Thank you to two of our Client’s, Simon and Steve, for allowing us all to share the experience of their journey so far with their Romanian Rescue Dog; which has not been very easy so far, but Simba as you will be able to appreciate is both wanted and loved by both Simon and Steve and is now an integral part of their family.
Our little family consisted of Simon, me (Steve) and Winnie the cat. We yearned to have a dog as part of our lives for over 30 years. We wanted a dog to have the best life we could provide so waited patiently until we were both semi-retired to minimise the time any new member of our little family would be left on their own. We started our dog journey thinking about a cute puppy joining us, we thought a small or medium size dog would suit us best and set about exploring the traits and habits of thoroughbred dogs to try and find the perfect match. This proved to be quite exhausting and we soon became overwhelmed with information and not much wiser. This led us to start exploring local rescue dog options, our only criteria was cat friendly. We were surprised how difficult finding a local cat friendly rescue dog seemed to be and gave up searching. As the internet often does and without particularly knowing much about street dogs from other parts of the world we came across the charity Paws2Rescue website. Our interest grew as we viewed the dogs rescued from the streets in Romania and read the often sad stories of neglect and cruelty from humans. We were quickly hooked, the additional bonus was that so many of the Roamies as they are affectionately known were cat friendly. I must add at this point that until we started exploring this option we were of the opinion that there are enough rescue dogs in the UK without bringing more in. How quickly our opinion changed.
We made a shortlist of Romanian dogs and spent hours narrowing it down to a final two, Simba in Wiltshire and a small cute looking dog in Scotland. Based solely on distance, collecting a dog from Wiltshire seemed more sensible. So now we agreed that this was the dog for us whilst at the same time trying to ignore the voice in our heads screaming “don’t do it, get a cute puppy”. Anyway we ignored our fears the best we could and started the process of adoption. Simba was medium sized mixed breed male, 6 months old when rescued, cat friendly and from the description we could imagine him fitting in well with us. He was picked up from living rough on the streets of Romania, we were told that his rescuer had witnessed children throwing stones at him (this brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it). Later on we we viewed a short video of him, his ribs were clearly visible whilst he was eating food in the street that the charity had provided.
When Paws2Rescue dogs arrive in the UK they move in with a foster family to be assessed. Simba was fostered with the wonderful Debbie and Mark for approximately 3 months where they got to know him and help him settle into a domestic UK setting. They provided a good detailed description so we had reasonable insight into Simba’s personality.
Paws2Rescue complete home and owner checks for suitability and once we had been approved in November 2019 we were on out way to Wiltshire to collect our wonderful boy. On arrival Simba wouldn’t come near us and barked and barked at us. His foster family suggested we quietly sit in the garden with him and eventually he started to show some interest in us, he knew we had dog treats in our hands. Eventually he made some tentative steps to nervously check us and the dog treats out. As Simba became more settled we took him for a short walk around the village with his foster family. To be honest we were both thinking ‘its still not too late to change our minds, what are we doing bringing a barking and frightened dog into our quite well ordered lives’. We had the opportunity to discuss how we felt out of earshot of his foster family. We agreed that we were committed to Simba now whatever the future brings! Thank goodness we didn’t change our mind. A tearful farewell to his foster family who had obviously grown attached to Simba and we were on our way home. Simba was curled up in the back seat of the car and didn’t make a sound for the whole journey. He was absolutely terrified and just wanted to hide.
Once home Simba was fearful of many things. He didn’t know how to get up the stairs as his foster family lived in a bungalow. He ran out the room when we turned the TV on, so for a while we watched it with hardly any volume until he got used to it. Much of his initial few weeks were spent hiding under furniture. He was almost house trained so we only had a few accidents, he ate well and we soon learned that he loves balls and dog toys. The first night with us he slept on our bed and has been there every night ever since. Simba was ok on his lead but meeting other dogs and people was a problem for us. He would bark and lunge at everybody and every dog however big or small. It got to the point where we didn’t enjoy taking him out. In the car he shook like a jelly and sometimes vomited. Simba continues to be frightened by the noise of the wind hitting the house, unexpected bangs outside, aeroplanes and fireworks. He will hide behind the sofa when experiencing any of these. We always remain positive, upbeat and initiate a game to help him to link something positive to the noise. We do the same outdoors if he is startled by a noise. Progress has been made, he’s not there yet but we are confident in time he will overcome much of his fear.
We always knew that we would embark on dog training so it wasn’t long before we made contact with Lincs Dog Training and met the wonderful Helen. Within an hour Helen was working with Simba demonstrating to us what he was already capable of. Helen filled us with re-assurance and confidence that Simba is intelligent and trainable. We signed up and were soon in class, we couldn’t hear much of what was being said for the first few sessions as Simba was crying, whining and barking. He seemed so overwhelmed by this alien environment, the other dogs and activity. As Helen predicted and as time progressed he began to settle down. Unfortunately the current COVID pandemic has ended the classes.
We have continued the training we learned at Lincs Training at home, and have accessed advice from Helen from time to time over the phone. Simba’s very food orientated which is a bonus when dog training. Walking is now a pleasure and we are happy to take him anywhere. Simba loves other dogs and just wants to play, his manners sometimes get the better of him so home training continues. We have even introduced some agility training equipment which he’s quite good at. Last summer we rented a holiday cottage for a week and Simba coped with the change of scenery really well. He’s still not keen on car journeys but will get into the car independently when instructed. On the rare occasions that he is left home alone he is settled, I think spending the first months of his life on his own has instilled a certain independence in him. We always receive a lovely welcome waggy tail greeting when we return.
Finally Simon and I both agree that having Simba in our lives was the best decision we could have made. We love him so much and can’t imagine life without him. Simba has become very attached to us and seems very happy to share his forever home with us. We plan to return to dog training classes when the current pandemic is over and hopefully life returns to some normality again.