Written by Sonia Peck, volunteer at DARG (Domestic Animal Rescue Group)
Professional photography by Nat Gold ZA
This is a beautifully touching story of serendipity, proving that no matter what species we are, eventually, if everything aligns as it should, we all find our place.
“We already had three dogs – Emily, a Golden Retriever; Fiji, a Golden Retriever/Labrador cross, who’s my wife, Lois’, working guide dog; and Allie, our rescue from TEARS. We were really happy with all three,” says Craig. He says that although they’d previously had four dogs, they found that their current trio was, in fact, the right number of dogs. That was until one day when Craig was scrolling through the offerings on Facebook and found a post from DARG about a partially sighted boy called Onyx, who’d been residing at the shelter for five years.
Due to his disability, Onyx’s previous displaced dwelling at Hout Bay Harbour had become challenging to navigate, so his rescue had been very necessary. Craig immediately resonated with this dog’s plight, as he’s all too familiar with the reality that disability doesn’t mean inability. “Just because you can’t see too well doesn’t mean you can’t do well – it just means looking at the world differently,” he states. What an illuminating perception.
With very little deliberation, Craig and Lois decided that their dogs should meet Onyx.
The DARG team is a well-oiled machine, and in no time they’d arranged for Onyx to meet Craig and Lois’ pack. After the ideal combination of supervised play dates, socialising opportunities and stress-free activities (did I mention, too many treats?), Onyx was finding his way into the loving architecture of this welcoming home and decided that he’d much rather stay permanently.
Onyx has proven to be a delightful addition to the family. His affectionate, playful nature has made training manageable and pleasurable. He’s defying the rule of not being able to teach an old dog new tricks by taking to clicker training like a duck to water. He basks in his training as enthusiastically as he does his daily walks – good boy! But there’s always time in the day for a snooze on the sofa, embellished with the occasional hearty snore.
This is the ideal outcome for a shelter dog; gifting and returning nothing less than mutual symbiosis. And in this case, it seems that four is the right number after all.
Craig, Onyx’s new dad, shares…
Having a partially sighted dog is almost no different to having other dogs. There are some places where I need to be more careful: he struggles to see things nearby and might bump into them. He’s bumped into me, trees, and sometimes the front door gate. But with a little guidance and warning, he’s usually just fine. And when not, it’s a small bump and he moves on, because that’s just life!
It takes time to adjust, especially after five years at DARG. DARG is fantastic, but it’s not a forever home. Onyx loves walking at the nearby vlei and making doggie friends on his walks. He’s even learning to join me for a (short) jog around the vlei, and soon we’ll have him completing the parkrun five-kilometre route!
All those people who walked past Onyx at DARG missed out, because he’s a very special boy!