Aero - 5 weeks later - Joburg community work together to reunite lost pup with family!

It took an entire community almost 6 weeks to reunite Aero with his family, but no one gave up, and everyone continued to help where they could. This is what a community should be about; kindness and Ubuntu!


Johannesburg, South Africa – Aero went missing on the 28th of August 2019 in the evening somewhere between 16:00 and 19:00, but this is a good news story about community, kindness and Ubuntu!

Kevin Hanenberg – Aero’s dad – believes that there is no better way to express how Fairland, Northcliff and surrounding areas in Johannesburg live by the virtues of Ubuntu.

Once word got out on Facebook that Aero went missing, his poster went Viral. Aero’s family had people from all over getting in contact with them, providing them with helpful advice and sharing the poster which reached over 50 000 people.

Tracy Smith – admin of I love Northcliff – shared the story of how Aero was reunited with his family after almost 6 weeks of being missing.

“After about 3 days we started getting exceptionally worried when his poster got such a large number of viewings with not even one lead that we decided to get in contact with a lady called Shonelle from Keshvam Animal Communication & Healing.” 

There were three main things that she mentioned in her findings:

  • Aero was picked up by people who live in a sort of informal settlement and constantly making fires.
  • They have decided to keep him (they felt lucky to find him).
  • He is still in Fairland.

At first, the family were not sure whether this is all “legit” or not; however, with no leads, they had no other option but to at least to try. They spent the next few weeks searching through various informal settlements in the hopes of finding Aero and continued handing out pamphlets with the REWARD clear and bold for everyone to find.

“Needless to say, we did not find Aero after all the searching, posters, announcements and paid advertisements.” 

Just over five weeks had passed and still no sign of Aero until an incredible group of people on WhatsApp called Fairland Northcliff rescue after spotting him in the evening on the banks of the N1 Highway next to the Mosaïek church back entrance. The family quickly shot off to try to find him on the highway and managed to see a brown dog above them by the church.

“As we ran towards him, he panicked and left back into the bushes. From here we had two amazing sets of people that we have never met before, trekking through some abandoned houses in the hopes of spotting “the dog” again.” 

Again, another member of Fairland Northcliff rescue saved the day! Smith received a call on the 8th of October at 08:56 from Christina saying that “I am on the highway now and I see your dog, it’s definitely a brown Labrador”. Knowing that Aero was going to run because he was frightened, they decided to bring three people to try and catch him. They caught up with Christine, who had waited for them on the highway and gave them the directions he took.

Smith says to explain this scenario; it felt like they were taking scenes straight out of a movie.

“We started running after Aero and found that he was passing through to the highway from a broken barbed wire fence that the people living there used to enter.

Once getting inside it felt like we were in the jungle.

There was a small stream splitting various ways, large dunes that were made of mud all around us, broken pieces of concrete forming the stormwater drains, completely covered with bamboo sticks with pathways that were made from the residents.

At this point, we had lost sight of Aero but knew he couldn’t get too far if we kept on following.

Eventually, we reached a fork in the road where Clinton (one of our fantastic staff members) had gone one way and I had taken the other way. With so many obstacles in front of us, we landed of slowing down, slipping and losing hope of catching Aero (we can only imagine how petrified he was).

He landed up circling back past me and trying to run through the thick patch of Bamboo sticks to try to getaway.

I shouted out “Aero” again and he immediately stopped and turned his head towards me, at this moment I knew Aero would be coming home.

Once he turned his head in my direction, he started to wag his tail profusely and let me put the lead over his neck to take him with me.

When we got out of “the bush” the old Aero came back, jumping, squealing with excitement and joy to see us, running towards everyone that was there to help him.

Ernie from Northumberland Animal Hospital had given us the okay for Aero, where his temperature and blood seemed to be normal (or as normal as it could be) and that the only problem was that he was severely underweight.

Aero is now back home with his family, extremely happy to swim in his pool again.” 

It took an entire community 5 weeks to reunite Aero with his family, but no one gave up, and everyone continued to help where they could. This is what a community should be about; kindness and Ubuntu!

Sources: Tracy Smith | I love Northcliff 
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and man in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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