Jasper, der rumänische Rettungshund

Hundefreundliche Unterkunft in Frankreich

For our blog this month I wanted to give a proper send-off to Jasper, our rescue dog – a much missed member of the team. He was put to sleep on January 12th aged only nine, but his short life is a fascinating story.

Jasper was born in Romania as one of the many street dogs out there. He lived on the streets for the first few years of his life before being caught by the dog catchers. He was thrown into Radauti – and I use that word advisedly as if it were a jail, because Radauti is one of the worst shelters in the country. It is poorly funded and all of the European money provided for its maintenance is siphoned off by criminals. Mostly it’s staffed by cruel, drunken men who sometimes beat the dogs and regularly forget to feed them or give them any water.

Christmas is a particularly bad time when the guards are very drunk and dogs can go without water and food for days on end. Needless to say, they turn on each other and it is not unusual for dogs to be killed. Since the shelter is almost entirely open to the elements and exposed to the cruel Romanian winters – this may be a blessing in some cases. Jasper was in this place for four years.

He was rescued by an amazing charity called Safe Rescue for Dogs. We came across them because they are based in Norfolk and had rescued our dog Wolfie from Romania as a puppy – the star of last month’s blog. They are staffed by an incredible if bonkers group of (mostly) women and fronted by a charismatic social media genius called Kelly. After we got Wolfie I started following Kelly on Facebook and so enjoyed the ups and downs of Kelly’s life in the world of dog rescue as played out on Facebook, that we decided to see if we could foster some dogs to help out.

When the dogs come over to the UK they are fresh out of the shelters and they are often traumatised and terrified of people. Before they can be permanently rehomed they need to live in a house as a “normal” pet and enjoy a period of rehabilitation. They get to gain some weight, discover the delights of sofas and fires, learn to walk on a lead and have a good bath. Mostly they just need to learn to trust people again.

We met Kelly on a rugby ground in Great Yarmouth to choose which dog we were going to foster. She was sat on the grass with about 15 dogs racing around her with tongues hanging out and tails wagging madly. Nik immediately fell in love with Pru – an enormous creature with a sway back and huge paws. It was absolutely love at first sight and I thought the decision was made.

But as we went to leave a small orange dog skidded to a halt in front of me and gave me a huge, dopey grin. He then threw himself onto his back and wriggled in the grass just for the sheer joy of it. I turned to Nik and pleaded “oh can we squeeze two in? He’s only little.” So we took Jasper too – after all it didn’t matter because we were only going to foster them for a few months before handing them over to their forever owners right? Yeah right.

48 hours later Nik admitted that he was never going to let Pru go and that we would have to keep her. This is known as “failing” in foster circles, and the cry regularly goes out on Facebook “Guess who’s failed now?”. So Pru was ours, but that made three dogs so we definitely, absolutely, certainly couldn’t keep Jasper as well because we lived in a tiny bungalow. Plus he was absolutely terrified of us.

We would let him out into the garden and he would refuse to come back in and just sit at the end like a small orange cone in the dark. We regularly had to just go and watch telly and leave the door open so he could come in in his own time when he felt safe. If he saw a door closing, he would throw himself at the shrinking gap regardless of whether it was a front door, an internal door or a car door. The need to never get trapped again was always uppermost in his mind.

He also had a weird thing with drinking – presumably because he had known periods of extreme thirst in Radauti. He would start drinking and then be unable to stop and drink for minutes at a time until the whole bowl was empty. Then of course he would need to wee every five minutes for the rest of the evening. He was particularly terrified of Nik – which he found deeply upsetting as dogs normally adore him.

We had been chatting to Kelly during this period and she told us that he had already been adopted twice but had been returned within days each time because he was so scared of the men in the household. I found this unbearable. The idea that we too were going to betray him by handing him over to someone else. I don’t think he slept for the first three days that we had him.

Then one day he realised he was allowed to jump up onto my son’s bed. This extra height made him feel safe and he curled up on the blue furry blanket at the bottom of Arun’s bed. I saw him visibly relax and the W on his forehead which always made him look like he was frowning, became less pronounced. Within minutes he was asleep.

