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Anxiety over adopting a Romanian dog at 6 months old

(53 Posts)
ScrumpyBetty Thu 26-Nov-15 13:17:16

Hi, we decided a while ago that we wanted to adopt a rescue dog. A friend put us in touch with a mutual friend of hers who helps a Romanian dog rescue charity. This friend recommended a dog to us, and I fell in love after watching videos and seeing pictures of her. We agreed to take her on, and we've had a successful home check done and paid the money for her to be transported here next month.

Trouble is, I'm now in the 'what have I done' phase- I've been reading around, and the implications of taking on a 6 month puppy, who has never lived in a house or received any training before- are sinking in! From the videos, she seems sociable with dogs and humans, really playful and sweet natured- but the trouble is we've never met her, and it's a huge commitment to take her on without knowing her at all!

Yes I know I should have thought of all of this before I agreed to take her. I got caught up in the excitement/ love I felt for her. I'm really torn- part of me would like to take her, and hope for the best. Another part of me would like to wait and contact some local rescues so that we can meet the dog first before we take it on.

Any advice/ stories of rehousing Romanian dogs welcome!

I will add that even if I don't decide to take her on, I won't ask for the money back that I have paid towards her, the charity can keep it as a donation for their hard work.

juneau Thu 26-Nov-15 13:22:13

Surely the fact that the dog is Romanian is irrelevant? You're taking on an a six-month-old dog that hasn't been house trained - end of story.

Do you have experience with dogs, first of all? Do you have anyone that could help and give advice if you personally aren't an experienced owner, but your mum/dad/aunt/best mate is? If not, I would get in touch with local dog trainers immediately and sign yourself and the dog up for a training course due to start as soon as the dog arrives. I would also read up on dog-proofing your house, crate training, keeping DC safe around the dog. Can the rescue charity you're getting the dog through help with any of that?

Pootles2010 Thu 26-Nov-15 13:22:17

I don't understand, they send a dog, all the way from Romania, to here? Why? I honestly can't see how you would be benefitting that dog by bringing it over here, you'd be much better to help contribute to its care there, whilst looking after a more local rescue dog yourself, surely?

I think its a bit of a mad charity, sorry.

JohnCusacksWife Thu 26-Nov-15 13:32:59

Hi Scrumpy! We have just adopted a dog from Romania. He was found on the streets with a horrible neck wound from a wire that had been wrapped tightly round his neck. He was patched up in Romania, then transported to the UK where he was in foster for a few weeks until he came to us. Like you, we had never met him prior to agreeing to adopt him although the rescue we adopted through (Amicii Dog Rescue) were fabulous at giving us as much information about him as they could prior to our decision to commit.

It has worked like a dream for us. He is an absolute joy - so friendly, perfectly calm in the house, about 90% toilet trained, loves the kids. He's just a wee star and we all love him to bits. I'm constantly amazed at how trusting and loving he is given the awful start in life he had. Obviously that's just him and won't apply to all Romanian dogs - some are v traumatised and scared and it will take them longer to settle in. But I just wanted to let you know that it can and does work. My advice would be to talk, talk, talk to the rescue and get as much info as you can from them. Good Luck!

Pootles, if you knew of the unbelievable cruelty dogs suffer in Romania you might understand. It certainly does benefit the dogs! We didn't set out to get a Romanian dog but none of the rescues near us had any suitable dogs so it just kind of happened.

ScrumpyBetty Thu 26-Nov-15 13:33:47

juneau yes I've got experience with dogs, I know about crate training and puppy proofing the house etc. The only reason I mentioned that the dog was Romanian was because I thought it would give a bit of a background to the tough start she had in life, living rough on the streets, but I suppose that is no different to many rescue dogs in the UK

pootles I do agree with you actually, I have been thinking the same- that I could contribute to its care but look to adopt a dog closer to home as there are so many in need here in the UK already.

