This is the study of Seb the Romanian Orphan. Seb and his owners are currently engaged in a training and behaviour project with The Way of the Dog Ltd. Raised on the streets of Romania Seb learnt to scavenge for food and fight for survival. A feral dog is an entirely different prospect than taking on a young puppy from a reputable breeder. Below is the story of how Seb found himself with a loving family from the UK.
In late 2011, a tour across mainland Europe with the band Midas Fall took us (Seb’s owners Liz and Rowan) to Romania for the first time. The Romanian leg of the tour began in Cluj Napoca in the west, onto Lasi in the north east and finally to the capital Bucharest in the south.
Throughout our time in Romania we encountered thousands of stray animals; dogs and cats lined the streets of cities, towns and rural villages. The animals waited outside shops, bars, restaurants and even public toilets to beg for food and affection from passers-by.
The pain and suffering of the countless malnourished and often injured stray animals was very difficult to absorb. The experience was so far removed from anything we had ever seen before that it became almost surreal.
After arriving back in the UK we decided that on our next trip to Romania we would adopt a dog – that dog was to be Seb. He came to us quite by accident; an unscheduled stop at a service station on the outskirts of Lasi was the moment it all began. Pottering around by the automatic doors was a tiny black puppy; his fur was matted, he was smelly, flea-ridden, had an eye injury and was clearly in need of a good meal. However, in spite of his desperate situation, Seb was extraordinarily affectionate, playful and trusting – we knew he was a keeper.
After scouting the area for other dogs, as he seemed very young to be alone, and checking with the service station attendant that he wasn’t someone’s mistreated pet, we decided to bring him home. That night we drove to a hotel Brasov where Seb was treated to a bath, a hot meal and a soft bed by a roaring fire.
The following day he was taken to a vet in Bucharest, where he was vaccinated, chipped and quarantined for three weeks before embarking on his journey to the UK, arranged with the help of Red Panda Romania.
Red Panda Romania is an animal charity based in Bucharest who work with various animal aid organisations across Europe. Since the Romanian government issued a mass-cull of stray dogs in September 2013, Red Panda and other animal charities have worked tirelessly to stop dogs like Seb being slaughtered on the street or being left to die in ‘kill shelters’. Of the dogs lucky enough to be saved the vast majority are adopted by people living in the UK. Many of the adopters already have pets and frequently publish success stories showcasing how well the strays settle into family life.
In our case, Seb settled in very well with our other dogs and was comfortable in his new surroundings within a few days.
However, his harsh start in life had impacted him more than we had anticipated and it was clear that we’d need help raising him to reach his full potential. A chance meeting with Shaun from The Way of the Dog led to us being taken on as clients and the next chapter of Seb’s story began.
In the next chapter of Seb’s story The Way of the Dog Ltd will explain how the relationship came together.