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"Rescue Stories"



March 2024

Working with Sighthound Rescue SA, this handsome lad was rescued from hunters in the Cape in February.  He had a leg injury and was in poor condition. When all his vet work was done and he had been neutered, a home check was made, and he was brought up to Gauteng for a meet and greet with the family who were eager to offer him a home. All went well, and he was rehomed with the family who had recently lost their Irish Wolfhound, and whose other dog needed a companion.  Fearghus, as he has now been named, has been happily settled in in his new home since 18 March.  Below is the letter that I received from his new family :-

Dear Dawn,

When I first saw Fearghus at the farm, he immediately greeted me and pressed his body against my legs when I walked with him. We were worried that this gentle soul may be bullied by our other dog, Luna.

They immediately made friends. Within two days Luna started bringing her soft toys for him to play with. It was obvious that he had no idea what a toy was or how to play. He would look at the toy and turn away from it. Now, two months later, Luna still brings him her favourite toy or ball which he then plays with and returns to Luna.

He is an adorable, mild-mannered boy who adapted to his new home and sister with absolutely no fuss.

We were worried that he would not be house trained based on the fact that he was raised and lived outside. He has not had one “accident” in the house since he arrived here. He did not bark or vocalize at all when he first arrived but now will make a yawning sound if he needs to go out or is hungry. This boy has become a dear and loved member of our family.

We are so impressed with the Sighthound rescue group and their support. Thank you so much.

These rescue successes make the countless hours of work worthwhile.  Thank you to our Club members for your continued support, which makes this possible!

Fiadh Re-home


On 28th September 2023 I took on a case from Sighthound Rescue in the Cape.  A few years ago the owner of a young Irish Wolfhound bitch, Fiadh, had died and she was “inherited” by his daughter and her partner.  She was only 6 or 7 months old at the time. She went to live with them and their German Shepherd cross.  Shortly after that they acquired a Pitbull.  The Pitbull and shepherd did not get on and some fights ensued resulting in the Pitbull being rehomed.  The Fiadh became very nervous after the fights and started showing aggression to other dogs on walks.  The couple then moved house and did not have much garden so they employed dog walkers to take her out as well as sending her to daycare once a week.  In September, while they were away, one of the dog walkers had her off lead when a small dog came up from behind.  She went for the little dog and the incident ended with the other dog owner getting bitten.  This last incident made them decide to rehome her, something they had been considering for quite a while but because she was so sweet with them at home, they had put it off.  They felt she needed a home where she would be the only pet on a property big enough that she did not have to be taken on walks. Walks stressed her tremendously.

On 18th October, I was contacted by an IW owner in the Cape who had recently lost her 9-year-old wolfhound and wanted a companion for her 6-year-old.  We arranged for a 2-day trial visit by Fiadh.  All went well at the beginning but after an hour or so she attacked the older dog. The owner managed to get between the dogs and shouting at her caused her to get her to let go. 

Unfortunately the prospective adopter had a commitment that would take her away from home for about a month and she was not willing to take a chance with the rescue as she did not feel she could leave them with her pet sitter.  When the original couple came to collect her, she ran back into the house and had to be forced into the car.  There was obviously no bond with the couple and Fiadh was very unhappy.

Working with Sighthound rescue we contacted several of the dog walkers that the couple had used.  We discovered that, after the aggression incidents, she had been sent to a trainer who is known for her unethical training methods.  This poor girl had been handled by so many people and always returned to a home where she was obviously unhappy.  With this new information I was sure that this was the cause of her behavior. If she stayed there she would only get worse and she might reach the point of no return. While arranging for her to come up to me in Johannesburg, I got a call from someone that I knew was experienced with wolfhounds and other breeds. She was enquiring if there were any rescues around.  I told her about this girl and she and her husband decided they would like to take her. They were convinced they would be able to help her by providing a stable, safe home and giving her the attention she needed.  They had two middle aged Dachshunds, but the dogs could be separated if need be.

Our young rescue girl (who now will be three years old in February) was picked up in the Cape and behaved beautifully on the long drive to her new home.  She was dirty and grossly underweight but set to exploring the garden as soon as she arrived.  She met the dachsies under supervision, was given a bath and her diet changed as she was still on puppy food.  Within a week she proved to be a totally different dog, was living in supervised harmony with the dachsies and going for walks on lead in the park. 

