4 February 2016
4 February 2016,

We love hearing more about your pet children and their stories!

Today, we chat to Waldo Wentzel and Luan Harrer, dads of Luwa the rescued Pitbull Terrier and her sister Twiggy, the Staffordshire Terrier.

Pet sitter

The picture that started it all!

“Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.” – Karen Davidson

  • Please tell us about how Luwa became a part of your lives – where did you hear about her, and what was the adoption/rescue process?
  • We saw a post on the Staffordshire Terrier Rescue South Africa facebook page with a photo of this adorable black and white pitbull, with mouse whiskers, oversized feet and and lively eyes. We contacted Marizanne Ferreira, who specialises in pitbull rescue in South Africa, and organised to meet Luwa the following day in Boksburg where she was staying with the foster family who had found her abandoned on the street.

    The adoption process was stressful with a lot of up and down emotions in a short period of time. We met with Luwa and fell in love there and then. We wasted no time and called Marizanne as soon as we got into the car after our short play date. Full of hope, we told Marizanne we want to make Luwa part of lives and were crestfallen to find out that another woman is also interested and that we still need to go through a home check. Marizanne was very helpful and organised the home check for the very next day.

    Tanya Nel called to organise for the home check. We made sure the house was spotless and shining, even though they probably don’t look to see whether you have dirty dishes in the sink, we even went so far as to put the dog food on display to ensure that Tanya will see we feed Twiggy only the best.

    Marizanne called us and said that we seem to impress everyone along this process and that Luwa is ours to adopt. We were filled with joy. We organised to go and pick her up the following afternoon.

    Each step of the adoption process is simultaneously filled with stress, excitement and hope. Will we like the dog? Will the dog like us? Will the foster parents like us and approve that we can adopt the dog? Will the other person meeting the dog be better? Will we pass the home check? Are our boundary walls high enough? Do we have enough grass? As soon as one stage is done one begins to worry about the next stage.

  • Rescue animals invariably present challenges to their new pet parents. What were some of the challenges you faced with Luwa, and how did you overcome them?

  • Luwa was very nervous, scared and suspicious of people. If you called her she would run away. She didn’t really allow us to rub her, never mind going near strangers. If we picked her up she would become frantic and jump out of our arms. It was a trust thing. The way we approached it was to let her make the decisions. If she ran away when we called her we would let her be and just walk in the other direction and she would follow. We didn’t try and cuddle with her, as she would become nervous. When she came to us we would rub her and allow her to sit on our lap. Slowly she became better and started trusting us but stayed suspicious of other people, even if she has met them previously. Only in the last two months have we seen a big leap in her trusting of strangers as she would go to them and look for attention, allowing them to pet her.

    Playing was also one of the easiest methods we used to gain her trust while simultaneously teaching her.

    It is impossible to keep her off our laps now! If one of us is sitting on the couch, she jumps up and she has to lie on top of you – not next to you. Even in the height of summer she wants that physical contact. She has become a dog that loves to cuddle and lie on her back in your arms while you scratch her tummy.

    Pet sitters

    Cuddle time for Luan and Luwa

  • You also share your lives with purebred American Staffordshire Terrier, Twiggy. Please tell us a bit more about the relationship between Luwa and Twiggy.

  • The day we drove into the driveway with Luwa is was like Twiggy knew her new sister is in the car. Even though the windows were closed and Luwa wasn’t visible from outside Twiggy jumped up against the car all excited.

    Luwa was scared at first and immediately went to look for a place to hide but Twiggy has always had a strong motherly instinct and it was evident that she considered Luwa as something that needed to be taken care of, despite her not being a puppy. Twiggy would lie down by Luwa and gently nudge her with her nose, urging her to play. It was not long before the two of them started playing like the real tomboy-dogs they are.

    Twiggy has immense patience with Luwa, who is a ball of energy, ready to play and most of the time chewing Twiggy as if she is a really large squeaky toy.



  • Lastly – let’s lighten up! What is your favourite Luwa-and-Twiggy moment?

  • That would have to be the first time we took the both of them to the beach! Seeing how they ran into the water; Twiggy doing her usual thing of lying down and dipping her nose under the water and Luwa attacking the waves. Throwing the ball for them and how they compete to see who gets to it first with Twiggy looking back at Luwa as if saying ‘try and catch me!’.

    Luwa behaving so well between other people and dogs was also a really proud moment for us and made all the struggles worthwhile.



    Interested in adopting a Pitbull Terrier or Staffordshire Terrier? Contact Staffordshire Terrier Rescue South Africa here. The page is dedicated to Staffordshire Terriers in shelters across South Africa and has details of various girls and boys in need of forever homes.

    Interested in finding a suitable pet sitter for your rescue pets? We know that your babies will prefer to stay happily at home rather than go to an unfamiliar kennel. StudentCo is proud that our sitters regularly care for rescue pets. Some of the ways you can be sure your pets are well taken care of while you are away include:

  • Access to information about a pet sitter’s past experience, references and client reviews
  • Complimentary meet-and-greets with suitable pet sitters to introduce your pet children to their sitter and discuss their needs and routines
  • You will be asked to complete a detailed Pet Parent Instruction sheet to jot down everything from your babies’ eating and sleeping requirements to any special needs they may have.
  • All sitters on our team must pass a test about our detailed pet sitting manual, including the recognition of common veterinary emergencies.
  • You will receive detailed daily updates and pictures of your pet children.
  • Click here to tell us more about your pet children and their needs – we are open year-round for bookings as short as one day or as long as your dream holiday!



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