Stray Dogs - Lets look out for them as they are only trying to survive.

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” - Mark Twain

Stray dogs

I have always been fascinated by the resilience of local stray dogs that live tough lives on our streets, forests and fields. They are constantly on the move looking for their next meal, whilst at the same time trying to avoid the many dangers that face them. The harshest season by far is the long and extremely cold winter, when the temperature regularly plummets to -20 oC and has been known to drop even further to -30 oC. If the cold doesn't kill them, then the wolves that come down from the mountains during the night in search of food, often do.

Many locals view strays as vermin, even when they have dogs of their own. I have seen dogs hit by cars, which have then been left to die on the road without even a glance in the rear view mirror let alone stopping. I have personally witnessed such "hit and drive on's" on two occasions. One was an accidental collision, but the second was deliberate with the driver going out of his way to hit the dog. The scream the second dog made will imprint on my memory until the day I die. I did manage to get this poor animal into the back of my land rover and I took it to the local town to be assessed by a vet. Unfortunately, the dog's back was broken, so had to be put down. The vet was in tears, the cruelty was too much for her to bear. I have also witnessed a teenage boy kicking a dog so hard that he broke its front leg. He didn't see me there and callously left the dog squirming in pain in the middle of the road. I gave chase, but when I caught him he couldn't understand a word I was saying. Eventually Laura caught up with us and translated my disbelief and anger caused by his behaviour. I could see he wasn't that bothered and was amazed that I felt so passionately about a stray dog. We spent several days feeding the dog, but he wouldn't let us get close enough to him to give any treatment. What leads people to such cruel acts? I often hear that it is a matter of education, but surely it is deeper than that, and depends on what is in one's heart?

Strays on our streets

If life was not tough enough, unfortunately it will soon become tougher for these poor creatures. Stray dogs face another and more systematic threat of death by new legislation recently passed by the Romanian government. This new law came about after a four year old boy was killed by dogs in Bucharest. As a result dogs will be rounded up and euthanased within two weeks, unless claimed by the owner or re-homed. However, we know from several country's experiences that such forms of control do not work in the long term, and only programmes involving sterilization offer effective control of stray dog numbers. 

Not everyone will be happy with my next sentiment, but I would like to know why we spend so much money on often factory farmed, genetically unhealthy "pedigree" puppies, when there are so many healthy stray dogs around wanting loving homes? My friend and companion Foxy found me during one of the harsh winters described above. When only a few weeks old, she sat on my doorstep on the eve of my birthday in December and refused to budge. It was absolutely freezing, so when I found her I thought she would return to her litter when cold and hungry enough. To my amazement she was still there in the morning! I went to all of my neighbours to see if any were missing a puppy. None were, so from that day on Foxy has been with me ever since.

Are stray dogs aggressive? In my experience, the answer is an emphatic NO. They are just trying to survive, which involves finding food to eat and a shelter to protect themselves from the elements. As long as we don't threaten or scare them, they tend to avoid us.