SPCA Veteran Natasha Johannes Spreads Her Wings
After almost three decades with the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, peer-to-peer powerhouse Natasha Johannes is leaving the society. A friendly and familiar face to Team SPCA cyclists, runners, hikers – and hundreds of other animal lovers who have participated in events to raise funds for the SPCA over the years – Natasha will be sorely missed.
Natasha’s portfolio has been transferred to the capable hands of Claudia Kocks, who has 10 years of experience at the SPCA and is looking forward to taking up the challenge. Claudia’s commitment to the SPCA and her top-notch organising skills are sure to be appreciated by Team SPCA members and the corporate sponsors that kindly support our events.
A goodbye to Natasha would not be complete without sharing her personal recollections of some of the memorable moments she’s had at the Cape of Good Hope SPCA over the years.
In her own words…
“My journey with the Cape of Good Hope SPCA started at the young age of 20. The Internet was not as developed as it is now. I recall lots of paperwork, braving all types of weather to ensure animals were cared for and countless phone calls and face-to-face conversations and interactions with my colleagues, volunteers and supporters of the SPCA. Life was simpler then – and hard work meant physical hard work, from cleaning out dog cages with brooms twice the size of me and picking up doggy poo with bucket and spades to feeding, cleaning cat litter trays, sweeping, changing bedding, administering medication, washing and brushing all types of hair.
I can describe my career at the SPCA as similar to that of a relationship.
“I recall moments of joy, sadness, distress, exhilaration, frustration, heartache, tears of joy, the rewards, the exhaustion … but always pushing forward because of your dedication – and sharing all this with animals who are also sentient beings.”
I recall being seven months pregnant with my daughter (who will be 22 this year) when I was pulled along at great speed by a Boerboel who had just been admitted to the SPCA and was too scared to walk on a lead. My colleague screamed at me to let go of the lead, but I didn’t.
I remember comforting a large mixed breed dog while sitting on the floor in his kennel, his head on my lap while it poured with rain (we had outside kennels then) … and let’s not forget the time I was charged by two feisty Jack Russells at the same time! I can attest that next to Chihuahuas, they are one of the most fear-inducing breeds!
Then there are the cats and their giving spirits … I was ‘gifted’ a huge rain spider once by one of the cattery occupants. This sweet act of generosity nearly concussed me as I turned around in fright and ran straight into a wall (I am terrified of spiders).
I will always remember the encounters with animals you don’t often get to see, such as the secretary bird, (I never imagined them to be nearly as tall as me!) crocodiles, meerkats, honey badgers, fox, ostriches, snakes, seals, all sorts of birds including falcons, owls, an Afrikaans speaking crow, lizards, horses, donkeys, porcupines, goats, pigs, ducks and so many other wonderful creatures.
As much as the animals made a huge impact on my life, so did the many wonderful people I have had the opportunity to meet on this journey.
From those who adopted SPCA animals to the people who picked up strays and brought them to the SPCA. I remember when a woman picked up a huge stray Rottweiler on the M5 and brought him to us - but while she was driving, he was sitting on the back seat growling at her!
By the time she arrived at the SPCA, she was ready to faint – but she managed to get out of her car and slam the door closed just before he lunged at her. It took us a long time to get that massive, aggressive dog out of her car.
“I will always remember the volunteers who become close friends, my colleagues, Team SPCA athletes who challenged themselves; and the sponsors and donors who have all made a difference for animals. Thank you!”