Taryn Coates and Dave are a married couple. They took in an abandoned Great Dane at the end of March in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. They left her there in the wild. Her name was Jez. Her rescuers believe that she was alone for a month or two before they found her. The dog was only two year old, in poor health and feared humans. She would need a lot of helpTaryn cared for Jez many weeks. Afterward she wrote a letter to Jez’s unknown former owners. He describes the struggles and triumphs Jez and the rescuers faced. It is a moving account of the challenges and joys that animal carers experience when caring for an abused dog, and well worth reading.
Here is the story of Jez in the words of Taryn:
,,We are your dog’s rescue. Do you recognize this beautiful creature? You left her in the bush. The bush was only a few miles to the shelter away. She had to fend for herself, look for food, find a place to sleep and wait for you. If you’ve left more than one dog than you should know that I’m talking about the female Denmark dog. That sweet, adorable creature with the white neck. A little patch of black fur just behind the ear has the perfect shape of a heart. You’ve probably never noticed that, have you? I bet you’ve never paid enough attention to her. When you left her, did she follow you car as it drove away? Did you see her in the rearview mirror? Did you hear anything? Even a hint of guilt? Did you not realize that what you were doing was beyond cruel and that she, this wonderful creature, deserved better? It took 45 minutes to catch the dog, who after spending two months on the savannah was so frightened of man that it became aggressive with fear. Did you know she was gagged to protect her and us? She was so sick with bile and so thin that we thought she couldn’t take it. Did you know that half of Port Elizabeth in South Africa prayed for your dog? That she had been visited by vets? That they brought her blankets, toys and food, and that they wanted her to survive with all their fibre. We talked to your dog, even though we couldn’t get close to her without her biting us. We talked to her that she was safe now, that no one would ever leave her again, that her life would be peaceful, restful and full of joy. We have given your dog the promises you should have made when you bought her and took her into your family home. We promised her that she would never again starve, never again say a harsh word or raise a hand in anger. We promised her long walks, enough food and a warm bed. We promised her all this and more, we used it as a bribe to get her to survive, to convince her that she would live so we could spend the rest of our lives proving to her that not all people are like you.”
,,You destroyed your dog. From the moment she walked through the doors of the shelter where she was received and cared for until her rehabilitation. In that moment, you broke your dog and became an inferior human being. When you stopped a little further in the bush and left her, you crushed her soul as if you had hit her with a stick. And she was still there. Two months later, she was still waiting for your return. The broken dog collapsed. She was dying in a dumpster, the only shelter she could find. You did it. I don’t care what your situation is or was. I don’t care how bad your life is, I don’t care about your financial problems or the losses you’ve suffered. I don’t care if you can’t handle a Great Dane. I really don’t care. Because there’s nothing you can tell me that justifies your actions. If you had cared, you would have acted responsibly and left your beautiful dog at an animal shelter where people would be lining up to adopt him. But you didn’t, you didn’t even offer him that bit of dignity, that right to a safe and loving home, you didn’t do it for your dog and I’m sorry but that makes you a terrible example of a human being.”
,,Despite all the difficulties, the dog succeeded. She fought back. She got up and used all the strength she had left to heal herself. We named her Jez and took her home. Donations for your dog grew. Strangers donated for her. Unknown people cared so much about a dog they had never seen that they had to act. That’s how extraordinary your dog is. Three days after Jez was found in the bush, he came home and slept for the first time since who knows when, at home in a soft bed with a soft blanket. It was warm, safe and loved. We spent hours convincing your dog to trust us. Hours convincing her that she could come into the house, that she could be part of the family. We were bitter and angry, but we still loved her very much. We loved her even more because we saw how much she was struggling to get out of the rut she was in, the rut you had dug for her. We had to show your dog that we are not all like you, that there are people who want to help her, love her and take care of her. It took four days for your dog to come to us, and then she was there. She crawled on the floor and had her tail between her legs until she touched her chest.”
