Meeting Miss Molly
So, we arrived at the Qora River crossing on Day 5 of our annual Investec staff charity ride and proceeded to load everything into dry bags and wade across the knee-deep water. As we were re-organizing on the other side and grabbing a quick snack, we noticed that a scrawny little dog had swum across with us. She was looking very hungry and eyed our snacks hopefully, but so sweetly and without a hint of begging. We were torn “ag shame, she’s starving. Look at her ribs!”, said Belinda, “Ja, but if we feed her she’s going to follow us…” I countered. “Just a little piece of apple” said Belinda, tossing it her way. And that, as they say, was that…
This little dog sensed her salvation was at hand in the shape of these good people. She made up her mind then and there that she was sticking with us come-what-may. Thus, began her long run to freedom from hunger, ticks, fleas and neglect.
When we reached the end of the beach 4km later, we thought she would surely tire and head back home, but no indeed, she turned off with us and headed uphill into the villages of the AmaXhosa, winding along cattle tracks, through a rocky river and up a muddy ravine and finally onto the district road leading to Bulls Inn – totaling a tough 13km.
“She can’t come in here! They’ll rip her to shreds”, he said, pointing at 2 huge Boer bulls and a feisty terrier, who immediately went ballistic. “Where did she come from? How you gonna get her back? She can’t stay here and you’re not to feed her!”
She crawled under the big bus parked outside the gate and lay quietly, biding her time. She was clearly used to hunger & thirst. It would take more than this to break her. (and of course, the girls snuck her what water and food they could when no-one was looking).
When we set out the next morning for Coffee Bay, there she was trotting alongside. Lise had packed her a breakfast sandwich, which she fed to her as soon as we were out of sight and she perked up considerably as she tackled hill after brutal hill en route to Hole in the Wall, though her limp was getting worse.
By the time we reached our final destination “Ballas”, as the boys had dubbed her for her gritty determination, was the new group mascot, having thoroughly ousted Morris the Zebra.
The Oceanview hotel seemed not to notice or mind her presence and for the first time in her life, she lay on a blanket while Leandi (our talented masseuse and all-round Mother Earth), massaged her ailing paw and kept her fed and watered.
But the elephant in the room loomed large. What was to become of her when we left tomorrow? We couldn’t possibly abandon her when she’d stuck with us all this way. If we could take her back in the bus to Cape Town, could one of the Capetonian contingent maybe adopt her?
I would love to have her, but my lifestyle of constant travel sadly precludes pets. Leandi would take her, but her boyfriend is not so keen. Willie is definitely willing, but needs to check with his wife. (He already has 2 other rescue dogs – an Airedale Terrier & a Jack Russell). He says she’s a softie though, and it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, so looks promising…
At our final fines evening the call comes through from his wife… Yes! It’s a thumbs up! Willie is taking her. Yay!!! Tequilas all round! He is heading overseas for 2 weeks directly after tour though, so Leandi and Max (the other masseuse), agree to take turns fostering her in the meantime. Leandi has renamed her Molly. The boys say NO, “Ballas”’!
The trek back to Cape Town is a 2-day long affair with an overnight in Jeffreys Bay. Leandi has lovingly bathed her to prepare her for the drive and she spends the 5-hour leg to East London airport snuggled on a series of laps. Once we have dropped everyone off and said goodbye, she sprawls out on the seat and proceeds to snooze away the drive to J Bay. I’d left on a separate bus with a group of Capetonians who were flying out earlier, so arrived in J-Bay around 18h00.
Sele, Max and Leandi only arrived around 22h00. I couldn’t get to sleep until I heard them arrive and settle in – I listened for a bark or a scuffle or any sign of Dog from the room next door, but not a peep. I did, however have an early morning nightmare – I was in someone’s smart home when I smelled something unpleasant – dog poo? I ran from room to room trying to find it so I could scoop it up before the owner became aware, but woke up in a sweat before I got there.
When I told Leandi, she said indeed, Molly had had her first bowel movement (outside in the garden, absolutely no hint of soiling indoors). She said she’d inspected it – what dedication!
Definitely worms, which was to be expected. She had already alerted the vet, Maarten van Dalsten at Bergview Veterinary Hospital in Hermanus and he was expecting her as soon as she arrived.
He pronounced her to be about 1 year old and generally in good health, though malnourished with lots of ticks and fleas.
Just 2 weeks later that is a thing of the past and she is thriving and has gained over 3kg.
She truly looks like a different dog!
Willie returned from overseas on 10 October and will soon collect her and take her to her permanent home in Durbanville, where she will gain some playmates.
In the meantime, I discovered a most delightful sparkling wine called “Miss Molly” – It even looks like her! I sent the photo to the group and said “Her name is Miss Molly – no argument!”
Willie’s response: “Stars are aligned. Done! Love it!”