Vincent remembers his first dog Teaser, that his father bought him when he was 11 years old. Growing up in rural Zimbabwe, medical care was absent so when Teaser contracted rabies, all Vincent could do was keep her safe and away from infecting other dogs. One day when he went down to the river to do some washing, Teaser dug under the gate. “I saw her coming, she came to me, passed me by and I never saw her again. I believe she came to say goodbye before she died.”
As many Zimbabweans have done, Vincent came to South Africa in search of opportunity. He loves gardening so was thrilled when he was hired as a gardener in Underberg, going on to win the local Open Gardens competition many times. During these nine years, he volunteered his free time for the Underberg SPCA helping them in the rural villages, especially inoculating against rabies. One day a visiting vet said to him “You are a good gardener, but please won’t you help save more lives.” There were no opportunities to work with animals in Underberg, so he came down to Howick. Walking nervously into the Midlands Veterinary Clinic with his CV, he was warmly welcomed by the reception staff and when a dog left his owner and raced up to greet him, they realised he was definitely a dog person! He started the next day as assistant, learning from John Mahlala and is now an integral part of the staff, observant, gentle and willing. “To work with dogs is not really a job, it is my talent and passion. This job is in my heart,” he says.
Every afternoon, when he returns from work, his beautiful dog Pansy, is waiting on the road to greet him. Together they run in the Mpophomeni hills and on his days off, walk through the township streets giving gentle advice to others on how to care for their pets. “Many people do not know, so I show them how to make a running chain rather than tying the dog up tight. If I see a dog is sick, I give them the number of the SPCA.” His father’s dog, Cutie, used to visit with his owner, but enjoyed the brushing and attention he got in the Ndlovu household, so decided to move in! His father volunteers at FreeMe, helping rehabilitate birds.
Vincent would love to have more time to volunteer for Funda Nenja, the dog training initiative who he believes is doing fantastic work. However, he also needs to nurture his other passion – to grow flowers and vegetables and encourage birds to visit his neat and flourishing garden.