Your rescued dog is finally home and you don’t have to think about paperwork and picking the proper transport; no more waiting and worrying, your sweetheart is finally resting in your arms.

This time in your life can be very heartwarming and rewarding. There is quite nothing like knowing your dog is no longer living behind bars, instead he/she is snuggling on the sofa by your side.

Thinking about his/her sad story, makes you want to compensate for all those years of neglect and loneliness. And you will, but you have to be patient!

Some dogs may feel confused about the 180 degree change in their lives. Yes, being adopted is the happy ending we all hope for our dogs and they will soon understand how incredibly lucky they are.

But, as with all good things in life, you may want to move forward one paw at a time.

Adopted dog sleeping with owner
Adopted dog sleeping with owner

Also, spaying and neutering our dogs as soon as they are taken under our wings helps bring the agitation level to a minimum. We are going to extra length to make sure our dogs are healthy and ready for adoption at all times. This way, when a dog is lucky to be chosen for adoption, he/she doesn’t have to wait up to 2-3 months for the preparation procedures to be over.

Frequently Asked Questions After the Adoption Process

How do I choose the right type of food for my dog?

Choosing the right food for your dog depends on many factors, such as: age, breed, size, energy level and overall health status. You can always ask for your vet’s advice to make sure you meet your dog’s nutritional requirements. Some dog owners feel more at ease going with the home cooked diet which is fine, as long as you have information about how to balance the proteins, vitamins and carbohydrates your dog needs on a daily basis.

When is my dog considered a senior?

Depending on your dog’s size, he/she is considered a senior at 5-6 years old (for large or giant breeds) or at 11 years old (for small size dogs). Asking for your veterinarian’s advice is the best idea. He/she will recommend a special diet for your dog, based on the evaluation of his/her organ functions, mobility, weight, oral health and energy level. Vet care plans change once you have a senior dog. You need to visit your local vet more often and make sure your dog gets an overall health check every time.

How long before I admit I am having trouble communicating with my adopted dog?

It’s absolutely normal for your dog to feel a bit overwhelmed at first. The most important thing to remember is you need to be patient with him/her. Although being adopted should be the best thing that has ever happened to him/her, your dog may feel confused by the 180 degrees changes in his/her lives. If you feel you are having trouble communicating with your dog, despite being patient and calm about it, please contact us or the international rescue organization for advice. Don’t give the dog away to anyone - family member, friend or total stranger - before talking to us about it!

How long before I can trust my dog off lead?

There are different situations and the answer depends on each individual’s reaction to new things, loud noises, sudden movements and so on. The best thing is to keep him/her on a long lead that allows him/her to move and run around while still attached to you. You can practice recall in a safe area - your backyard for example - using yummy rewards and lots of praise. Your dog will learn that if he/she comes when you call, good things will happen, so he/she will be more interested in staying close to you at all times.

What happens if my adopted dog has a problem with my other pets?

One of the issues we focus on the most in our “before adoption” part of the adoption process is making sure you pick the right dog that will go along with your other pets. We test our dogs with other dogs (older dogs, females, male, puppies, depending on your specific situation), cats, sometimes even chicken. We send you the videos which capture his/her reaction to the other animals we present them with. Of course, things might change once he/she gets home and starts to feel entitled to the house, toys, food and even your attention. We can’t guarantee your dog will behave around other pets, but based on their personality, we can predict their overall attitude towards them. If, however, the new dog doesn’t get along with your other pets, you can ask for professional help from a behaviorist or contact us. Either way, please don’t give him/her away before talking to the international rescue organization responsible for offering a back up plan in stressful situations involving your adopted dog.

How long after adopting a shelter dog can I foster another one?

We think you should give it a few months for your adopted dog to settle in your home. Depending on his/her personality, you may feel at ease to bring another dog home, temporarily. Make sure that it won’t be a stressful experience for your adopted dog or for your foster dog. Forcing them to get along for the sake of knowing you helped another dog might not have the effect you were hoping for. Talking to us or to the international rescue organization might put things into perspective. We will do our best to offer advice to whether you should bring another dog into your home or not.

Is there a support group I can join?

Most international animal welfare organization who help adopt dogs from Romania have support groups of people who adopted their dog through them. You can ask them for permission to join. Becoming member of such a group can be very helpful, because you may find answers to your questions from people who went through the same experience as you. Also, it gives you a sense of community, of being a part of something bigger than you, which can be very fulfilling.

What can I do to help your organization?

We are always grateful to people wanting to help our cause. There are a few ways you can help our cause - sharing our story to as many people as possible, donating towards our dogs’ needs, organizing fundraising events in our benefit or fostering our dogs. Whichever way you wish to help us, rest assured you are making a huge difference in the lives of innocent animals who had the misfortune to be born unwanted.

Adapting the adopted dog to the new home

Your dog just had a long journey and has gone through a lot of strange situations in a very short time. He/she may not know what to make of all of this. For all we know, your rescued dog may have been a stray dog all his/her life before coming to us. Being inside a home, surrounded by people, children even, other pets may seem weird to him/her.

Noises which are normal for a home environment, such as vacuuming, doing dishes, dropping a metal object on a tile floor, TV can frighten him/her. It takes a lot of patience to be able to withhold your own emotions and giving your dog room to express his/hers. You may even pick up on him/her feeling stressed if you know some of the typical signs they give out:

  • excessive yawning;
  • panting when the temperature is not that high;
  • licking their lips;
  • body language, such as lowered ears towards the back, keeping their tail down and between their legs;
  • pacing;
  • keeping one of the front paws up and close to his/her chest;
  • excessive shaking, trying to “shake” off the stress they are under.

Remember, your dog doesn’t hate you! He/she just doesn’t know you.

Hopefully, things will calm down in a few days or maybe even a few hours. Sometimes, dogs surprise us with their incredible ability of living in the present moment.

It may be a good idea if you or one of the family members could take a few days off work and spend this time with the dog, getting to know one another. Potty training, if not already learnt, may take a few days to break down, so keeping an eye on him/her around the house might me a good idea as well.

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Your dog had a long trip home, he/she needs to rest

Whenever we were able to foster a dog ourselves, we were saddened to witness their behavior immediately after they were taken home. Besides eating as if there was no tomorrow, they were all sleeping for almost 24 hours, making us worry about their health. In fact, they were finally feeling safe enough to allow themselves a proper rest, after days, weeks, months or even years of living on the continuous “fight or flight mode”. It was either that, or die.

