Saturday, October 29, 2011

Holland and the Tramp

Not your average rebel teenager story.
But mostly a story about love, trust and loyalty going beyond borders. Really.

Remember this little guy, Finch? One of the 3 puppies we had sent for adoption in Holland at the beginning of this month? Let me refresh your memory:

Maybe it helps to add the description I had given for him a couple of months ago, when I was putting him up for adoption:

Meet the world's smartest puppy!!! Really.

He is a stray-born male pup of about 5 months of age. He is beyond smart- he can get himself out of enclosures, literally climbing them as you see brilliant canine escape artists. Furthermore, he even climbs ladders and gets high up! He also tickles a lot, he's really funny when you pet his belly.>>
Yes, this little guy. This little guy, the day he arrives in Holland at his foster family, well... Escapes, the second he finds the opportunity. Climbs over the fence, and off he goes. Rebel teenagers never make it easy, do they?

The following two weeks, our Finch had become a Dutch celebrity, featuring on Dutch forums, his story being followed by many animal lovers:

Many people from the community of Didam (the village where he escaped and was roaming free- THE FIRST STRAY DOG IN THE AREA EVER!!!) and from the surrounding areas got involved in his rescue. They tried to allure him with treats and food, tried to walk their friendly dogs near him hoping he would approach them, would leave their doors open at night so Finch wound not sleep outside in the cold, would leave food for him in their gardens. Police was contacted, a vet was called with tranquilizer, fliers were posted everywhere so the whole community was informed about Finch. Some teams of rescuers even spent nights outdoors waiting for Finch in the gardens or sheds where he had been seen spending time. The community was also seriously involved in his rescue, calling the rescue teams to inform them of Finch's new location whenever they would see him. As a side note, it's absolutely unbelievable the effort, dedication and care of so many people from the community and surrounding areas, people committed to saving him. Finchie boy, here, back home in Ploiesti, Romania, where you were only one out of thousands of street dogs, no one would have given a toss about you. In Didam, Holland, everyone was worrying for you. You have no idea how lucky you were to have so many people caring and worrying for you, little boy.

But Finchie showed everyone how smart he was. Despite often crossing dangerous streets with a lot of traffic during these past 2 weeks, thank God, he never got hurt. Like someone told me, many angels were guarding him. People saw him looking right-left-right before crossing the street, or crossing the street when a human would also cross it. At 11 AM, he would also go regularly to the local school, where he knew he would get food from school children during lunch break. Finchie the IQ boy definitely impressed Didam with how smart he was.

Smart, maybe a bit too smart for his own good. Despite many, many attempts of people to approach him with friendly dogs, food, even his favorite food (chicken with rice, from a little bucket, like I used to feed him!), Finch could never be caught. He would take the food, alright, but that was it. He never allowed another human being to get too near. To put the story short, despite community's best tries to approach Finch, to allure him with delicious food, Finch could not be caught for 2 straight weeks.

So as soon as I returned from the companion animal welfare conference in Riga, off I went to Holland to rescue YET AGAIN my little Finch. Apparently, rescuing this little guy only once was not enough! Finchie boy, it wasn't easy for me, you know? I spent quite a bit of money, I spent a whole night on the airport waiting for the flight to come for you, but I finally managed to get myself to you.

But the way you have welcomed me, that moment, was worth everything. Finchie boy, the moment you saw me through that fence, you were crying and jumping in the air, trying to get through the fence to me. I opened the gate and walked into that garden, and you instantly jumped into my arms, crying, barking, and springing in the air with excitement. God knows how long I've held you in my arms near my heart. My little baby boy. That reunion you have offered me is a moment I will never forget. I did not cry then, when you jumped happily in my arms the second you heard and saw me, but I certainly cried afterwards many times.

During these two weeks, so many things could have gone wrong. All the traffic you went through, people seeing you even in intersections (well, pooping in the middle of an intersection, you silly thing you), the cold you put up with outside, etc. At the very same time, another dog escaped in Holland, but he was hit by a car and died. Finchie boy, you have no idea how many angels were with you during your escape. No idea!

So I've spent my 4 days in Holland with Finchie in his new home, helping him adjust and start to feel at home there. In the 4 days we've spent together there, I have seen him flourish, learn from the resident dogs of the family, and become more and more relaxed. I've seen him smiling, I've seen him approaching his new mommy, laying down at her feet and giving her the belly to pet. I've seen him becoming a happy boy, adjusting to his new life in super rapid steps. I'm extremely proud of him.

