Stray dogs affect people in very different ways, depending on who you are. As a child, I always felt so sorry for those homeless and unloved creatures.
My dad on the other hand, hated them, saying they’ll only kill the sheep if he doesn’t shoot them or chase them off. I didn’t understand till I had Beatrice. Beatrice was a lamb that I had to raise by hand because her mother died. She followed me everywhere. While visiting my brother on a school holiday, a stray dog got through the fence and killed Beatrice. I was devastated and at the same time any pity I felt for stray dogs in the past evaporated.
In fact I think I even became a little cool towards animals in general. Through the years I’ve had many other animals; dogs, horses etc. and while I cared for them, I never let myself get that deeply attached to any of them. If I didn’t love them, it wouldn’t hurt losing them.
My husband came around and changed all that. He has so much love and patience for animals that it’s infectious. We bought two puppies that came and kicked down the doors of my resistance.
The one place where I put my foot down was with strays. Strays were strays, and I didn’t have any time or patience for them. Needless to say when my husband came out of the grocer with a bag of wieners the first time to feed some stray dog we had just passed on the side of the road, I was mildly amused but not overly enthusiastic.
As I watched this man that I dearly loved go out of his way to give some random stray a meal, something happened inside of me. I didn’t realize it right away. I probably only realized that it was happening when I allowed my son to bully me into doing the same thing some time later.
I knew I lost the battle a few months ago when Peach showed up. I noticed this stray dog in the field behind our house early one morning. It wasn’t close enough that I could get a really good look; I just noticed that the guinea fowl and plovers were chasing a dog around and it looked pretty scared. It sat cowering in that field the entire morning about 200-300m away from our fence line.
Around noon I heard my dogs barking in the front yard and I went out to check. This stray dog had found her way onto the property and when she saw me, came running to me like I was her long lost friend.
She was in really bad shape, with pieces of wire wrapped around her neck, numerous cuts and sores all over, badly infested with fleas, her whole body covered in large bald patches from a terrible infestation of demodectic mange. She was nothing more than a skinny little bag of bones. She was the best example of a mangy mutt I’d ever seen. But despite her terrible condition, she had this exuberant personality, and was overflowing with joy and love. She was a real Peach.
I called my husband over because our dogs weren’t sure how happy they were with this strange dog that had dug a hole under the fence, and crawled into our yard. After separating her from the other dogs, removing the wire from her neck and examining her, we decided to at least give her a meal before deciding what to do.
One meal turned into four and a safe place to sleep, one day turned into three. We took her to the vet for an examination, inoculations, and treatment, and to check if the mange she had was the contagious kind. It wasn’t and we were happy but we still kept her quarantined from all the other dogs for the time being. Three days turned into a week and by then I knew she was going to be part of the family.
Our other dogs, all 7 of them, were still not sure how to handle this new addition to the pack. Normally, new additions show up as puppies, and the older dogs are actually really good with teaching them the ropes. But none of that mattered to Peach. She has love and playfulness to spare, and went out of her way to befriend all of our dogs.
She sure knows how to make me feel loved. Whenever she sees me she looks like she’s going to crawl out of her skin with excitement. She’s so eager to please that teaching her basic commands has been very easy.
The Vet reckons she’s 2-3 years old, but she’s so playful that it’s hard to imagine. The kids love her too, but it’s me that she follows around like a shadow and I know she loves me and I love my Peach.