Watching them surrender and enjoying a proper sleep after they had been afraid for so long breaks our hearts every time. But, then it keeps us going, knowing that more and more dogs need our help to feel safe enough to sleep. And, who knows, maybe dream about being in your arms for the rest of their lives.

This may happen once your dog comes home. He/she is probably tired after the trip, but that’s not the only reason. They finally feel at HOME. Make sure your entire neighborhood won’t be there to meet your new dog as soon as he/she comes home. There’s plenty of time for them to meet your new furry friend.

All rescued dog adopted by the same family in UK. Two of them are Titan and Ari, our rescued dogs
All rescued dog adopted by the same family in UK. Two of them are Titan and Ari, our rescued dogs

If you have children, they should be advised to be gentle and not shower the dog with attention or trying to get him/her to play with them from day one. Show your dog where he/she can take a rest and place their water bowl near. It helps if you are near for the first hours or a few days after the arrival, but please allow your dog to get used to everything in his/her own terms. It’s worth the waiting!

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Getting the dog used to your household rules

There is nothing wrong with having house rules, we know that. You don’t love your dog less if you don’t allow him/her to pee all over your floor and chew all your favorite shoes. Rules are not only meant to keep your house clean and your belongings in one piece, but they are also good for keeping your dog safe.

Bad habits such as going through the garbage or bolting through open doors may be very dangerous situations for him/her. Teaching your dog some manners may very well impress your neighbors, but it will help to keep him/her safe from possibly lethal accidents, such as:

  • ingesting toxic substances, which may be cleaning products or toxic human food (chocolate, raisins, chewing gum);
  • chewing and ingesting toys, shoes or even clothes, situation in which you have to take him/her to the vet urgently;
  • running away every time the front door opens, which may lead to losing him/her or being run over by cars.

Also, by making an effort to train your dog with patience and understanding brings the two of you closer together and maximizes the chances of him/her not being returned to the rescue for bad behavior. Mind you, these dogs had to make rules as they went along and most of them referred to how to stay alive on the street.

Sweet dog adopted in the UK
Sweet dog adopted in UK

Especially around resources like food, treats or toys, their only rule might be “snatch it or lose it”, so they may act upon it. Don’t hold it against them, they had so little before being adopted and, as far as they know, things may take a turn for the worst. We understand that teaching your dog the house rules takes time and a little bit of effort and we are grateful for it.

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Join a group of people who adopted rescued dogs on social media

Some international rescues we work with have groups on Facebook of people who adopted dogs from them. The same organization may work with different shelters in Romania, so the members of the group may have adopted dogs from all over our country. Joining such a group helps a lot, because people get to share their experience, learn from one another and share photos and videos about their rescued dogs.

Being a member of a group of people who opened their hearts to underdogs is especially rewarding and makes one feel like they are part of a great cause. If you choose to be a member of such a group, you will never feel lonely or misunderstood. People are very helpful and supportive and offer their knowledge and experience to those who find themselves struggling with getting their rescued dogs to adapt to the home environment, or house rules or getting along with other pets.

Dog rescue group meet-up in the UK, most dogs are from our shelter
Dog rescue group meet-up in the UK, most dogs are from our shelter

There are always tricks on how to get them used to different situations and reading about someone’s experience and the results they had is very encouraging. Some of the members of these groups meet periodically and walk together or have picnics where they meet each other and have their dogs run around and play together.

Nowadays people tend to be more and more isolated from the community and social media is a huge factor which seems to make face-to-face meetings redundant. One of the most important cause of depression is living isolated from other people, so dogs can be very helpful in this area, giving you a reason to get out of the house and spend a pleasant day with people who share the same interest for dogs.

Sometimes, siblings are adopted through the same international organization, so the adoptive families may keep in contact and become friends, wanting to help their dogs stay close to one another. Celebrating their birthdays, sharing important events in their dogs’ lives, asking for support in times of grief, sometimes supporting one another financially in case of major health issues of their dogs or simply sharing hilarious photos of their mischievous furry kids makes people feel like part of a community.

In the end, that is all that anyone wants - to feel accepted and that they belong to a group. And what a special group is the one made of compassionate, loving people who offer their hearts and their homes to Romanian underdogs.

Conclusion

Adopting a shelter dog is sometimes harder than one expects, we know that.

We sometimes feel intrigued seeing how dogs who had it so rough are suspicious of us and our promise of happiness. Meeting them for the first time, after hearing about their sad story and hardship is very challenging, because you want to hug them and show them how much you love them already.

Your heart is full of so many different emotions - heartache thinking about the tragic story they leave behind them, gratefulness for those who saved your dog and made things possible for meeting him/her, anger towards the system or the people who were so cruel to this poor soul and hope for the wonderful life you will have together.

It is normal for you to feel all these feelings at once, but please be patient and don’t try to make your dog understand all of this from the very beginning.

Your dog will soon understand you love him/her and that you will never abandon him/her. This is all that matters, the rest is water under the bridge.

Dogs don’t care about the past and are not worried about the future. They live in the present moment and for now, all they need to know, is that you will give them time and infinite love, so they can be the marvelous pets they were supposed to be all along.

Feeding and walking your adopted dog

It is important to feed your dog accordingly to their age and health issues if any. Yes, they are shelter dogs and they shouldn’t be picky, seeing how they were forced to eat whatever they could find, if they find it. But, remember, this is your dog now and how you feed him/her can determine future digestive issues or allergies.

Make up your mind about what sort of diet you want for your dog (dry food only, cooked food, raw) and see if your dog tolerates it. Ask your vet for advice and pay them a visit if your dog seems to have an upset tummy. It may take a while for your dog to get used to the diet you’re presenting, but if they feel ok and your vet agrees with it, stand your ground, results will show eventually.

Walking your dog should be fun, especially if they are already leash friendly. After making sure he/she is safe you can enjoy the fresh air together with your furry friend.

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Keep in mind your dog’s age and needs when choosing the food

Age and special needs are important factors to consider when choosing the right type of food for your dog. Puppies need more energy, while senior dogs need more fibers to help with their digestive function. If picked right, your dog’s food can help him/her live a longer and fuller life.

