Written by Ilze Smith, Chairlady of Hermanus Animal Welfare Society, and Beverley Dippenaar
Photography by Photture
The emaciated toffee-coloured boy was passing his day as usual, sitting on a shredded, muddy blanket on stony ground, sore, hungry, and hardly able to see, when an ambulance drove past. An observant paramedic spotted him and reported it us.
Off we zoomed, law enforcement in tow, to investigate. Shocked is only a small part of what we felt. The dog’s owner ran off, knowing he was in the wrong – but that was not our concern. All our attention was diverted to the poor suffering animal who just seemed to quietly accept his sad fate. We could see the light shining in his matted, infected eyes: this boy deserved a chance.
We took him back to our clinic for treatment, and posted his story on Facebook. The support from the public was overwhelming; food, money, toys, and – something he really enjoyed – visits from people. It blew us away.
The weeks passed and the Pit Bull we named Zeus grew stronger. His eye infection cleared up, and he gained weight and confidence. His story had touched many a person’s heart and, though we didn’t really want to part with this happy, full-of-life gorgeous guy, it was time to find him a forever home. The first home, while lovely, didn’t work out because their existing dog was not at all keen on sharing the attention with Zeus. When the second home offer came, we were nervous – they had another male Pit Bull. Eish! Two male Pit Bulls together? Never, we thought. Luckily, Phillip Page, an animal behaviourist, volunteered to help and, over the next couple of weeks, he ‘trained’ the humans and introduced the dogs. From the beginning he was positive that all would be well.
The weekend came when Zeus went home with them; no Phillip to supervise… A week later, Beverley was sitting in front of the adoptions coordinator. Well, she must have noticed the coordinator’s body language – sinking into the chair and face full of fear that it hadn’t worked out and Zeus was coming back again – so she quickly said: “No, no! I have come to adopt Zeus officially. My boy and he are best of friends!” Well, if jumping over the desk and kissing was appropriate, it would have been done. We couldn’t have asked for a better home.
Zeus’s new mom, Beverley Dippenaar, shares
We’re the people who look at a Pit Bull and ignore all the negative press; we see a loving and loyal companion. Early in 2015, we had to put two of our beloved Pit Bulls to sleep, due to old age. I was grieving and so was our remaining Pit Bull, Tyson. We felt we should get him a friend and decided to adopt. Phillip, a dog behaviourist, suggested Zeus, and offered the help and training we’d need to rehabilitate and integrate him.
In all honesty, I didn’t pretend for a moment that I wasn’t hesitant – and there have been some testing and intimidating times – but the two have now socialised very well. They love playing together, chasing one another, digging holes and dragging their blankets out onto the grass. They smother us with affection, and enjoy their walk adventures.
Zeus responds to attention with plenty of licking, tail-wagging and affection; it is hard to believe that anyone could ever treat him as he was treated. He has found a loving home and we’ve completely given our hearts to Zeus and Tyson. We’re sure to be rewarded with exciting years of loyal companionship ahead.