Have a ball! Devastated dog owner leaves toy box on Cape Town beach as a tribute

Tribute on the beach (Cape Town Beach Cleanup)
Tribute on the beach (Cape Town Beach Cleanup)

Cody the dog may have been small in stature but he had a big personality, especially when he was playing with his ball or walking on the beach in Cape Town.

In death, the 8-year-old Maltese Poodle-Yorkie cross ended up making an even bigger impact when his owner decided to leave a bright yellow box full of brand-new tennis balls on the beach in Bloubergstrand for other families and their dogs to enjoy.

Linda Bamford Hefer explained to News24 on Friday that it was her daughter Cayley, 17, who came up with the idea to leave a tribute for Cody after his traumatic sudden death from pancreatitis.

Cayley wanted a lapdog and received Cody as a birthday present. He joined their already big canine family – which has two golden retrievers, Annie and Honey, and Roxy (a cross Toy Pomeranian who was rescued).

"He was the cutest thing with the biggest personality. He thought he was a Rottweiler and he wasn't scared of anything," Bamford Hefer fondly recalled.

"He would forever be picking up our shoes and was always up to mischief. He was also a brilliant little guard dog."

An amazing swimmer

The family went away for December and left the dogs at home in the care of a capable housekeeper.

Cody appeared fine when they returned but then started vomiting. After several visits to the vet, and tearful nights spent at his side, Bamford Hefer eventually brought him home so he could be with the family.

He died on January 25.

"It was all such a shock and so sudden. Cayley was absolutely devastated. She came up with the box idea because we used to walk him every day on the beach. 

"He was the most amazing swimmer and would go into the rock pools. He would run after the ball with Roxy and loved the beach," Bamford Hefer said.

Beachgoers shared their joy on social media at discovering the balls in the box which has a photo of Cody and his name on the front.

Someone even added stones with words on it to the box in remembrance of their father-in-law.

'Live like your dog'

One person commented on Facebook: "Such a great idea linda..seen so many have fun and then return the balls..I'm amazed they still there! (sic)."

Another said: "Oh my soul... such a precious way of paying it forward in memory of a beautiful fur child."

The box welcomes people to pop the balls back in the box once used so others can enjoy them too.

Bamford Hefer said they recently visited the box and all 14 balls had disappeared.

"Initially I was disappointed because I thought it had been ransacked. But maybe someone had taken them to re-use with their dogs."

The family was still deciding whether to top up the box.

They were touched by messages of support and comfort from strangers.

"It has been closure and it is so heartwarming. All I want to say is to follow the message on the box: Live like your dog does, with happiness, loyalty and love."

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