Written by Candice Lipchick
Professional photography by Strike a Pose Photography
While scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed one afternoon, I came across photos of a poor dog who’d been tortured near Orange Farm. She was recovering from surgery after having been brutally stabbed and thrown into a wire fence.
PETS Johannesburg had been called to rescue the dog and drove to Orange Farm in the middle of the night to collect her. They rushed her to their vet, where they were informed that her left foreleg couldn’t be saved and she’d need an amputation. Heidi from PETS raised enough money for her surgery and they went ahead.
The second I saw the photos of this beautiful girl, I fell in love with her and wanted to give her so much love and help her heal. That’s where my journey with Kelsey began.
I contacted PETS and said I’d like to adopt this girl. I completed their adoption forms, a home-check was done, and my adoption request was accepted. Kelsey still had a few weeks to go before she could come home with me – she needed more time to heal so remained at Radiokop Vet, where they looked after her.
After my adoption of Kelsey had been approved, I went to visit her at the vet’s practice. I walked into the hospital section where she was lying in a cage, wrapped in bandages. Her other paw had also been stabbed and was badly damaged. I climbed into the cage with her, and she found the strength to put her wounded paw out for me to hold. I sat with Kelsey for a while, just patting her and holding her. The look in her eyes told a terrifying story.
Two weeks later, Kelsey was ready to come home. I fetched her early on the Saturday morning. We arrived home and my two other little rescues immediately realised that she was struggling. They took to her immediately, and for weeks following her arrival, they licked her wounded paw and were very gentle around her.
I took Kelsey to the vet twice a week, as she had to have bandage changes and check-ups. One afternoon on the way to the vet, I noticed something wasn’t right; her breathing sounded strange and she was behaving differently. On our arrival at the vet Kelsey was sent for x-rays, and I was told to wait in the vet’s rooms for her. A while later the vet returned and said: “I have good news and interesting news… Kelsey will be fine, and she’s going into labour.”
There were four puppies in her, and she had an emergency cesarean section. Three of the puppies had passed away, while one was born alive but was struggling to breathe. The veterinary nurse applied mouth-to-snout resuscitation to the puppy and struggled for several hours to breathe life into it. Eventually, it started to breathe. The nurse named the puppy Niles.
That night a staff member at the vet took Niles home to monitor him, and Kelsey remained at the vet. I fetched them both the following morning. For two weeks following the birth of Niles, I bottle-fed him, as Kelsey couldn’t feed due to the trauma of the abuse.
After two weeks she miraculously began producing milk and began feeding, with me supplementing Niles with the bottle several times a day. Kelsey was and still is the most incredible mom. Because Niles was born prematurely, he took a little longer to develop. His eyes were closed for a few weeks, and it took him time to start walking.
Kelsey’s healing took several months, and she continued to go for bandage changes for a few months after Niles’ birth.
Once the bandages were removed, I began introducing her to her new world. We started off by going on short walks and just sitting outside. She loves the car, so I took her for long drives to get her out. As she healed, she wanted to go on longer walks, and then eventually runs!
Nowadays she waits at the gate for me to come home, sits so I can put on her special needs harness, and off she bolts down the road. The entire neighbourhood knows her and has fallen in love with her. There are certain complexes that she likes to lie outside of and wait for the security guards to come out and pat her. As she cannot walk for long without taking a break, we spend a lot of time just sitting on the grass and watching the activity around us.
People driving past wave at her, some stop to say hello, and children come out of their homes to say hello to her and pat her. I’ve shared her story with numerous interested people, in some cases in the hope of educating people about the importance of being kind to animals.
More than a year has passed now, and Niles and Kelsey are still inseparable. All four dogs adore each other and play all day long. They all love squeaky toys and treats and most of all love their daily walks with mom. Niles inherited Kelsey’s magnificent personality. He’s also such an incredible dog and so interesting as he hasn’t been raised in a “normal” situation with other puppy siblings. Although he’s now 16 months old and ginormous, he still behaves just like a puppy.
I’m truly blessed to have these incredible souls in my life.