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Grace and Hudson arriving via KLM at SFO Air Cargo.

Grace and Hudson arriving via KLM at SFO Air Cargo.

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Tessa's Story

Once upon a time , a Stafford girl puppy was born. This is her story:

"I can't remember much of the first five weeks of my life, but I was probably hungry most of the time -- hungry and cold because it was winter. Before I was weaned, someone came and took me away, probably because the people of the house didn't want the bother of feeding us."

"My new people didn't much like each other. They were always shouting. I know they wanted me, because they took me away from my mother -- that proves they wanted me, doesn't it? They said they wanted a pet for their baby, a little human girl a year old. But what they wanted was for me to keep her busy and out of their way even though I was just a tiny baby myself."

"I stayed there for two weeks or less. One Friday, they left me alone, just stuffed their bags into a car and left. I stayed alone all night. It was still late winter, and I had neither a warm place to sleep nor a scrap of blanket, only a plastic margarine dish with a little dirty water, so I had to sleep on a concrete floor outside the back door. I admit I cried. I wanted to be brave, but I was so hungry, so cold, that I cried all night."

"Early Saturday morning, someone peered over the wall, wondering why I was crying. She knew the people had left me to fend for myself. When she saw me, she climbed over the wall and took me to her home."

"She gave me cooked mince and fresh water, and she wrapped me, snug, in a little basket. I couldn't eat much, even though I was hungry because my tiny tummy was swollen with worms. They had believed that meant I was full of food, even though my little bones were sticking out."

"It felt so good to be hugged and warm. She took me for a drive in the car to visit her sister who owns and shows Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Together, they took me to the vet, another lady, who was very kind. She took my temperature and said that my tongue was pale because the worms were eating my life away. She gave me an inoculation and fed me medicine to kill the worms as well as giving us a packet of special food to take home."

"Then she made sure I wouldn't have to keep scratching fleas. It felt good to be loved and cared for."

"The other people returned on Sunday morning, having left me alone for two days without food, water, or shelter. They went around looking for me, asking the neighbors if they'd seen a Stafford puppy."

"My new lady said I had died during the night, a lie, because she didn't want to give me to them. (It being a weekend, she couldn't take me to the Animal Shelter for help, and she could not bear giving me back.)"

"Then she told me why she couldn't keep me: she had Staffords of her own, and it would be impossible to keep another. Even though I'd only known her for two days, I really wanted to stay with her."

"That morning she drove me to my new home, occupied by a 14-year-old male Stafford and a new family. They said they'd love to have a little seven-week old Stafford girl. That's me. Now my name is Tessa. I won't have to be anything except a puppy."

"They don't mind that I have worms and a swollen tummy and fleas and bones sticking out. They call me a "Challenge," but I know my name is really Tessa."

"It feels so good to be warm and loved."

by Tessa (with help from Nelline Pretorius of SA)