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The story of a very special friend called Draco
One day many years ago I saw people playing in a pet shop with a bearded dragon. I was absolutely fascinated by this unusual animal. When I changed jobs and got an unexpected bonus, I immediately went to the pet shop and spent the entire bonus getting the cage, lights and every thing else I needed. Then to pick the dragon. The cage was full of them. I spotted one, very active and running up a log perching himself at the top like he was above the rest. “That's the one”
I took my valued possession home, set up his cage and put him in. I called him Draco!
You were so tiny, I was too scared to catch or hold you. But even as small as you were, you decided veggies were for rabbits, dragons hunt and eat meat! You loved swimming, when you were done, the entire cage was wet. You soon out grew your cage and I got a new bigger one. I am not sure exactly why you even needed a cage as you were never really in it. You had then free roam of my son’s room.
You were there when my son started school, when my daughter went to high school. You shared the good days with me and you shared the dark days too. You came with almost every where, braai’s, shopping, visiting friends, birthday parties . . . Some times even to work.
We spent a huge amount of time together, while I was always working in the garden. Together we built a “fairy garden” and you loved running around there. Some times my heart would stop as you went missing. But you never really went missing, just well camouflaged.
You were there when I wanted “to jump off a bridge”. You were there when I got separated and when I moved out. You were there when I struggled. You were there with family births and deaths. You were there when I met some one new. You were always there. Deep down I knew that one day . . . And everybody knew how I dreaded that day . . .
One day we got a tiny monitor lizard added to our little family. His name was Komodo. I thought I could never love another animal as much as you. But I quickly learned that as with children, you don't spilt you heart between them, your heart simply grows bigger!!! Komodo was as special as you, and the two of you roamed around my room. At first you were so much bigger than Komodo, but soon he grew bigger than you, much bigger. The two of you would sit on the dash of the car when we went somewhere. You even swam together. Then one night Komodo just suddenly had a heart attack for no reason and died. He had been to the vet for a check-up just a few weeks before. He was a picture of health. His death was a very hard blow.
Often when I came home from work, I’d walk in the room, and you would jump up at me as if to say “oh there you are!”
You drove with all the way to Cape Town when my daughter started university in Stellenbosh. In fact you saw Cape Town more than once. How many bearded dragons can say that they have been to Gods Window? But your favourite place was a game farm in Thabazimbi where my brother stays. With time we rescued a number of beardies and they would all come with. You would always know when we got close to the farm, you would suddenly be very active and alert. You would catch grasshoppers and mark the rocks as your territory.
Far too fast the years went by and all of a sudden you were ten years old. You started loosing weight even though you were eating. The vet said you were no longer absorbing your food. But we could additionally inject you once a week. And so it was, I fed you in the morning and in the evening. Once a week we injected you. For a time it seemed fine. I sensed your body became frail, so I didn't carry you around so much any more. In your cage you lived on a pillow. Sometimes you did not want to eat, then I left you. I sensed you dreaded the injections so I stopped them. It was time to go to Tabazimbi for perhaps a last time. We spent lots of time alone in the bush that weekend, and you looked content, your colours good.
The last few weeks you watched me all the time. You told me its time and I that didn't need you any more. I tried to ignore it, but then one night (17 November 2013) you died. You died at 1 am, I was devastated. My regret is that I was hysterical instead of being calm and letting you go peacefully. You were wrong I still needed you, and I still do need you.
The following day we took you all the way to Tabazimbi and held a funeral. I will never forget you and I know that you and Komodo are together. With you grew my love and understanding for reptiles. Because of you SaveMe reptile rescue was born. Because of you countless animals get a second chance at a better life. You have and will still educate and teach others what beautiful creatures you are.
May you rest in peace. You will always be in my heart!
One day I saved a human. She came into the pet shop, she had been there before. I could see she needed saving. I stood high and proud so she would see my strength. She took me home. Set up a cage with a big bath. While she sat there watching me, I told her my name is Draco.
I taught her to look after me and my kind. I taught her about the value of the little things in life. I taught her to stop for a moment and see the world around her.
We built a fairy garden, with rocks, logs, water feature and lots of plants. Here I taught her the need for some “quiet” time. While in the garden, I would sometimes see her sudden panic, so I would move a bit for her to spot me, then she would pick me up and say “don’t you ever do that again” . . . I never did understand that . . .
