Written by Katja Herr, Director of Staffordshire Terrier Rescue SA
Photography by Sulandi van den Heever
Zunie was surrendered to Staffordshire Terrier Rescue SA on the 28th of October 2018, as her owners had moved from Cape Town to Johannesburg. There was a post on Facebook offering R3,500 cash for anyone who’d take Zunie. After a chat with the owner and his daughter, he removed the post and dropped Zunie off with us at the kennels.
She was extremely overweight and exhausted from the drive. She couldn’t even walk from the car to the kennel and had to be transported in the wheelbarrow. It’s very sad to see what humans can do to a dog. The owner explained that his wife was alone at home, he travelled a lot, and she just kept on feeding her. She was apparently fighting with her mom, but she had no marks on her. She could hardly breathe and her lungs sounded terrible. We took her to the vet, where we learnt that all her organs were squashed from fat and that we needed to be very careful as she lost weight. She was allowed to walk four times a day for two minutes, which must have seemed like forever for her. It was way too hot, so we could only walk early in the mornings and late evenings.
It was suggested to us by Hill’s that we make use of the Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic food and stick to the feeding advice. Hill’s is a real supporter of “mission adoptable” cases, so they willingly sponsored a few bags of food that transformed Zunie’s life and health. We’ve been so grateful for their support in special cases such as this.
I’ve never seen such a fat, overfed dog in my life before – it broke my heart!
Her bones where stretched out and her entire body must have felt terrible to her. She did, however, have the sweetest smile and tail wags, even though she felt awful. She crept into our hearts very quickly, as it seemed she understood she was on a diet and yet she didn’t complain. She followed her exercise regime and loved her little pool, where she spent most of her days keeping cool during the hot summer.
Vanessa van Wyk and her team who take care of our Staffords at the farm did amazing work to help Zunie lose her weight. Nothing was too much to do for Zunie, and they played a big part in her healthy recovery. Vanessa and her team are amazing!
We adjusted the walks to her weight loss and she managed so well. Once a week, Zunie enjoyed a huge beef bone, including the marrow, to chew on, which she loved.
Zunie had never been socialised and is, sadly, quite aggressive towards other dogs. While she did adjust over time, I still wouldn’t take a chance with her with other dogs off leash or coming towards her.
We had many applications for Zunie as she emerged from the excess kilograms, but, sadly, none were the right home for her. We continued to hold out hope that we’d find the best home for Zunie.
When we received the application from Elsa, I had a long chat with her and told her the full story of Zunie. She said, “Bring her, we will love her to bits.”
As Lambert’s Bay is not just around the corner, and we didn’t know anybody up there, I decided to go on a road trip with Zunie. She loved it!
I told Zunie that if it was meant to be, she’d sleep in her new bed that very night. If not, I’d just take her back home with me. And then, the magic happened!
Elsa and Martin waited for us and had lunch ready. We chatted, I checked the property, and all was found safe and secure. We spent a few hours talking, and it was as if Zunie knew. She lay by Martin’s feet in front of the braai as if she’d always been there.
I pointed out a few important things to know about Zunie, especially that her diet and walks are a must. Elsa and Martin both agreed.
I felt this girl had arrived at her home – and so did she, and I left. Elsa said she stood by the gate after I left and watched after me. They went into the house and told her to come as I’d be driving back to Cape Town. They explained to Zunie that she was in her new home now, and she happily went inside.
I sobbed for a while… we’d grown so fond of Zunie. She’d crept into our hearts, but we were consoled by the fact that she’d found her forever home with Elsa and Martin.
Although it’s only been a short while, Zunie, Elsa and Martin have already developed a strong bond, making this homing a “meant to be” experience for us and Zunie.
Elsa Smith, Zunie’s new owner, shares…
Martin and I have been married for 30 years. We’ve never been without a dog, and because we don’t have children, they are our children!
Duchess, who was also a Staffie, came to us two years ago. A woman who lived in town moved into an apartment and couldn’t keep her. Duchess was 16 years old and spent the last two years of her life with us. Everyone who’s owned a Staffie will know they become your shadow.
Martin works abroad and I missed her so much, the “person” who followed me everywhere –even lay in front of the shower – and I was very lonely.
I said that if we got another dog it would have to be a rescue dog, to give that soul a second chance in life. Martin said it must be a Staffie; I looked on Facebook, came across the Staffordshire Terrier Rescue SA’s Facebook page, and scrolled down. Zunie Zoom was in the third group of photos I came across. Her big smile stole my heart, and the bonus was that she was close by.
I read everything about her and showed the post to Martin. He was just like, "Ask them if we can come and get her tomorrow...”. I explained to him that she must be adopted… and then I met Katja.
Katja travelled all the way from Cape Town to unite us with Zunie. I told her that Zunie gave us much more than what we gave her; we’re just a match made in heaven. She adapted to us as if she’d been with us since being a puppy!
On her first day going for a walk, she led the way as if she’d been on many walkies with us; I was totally astonished. When Martin is here, we make a fire every evening and sit and chat in the braai area. They play tug-of-war and she falls exhausted in her bed; when we go to bed by 22h00, I just say, “Come, we going to sleep,” and she runs straight to our room (as if she’s always been doing it).
Every evening we go for a drive, and she knows she must go to the Landy (not any other vehicle) for the drive – how is this small detail possible for someone who only arrived at our home a few weeks ago?
Her name should’ve been “Cutie Pie”… she’s patient, lovable, full of smiles, and walks like a model on the catwalk. She came and filled our hearts with love and joy!
I’d strongly advise anyone looking for a Staffie to get hold of Staffordshire Bull Terrier Rescue SA and make a difference to a loving soul looking for a happy ever after.