Growing up with animals as a part of our household was one of the defining experiences of my life, and looking back at the sacrifices my parents made so that us five children could have dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, birds and horses, I am filled anew with gratitude for the sense of custodianship and responsibility this inculcated in my siblings and I, which inevitably extends to my worldview, as a human living on this great and glorious planet we call home.
Part of my daily chores included feeding, cleaning, checking on bedding, making sure all the water containers were full (and old enamel bathtubs, in the case of our equine friends), and that all were accounted for by nightfall.
That gates were closed, windows were open, medicine administered where necessary, wounds dressed and tended to (living on a farm introduced me to a host of eye-opening experiences, including animals’ capacity to get hurt or into potential life-threatening situations where a measure of rescue was required).
Many late nights were spent feeding helpless kittens or baby squirrels (found after storms), or searching by torchlight for animals that had gone missing or were feared injured (or attacked by predators, possibly), and curling up on the far side of the bed as whatever furry friend co-habiting it, took up the lion’s share of the mattress and duvet… of course!
My folks always insisted on us doing the work that came with having animals, and we were confronted with the realities and obligations accompanying such responsibility. Vet care was saved for only when necessary, and we had to roll up our sleeves and deal with the nitty gritty (often very gritty… like nails and hooves, tick removal, giving injections..).
I’ve had close friendships with vets in all the places I’ve ever lived, and yes… I could probably have a great deal more financial security at this point in my life, if I hadn’t had to cover the ongoing (and so-often unanticipated) costs of animal companion care and wellbeing, given the injuries, illnesses and ageing, but it always felt like a sacred responsibility.
From porcupine quill removal (three times… don’t they learn?!), going in after a dog that got swept into a culvert after snowmelt… vigil for a cat who went missing for more than a month one bitter winter, due no doubt to his propensity for adventure (and climbing into any car with an open window, for a warm nap… which necessitated a long walk home, judging by his lean and hungry appearance when he finally reappeared, a little contrite).
“Nature doesn’t tolerate a vacuum”, I was told many moons ago, and this certainly proved true upon the passing of my friends over time… and somehow, despite protestations to the contrary, I found myself lifting a wing (so to speak), and accommodating a new little creature under it, just when I’d vowed not to embark on yet another lifelong journey with a creature, great or small. Grief is indeed the price we pay for love…
Teva Vet Clinic became my go-to place for animal care many years ago, when I moved back to South Africa, and Karin Wilson is a saviour, of sorts, and not only to me. She has been with me from beginning, to the anguished end, of a number of the cherished animals who graced my journey.
This extraordinary woman, and her team of vets, is a well-known face in the community, and in no small way for her dedication to the upliftment of animals in the poorer communities.
Giving back is one of Teva’s closely held ethics, and so what better than Mandela Day to put their hands and hearts to work?
With fond memories and having grown up in Raithby,
Dr Wilson found out about the wonderful efforts of Farm Paws, an organisation that sterilises, feeds, and provides shelter to vulnerable animals in the Raithby and rural surrounding communities.
Considering the current economic climate, Dr Karin, as we call her, has decided that a once-off effort on one day is not going to be sufficient, so she and the rest of her team have rolled up their sleeves and committed to a year-long pledge of sterilising 104 dogs for Farm Paws.
This heart-driven organisation will be the topic of an article in next week’s edition of Bolander, where I will elaborate on the ceaseless efforts of those concerned to not only help the animals in the area, but also to educate (and occasionally intervene, where required) the people who have animals in their homes.
The cost accompanying the upkeep of dogs and cats can often prove a major challenge to people for whom putting a meal on the table can be daunting, or paying for the education of children, or keeping a roof over the family’s head.
Nonetheless, the plight of pets in many areas needs addressing, and one of the first ports of call in keeping animals healthy, is early intervention, including vaccines, deworming, and neutering and castrating, so that unwanted litters not be the order of the day.
Another topic of deep concern is the breeding (and acquisition) of dogs for fighting purposes, which shall also be addressed in next weeks’ article.
But for now, the Teva team will be kicking off the mini spay-a-thon on Saturday July 18, with all hands on deck and a full surgery team attending to the castrations and sterilisations, with an operation flow of one male and one female dog per week, for the next year.
Their sister company, All Paws Online, is also donating pet food to Farm Paws on a monthly basis.
Teva welcomes any form of support in helping them meet this commitment, by making a special donation of any amount.
For more information on how to get involved in any way, through the provision of cat and dog food, blankets, or sponsoring the spaying of animals, etc, call the Teva Vet Clinic at 021 851 3554.