Making Marley Ours!

8th May, 2020

Written by Julia Lamberti-Morreira

I’ve always loved the look of a Pug. Call me crazy, but a squishy face, snub nose, stocky little body and curly tail screams cute to me! Despite having never owned my own Pug, my interest in the breed led me to discover the incredible Pug Haven, built by Malcolm and Cheryl Gaw, founders of Pug Rescue South Africa ( It was around 2013 that I first attended a fundraiser at their Haven in Benoni, and from the moment I entered the gates of this shelter, I was blown away. 

Plush Pugs joyfully bouncing about, bone-shaped doggie pools, a manicured garden and magnificent facilities… all immaculately maintained. You could see the care and attention to detail put into every part of this special place. As my future husband and I drank wine, listened to live music, cuddled more Pugs than we could count, and took part in the fun raffles and activities, we knew that these monthly fundraisers (known as a Yappy Hour) would become a regular part of our life as a couple. 

After marrying in 2015, we had our little boy the following year. The demands of parenthood meant that we couldn’t visit Pug Haven as regularly as we once did. We did, however, continue to support the shelter and follow Cheryl and Malcolm’s incredible work with both Pug Rescue and their Thanda Inja Project for disadvantaged pet owners in Daveyton Township on the East Rand.

Fast forward a few years… our animal-obsessed little boy will be turning four this June and had been asking for a dog for a while. Our intention was always to adopt a Pug from Pug Rescue, but we’d planned to do so next year, when our son was slightly older. The Coronavirus pandemic, however, flipped our script, and when the opportunity arose to foster a fur child from Pug Rescue during the lockdown, we contacted Cheryl immediately.

From the moment our son met Marley at the shelter on collection day, he fell in love, and my husband and I were equally smitten with this stunning nine-year-old boy. We’ve had our fawn-coloured cutie for a few weeks now, and I honestly cannot contemplate a time when he wasn’t a part of our family. 

Yes, I expected a sweet addition to our home, but I could’ve never anticipated how truly loving and loyal these dogs are. It’s like having a ball of love follow you around all day! An added bonus is that our son now confidently sleeps in his own bed, because “his Marley” sleeps alongside him, and he thanks me at least five times a day for getting him his dog. So now we are officially “Foster Fails” and have already applied to adopt our little guy.

The national lockdown has been a period of real fear, grief and hardship for many people, and all of our lives have been irrevocably changed. I do truly believe, however, that some of the most incredible gifts can arise out of the darkest times. Our Marley has certainly been one of these gifts, and no matter what the future brings, this little dog is a reminder that, in the end, all that really counts is the love we give and the love we receive. What greater lesson and blessing than that? 


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