Talent Gore Lifestyle Writer
Sometimes when we have nothing else to give and no other way to repay a kindness, the only way we can express gratitude is with a word or two of thanks, a warm embrace, a gentle kiss, or a silent nod.
Through the ages, people have claimed dogs as some of their closest, and best companions.
Of all the domesticated animals, dogs serve the widest array of roles: protector, helper, lifesaver, and companion.
Dogs are incredible friends to people, and they’ve been companions through centuries.
For years, Reenie Ager (63) has taken it upon herself to take care of stray dogs in her community in Highlands, giving them shelter and food.
It is difficult to have an uninterrupted conversation with Reenie, every two minutes, she is distracted by a dog demanding food or affection.
Reenie who to-date has had 37 dogs and four cats in her house, relies on her housekeeper and security guards to help take care of the canines.
Having buried 18 of her companions so far, she has 19 under her roof, with the oldest being Jack, who is 13 years old.
Reenie describes Jack as a dog with a good sense of humour.
“My oldest dog Jack is the sweetest and has the biggest heart. Jack has a heart problem and he does not have one leg, which means he also cannot walk properly and to make matters worse he is blind,” she said.
“I found him hurt and struggling to walk. We tried surgery on him, but it was not successful so now he depends on three legs.”
Reenie’s dream is simple, she hopes to open a sanctuary and sterilise as many strays as possible.
Most of all, she hopes to create an environment that’s filled with compassion.
“We’re so desensitised to suffering and it’s easy to turn a blind eye. Beyond the animals’ medical needs, I’m providing safety and vital care to their well-being,” Reenie said.
“To see these dogs and cats get the love they deserve makes me feel alive.”
Today, she lives with the assurance that she’s saving vulnerable creatures and uniting her community and with her boundless empathy, Reenie brings out the best in humanity.
Reenie said she fell in love with dogs at a very tender age.
“I have always had animals all my life and having those animals around me, especially dogs taught me how to love, to be kind and compassionate,” she said.
“I moved to Zimbabwe in 2004 and my then dog became sick. It stopped eating and it was devastating so I went to the SPCA and I was hurt by how people treated animals.”
“The SPCA told me that they just find dogs in the streets, with no home or food and some would be wounded, so that’s how I got my second dog.”
Ever since she visited the SPCA in 2004, she receives some dogs from them.
“Back when I was in the UK I had about nine dogs, a goat, horse and cat that I kept so I just grew up fond of animals,” Reenie revealed.
The dogs have free access in and around the house.
“The dogs have free access in and around the house. I usually don’t have many visitors (by choice) because I’m always busy,” Reenie said.
“So I just let the dogs do whatever they want, and because I am British my dogs are inside outside dogs.”
“They sleep inside, it sounds a little crazy, but now I have more dog beds in the bedroom than I used to before so the dogs just choose how and where they want to sleep.”
She said it is hard for people to accept that I will not punish dogs for coming inside the house.
“It takes a while for people to realise that the dogs are not going to be punished for coming inside the house and do whatever they want,” Reenie said.
“I don’t understand why people dislike the idea of dogs being inside the house, humans bring more bacteria than dogs.”
“I just keep the dogs as comfortable as they want. I coach the dogs on how and where they can take a piss, especially the young ones. I don’t beat them, and with time they adjust and they will have an idea of where they are supposed to use a toilet.”
The owner of 19 dogs said she takes the dogs for a walk at least three times a day.
“The dogs learn quickly that it is alright to make mistakes and I take them for walks two three times daily, because it is interesting for them to leave the yard. They want to hear, see and observe different things,” she said.
“Dogs’ friendly and outgoing personalities enable them to expose their human companions to other individuals, potentially facilitating.”
She said her love for dogs taught her kindness and compassion among other things.
“Each and every dog that I brought into my home was unique, had its own personality, and affected my life profoundly,” she said.
“I’ve had some of the greatest relationships and life lessons learned with my dogs; Unconditional love, living in the moment, loyalty.”
Reenie said treating our pets just like a family member will always bring rewards in the long run.
“My dogs are more than family; they are my children and I treat them as such,” she said.
“They changed my life. I’m so happy with them, and my favourite part of being with them is that they’re loved and they give so much love back.”
She buys different foodstuff for the dogs and she prepares it herself.
“Normally what I do is, I buy rice, pasta, dog biscuits, beef, chicken and I prepare the food myself,” she said.
Reenie said it was an honour for her to be taking care of these tortured and abused animals.
“I don’t take this responsibility for granted because I know that these animals depend on me for their welfare so I take it very seriously,” she said.
She revealed that she takes the dogs to veterinary clinics regularly and she makes sure that she washes them twice a week. She said she wished the world viewed canines differently.