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Gratiela Ristea is one of the founders of Prietenii Nostri, an animal rescue in Romania. Gratiela is a hero. Plain and simple. She does hard work with very little money and scarce resources.
Gratiela wrote about her experience with a dog she named Hope and she’s given me permission to publish this beautiful story. For me, it’s feels like a personal story, because before Hope, Gratiela saved Bobby, whom I first saw at the shelter in Romania via the video below. From the moment I saw her in that video, I knew Bobby was my dog… and indeed, she now lives with me and my husband in Leiden, The Netherlands. She is a great dog and incredibly cute, smart, and she finally believes that we are her pack, her family. It feels really really good to have her here, and I enjoy looking up different trends and products on blogs similar to petvblog.com that can keep her happy and healthy. If you have been inspired by our story, and you would like to make a difference to a dog’s life, then why not do something about it. If you get an overwhelming feeling of love when you think about owning your own dog and you live near Sydney, you may wish to consider Dog adoption in Sydney to find out more. I find a lot of people are keen to adopt a dog but have a pet allergy, and this puts them off. Often they think this means getting a dog would mean living a life of sneezing, runny noses’ and itchy eyes. This isn’t strictly true – taking regular antihistamines can help, as can getting an air purifier that is useful for dog owners. This can remove any allergens in the air and allow you to live with a rescue dog in sneezeless harmony.
Please, read the story of Hope. There are so many creatures who need help. Gratiela provides all of us with an opportunity to be able to do just that: HELP to make the world a little better. And please, if you are able, donate a few dollars. Just a few dollars can really make a difference for these animals, our fellow earthlings.
Having dedicated my life to animal rescue in Romania, a country with a large stray dog population where many of the dogs are in poor health and in need of extensive medical treatment, I often find myself feeling overwhelmed and helpless when I find a very sick or disabled dog. Although I am committed to doing everything possible for each and every dog I encounter, medical care for animals in Romania falls short and there is often little that can be done for the most serious cases. One such case was Giulio.
Giulio lived with friends of mine, but he himself, was one of my best friends. The happiness that he showed me when we met, I never found that, even in my human friends. He was a friend of my dog, Lady, and they would play with each other every day. They were so beautiful together, so full of life, so strong and so lovely. Giulio loved all people, not just his family, as well as every dog he encountered.
Giulio was a lovely dog, a good boy and had such sincere affection. However, tragedy would strike Giulio. He was injured on a beautiful spring day and, due to the lack of medical options available for animals in Romania, the humane thing to do was to euthanize Guilio and put him out of his pain. I wished with all my heart that I could have done something, I felt so impotent. Giulio’s story is like so many others here in Romania – an otherwise healthy dog, full of life, taken from us too early because he suffered an injury that would leave him with a disability. A disability that dogs in countries such as the United States, Britain and the Netherlands live full and satisfied lives with. His memory will always be of pure joy and I find peace knowing that he is in a better place now.
From tragedy to Hope
I tell Giulio’s story not to tell a story of tragedy, but rather, to tell a story of Hope – a dog named Hope. Feeling disheartened that I was unable to help Giulio; I was given the chance to help another dog. It was an autumn afternoon, not long after I lost my friend Giulio, when I found a female stray dog lying on the side of the road. It was evident that she had never felt the sweetness of being someone’s pet, the joy of having a guardian or the simplicity of having a bed and food nearby. I knelt down next to her on the side of the road and she looked at me with pain in her eyes. Her entire life had been a struggle for survival and I was determined to end her pain and to fight for her survival. I named her “Hope” right there on the side of the road and told her that she would no longer know pain, only hope.
Hope seemed extremely tired and weak and was clearly malnourished and dehydrated. I could see she was in pain and quickly brought her to my shelter, “Prietenii Nostri”, which was just down the road, on the same street, Tudor Vladimirescu, from where Hope had been lying in the dust. The day I brought Hope to the shelter, we had over 500 dogs at the shelter and I knew she would not fair well in this type of environment in her current condition.
