From streets of Romania to vet cage with Parvo.

Beautiful crossbreed Becca – with Labrador and Husky in the mix – started life as a puppy on the streets in Romania. At just a few weeks old she lost her mother and then she and her siblings caught Parvo. At just a few weeks old she spent too long alone in a cage at the vets.

Three puppies survived.

Their next big adjustment was to life in a Romanian shelter where she lived from seven weeks to seven months with her remaining siblings and other dogs..

A big adjustment for Romanian dog

Becca with her brother and sister

At seven months of age the three survivors were shipped over to a wonderful lady here in the UK who has a house full of dogs she’s helping.

This was another big adjustment at a sensitive stage of their lives. Becca lived there with her remaining siblings for two and a half years. It was her home.

Ten days ago, three-year-old Becca started what I’m sure will be her final big adjustment.

This has been the biggest adjustment of all. Never since when she was tiny and very ill with Parvo has she been without the company of several other dogs to back her up, including her brother and sister.

The lady had carefully prepared her for the big change, with several visits to the new house.

Then came the day she went home, leaving Becca behind.

Becca initially raced around the garden boundary looking to get out and found a way of opening the door into the porch.

She won’t eat.

She won’t toilet in the garden.

She’s waiting.

I would say she’s still waiting for the lady to return and take her back home to the other dogs. The several visits to wean her into her new life may have backfired a little because each had ended with her going back home.

Becca mostly lies quite still and quiet. It’s like she is being very careful. She only moves to follow someone – she doesn’t like to be alone. After all, she never has been alone. There’s always been all the other dogs.

She is more wary of the man.

When he stood up and moved about she was jumpy, tail between her legs but I could see she’d be friends if she dared. If the lady’s not at home she will follow him around. When he’s sitting still she relaxes with him.

Becca

I have given him some tips about his own body language that should help.

To date Becca has been walked around the garden on a retractable lead (they don’t trust the fence) and on a short lead when out.

To help her relax Becca needs to feel some freedom when she’s outside. The retractable being on a spring means she will always feel restricted.

I have shown them how to use a 30-foot long line without getting it all tangled. We walked around the garden and for a while Becca sniffed quite happily and ate some grass – doing relaxed doggy things.

Out on walks, being on a long line will mean she can have thirty or forty feet of freedom..

The couple will approach food differently now. As with an anorexic, pressure and persuasion can only make the matter worse.

I hope that after my visit they will now stop worrying so much. They will leave her be – to do things in her own good time.

She will come round, I’m sure.

I quote a colleague who works at a shelter: ‘On the first day it’s like they are running on adrenaline and then seem to crash. We give them their own space such as a crate, covered in a blanket, and let them do things in their own time…..Obviously if dogs are in urgent medical need we get them to the vet but everything else is left for a good week to two weeks until they start to unwind. We always say that they are either very good or at the other end of the scale shut down for 2-3 weeks, then you get all the unwanted behaviours appearing, then after that they start to adjust and this can take months or even years’.

From her past history I don’t believe there are any ‘unwanted behaviours’ to appear with Becca. I also think it will probably take just weeks rather than months for her to make the adjustment. She is a lot less fearful than Romanian street dog Adi I went to a while ago.

Soon Becca will be eating her food. Soon she will be sufficiently relaxed to do her business in the garden. She will have lovely long walks on the Heath.

The lady who took her in as a pup and where she has lived since, does a great job. She has trained a well-mannered dog that walks nicely on lead, doesn’t bark excessively, is never aggressive, will sit when asked and much more

Becca will be a great companion for her new humans. I have mainly backed up what the lady has already advised and given them added confidence that they just need patience, to ease off a bit – and to relax.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out here. Finding instructions on the internet or TV can do more harm than good sometimes. Every dog is different and every situation is different. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Help page)