Unlike cats, dogs can eat food types other than meat, like grain, vegetable and fruits. These are responsible for the vitamins, minerals and fibers which help their digestive system function at a normal rate. Good food will contain all of the above and the better version of each of them, the better it is for your dog and, unfortunately, the less friendly for your wallet.

It is very hard to pick the right food for your dog whilst there are a lot of brands and recipes to choose from. But factors such as age, energy level, health issues can help narrow down the list of possible types and brands to choose from. As with every living being, food is dogs’ fuel, so make sure you give them the same energy you want them to give you back.

Puppies’ nutritional needs

Puppies have different nutritional needs than adults do, so it is a good idea to buy special puppy food for you furry toddler. Most brands have special foods for all ages, making it easier for you to stay loyal to a preferred manufacturer throughout all your dog’s life. Asking your vet for advice is always a good idea, because this is a critical age when their bones and joints develop, so they need the best nutrients available and the right balance between them.

Puppies can get their tummies upset pretty fast if you change their food on a regular basis, so it is best if you can determine the right food for them and stick to it until they’re ready to be considered “adults”. Also, it is advised you feed your puppy more often than you would an adult dog, so take that under consideration when buying it. Ask your vet about the proper amount of food you should feed your puppy according to size and breed, if any.

Rescued puppies had a very low nutritional diet while living on the street and, sadly, we can’t afford the best quality food for our dogs. Although we try to buy special puppy food, your adopted puppy may already suffer from diet imbalances which can affect his/her growth. This is why you should ask for your vet’s opinion and buy an appropriate type of food which can provide the right fuel for your furry companion.

Two rescued puppies who were found on the street. Special puppy food isn’t always available for shelter dogs.
Two rescued puppies who were found on the street. Special puppy food isn’t always available for shelter dogs

The best suited food for your adult dog

Your dogs is considered an adult when 90% of their standard body weight is gained. Of course, with stray dogs, one may never know which is the “standard” weight or height, it’s just one of the surprises you sign up for when deciding to adopt a shelter dog. You’re welcome!

Usually, after the age of 7 months dogs finish their growth process, except for large and giant breeds (or mixes) which may continue the process a while after turning 1 year old.

The best diet for your adult dog has to be well balanced and complete, providing all the nutrients the dog needs for his/her lifestyle. Dogs who are more active and go for long walks every other day need more energy than the couch potatoes, so you should first answer the very important question: “what sort of dog do you have?”

All our dogs are spayed (females) and neutered (males), so you may want to consider this fact as well. Ask your vet for advice on what type of food your dog should eat, seeing how sterilized dogs can sometimes become obese if their nutritional needs aren’t met. Home cooked meals can be very appreciated by your dog and may seem less expensive, but the balance between proteins, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals can be hard to obtain without the help of a nutritionist.

Titan, on the right, is one of our rescued dogs, now adopted in UK with Aria (in the middle) another Romanian underdog
Titan, on the right, is one of our rescued dogs, now adopted in UK with Aria (in the middle) another Romanian underdog

There is so much certified information online, you just can’t go wrong! Remember, if in doubt of whether you are feeding your dog the right food for him/her ask your vet for professional guidance.

Choosing the right food for your senior dog

When you decide to adopt a senior dog there are several things you should consider regarding their diet. First of all, does your senior dog have any other health issue that you know of? Usually old age comes with (hopefully mild) organ deficiencies - heart, kidneys, liver - joint problems, digestive sensitivities, obesity and so on.

In these cases, diet food prescribed by a veterinarian can help support the basic medical treatment. Although it can improve your dog’s health considerably, please don’t make the decision of getting your dog off pills without first consulting your vet. The lack of exercise which is normal for older dogs generates a lower metabolic rate, which can create problems such as: obesity, digestive and mobility deficiencies.

Taking this under consideration, it is best if you choose a low calorie diet which should also be a source of high fiber and lots of fatty acids for your dog. There are also the dental issues to be considered when choosing the best food for your senior dog. You have to be very careful and properly monitor the situation with your dog’s teeth, because these problems can make your dog stop eating.

A senior dog enjoying his birthday doggie cake
A senior dog enjoying his birthday doggie cake

When having an older dog, the refusal of food can often be related with the overall oral health status. In case your dog refuses to eat, rule this issue out and only then proceed with other medical investigation such as blood work, ultrasounds and so on. It is always a good idea to check with your vet about the consistency of the food that your dog can eat. Sometimes, they can’t chew their normal dry food anymore, so it is helpful to change it for the wet version.

At this point of your dog’s life your vet has to be considered more of a best friend, one you call more than once a year for professional guidance regarding your dog’s health. The dog’s lifestyle contributes a lot to his/her longevity and you play a major role in the outcome.

It is always a good idea to seek for more certified information about the proper care for oldies, as we often feel we are not doing enough for our furry “granddogs”.

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Walking your dog according to their age

Walking your dog is an important part of the time spent together.

Considering his/her age, size and energy level your dog has different exercise needs which can be met during the daily walk in the park, occasional trips to the beach or through hiking sessions or just by taking a stroll every now and then on your back yard lawn.

Outdoor exercise is good for your dog as well as for yourself, so make a plan in taking your dog for longer walks whenever time allows.

Playtime sessions with your puppy

Playing with your puppy can be so much fun! We can’t think of anything more uplifting than taking your hair down and goofing around with your dog, playing tug-of-war, fetch or just tickling his/her tummy.

If space allows for you to safely get your puppy off leash, your play session will be so much more engaging for him/her. These activities are important for your dog’s physical and mental health and also for improving the bond created between you two. The upside is that your puppy will not only have spent quality time with you, but he/she will also nap quietly for a few hours, giving you time to relax and read a book, for instance.

During playtime with your puppy you can introduce simple commands you wish for him/her to answer. Remember your dog is still learning about the world, so every new thing you present to him/her has to be done with patience and, ideally, through fun activities.

Marvel is a rescued dog in UK, adopted by the same family who also adopted another one of our rescued dogs
Marvel is a rescued dog in UK, adopted by the same family who also adopted another one of our rescued dogs

This method will help him/her associate the thing you are after with a positive feeling, which is then more easily accepted and learnt. Believe it or not, there is a downside to playing with your puppy. You can create frustration and grumpiness during play sessions which can be too rough or longer than your puppy is able to enjoy.

All in all, playing with your puppy is one of the most wonderful moments you will ever experience, so make the most of it while he/she is young.

