Going through the works to rescue a dog can be daunting sometimes.
When picking the perfect rescue its best to look at reviews, read through as many rehome stories as you can from said rescue. People love to share their experiences with their new companion.
I knew I wanted to rescue from a young age. We have always had dogs that family members couldn’t handle or neighbours no longer wanted. You could say rescue is all I know. Turning 18 I took it upon myself to foster dogs in need of new homes, I volunteered at local rescues and got to know the ins and outs of the rescue/re-home process.
It starts with finding the right dog for you. Many rescues will have a description of their dogs followed by a photo, any background experience and what they're like with people or children. rehoming from abroad has some differences. Nothing extreme, we're talking about dogs who have never set foot in a home and who only know the streets.
My Romanian rescue Aries was found under an abandoned building at the age of 4/5 weeks old with her litter mates and mum (Xena). The rescue managed to catch the litter, but mum was far too skittish and unfortunately couldn’t be caught at that time.
When choosing your dog from abroad, you have to take into account that as I already mentioned, most of these dogs have never experienced a home, the warmth of an indoor fire or the touch of a loving hand. Many in fact are shot, abused in the streets with onlookers doing absolutely nothing to help, abandoned as first time mums because their owners can no longer care for the mother and pups.
In recent years there have been a handful of rescues taking on the responsibility of capturing, caring for, rehabilitating and rehoming dogs. A select few , including the rescue Aries came from, are running a spay and neuter programme so that dogs like Aries’ mum don’t go on to have many litters of pups (Xena went on to have a second litter before finally being captured, spayed and re-homed in the UK). Unfortunately some dogs cannot be re-homed. However, once captured and spayed, they are sometimes released back into the streets without the risk of adding to the population of street dogs.
The rehoming process itself isn't as far fetched as you might think, but there are rules. Many rescues abroad will have UK volunteers, people who help the rescues from this end of the rescuing process. They check that you have the ability to provide for the dog you are trying to adopt, if you work that isn't an issue, as long as you have the means to make sure your dog is cared for when you're unable to be there. Be that a dog walker, dog day care or a nearby relative/trusted friend. They check your homes boundary, if you have a garden they make sure its fence is at least 6 feet tall. But don't be put off if you live in an apartment or flat, they are not biased, as long as you have the means to walk your dog regularly then they are happy to let you adopt into a home setting without a garden.
Most have contracts in place stating, if you cannot provide for your dog or later decide the dog is no longer the right fit for you, that you will not sell the dog on, re-home them yourselves or put them into kennels without informing the rescue themselves. Most rescues will find foster homes for the dogs before any other measures are taken. Dogs going into kennels is a last resort. Most will be put into long term foster homes until a new more suitable adopter is found.
Finally, the price. Most rescues adoption prices start from £300 (back in 2019 when I got Aries this is the price I paid). This price includes your dogs vaccinations (standard puppy vaccinations, parvo, rabies) their passport fees, microchipping and travel fees.
Bringing Your Rescue Home
A new environment can bring out all kinds of anxiety for dogs. Especially those who have never experienced being in a home before. Im not saying all rescue dogs from abroad have never been in a home, but that vast majority haven't. In this instance let's talk about those that haven't.
Carpets, stairs, couches, the noise from a tv or microwave, children and even a new crate or bed especially for them. All of these things can trigger anxiety. They're all things that your dog needs time to get used to.
Working with behaviourists and connecting with other people who have adopted dogs from abroad can be a great help and a huge support system. Instagram has been a big part of my journey with dogs and meeting new like minded people who share that love for dogs, nit only when I adopted Aries but also through my fostering journey.
Its important to find comfort and to seek knowledge in a community that can share their experiences with you. There is strength in numbers as the saying goes. taking on a rescue dog isnt a cake walk, it takes dedication and patience.
Which brings me to why I chose to rescue from overseas. Genuinely, it wasn’t about where my next dog came from. It was about connection and selfishly about the type of dog I wanted. I was scrolling through instagram, staring at Border Collie/Australian shepherd dogs, my dream, high drive and easily trainable dogs. I searched the hashtag ‘rescue dogs’ as I had a thousand times before. Liking here and there, sharing cute dogs and commenting on the ones that tore my heart apart with their wounds and scars.
Twiggy Tags Adventure Harnesses can be life-changing for rescue dogs as they are often head-shy and nervous and TT harnesses don't need to go over dog's heads due to the extra buckle on the neck
Then there she was. A tiny, merle patterned ball of fluff. Her coat resembling an Australian Shepherd mix, her litter mates a mix of patchy coats and others looking like tiny german shepherd mixes. I scanned through the posts photos, a collage of half built houses, pups in pipelines and under bushes. The last photo, not a photo at all, a few seconds long clip of a Blue Heeler/Australian shepherd/Collie looking dog. Frightened, barking and backing away from the intruders that came to claim her pups.
I knew right then that the tiny bundle of fluff, resembling a mix of my favourite breeds, would be mine. They couldn’t catch mum that day. But no more than 5 months later, they found her again. A heavily pregnant, scared soul with the cold of winter rapidly approaching. They finally caught her and she gave birth to her second litter that evening. I sponsored her and named her Xena. She is now living a luxurious life in Cornwall.
Aries (then sponsored and named Artemis) was available for adoption. I was first in line and I couldn’t be happier. I filled in that application form like I was applying to be queen. I listed all of my attributes, my experience with dogs and my knowledge of fosters etc. I typed so hard my fingers hurt for days.
The wait was excruciating. Puppies aren't allowed to leave Romania (or travel from any country) until they are at least 4 months of age. I waited impatiently for weeks, getting regular updates here and there. I was also added to a lovely Whatsapp group filled with the adopters of dogs from this specific rescue, including the adopters of Aries’ litter mates. We all spoke about what we had bought for our new dogs, the names we had chosen and why (Aries is an April born pup, hence the name). A helpful distraction until the day of her arrival.
From the day she arrived to present day (nearly 4 years later) I am still in contact with the rescue, some of their sponsors and even their UK based behaviourists.
Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been an easy ride. There are still things I struggle with and Aries and I need to work on, recall being one of them. But I got the high drive (high prey drive included), trick trainable, perfect despite her flaws, type of girly that I wanted, and I wouldn’t change for the world.
Even if she has decided to love dog dad more than me.