I was determined to find her a loving family that was capable of giving her the care she so desperately needed. Already having 500 dogs that needed homes of their own, my decision to focus on finding a home for Hope, a sick and disabled dog I had just found lying lifeless on the side of the road, was not met with much approval. It wasn’t that anyone disapproved of my helping Hope, but the situation in Romania is such that even healthy dogs are unlikely to find homes, and here I was spending my time and energy on a dog that had serious injuries and was in need of special care. It seemed an absurdity and so it was. But I didn’t care and all I knew was that I had to do it. I had to give a second chance to a sweet dog that hadn’t even had a chance in the first place.
As I brought Hope into the “office” of the shelter (the only room we have) I could see the terror and suffering in her eyes. I held Hope in my arms and was eventually able to calm her down so that I could give her Metacam for her pain. I gave her some food and water and then laid her down, covering her with a blanket. I sat next to this beautiful girl whose spirit had been broken and I gently stroked her head. As I sat there petting my new friend, I could see her eyes light of hope, the hope that she had forgotten but that was now to live again. Being that the shelter does not have a Veterinarian, nor does the shelter have a vehicle, I called for a taxi and sent Hope to a clinic that was 50 kilometers from Slatina where the shelter is located. I phoned the Veterinarian and explained Hope’s situation to him. After speaking with him all I could do was wait and hope for the best.
As was evident, Hope, having been a stray for as long as anyone could imagine, was extremely malnourished and dehydrated. X-rays revealed that she had been hit by a car and although her spine was not injured, one of her back legs was crushed and she would never be able to use it again. As it goes in Romania, the vet said, “If you are not able to find her an owner, she has to be put to sleep. She has no chances without special care and daily exercises.”
Hope was lucky to have survived being hit by a car, but now her survival lay squarely on my shoulders and she depended on me to give her a chance to live the life all dogs deserve. After having spent most, if not all, of her life alone on the streets, Hope had me by her side and there was no way I was going to have her euthanized. When I picked up Hope from the Vet I told her, “I will fight beside you Hope. You are not alone anymore.” She understood every word I whispered into her ear. And although I knew finding Hope a home would not be easy, she looked at me with complete faith, although I had little in myself.
Even with everyone telling me I was crazy for taking on such a special needs dog, I just knew that I had to go on and help Hope find a home. The desire for life became one: Hope’s and mine was the same, survive! I understood that my decision was the right one. Life is always desired, even when people think that putting an animal to sleep would be the better solution. I had just received an important life lesson from Giulio and Hope – life is worth fighting for, no matter how tough the fight. I never wanted to feel hopeless again, as I had with Giulio, and Hope was giving me a chance to redeem myself.
Finding family and forever home
Finding the right home and guardian for Hope was no easy feat. It proved very difficult, as I had expected. Having turned up no one, I turned to a friend of mine, Nancy, in Belgium to help us find a home and owner for Hope. Hope’s story profoundly moved Nancy and she did all she could to find a home for Hope. She searched day and night for a proper home and owner who would care for Hope like a mother cares for their baby. Hope’s injuries required constant care and attention. In addition to Hope’s initial needs, she also had to be washed whenever she relieved herself, all of which took a great deal of time and effort.
After searching high and low, Nancy found the most wonderful family in Amsterdam, and everyone knew instantly that Hope’s family had been found. Understanding from the start that, unlike a perfectly healthy dog, a dog with special needs would require more time to do the most basic things, even like a ramp for getting in and out of the car which could be found on sites like www.jugdog.co.uk. As well as requiring a tremendous amount of care and attention, the Bastiaan Family had no hesitation about adopting Hope. Hope would be a new “baby” in their family. I was overwhelmed by the fantastic news and immediately started preparing Hope for adoption and arranged for her to be spayed prior to going to her new home.
In a fog of endless happiness, I spent the next few days getting passports ready and taking care of any paperwork for Hope. I could hardly believe she was finally going home! It was difficult thinking that I would only see her in photos, but the thought that she would finally be happy was more than my desire to have her nearby. My job was done, as was Hope’s. She was not the only one that needed hope; I desperately needed hope again myself. Hope gave me just what I needed and I believe that I did the same for her.
Hope settled into her new home lovely and after a few weeks I was able to go see her and her family in her new home. She had her own brand-new cart and was running like a rabbit in her big back yard. She ran so fast she seemed like a car with six wheels! Her eyes were shining of joy and happiness; the happiness of those who have been given a second chance at life – one filled with hope.