2nd Sep, 2021

Written by Mary-Anne Knight

Professional photography by Nat Gold ZA

Lockdown will hold specific pockets of memories for all of us. Because, I think, we were stuck inside for so long and kept from a wider social environment, we tend to remember more clearly the unusual and non-routine events.

My life during lockdown was a busy one. I live on a two-acre smallholding with six horses, three dogs and a cat. My life was thrown into chaos when suddenly we weren’t allowed to leave the premises to exercise our horses. For a while before permission was granted, life was trying. My friend and a great rider, Aneri Swanepoel, had moved in to help me with the horses and stayed during the lockdown. Aneri volunteers at both TEARS and AFRIPAW.

A pup in need

One day, Aneri told me she needed to foster a very needy pup for the weekend – he was just over two months old, was not thriving, and would probably lose an eye. The story upset me terribly; the animal welfare organisations all had to empty out into foster homes to abide by the strict lockdown. I heard myself saying that I’d foster and adopt him once he was strong enough.

A tiny bundle the size of a margarine tub arrived amidst terrible excitement from my two German Shepherd Dogs and sixteen-year-old Belgian Tervuren. The pup could barely stand and looked like a little black-and-white rat. One of his eyes was milky, and it was thought that he might lose it.

“Aah,” I exclaimed, “he looks like a little badger!”

An arduous recovery

So, Badger moved in, and between Aneri and me, we shared his duties! She lived in my Airbnb, and worked from there too, so took the night shifts, as well as most of the days, but she was super-helpful when I needed to go outside or to get groceries.

The amazing staff at TEARS, as well as their consulting vets, were so helpful, especially volunteer Ruth Morrison who, along with Aneri, helped us every step of the way. Badger’s routine for the first couple of weeks and even months was arduous. He had to be fed every two hours; at this time, he also had to have his eye cleaned as well as ointment put in.

We also started to teach him to “go to the loo” after each meal, and then he’d be put in a picnic basket, where he was wrapped in blankets until it was time for his next meal.

This continued until he grew strong enough to go outside and he began to walk properly. The best news was when we were told that his eye had been saved. Badger got stronger and happier and started to sleep in my bed!

A special dog

Badger is a naughty, gorgeous, friendly and outgoing little dog. We all adore him. He’s so good with the horses and is a happy little soul, tearing around the farm and destroying much in his path. He still sleeps in my bed and, unfortunately, is often found on all the furniture.

I decided to take the MuttMix test because TEARS suggested it and because he was such a beautiful and unusual-looking mix.

I was delighted when the test returned in super-quick time to reveal that this little boy (who’s now 58cm high and not the Jack Russell we all thought he would be!) was a mix of Dobermann, Australian Shepherd, Collie and English Bulldog.

Badger’s MuttMix Results

        Level 3         Australian Shepherd

        Level 4         Dobermann Pinscher

        Level 4         Collie

        Level 4         Bulldog

The Dobermann is quite noticeable in his head, chest and legs, yet he has a Bulldog midsection, and his colouring is Australian Shepherd. Temperament-wise, Badger is very Dobermann – an excellent watchdog. He’s also extremely clever, which I guess is due to both sheep-herding breeds (Collie and Australian Shepherd). He does, however, have the very stubborn streak of the Bulldog. I really couldn’t imagine life without him!

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