South African comedian Schalk Bezuidenhout has made a name for himself for not only captivating his audiences with his humour, but also the hearts of dog lovers through his heartfelt posts about his beloved rescues on social media.
Every time Schalk shares a glimpse of his dogs Otis and Finn, they’re filled with genuine affection, joy and a gratitude for their presence in his life. What makes his bond with his dogs even more inspiring is the fact that he adopted them from Dogtown, a renowned animal shelter known for its dedication to rescuing and rehabilitating dogs in need. Schalk’s decision to adopt from Dogtown showcases his compassion and commitment to giving these animals a second chance at a loving home.
Adopting a rescue dog in South Africa
In a bid to inspire more people in South Africa to adopt from and support shelters like Dogtown, Schalk opens up about his experience with adoption and shares tips for those looking to welcome a rescue of their own into their home.
You adopted both Otis and Finn. Why is it so important for you to adopt a dog and not shop for one?
My wife was the one who initially pushed for us to adopt a dog – and I am so glad that she did. I think, specifically in South Africa, there are so many dogs on the street that if you can provide a home for one of those dogs, why not? I generally try not to judge people, so I understand that there are different reasons people get different dogs. I try not to be too preachy about adoption and make people feel bad about themselves. However, through my bond with my two rescue dogs, I hope to show people how great they can be.
What’s the one thing you wish you knew before adopting a dog?
Not to overlook adult dogs. We wanted to adopt a puppy because we wanted to raise a dog from a puppy together as a couple. But, my second dog Finn, was already a year and a half when we got him. I noticed that when you get a little bit of an older dog, it brings just as much love and fulfilment as a puppy does. Next time I adopt, I would certainly be [keener] on adopting a bit of an older dog. If you’re adopting from Dogtown, where I adopted my two dogs, you know that you are getting a dog that, to a certain degree, is already trained. It saves you a lot of effort.
You often add the adventures of your two dogs Otis and Finn into your comedy videos. Why do you think so many people relate to that content?
I think a big reason people relate to Otis and Finn is that there are a lot of dog lovers out there. Whether you have a pedigree dog or a rescue, there is still that strong bond between owner and dog. At the end of the day, that’s what people pick up between myself, Otis and Finn. I also think that because I don’t have children, and it’s quite clear in the videos that Otis and Finn are like my children, it’s also relatable – especially to people my age who don’t have children yet. It’s funny how your dogs become like your children, sometimes to an embarrassing extent.
You are a big fan of what shelters like Dogtown are doing. Why do you think they play such a pivotal role in society?
I think the reason that places like Dogtown play such a pivotal role in society is that it would be chaos without them. There would just be dogs everywhere and so many amazing dogs would have just ended up dying. Both Otis and Finn were rescued because someone spotted them on the street and phoned Dogtown to rescue them. If Dogtown has fetched them even a day later, who knows what could have happened to them.
Otis, for example, was a tiny puppy when Dogtown found him, and his mother was nowhere to be seen. Who knows what his chances of survival would have been? Now, he’s in our house and our lives basically revolve around him. We would be so sad if his life was unnecessarily cut short. Shelters like Dogtown also play a pivotal role in preventing more street dogs. The organisation also conducts sterilisation campaigns where they sterilise hundreds of dogs – which I am also a very big supporter of.
Do you have any advice for those who are thinking about embarking on the adoption process?
One of the biggest assumptions around adoption, which I think is largely untrue, is, ‘You just never know what you might get.’ While this may be true when adopting a puppy who hasn’t grown into their personality yet, it is another reason I advocate for adopting older dogs. I want people to consider adopting a dog from one or two years old as well – or even older!
I also suggest that those who are considering adoption to visit shelters like Dogtown and spend an hour there. Tell them your situation and let them show you the dogs they are housing. Dogtown is really good at that. They understand that different people have different needs when it comes to adopting a dog and can advise on which dog would be suitable for your home and which wouldn’t be. So, take your time and check them out. If you are thinking of adopting, trust me – visit Dogtown because there will be a dog for you there.
Every year thousands of precious dogs lose their homes and their lives. With your help, Dogtown can save more lives and provide the best care for the abandoned and abused, while we search for loving families that will give them their happy ever after.
To find out how you can donate, visit the Dogtown South Africa website.