Woman & Home Mag

‘I’ll Be Spending
Christmas Day With The
Dogs At A Shelter’


Article originally appeared in
Woman & Home December 2018 Edition

PETRA LARANJO, 41, is a motivational speaker, self-help author, and founder of JustOneThing365, which is a social initiative that inspires people to do a good deed every day. She and her husband Craig, 35, live in Sundowner.

“Our three rescue dogs – MJ, Tammy and Jess – have brought such joy to our lives. I can’t imagine not being greeted by their ‘smiling’ faces and excited barks every day. While there are still thousands of abandoned dogs in need of loving forever homes, for our three, their search is over, and we shower them with love and attention.

Adopting them has made me much more appreciative of the challenging work that animal charities face, which is why I decided to show my gratitude in person last Christmas Day. I visited the Randburg SPCA to deliver heartfelt thank you cards and bags of festively wrapped cookies to the dedicated staff working that shift. While it was only a small gesture on my part, they really appreciated the sentiment. I’m a huge believer in the power of good deeds, no matter how small – it’s not only about giving back and uplifting others, but also about embracing a sense of purpose and living a meaningful life.

While I felt great about my good deed that day, my visit was also tinged with a little heartbreak. Nothing pulls at my heartstrings quite like the eager eyes of an abandoned dog hoping to become yours. I remember leaving the SPCA that day with a lump in my throat, thinking about the beautiful white pit bull I’d walked passed in one of the first kennels. He leapt up excitedly on his hind legs, tail wagging, eyes soft and hopeful, as if to say ‘pick me!’. It was a struggle to say goodbye to this playful fellow.

Back home, MJ, Tammy and Jess’s boisterous greeting raised my spirits, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of sadness about the young pit bull who would be spending his Christmas alone. While I knew I couldn’t adopt any more dogs, I felt there had to be something else I could do to brighten these animals’ day, and that’s exactly what I plan to do this Christmas.

I got in touch with a few local animal organisations a couple of months ago to find out if I could make an informal visit to their shelters with a group of volunteers on Christmas Day, spending the morning playing with and walking their dogs. The Irwin Animal Rescue Centre, which cares for mostly senior dogs that have been abandoned, was the first to say yes. Craig and I have invited all our friends who’ll be in town for the holidays to join us. I’ve asked everyone to bring a bag of dog food and a doggie treat or toy, as well. After playing with all the pooches, we plan on having a fun breakfast picnic with the staff as a way of saying thank you to them. It’s going to be a wonderful start to my Christmas Day, and something that I plan to do for many Christmases to come.”

For more information on the Irwin Animal Rescue Centre, visit bit.ly/2CvGhUw, or call 078 199 5861.


Credits: Photographer: Candice; Hair: Matthew Mansoor; Make-Up: Flawless By Donique