Dann sprang er eines Tages zwischen uns hoch, während wir fernsahen. Wir verbrachten die ganze Nacht wie angefroren auf dem Sofa, voller Angst, uns zu bewegen, damit wir den Bann nicht brechen könnten, beide verzweifelt auf der Suche nach der Toilette.
Bald darauf tranken wir Bier im Garten, während er uns von einem Blumenbeet aus beobachtete. Er war so ein hübscher Junge mit vier weißen Socken, einer weißen Brust und einem weißen Blitz auf dem Kopf. Er hatte einen brillanten Schwanz, der sich zu einem perfekten Kreis kräuselte, und die perfektesten, samtigen, nach unten gerichteten Ohren. Ich fing an zu reden, dass ich ihn nicht verraten könne, indem ich ihn wegschicke und bald liefen mir die Tränen übers Gesicht. „Schon gut“, sagte Nik, „wir behalten ihn“. Das machte 4 Hunde, die sich unser winziges Haus teilten. Aber es spielte keine Rolle, denn Jasper war in Sicherheit. Wir gingen zum Feiern an den Strand. Dieses Foto wurde an dem Tag aufgenommen, an dem wir beschlossen, ihn zu adoptieren.
Menschen, die Hunde adoptieren, wenn sie sie nur pflegen wollten, sind frustrierend für die Rettungsorganisation, da dies die Anzahl der Hunde begrenzt, die sie aus Rumänien herausholen können. Die Förderung ist immer der Engpass in diesem Prozess; Es gibt immer viele Menschen, die einen gut angepassten Rettungshund adoptieren möchten. Mit leichtem Schuldgefühl haben wir dann zwei weitere Hunde erfolgreich übernommen – wer mitzählt, wird feststellen, dass dies insgesamt fünf Hunde gleichzeitig in unserem Bungalow waren. Der erste war Brian der Welpe und der zweite Held – aber das sind beide Geschichten für einen anderen Tag. Es genügt zu sagen, dass sie beide glücklich sind und von ihren neuen Familien verehrt werden.

One day, before we moved to France, we looked at Jasper and he seemed to have a dent in the side of his head. It was the weirdest thing. It grew rapidly worse over the next few days and we took into the vet. The vet said she thought it was myosotis – a kind of muscle wasting disease. Or possibly cancer.

The treatment for both was steroids, so he was given a large dose to try and treat it. He reacted badly to the steroids and lost half his body weight in about 10 days. It was starting to affect his heart so we stopped the treatment before we killed him. He re-gained weight but continued to lose muscle definition from one side of his face. He would eventually lose that eye.

Dann sind wir nach Frankreich gezogen. Ich musste einen Pass für meinen Spaniel besorgen, der noch nie außer Landes war, aber natürlich hatten Jasper, Pru und Wolfie als Rumänen bereits ihre Pässe. („Osteuropäer, die hierher kommen und unsere Sofas einnehmen“ usw.) Dies ist ein Bild von Jasper, das im Kanaltunnel aufgenommen wurde. Er hat ein Beruhigungsmittel bekommen, das allmählich nachlässt, daher der wachsame Gesichtsausdruck. Pru ist im Hintergrund. Sie bekam ein viel stärkeres Beruhigungsmittel und bleibt, wie Sie sehen können, völlig bekifft.

He loved France. Although one side of his face continued to waste away, it didn’t really seem to affect him until right at the end. He would zoom around our fields with the other dogs, but never seem to have that desperate need to escape that he had shown in Norfolk. He had been castrated quite late in life and it had left him with an over-inflated sense of his ability to handle himself.
Our friends came to visit with a magnificent collie and Jasper walked up to him stiff legged and aggressive. This collie looked down at him with striking golden eyes and walked away, unimpressed– small ginger strays were so totally beneath him.

Einmal mischte er sich ein, als unsere Hunde auf einen Collie zubellten, der von einer sehr älteren Französin von unten an der Straße im Wald ausgeführt wurde. Sie konnte nur mit Hilfe eines Stocks laufen und als unsere kunterbunte Truppe auf sie zukam, verteidigte sie ihren Hund mit ihrem Gehstock. Es war eines der großartigsten Dinge, die ich je gesehen habe. Sie erwischte Jasper mit ihrem Stock an einer Breitseite und schickte ihn in die Hecke. Das hat er absolut verdient.

We never discovered what was wrong with him or whether it was cancer or myositis. He had an expensive scan in Limoges which did reveal a large mass in his brain but the vet couldn’t say what it was. He became more and more wobbly after he lost the sight in his left eye and for the last few weeks of his life lay on the sofa. We would carry him outside for a wee as he couldn’t manage the steps. He was hand fed on fresh chicken much to the absolute disgust of all the other dogs.
We were worried that he wasn’t drinking but one night we had ice cream and he licked out the bowls enthusiastically. From then on Nik would make him special ice cream floats: a scoop of ice cream in some milk, microwaved to room temperature. He would drink this like a baby lamb drinking from a bottle.
Er starb, als ich in England war, um meine Familie zu besuchen. Wir vermissen ihn schrecklich.

I tell this story really to promote the work of Safe Rescue for Dogs and to encourage you to consider whether you could adopt a dog from a rescue centre.. I list some contacts below for England and France. If you can’t commit to having a dog for life then fostering can be a wonderful and rewarding short-term solution.

You don’t have to fail! It is possible to successfully handover your foster dog to new owners. But whatever you do please don’t buy puppies from breeders. There are so many dogs in the world like Jasper who deserve a happy life.

http://www.saferescuefordogs.com/ In Großbritannien ansässige Wohltätigkeitsorganisation.

http://www.spa87.fr/ Wohltätigkeitsorganisation mit Sitz in Frankreich in Haute Vienne

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