Longer walks for your adult dog

Your adult dog can’t wait for you to make time and take him/her for a longer walk by the lake, on the beach or in any other place that allows them to wonder off and enjoy the multitude of smells.

Besides the exercise, dogs enjoy “sniffing the news” and finding new interesting things to explore, smell, chew or roll around in. It is all part of the mental stimulation which is so important in a dog’s life. In the absence of it, dogs can become depressed, anxious and irritated so all the more reason for you to enjoy a nice walk together.

When planning a longer walk with your dog make sure you pay attention to a few safety issues, such as:

  • check whether the area is safe for your dog to be off lead. If not, consider taking a longer lead with you, so your dog can enjoy some freedom;
  • remember when was the last time your dog had any fleas and ticks treatment, he/she may need it. If your dog hasn’t had a spot on or any other similar product in the last month/s (some are valid up to 7 months) you may want to check with your vet if he/she should have it renewal before your trip;
  • is it too hot or too cold for your dog to spend several hours outdoors? According to the answer of this question you may want to adapt your trip and the necessary accessories for it to be a successful one. Heatstroke and frostbites are the last things you should be worrying about when enjoying a nice day with your dog.
  • taking his/her water bowl and plenty of water for both of you is always a great idea.
Adult dog and owner taking a walk on the seaside
Adult dog and owner taking a walk on the seaside

Walking your dog may be as well planned and analyzed as you wish it to be. Of course, there are general rules which can help make your time with your dog safer and more enjoyable, but other than that it is all a problem of finding the time.

We are certain you will soon become an outdoorsy addict; there is one downside to this though, you may start to enjoy your dog’s company more than being around other people.

Calm strolls in the park with your senior dog

Taking your dog for a long walk in the woods may have been one of the most important thing of your lives together. You may share amazing memories about hiking hills and chasing one another on the beach, but aging doesn’t care about how much exercise your dog enjoyed once.

Old age comes, among other issues, with mobility problems which can translate into hip dysplasia, joint deficiencies and overall less energy than before. Keeping some quality of life for your older dog may require you to feed him/her special senior food, giving him/her joint supplements and wild salmon oil (an important source of Omega fatty acids), keeping a close eye on his/her weight and adjusting the daily walks, in terms of keeping it short, away from severe heat or cold, and avoiding hiking and bumpy roads all together.

Calm strolls in the park, under the cool shade can be exactly what your senior dog is looking for. The possibility of sniffing around and taking a rest every now and them makes it impossible for you to plan a long tiresome trip for your oldie.

A senior dog resting in a quiet park setting
A senior dog resting in a quiet park setting

You just need to come to terms that your senior dog can’t keep up with you anymore. But this doesn’t mean you can’t have fun together. You just need to adapt your outdoors activities to their needs and take things easy.

As they say, you two can finally stop and smell the flowers.

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Feeding and walking to match the breed or energy level of your dog

Depending on their breed mix and personality dogs can be high energy or lazy.

Having a lazier dog doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a walk in the park with hi/her, but you may have to tone down your expectations when planning for an afternoon out with your dog.

In terms of feeding different energy level dogs, you just have to recognize which type of dog he/she is and do a bit of reading. Generally, active dogs need more calories to fuel up their days whilst calmer dogs need to have their weight monitored properly, obesity being one of their biggest struggle.

How best to feed active dogs?

If you love the outdoors and your favorite activity is walking for more than 10 kilometers everyday, then you must have felt the need for a companion who can keep up with you. Active dogs can be perfect for such adventures.

One can find a lot of satisfaction in starting their days walking in the woods with their dogs. The total stillness of nature, the faded sounds of the birds waking up, the filtered light between the leaves, the morning mist creeping out amongst the bushes, you and your dog. Doesn’t this sound incredible?

Can you imagine the immense happiness of a shelter dog who may have lived in a small kennel for years, having so much freedom and enjoying so many sounds and smells and all of it wrapped up in your love for him/her? What more could a shelter dog want from life? Well, proper food does help a lot with keeping up with such adventures.

Energy requirements depend on factors such as age, breed, size, activity and lifestyle. There is always the possibility of asking your vet to help you calculate the right amount of calories your dog should consume per day. You can also look for more information about this topic, but monitoring their weight, health status and overall condition will probably give you the right answer.

Rescued dog from Romania enjoying her life with other dogs that were adopted from our shelter, now living in the UK
Rescued dog from Romania enjoying her life with other dogs that were adopted from our shelter, now living in the UK

Remember, when it comes to dogs there’s no instruction manual. The information you find online, although helpful, it may apply up to a certain point to your dog’s situation. Paying attention to your dog’s everyday needs together with advice from your vet can shed some light when wondering what is the best food for your high energy dog.

Lazy dogs and their feeding habits

We love lazy dogs! How many of us aren’t thinking about Droopy, that mellow dog who is so bored with everyone, including his own life? Nevertheless, this beloved animated character proves to be hiding incredible strength and personality underneath that appearance of a lazy droopy eyed dog, especially when his enemies made him mad.

Same way your lazy dog may actually be into saving his/her energy for the more important things in life, so don’t hold it against him/her. When having to think about the best diet for a less active dog, you have to take under consideration the biggest threat that comes along and that is obesity.

Eating too much, too often or a diet which exceeds his/her nutritional requirements will lead to him/her being overweight. This will then lead to diabetes, heart failure, joint predicaments and overall poor health status. Getting your dog obese with no regard for his/her well-being and comfort should be considered animal cruelty, because the quality of his/her life is severely altered.

Lazy dogs are very vulnerable to excessive weight because they remain inactive throughout the day
Lazy dogs are very vulnerable to excessive weight because they remain inactive throughout the day

But things don’t need to come to this point. Most brands have the “low fat” version of almost all varieties of dog food. Ask for your vet to guide you if you think your dog is overweight. A dog’s body, no matter his/her size, breed or age should have a hourglass shape, meaning the area between the thoracic rib cage and pelvis should be more narrow than the rest, seen from above.

Although it may look like they hate it, lazier dogs need exercise as well and allowing them to miss their daily walk in the park is wrong. Shorter distances and giving them the possibility of taking a rest every now and then might do the trick in convincing your low energy dog to do the walk, besides doing the Droopy talk “You know what? You make me mad!”

