Written by Yulinda Noortman of Boston Terrier Action Group (BTAG)
Professional photography by Paul Hamberger
All rescues have their own degree of trauma but also their own magic. Every now and then, however, a dog – usually from unbearable and life-threatening situations – comes into our care, bringing with it an extra dusting of special magic.
It’s almost as if they can just bear until the point of breaking, and then some universal force intervenes and plucks them out of their abysmal circumstances. Once that happens, the dominoes tumble with such rapid force that, as observers of such a process, we stand somewhat dumbfounded.
The journey for this animal from that point forward seems pre-planned. We as volunteers become mere facilitators called upon to do what we signed up for – helping the animal in need. Tux’s story is one such miracle.
About to be euthanised
I received the call from fellow rescuer and friend Cheryl Gaw in mid-June 2018. A vet had contacted her saying that they had a stray Bostie on the operating table about to be euthanised due to his suspected injuries and general poor state of being. Could she and was she prepared to help before they proceeded.
Those who know Cheryl know that no dog slips through her fingers if there’s any chance of life. So, she called me and asked if we’d take this little lad into our care. There was no time to think – I had to say “yes” or “no” right there and then; the vet was waiting on the other side for our decision.
We had no idea what we were signing up for, but the decision was an easy one. And so, with that vet making a call, the first act of human kindness set the dominoes tumbling.
The vet kindly offered to neuter him as well as taking care of a massive abscess he had under his chin. There was substantial trauma to his hip and his leg which they couldn’t diagnose as they had no x-ray machine.
A long day on the road
The following day was a long one for the little black-and-white dog. Animal lover Francine Tanner took him to a neighbouring town where Cheryl met them and took him back to Johannesburg; another lift awaited him with Dr Jo Backenberg, who was travelling to PMB.
Tux, as Jo named him, slept in her arms all the way from Johannesburg to Howick (near Pietermaritzburg) where they were met later that night by Rachel Manser, a Boston Terrier Action Group (BTAG) volunteer who fosters many of our rescues. He accompanied her home where he was made comfortable; the following morning he’d be seen by veterinarian Dr Hathorn at the Howick Veterinary Clinic to assess his injuries.
The news was heartbreaking. He had a fractured pelvis, his leg was broken and the femur head had broken off. The only option was amputation and, although a heartwrenching decision to make, it was the only option if he was to live a pain-free life.
With the surgery completed and his recovery going well, Tux went home with Rachel to heal.
I need to backtrack for a moment to illustrate what a gentle soul Tux is. A neighbour who’d spotted this little boy limping around with this growing abscess under his chin for over a month brought his situation to the attention of the vet. The poor dog then endured almost 10 hours of travelling and handling to get to us.
Never once in all of those two long days did he growl, snap or complain at anyone although the pain must have been excruciating. When one looked into his eyes, though, you sensed an accepting sadness. It brought tears and unease to all of us trying to imagine what he’d been through.
Fast and fabulous
Tux’s recovery and healing was whirlwind fast. Without the hindrance and pain of his leg, he just came alive. We can only assume that, for the first time, he had a soft, warm bed, food in abundance, siblings to play with and humans who loved him intensely.
In the beginning, Rachel had her hands full to keep him still. He was busy and naughty, did puppy things, and stole hearts every day. We had to wonder just how fast he would have been on four legs. Charmaine Young kindly sent a large goodie bag of chews, treats and toys to keep him occupied during his “cage rest”.
During this time Karen Laubscher, our BTAG Animal Physiotherapist, began his rehab. It wasn’t long before Tux believed he was the fastest dog in the neighbourhood.
At this point, we had to face the financial realities of the exercise. We had to step up our fundraising to cover the mounting bills. But even in this area, the magic just happened. Jo and Cheryl became his main financial benefactors and the vet’s bill – already kindly reduced – was settled with ease.
By this time, of course, Rachel had fallen head over heels in love with him, but we knew we were at “that point” where reality dictated that we needed to find him his forever family. Although she was desperate to keep him, she’d been crowned a “foster fail” twice already and couldn’t take in any more.
But now the question was: where would we find a home for a three-legged Boston Terrier? So often people want to adopt, but they want the picture-perfect poster Bostie. As it turned out, we needn’t have worried; all we had to do was connect the dots.
With heavy heart, Rachel asked a photographer friend, Paul Hamberger, to take some professional photos of Tux so that we could put his story out there for prospective adoptive families. The photos took our breath away. Tux was beautiful, handsome, filled with life, and looking into his eyes still just wanted to make you cry – but cry with joy. We hoped that the right family would see these photos and notice his soul too.
Before we could post the photos and profile, Rachel decided to take Tux to a doggie training workshop (where, of course, he stole more hearts). Attending the workshop was Eurika Erasmus, who immediately knew that she simply had to contact friends Audrey Walker and João de Jesus in Camperdown, KZN. They’d been looking for a Bostie boy to complete their family.
That same day we received an enquiry from Audrey; she wanted to know where Tux was and how soon they could meet him. “Slowly,” we cautioned, “it’s a process and a long one, because we are pedantic and full of checks and balances before we even allow a meet and greet!” But their application made us all sit up, and the subsequent home visit made us excited. Could it be this easy?
Yes, it could and it was. The very next weekend Audrey and João travelled to Howick to meet Tux. We were all apprehensive. Will there be that instantaneous connection? Will the two new sisters accept him? Will he steal their hearts too? We have to admit we watched them like hawks on the day. But the love connection was immediately evident, and we knew it was meant to be.
There are so many people to thank, but in particular the vet who first contacted us, Cheryl, Francine, Dr Jo, Dr Doug, Rachel, Karen, Charmaine of CK Pet Products, Paul Hamberger, Audrey and João, Molly and Lola, all our donors and sponsors, Happy Tails Magazine, and, of course, our BTAG team of volunteers.
ONLY THE BEGINNING
By Audrey Walker, Tux’s new owner
When we first heard about Tux from our friend Eurika, who’d met him over the weekend, we couldn’t wait to meet this pawsome little soul that everyone was falling in love with. Our home visit went well and a play date was arranged with João, me, and our two little fur babies, Molly and Lola.
The second we all saw him it was instant love. Our lives have been forever changed since he came home to live with us.
So much love to give
His doggy sisters absolutely adore him, and he has so much love to give to all of us too! The three furry ones play together from the moment their eyes open in the morning, and they enjoy naps in the afternoon sun after barking at the ducks waddling to the dam in front of our house.
Working from home has allowed me loads of extra bonding time with this beautiful little boy who often comes to me for extra cuddles throughout the day, before João arrives home from work and it’s time for the whole family to cuddle on the couch.
We are eternally grateful to BTAG and to Tux’s foster mom, Rachel, for taking such amazing care of him while he was getting ready for his forever home. We honestly couldn’t imagine our lives without our “super dog”, Tux.
The thread that binds everyone involved in this rescue together is the recognition of the sanctity of the lives of our animals. The unhesitating willingness of so many to step up and say “I offer and dedicate my time, my home, my commitment and my love to one little Bostie boy’s well-being”. Thank you, Tux, for sprinkling us with your magic.
…and the best ending to this story is that it is only the beginning!
About the Boston Terrier Action Group