She has been in her new home for six weeks now, has put on weight with her corrected diet and does not need the medication she came with for her digestive problems.  This poor frightened girl just needed the right home to blossom and thankfully she has found it. 

These are the rehomes that make all the time and costs worthwhile.


Rescues and Rehomes from 2008 to 2017

Rescue Stories

      Successful Rescues, Rehomes facilitated by the Club



Female IW cross rehomed due to owners emigrating.  Scarlet, seen here with Julia Scott before going to her new home.



Male IW rehomed as a young dog in dreadful condition. He was rehomed because he chewed up his bedding and killed some chickens and was considered a bad influence on the other dogs. When he went to his new home he was terrified of everybody and everything, especially a raised voice or hand, even though not directed at him. He was also in very poor health, and it took his new family two years to get him to where he is today, a happy, healthy for his age, well socialized dog.

In August 2017 mum, Cathie, said of Gryphon:

“Gryphon is now 9 ½ and doing well despite his atrial fibrillation and leaky mitral valve. He takes 16 tablets in the morning and a couple at midday and at night. With his heart under control he trots around with the other dogs and occasionally blesses us with zoomies!  He is the biggest love bug in our home”.



Young female IW, Sula, rehomed due to owner moving away and leaving her at the property, only checking on her every couple of days to replenish food and check water. She went to her new family with lots of health issues which made her miserable, but those were all attended to and she was put onto a suitable diet and soon she was enjoying life with two walks a day where she made lots of new friends, both two and four footed

Sula seen above at 9 years of age, basking in the sunshine in the home where she was so loved and that she was so happy in. She crossed the Rainbow Bridge shortly before her 10th Birthday.


January       IW male rehomed in W Cape

January       IW male rehomed age 18 months due to owners emigrating. He was not in the best of health when his new family took him and after several years he was eventually diagnosed with suspected Degenerative Myelopathy. The scan also showed a dual inguinal hernia. The advice was to euthanase him but the family were insistent that he be given a chance. There was a specialist veterinary surgeon visiting Onderstepoort who had previously done nine of these tricky operations successfully and agreed to take on a tenth. The operation was a success and it was found that the hidden hernia had been the sole cause of all his problems and discomfort over the years.

Mum, Rosemary, says, that at long last he is completely well. He runs and plays more than ever before and is reliving his “childhood”. Our special boy is a loveable gentle giant                                                    



Young IW male rehomed. Seen here romping in the sea with his new playmate Connor and Boru


November   Young IW male Jedd rehomed as he was being bullied by owner’s other dog.



3-year-old female IW, Mollie, adopted from SPCA, Western Cape where she had been confiscated from her owner who was not taking adequate care of her due to lack of funds. Seen here happy in her new home.


Male Deerhound and female Greyhound adopted from SPCA Kimberley. They had been used for hunting so were rehomed with a family in KZN that had a large secure property with no other animals.



Young male IW adopted from the Barking Mad animal santuary and rehomed.


Very young male IW Rupert adopted from SPCA Midrand


Female IW rehomed in the Cape due to owner being terminally ill


Female IW cross adopted from SPCA Nelspruit



Young male IW, Rory, rehomed. He had been given away by the farmer who bred him to the daughter of another family. When the daughter left home she was unable to take him with her and he was too much work for her parents.

Neil told us: “He was a sorry sight when I collected him in Kroonstad, he was soaking wet from being driven to meet me on the back of a bakkie in a storm. Closer inspection at home revealed that one of his incisors was broken off. I am grateful that his owners responded to the IW club’s request to rehome him. He is truly a gentle giant and special companion”.

Rory in August 2017



Bianca 1-year old IW cross adopted from SPCA Hartbeespoort


Ciara female IW rehomed in the Cape from owners who emigrated



Female IW cross, 8 years old, adopted from SPCA Sandton

Male IW cross, approx. 4 years old adopted from SPCA Roodeport


2-year-old male Lurcher adopted from SPCA Heidelberg


Lily, 2-year-old female Lurcher, adopted from SPCA Nigel


 Braveheart a 3-year-old male IW rehomed from appalling conditions. He was in extremely poor condition, kept in a small compound with no bedding, badly under nourished, shivering from the cold and neglected beyond belief.   

