We did not set out to adopt a dog from Romania.
We knew nothing about European Strays.
We went to the local pound and found that the dogs we liked were now too large and strong for us at our advancing age, and, in this part of the country, the others were mostly Staffie crosses: very sweet but my husband does not like how they look.
Appearances should be irrelevant but we both need to be happy with our choices.
I decided I would like to go back to having a couple of dogs as we used to and that since we could not manage a large dog I would like to adopt two medium sized ones.
After hours spent trawling the internet and visiting local pounds and shedding many tears at the judgements we were making when we did not adopt a particular dog, we travelled a few miles north to Barnsley to meet a young dog, just under two years old they think, whom I felt might be a good match with us. She was at Royston Animal Rescue near Barnsley: a rescue which looks after both local and foreign dogs although I did not know this when we first made contact. It appeared that this dog, called Ronda, was a stray rescued from the streets of a city in Romania.
As soon as we met her I knew she was the one. I felt I knew her already, like meeting an old friend after a separation. She was very smiley with a real twinkle in her eyes. We had taken some dog treats and she sat down for one and then rolled over to have her tummy tickled. Leaving her there while we went home to await our home inspection was really difficult. She sat in the door of her kennel grinning and looking after us as we left.
Three days later we were inspected and passed albeit with the requirement that we install a dog proof gate beside the steps leading up to our hard standing: this was duly done.
We were warned that Ronda had never lived in a house before, therefore was not house-trained, nor was she car-trained or used to walking on a lead. Also, the kennels had just noticed a limp in one of her back legs and had decided to have that investigated before she left them. We were not worried by any of this after meeting her, but it might have made a difference if we had known beforehand!
Two days later we went to collect her. Well, I did not go as I was in bed with a virus, but a young friend/unofficial daughter, her partner and my husband went to collect her from a local vet because she had been having an anaesthetic that day while she had X-rays to check out her back leg. Unfortunately, the results are not good.
It appears that life has not been kind to this young stray. She has been hit at least once by a car/s: her pelvis has been deformed by one accident when young, and one back leg has been broken and had a metal plate and wire implanted, rather badly I’m afraid, which means that the leg sticks out at an odd angle and has suffered nerve damage. She limps after the slightest exercise, which for a young dog is very sad. It also turns out that she has very bad hip displasia in both hips made worse by her lifestyle and diet. We do not know the prognosis yet or what may be physically or financially possible.
However I rang the vet whose video you can watch on my earlier post of January 25th ‘A Ray of Hope’. Their practice is many miles away but I knew they had considerable orthopedic experience. They said they would give me a free electronic consultation if my vet would email the X-ray results to them: they will say what they might be able do for her, and whether there is another vet nearer to me whom they think could offer the same expertise.
Meanwhile, Ronda, the dog in question, has settled in like a dream. Given that she was not house trained and had never been in a house before, she has been no trouble at all. (Photo taken on first day here after a bath and a good brush I hasten to say, as she smelled dreadful when she first came!)
She does like to tear her bedding to shreds to make it comfy and is always on the look-out for plastic boxes or bags to investigate for food, but hey, she grew up a stray so these things are only natural. We love her to bits and she has my husband wrapped around her littlest paw. We just make sure to take her out every four hours during the day and shut her in her dog crate at night, and there are no ‘accidents’. We have had to acclimatise her to riding in cars and by cars passing her in the street, but the judicious use of dried black pudding has done wonders for her confidence in these area. She does pull on the lead but we are working on that: however, she HATES to be held by her collar: we are told this is typical of Romanian strays, because being held this way was always the precursor to pain and trouble. So we walk her on a harness and that obviates the problem.
She is the smiliest, happiest, sweetest dog, attentive to our every mood and intonation: we have to go very gently with her training as she is a sensitive girl.
If you raise a hand or foot, flap a tea-towel, fry fat in a pan or unwrap some aluminium foil she cringes to the floor and rushes to her dog crate for cover. Even a stern ‘No’ sends her crashing to her stomach to crawl away. It is so sad and makes one feel like a brute.
But this week, after five weeks with us, she learned how to play for the first time. She ran after a ball and brought it back. She has a rope octopus which she flings in the air and carries around. And she lies at our feet with a bone exuding happiness and contentment.
The Rescue asked us for photos of her as she settles in to send back to her rescuers in Romania. These wonderful people gather pathetic scraps from the street or the ghastly public shelters, nurse them back to health and then send them off on trains to other countries and do not always know what happens to the dogs they cared for. The least we can do is send them some photos:)
I understand from the Manager of the Rescue that he tries to bring as many strays over as possible: he knows he cannot find homes for all of them, but he would rather have them kindly and humanely euthanased over here than face the barbaric and horrific deaths awaiting them back home.
Interesting fact: apparently Germany and UK take most of the dogs from Romania.
However our girl got here, she has enriched our lives beyond measure already, and I hope we can do the same for her.