Companionship by accident

12th Apr, 2024

Left to right: Monique with Arrow; Socks with Monique’s mom, Therina Grobler; and Mila

Written by Monique Grobler, with photography by the author

We weren’t quite ready to get a dog again. We as a family had had the discussions, but our hearts were still very broken from losing our three furry friends, all within a year.

Last year (2023) we lost all three of our Rottweilers – first we lost Diego due to cancer at the age of 12; we then lost Nushka due to back failure, also at 12 years of age; and lastly, we lost my baby girl, Cassidy, due to back failure at the age of 10 years. As heartbroken as we were (still are), we knew we wouldn’t be without a dog for a long period, as they really are a man’s best friend.

How one became three

One day while I was in the kitchen, mom showed me a video of the cutest dog playing with his teddies. I thought it was adorable, but I didn’t pay too much attention as I simply thought it was just another video online. Only to find out the next day this big boy was up for adoption – and mom wanted to adopt him.

Me, being me, I immediately went onto the organisation’s Facebook page to look at all the animals up for adoption. Socks the Boerboel stole mom’s heart; I saw Arrow the German Shepherd and my heart melted; dad also jumped onto the wagon and saw Mila the Rottweiler and we all fell in love.

We decided to adopt three dogs to honour the three babies we’d lost. However, this wasn’t the easiest of tasks. Being based in a small town called Greyton, and seeing the three dogs at Oudtshoorn Dogs in Need (ODIN, which is based in George, four hours away, meant we had a long trip ahead of us… and for them, if all were to go well.

How would they get home?

Mom and I went to George to go and meet them, just to ensure they’d be a great fit, as well as get along with one another. But, of course, being the animal lovers we are – we jotted down our information, signed the dotted line, and proceeded with the adoption.

The next obstacle we faced was having to get them to Greyton. Arrow the German Shepherd wasn’t too well trained with the other two, so we couldn’t simply load them all in and bring them back with us – as much as we wanted to. We had to keep their well-being in mind.

We reached out to various pet transportation companies to see who could assist us with bringing the dogs safely to Greyton. It needed to be a professional company as we’ve previously travelled with animals abroad and know the importance of travelling animals in a secure/safe manner between locations. I want to give a shout out to Animal Travel Services for their extreme lovingness, gentle ways and patience bringing our new fur children home.

Anyway, let’s skip to the good part…

Socks the gentle giant

Boerboel Socks is the big boy that stole our hearts and started this whole journey. Socks was chained up his whole life on a 1m chain with only a chair to jump on and off. As a result, he has very bad joints and what we came to learn as hip dysplasia. Therefore, nobody wanted to adopt him because of the medical expenses that came as a package deal. We knew he had problems, but we had the space in our hearts and the financial capacity to take him on and give him a loving home.

After having him with us and numerous vet visits, we came to learn that this big gentle giant has more medical issues. This didn’t scare us away, but we did come to learn that he might not grow too old with us as there’s not much we can do for the pain he faces daily. We do, however, have him on the best joint treatment food, along with monthly joint injections and daily pain medicine – combined with a lot of love, cuddles and slobber kisses.

This baby had been through so much in life yet he’s only shown us unconditional love. Socks loves his kisses and tummy rubs, and he absolutely adores his walks even though we can only take him for short walks. Our next plan is to get him a pull carrier to enjoy long rides with his two sisters.

Mila, the baby of the house

Next up we have Mila. Rottweiler Mila is the baby of the house, being only eight months old, and as a pure-bred Rottweiler, we knew we were going to have our hands full. She was dumped at ODIN. Growing up on a farm, she befriended the sheepdogs extremely quickly and started playing; the farmer was scared that, being a strong dog, she’d hurt the sheep.

She HAS never hurt any of the animals on the farm. However, we can’t say the same for the crickets and every single toy on this property. Mila came with a lot of energy and very puppy-like manners. We knew we were in for a lot, but again this didn’t scare us.

She has the goofiest personality and, boy oh boy, does this dog love water. If you don’t find her pulling toys apart, snuggling her brother Socks, or causing some mischief somewhere, she’ll be in our little river or pool playing her heart out.

Then we have Arrow…

Arrow is pitch black, also assumed to be a pure-bred German Shepherd. She’s the most loyal dog I’ve ever met. ODIN explained to us that they “thought” she was stolen from a family as she knows certain commands very well. However, when they found her in a ditch, she had skin problems and was extremely underweight.

Arrow is extremely protective over her humans and constantly desires that companionship. She also loves her toys and her long walks in the mornings and afternoons. She can be extremely stubborn –for example, when we have construction happening and she needs to move to another section of the garden, she’ll lie flat on her back playing dead and giving you a cheeky smile.

Unfortunately, Arrow came with the most challenges we couldn’t have foreseen. ODIN adopted her to us, saying she’s only snappy when she’s on a lead among other dogs; once she came home, we came to learn this wasn’t the case at all as she started getting extremely snappy towards Socks and Mila when we were around in the garden. We didn’t know what caused this and luckily had different sections in the garden to separate her from them. We subsequently learnt that Arrow had needed to be an only dog!

We reached out and searched for professional help and got hold of Yvonne Wurster, an extremely well-known and respected dog trainer who’s worked in various countries and is now based in Gordon’s Bay. She came to Greyton to help us with the whole situation as we couldn’t face the heartbreak of giving Arrow back.

Arrow is honestly an amazing dog with only love to give, but her background made her very uncertain of other animals. We proceeded with the training with Yvonne to see if we could keep her as part of the pack. Yvonne told us that, although she really should be a solo dog, Arrow is willing to learn and is capable of change, but that it’ll be a journey and a lot of hard work.

Again, we as a family are willing to take the effort to ensure Arrow remains in a loving home, but we do wish we’d known this beforehand, as it’s caused unnecessary stress on her poor soul.

As of now, Arrow remains on one side of the garden, and the other two dogs on the other side. Mila and Arrow love playing together, but Arrow remains scared of Socks, so Mila and Arrow get the afternoons to play together while we continue training on getting Arrow and Socks to be gentle with one another.

In conclusion, none of these dogs are aggressive, despite their backgrounds and breeds. They’re extremely loving, loyal and super appreciative towards a new life, filled with love, treats, toys, walks and endless cuddles.

Our adoption journey was very unplanned with some bumps along the way. But we love them all and can’t imagine our lives without their craziness. The whole journey was a little rocky and extremely unplanned, but as I always say, getting an unplanned animal is the best unplanned parenthood one could ask for. Animals coming from shelters only have love to give, and we’re quick to think we give them a new chance – but they give us life, purpose and love without questions asked.

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