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Cooked food versus kibble

We know that human food looks yummier than the same old (sometimes diet) kibble. Dogs are always happy to try out whatever you wish to share with them; they will help you finish dinner and act as a puppy vacuum when kids spill their food on the floor. Begging at dinner time is their favorite activity.

There is nothing they wouldn’t try to convince you to give them something from your plate: funny faces as well as sad, puppy eyes, whining and even barking, gently touching your leg or jumping directly in your lap. As much as you love your dog, please remember you should teach him/her table manners as soon as they arrive home.

Begging should never be encouraged, because it’s a bad habit which in time can do him/her harm. On picnics or when you have friends over, people who are not aware of the dangerous foods can feed him/her toxic products such as chocolate, raisins, sugar free sweets (oxylitol can give liver failure if ingested by dogs), avocado, onion, garlic, nuts and so on.

Some people think that home cooked meals are better for their dog than any type of brand dog food on the market. In fact, meeting their calorie requirements is pretty tricky when trying to plan their daily meals. If home cooked food is what you are set on feeding your dog, please make sure you ask for guidance from a dog nutritionist or a vet.

Cooked food versus kibble
Cooked food versus kibble

Protein only based diets are bad for dogs and can lead to severe vitamin deficiency and possibly thyroid issues. On the other hand, not enough proteins may cause muscle atrophies, immune system deficiencies or blood disorders.

There is a large variety of certified articles online talking about this topic; a full list of acceptable human food and recipes are available for dog owners who, for various reasons, choose to feed their dogs with home cooked meals.

Ideally, your dog’s dinner is a mixture of protein, vitamins and carbohydrates and there are plenty of products to choose from. Ultimately, your vet is the one to ask about the best home cooked diet for your dog, because there are several factors to consider, such as age, breed, size, energy level, medical history and current weight.

Conclusion

We know that things may sound too complicated regarding the best way to feed and walk your dog, but it really isn’t. You just have to give it some time for you and your dog to get to know and trust one another and everything else will fall into place. The beginning of your long, beautiful friendship may feel a bit bumpy, because some shelter dogs have trouble with learning how to walk in a leash or be polite around dinner if other pets share their home.

Patience and lots of love can overcome all these problems in time. Remember, simple activities which for your other pets seem natural are quite strange for your rescued dog. He/she may have never walked in a park on a lead (puppies who were rescued from an young age and grew up behind bars), so normal sounds or activities may spook him/her. Safety comes first whether we are talking about walking your dog or choosing the right diet for him/her.

You can always ask a vet for advice, a more experienced friend or even join a support group of people who adopted rescued dogs from Romania. Either way, you will find the right path for you and your furry friend.

Vetcare

One of your obligation mentioned in the adoption contract is providing your dog with the vetcare he/she requires. We are speaking about regular health checkups at the vet and medical services when and if your dog should ever need it. In some EU countries there’s the possibility of paying for pet insurance, which can be very helpful in time of need. Having your dog sick or injured is stressful enough without having to worry about costs.

However pay attention to what exactly does the pet insurance you choose covers, in some countries (Netherlands) there are health issues which are not covered or, best case scenario, it pays for 50% of the medical costs. There i also the issue of adopting a dog with health problems who may not qualify for pet insurance. You should get more information about the best option for you and your dog.

No matter the case, getting your dog the medical support he/she needs is part of your responsibility as the owner.

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The necessary medical service for your puppy

Puppies are especially vulnerable and need a lot of care and attention. Growing up harmoniously needs a bit more monitoring from the owner’s part, because this is when they develop their skeletal and muscular system. Improper diet or lack of exercise may affect their growth, their joints and their immune system. So make a plan and visit your vet for more information about how best to care about your puppy.

Puppies need more vaccines at first which will help their immune system create antibodies against the most common dog diseases: Parvovirus, Distemper, Canine Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Leptospirosis and Rabies. They also need to be properly wormed repeatedly until they are 12 weeks old. It doesn’t matter if you see any internal parasites or not, worming them has to happen and it’s best done under the supervision of a vet.

Also, watch out for any external parasites like fleas, ticks or lice. These are not only creating discomfort for your puppy, but may be responsible for transmitting internal parasites (tapeworms are transmitted through ingesting the infested fleas when grooming themselves) or deadly illnesses (babesiosis transmitted by an infested tick).

In the first 6 months of your puppy’s life your vet should become your best friend. You should seek his/her guidance regarding medical procedures such as vaccination and worming, proper diet and whether you should give him/her any supplements to support his/her development (especially for large or giant breeds).

Rescued puppy getting some extra tender love and care
Rescued puppy getting some extra tender love and care

1-16 weeks old

Well, puppies this young can’t travel abroad, so there is no way you can adopt a puppy under 3 months of age (this is the soonest the rabies vaccine can be administered to dogs).

If you adopted one from a local rescue or bought him/her from a certified breeder (hopefully), you should pay your vet a visit and get their advice about how to best care for your furry toddler.

6 months old

Greeting your 6 months old puppy home can be one of the most wonderful moments of your life. By this time, rest assured that your puppy had all the vaccines he needs, he was wormed and had treatment against ticks and fleas. It is impossible for a dog to travel abroad without going through all these medical procedures, so you are safe for now.

You do want to book a visit to your local vet practice and ask about future vaccination and worming plan for your dog. He/she needs annual boosters to keep their immune system going against the most common diseases mentioned above. Paying attention to your dog’s diet and nutritional requirements helps him/her grow and develop according to their size and breed.

Also, there is the problem of having your puppy sterilized (spayed for females, neutered for males). We usually have them fixed before travel, because we consider it our duty. But there are situations where the puppy is too young (male’s testicles aren’t dropped in the testicular sack, so the vet can’t find them), in which case you become responsible through the adoption contract to have him/her sterilized when he/she is old enough.

Young dogs are very active
Young dogs are very active

Around this age all dogs are teething so chewing can become a bit of a problem. To make sure they don’t destroy your favorite pair of shoes or underwear, it’s a good idea to ask your vet about the proper chewing toys for him/her.

6 months – 1 year old

By this time your dog is slowly approaching his/her adulthood, so you need to adjust his/her nutritional support. You should ask your vet about changing your dog’s diet towards an adult formula, minding his/her weight and energy level. It’s always a good idea to stay in touch with your vet and ask for advice regarding your dog.