JohnCusacksWife Thu 26-Nov-15 13:35:30

PS our boy was estimated to be approx 8-9 months although the vet thinks he might be slightly older. Perhaps around 12-15 months.

ScrumpyBetty Thu 26-Nov-15 13:39:07

johncusack thanks for your lovely reply, I'm glad it worked out for you. The charity I have gone with are 100% supportive and have given me tons of good advice, the lady who did my home check has been sending me loads of messages and I know she will help me if we do decide to get the dog with any potential issues. It's a tough one.
It's lovely to hear how well your rescue dog settled in. The one I have been looking at also looks incredibly sweet natured in all of the videos I have seen of her, so I am very tempted to go for it! I'm just very anxious too!

JohnCusacksWife Thu 26-Nov-15 13:44:35

Just do it! She'll love you forever wink

GinBunny Thu 26-Nov-15 13:55:51

Another Romie adopter here! Best thing we ever did. Agree with John comments re some can be traumatised but as a puppy I think bad experiences will be more limited.
Please look up Romanian dog shelters if you have any doubts about in what way you are helping. The treatment of street dogs in Romania is shocking.

ScrumpyBetty Thu 26-Nov-15 13:59:56

Thanks ginbunny - love your username!

Thanks johncusack

SlaggyIsland Thu 26-Nov-15 17:12:14

I live in the Middle East and the dog rescues here also rehome to the UK/Europe/North America, it's not "mad" at all as someone said upthread, it's them trying to do the best for their animals in hugely overcrowded shelters, with thousands more needing a place, and a really harsh environment for (the all too frequently) abandoned animals and animals born on the streets.
I think you adopting a dog from Romania is amazing, OP, if she's anything like the dogs I've met volunteering at a rescue shelter here, you'll be in awe of her capacity for love and joy despite a truly awful start in life.

Noofly Thu 26-Nov-15 17:55:27

This is going back a long long time ago (45 years!) but my first dogs as a child were two Jamaican street dogs my mother rescued. They were the loveliest sweetest dogs imaginable despite the trauma they had been through and they adapted to rural New England life very very well. As a previous poster said, this is obviously not a guarantee but just to give you another story about an overseas rescue that worked out.

Booboostwo Thu 26-Nov-15 19:30:44

You are right to feel anxious, this could go very badly wrong, in fact if you do a search on here there are a couple of horror stories.

Firstly, a six month old puppy is a challenge to begin with as he will have probably missed out on the crucial socialisation period. This will most certainly be true of a street dog who will not have had any exposure to house/family noises and activities.

Secondly, the origins in Romania are crucial. The UK does not have street dogs, any loose dog is picked up, returned to their owner, kept in kennels or rehomed. Street dogs are born on the street, they have to fight for food, they learn to avoid humans and run in packs. Resource guarding issues are a very common problem with them that requires dedicated training to overcome.

Thirdly, how reliable is this charity? Why don't they foster first to assess the dog? Will they offer you free behaviourist advice if you need it? What happens if you cannot keep the dog, do they have facilities to take him back?

You also don't say anything about your dog owning experience and circumstances. Have you owned dogs beforehand? Have you retrained dogs with behavioural issues? Are you at home most of the time? Do you have DCs?

ScrumpyBetty Thu 26-Nov-15 19:43:03

booboo very valid points
-the dog was found in a field when she was 8 weeks and has since been in a Romanian shelter, where she has socialised well with staff/ children/ other dogs. I have seen videos of her jumping up on to the laps of staff for cuddles and playing beautifully with the other dogs there. But you are right- she has received no formal training.
-the charity seem very reliable and have offered me lots of support so far, I chat to one of the ladies every day by email and she will continue to support me if I choose to get the dog once he comes in to my home
-I have owned dogs beforehand but not with behaviour problems. Me or my husband are at home most days and we have a DS who is 3

Booboostwo Thu 26-Nov-15 19:58:42

I was going to say go for it, until your last point...I would not take a risk with a 3yo around. I have a 14mo DS so not a good time for a puppy but when we are looking for the next one I want a breeder who breeds for temperament, a puppy I can view with its mother/litter mates and select for temperament and an early life as conducive to good development as possible. This doesn't eliminate risks but it minimises them and for me, with a young child in the house, you want to give yourself the best chance of a problem free pup.