Here's some pictures of him, from the moment of the reunion to the moment I left. I've seen him flourishing underneath my eyes in his new home, and it's the greatest gift I could have received. Here he goes:

Day 1, soon after running into my arms

In the car, going to his new home with me

In his new courtyard

The first night, trying to stay as close to me as possible

The first night, resting next to my bed in his new home. This baby slept in my arms for the rest of the night

Getting more zzz's after his rebellious escape

Finchie chewing a lot as his baby teeth were getting loose and must have bothered him

He is a bit toothy when he gives doggie smiles :)

I've left Finchie a happy boy, making huge steps adjusting to his new life in Holland, at the most wonderful family I could have dreamed for him. God bless them all!

Finchie, may you have a very long and happy life, always full of love and fun. May you always smile, baby boy. You've certainly raised the bar for what love means to me. Because of you, I have learned that love means waiting outside in the cold for weeks, not allowing anyone to approach you, despite their best intentions and most appealing food, waiting for me, the person you've come to love and trust.

For the ones that think you get to earn a dog's love and trust with food only... Think again. It takes a whole lot more than that.

This goes to little Finchie, a super smart puppy with many angels guarding him, a Dutch celebrity now, who is the embodiment of loyalty. We all have to learn from you. Thank you, Finch!

And thank you, wonderful Dutch friends, for having done your best to care for him during his weeks of wandering. How I love happy endings!

Monday, October 10, 2011

From little stray to little princess, and other good news

The last couple of weeks have been particularly tough. I simply had no time to update the blog anymore, being extremely busy with the care of the strays in my neighborhood. But now, I can finally sit down, take a deep breath, and share some good news!

Good news number 1: I am extremely happy to tell you that, after many struggles and hardships along the way, 3 stray puppies from Ploiesti are now in Germany and Holland! Baby Nikita was adopted in Germany by a wonderful family, while baby Tigger and teenager Finch are in foster care in Holland, waiting for their forever homes.

Early on October 9th, our 3 little darlings flew with Maria, a most wonderful friend from Holland, from Bucharest Otopeni Airport to Amsterdam. We are extremely grateful to Maria for her sacrificing one whole weekend to come to Romania specifically to bring back with her our little angels. We are also grateful to many other animal rescuer friends from Ploiesti, Bucharest, and abroad, who made this rescue mission possible. Thank you all for helping us prepare the puppies for adoption, finding them really good homes and foster places, providing us with crates for air travel, giving us lots of advice, and finally helping us send the puppies abroad, to amazing people!

 Me, waiting on the Otopeni- Bucharest airport with Finch sleeping on my lap

Baby Tigger, in foster at a wonderful lady in Holland

Nikita, from little Romanian stray to little German princess!

The downside is that I could not save baby Rob as well- Tigger and Nikita's brother. We lost him, most likely poisoned with solution for killing rodents sprayed by the municipality in his neighborhood. But maybe no success can ever be complete. I am still happy that, out of 3 puppies, we have managed to save 2. It will always hurt a bit that Rob couldn't take that flight as well to Holland, to a wonderful home where he would have been loved despite being a former stray, and not a pure breed. But at least 2 of the 3 puppies are well, in the arms of people truly caring about them. In a way, Rob will live through his sisters.

Good news number 2: About two weeks ago I have also managed, with the help of SC Dog Projects/ SOS Dogs, to spay and neuter 3 more stray dogs in my neighborhood, of which two were females of reproductive age. It is more than extremely important for me to prevent the birth of more unwanted litters in the streets of Ploiesti. Their suffering in the streets is too heartbreaking.

Good news number 3: This blog was created and launched precisely a month ago. In the meantime, it has gathered over 2,500 page views, which is beyond unbelievable. I thank you all for reading my blog and for caring about the Ploiesti strays. These are the numbers of page views by country so far for the 10 countries most interested in my blog:
Germany: 857
Romania: 537
US: 243
UK: 223
Netherlands: 133
Norway: 94
Austria: 81
Italy: 54
Sweden: 46
Canada: 23

Thank you very much for caring about the Ploiesti strays. Little by little, one dog adopted at a time, one dog neutered at a time, a lot can be achieved, reducing the number of strays in humane ways. 

Neutering one dog can prevent the birth of countless puppies. Adopting one dog can mean the world to this one dog, changing its life forever for the better. Neutering campaigns, combined with adoptions, can truly make an incredible difference in reducing the numbers of strays- in humane and responsible ways.

So please, keep the Ploiesti strays on your radar, if you consider helping with neutering campaigns, or if you are looking for a canine best friend of your own.

Thank you!