaten someone else’s food?
But they didn’t. I was dirty and wet, but they’d come prepared with a warm, dry big blanket. They immediately wrapped me up and held me in gentle, loving arms.
I felt at peace. I felt excited. I felt that that things were about to change. Never, ever could I have imagined just how much change I’d be part of....
They took me to the PDSA animal hospital – a place that all the other dogs were petrified of – but, to my surprise, it was really nice. They have these “rooms” that become yours; you can sleep and not worry about having things thrown at you and having to find a new sleeping spot in the dark. No more hunting for food. There are bowls of crystal-clean water and they serve food in bowls too.
Whenever I started to get a bit anxious, wondering what I’d done as a dog to deserve all this happiness, they’d remind me that I’m a good dog by serving some yummy wet soft food and talking to me kindly. I was matted and dirty, but they cared anyway.
The animal hospital people named me Langa. I felt so special having a name and knowing that they even knew where I’d come from and would take a moment to greet me. My rescuers had called me TimTam.
I went into a machine that checked my bones. I impressed them with my skills of escaping the streets without any broken bones, but they did find that my right front leg has severe arthritis; that’s why it ached so much during the cold and wet weather. They gave me special food and medicine that helps take the pain away.
For the first time I’m excited to face winter, the next icy period, because I can’t wait to show how strong I’ve become.
The hospital also discovered that I had an “STD” which I’d got from one of the mothers of my puppies; I’d developed a tumor on my male part called a TVT. That meant I had cancer, which would take weeks of treatment to fix. But the kind people said they wouldn’t give up.
My story as TimTam had gone viral because so many people cared, but I was also still Langa. My treatment was going well and things were really looking up.
Then the news came that I was leaving. I was uneasy when I heard them talking about me finding a family. I liked it so much at your animal hospital. I wondered if they were sending me back to Langa.
Towards the end of my treatment a day came when my rescuer, who turned out to be from Rescue Rehab SA, a group of people who care about animals, arrived. I knew that, if she was here, nothing bad could happen to me.
They put me in a car! I was that lucky dog. I didn’t know where I was going, but, after everything that had happened, I’ve realised that the best thing I can do is to just enjoy every moment, instead of worrying about the next winter.
In the car we passed many dogs and I tried my best to tell them all how awesome an animal hospital actually is.
The car ride was exhausting and I settled down for a nap on the reclining passenger seat. When I awoke, we were at a place called Paws Pet Parlour & Boutique in Table View, where they make dogs look nice.
I’d never heard of such a thing and thought maybe this was my family-to-be, so I fixed my tangled “bed hair” and put my best paw forward as we walked into the grooming parlour. Everyone gave me so much love and a warm welcome. They were so gentle and they started cutting away my “Langalocks” and knots.
They even shaved bits of my fur off, and as I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I hid my head in embarrassment, because those kind folks made me look the way that I have always wished that I could and never had somebody to help me achieve my dreams.
Never once did they judge me for my dirt; in fact, they even used doggy perfume to make me smell great. I felt like a new guy afterwards.
To put the kibble on the cake, we stopped at a shop for pets where I got to choose a soft, warm jersey and a brand-new leash – all just for me.
The next day was a very early start, but I couldn’t really sleep anyway because I could sense that my first surprise was on its way. It began with another car ride (sheer luxury for a dog like me). As we slowed down, I heard a dog bark, kind of like when they rescued me, only this time I was in the car and the other dog was outside. And we were about to meet…
Max is my new doggy brother; he welcomed me into his home and showed me around (including a swimming pool for cooling down in summer – seems a bit scary, but he’ll teach me when it’s warmer).
My new family is so kind and caring. We have lots of toys to play with and Max says that it’s perfectly fine to chew my own teddy toys as much as I want because, when they’re finished, our people replace them with new ones. How cool is that? Now we hunt for toys instead of stones and bones, and bowls of delicious food appear, as if by magic.
