Written by Kirstin Brackenridge – Community Relations & Fundraising Administrator: Animal Welfare Society (Port Elizabeth)
Photography supplied by Sandra Cherry-Watkins
The majority of people see photos of puppies up for adoption and continue scrolling, especially when those puppies are 13,000 kilometres away. For Sandra Cherry-Watkins, who lives in the UK, this wasn’t the case.
“When I first saw Ashley’s picture on her adoption ad on Facebook back in December, she reminded me of my dog Boobles, who was also an Africanis. I instantly fell in love with Ashley; everything about her made me feel like she should be a part of our family,” says Sandra.
A timid, scared pup
Ashley arrived at Animal Welfare PE as a timid and scared puppy who wouldn’t go near people and kept to herself. Staff and volunteers spent endless hours loving her and showing her that humans can be trusted (and that they’re a good source of treats!). Even after all the work, Ashley was still very nervous and hadn’t been exposed to life outside of the shelter.
When Sandra applied, we realised that it would be unfair to put Ashley directly onto a plane from Animal Welfare PE, so one of our permanent staff members offered to take her home and work with her until her flight. She was exposed to “normal life” and lived in their home for six weeks with other dogs, cats, children, and lots of interesting smells and noises.
Ashley improved in leaps and bounds, and her cheeky little personality started to shine through. She changed from nervous shelter dog to a bundle of energy, confidence and sass all in one. Her departure date was getting closer and closer, and everyone, especially Sandra, was getting more and more excited.
Monday (departure day) arrived, and we could sense that Ashley knew something was up. We met the animal transport company at the AWS PE Shelter where final goodbyes were said from everyone who’d played a huge role in Ashley’s life. Her new life in the UK was about to begin.
Ashley spent three days in Johannesburg and flew out to the UK on the Wednesday evening. It was a long journey for her, but we were updated regularly on her progress. We all downloaded Flight Tracker and watched her plane getting closer and closer to her new family and forever home.
Sandra had a long journey down to Heathrow and got there around 11h00. Ashley had arrived in the UK at 07h00 that morning but needed to go to the Animal Reception Centre where she was checked over by the veterinarian. By 14h00 that afternoon, she was finally in the arms of her new Mum. It was another long journey home, but Ashley was now out of her crate and getting lots of love and spoils (specially bought biltong).
Life in the UK with her new family of horses, dogs, cats, snakes, hedgehogs, and a parrot is suiting Ashley! She runs around the fields with the happiest of grins on her face and her tongue lolling out her mouth. She has endless stimulation and passes out being loved by Sandra.
This is what happily ever after is all about!
Sandra, Ashley’s new mum, shares…
Well, let me just start off saying how lucky I am to have such a cool little pooch. What felt like forever (waiting five months) now feels like ages ago. I still can’t believe I now get to see her sweet face every morning (I get woken up with her face squished to mine).
Ashley has settled in so quickly.
When I first brought her home, she was nervous, but, luckily, that was short lived. She loves her new life and has a big doggy smile on her face every minute of the day; her tail never stops wagging, and her days are jam-packed with fun and games. She loves to run around my 8-acre field between my horses. She’s always on the go, playing in the garden, inside the house with her toys, or with her siblings, and let me tell you… she is F-A-S-T – no one can keep up!
The evenings are then filled with cuddles (although I must admit I get lots of cuddles throughout the day too). It seems like she’s always been here. She fits in so well and loves her routine. She gets so spoilt by my parents who live on the same property – she loves all the attention.
Ashley has the choice of three dog beds but loves that she has FUR-niture rights so will sleep stretched out on the couch or bed most of the time.
This gorgeous girl is such a sweet soul and has so much love to share and certainly isn’t scared to show her affection. She’s been so sweet towards all my other animals too and just wants to be friends with them all. Ashley has stolen my heart, and I’d like to think I’ve done the same with hers!