5th Oct, 2016

Written by Cherie Sindall and photography by Mary Hunter

“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend”. John 15:13

In memory of Danie

Danie du Plessis, a successful businessman, fell on hard times in the last two years of his life. Employed as caretaker of a vacant industrial plot on the side of a busy Cape Town highway, he lived in an empty container with his only faithful friend, a dog named ‘Danger’.

Danger and Danie, friends to the end

Every day at 6pm, Danie and Danger were seen walking to a nearby shop where Danger patiently sat outside waiting for Danie to purchase their daily meal. Danger never missed a meal and was in excellent condition, for when money was short Danie would starve himself to feed his best friend.

On Tuesday, 30th June 2015, Danger was not with Danie when he made his customary journey to the shop. After Danie crossed the highway, Danger suddenly appeared, racing into the traffic and pursuing his master. In blind panic, Danie ran back into the busy road to save his dog. Disaster struck: Danie was killed.

Bewildered, frightened and sad, Danger watched the ambulance carry his master away. He returned to the container alone, cowering miserably through the night, awaiting the return of his master’s footsteps, the sound of his voice, the touch of his hand...

The following day, Danger growled viciously, refusing to allow rescuers – people living nearby who had been watching over them – near him. Under sedation, he was transferred to a veterinary clinic while animal rescuers networked for a new home…

Because I’m happy

On Friday, 3rd July, I offered Danger a Forever Home: to come and live with me on a farm in the Western Cape. That Sunday, I met up with his rescuers in Swellendam for a ‘meet and greet’. Tears of joy were shed when, to everyone’s surprise and immense relief, the scruffy little dog ran straight into my arms and lovingly licked my chin, wagging his tail as if greeting a long-lost friend. He willingly leapt into my car, settled down behind me and went to sleep with his head on my shoulders.

After two days of being unresponsive to the name Danger, I changed his name to HAPPY, a sound he instantly reacted to by running eagerly forward whenever called.

During the first few sunset evenings on the farm, Happy sat facing Cape Town with a sorrowful look in his eyes, undoubtedly remembering his beloved Danie. He quickly found his paws, though, and – I’m happy to say – settled joyfully into his new life with me.

The excitement and adventure of farm life keeps Happy busy, with never a dull moment to spare. He keeps tireless vigil over monkeys in the orchard, determined that no monkey finger will ever touch the ground! Self-appointed ‘Guardian of Poultry’, Happy patrols the chicken run boundary during the day, accompanying ‘his’ hens through the garden to roost in their shed at night. Happy’s enthusiasm to travel knows no bounds, and car trips are the highlight of his day. From the rear window ledge of my Daihatsu, he surveys the passing world while sprawled out in comfort – my protector.

His internal clock works to a precise schedule, ensuring breakfast is served between 7am and 8am, supper at 5pm – and bedtime at 7pm sharp! An extremely intelligent animal, Happy follows me everywhere, yapping with encouragement should there be any delay in meal or bed timing. Loved by all who know him, Happy sleeps by my side, curled deeply into the softness of his continental pillow, with a contented smile on his precious face.