August 9, 2020
At home

Yindi: The story of a rescue dog

The story of Yindi and us begins nine years ago, with an email and a photo.

Seriously. Who could resist this face?

It was the latest in a string of similar messages that had pinged into my inbox over recent weeks. Each included the image of a dog: some big, some small, some fetching, some scruffy. A few had put on a brave face for the camera; others looked sad and lost.

Best not to look too hard or you’d go from Dogless to Dolittle in no time.

But there was something about this particular black, white and brown pup. Yindi: a border collie cross (maybe), around four months old.

She looked like the farm dogs I grew up with. Handsome but not afraid to get a bit dirty. Loyal to the death.

I sent a seven-word email back to my partner: “I think I could love that dog.”

Truth be told, I think we both already did.

Things moved quickly. We drove a couple of hours across town for a “meet and greet” with her SA Dog Rescue (now SAHARA) carers and within a week, after a property inspection to ensure her new home was suitable, Yindi had moved in and stolen our hearts.

We didn’t know what had happened in her first few months of life, except that she’d certainly been neglected and possibly abused. We quickly learned she was afraid of small spaces, hard floors, loud noises and men in fluoro.

The single pop of a Champagne cork sparked a lifelong suspicion of wine bottles of any description.

A pair of elaborately carved African walking sticks that once clattered noisily on a tiled floor when brushed by a long tail were forever after given a wide berth, like lightly sleeping gargoyles that might suddenly wake from their slumber.

Ditto the vacuum cleaner and lawn mower – which, to be fair, did occasionally spring to life.

When Yindi met Dino.

Yindi established herself as a character. She’d jump like a roo on steroids chasing a ball across a field. Soft toys provided hours of fun as she used her teeth to make one tiny hole and then slowly disembowelled poor Dino, Tiger and Ted on the living room floor.

And she was mad about water, be it the lake, beach, creek or garden hose.

Just a few months after her arrival, we lost my mum. It was unexpected and sudden and cruel. Amid the fog of grief, our bond grew stronger; our new friend wasn’t afraid of raw feelings. She happily shared cuddles without conversation, and provided relief with her oddball antics.

It was a form of therapy that proved effective whenever life threw us a curveball – including during the recent pandemic lockdown, when Yindi doubled as unpaid office assistant.

There’s been more than a few funny stories – we call them Yindcidents –  over the years. Like the time something trampled all over the leafy greens in our half wine barrel and I put the blame firmly on the local possum – then looked out the laundry window the next day and spotted a dog sound asleep on a bed of baby lettuce and spinach.

They don’t call it a vegie bed for nothing.

Then there was the day we left a cheese platter on the coffee table while we went onto the balcony for a few minutes. We returned to find a wheel of brie, a wedge of cheddar and a plate of crackers had vanished. Yindi’s innocent look told us there had been an intruder… and apparently he didn’t fancy Maggie Beer’s quince paste.

Rescue pets come with their own unique set of issues, as anyone who has adopted one or watched the brilliant British show The Dog House will know. Our often-anxious adoptee has always been wary of strange dogs and people – which is good for warding off door-to-door salespeople and would-be burglars, but not so good if you want the post delivered or the meter read.

Thanks to the wonders of social media (#sadogrescue) we’ve been lucky to have contact with the person who first rescued Yindi and the foster mum who looked after her before she came to live with us. Both were thrilled to see photos of her living her best life – from posing like a supermodel at the forest near our old Adelaide foothills home, to playing on the beach, swimming and catching waves when we moved to the seaside.

Not a fan of the cricket.

But it hasn’t all been pig’s ears and cheese. A few years ago, we almost lost her.

She’d been at the vet for an X-ray and suffered an adverse reaction to the anaesthetic that caused her to have several seizures and stop breathing. Anti-seizure medication saved her, but she came home so groggy and unwell we were worried she wouldn’t fully recover.

She did. But then last week, she had to be anaesthetised again.

This time she had developed a lump on her nose. Initial testing suggested it was benign but it was getting bigger and there was a danger it could turn nasty. The advice was that it should go now.

It felt like we were putting her life on the line again.

Yes, the anaesthetic would be different and the vet seemed confident she could control the risk. But still. There was a risk.

Leaving her at the surgery that day was excruciating.

Those big anxious eyes followed us as we walked away, her claws clattering on the cold tiles as she tried to scramble after us as the vet led her in the opposite direction. In the end, I had to carry her through to the operating space.

At home, we both pretended we weren’t worried. We silently went on with our work. Fifteen minutes went by. Then half an hour. Then an hour.

Then the phone rang.

The surgery was complete. Our little girl had come through it without any seizures. She was awake. Alive and okay. There were tears – and much relief when she got home.

That was a week ago and she’s healed so quickly that now she’s just miffed she’s not allowed to go swimming yet.

The beach is calling …

When she’s outside, I find myself peeking through the blinds to catch a glimpse of her in the garden. She’s outgrown the wine barrel but she’s in her happy place – lying on her bed in the sun or sprawled out on the grass.

We’re so grateful her story continues. And while she’s blissfully unaware of the angst we went through, I think she’s fully aware of how much she’s cherished.

When you adopt a rescue pet, you give them a second chance at life. In return, they enrich your own.

I often find myself wondering: Who really rescues who?

If you’re interested in adopting a pet, becoming a foster career or volunteer, or making a donation, you can find out more about SAHARA (formerly SA Dog Rescue) here.

In our happy place.
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