ScrumpyBetty Thu 26-Nov-15 20:45:45

booboo yes I hear you. I had thought of this and was thinking that if we do get the puppy, I'll make sure she has her own 'safe' area in the house, seperated by a stair gate, so that she has space away from DS and they get used to each other.
Would it still be a no from you?

I'm so torn. I've paid for her already, but have decided that the rescue can keep the money no matter what I decide to do. She is in a shelter in Romania, but outside and winter is cold over there, so cold that the bedding in their kennels freezes overnight. I stupidly feel attached to her now, after seeing so many photos and videos....I will feel incredibly guilty if I don't take her sad

honeyroar Thu 26-Nov-15 21:41:46

We adopted a Romanian dog three months ago. She is about 18 months old. She's fab! She is an adorably loving little dog, but also very nervous, especially with men. She wasn't house trained, but hasn't been too difficult to train, the main issue was that she would cower and wee whenever anyone bent to stroke her for the first two months.

I've become more involved with the rescue since, so I can tell you a bit more about Romania. A lot of the dogs have been pets, they are simply dumped in the woods when the owner wants a newer, younger dog or a different breed that's in fashion. The government pays dog catchers to round the, up and they get put in a pound in Romania. Once they're there that's it. They barely feed or water them, they rarely clean them out. Occasionally they feed them poison and they die slowly. They live in open sided cages with corrugated iron roofing. In winter it's -12, in summer it's 40 degrees. The puppies and the elderly dogs often die. They don't have beds, they get a wooden pallet. I have no idea why they don't just shoot them, it would be kinder, but they don't. We have a few wonderful local volunteers that go in on Sunday's and clean out the dogs. They let a few dogs out for a play in the yard for a half hour, that dog may not have been out for weeks. They leave a huge bowl of feed in each cage and a big tub of water, and pray that the dogs are OK for the week. I know that there are dogs over here in rescue that need homes (I already have two other uk rescue dogs and 2 rescue cats plus 12 rescue hens!) but once you've seen these dogs it's hard to turn the other cheek unless you've a heart of stone.

Regarding dogs that I've seen come over, nearly all have done superbly well. You have to accept that they are going to need time and patience. Even some of the adults are like puppies in that they don't know anything. Some are too frightened to cope with even being in the same room as people for the first week. They may not have worn collars or leads. Food can upset them as they've hardly eaten for months. There have been the odd one or two returned. Mostly for not getting on with cats. Mostly because the adopter had only given them a few days. It took two months before my Nelly dog stopped chasing the cats and understood that she wasn't allowed. She's now cuddled up on the settee with a cat now. We have a Facebook group for adopters and fosterers. It's lovely reading the stories and seeing the pictures of the happy dogs.

OP if you're having doubts speak to your rescue ASAP. The more notice they have, the more chance they can find someone else to take the dog. There may be an option to foster the dog initially. But don't leave it to the last minute, we've had that before, the dog was already half way here when they changed their mind. You do need to be sure. There are easier ways to get a dog. If you did decide not to and you left th money it would go towards feeding, neutering and doing health checks/de flea/worm treatments.

If I can give you any more help let me know. Sorry this was so long!

honeyroar Thu 26-Nov-15 21:55:32

Couple of photos for you of Nelly the Romanian pom-pom! First day pics of her asleep on the hearth, she didn't understand about comfy baskets.

