Meet Ethel. Today was her three monthly wash and brush up so she is looking unusually clean and tidy. The lady who works this miracle, Cera, comes to our house and spends an hour or so making Ethel and Saffy, her daughter, look fit to be among decent folk. Naturally, we chat during all of this, and she tells me about the dog rescue charity she runs.
It never ceases to amaze me how uncaring and downright cruel people, can be to animals. Thank goodness for Cera and people like her who intervene to give these luckless souls a second chance.
It reminds me also of another friend of mine. Sarah used to be the PR consultant who worked with the company I was once employed at. We met frequently during the course of work and became good friends, a friendship which endures to this day even though our paths parted professionally over a decade ago.
Sarah had a rescue dog, a cute little mongrel which used to come with her to meetings. Lizzie was very sweet and would curl up under the table while we dealt with the business. Sadly, no dog is immortal and Lizzie died of old age about five years ago. Sarah was devastated but determined to get another rescue dog.
Most of us trot along to the RSPCA or the Dogs Trust. Not Sarah. She went one better and rescued her dog from the streets of Romania. Ursu was in his middle years when she first saw his picture on a website. He had been a street dog his entire life and distrusted people – with good reason. When he was eventually rounded up there seemed to be little hope for him, but Sarah knew better. After long and protracted negotiations with a rescue charity specialising in rehoming Romanian strays to the UK, a deal was struck and Ursu began his journey across Europe.
Sarah tells the tale of arranging to meet the courier who would bring him to the UK in a motorway services on the M1. The charity would deal with all the paperwork, veterinary care, health certificates and such like to ensure everything was nice and legal, but a dog like Ursu needs special care.
“Bring a lead” they said. “A strong one.”
Sure enough, the moment the crate door was opened in that car park, the dog made his leap for freedom. It took three of them to wrestle him into Sarah’s car, and he yowled the entire way back to her house. Once there, they had to almost drag him inside, then lock all the doors because if he got loose they would never see him again.
The following weeks were somewhat harrowing as Ursu became accustomed to his new life. He had never lived indoors. He was scared of the television, and absolutely petrified of the vacuum cleaner. He couldn’t manage stairs and would leave a huge puddle on the floor if anyone came to the house. He was friendly enough, but painfully timid.
Months passed, and he became calmer. He got so that he could venture out of the kitchen to explore the other rooms. He could even go outside, though to this day no one would think it wise to let him off the lead. He enjoys chasing his squeaky toy, and even took a dip in the sea.
Ursu probably won’t make old bones. No amount of pampering – and he gets plenty of that these days – will compensate for years of near starvation and neglect. But his life is happy now. He lives with people who adore him, and a more affectionate dog is hard to imagine.
Being something of a wordsmith, it was natural that Sarah would want to tell his story. Her book, Ursu: Never Give Up On A Dog is available on Amazon and is a must read for dog-lovers everywhere.https://www.amazon.com/Ursu-Never-give-up-dog/dp/0995788103/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Ursu%2C+Sarah+Napier&qid=1574096697&s=books&sr=1-1