Lee and Lezahn with Benji, Bella and Bully
Written by Lezahn Meiring
Professional photography by Zelda Terblanche Photography
Back in 2017, my boyfriend, Lee, started looking for a house. He found one and decided to make an offer to purchase and was third in line for it. The thing was, the owners had left a Boerboel boy behind at the house. We prayed for the house and the dog – we later discovered that he was named Simba.
A few weeks went by, Lee’s offer was accepted, and the purchase process could start. We were told not to worry about the dog as he’d be taken to the SPCA before Lee moved into the house. Knowing the breed and how wary people are of them, I was almost certain that a neglected Boerboel, suffering from anxiety after being left behind, would have only a very small chance of getting adopted. So, we said we’d try to keep him.
It took us three weeks of feeding him underneath a fence before we became comfortable with each other. He refused to sleep in a kennel, choosing to sleep on the cold cement instead. A few weeks passed, and one night when the weather was so bad, Lee had to get Simba inside. He put Simba’s bed in the hallway; by morning, Simba had pulled his bed all the way into Lee’s room. And that was that – he was now an inside dog!
A few months later, my sister’s Jack Russell, Lisa, came to stay with us until they moved to Cape Town a year later. We decided to get Simba a companion after Lisa left. I saw Bella, a Border Collie, on the Highveld Ridge SPCA’s Facebook page, and I knew I’d love her. We organised a meet-and-greet, and the rest is history.
Bella was extremely skinny and neglected; she was surrendered because she was “too naughty” living in a flat (who keeps a Border Collie in a flat?). Two years after we “adopted” Simba, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – bone cancer. We visited specialists who determined the cancer had spread and that he didn’t have much time left. We tried to make the most of the time we had left with him. When he passed in 2019, Bella didn’t take it well. She was depressed for days and wouldn’t eat. It got so bad that she needed medication to help her cope. That’s when Bully and Benji came into the picture.
My sister shared Bully’s Facebook post with us. He was living with his owner in a township near Johannesburg. The owner didn’t want him anymore because he was “old” (they estimated about 10 years), and he didn’t want to see him die. PETS (Pet Empowerment in Townships) took Bully in and advertised that he needed a retirement home. Once we saw his face, we couldn’t say no. While he was with PETS, Bully was treated for a benign mass; this after he’d gone through chemo for TVT a few years before – he really is a trouper. Our vet estimates that Bully is now about 13. He loves to sleep, but when he’s not doing that or relaxing in the sun, he likes to play. However, we realised that we’d still need a playful friend for Bella, so we took her to Highveld Ridge SPCA to pick out a friend. She didn’t like the first few dogs we introduced her to, but she loved this cute puppy immediately. He’s a beautiful mix-of-all-breeds (we’ve just ordered our DNA kits from MuttMix and are very excited to see what breeds he is) with hazel eyes. We decided to stick with the “B”-trend and name him Benjamin – “Benji” for short. We went to pick him up the next day, thinking it would be his happy ending, but no.
By the next morning he was sick and we rushed him to the vet. After testing negative for any diseases on Friday (he was treated for worms), Benji tested positive for parvo on Saturday. Luckily, it was caught early and he was admitted and spent what was meant to be his first weekend in his new home at the vet.
Thankfully, he pulled through, only to get bitten twice in the space of six months by the same neighbour’s dog. Benji nearly lost his life, but our vet saved him, and he only lost a piece of his ear.
We now have three happy dogs living their best life. They take over the bed every day, go to doggy school twice a week, and love each other to bits. And… we’re in the process of adopting a German Shorthaired Pointer to add to our precious pack!