Written by Sonia Peck, volunteer at DARG (Domestic Animal Rescue Group)
Professional photography by Hey Doggo
Every happy adoption is wonderful, but there’s an extra-special magic when a senior shelter dog that has patiently waited for many years finds their perfect forever home.
The dog had to be a rescue
It was July 2021 and a sweet Hout Bay couple, Tracy and Andrzej, decided it was very much time to welcome a new dog into their home. They’d had many dogs in the past, of all sorts of temperaments and shapes, so although they were well furnished with experience, they weren’t entirely sure of what type of dog they wanted and were therefore open to suggestion.
But one thing was for sure: the dog had to be a rescue.
They made an appointment at DARG in Hout Bay where they met the wonderful Faustina Gardner, who manages the adoptions. Faustina had a few dogs in mind and brought them to the couple one by one as the couple sat in the “meet-and-greet” enrichment garden on the DARG premises.
In and out they padded, all parading their unique assets and colourful, tempting personalities. But, although they were all enchanting in their own way, none of the dogs were “quite right”.
She chose them
Faustina then returned with Snoopy, the wise lady of DARG, one of the long stayers since the Hout Bay fires. The long-legged lass trotted willingly into the enclosure and began to meander around, minding her own business, as Faustina conversed with the seated couple about her past. Whilst Tracy was deeply focused on the conversation, Snoopy had soundlessly snuck into her side and was gracefully sitting upright against her, their heads in line. There was no attention seeking, nudging, or begging for treats. Instead, Tracy simply became aware of Snoopy’s subtle magnetism, powerful in its hush.
Captivated by this moment, Tracy explains that she was brought into presence and felt that this dog could perhaps be the ideal addition to their lives. Not wanting to rush the process, Tracy and Andrzej tenaciously yet pragmatically began to spend time with Snoopy off-site with the guidance of one of the long-standing volunteers who’d also been spellbound by her essence over the years. A few walks and many chats later, Snoopy surpassed her own expectations, bypassing the more tentative fostering step and leaping into the lap of full adoption.
Trust builds trust
With all shelter dogs come the usual warnings – careful taking them off lead, learn their triggers, mind any novel stimuli – but within a week or so, Snoopy, now aptly named (Lady) Suki, was safely off leash and quite the gentle, playful socialite, whilst also retaining her mature, regal disposition. Suki trusted her new parents, and in return, they trusted her.
We’re all guilty for assuming that our own companion animals have a higher sense of understanding, a richer sense of cognition beyond their natural neurological capabilities – but with this girl, I’d most certainly put money on it.
Tracy, Suki’s new owner, shares…
Living with Suki is a delight. She’s adapted so well, learns quickly and is so responsive. Calm, yet very alert, she’s a real personality. She loves her walks, especially being able to run free on the beach or in the forest. We let her off the lead for the first time after only a week, and watching her bound off like a puppy, investigating the kelp and then bounding back when called was so exciting. Her joy was infectious. The day she initiated play with another dog was another special moment; it’s as though her youth is coming back.
Suki has opened a window in my heart. I feel more alive and people have commented that I look happier. Now, it feels like we’re more than a couple; we’re a family!
Editor's note: Read more about Suki here.