We’d been toying with the idea of getting a dog for some time, Guillaume and I.
Maybe it started with the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Border Collie we met during our first weekend away together in Tulbagh almost three years ago. For those two days, he was a constant companion – chilling on the stoep while we braaied and even joining us for a hike up the mountain in search of an elusive waterfall. We dubbed him Wouter for some reason and soon ‘Wouter’ became a central figure in our future dreams.
Our far-in-the-future dreams, that is. Because, let’s be honest – first, a long distance relationship and now, living several suburbs apart – our situation has been far from ideal for co-parenting a canine.
But, then, we stumbled upon the sweetest soul who somehow decided he had to be ours. And who were we to turn him down?
How we met Tony
To make a relatively long story short – because I’m always tempted to trace my tales right back to their roots in the Garden of Eden or thereabouts – we first encountered our fluffy friend at the Oscars Arc WOOF pop-up project, outside the V&A Waterfront Food Market.
It wasn’t exactly love at first sight since we were actually there to find out if Balloo – a floppy-eared, gangly-legged puppy whom we’d met at a previous pop-up on the Sea Point promenade – was still up for adoption.
Our hearts sank when we heard the news: a lovely family had filled out an application and were currently on their way to pick him up. We comforted ourselves, saying it was probably for the best and gave those floppy ears one last caress.
And that’s when Tony caught my eye. The cute-faced, golden-coated collie cross was in the middle of the most perfect expression of downward-facing dog I’d ever seen. And as I watched, he slid his hind legs backwards coming to rest gently on his belly, limbs stretched in opposite directions, a dog as long as the day itself.
I couldn’t help but laugh and said “Look there! He’s so funny, let’s see if he wants to go for a walk!” (Here I should add that Oscars Arc encourages members of the public to help exercise and entertain the dogs on pop up days).
Well, by the end of our stroll we were hooked and, fingers crossed, Guillaume filled out an adoption form.
Not meant to be
We got an email the very next day:
Being such a beautiful dog, Tony had solicited quite a lot of interest and sadly another family got first dibs. But in the unlikely event of anything going wrong in his new home, the Oscars Arc team would be in touch, as we were next on the list.
Once again, we agreed that it was obviously just not meant to be. Not right now at least. And luckily Tony would live on in the pictures we’d snapped with our phones, a happy – albeit rather surreal – memory of a stroll along the waterfront docks.
And then… there was Jasper
A little less than a month later, during an ordinary day at work, a mail from Oscars Arc popped up in my inbox.
Tony was having a few issues with his new family’s cats and since the felines had been there first, they thought it best – with heavy hearts – that he found a new home. Would we still be interested?
That very Saturday we made the trek out to Franschhoek and loaded an all-smiles Tony in the back of Guillaume’s dad’s car.
It was cold and rainy, but shortly after we arrived back at the Marais home – which would now be Tony’s too – we went for our first family trot. Apart from introducing him to his new environment and helping him get rid of some of that abundant energy, the walk also served as an opportunity to brainstorm a new name.
And for the life of us, we couldn’t find one that fit. Not Yogi, not Huck. Not Jakkals and definitely not Buks. As we plodded along, we pondered.
Then suddenly, out of nowhere, it fell from my lips: Jasper.
Jasper, a classic Afrikaans pet name that was one part sophisticated and several parts silly, just like our dog.
It stuck… and turned out to be even more fitting than we thought. Ever interested in the naming of things, I googled it a couple of days later and found that Jasper means ‘bringer of treasure’. It also happens to be a crystal most often found in shades of warm red and gold, uncannily close to our Jasper’s ginger coat.
He’s been with us for just over two months now and already our lives are brighter. He’s besotted with Guillaume, gazing at him with droopy eyes whenever he feels a little too far out of reach. And whenever I manage to distract him, he likes to plant wet kisses all over my face.
He loves road trips and peeking his head through the inner window of Guillaume’s bakkie, so he doesn’t miss out on anything we might say or do. After only hitching a ride in my car once, he now recognises it as his second chariot of choice, hopping onto the backseat given half a chance.
While staring at us lovingly is undoubtedly his favourite pastime, he also relishes his daily game of fetch… so much that we have to play using TWO balls. Otherwise, he simply refuses to let go. Other dogs seem to find him strangely magnetic, as these games always gather an energetic crowd – Jasper chasing the ball, all the others chasing him.
It’s funny how a furry creature on four legs can become such an integral part of one’s life.
So, here’s to a new chapter. A new friend. A Jasper!
If you’re looking to adopt a dog, I can’t recommend Oscars Arc highly enough. Since they’re committed to rescuing as many dogs as possible from shelters, their process is extremely streamlined and efficient and you’ll have your new best friend home within 72 hours. Go check out their website and also visit their pop-up at the V&A Waterfront from 1 – 23 July.