Why did you decide to adopt a Romanian Rescue, and how was the adoption process for you?
When our ten-year-old German Shepherd died suddenly from an illness in October 2020 we were heartbroken, and worried about how our little dog Bella would cope. We have always had two dogs together, so Bella was suddenly on her own for the first time and began waiting sadly by the door whenever we had to go out without her.
We both wanted to get another dog and decided that a larger, neutered, adult male would be the best match, because Bella was used to being with a much bigger dog. We’ve had several puppies over the years and know what hard work they can be. Also, as Bella is ten, we felt that a boisterous puppy might be too much for her, so a gentle, mature rescue seemed like a good idea.
We looked at UK rescues before turning to Stray2Me. An online advert for Shawn caught my attention, as he was being fostered in our town, which meant we could meet and see how the dogs got along. They seemed instantly relaxed, and after going through the adoption process, Shawn’s fosterer brought him to live with us in December.
After spending several weeks bonding with her, he was understandably anxious for the first few hours and kept scratching at the back door. He didn’t go to the toilet for 24 hours, wouldn’t eat or drink, and was very jumpy and nervous. Every time we moved, he would flinch or run, so we moved slowly and allowed him to take things at his own pace.
We expected to have to separate the dogs for a while at night, but they bonded incredibly quickly, and Shawn was so gentle and nervous that we decided to let them stay together in the hall. It seemed to soothe Shawn, and he copied everything Bella did – and still does! I stayed awake for much of that first night watching the CCTV to make sure everything was okay, and still use the camera daily when I need to work in my home office. They are only about £40 and means you can check on your phone to see what’s happening when your dog is alone, or even just in another room, which gives you a real insight into their character too.
Shawn is such a lovely, affectionate dog, with a real lust for life, and although there have been a few accidents in the house and a very small amount of chewing, we invested in some tasty antlers which seemed to do the trick. The daily support, backup and encouragement from Shawn’s Stray2Me WhatsApp group was invaluable and really helped boost our confidence.
What are you and your rescue currently working on now in terms of training?
Every day seems to bring a new milestone, like the first time he took a biscuit from our hands, and the first day we allowed him off lead in our secure garden and watched him run like a crazy thing – legs splaying out at all angles in excitement as he raced about. His antics make us laugh out loud, and it’s lovely to watch Bella and Shawn cuddled up together on the sofa like old friends.
We bought a tracker for Shawn’s collar, and although there have been a few teething troubles it gives us the added security of knowing we could find him if he ever runs off. He now loves his on-lead walks and, although he’s still skittish and reserved, the ‘Nervous’ collar means that most people respect his boundaries and don’t try to touch him or come too close when we’re out. I’m looking forward to the day when that collar can come off for good and he can just be like any other dog, enjoying his new life in the UK.