I went to the hospital for my last cancer treatment. Even though I feel like I woke up in another dog’s life, hearing them say: “Hey, Langa!”, I can’t help but smile, knowing just how lucky this Langa truly is.
I could never thank you enough for all that you’ve done for me and Max, because now his humans are happier too, he says. He’s happy to have a dog friend as the cat is a little stuck up and disappears when we want to include her in playtime.
Thank you for giving me all of my goodies and for fixing me. Thank you for checking me properly and taking the hurt away. You healed my physical wounds and allowed my heart to heal too. You fulfilled all of the dreams I’d almost given up on.
I promise to always smile and tell all the other dogs in the parks just how pawsome the PDSA animal hospital truly is.
All my love,
TimTam at the PDSA (SA)
Written by Vanessa Nel, PDSA (SA) Hospital Manager
Tim Tam was found collapsed beside the busy Jakes Gerwel Drive on the 13th of September, 2018. He couldn’t stand up and we suspect that he’d been knocked by a car. Although he must have been in much pain, he was a gentle soul when we picked him up and he sat on my lap peacefully, just gazing into my eyes as we transported him to our hospital in Bridgetown.
We did a thorough examination, x-rays, and blood tests. It was evident that no bones had been broken, but he was bruised and sore. We also found that he had TVT (Transmissible Venereal Tumour), for which treatment was started immediately.
We made sure that this boy was made comfortable and received pain treatment. He deserved the best second chance in life.
Although PDSA doesn’t run an adoption/rehoming centre or programme, we decided to keep him and treat him and, with the help of RRSA, find a home for him. On the very day that he arrived, the calls started streaming in.
Although this boy was so neglected, the smile on his face and his teddy bear looks obviously stole many hearts. However, because he was a stray, we couldn’t commit to adoption before the 10-day stray advertising period was done.
It was on the very first day that Ivanna contacted us, saying that she’d love to meet TimTam. Two weeks later, Ivanna and family – including Max, their Golden Retriever – had their first meeting with TimTam. It was a match made in heaven. He stayed with us for another week for further treatment and cage rest and to have him neutered.
Seventeen days after he was rescued, on the 29th of September, TimTam went to his new home. Since then, we’ve fetched him every week for his TVT treatments. The cost of TimTam’s treatment to date is approximately R4,500, and we’re very thankful for the donations that were received to help cover these costs.
TimTam’s new family
Written by 13-year-old Myra Granelli, Ivanna’s daughter and TimTam’s new owner
My name is Myra and I was asked to tell our story about adopting TimTam.
Early in 2018, the 6th of February to be exact, my mom’s dog, Sasha, had to be put to sleep due to old age. Sasha had been a part of my life since I was born, and even though we knew she was going to have to go soon, it didn’t make it any easier.
I’d wanted a dog or a puppy for a while because I love animals, but, at the time, I wasn’t allowed one. As the time came that Sasha would be leaving us, my mom started thinking about getting me a dog. I was excited at first, but Sasha had always been with me – I’d choose her over any animal any day. But I knew that she couldn’t stay forever, and getting another dog is better than not having one at all – and I knew that I could save the life of a dog and make a happy home for it.
When Sasha finally passed away, my mom wanted to wait a while before we got another dog. But she eventually put our name down for a rescue Golden Retriever. We waited and waited, but there weren’t any.
About three months later, she received a call saying that they’d found a possible dog. He’d been knocked over by a car and we had to wait a couple weeks for him to get fixed up and feeling better.
When we went to meet him, we spent about 30 minutes there – I really liked TimTam. The minute we saw him we realised there wasn’t much Golden Retriever in him, but that didn’t matter; he had such a good personality.
We decided to adopt him because he’s calm, he’s sweet, and he has the most adorable little face that we couldn’t say no to. Ever since we’ve had him, he runs to greet me when I get home from school, always looking for cuddles. We’ve learned that he really likes food and enjoys walks, but not long ones.
In this short time, TimTam has grown on me and I’m so happy that he is the dog that we chose.