Updated: Feb 14
As I sit on the plane back to the UK I’m reflecting on my incredible week volunteering in Romania. I was with a dog shelter for rescued street dogs called The Dog Rose. I’m sad to be leaving but am full of ambition on how I can do more and help this shelter to rehome more of the dogs who have so much love to give.
There is always going to be at least one dog that you want to take home, for me it was Odin. A loveable 2 month old black puppy who had the sweetest nature you could imagine. I just know he would fit in with my two dogs and lifestyle so well. Sadly, the black dogs never seem to be as easily re homed. I have no idea why as they are such lovely dogs. They are for sure the trickiest dogs to photograph as their friendly features get lots in their gorgeous thick black ruffs. Maybe this is why people struggle to connect with them via photography?!
I travelled to Romania with 2 of my friends Catrin Arwel and Kayte Evans. Two photography friends who I met through a previous job where we would fly all over the world on photography projects. We all live in different areas of the UK so we are always booking in little trips to see each other and catch up. We all have dogs so our trips normally consist of a little log cabin, a farm and lots of dog walks. However, on this trip we ended up hearing that The Dog Rose in Romania needed a few extra pairs of hands for duties around the shelter as well as some photography to get the dogs new homes. It couldn’t be more perfect. This is something we could ALL really help with.
We all booked flights just 3 weeks before the trip and off we went!
Our daily chores started with letting the young puppies out into a socialising enclosure for the day. We would spend some time with them in the morning, playing, cuddling and socialising. Now this might sound Uber cute, but have you spent much time with 10+ 3-4 month old puppies? It involves a lot of sharp claws, teethies and a fair amount of separating play fighting which goes a little too far. All in all it’s an incredible way to start your day but you definitely need to go into it expecting to get a good few scratches, getting covered in lots of doggy poop and having to separate some bundles of fluff that haven’t learnt how hard their bites are just yet.
Then we would help Eugene (the doggy daddy of the shelter) let out the older dogs for play time enclosure by enclosure. The doggies have to come out with other dogs they get on with. Eugene is incredible at understanding the dogs. I have never seen anything like it. The dogs love him, they relax around him, most of all they trust and respect him and never once did I ever see him show an ounce of aggression. Authority, yes but no negative training at all and yes occasionally he would have to separate the odd fight. The dogs would come out, play, get stroked and then all he had to do was open their cage, say one word and the dogs would go back to their beds. How on earth can he get untrained street dogs where some can’t ever be touched to go straight back to their beds with one word??? It was absolutely incredible! What an amazing human being!
One of my favourite things to do in between duties was to spend some time with the super nervous dogs. Giving them treats and teaching them to trust humans again. I had a real soft spot for some of them in particular. Ones that it was clear, given enough time and patience would progress to understand they don’t have anything to fear anymore and could then be rehomed. I could sit with these dogs all day and all night.
From this experience, what I have realised the shelter could really benefit from is a foster home stop gap for the dogs before they find their forever homes. Some of the nervous dogs show incredible potential to be amazing pets but need much more time beforehand to get them used to being around people and being handled. I plan to set up a piece of land in the UK where I can do this for them. I’ll foster, train and board rescued dogs when needed and be that transitioning place for these gorgeous dogs.
I have a border collie. His name is Wolf. I have had wolf from a pup and he has definitely been a challenging doggy. Wolfie comes everywhere possible with me but it hasn’t always been an easy ride. I always knew that Wolfie found me for a reason. I have trained him, felt frustrated, felt confused, felt more love than ever, and now I feel I understand him and he understands me. I understand that dogs all have different personalities and requirements but all in all they all need love.
No matter a doggies past or future. I believe they all have a chance.
Lastly I want to say a huge thank you to Wild at Heart Foundation for not only putting us in touch with the Dog Rose but also for all the incredible work you do. I know several people who have adopted through Wild at Heart and their ability to be honest in matching dogs to families is incredible.
This is definitely not the last time I will visit The Dog Rose. I can’t wait until next time!