Hybrid timber wolf Shakira, right, is happy to be back at home with her family, Philip du Toit and Shaka. Motshwari Mofokeng African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - A Morningside family was overjoyed this week when its hybrid timber wolf, Shakira, was found at Windsor Park Golf Course, in Stamford Hill – 19 months after going missing. 

It could have been the big Durban storm of October 10, 2017, which drove Shakira from her home and led to her living in a large pipe on the edge of the golf course. 

On Friday, her owner Philip du Toit said he had been settling down to watch a Springbok Test match on Saturday, September 30, 2017, when two troops of monkeys invaded the garden, sending Shakira into a panic. 

“Two troops arrived at the same time, in the same place. I think it was too much for her and she bailed over the wall. Our other dog, Shaka, and Shakira were inseparable. On that day, he led my wife, Paula, to the wall and stood there, looking up at it. But Shakira had just disappeared. Shaka became extremely lethargic after she had gone and I went to the SPCA every week to see if she had been found,” said Du Toit, adding that Shakira’s tag had broken just days before she went missing. 

The next week, there was a sighting of the missing dog on Athlone Bridge and, on the day of the big storm, Du Toit said he received a report of a dog matching her description spotted on one of the islands on the Mgeni River. 

Pinetown Pet Rescue, which circulates details of missing pets, continued to post Shakira’s details on the group’s Facebook page. This week, a link was made to the missing Shakira when an elusive white dog was spotted on the golf course.

Andreas Mathios from Pinetown Pet Rescue, said: “Somebody picked up the lost notice on the page, contacted the owner of the dog and said they were 100% sure they had seen the dog on the golf course.”

The manager of Windsor Park Golf Course, Lloyd Naidoo, said the dog had been spotted a number of times over the past 19 months, but only during twilight or in the evening.

“She was seen for the first time after the big storm and often used to howl. There were never any complaints from golfers because she only came out after dark. If anyone tried to move towards her, she would bolt. I tried to get a photo of her on the 12th hole where there’s a big pipe leading from the Mgeni River, but she just disappeared. We called the SPCA a couple of times and they would come and look for her, but it’s such a big area. Then, on Tuesday, I received a call from Philip,” said Naidoo.

Du Toit and his wife, Paula, headed to the golf course on Wednesday night.

“We went to the entrance of the pipe and called and whistled. She started growling and Paula kept talking to her gently for about 10 minutes. She slowly came out and then allowed us to touch and stroke her. We couldn’t believe how dirty she was. We took her to the vet on Thursday and the vet said apart from having lost 2kg, she was in very good condition. We think her wolf instinct to survive kicked in after she got lost and she caught food. 

"Saying that, she couldn’t eat her food fast enough when we got home and she and Shaka bonded straight away. We are super happy we have got her back; we never thought it would be possible,” said Du Toit.

Naidoo said the reunion between Shakira and her family left him with a special feeling.

“When Shakira realised it was her owners, she started pushing herself all over them. I’m a big guy and I don’t cry, but when I saw how that dog reacted, I was almost in tears, it was such a beautiful sight. Such good stories give us hope in a world where we hear a lot of bad things. I’m really happy she was found and is back where she belongs,” said Naidoo.

Independent On Saturday