All dogs go to heaven – remembering Guido

Although it may be obvious that everyone at the Foundation loves animals of the feline persuasion, truth is, we are all serious dog lovers as well!
Some of you will have noticed a rather dapper, spotty, German Shorthaired Pointer appearing in a few of the Lion Whisperer TV videos. This handsome hound was Guido, who crossed the rainbow bridge in December last year. Guido’s story is unlike any other, and in honour of his interesting life, we decided to do a proper “dogbituary” for one of our favourite woof friends.
Guido was born on the 15th of April 2011 in a sleepy village in southwest France called Douzains. Having lived a most comfortable life, with long walks along the gentle French countryside and sitting with his bum up on elegant furniture, he had an air of satisfaction and happiness about him.
One day, when he was 8 years old, his mother approached and gently told him, “I have become a director of the Kevin Richardson Foundation, and we are moving to South Africa!” “Africa?” he wondered, “I do hope it doesn’t snow too much there, I hate it when my walks are cut short on account of the weather.” Guido bore the long journey with the courage of his breed, and airport staff marveled at his calm, collected presence. Reunited with his mother at OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg, they got into a van and drove an hour north of the city to Dinokeng Big 5 Game Reserve, where unbeknownst to Guido, he would live out the rest of his days. Guido adjusted quickly to his new life; in fact, he couldn’t quite believe his luck! On his first morning waking up and going for a walk within the fences of Tau Camp, he saw a huge giraffe walking by. He stopped, pointed, and looked up at his mother, as if to say, “Are you seeing this? What is the hell is it?” Instead of birds, mice, and other woodland creatures of his native Europe, Guido lay on his couch listening to the whoops of hyena, and fell asleep to the roaring of lions. He showed no surprise or fear at this, perhaps he knew these special animals from another lifetime? One specie he could not endure, were warthogs. Just the sight of them sent him into a barking frenzy! He knew them simply as “piggies”, and his mother would tease him by saying “Piggies! Piggies!” and he would run to the fence barking and running hysterically up and down. The Woodland Kingfisher was also not his favourite, and his ears would prick with irritation when heard the high-pitched “tuuui”. Of all Guido’s interests, one cannot deny that his absolute favourite past time, was chasing his yellow tennis ball. With the devotion of a Buddhist monk, Guido would drop his soggy tennis ball in whatever human lap he could find, and stare at them until it was thrown for him to fetch. When the sanctuary still ran a volunteer program, Guido became the mascot of Tau camp and was adored by many a traveling animal lover. This also provided an endless stream of ball-throwers, and these years will be remembered as some of the best of his life.
One afternoon, an emaciated black Staffordshire cross was found in terrible condition wondering about the fridges. Kimmy, as she became known, was adopted by the sanctuary staff, and enthusiastically showed up to play with Guido. We can’t say Guido welcomed Kimmy, but he accepted her, and they eventually became like an old married couple, going about their day and tolerating each other when necessary.
Guido was a people’s dog and was uncomplicated in his needs. He loved his food, his couch, chasing warthogs and people who threw his ball. Guido was a good boy. We love him and miss him, and he will forever be a legend at the Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary.