Enter Retreat 2 Eden, an Eastern Cape rescue centre which rehabilitates and rehomes, where possible, police dogs which have been retired from active service.
“Obviously when a dog reaches the age of 11, it is really hard to find a furever home, especially if the dog has medical problems – which many former service dogs do,” Johann Wilhelm, founder and owner of Retreat 2 Eden, explains.
“In many cases, the dogs are just too aggressive, so we work with them until we can integrate them with our other waifs, strays and rescues and let them live out their golden days on the farm.”
But for Xiro, a retired Belgian Shepherd, there was a happy ending when Cape Town couple, Richard and Fyrne Goviea, stepped in with an adoption offer, driving all the way to Port Alfred with their own Belgian Shepherd, Nikoa, to meet their potential new furbaby.
Armed with a bucketful of positivity, and just a few doubts as to whether the two dogs would get along, the Goveias spent two days getting to know Xiro, before finally taking her to their Port Alfred base for the final night of their stay.
“It was a bittersweet day,” new owner Fyrne said. “Xiro had never been to the beach, let alone stepped inside a house. The beach trip went well, she was soon prancing like a queen, but not so much the house.
“She was terrified and not just a little stressed, but finally found a quiet corner and went to sleep.”
Later, left to her own devices, Xiro sniffed out a low bed in one of the downstairs bedrooms and claimed it as her own. Baby steps, but big ones!
The following day, the new family set off on the long drive back to Cape Town, where Xiro has settled in like a complete pro.
“We soon learnt that she has sneaky side, trying to steal defrosting wors off a counter and actually stealing a piece of bread off my husband’s plate when he looked away,” Fyrne said.
“She has also become really playful, loves the beach and seaweed and is asserting her dominance over her young brother. What could have proven to be serious bed politics is not an issue – Nikao gets up and moves when she appears!
“After just a few weeks, all three of us enjoy Xiro more and more as her true self appears. We have also learnt to be careful – she’s a thief of remotes, too. If it falls, it’s hers!”
Fyrne completely shrugs of the selfless, and expensive, role she and her husband played in taking on a dog who had no social skills and quite a number of medical problems.
“It’s not about me. It’s not about my extremely supportive husband. It’s about Retreat 2 Eden and the incredible work they are doing, rehabilitating and rehoming dogs most people would shrug off as a lost cause. They are the heroes of the story, not me.”
More details on Retreat 2 Eden at https://www.facebook.com/groups/865543393636727/