Going from puppyhood to being a young adult can be a crucial time for diet change and for monitoring his/her body weight after having been sterilized (ideally this is done before the first heat season, because it is shown to reduce the risk of cancer of the reproductive system).

The teething period may come to an end, but this doesn’t necessarily mean your dog will stop chewing your stuff. This behavior may also be caused by boredom or anxiety, so make sure he/she has plenty of toys to chew and spends a reasonable amount of time in your company (or other family members).

Dogs are smart and curious animals, expect them to be adventurious
Dogs are smart and curious animals, expect them to be adventurious

Grooming your dogs is not only important for aesthetic reasons, but for their overall health status. Cleaning their years (especially for breeds with longer ears for which is more difficult to have them cleaned by themselves), cutting their nails so they don’t become incarnated, grooming their long or curly coat so it doesn’t become matted and create problems for the integrity of their skin these are all things to think about when caring for a dog.

Getting them used to have all these procedures done at the vet or at home (instructed by a vet) from an early age can help both of you reduce the stress it normally generates. Make these rituals seem like fun activities. Your dog should be encouraged by lots of praise and yummy treats if he/she behaves.

It is a bad idea to have them stressed around these practices, which, as important as they are for a dog’s maintenance, may lead to severe crisis of anxiety or even epileptiform seizures. Remember, praise and rewards go a long way when trying to convince your dog to let you or the vet do things they don’t normally like. It may also help if you break these procedures in a few phases, interrupted by sessions of praising and rewarding him/her for being a good boy/girl.

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Caring for your adult dog: 1-7 years old

Hopefully, your dog’s adulthood is safe from any major injury or sickness. Depending on their breed (if any), size, medical history and genes dogs may have a longer lifespan, which we are all hoping for. Between the age 1 and 7 years old dogs are usually full of life and, besides the annual vaccination and periodical working and treatment against external parasites, you shouldn’t have to visit your vet too often.

The major issue to take under consideration at this moment is watching their weight and making sure they get plenty of exercise. If no accident happens - ideally - your only concern about his/her health may reside in food or skin allergies which may appear in time due to his/her breed or immune system. The thing you need to remember is that lifestyle can have a major effect on their longevity and quality of life in their golden age.

Thus, helping your dog to have a balanced diet, exercise routine and periodical visits to the vet can determine how long he/she lives and how will the last years of your time together look like.

Romanian rescued dog adopted in the UK
Romanian rescued dog adopted in the UK
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Senior dogs – 7+ of age

It is important to understand when your dog may be considered a senior. It depends on breeds and sizes, usually large dogs age faster than small sized ones.

Giant breeds or mixes can be considered seniors around the age of 6, while toy dogs will usually be referred to as “old” at about 10 years of age. One of the major issues around this time in your dog’s life is arthritis. This is a degenerative illness which may cause your dog difficulties when getting up and down the stairs or in the car, finding a comfortable position to sleep in and walking for longer distances.

It generally slows him/her down. Although you can’t do nothing to prevent or change this condition, you may consult your vet about making things a bit easier for your oldie. There are several supplements which can help your dog feel less discomfort around the regular activities, such as going upstairs or jumping on the sofa.

Old dog taking a nap
Old dog taking a nap

Dental care should become a priority if you have a senior dog at home. Hopefully your dog is taught to have his teeth cleaned daily, because this improves his/her oral health status considerably. Make sure that your vet checks your dog’s teeth and gums every time you pay him/her a visit. You should also keep a close eye on his/her body weight. Any sudden change should make you ask for your vet’s guidance, because it can be an indicator of severe conditions, such as: liver, kidney, heart failure (weight loss), dental issues (preventing him/her from eating) or obesity and joint predicaments (too much weight).

It is a good idea to schedule periodical visits at the vet and ask for a full body evaluation every time your dog is seen by one. Your vet may recommend to have his/her organ functions evaluated through a set of blood work and you should take his/her advice and take the tests every 6 months or as often as your vet decides it is necessary.

At some point, you may notice that your senior dog has difficulties hearing or seeing you, because they stop answering to your call or may look scared and disoriented when you are apart in the park. Ask your vet if you can help him/her in any way and how you should adapt your home environment or daily schedule to best meet your old dog’s needs. Choosing a high quality food for your dog and extra fatty acids supplements can help maintain a good quality of life.

There are also some things you can do to help your older dog around the house or on your walking routine:

  • adapt their bedding: they may need softer beds to help with their arthritis;
  • put carpets on hard slippery floors to help them ease the pressure they use in their joints for stability;
  • put up ramps to help with climbing the stairs (the back door opening towards your lawn for example);
  • adapt your normal walking routine according to your dog’s present needs; shorten the distances, take a rest more often than before, avoid the hot summer afternoons;
  • use a special collar to make your dog more visible or a tag that tells people your dog is deaf and where they can find you, in case he/she gets lost.

The most important thing to remember when having an older dog is that no anomaly should be overlooked, because your dog’s condition can deteriorate faster than you may expect and you could end up losing him/her.

Conclusion

Vetcare is an important part in your dog’s life. There is no such thing as having a “bulletproof” dog, meaning one who doesn’t need any medical care and who would “walk it off”, no matter what issue may come over him/her. Our furry companion needs your love and attention now, more than ever. He/ she may not be able to go hiking with you or play fetch in the park; he/she may not hear his/her name when you’re calling and wagging his/her tail when hearing your voice may be lost forever.

But, nevertheless, your oldie still loves you with all his/her heart and is willing to love you to the moon and back. Doesn’t he/she deserves the best possible life you can give him/her until it’s time to say goodbye?

Be an ambassador for our rescue organization

If you are here, it means you adopted one of our rescued dogs and feel satisfied with how the adoption process went along.

We are happy to know you and your furry friend connected and that this experience wasn’t as complicated or as stressful as one might think. We thank you for your patience and understanding! As much as we struggle to make things run as easy and as fast as possible, sometimes there are situations at hand beyond our control.

Rescuing dogs is never the same, no matter how long we’ve done it; just when we think we have things covered and we dare to breath easy, things can get complicated or messy and we have to rethink the whole situation. In the end, the best interest of our dogs is what matters the most!

