How was the settling in process for Dudley & Darla when they arrived to you?

Dudley arrived to us last July. Having travelled for days, confused and scared he was basically traumatised on arrival – it was heartbreaking. He hid from us, ran away from us; you could see the fear in his eyes. It was very difficult to begin with because all I wanted to do was help him, but he looked very sad and lost. Slowly, little by little, we gained his trust (with lots of nice treats and tickles). Initially, he became very attached to me but still feared my partner Lee. I later learnt this is quite common in rescues to have a fear of men. He was also terrified of the outside world! It took us two-three months to get him out of the house on walks – we spent the summer hanging out on the sofa together with glorious sunshine outside. He was  triggered by his harness – hated his lead. Scared of other people and other dogs, the traffic and even his own reflection! But we were never going to give up on our little guy! We tried EVERYTHING! Playing street noises through our TV to desensitise him. I spent a week with Dudley sat outside on my front doorstep like a madwoman! And then, after a summer of trials and tribulations, we started to see glimmers of our real dog! 

I can’t begin to explain how rewarding it is to see your rescue blossom – gaining your trust and growing in confidence. The littlest step in their progress feels like a huge triumph. I recall the first time he wagged his tail; picked up a toy; made it up the stairs; barked and did the play bow. I could go on and on! But my favourite is when we were out for a walk – he was off lead by this time as we had built trust and he had developed very good recall. From a shy little thing who we had to drag out house and hid behind me every time someone approached us – he just started zooming! In happy, crazy, lightning – speed rings around and around us! It was pure joy! He looked like he was living is very best life! 

Fast forward a few months later, being well and truly out of the woods with Dudley, we saw a plea for help we just couldn’t ignore! Dudley’s sister was the last of his sibling left in Romania and so we decided to adopt her too. As excited as I was, I did have some concerns – considering now Dudley had struggled in the start. I was fully expecting to be back to square one, receiving a traumatised, terrified dog with months of rehabilitation ahead of us. A few weeks before Christmas, the van pulled up and we met the next member of our family. She trotted in like she owned the place! Greeted Dudley with a sniff and came straight up to us for tickles! I realised then, that every rescues dog’s journey is different. I have no doubt that Darla settle in so well thanks to the reassuring presents of her brother, however, each and every dog is different and you will never know what to expect until you welcome them through the door! 

Can you tell us a bit about the adoption process?

It’s not uncommon these days for us to be stopped by fellow dogs walkers; phrases like “They’re so gorgeous, what are they?” is something we have become very accustomed to.  Being very proud owners of two beautiful Romanian rescue dogs, we explain we have no idea! But we love them! It is actually quite surprising how much time you spend talking to absolute strangers about your beloved dogs- but people are so often genuinely interested in their journey. 

We always start off with explaining where they came from, how they got here and how wonderful they are – but never leave out the struggle. The truth is it took time. We have two happy, friendly dogs who love their walkies and to chase and play, but this didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of patience, care and understanding. Luckily, there is a fantastic rescue community out there with invaluable advice and support. We never felt alone on our journey, and I’m so happy to be able to contribute by sharing my own experiences of adoption. 

The process of adoption started initially with a google search. We came across the Stray2me site, had a look at a few of the dog profiles and made some inquiries – filled in a form. We were then contacted and had more of an in-depth discussion about what we were looking for in our potential pet. Then we were sent specific profiles from that conversation to match us with the right dog for us. I fell in love immediately with a shy, scruffy boy with dreamy amber eyes. However, before we were even considered, we had to be interviewed and vetted ourselves (quite understandably). This included face-to-face chats over FaceTime – a home and garden inspection. It was also explained to us that in adopting a rescue, we would potentially be signing up to a lot of rehabilitation work. Being an experienced dog owner, I wasn’t overly considered when it was explained to me that these dogs have never been pets before and would need time to adjust. I knew there would be a need for house training, leading training, basic socialising.  What I wasn’t so prepared for was the emotion support my dog would need on his arrival. 

What advice would you give to others who may be considering a Romanian rescue?

Don’t forget, there is a community out there of like-minded rescuers who have been there, done that and got the t-shirt. It really helped us to share our stories of struggles and successes. We had fantastic support from the organisation Stay2me, who gave us loads of help and advice- putting us in-touch with other adopters who had gone through similar struggles. We are in touch with all of Dudley and Darla’s sibling adopters – we regularly share stories and celebrate their achievements. Sometimes it’s like being a member of a club – you get other adopters stopping you and asking – are yours Romanian rescues too?  

Yes – it can be a rocky road. These dogs can come with emotionally baggage, fears and challenges. Or not! One thing is certain though, once you have their trust, they will give you more love than you will ever deserve. Our house wasn’t a home until our rescues arrived! They have enriched our lives in so many ways – they are an absolute joy!

Dudley & Darla