Written by Sam Chatham for Instant Tags
Photography by Kayla Johnson and Garry Raa
If ever there was a rescue story to make your heart just burst with joy… this is it!
Buddy’s story starts with local animal welfare angel Bianka Lerm, who runs a small organisation called Die Honnemense, which does much-needed outreach work in various areas, including the impoverished community of Scottsdene near Kraaifontein.
While working in the area recently, some locals mentioned a senior boy they all called “Homeless”... because that’s what he’d become, most likely after being a previously much-loved pet. Nobody really knew his story, just that somehow against all the odds, he’d ended up surviving disease, parasites, thirst, hunger, the elements and all the dangers associated with living on the streets.
The locals felt sorry for him, so they began to leave out scraps in the morning at least. However, this was no way for an old dog to live out his twilight years, so Bianka put out a plea on Facebook to see if anyone would consider adopting him. The amazing Roscum Sanctum, near De Doorns, offered to assist but could only help in three weeks’ time and advised that they’d need a sponsor at R250 a month.
Meanwhile, Kayla Johnson, an avid animal lover and welfare volunteer, and her hubby, Garth – already parents to three foster fails – had seen Bianka’s Facebook post about Homeless and couldn’t bear the thought of him still living on the streets for another three weeks until he went to Roscum. Kayla reached out to Bianka and offered to foster him for three weeks (…this before even checking with her husband; luckily, he’s used to this by now!).
When Homeless arrived at the Johnson’s home, he fitted in quickly, making it clear that he’d once been part of a family. He knew the house rules, understood what the bed was and just made himself at home. They couldn’t help wondering what had happened in the past that led to him ending up on the street. Judging by how quickly he attached to Kayla, not leaving her side, she assumes he was given away, left behind, or somehow got lost.
As the days passed, Homeless became part of the pack – the other dogs absolutely loved him, especially the other male who played with him non-stop. He also loved to cuddle and would find any excuse to climb onto the couch with Mom. To put it simply, he became part of the family… one of the gang, and there was just no way the Johnsons could even consider giving him away again. Even though they knew Roscan is fantastic and would’ve been the next best thing for Homeless, just knowing what he probably went through before with his previous owners, Kayla said she wouldn’t have been able to sleep at night knowing that she’d given him a taste of a family after living out in the cold for so many years and then ripped it away again.
And so Buddy, as he was renamed, has officially become the Johnson family’s fourth foster fail, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. As Kayla said: “What’s another one when you have three already!”
Buddy recently had all his blood checks and was found to be in good health, and he was also sterilised. Although the vet estimates his age to be about 10 years, Kayla says he’s just one big puppy, so the family hopes that his best years are still to come.
Kayla summed up their feelings in a nutshell: “Quite simply, he stole our hearts, and my other dogs would never have forgiven us if we sent their new older brother away.”
We’re with you all the way, Kayla and Garth! We think our followers will agree when we say that it’s fantastic that you suck so much at fostering! Seriously though... you are true rescue heroes! Looking at your happy, glowing, well-adjusted pack, which no doubt all came with issues and baggage, is proof that there’s only one way to go – adopt don’t shop!
Bianka Lerm adds…
My heart is happy and overflowing knowing that there are people like Kayla and Garth, who are not only willing to adopt, but also willing to adopt and cherish a senior boy like our Homeless (now Buddy). I couldn’t have wished anything more for him. And I wish the same for every other furry we try to rehome!
Kayla, Buddy’s new owner, shares…
I’m so thrilled that Buddy is part of the family –- he’s brought us so much joy. Watching his personality start to shine through has been incredibly heartwarming! My only wish is that more people would start to understand how easy it is to make a difference in an animal’s life –some love and food is all it takes to change a life forever.