Because the situation of stray dogs population in Romania is still unsolved, people are getting tired of having to put up with the consequences of their existence on the street. It is highly probable that we don’t have a good reputation amongst our own community, because of our views and our ongoing struggle to protect stray animals, sometimes in the detriment of the people. But we are ok with this status quo, as long as we can save more animals from fruitless suffering and death.

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Give us a review on our website and social media based on your experience

Adopting a dog from across the world or, at least, from a country you don’t know much about, except that it’s Dracula’s homeland, might be overwhelming, we know! Having to trust people you have never met, trying to communicate (sometimes there’s alo the language barrier) and understand exactly what we mean to say can be hard at first, but luckily we do work with several international rescue organization who can vouch for us. Your review might very well save another life.

Just think back at when you saw your dog’s photo or read his/her story for the first time. The feeling of desperation thinking you have to adopt this dog and make him/her happy at any cost, but how complicated will the adoption process be? Chances are, most people feel the same way when they come across the dog they want to adopt.

Reading about your experience will encourage them to take the time to make the adoption happen. Of course, you may think that if someone is set on adopting a dog and making him/her happy, they would do anything, “cross every mountain, swim every sea”. Sadly, we all know this is easier said than done.

A simple review from you will give our dogs a lot of exposure
A simple review from you will give our dogs a lot of exposure

So, please give us a good review and tell other people what was your experience working with us like. You might be “guilty” of reuniting a rescued dog with his/her forever family, isn’t that something?

Leave us some thoughts on Facebook!
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Talk to your friends and relatives about our cause

If you adopted a dog from Romania chances are you are either a hero among your friends and family, or the crazy dog lady nobody invites over for dinner anymore. Of course people are reluctant to the idea of bringing a dog over from a country known for vampires, Chinese people eating dogs (a Chinese businessman was bitten by a stray dog and died soon after in 2010) or the horrific orphanages from the communist era. We totally understand!

But looking closely, our dogs are just as sweet and as deserving as any others. Their sad lives or desperate present situations makes them the perfect candidates for happiness, or at least this is how we see things. Adopting a shelter dog is always very rewarding and possibly life changing. Often times dogs have the power to teach us valuable lessons about love, compassion and loyalty.

Your adopted dog can serve as example for other people who want to help an underdog
Your adopted dog can serve as example for other people who want to help an underdog

Talking to your friends and relatives about our cause might help us save more animals. Whether they are convinced to long distance adopt a dog (sponsor his/her monthly expenses), foster a dog (taking him/her home and teaching him/her how to behave in a home environment, how to walk on a lead, how to behave around strangers or other pets) or even adopt one of their own. Either way, our dogs need all the help they can get and no effort is too small to count for their happiness.

Sometimes your friends may feel hurt that you are choosing your rescued dog’s company over theirs. If they don’t absolutely dislike dogs, but rather don’t understand your need to get involved in causes which they can’t identify with, try explaining what this means for you and how it affected your life. Some of our dogs’ adopters made stands in local markets or put together calendars with photos showing the situation of stray dogs in Romania. Helping people become aware of this issue might do the trick and help us obtain more visibility and, the thing we desire the most, more adoptions for our dogs.

There are lots of ways you can help us, if you want. The most important thing is for our story to get out there and touch as many kind hearts as possible.

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Consider fostering a dog and giving him/her an extra chance to be adopted

To foster a shelter dog is one of the best way to help him/her, because it increases his/her chances to be adopted. Not all people are keen on adopting a dog they haven't met or at least seen. No matter how much they want to help an underdog, the fear of not knowing what to expect is sometimes bigger.

On the other hand, some of our dogs are shy and this is caused either by their personality, the lack of regular human contact (sadly, most of the time we are too busy providing for their basic needs to “waste” time on socializing them) or by the stress of living behind bars for several years. Getting them used to living in a home environment, with the normal activities and sounds, with interacting with different people, kids, other pets helps them relax and understand what is acceptable behavior for a house pet.

Fran was adopted by her foster family who fell in love with her after months of trying to bring out her inner sweetness
Fran was adopted by her foster family who fell in love with her after months of trying to bring out her inner sweetness

Fostering a shelter dog can be a very rewarding experience. Seeing them blossom from shy, frightful dogs (sometimes trying to overcome health problems - being underweight, recovering from a car accident) into beautiful, happy members of the family is one of the most wonderful thing you will ever experience. As pure and as lovable and loving as dogs are, sometimes they can get broken by past traumatic events in their lives. Not only were they hurt then, but they are also paying the price by being kept prisoners inside their fear of being hurt all over again.

The chances of these dogs being adopted directly from a shelter are slim, because people don’t know what to expect, no matter how much information we provide for them. The sad truth is that there are so many abandoned dogs in this world, that shy dogs have little or no chance at all to be adopted. They most likely won’t come to sniff visitors’ hands through the bars or make funny faces when we photograph them, so no one really knows how special or sweet they are.

These dogs are the forgotten dogs, the ones everyone overlooks when thinking about adopting a shelter dog. What happens if you decide to foster one of our dogs? We will put you in contact with the international organization we work with in your country. They will help you with organizing the transport and will promote our dog in your country/area. They will select adoption offers and organize home checks, so you don’t have to worry about it. You can stay in contact with them for anything you may need regarding your foster dog, they are happy to help you.

By agreeing to foster one of our dogs, you will be responsible for his/her well-being and safety. If he/she needs medical care, you will also be responsible for providing it. The costs may be supported by the local rescue organization, but if you wish to help, we would be very grateful. However, you are not in charge of the dog’s adoption. You can not give our dog away to anyone who isn’t evaluated by the local organization or/and by us. If a family member or a friend expresses their desire to adopt the dog, please inform the local rescue.. and they will arrange everything.

The most important thing to remember is that you need to have lots of patience with your foster dog. Sometimes it may take up to 6 months to be able to put a harness on, or for him/her to accept to be cuddled, but knowing that you’ve helped him/her to become a sweet, loving dog is priceless. Letting your foster dog go is heartbreaking, we should know. Often times, the bond created between the two of you and the amazing progress he/she has made while in your home makes parting seem impossible. You can be a failed fosterer, you wouldn’t be the only one.

Many people find it very painful to have to separate from their foster dog. You might feel the same way. But just think about how much you’ve helped your foster dog overcome his/her fears and how much you can do for another dog in need. Letting your foster dog go means there’s room in your heart for another one, just as desperate for help as the one before.