We did everything together, and went everywhere together. Sometimes I even looked after her children while they were asleep. I had free roam of the bedroom, my cage on the floor, was always open. I could come and go as I pleased. I loved sitting in the sun by the window. Sometimes she would disappear for a longer periods of time. I would worry, but be relieved when she came back and I’d see all was fine. I worried about her just as much as she did about me. She would tell me everything and I would listen. I would make her smile and in return there was never a shortage of hugs and kisses.
Once I had an accident, someone had accidentally sat on me. My human was frantic with panic and sat the entire night with me, holding me upright and talking to me, all the time. Had she not done that I would have drowned in my own blood. In the morning she rushed me to the vet. She took care of me while I recovered. I had burst a lung and could never swim on my own again after that. But knowing how I loved swimming, she always held me while I had my swim.
I emotionally supported her. I was always there, my heart ached when she was depressed and went through hard times. I am glad I had the ability to make her feel better. I was there while she recovered from her “cancer scares”.
One day we got a new family member, Komodo who was a monitor lizard. The two of us were great buddies, and did everything together. At first he was tiny and I was so much bigger than him, but soon he grew gigantic compared to me. We often travelled together on the dash of the car. Unfortunately one night Komodo died in my humans arms, and I was as devastated as my human was. Not even I know why his life was so short. I missed Komodo, but also knew that we would one day, be together again.
The Bearded dragon rescues started with a rescued tiny dragon called Nugz. He had severe metabolic bone disease. After a long struggle he finally started growing, uhm that little sh!T tried to show me who was the stronger, the alpha male, but I always showed him right back . . .hehehe
I enjoyed my time with my human. I visited some very nice places. We often went for weekends to Tabazimbi, near Brits – my favourite place in the bush. I swam in the dams there, caught grasshoppers, and marked some rocks as my territory. I have been to God’s window. I even went with when we took her daughter to go study in Stellenbosch, needless to say we visited there a number of times. I went on many holidays. I saw the kids grow up.
But time was not standing still and soon I did not have the strength to run around the garden anymore. Eventually I wasn't even up to the outings any more. I dreaded those injections. Sometimes I only ate because I knew it made my human feel better. She got a special pillow for me to keep me upright and comfortable. We no longer went on so many outings. But we would often sit outside in the sun. We would have quit times and communicate in silence. I tried holding out as long as I could. But even my tail started dying off. One day I told her I would love to go to the bush for a last time. And so we did. We sat together quietly on my favourite rock very often that weekend. She told me to get better so we could come for another weekend. But deep down we both knew it was the last weekend together in the bush.
Every time she came in the room or we were together, I would look her straight in the eyes. I was trying to tell her she no longer needed me, it’s time for me to go I’d say. I have taught her all there was to teach. But she refused to listen, she did not want to hear. Then one night my fragile body had had enough, it was time to move on to the next life. My human sensed this but tried to dismiss it and wanted to feed me. Quickly she realized it was time, she sat with me in bed for the last time while she listened to my breaths getting less and less till it stopped. Komodo was waiting for me.
My human was hysterical and devastated because I was gone. But I was not gone. I was there when she wrapped me in a blanket and put me in my cage for the last time. I was there when they planned my funeral. I was there when they took me all the way to Tabazimbi. I was there when she took one of the strings of beads off her wrist and slipped it over my neck as she said good bye. Thank you for laying me to rest in the bush where I so loved to be.
I also know she visits the grave and has a quiet moment and talks to me. I am still there somewhere and one day we will all be in the same place. And there we will be able to talk to each other. Death is not all that bad it’s the start of eternity. Death is part of life. It’s not about the length of life, it’s about the quality of life.
I know you sat there for a long time crying. I know you wanted me to breathe again. I know you were asking why. But I have had a full life, over ten years. I died of old age. And even though you cannot see me, I am still there. I know you often look at my picture and talk to me. I still hear you. I know that even with so many animals going through your rescue centre, and even though you deeply love them all, I know in your heart they are not Draco. So it was time for something different. Something that would make the bad of the day go away. So I sent two little busy bodies, Jessie and Jemma. Good luck with those two. They are as naughty as hell and should keep you so busy that there is no choice but for the pain to subside . . . till we meet again, my human.