It rained properly this morning – long awaited, sticky bodies yearning for the coolness it brings. And I miss winter in Cape Town, I believe it has rained and even snowed there recently. Every time I Skype with the kids, they are wrapped in winter woollies, and we show up to the party in almost nothing – Sakkie being bare-chested all the time.
And so Jackie, my Africa dog that I adopted once on holiday to Sun City, got tick-bite fever. I did not think she would succumb to it, as she probably grew up with ticks, and yet she had the highest fever of them all last night. Doctor Kobus, my wonder man, jumped into action and after administering the right doepa (medicine), she is better this morning. Still listless and only taking sips of water, but the fever is under control.
Jackie ‘s story is one to be told, and I have often been asked by all who know her, to pen it down, so here goes: About 6 years ago, my two sisters, a few friends and I booked ourselves a trip to the North-West region of South Africa, to see a “Huisgenoot Skouspel” (a music variety show put on by a local magazine). We flew from Cape Town to Johannesburg, got ourselves a comfortable Mercedes Benz Vito Bus so we can all fit, and set off to the camp site where we had booked ourselves two cottages, each sleeping 4 people, between Rustenburg and Sun City.
The first night there, Jackie appeared out from the dark bushes surrounding our camp fire, hungry and weary. She looked so scruffy, none of us actually wanted to touch her, but the begging eyes could not be ignored, and so she got fed once we had eaten. Next morning, when I opened our front door, there she was, on the small mat, curled up after spending the night there. Around 2 pm that afternoon we all boarded the Vito bus, ready to go and explore Sun City, and lo and behold, Jackie (at that time – NO NAME), sprinted behind us like a bullet. I could not bear the sight and scared that she would get run over, we turned around and dished up some left-overs from the night before, and as she hungrily gulped this up we made our quick escape. That night it rained and hailed during a thunderstorm as never seen before, and by the time we got back to our campsite, we got so stuck in mud that a tractor had to come and pull the bus out the next day – and no sign of Jackie before we went to sleep. I went to bed with a heavy heart, wondering where she found shelter against the storm.
Next morning broke bright and sunny, and my heart leapt when I opened the front door to find her there. That’s when I knew I was in love. When the cleaner arrived, I asked her to tell me anything she knew about the dog. She confirmed my suspicions that she must have had owners at some stage, as she was so loving, but apparently they left their rented house on the same property, and left her as well about two weeks prior. And that was all I needed to spur me on to book her on the same flight home as us the next day. Much to the rest of my company’s horror. My sister Linda did not mince her words, telling me I had lost it! But I was determined.
So next morning, the car got loaded, and dog too. A Vito bus has no separate boot, and the sh.. literally hit the fan when she started vomiting soon after our trip back to Johannesburg began. All the vomit ran down onto our suitcases, and I got verbal lashings left right and center from all the women on board. Once we got to Johannesburg, the animal pet travel agency came and collected her at my cousin’s house, as she had to board an hour before us. I received a very traumatised dog in Cape Town, loaded her into my car and set off for home. A trip to the vet same evening confirmed that she was about 5 years old, probably had some scrapes with baboons judging by the scars around her mouth, and must have had a few litters as her nipples were quite worn out. I got her de-wormed and inoculated, and booked a spaying for her for a month later, as I did not want to traumatise her even more.
And then I named her Jackie, and she just became my dog, following me like a shadow, staying close to my legs, without leash, on the beach, in awe of the big waters she had never seen. Although my other two dogs loved playing in the water and tried to entice her frequently, she never set foot near the water – unlike now, where she will readily swim with me in the warm Indian Ocean off the Kigamboni coast.
A month later, I took her in for the pre-planned spaying, only to find the vet laughing at me, saying she is clearly pregnant and about to give birth! I have never had pregnant animals before, so could not tell, but understood the vomiting and apparent weight gain, which I put down to better eating habits since she came to Cape Town. A week later, 5 adorable pups were born to a doting mother and a rattled grandmother, but with my sister Marietha’s help, I made a comfortable bed and surrounds for her, and watched the pups grow over the next 6 weeks. When it was time to give them away, I cried long long tears, and had her spayed once and for all soon after. My ex-husband took two of the offspring, including the only one that looked just like her, and my favourite. Over the next few years, before moving to Tanzania, I sometimes baby-sat them when he went away. And when sister Linda came to visit, she would always tell Jackie she was sorry for not believing she should come to Cape Town with us initially.
And so, this is my Jackie’s story – and now she is also sick. I pray to God to heal her so that she can guard me as she would with her life, for a few years longer, and so that I can love her more.