REWARD: R10,000 Last seen 2 years ago




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A Pretoria woman who was so traumatised after her dog went missing two years ago that she quit her job, is offering a R10,000 reward for information on its whereabouts. Soné Louw has lost count of the money she has spent on psychics, a mountain search and newspaper and online adverts to find the seven-year-old beagle since he vanished after a garden service company employee left the gate open on December 16 2020. But Louw is not giving up — she has hope that Luke is alive. The 29-year-old adopted Luke when he was one year old and regards him as her only child. “I do not know how to explain it, but as a ‘mother’ I know he is alive and that he will be home. I contacted an animal communicator who only communicates with pets that passed away. My words to her were: ‘I lost my pet.’ She came back to me and said that he is still alive, and wanted to know why I contacted her. This gave me a lot of hope.” Louw quit her job as a veterinarian nurse after Luke went missing. “No words can describe the feeling of not having Luke here. He is my best friend. He shared so many adventures with me and helped me emotionally. My work can be demanding and I take a lot of emotional strain. He’s been my rock that would help me through everything. “I quit my job because I couldn’t handle the emotional stress after he went missing. I couldn’t sleep for months so had to go on several sleeping tablets; after a year I started seeing a therapist to help me through this. I miss him every day, even with therapy.” Louw still hands out flyers and a friend runs the “Bring Luke Home” Facebook page. “I had over 100 calls and messages after he went missing. Every lead was followed up, with no luck. There is one dog that people keep spotting around the mountain but when we get there we don’t find any dog,” she said. Louw says she has faced criticism by going public. “I took a lot of strain with the negative comments from people who didn’t know he went missing and then blamed me for not keeping him in the yard. The worst comments were ‘It’s just a dog, get a new one,’ or ‘He’s dead, move on.’ These comments broke me every time,” she said. Durban clinical psychologist Nazia Osman said there is a lot of research that shows how pets can alleviate loneliness, offer emotional and social support and help with grief, depression, anxiety, stress and adjustment disorders.“Physiologically, having a pet reduces secretion of cortisol, which is a stress response and lowers blood pressure while increasing oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’. It’s a chemical that is induced when hugging. Just looking at pictures of your pet can induce this, which shows the importance of the connection between a human and their pet,” she said. Osman said a pet can become as dear, if not dearer, than a family member and the loss can be seen as similar to losing a child. “Unfortunately, not everyone has the same sentiment towards animals and do not understand the attachment. People can often ridicule the sentiments of the people involved, which leads to a type of grief called disenfranchised grief,” she said. “This is when the person feels they don’t have permission to feel their feelings due to it being out of the norm of society’s expectations. The lack of support due to this, the stigma and attempt to suppress the related emotions can cause prolonged emotional pain.”