Ronel – Here & Now
For those who dont know Ronellie, let me rewind to a few months back when things in the world if Ronellie was very different. It all started with a call about a scared dog running around a very busy road, not too far from us. We grabbed our gear and off we went…. it was around sunset and by the time our team got there, she was nowhere to be seen. The long grass didnt help. The next day we kept thinking about her but thought she would be long gone by then.
Thats when the second call came in, she was there again, in the same spot, scavenging for food on the side of the road. Our team barely touched the ground as we made our way to that same spot. It took some patience but then it happened … we spotted her! She was laying down in a patch of long grass underneath a tree. We slowly approached her but she made no secret of the fact that she did not trust humans and like a lightning bolt, she was gone. She didnt go far because as we searched the area, we kept finding her. She was so skinny and scared, it was heartbreaking. To make a very long story short, we spent the majority of the day trying to catch her, we called for back-up and even with a big team all giving 100% – she was too fast and the area was too big. We just could not get anywhere near her. We put down food and backed away so that we didn’t scare her away from where she felt safe. We decided to call it a day. We left her some food and water and to our disappointment, went back to Dogtown empty handed.
Needless to say the next day the team were there at the break of dawn and there she was, in the usual place, just wondering around aimlessly. The team tried a different approach this time and managed to herd her into an enclosed area on a neighbour’s property and in that enclosed area, managed to catch her! Oh my word, that was the best news ever. Sadly I could not go with the team that day but when I got that message “She is safe, we have her” – my heart nearly jumped out of my chest! Not long after that message the scared little girl was in a garden at Dogtown and she was promptly named Ronel, after the lady who called us to alert us about her.
The first few weeks were really tough on Ronel. She did not trust anyone, she was scared of any sudden movements, any noises, any creaks in the wood and any howl of the wind. It must have been so awful to live in a world where everything is scary. A few months ago I wrote a story about Ronel, called “Me, Ronel and our 50 first dates” – it explained how working with this special girl was much like the movie.
One day I would find something that worked and she seemed to vaguely start trusting me, but the very next morning, I would go greet her and it was like we never met before. She would not come anywhere near me. Things that worked the one day, would do nothing for her the next day. Trying to figure out a way for her to trust me 2 days in a row was practically impossible. She made progress in baby-step and as happy as that made me, I knew that the next day, we would be back to square 1. It was as if she went to sleep at night and wiped the slate clean, and the next day it all started again. I must admit, this was a bit disheartening at first but It would all be worth it … there was something special about this girl. There was something special in her eyes. She wanted to trust me, but she couldnt.
The next few weeks are a bit of a blur. We made progress, slowly but surely. I couldnt exactly pinpoint it every day but it happened. Treats and silence and more treats and patience, that was pretty much the order of the day with Ronellie. I would wait for her to come to me at her own pace, when she wanted to. Everything was on her terms. This was not easy because on days that she would come right up to me to sniff me, I had to fight every instinct in me to put my arms around her and cuddle her. I just wanted to hold and make her feel safe but that would have scared her off. So I sat there, quietly, and let her sniff me. In my head, I was hugging her with all my might 🙂
It has been 12 weeks since we brought Ronellie to safety and she is still the highlight of my day. She has come so far! The best part of my day is when I arrive at work in the morning and make a bee-line for her garden. She bounces like a kangaroo and once im in her garden, she “talks” to me all tells me all about her night and boy does she have a lot to tell me. She hops and jumps and skips and runs and play-bows and hops some more. I just love her! She has a sparkle in her eyes that doesnt compare to anything else in this world.
When its quality time with Ronellie, I sit down and she comes to me for her all time favorite activity … bum scratches. She hops and backs up into my lap and then I have to give her bum scratches all down her legs and round her tail … she loves loves loves that. When I stop, she does her silly hop and sometimes hops right over my lap to the other side, and then backs up again for more bum scratches. She cant get enough and to be honest, neither can I. This girl has made herself very comfortable in my heart and soul. Thinking back on the first days, I cant believe how far she has come. She lets me touch her paws and lift her legs. She lets me touch her face and stroke her all over. She has made herself comfortable on my lap and as long as im doing ttouch on her ears, she is happy to just lay there and be with me 🙂 This is the highlight of my day!
At the moment we are working on getting her used to a harness and working on her confidence so that one day, me and her can go for a little walk on the beautiful mountain.
Until then, we get to spend our special quality time together in her garden and every day she takes a little steps forward. No more starting over the next day, we are finally at a point where we are building on her previous experiences which to me means that she is starting to accept that whatever monsters were in her past are exactly that, in the past. All she embraces is the here and now, which if I could say so myself, is pretty amazing! One day at a time Ronellie, me and you will conquer the world 🙂
By Wimi, Caregiver