Journey of Hope: From death’s door to new life
On Friday 13 November, around 3pm, a severely under nourished, pitifully thin, timid and visibly abused dog arrived at the home of a Beacon Bay family.
Tim and Mercia Stones had seen a video on the Facebook page of The Furry Godmother of this roughly six-month-old mixed breed pup being washed, and knew instinctively they had to step in.
When we saw him, so small, unsure, and clearly nervous, our hearts melted. We looked at each other, and just knew we had to at least offer to try and help him
“When we saw him, so small, unsure, and clearly nervous, our hearts melted. We looked at each other, and just knew we had to at least offer to try and help him,” said Mercia, who has been volunteering over weekends with the Furry Godmother in their regular food collections and awareness raising initiatives at various shopping centres around East London.
The Furry Godmother is a registered NPO and outreach, where stray township dogs are rescued and provided a safe sanctuary while they recover and are placed in a furever home.
Jeanie Goodrum, who with Tessa van Heerden, known as The Furry Godmothers, run the initiative, says she was driving on the N2 home to East London from Bhisho. “I saw this thin dog criss-crossing the highway near Mount Coke. It was wobbly due to hunger. I put the hazards on and stopped. Another car behind me slowed down and just missed hitting Hope (the dog). Hope was scared and ran back to the edge of the road. He found a Kentucky packet, but couldn't get it open. I opened the packet, found bones inside, lured Hope and grabbed him.”
A search immediately began for a family willing to take Hope in as foster parents, to help him to regain his strength and recover.
While Jeanie was on her way to bringing the dog to the Stones family, Tim and Mercia had already decided on the name “Hope”. Hope had been described as hopeless, on death's door. Tim and Mercia wanted to remind him that his life has purpose and, as Tim says, “while there is life, there is hope”. Mercia explained that the name has a deeper meaning: "'Hope' stands for 'Hold on, pain ends', which seems so appropriate when we first laid eyes on Hope — his eyes filled with sadness, his ribs sticking out, the cruelty he had been subjected to so very visible. Our hope is that, soon, Hope's name will come to mean 'Happy, obedient, playful, energetic'!”
Hope is around six months old, and a mixed breed, most probably a German Whippet. In addition to obvious starvation, Hope's injuries include having half of an ear and his tail cut off, and a deep indentation around his neck, caused by wire being wrapped around it.
Says Goodrum, “The public needs to be reminded of the harm of wire and traps, and the suffering that these animals are subjected to. But also, it is important to see the hope when a stray animal is found, and gently nursed back to health, to life. It is a privilege to witness this miracle every day.”
Furry Godmother founder van Heerden says, “Many of these animals belong to people who either don’t know how to or don’t have the means to care for them properly. I try to create awareness and demonstrate proper care and a lot of the community members, especially the youth, do love their animals and help me.”
By the next morning, Hope already had a twinkle back in his eyes. He has slept most of the day, no longer feeling the anxiety of having to stay awake to forage for scraps to eat, or to avoid being physically harmed. He is eating and drinking well. And whenever Tim or Mercia walk into the room he raises his head, and is quick to follow them wherever they go.
“We're both astounded at his level of trust, and how gentle he is in nature, despite the obvious suffering he has endured in his short few months of life. He is also exceptionally well behaved, and just a gentle, old soul. We have completely fallen in love with our Hope!” says Tim.
The Stones family will be fostering Hope for up to three months — but already it seems that Hope has found his furever home.
The Furry Godmothers is always appreciative of donations, including both dog and cat food. Anyone interested in making a donation, or volunteering to help foster an animal in need, may contact Jeanie at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 0726361796; or contact Tessa at 0710183629.
This article is the first part of an ongoing series. Over the next few weeks the writer will share Hope's progress from death's door to recovery.
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