Source: You (Extract)
Posted: February 22, 2023

He loves sharing pictures of his fur babies with his followers on Facebook and Kevin Ruthven has become somewhat of a social media sensation with his page called Bergloper en Mieliebrood.

The animal lover from the Lowveld in Mpumalanga often posts pictures of his adventures with Mielie, his Australian cattle dog, and Brood, his beloved Jack Russell.

But now Mielie is nowhere to be found and an extensive search is underway to find him.

“It’s amazing to see how people are standing together and are willing to help,” Kevin tells YOU.

“Someone from Johannesburg came with a drone. There was a team of tracker dogs and a woman from Fochville even sponsored a helicopter that came to search the riverbank on Valentine’s Day.” 

Mielie went missing on 6 February after Kevin, who works as a foreman on a farm, decided to take the dogs to a nearby cave close to the Olifants River to spend the night there.

“The dogs were playing near the cave and at one stage they were lying on the riverbank. I was making coffee, and in those few minutes that I was busy Mielie disappeared,” he recalls.

Kevin searched high and low but despite his best efforts, he couldn’t find the dog.

After posting a heartfelt plea on social media, his followers came from far and wide to help find Mielie.

“But the river is flooded and we just haven’t been able to cross because of the strong current.”

In the 16 days since the dog’s disappearance, Kevin has barely slept a wink.

“When sleep comes, I dream about Mielie,” he says. “And when I’m lying in bed, I can hear him barking but when I open the back door, there’s nothing.”

Mielie is more than just a dog, Kevin says. “I used to work as a walking guide but I lost almost everything with Covid. I was lost and broken and the day I arrived here on the farm to start my new job, I found Mielie. He was my lifesaver. He made me smile again.”

His best friend also stood by him through illness when he contracted Covid-19 two years ago. “I was extremely ill, but while I fell in and out of consciousness one thing was constant – Mielie. Whenever I woke up, he’d lie on my chest or lick me.”

His voice cracks as he continues.

“Every single step I’ve taken on this farm, Mielie has been there. He’s my shadow.

“Now I look at his favourite chair that he always sat on and he’s not there. At night when I can’t sleep, I sit on the chair and talk to the Lord, hoping to hear a paw scratching at the door.”

Even though days have passed without any sign of his fur baby, Kevin is hopeful he’ll return home.

“Mielie is tough. He’s been kicked by a zebra, spat at three times by a cobra and had to go to the vet after a run-in with a warthog.”

In the meantime, Kevin has left some of his clothes and scattered food across the farm to lure Mielie so he can find his way home.

“I want to go see if some of the food might’ve been eaten,” he tells YOU.

“Mielie just needs to hang in there. Brood and I are on the way.”