Booboostwo Fri 27-Nov-15 02:18:10

Any dog you get will need its own space so stair gates and crating are excellent ideas. You also need to supervise interactions between any dog and your DC all the time...but we are human and make mistakes so you need a dog that will be forgiving when you are distracted. Here's an example: my adult dog was eating in the kitchen, normally I keep 14mo DS out of the room but I was running late due to a sleepless night so was trying to empty the dishwasher while DS was in the living room. DS walked in the kitchen and for some reason I was focused on keeping him from the dishwasher (sleep deprived fog) so when he went the other way I was happy and ignored him...he went and picked up the dog bowl while the dog was eating! Luckily this is a well adjusted, well trained dog so he did as trained and moved away from the food.

This is a long winded way of saying that mistakes will happen and you want to stack the odds in your favour that when they do there aren't awful consequences. This dog is an unknown quantity.

I don't know where honeyroar got her statistics from about Romanian dogs settling in well, but my experience of friends in UK rescue is that they are frothing at the mouth about the practice of importing dogs as the dogs are often very unsuitable for family life end up back in rescue.

As an aside my opinion is that education and sterilisation are key to solving these problems in their home countries, re homing just promotes the view that you can do what you like with your dog and some idiot foreigner will rehome it anyway.

JohnCusacksWife Fri 27-Nov-15 09:25:38

Scrumpy, I'd second honeyroar's comments that if you are going to pull out of re-homing this dog then you need do it sooner rather than later. Leaving it til the last minute is only going to cause massive problems for the rescue.

I'm a bit sad that people are "frothing at the mouth" at the thought of abused and desperate animals being rehomed. And, fwiw, the rescue we got our boy from also runs a neuter & release scheme to try to stem the flow of unwanted animals. But for those already here I see absolutely nothing wrong with re-homing them in the UK if there are suitable homes waiting to take them.

honeyroar Fri 27-Nov-15 09:29:24

They're not statistics Booboos they're just my particular experiences of the particular rescue I'm involved with. I thought I'd made that clear. Different rescues may be different, as are British rescues. And they don't care what happens to the dog, whether it rots in a hell hole cage slowly or goes to the uk, all they care is its not on the streets. And we are trying to educate at the same time, but as I said, once you've seen the dogs and their rotten lives you have to have a really cold heart to turn away. Heck you could also say that about uk rescues, nobody should take from them, we should put them all down etc.

Booboostwo Fri 27-Nov-15 10:41:34

Who is frothing at the mouth johncusack? Rehoming from abroad is a peculiar choice as far as I am concerned as there are plenty of unwanted dogs looking for homes in the UK, the money spent transporting one animal could be better spent on neutering many and importing unknown animals always carries the risk of bringing in diseases.

honeyroar thanks for the explanation and I am glad this particular rescue is doing well with its re homing rates. It is true though that there are a lot of horror stories of dogs not turning up after money has been exchanged, or turning up very sick or having serious behavioural problems with no backup from the rescues. I am Greek, I have seen the problem of endless stray dogs all my life, re homing out of the country is not the solution, it does nothing to address the causes of the problem, it just deals with a tiny number of its consequences.

JohnCusacksWife Fri 27-Nov-15 12:20:46

Booboo, you were the one who said your friends in UK rescues were frothing at the mouth! I was only quoting you back.

There are many dogs in the UK looking for a home I agree, We didn't set out to get a dog from Romania - it just happened that way. We wanted a mixed breed wee dog to join our family. No rescues near us had any suitable dogs despite months of looking. There were possibilities down south but those rescues were very inflexible in terms of collecting the dogs etc. Scouring dogsblog one day I saw our boy and fell in love with him. So our overseas adoption was more by accident than design. But ultimately rehoming any dog does nothing to solve the underlying problem but it's still a worthwhile thing to do.

Pootles2010 Fri 27-Nov-15 12:36:46

JohnCusack I'm not denying the poor dogs get treated appallingly over there - just that I would have thought they would be better looked after over there, rather than suffer the journey over here? And I would guess money goes further over there.

But I'm glad it's worked out well for you.

JohnCusacksWife Fri 27-Nov-15 12:46:24

I get where you're coming from Pootles. But a journey of a few days is a small price to pay for a lifetime of care.

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