Just over 17 years ago, my son came home from a day out in Fish Hoek, near Cape Town, South Africa. He dropped a little flea-bitten dog into my lap and the rest is history. We rescued one dog, and ended up with seven.
With so much animal cruelty happening in this world, and so many good dogs and cats out there available for rescue and adoption, it is always great to hear the good news of a dog rescue.
Please read below how fulfilling it can be to rescue a homeless and hungry animal, and please also get involved in the Let's turn Facebook Orange for Animal Cruelty Awareness campaign to spread the word and help where you can.
Almost 18 years ago, my son Mark and some friends caught the train to Fish Hoek, a seaside town little way down the coast from Cape Town.
After an enjoyable day out, they headed back, only to find a little bundle of starving hungry and extremely flea-ridden white fluff, huddling on the train platform.
With many "aws" and "ahs" from female members of the group, my son picked her up and decided to bring her home with him.
My friend, Pam Boobyer and I, holding 3 pups each.
On arrival home, he dropped her into my lap, and it was a case of love at first sight. Instantly named "Hasha" after a previous dog that I had just prior to Mark's birth in Zimbabwe, she became a member of the Sewell family. ("Hasha" means cheeky in one of the Zimbabwean local languages).
We rushed her off to the vet to find out if she was healthy. He gave her a clean bill of health, but sprayed her copiously with Frontline to get rid of thousands of fleas.
While she was healthy, she was starving hungry and obviously hadn't had much to eat for a few days. The vet reckoned she was probably around one year at that stage and was a cross Maltese poodle or Bishon type. There was no microchip and no collar, and thus we could not easily find her owner. She was very nervous of various things, like for instance a hose in the garden was terrifying to her, so we decided that, along with the fleas and the hunger, she had been mistreated and kept her.
Our black-and-white cat, Felix (I know, original!) magnanimously accepted her presence and she settled in for the long haul.
A short time later, we realised that she was possibly putting on more weight than just normal feeding could account for. And why were her nipples sticking out like that? Yes, you guessed it, off to the vet to find out that she was pregnant. The vet offered to take the puppies away, saying that we obviously didn't know the history of the father etc. I vehemently said "No way!", and I am so glad that I did.
During her pregnancy she became incredibly round and, worrying about her health, the vet put her on to a lean meat diet.
In March that year she gave birth to six healthy male puppies. Yes, all male! They weren't exactly small, so its not surprising that she was so huge during pregnancy.
The puppies varied widely with two having a "Spitz" appearance, one looking rather like her with colourful patches, two looking like her with longer legs and one completely different black puppy, who had a sort of terrier appearance. Having read up on things later, it seems that if two dogs get hold of the female at just the right time, there can be multiple fathers, and it is possible that this is the case here.
It was incredibly wonderful having six little puppies running around. Friends used to visit, and I would call the pups from the other room "Guys!", and they would come bounding in, a show of cuteness!
Hasha, Murray and Rambo, pleased to see me coming home.
I ended up keeping one Spitz-type, Rambo, and one similar to Hasha but with long legs, Murray, and the others went to good homes. Cosy, who was the runt of the litter went to a friend. Rambo was quite possibly the first born of the litter - I had to help Hasha break the sac when he was born.
Murray discovers the benefits of a fan in the hot summer weather.
In April 2003, the whole doggie family were shipped off by air on KLM, when we moved to Spain. Quite an adventure as we flew via Amsterdam and the dogs were offloaded for a while and continued on a later flight to ours.
As we could only fly them as far as Madrid, we had to get off there and collect them from the airport. This was a major task which included vet clearances, etc. We stayed one night in Madrid, and then hired a large car to move us all down to Fuengirola, where I am now living on the Costa del Sol.
As I got into photography, and started taking photos of the dogs, they became wellknown online as "The Underfoots."
They all had a great life both in Cape Town and then here in Spain with wonderful beach walks and runs in the countryside, but as time went by, age took its toll. Four years ago, Murray was diagnosed as having an enlarged heart and passed away shortly after the diagnosis.
Hasha, at the ripe old age of at least 17, passed away around six months ago, peacefully in her sleep. She had carried on to the end as per usual, eating well, taking (rather slower) walks and generally being cute. She was a little deaf, but selectively so!
Rambo was the last of the line and was suffering from cataracts. Due to age it was not possible to operate and he was wellknown by the children in the area for his "lampara" or "lampshade", worn to prevent him from scratching his eyes.
On top of this he was suffering a leaky heart valve and kidney problems - between the vet and myself, we kept him going a good eight months on a special diet and treatment, but he finally passed last Friday, 15th February.
Cosy, living up on Red Hill in Simon's Town, South Africa
Rambo used to escape and chase women when he was younger, so there probably are some "Underfoots" still out there, but unfortunately none here at home.
Friends have said I should rescue another dog right away, but I'll wait awhile, and hopefully the perfect dog will just drop into my lap again.