Cape Town – 2016 was not a very good year, at least for two souls in Cape Town for whom the year was filled with suffering and pain.At one end of the city, 71-year-old Cathy Beckmann was mourning the loss of her husband Edgar who died in February, followed by her elderly German Shepherd dog, Sheba, a short three weeks later.Just 13km away, a mutt was tied up in a Salt River scrapyard, knowing nothing of proper food or love and care.A man who watched the miserable, skinny dog from his office block window across the street finally decided to do something.He reported the neglect to the SPCA and lives were changed forever.When 'Tigger' first arrived at the kennels, he was extremely timid. But that all changed when he met Beckmann, who was a volunteer at the animal rescue organisation.Sent by an angelShe recalls that day clearly."I had a 14-year-old dachshund called Toffee. But my daughter kept on saying 'Ma get another dog, get another dog'," Beckmann says of the dark time."I made up my mind that I can't carry on like this."Beckmann, her daughter and grandson sat in the waiting area while a dog was brought to them."He came in, jumped on my lap and put his head in my neck. That is when my daughter said it was my dog because he had chosen me."When he finally arrived home, her friend looked to her and said: "Who sent you this dog? The Angel Gabriel!"And that is how the two-year-old mutt got his special name.Slow startHis antics and presence filled the gap in her heart left by her 84-year-old husband's death after a long stretch of dementia.Taking care of Gabriel wasn't easy in the beginning."He was so scared. When I was going to work, he wouldn't walk anywhere. He would just lie down on his back."Loud noises were especially scary. He would duck under the bed when she swept the house or switched a hairdryer on.But Beckmann's persistence paid off.The two spend their days walking in the park or relaxing at home.A reason to get up"I walk my dogs in the Alphen every day. He jumps in the water and carries his own lead. It is marvellous to see."Gabriel is also very affectionate and continues to nuzzle his owner's neck.At times, he jumps onto the bed and accidentally squishes Toffee cosying up under the duvet."It just changed my life. I have a reason to get up every morning."Beckmann says they do not yet have plans for Christmas.Despite retiring as a supervisor for the Artscape Theatre's booking office, she still receives invites every now and then to watch the latest productions.But that will be the one activity the dogs will have to sit out.