For the Van der Heever family from Potchefstroom in the North West, it felt like the lost son was back when their beloved two-year-old Staffordshire terrier, Trompie, suddenly made his appearance at home again on Monday.
Trompie disappeared almost exactly a year ago – in August 2022 – without a trace.
“I’m still pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. After a year of searching, crying and worrying, our beloved Trompie is back with us,” Karen van der Heever tells RNews.
Van der Heever says Trompie disappeared on a “black bag day” – the day when rubbish removal is done in the neighborhood -. And he returned again on a black bag day.
“We suspect that Trompie got out that day somehow. Either when I drove out of the yard, or when the housekeeper took out the black bags. It was not in his nature to leave the yard.
“He’s just a lazy dog who prefers to lie on his favorite sofa and sleep, rather than walk around.”
A large search was launched after Trompie’s disappearance. The Potchefstroom Animal Welfare Society (Paws) and other residents helped search far and wide for the terrier. The family also made numerous posts on social media and even offered a reward in an attempt to help locate Trompie.
“We traversed Potch’s streets looking for Trompie. We even got sniffer dogs to help search. We did everything in our power to find our dog, but without any success.”
According to Van der Heever, the members of the Potchefstroom community are active on social media and if anyone had seen Trompie wandering around, they would have let him know.
“There’s not a word said about any vagrant staffy.”
Some evenings she sat on the stoep and then heard Trompie barking, Van den Heever says.
“At first my husband thought I didn’t have all my pigs in the cage, until he also heard Trompie one night. I knew in my heart he was not far from us.”
The family suspects that someone may have come across Trompie and taken him in. On his return home he was well taken care of.
“We think someone found him and maybe didn’t have social media to report it. We are just happy that he was well taken care of and that he is still fat and healthy.”
‘Speechless, in ecstasy’
Van der Heever says she was working from home in her office on Monday when she heard the family’s other dogs – a Labrador and a Doberman – barking loudly.
“I thought they were barking again at the uncle and aunt who usually walk past the house with their dogs. However, the aunt who lives on the street corner let our street group know that there is a well-groomed staffy boy with scars under his eyes in the street.
“The ‘scars’ immediately made me realize that it could be Trompie. As a young puppy, he underwent four surgeries to have the skin removed from his face. He had too much skin in his face and it could cause him to go blind. That’s why it had to be removed.”
Van der Heever went out the gate and two houses away saw two men digging in a rubbish bin. With them sat a brown staffordshire terrier. The dog grabbed a sandwich they had taken out of the bin and ate it.
“I walked closer. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it was Trompie. I called his name and he ran to me. I sat flat on the ground and he rubbed against me and licked me. It was the most amazing moment.
“I got up and told Trompie ‘let’s go home. Trompie ran ahead and sat down in front of the house’s gate. When I opened the gate, he was in the front door – straight to his favorite couch. He remembered exactly where his bench was.”
On Sunday, Van der Heever found another reminder on her Facebook page that Trompie disappeared exactly one year ago. Little did she know that he would make his appearance the very next day.
Van der Heever sent her husband, Willie, who works in Abu Dhabi, a message to share the good news with him as well.
“He was speechless.”
Trompie is actually the couple’s eldest son, Christiaan (15),’s dog and he burst into tears when he came home in the afternoon and found his beloved four-legged friend there. His little brother Willie (12) and little sister Mia (8) were equally excited.
“The best of all is that Trompie is exactly his old self: calm and lazy. He lays down on his couch and sleeps again, as is his old habit. As if nothing had happened.”