Man and his best friend on marathon mission

2013-05-25 00:00

A CAPE Town man is taking his dog for a walk.

There’s nothing unusual about that, except that the walk is some 1 400 km and the dog is being pushed in a wheelchair.

Marne van den Heever (69) started pushing his three-legged dog, Tripod, in a wheelchair from Cape Town in January and is headed to Pretoria. He arrived in Durban recently.

He told Weekend Witness he might be seen in Pietermaritzburg towards the end of next week.

Van den Heever aims to raise awareness about disabled dogs and people.

Tripod was hit by a taxi and left for dead last year. His owner abandoned him at a shelter because he said he did not want to have a crippled dog.

On the day he was going to be put down, Tripod ran to Van den Heever who happened to be at the shelter at the time.

“He chose me, I didn’t choose him,” he said.

Tripod is being pushed around in a modified wheelchair, with an umbrella and a compartment for food and water.

The pair do not accept lifts, but Van den Heever said people had been opening their homes and rooms in guesthouses.

“Tripod is not affected by traffic and only barks at motor­cyclists. He’s enjoying the walk tremendously,” Van den Heever said.

He found companionship with his dog after a serious accident had left him prone to anxiety and depression.

His goal is to rehabilitate more dogs and to establish a home for them with people with disabilities.

“Animals have a way of breathing life into people who are in situations where depression and anxiety are a result of difficult situations,” Van den Heever said.

An independent trust fund for the physically disabled has been launched. Anyone interested in supporting the fund should call Van den Heever at 082 742 5000 or e-mail

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