Annelize van Zyl
During our morning walks in Blythedale where we live, we noticed that a German Shephard was always on the street and eventually realised that it was not just a dog that had gone on his daily outing off his owner’s yard, but he in fact lived in the bush.
This stray dog seemed to be petrified of humans, and my family all decided that we wanted to help this dog. We contacted the “owners” who had only recently moved to Blythedale Beach who informed us that they had rescued this dog and his sister from another family where the dogs had been abused. Due to the abuse the dog had suffered and his fear of humans, he took his first chance to escape from their property and they could not get him back onto their yard. He then found himself a little shelter in the middle of the natural bush in Blythedale.
It was a long journey and many hours of trying to befriend the dog but we could not make any progress. We had even sedated him twice but the first time did not work and the second time he fled into the bush and despite us searching for 2 hours, could not find him. He reappeared later the afternoon after what must have been a lovely sleep!
The people from the local little shopping centre all fed him daily and this helped in getting a bit more used to human interaction. In fact a lot of people in Blythedale fed him at various points. He loved Thomas (a cat which is also a stray and lives at the complex) and just wanted to play. He even tries and plays with the monkeys.
We have a little Jack Russel at home called Jonty and everyone loves Jonty. We then decided to bring Jonty to him to see if they would play together which was an instant success. We took Jonty to our stray boy for plenty of play dates and slowly he became a little more used to us, but still wouldn’t make contact.
One Thursday afternoon late a friend of mine called me to say that he had just wandered onto her parents’ property and she had closed the gate so he was enclosed should we still wish to capture him. We immediately called the Vet to get some more sedatives but he was out of stock and as it was late, we had no other options but to carry on without it.
We tried getting him on a leash but he was scared and showed his teeth and growled at us. We tried with food. We even fetched his sister on a leash but he would not go near her. We fetched Thomas from the shop and that was just another play date for him! Eventually we decided to put Jonty on a leash and walk him home and hopefully he would follow him home… It worked!!!
We finally got him onto our property and after many hours into our garage where he spent two days locked up with one of us with him most of the time. We decided to name him Tarzan, the boy from the bush. We then opened the door leading into our house and he slowly started to move closer to us and eventually into our house… but still no contact! My daughter and I slept in the lounge where he could come to us during the night from the garage which is what he saw as his safe place. After a few evenings he started pawing us during the night to wake us up to play with him. If you ignored him, the pillow would be pulled from under your head or the blanket taken off you. We estimate his age at about 18 months but he was a like a six week old puppy.
My daughter persevered and spent hours with him playing games and finally made the breakthrough of been able to stroke him. Everything was new to him. He didn’t know how to play and we initially got many bruises and scratches but he has since calmed down and now plays gently. He did not know what a bed was and jumped at the sensation of the soft mattress under his paws. He didn’t eat like a normal dog out of a bowl. He took a mouthful of pellets and ran away to eat it and then returned for more. He could not even drink water out of a bowl properly but he is catching on fast.
We eventually managed to get him onto a leash so that we can take him out to exercise and work off some of his amazing amount of energy which has caused us a few problems…. He has ripped up our lounge suite, destroyed a couple of pairs of shoes, ripped up two duvet covers, eaten about twenty toilet rolls which he takes off the holder, eaten my daughter’s cell phone and a few remotes…. Should you be sitting in front of the TV pointing the remote in that direction, he smartly walks passed and tries to remove the remote from your hand.
We have asked Anthony Du Plessis a local dog handler to work with Tarzan and after a few sessions, he walks with me and even responds to the command sit! He is not too fond of the leash but in time he will settle. We have a long way to go but if you consider this has all been in a matter of about six weeks, we feel that we have made lots of progress. Tarzan is now part of our family and has found a forever home.