To Hell and Back

By Nadia Swart

The incredible story of a dog that was kidnapped during a robbery

Our precious Cocker Spaniel, Keoli, was taken during a robbery on the 11th of April at approximately 12:30 in the afternoon. Three men broke into our house and abused our domestic worker in order to gain access to our safe and car in the garage. She heard Keoli cry in the background but the robbers paid little attention to her. The robbers didn’t stay long as we didn’t own a safe and they couldn’t get access to our car. Taking electronics, they made off in their car at high speed. The police were immediately notified; thankfully our domestic worker was not seriously injured but was left with serious bumps and bruises. A surveillance camera image showed a picture of the car speeding away with a small silhouette of Keoli in the back seat.

My husband and I exhausted all avenues in order to find her. Flyers with rewards offered were printed and posted in the area. We contacted the SPCA, Wetnose and other animal organisations and we posted messages on Facebook. We visited some of the rescue organisations ourselves and looked at all their dogs in the hope that we might find her, and we drove around the neighbourhood.

Keeping hope alive

Every time we returned home, we hoped to see her in front of our gate, but there was no sign of her. Keoli is a very obedient dog (except when it comes to barking at birds) and she never leaves our side. She sleeps in the bed with me, my husband and our small son and has never slept outside. We feared the worst, especially when we were informed that robbers steal dogs to be used as bait dogs in dog fighting. We were terrified. 

On the 15th of April, my husband returned from a business trip very depressed and began digging in our garden. He was hoping that just maybe the robbers had killed her during the robbery and buried her in the garden. Although this didn’t make sense, we both hoped that it would at least give us closure. My two-year-old son playfully helped dig in the garden, happily unaware of the circumstances. I left them in the garden and started preparing the evening meal. After dinner I went to church, whilst my husband and son resumed their digging. When I received a phone call from my husband at 8:30 telling me that I must come home at once, I expected the worst.

Happy day!

On entering our house, I immediately saw Keoli’s water bowl and knew that she had come home. Fearing once again that she had been hurt, I was very relieved when I saw her on the couch, sitting very still and her tail barely moving.

My husband told me that our son was already in bed and that he was in front of the TV when he heard her footsteps outside but didn’t get excited as he had “heard” them a lot during the past few days. As she’d entered through the back door of our house, my husband at first ran out to see if the robbers hadn’t perhaps brought her back. Realising there was nothing outside, he went back into the house and prayed in relief. 

Keoli fainted a few times and walked with a limp. She was very hungry and weak, drank a lot of water and smelt very bad. Without delay we took her to the 24-hour vet where it was established that her elbow was broken and that she had suffered tar burns, typical of a dog jumping out of a car. She had lost 4.5 kilograms, weighing half what she did before, and the pads on her feet were worn down – clearly she had walked very far on just three legs. Though very weak and dehydrated, she had her elbow operated on and is now slowly on the mend.

Sadly, it appears that she may limp for the rest of her life, but we are waiting for the bandages to come off before we will know for certain. Otherwise she is very healthy and we are taking good care of her – blessed to have her with us for as long as possible.

Keoli is such a part of our lives that those five days when she was missing were extremely painful. Trying to continue with life as usual and then suddenly remembering that she was not at home broke our hearts. My domestic worker and Keoli are still very traumatised by what happened and it will take some time for both of them to heal. We are just so blessed to have Keoli back home.

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