I am the bridge between what was and what can be
I am the pathway to a new life
For one little time you are mine
I will love you with my whole heart
I will make you whole.

A poem to my foster dog, by Diane Morgan

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Ask your local rescue organization if they can foster for us

If you can’t foster a dog for us, maybe you can convince your local organization to help. Credibility is one of the major issues that prevent international rescue organizations from working with animal welfare associations from Romania.

There are unfortunate situations where things don’t go as planned and the adoption falls through due to lack of transparency or communication, or even fraud concerning the necessary funds for preparing the dog to travel.

We understand their reticence when it comes to working with a Romanian shelter. However, we have been working with stray dogs and cats for the past 13 years and have a lot of experience and lots of people who are happy with their collaboration with us.

Roa is a gorgeous girl, too shy to be adopted by a family. She is the perfect candidate for being fostered
Roa is a gorgeous girl, too shy to be adopted by a family. She is the perfect candidate for being fostered

We are recommended by a few renowned international organizations who can vouch for our good name:

  • Susy Utzinger Stiftung für Tierschutz in Switzerland
  • Rescueyhdistys kulkurit / Rescue Association Hobo Dogs in Finland
  • Happy Dogs of Romania in Netherlands
  • Stichting WereldAsielen in Netherlands
  • Romania Animal Rescue in U.S.A
  • Strays United e.V. in Germany
  • Silver Fox Dog Rescue in UK

Now that you know we are worthy of any rescue organization’s trust, maybe you can persuade them to help us. Being seen first hand by potential adopters is crucial for shelter dogs. No matter how many information we provide, photos, videos we share, we still have a hard time capturing their true inner beauty. Some are being overlooked for years on end while other capture more than one adopter’s eye.

Sometimes, being fostered is life saving for some dogs. Sure, our dogs are safe, fed and kept warm as much as possible. But they are lonely and bored, because no shelter in Romania has enough staff or volunteers to keep all dogs happy and entertained every day. Some are too afraid to step out of their kennel to go to the playground and there is simply not enough time to spend convincing them to leave their kennel willingly. After all, that is their safe place, for some, the only home they’ve ever had.

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Ask your local paper to do an article about our rescue

Exposure is what would help us share our story to the world. The more visible we become as a rescue, the more interest our dogs get and the more happy endings become possible. For many European countries the stray dogs overpopulation is no longer an issue. There are no tormented souls on the street begging for food or dragging their poor weak bodies on the side of the road.

So, this version of reality is no longer present in people’s minds, thus it becomes unreal. Things that don’t exist can’t demand our attention, so we don’t react to them. They are simply not there. We don’t have to do something about it. Most times, sharing these kind of stories online is crucial for helping people understand the situation we deal with on a daily basis.

Understanding is the path way to helping and it can be done through different ways. It all depends on what you are willing to do for our cause: adopt, foster, donate or share our story. Maybe you’ve visited our shelter for a few days while adopting your dog and were impressed with what you saw. Going back home with your dog while hundreds others are left behind in the shelter and on the streets is sometimes hard to live with. But there are a few things you can do to help us, some with no or little effort from your part.

Talking to your local paper about us, sharing some photos you’ve taken while visiting us or some we can provide for you may be just the thing that can help us the most. There are more people that simply don’t know anything about Romanian dog shelters than those who do know and try to help in any way possible. We know there are lots of kind hearted people out there who would go the extra mile to help us, if only they knew about our struggle.

The beginning of our rescue was documented by one of our first visitors from Norway.
The beginning of our rescue was documented by one of our first visitors from Norway.

Sharing your experience with our rescue can shed some light on what Romanian dog rescues are all about. It would encourage people to help more, to come visit us and see for themselves. It would help them understand it is safe for them to come volunteer or adopt one of our dogs. Spreading the word about our cause is one of the many ways you can help your rescued dog’s brothers and sisters, those left behind to dream about the day that they too are loved and cuddled,same as your dog.

So, next time you feel bad about all those dogs left behind in our shelter, try writing an email to your local newspaper and tell them what made you chose to adopt a dog from us and what was your experience getting your beloved dog home. It would do our dogs a world of good. The world hasn’t been too good to them so far. Don't you think think they deserve some luck, for a change?

Conclusion

Joining a good cause or a few is the single most rewarding action you can take in your life. The feeling of giving back to the community or to its weakest, most defenseless members can’t compare to anything else that money can buy. The meaning of life may still be in the midst of uncertainties, but contributing to a cause greater than you can bring you closer to it.

Speaking for the voiceless can feel amazing, no matter how much sorrow or public contempt it may bring at times. The sadder the story you tell, the more people will try to shut you up, because nobody wants to imagine there’s so much sorrow in this world. But being indifferent is just as cruel as harming someone, isn’t it?

We know there are lots of noble causes you could join; we acknowledge that each of these causes would be lucky to have you fighting on their side; we thank you for joining ours! Our lives have become prone to witnessing their silent suffering. Rescuing them has become our second nature, we can’t think about ourselves without the thing that defines us the most: preventing animal suffering.

Each day that passes by in this sometimes God forgotten part of the world, we count our blessings. They usually come in the form of wet noses reaching to us through the kennel bars or as wagging tails that thank us for our struggle to keep them alive. Thank you for having the courage to stand behind us! Together we are strong!

A word from the author

Anca is a warm, loving person who would do everything for an animal in need. Her uniqueness resides in her ability to see the other person’s perspective and not judge them based on presumptions. She has helped a lot of poor families in our area, trying to reward their compassion towards animals, despite their financial difficulties.

Anca is always the last one to believe something bad about anyone. Her warmth and open mindness makes her perfect for comforting the adopters who find it a bit difficult to communicate with their adopted dogs at first. She is always eager to help, no matter the circumstances. Giving up on animals or people in need is not an option for Anca.

We offer our support to everyone who has adopted a dog from us. Happy endings are what keeps us going through the hardship and struggle of making Romania a kinder place to live for stray animals.

Anda, Founding member of Happy Dogs Romania
Anca making our dogs feel loved despite being abandoned
Anca making our dogs feel loved despite being abandoned

© 2020 Asociația ”Câinele Meu” Romania | Reg.Num: RO23744697

About this website

About HappyDogsRomania.org

The following companies worked alongside the team at Happy Dogs Romania to create this website and help the stray dogs from Moreni find a home.