Braveheart needed extensive veterinary treatment. He was emaciated and in pain. He was put on a correct diet, inoculated, treated for a bad ear infection due to mites, and a “hair plug” where the hair had grown into the ear canal, had major dental treatment, his nails were so long that he could not walk properly, anal glands were badly impacted, he had an open sore on his hindquarters, an inflamed penis, his coated was matted and full of burrs, his pads had tips of broken thorns embedded in them plus, cuts and cracks from the gravel that covered his enclosure. A sharp piece of bone was removed from between his teeth at the back of his jaw. It was then decided to wait a couple of weeks to allow him to gain some more weight and recover from all that he had been through. However, he started retching and pacing and showing signs of pain.  X-rays were inconclusive so he was taken for an MRI scan which revealed an obstruction. He underwent emergency surgery and the obstruction, which included plastic sacks, pieces of sharp bone, food wrappers etc., were removed.

Debbie tells us that since he was discharged after the operation he has never looked back.

“Braveheart is a 90-kg pup, loving gentle boy. Scars remain, he cringes at raised voices and if touched suddenly, his entire body jerks, as if expecting a blow, but he has come a very long way in a year, and we trust, as time goes by, he will overcome the fears that remain. He  is a great companion and self-appointed protector”

Braveheart in his new home & with Zara


Rufus, a 6-year-old IW cross, adopted from Purrpaws for Life. Rufus was born at the sanctuary when his mother was brought to them heavily pregnant. Somehow, he always got overlooked, but when the Club out about him we set out to find him a forever home.

Rufus heading to a new home where he quickly makes himself comfortable


Found good homes for a litter of six puppies from an accidental brother/sister mating. The “breeder“, sold the pair together to first time owners, and told them they would be fine together as Wolfhounds are unable to mate naturally!!!!


Helped with another accidental mating with advice during the whelping and raising of the puppies until they went off to their new homes



6-year-old female Lurcher adopted from SPCA Benoni


Female IW cross adopted from SPCA Garden Route


Rescue Stories

Tania Pretorius starts Connor’s story………

We decided in early 2016 that we would like to get our wolfhound Kellan some company and Leon van Tubbergh and Carien Rootman at Supermoon were willing to give us a pup from their latest litter. Connor was born Supermoon Apollo.

One day we got a phone call from Leon. Apollo had developed a spinal cord embolism (see note at end of article). He had however shown tremendous improvement in the first few days and Leon & Carien adored him so they made sure he got the very best medical care. I think he spent quite a bit of time at Onderstepoort if my memory serves me well. They wanted to know if we would be willing to give him a home – they knew we weren’t interested in showing or breeding and we were only too happy to take him.

I think he was around eleven weeks when we collected him at the airport. The most adorable puppy with his bunny-hop gait. While we were waiting for him to arrive I had done some research and managed to find Pet Wellness Worx an amazing animal rehabilitation center in Cape Town. We took him there every week until he was fully grown. Pet Wellness Worx worked on his proprioception (sense of body position and movement), performed acupuncture and lots of hydrotherapy both in the pool and the water tank. They also gave him the toe-lift that he still uses.

Connor in the hydrotherapy tank

He had (and still has!) a most gentle spirit and only wanted to be showered with love. He loved his new home, even if he didn’t always get along with his older wolfhound companion.
In 2018 we learned of Elias’s two-year work commitment in Canada and had to start planning for our time away. Initially we looked at finding a foster home for both our wolfhounds, but eventually decided that I was going to remain in South Africa with our kids, spending a few months at a time in Canada. Kellan would be fine living with my brother-in-law in our house, but we were worried about Connor who needed special care and attention. We asked Heather Gould (the go-to person in Cape Town on wolfhound issues) for help. She was aware that John and Elaine Ruby had just lost their wolfhound Gracie and she suggested re-homing Connor with the them.

John picks up Connor’s story…….. 

When we moved to the Cape in 2014, we decided that there would be no more IW puppies for us because we were getting older. That was fine, because we still had vibrant, beautiful Gracie (Swordstone Jocasta), the hooligan princess, who helped us make some wonderful new friends. Her sudden loss to cancer was absolutely devastating. Heather contacted us within two weeks, and asked us if we would consider taking Connor. For us it was the best medicine ever, and it meant that our IW journey was not yet over. The Pretorius’ had raised him very well and his manners are still impeccable. We were pleasantly surprised at how quickly he settled in. He realized that he now had full-time companionship from two people, and he was delighted not to have to share us with any other dog. There is a lovely, large, dog-friendly park two hundred metres from our gate for daily walks, but the highlight of his week is a trip to the Blaauwklippen Sunday market. He absolutely glows with delight at all the attention he attracts, especially from children, and we answer the same few questions over and over. Occasionally we are joined by Heather and her Wessex, and Arnold and Liebe Reyneke with their Kota. We hope that Connor will continue to be an outstanding ambassador for IWs for a long time to come. Having a dog like Connor will ensure that you will never be without new friends.

