Written Salome Bruyns, Head of Inspectorate of Garden Route SPCA
Professional photography by Salomé Bruyns
A picture of a dog clinging to his elderly owner inspired an incredible outpouring of concern and help from animal lovers everywhere and made it possible for them to stay together. This is their story…
A selfless decision
On Friday the 9th of April 2021, Inspector Estelanie van Wyk and I were in the impoverished community of Lawaaikamp dropping off a dog that had been sterilised earlier that day when an elderly lady approached me, a large brown dog beside her.
The lady explained to me that she’d fallen on hard times due to the pandemic and was struggling to provide for herself and her friend of ten years, Whiskey. She felt her only option was to surrender her faithful friend to the SPCA.
I could clearly see that she was emotional, and the dog held onto his mom trying to hide his head from us, almost like he was begging his mom not to let him go. This is when we snapped the picture that flew around the world and changed everything.
We couldn’t separate them
The love between them was plain to see, Whiskey was in good condition overall, and I immediately and without a doubt knew that I couldn’t separate these two from each other.
I made it my mission to seek help to keep them together. So, I shared the photo on the Garden Route SPCA’s Facebook page of Whiskey clinging to his owner and asked for help:
“While we were busy taking sterries home, an elderly lady called us to surrender her dog, because she struggles financially. He didn’t leave her side and grabbed onto her. My heart broke into a million pieces. How do I take a dog away from someone who loves her dog, and whose dog clearly adores her, just because she struggles at the moment? I simply couldn’t. Any donations welcome to keep this boy home. I will deliver the food once a month for him and help sort out his mange. Who will help?”
A picture worth a thousand words
I didn’t need to say much – the photo spoke for itself. That one image touched so many people’s hearts that the post went viral, with over 3.6 million views. Whiskey became a celebrity overnight and the response was overwhelming. People dug deep to help the friends stay together, with donations for both Whiskey and his mom, Moliso, flooding in.
As animal welfare includes taking care of their health, Whiskey was brought to the SPCA for an overall health check, and, thanks to donor support, was neutered, vaccinated, and treated for a cyst on his back, mange, and an eye infection. When he was returned a few days later, the reunion was ecstatic. You can watch on YouTube: “Viral dog Whiskey returns to his owner in George” (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mg6lShtWMVY).
Being able to keep Whiskey in his loving home, as friend and protector to Moliso, is the best ending we could ever hope for.
Hundreds of animals in need
Whiskey and Moliso inspired so many people that, with the money raised, we’ll not only be able to keep them but also sterilise many dogs and cats, which is key to the prevention of cruelty to animals.
There are thousands more animals in need all over, with hundreds of loving owners struggling to provide for their faithful friends. We urge people to support their local SPCAs so that people like Moliso and dogs like Whiskey can live happily ever after.
Moliso Ngoqo, Whiskey’s owner, shares…
I’m so very happy to be able to keep my precious Whiskey. I had a job previously, but my financial struggle started after being retrenched due to Covid-19. I love my Whiskey very much and am so very grateful for all the help we’ve received.
Whiskey is famous now and loved by many more people too! We feel very blessed!