Written by Brigitte Reeve-Taylor
Professional photography by Ingrid Owen Photography at TM Studio and Photography
Dancers Love Dogs is the perfect meeting of love for dance and dogs. This special non-profit organisation based in sunny South Africa was founded by professional dancer, choreographer, and dance instructor Brigitte Reeve-Taylor in 2012. The organisation aims to produce annual gala dance shows with everyone involved, including professional dancers, volunteering their time and expertise so that all the funds raised can be used for mass sterilisation programmes.
Unfortunately, the pandemic lockdown meant that this amazing annual event had to be cancelled. However, as we know, the love of animals never goes away, and Dancers Love Dogs will be back with new performances to delight audiences and help animals.
Brigitte Reeve-Taylor with Kodi and Sofi
I really only became “educated” in the true sense when I started Dancers Love Dogs. I had no idea of what was really happening out in the world with animals, and it was from this moment that I made the conscious decision that I’d only ever rescue or adopt a pet. People don’t realise that there’s a rescue society for literally every single breed of dog.
This was my motivation to start Dancers Love Dogs: so that we could sterilise as many animals as possible in impoverished areas to stop the overbreeding and having to euthanise unwanted pets.
Over the years, my family has adopted five fantastic pets who’ve had a wonderful life in our home – and we feel blessed to have them in our family. We now only have two: Kodi and Sofi – both adopted Boston Terriers and the love of my life. We adopted Kodi at three years old, and he’s now 10; Sofi was adopted just before lockdown last year, and she turned four in August.
I have a real soft spot for all flat-faced breeds. My little Pug, Ozzi, was our first amazing introduction to these breeds, and it’s been a love affair since then. I urge all families to consider visiting their local animal shelter, volunteer to help, and consider adopting a pet. You could also volunteer to foster an animal for a period of time. The shelters are overrun at the moment, and any assistance would be so welcome.
I’m so grateful for the assistance and support that Dancers Love Dogs receives. To date, we’ve sterilised over 15,000 animals in impoverished areas. We’re praying that theatres will go back to normal so that we can host our long overdue gala show again in 2022.
Laura Bösenberg (Dancers Love Dogs Ambassador) and Sophie
I am a former principal ballerina with the Cape Town City Ballet. Being a dancer and loving dogs, naturally Dancers love Dogs is one of my favourite organisations, and dancing in their annual show to raise funds and awareness was always a highlight for me.
Rescue dogs are my favourite breed, and our newest baby, Sophie, is the light of our lives! Sophie (then named Sipho) was found on the streets of Khayelitsha with three men who were trying to sell her. She was so tiny, only 600 grams, malnourished and exhausted.
Luckily for us, the incredible Anti-Animal Trafficking CT found her, and the rest is history – we adopted Sophie two weeks later. Soph is the most loyal, smart, sensitive, loving little thing, and I can’t imagine life without her. She adds so much value to our lives. I can’t even think of the fact that she was once on the streets. If we could save all of them we would!
Life has certainly changed since my dance career began. My husband and I said that we shouldn’t have human babies just in case we don’t love them as much as we love our rescue babies, but now that we’re expecting our first human baby, we’ll have to spread the love around (and Sophie gets a play friend for life)!
We’re so grateful to have her in our lives and feel so fortunate to know her love. Hopefully, we get the privilege of rescuing and loving more dogs in the future – they totally complete our family!
Gerard van Rooyen and Leia – A Chance Meeting
In 2018, I went out one evening in Stellenbosch. It was 03h00 in the morning and I was waiting for my Uber to arrive. A man wearing a big trench coat came up to me and he pulled this tiny Rottweiler-like puppy out of his coat pocket.
She was exhausted and curled up in a little ball, trying to protect herself from the frigid Stellenbosch September air. I didn’t think twice. After a short haggle, I gave him R50 so that I could take this little bundle into my care.
The next morning, I took her to the vet. She was severely dehydrated, exhausted and her red blood cell count had been nearly depleted by fleas and ticks. She also had a hereditary bacterial infection that she got from her mother and was completely worm-ridden. The beautiful staff at TAH and my gracious mother helped me turn her around. She turned at death’s door and “sashay coupe jete'd” her way into a new life – one filled with new friends, family, love, and warmth.
She's now an older sister to little West Highland Terrier Bella, loving adopted daughter of Lola, her Westie mom, and frequent agitator of Charlie, her adoptive Westie dad. She’s the most magnificent companion and friend. With a sixth sense of note, she always knows when I need love and affection. She's exceptionally intelligent and just a beautiful soul to encounter.
Rescue dogs rule. Adopt one and have a lifetime filled with unconditional love and joy. My time at LAMTA (Luitingh Alexander Musical Theatre Academy) as a dancer has been filled with incredible growth and inspiration from our esteemed faculty, and Brigitte has pushed me so far to become who I’ve become. Supplementary to that: she also has an infectious passion for animals, and especially rescue pups. It brings me great joy to share my craft, passion and story of my doggy companion with you all.
Paula Owens and Zena
My husband, Thomas, and I had wanted to adopt a puppy for quite a while – we were just waiting for the right time. Eventually, I managed to twist his arm and convince him that the time was right. And I’m so glad that I did, because two weeks after adopting Zena, we went into the first national lockdown.
I’d been looking for puppies from animal rescue centres for some time; they’d constantly pop up on my Facebook page and I’d beg Tom on a daily basis for us to adopt a puppy. I had my eye on a little black puppy at Oscars Arc; her name was Drum Tummied Snum, and she needed a forever home. We applied, they did a virtual home-check (because of Covid-19) and, on a Saturday morning, we excitedly went to collect our new puppy which we’d never met before.
We arrived at the Woof branch in Foreshore, eager to meet our little one. The first time we saw her, she was already up to mischief in her pen, wagging her tail and doing her little trot. We’d also just adopted a little rescue kitten, Dahlia, from Raise ‘n Rescue, so when we got home, we did the introductions. Before we knew it, Zena had settled into her new home beautifully.
Two weeks later, lockdown happened, and we were so happy to have our new additions to brighten up this time and make things so much happier. Zena and Dahlia bought us so much joy during a rather miserable time. They were also over the moon as we were at home with them 24/7. We recently added another rescue to our family as we adopted another kitten, Hades, from Foster Love Animal Rescue.
Zena loves her walks at the Greenbelt in Kirstenhof. Playing with sticks and chasing birds and squirrels and always managing to get into the water is her best. We try to take her to the beach every Sunday; it’s her favourite part of the week. It’s not all been smooth sailing, but we’ve done training with her that helped a lot. Overall, Zena is a sweet, social, loving pup with lots of energy.
She’s the most precious thing and has crept into our hearts and home – we can’t imagine life without her.
I’m a dance teacher and teach modern dancing and ballet, as well as fitness to adults. During lockdown, I had to teach all my classes from my lounge over Zoom, and Zena would constantly get involved, jumping up and running around the room. We call it the “Zoomies”. She made my students and clients laugh and brought joy to the dance classes. One of the best things about teaching classes over Zoom from home is seeing everyone’s pets get involved.
The amount of entertainment and companionship we get from our animals is priceless, and I’m happy to say that rescue kitties and doggies are our favourite. They have so much character and knowing that you’re giving them a great home is heart-warming.
Find out more about Dancers Love Dogs
You can read the story of how this unique organisation began in our article at https://www.happytailsmagazine.co.za/articles/features/dancers-love-dogs/ For more information, visit their website at www.dancerslovedogs.weebly.com, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter @DancersLoveDogs, and at Instagram @dancerslovedogs.