Connor, striking a lordly pose in front of Blaauklippen Manor, also graces the banner images on the Home Page of the Irish Wolfhound Club website. Take a look at him and other hounds in South African settings submitted by Club members and fellow-travellers from the broader Irish Wolfhound community in South Africa.

Note on F.C.E.

F.C.E. (Fibro Cardiogenis Embolism) or Puppy Paralysis in wolfhound puppies is uncommon but is something that all prospective puppy owners should be aware of as it requires very rapid treatment (within a couple of hours) if the puppy is to fully recover. It manifests as a paralysis of the hind legs. Your vet may not have encountered F.C.E. and, since time is of the essence with F.C.E., a puppy owner should print the following link and have it to hand, just in case.


Rescue Stories

Most breeders aren’t made of stone. If you spend two months raising a litter of 400 gram, blind, mole-like critters to active 20 kg pre-adolescents then you have a relationship with each and every one at the end. You do your homework and you try and match the personality of the pup you know with your reading of the prospective new owners. Then you hope for the best.

It doesn’t always work out.

Luke, born Swordstone Jupiter, seems to have started well in that he went to a good home with a couple who had two young girls who adored him. We would occasionally get happy snaps and were saddened after 5-years to get a call saying that Luke had attacked and badly hurt another family dog, a Labrador, in the presence of the youngest daughter. They couldn’t take the chance of it happening again and the children becoming collateral damage. Luke had to be rehomed.

We really don’t know the real story but, as we later found out, he was food obsessed and an accomplished food thief (unheard of with wolfhounds). No… not a ‘thief’: ‘artist’ is better. Putting two and two together (and maybe making six) circumstances appear to have changed, there was a move to a smaller property. Maybe his thieving habits saw him banished to the yard with a change in status. Resentment of the Labrador, a house dog apparently, who then got nailed when he invaded Luke’s territory unexpectedly.

Luke’s new life starting off boarding with Ingrid. Then Frances near Hartebeestport, who has an enormous plot in the Magaliesberg, and had previously owned wolfhounds, took him on. She now has a few terriers. When we arrived with him, he seemed calm enough and he immediately set off casing the surrounding bush. However, in hindsight, one Jack Russel in particular was already giving him the eye. It lasted precisely 24 hours before we were called back, a damaged Russel was off to the vet to be stitched up and Luke was back with Ingrid where he stayed while the Club tried to re-home him. That was difficult as he now had an aggressive reputation. Give a dog a bad name etc., etc. Eventually Julia and I decided to take a chance and his brother Joe-joe and I took a drive down to Ingrid to see how they’d get on. Walks on leads went well and so did a run off lead. Reunion pictured below.

Luke on left Joe-Joe on right

So, Luke came home and was introduced, fingers crossed, one by one, to the other five adult hounds. That went well too. Long story short, apart from one noisy stand-off during feeding (some hair lost, much sound and fury signifying nothing) he fitted in like he’d never been away. He and Joe-joe were pals. It was hard to tell them apart, lying side by side like two hairy sphinxes on their bed.

Luke was a true master of the stroll-by sandwich snatch. All done without missing a beat. Blink and you’d miss it. Tut-tut you may say but you’ve got to admire talent when you see it.

Come twilight he’d set off on a patrol around the lawn and he soon figured out how to open the gate to the lower field. That was something that had baffled all the others but they all have Luke’s gate-meme now and all of them can open it (also, only in the evening).

Luke reading the sign that says “Please Keep the Gate Shut”

Then Luke would stroll back up the lawn and assume his Lion King pose with one paw draped over the other and stare off into the distance. He seemed sad somehow.

He was only with us for just over a year. Luke passed from away from torsion in April 2018 and his ashes are now scattered (along with many more Swordstone hounds) in the fynbos at the top of a mountain pass in the Cape.