Shaggy is (we think) an ex-war dog from Baghdad who we have decided to sponsor with Joint Formula as he limps a bit and is feeling his age… This is his story, as told by Cheronne Wheeler:
“Shags came to our camp in Baghdad about 7 years ago. Our security guys there arrived with him one day and told us he was an ex sniffer dog who had been abandoned, if this was actually the case we will never know, his history and pedigree remain a bit of a mystery.
Anyhow the security looked after him for a few years and then we had a British camp manager who arrived and he took over the care of Shaggy. When he left after a couple of years he asked us, the crew if we would look out for Shaggy. This we did with pleasure. He no longer slept outside but in one of our containers during the cold winter months on a nice warm duvet and in the terrible heat of summer he would stay indoors during the day where it was air conditioned and cool. He is definitely not a dog bred for that hot climate. We would bring all the necessary medication for him from SA as well as treats and eventually even started to cart 5kg bags of Hills chunks for him. He was not impressed with that, certainly prefered human food.
Eventually the time came and we heard that our contract in Baghdad was coming to an end and I knew that to leave him there with no one to really watch over him would mean the end of him and more importantly he had crawled very deep into our hearts and we loved him dearly, there was no way I could have lived with myself if we had not done everything and turned the impossible to possible in order to get him home. As you know he is no longer a young dog and will certainly need a lot of medical attention in the future and this is not largely available in Iraq. I got hold of my vet in SA and asked where to begin. She sent me all the required documentation from the State Vet and the first time I read through all of it and what it entailed my heart sank as I knew that half of what they required before he could be exported would not be possible. Also we were told in Iraq that besides the military no one had ever gotten a dog out of Baghdad and that our chances would be slim.
However in Shaggy’s case I knew that we could never give up and would leave no stone unturned fellow crew members we started the ball rolling. Battling red tape, import and export permits that kept expiring and having to be renewed, language problems, the fact that he would arrive in Lanseria and not Oliver Tambo as is the rule, blood tests that were mandatory and were impossible to do there etc etc. However in Iraq we had phenomenal help from Chris and Wayne, two SA chaps who work for the K9 unit there and in SA we had made the acquaintance of the quarantine master as well as the quarantine vet and had also been in touch with the State vet. Without the help, understanding and great compassion shown to us or rather to Shaggy by all these folk this wonderful achievement would never have been possible.
To cut a very long story short (it took approx 5 months to get it sorted and by the Grace of God we were fortunate to have that time) we eventually had everything in order including a sky kennel the size of Buckingham Palace and the permission to load him on our aircraft when it returned home. The quarantine guys had very kindly offered to collect him from Lanseria. With the help and eager cooperation from the gentleman who works for the Dep of Agriculture and Fisheries at Lanseria and who I went to see a couple of times to ensure a smooth transfer once the plane landed with a most unusual passenger for Lanseria, Shaggy finally arrived on the 14th of Feb.
After a nail biting wait of 2 weeks while he was in quarantine where if they had found any 3 of the 5 viruses that he had to be tested for he would have been put down, happily he was eventually released on the 28th of Feb and came home to a hero’s welcome.
We had from the beginning made the decision that Shaggy would live at my mom’s house once in SA. This was the most sensible choice as she is always there and with our flying job’s we never know where we could go next and for how long and as Shaggy has been shunted from pillar to post for so long this was the right thing to do.Now was the time for him to go to his retirement home once and for all and never have to be moved again. Also we know that in her home he would have all the care, love and attention that he so richly deserves and as I live right across the road from mom it is also convenient.
Shaggy has many mom’s that took care of him in Baghdad and one very special pilot, Martin. So whenever possible they come to visit and he is always so pleased to see his friends.
It was a pretty stressful time organizing all of it, to get him out through the checkpoints in Baghdad, the worry of would he survive the flight and the quarantine and everyday there was always one or another curve ball thrown at us, somedays we doubted that we would succeed but then we would get up the next morning and know that for his sake we would start all over again.
This would all have been but a dream without the immense input and plain hard slog from Alicia Pieterse, Carla Van Der Merwe, Martin Van Eeden and Jannie Mulder, they were the greatest team I could ever have had on my side.
And so the story has a happy ending and all we wish for Shaggy is a long content life in a kinder environment with people who will care for him with love and dedication. This loyal, gentle old man deserves no less.”