,,That moment when she leaned her head against my husband’s shoulder, scared, as if waiting to be scolded or beaten, that moment broke me. She was thin and sick, but it was easily cured. What was going on in her head was a battle that only she could fight. What you have done to your dog is far worse than not feeding it. You destroyed his mind, you gave her the fear of living, of being a dog, you gave her the fear of being, of existing, and thanks to you it will take years to overcome it. And we will. Each of us has invested in her to care for her and love her until she no longer feels any pain. We had to teach her to be part of a happy and healthy family. We celebrated every moment, every time she had to pee on her own, every time she finished eating or took her medicine without having to wrap it in cheese. We celebrated when she sat for the first time and when she barked at a human because your dog was starting to participate in life again, learning to be a dog and learning to love. We exchanged messages about every little thing she did, where she laid down, or when she first had enough energy to run in the garden instead of walking. We invested time, energy and love into this creature and rewarded us as only a rescue dog can.”
,,You broke your dog, but we fixed her. Bernadette rescued her from the dumpster, living with the knowledge that Jez would always turn away from her because she associated her with that terrible time in her life. But she continued to visit him. Dr. Ferreira and his colleagues at Walmer Vets treated her with kindness and compassion, even as she tried to bite and resist their caresses. My husband rescued your dog by climbing into bed the first night she stayed with us. He climbed into her bed, into her room, and sat next to her. He just sat down. He didn’t demand anything from her, he didn’t expect any reaction, he just wanted to be with her and show her that someone would make her feel safe, loved and appreciated. My husband is exceptional in this respect and Jez responded with his calm demeanour and loving energy”.
,,I took care of your dog. I took her to the vet to be checked out, and I held her in my arms while she was stroked and groomed. I whispered softly in her ear while the vet examined her very infected toenails, and I was there to pick her up after she had surgery to remove them. I mixed bits into her food to get her to eat and sat with her for hours, touching her so she could learn that not all human contact is evil. Marizanne Ferreira has cared for your dog, just as she has cared for thousands of dogs before her, and she will continue to care for thousands of other dogs. She has worked tirelessly behind the scenes sharing Jeza’s story with her countless contacts, coordinating care, tracking down and distributing donations, finding potential homes, but most of all she has been a good friend to Jeza’s foster mom and rescuer. Bernadette gave us aspiration and inspiration when we feared if we could care for your dog. She is the glue that holds the PE rescue community together and I can assure you that without her we would not have had the opportunity to care for your dog.”
,,Hundreds of complete strangers took care of your dog. They wrote emails asking for donations, raised money, donated food, shared her story on Facebook over and over again, followed her story as we posted pictures of their daily improvements, celebrated with us and Jez. They prayed for her, they talked about her and spoke for her. These people saved your dog. These wonderful, caring people, who didn’t know Jez but loved her very much, saved your dog. I loved your dog more in the few weeks she was with me than you loved her in the two years she was on this earth. I was concerned about her health, both physical and mental. I worried if she was eating too little or too much, if her paws hurt, if the litter box was warm enough. I worried about her eyes, ears and brain as her battered body went into convulsions during rehabilitation. I held her at 2 a.m. when she asked for food, and I went to work practically a sleepwalker, but I would do it all again and probably do it for my next foster family, too.”
,,I have worried, I have laughed, I have rejoiced, I have loved, and now I cry, scream and suffer with terrible tears until I can cry no more. I cry because two more strangers have come into Jez’s life, two more people have volunteered to take care of your dog. Two more people look at Jez’s pictures and can’t understand how you could do this to him, two more people have promised to pick up where we left off, have promised to take care of this beautiful soul, to love him, to take care of him and heal him until he no longer remembers what you have done to him. So yes, I am crying because Jez has come home. She has a new home. His parents are Julie and Nico. There is a Danish hole in my home and in my heart, but at the same time I am very, very happy for Jez and for her bright future.”
People often ask me how I do what I do, how I can trust them and how I can let them down, and frankly, in my darkest moments, I don’t know how I do it either. I do it because there are few people who do it, and because not doing it is not an option. And I will do it again and again. My heart will break into pieces. I will still laugh, and I will love. I will also cry endlessly but I will do it again. Thanks to the rescue, I’ve met the most amazing people, but most of all, I’ve met phenomenal animals. These animals and these people give me hope that one day there will be more people who care about them than those who don’t, more people like us and fewer people like you who abandon their dogs, and it is this hope that allows me to go out and do it all again to save the next abandoned dog and heal the next broken heart.”