Furever in My Heart – One Dog’s Journey to His Final Furever Home

24th Apr, 2024

Written by Nicky Hoseck

Photography by Colin Hoseck

2023 was a bleak year on our little farm near Kei Mouth in the Eastern Cape. Fifteen years after moving in, our animals were ageing and 2023 proved to be the year that many of them would pass over the rainbow bridge.

We were shattered by the loss of three of our dogs and worried for our safety. After the very first break-in on the property, we felt we needed something more than just a 12-year-old terrier cross and an over-friendly Australian Cattle dog to deter potential trespassers.

Although my husband assured me a large dog would help to fill the large hole left by our three dogs, I continued to drag my feet.

Having grown up with terriers, I was worried about owning a larger dog and unsure if I’d bond with it. I also dreaded the thought of losing yet another animal, especially a dog with whom we share our homes and, more often than not, our beds!

In the end, my husband talked me around, but we both remained adamant that we didn’t want to buy. There are so many unwanted dogs in the area that adoption was the only option, so we turned to the shelters and pet adoption organisations to see if they could help.

On a Quest to Find a Furry Friend

The first person I contacted was Amber Wiggill at Furever Homes/Furever Fixed. She’d arranged for us to adopt a feral cat some years earlier and I was impressed by her professionalism and understanding of life on a small farm.

Before we took the process any further, we sent Amber a video of our farm so that she could be sure it was both secure and suitable for a larger dog.

Happy with our situation, Amber responded almost immediately, saying they did have a dog who might just fit the bill.

A year earlier, Furever Homes had helped home a large litter of puppies with surprising (and not very popular) breeding. Born to a Boerboel mother, the sire of these unlikely pups was nothing bigger than a Dachshund!

My heart softened as I envisioned a litter of big dogs with little legs, but the photos that followed soon revealed a handsome-looking Labrador lookalike wearing the doggie equivalent of a tuxedo!

Cody, as he was known, was completely black, except for a white chest and the hint of white on the backs of his paws – colouration reminiscent of one of the dogs we’d recently lost.

The same size as an average Labrador, Cody stared into the camera with soft, almond-coloured eyes designed to melt the toughest of hearts.

From that moment on, I think Cody had already won us over, but it was a couple of weeks before we managed to arrange a face-to-face meeting with him.

Introducing Cody

Cody was living with the family he’d been adopted by as a puppy, but sadly their circumstances had changed, making it impossible for them to keep either Cody or his sister, who was, incidentally, exactly what I’d imagined a Boerboel-Dachshund cross to look like!

When we arrived to meet Cody, we were greeted by a cacophony of barking. At least he’ll make a good guard dog, we thought to ourselves.

When Amber came to open the gate, Cody launched himself at her like a long-lost friend. He showed considerably less interest in my husband and me but eventually wandered over with a wag and sniff. He seemed very laid back – quite the opposite of the high-energy terriers we were used to!

It was clear Cody’s sister kept him firmly in check – something we took to be an encouraging sign, as our Australian Cattle Dog, Koala, is a bossy madam at the best of times and would no doubt seek to dominate Cody the moment she met him.

With the initial meeting over, the next step was to introduce Cody to our two existing dogs – Koala and a small crossbreed terrier called Bart.

Proving her dedication once again, Amber drove Cody out to our smallholding – 70km from her home in East London. Initially reluctant to leave the safety of the vehicle, Amber eventually coaxed Cody and let him explore the property while we kept our dogs at bay.

The introductions went as well as could be expected, with Cody and Koala showing signs of instant approval and the diminutive Bart bursting into a chorus of frenzied barking (which is his normal reaction to any new dog).

After the initial introduction, we let Cody and Koala off their leads and together they sniffed and scampered around the garden as if they’d known each other forever.

Happy that the introductions had gone as well as could be expected, we agreed that Cody could stay, so we handed over the adoption fee and waved Amber off.

Becoming Odie

It didn’t take long for Cody to worm his way into our hearts and secure himself a new name along the way. Instead of sticking with Cody, which made me think of AI assistants and professional wrestlers, we dropped the C and transformed him into Odie – Garfield’s long-suffering canine companion.

Odie grew into his new name in no time, perfecting the “lick attacks” his cartoon namesake was famous for, and revealing a similar willingness to please.

Odie has been with us for five months now, and his bond with Koala is cemented so deep he bursts into a chorus of mournful cries and howls whenever the two are separated. It’s difficult to figure out if Koala feels the same way, but she certainly enjoys bossing him around – a habit I’ve also come to appreciate, as it means she spends less time trying to tell me what to do!

Healing a Broken Heart

Although I was a little cool and distant with Odie to start with, it wasn’t long before I started to warm to him. Having him trotting alongside me made me feel safe and protected – something I’d never experienced in a dog before! Not only that, but he’s also a pleasure to have around.

On walks, he’s responsive and respectful with a recall that’s second to none. He’s also getting used to the other animals on the farm and can now walk past a chicken without cowering! He’s still coming to terms with the horses and prefers to give the oversized pig a wide berth, but there’s something about that softer side that appeals to me!

The thing that’s most amazing about Odie is his eagerness to please and his willingness to accept a more submissive role in the family.

Our previous dogs were typical terriers – they believed they were the bosses and proceeded to tell everyone else what to do in no uncertain terms. Odie has a much softer, gentler disposition, which I never expected from a big dog. He also gives the best cuddles – something that smaller dogs just can’t muster!

Odie’s gentle nature and loving disposition are helping to heal my broken heart and proving that, no matter how much you’ve lost, there’s always more to give.

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