We knew we would have problems with dogs one way or another. Not our dogs specifically but dogs in general, and for different reasons.
The first problems we encountered were street dogs in Romania. We had managed to avoid them through Hungary though there were plenty hanging about laybys and service stops. Our girls were so good with coping with being so restricted, long stretches in the car and short toilet/sniff stops. But the ‘Dog Friendly’ hotel in a busy part of Romania was a nightmare. There were several territorial dogs hanging about by the door and there was no garden or other area to walk the dogs. These dogs would appear from nowhere, and as we were on a busy road it was a case of ‘quick, have a wee’ and back in. The girls coped better than the humans! The street dogs were also very vocal through the night every time someone passed, awkward when you are surrounded by bars and restaurants.
But they managed, bless them, and the hotel staff were very accommodating in setting aside part of the foyer for us to eat where the dogs could stretch out and watch what was going on. We were glad to move on from there on the last stretch of the journey, though stopping places were few and far between, if you slowed down by a likely (dog) wee stop dogs would appear like magic! Some were very mean looking and absolutely filthy. We managed to get the girls out by stopping on a very long and deserted road where we could see all about us.
Waiting for the ferry there were dogs everywhere, puppies too. We had ages to wait and there was not a murmer from our two. But there were many lorries moving about as it was a lorry crossing, and all these dogs happily staying out of the sun....under the lorries! They were the healthiest looking dogs we saw in Romania, and seemed to know the difference between an idling engine (air conditioning) and one about to move.
Once arriving at our destination we were happy to see very few dogs roaming the village. We had a good drive around as we couldn’t remember where the house was! It’s a fair sized place. When we stopped eventually at the right gate Venka was there with some other ladies waiting to greet us with hugs and welcomes. With that done we opened the gate and let our very relieved girls out of the car, to ooohs and aahhhs from our new neighbours. Luckily the girls were so busy sniffing around they didn’t have time for people. The first job was to get the chicken fence up, which we had brought with us, so that we could contain the dogs in the jungle which was supposed to be a garden. My, it had grown. It proved to be doggy heaven for the two dogs after nearly two weeks of travel and staying with relatives before the four day drive. Lots of playing and hunting and running and proper leg stretching.
It turned out that the neighbours are scared of dogs even though they have their own yard dogs (or maybe because!) and Bella in particular. Bella is a nervous little thing with strangers and picks up on the neighbours’ worry, resulting in skulking and wuffing, making things worse. Bonnie just takes them a ball so is not considered such a threat...as long as she is the other side of the fence. Six months later and nothing has changed, though the fence has been moved a good few times to give the neighbours access to the garden and keep the dogs happy with space in the rest. The fence does not stop the girls if they really want out, but they are very good and Bella has only breached it a couple of times while we have not been watching, the rest of the time it has been because we were in the other side.
So, that is our girls. Other instances have caused us heartache, apart from so many dead dogs on the roads (and jackals).There was one dog hanging around the river where Dave likes to call in for a swim. Dave saw this dog getting thinner and had a very hard job not to pick it up and put it in the car. He really struggled with himself as the dog was always warily pleased to see him, but it really would have not been a good idea to bring him here. They are totally unsocialised as far as people and pet dogs go, riddled with critters and could be carrying diseases which our two would not have any immunity to. The dog has now disappeared. We are still struggling with the fact that we didn’t bring him home, but he may not have settled and in an emergency, if we had to go home for any reason, we would have had a problem finding him a home at short notice............
There are a few dogs roaming the village, and sometimes they get into a pack which is intimidating. They generally shy away from people but are territorial, and if they get into a pack they get brave. Dave always carries a stick when he takes the girls for a quick walk. Although they have lots to do here they still insist on a walk. We have had one dog come in and get tangled in the electric fence around the chickens...it was off at the time. Her name was Mimi and she had been let loose in the garden behind us as they were having problems with wildlife (martens) taking chickens. Unfortunately, though we had fenced our dogs in, we hadn’t got round to fencing other, more determined dogs out! Mimi had found a gap, pushed through, got her collar caught in the netting then sat down to tell the world about it. Poor Dave had to go out at 1am to cut loose a dog he had never seen before and didn’t know the temperament of, and who then decided she didn’t want to go home. The gaps were filled next day, and Dave didn’t get bitten.
There is also a yellow lab type who is rather fond of our garden. He used to come in through another corner. That has now been fenced but he can still be seen pacing the fence in next door's garden. All this nocturnal activity tends to make me wary of taking the dogs out into the garden for a wee if they want to go, so Dave has the honour and goes out with a super strong torch.
A few days ago Dave came in to tell me Bella had found some puppies. He had been walking the dogs past the village square when Bella pulled towards the fountain. Someone had put four puppies in there! They couldn’t get out as it was too high, and luckily there is no water in there as it is only in use on special occasions. I suppose I can see why they were put there, someone (ex-pat) is bound to take them and one has gone, but it is a dreadful thing to do. It seems that spaying/castrating is considered cruel, getting rid of unwanted puppies by all sorts of awful means is not! No doubt if no-one wants the pups they will grow up on the street and join a pack where they will learn to scavenge, before being eradicated when the stray dog problem gets too bad. If only people would take up the offers of free sterilisation which comes around occasionally.
Two nights ago Dave came up to bed saying there was a black and white dog sitting by the fence, on Venka’s side. He has not seen their dog but I have seen it a few times when it escapes it’s chain and wanders in for a sniff around. When he let the girls out in the night it was still lying by the fence. By morning it was obvious it was stuck in the wire as it had pulled it down. I couldn’t be positive it was the neighbours’ dog, but I had also been told it would bite if it was so we waited till they came out before letting them know it was stuck, rather than Dave risk being bitten. It’s quite a big dog. Initially Jordan said it wasn’t his....till he realised it was not tied up on the yard. Dave gave him scissors to cut the dog free, but the neighbours were mortified that he had ruined the fence and offered to pay. We were not bothered about the fence, but were more worried about the telling off the dog got. But the neighbours have been brilliant since we have been here and we didn’t want them to think we were upset about the fence so sent them some carrot cake. No doubt there will be tasty morsels winging their way over here now.
So that’s the dog situation. It may seem that we are a bit protective of our dogs, but being brought up with lots of friends in North Wales parks they really don’t know how to cope with these dogs. Bonnie is in a world of her own (and ball) and thinks everyone and everything is a friend, and Bella is always desperate for a new friend to play with and will want to go over and introduce herself, neither would know how to react to dogs who live the way they do here.
Venka and Jordan's dog, stuck!