Unlikely teenager adopts puppy

2016-03-24 06:00
ARS volunteer Cindy Smit gives the newly-adopted Fletch a ‘pedicure’.           Photo: MONIQUE BASSON

ARS volunteer Cindy Smit gives the newly-adopted Fletch a ‘pedicure’. Photo: MONIQUE BASSON

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NEVER under-estimate the power of puppy-love . . .

What at first looked like any other Thursday for the J.Bay Animal Rescue Sanctuary (ARS) volunteers, who take care of the animals in the local informal settlements, turned out to be a day of unlikely love between a rebellious teenager and his newly-adopted puppy called Fletch.

Some weeks ago one of the volunteers was dipping dogs to help with the control of ticks and fleas, when a group of teenagers appeared and settled a few metres away to watch the action - tough young men who before long started making comments.

The apparent ringleader, surrounded by his friends, started mocking the volunteer’s efforts to try to get the dog owners to use kindness and affection, instead of force to control their pets in the dipping bath.

A short while later, the volunteer found himself alone and struggling to try to dip a very large, but very frightened dog. When the teenager made yet another derogatory comment, the volunteer lost it.

He went right up to the teenager and in front of his group of friends told him that he was doing his best for the dogs and invited him to show that he could do any better. He couldn’t back off in front of his friends, so he reluctantly came forward to help.

Lo and behold, he immediately showed himself to be one of those very few gifted people who could connect instantly with dogs. He calmed the dog down in a moment and, with barely a word between them, continued to help the volunteer for more than an hour.

When it was time to move to the second site - deep into a very disadvantaged and poverty stricken area - he asked if he could come along. The volunteer agreed, but told him he was expected to keep helping. He barely said goodbye to his friends.

At the new site he was worth his weight in gold. Organising those bringing dogs, calming the scared ones and actually making sure the volunteer also had all the physical help he needed.

An hour into this session he seemed to disappear. A little later the volunteer saw him holding a little black puppy that someone had brought to the team just to get rid of.

When the dipping was finished the volunteer went to him and asked what he was doing with the puppy. He said he had adopted it and would look after it.

The team gave him some dog food and a blanket for the puppy. The volunteer then offered to drive him home with his burdens. On the drive to a very poor house, he told the volunteer that he had never had any sort of pet in his life.

The volunteer became pretty fierce when explaining that he was now responsible for a life and that if he did not take good care of it he would answer to him. With hindsight the volunteer was not proud of his behaviour at that point.

When he was dropped off, the volunteer asked if he could find the time to help the following Thursday as well. He said he would but the volunteer was not convinced.

He kept his word and appeared with his clearly adored wee dog. For nearly three hours he again worked his socks off for the volunteer and the rest of the team - helping physically, organising and teaching the dog owners how to be kind to control their pets.

Just amazing. While he was working, his puppy slept in the back of the volunteer’s car - apparently he was exhausted from chasing chickens all morning and then not knowing what to do when he got close.

When all was done the volunteer drove him home again. This time his mother appeared and so very gently took the puppy from him so he could bring in the extra food and other bits that the team gave him to help care for his puppy.

Perhaps a life and even a family has been changed for the good by a wee beast.

What did the volunteer learn? That there is good, great ability and potential in the most unlikely places and to look for and to encou-rage it.

Does he expect the young man to appear every future Thursday? Absolutely . . .

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