How did you decide that adoption was the right way to go for you?
Kali was a bit of a surprise decision. I had been looking for a new rescue for several months and had been in touch with Stray2Me for a while but hadn’t found the right dog that I felt would fit with my lifestyle. I was planning on getting a dog that was at least a couple of years old, maybe more, but not another “oldie” as I wanted her to be around longer than my previous two rescues, and I wanted her to be able to keep up with me on long hikes.
My main criteria were that she had to be female, small-medium and reasonably high energy. I definitely wasn’t looking for a very young puppy! What actually happened was that I was following a group meditation on Zoom and I “saw” a small black dog in one of my visualisations. After the session was over, I popped onto Facebook and the very first photo I saw was a 4 month old little black puppy called Nala, who looked exactly like the dog in my meditation !! Just over 3 weeks later, she was in my arms….
The whole Stray2Me team were very helpful and supportive every step of the way. We did the home check and interviews via Live Chat and they endeavoured to answer all of my (many!) questions.
What was it like the first moment you met your rescue?
I thought it was “Love at First Sight” when I saw her photo on Facebook, but when she was actually placed into my arms and she snuggled in closer, my heart just melted! She was so ready to trust me, after such a long journey and it was very humbling. As soon as we got inside, she wanted to play and I didn’t actually get to bed until gone 1am as it was well past 10pm when she had finally arrived. She slept in her crate next to my bed because I was determined that this time, I would get to keep my bed to myself. I think that lasted nearly a week….. now she sleeps on ME, never mind on the bed, lol.
How was the settling in process?
She had several quirks, one of which was that she could “hold” her wee and poo for over 12 hours. I’d never experienced anything like it in any dog, let alone a small puppy! It actually made toilet-training incredibly challenging as she wouldn’t go when I took her outside, regardless of whether she had been playing or had eaten or just woken from a nap, and it took quite a while to get her to understand that I wanted her to toilet outside. She was pretty good with puppy pads right from the start, but she would play outside for half an hour, then run in to wee on her pad!! It got a lot better once I started taking her for walks and she slowly got the idea, especially after I taught her to ring a bell hanging from a ribbon every time she needed to go out.
Another quirk was that she was afraid of her own reflection in windows. I have floor-length patio doors in my living room and every night, she would yell at the “other dog”, regardless of whether the curtains were pulled. I had no idea such a tiny dog could bark so loudly, and again, I’d never experienced it from such a young pup. I was very grateful I’d found “The Trust Technique” by James French as that allowed me to calm her every time she got frightened or upset and she slowly realised that “the other dog” was no threat.
How is life for your rescue now?
Kali is now 10 months old and has been with me for over 5 months. The time has flown by although there were several moments in the first few weeks where I was asking myself “What have I done??”, lol. I cannot imagine life without her, the challenges were all worth it and she is an absolute joy.
She does miss other dogs to play with and I did foster another Stray2Me rescue puppy for a few weeks to see how both of us coped. Although the other puppy was delightful, her personality wasn’t a good match for Kali, and I found it incredibly hard work having both of them together because they didn’t get on to begin with. She has now gone to a lovely home and hopefully will have a long and happy life with her new owner.
At some point, I will foster more dogs and maybe we will find a match who stays permanently, but for now we are very busy with excursions and camping in my van. We are building up our walking stamina for long hikes so we can tackle extended treks such as Hadrian’s Wall, Offa’s Dyke and the Wales Coastal path.
I have already taught Kali most of the criteria for her Kennel Club Bronze Good Citizen Award so hopefully we’ll find a club that’s re-open soon so she can take her test.
I’d also like to try her at agility as I think she’d enjoy it (I had a Jack Russell who absolutely loved it) but need to wait until after her 1st birthday before we can start, to avoid risking any damage to her growing bones before she is fully mature.
Any advice for others considering to adopt a Romanian rescue?
I have fostered and rehabilitated several dogs for UK rescues so I have a lot of experience in settling dogs and training them to be suitable for new homes.
I would say that anyone adopting any dog from any rescue needs to be prepared to have their lives drastically changed, often in unexpected ways. In many ways, it is like having a new-born baby in the house, regardless of the age of the dog. They are likely to be confused, bewildered, often frightened and they don’t know how to communicate effectively.
All of my previous rescues and fosters have been from the UK and all had at least some experience of living in a house, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from Kali. I was hoping that a puppy might be more resilient than an older dog, but at the same time, she seemed very young to have had such a traumatic start in life, having been abandoned in a forest at a few weeks old.