If I've learnt one thing about the internet, (and I have because a good portion of my life is spent using it!) It's that we all love a cute Doggo.
Just over a week ago now, whilst still suffering the remnants of a hangover after a thoroughly wicked time at John and Ambers wedding, we went to collect our brand new little bundle of joy. Cleo.
As is standard with any member of our household, Cleo comes with her own little backstory. I'd love to tell you this was a happy story, full of rainbows and happiness, but the beginning is pretty bloody heartbreaking, to be honest.
See, Cleo is a rescue dog. We don't have a clue what breed she is, and we think she's roughly 2 years old. The one thing we do know, however, is that she is extremely well-travelled and up to now has had a pretty tragic life, as just over 2 weeks ago, she made the arduous journey from the streets of Romania to Coalville... and then to Rugby.
In Romania, there is an increasing number of stray dogs, that stem from Romania's communist period, where families were encouraged to move into flats and apartments. You might think this is a good thing, and to an extent it is, but the flip side is that in order to move into these apartments, owning a pet became against the law, and family's with dogs and cats were forced to abandon their 4 legged friends, leaving these animals out on the streets to fend for themselves.
As you can probably imagine, all the strays multiplied in numbers, to the point where the streets are now ridden with Dogs of all breeds, shapes and sizes.
In 2013, it was believed that there were at least 65,000 dogs without homes roaming the streets of Romania, and at that time, it was believed that even that number was an improvement in comparison to previous years gone by.
So a decision was made that something had to be done, with some dogs even becoming aggressive towards children in the region and to stop the situation spiralling even further out of control.
There's no nice way of saying this, organisations were formed to basically catch the strays, put them into cages, and the dogs were given just 14 days to be claimed by an owner, or adopted. If no one came forward, the dogs would literally be shot. Not euthanised, or given some sort of injection that puts them to sleep peacefully. Shot. The harsh reality is, guns and bullets are easier to obtain than the proper humane methods of dispatch.
This is something that's still happening to this very day.
Strays are picked up from the streets, physically harmed, then sentenced to death through literally no fault of their own.
And, that's where Donna comes in.
I know Donna really well. She used to attend the Leisure centre I used to work at, Craig, her husband taught me to drive and going even further back, her daughter Amy was my first "proper" girlfriend for about 2 years.
Cause I'm a nice bloke (And extremely modest), I've always kept in touch with Donna and Craig, and it was on the old book of faces, I noticed Donna was rescuing dogs through a page she'd created on Facebook, called Rommi Rescue that rehomes the very same dogs I mentioned earlier.
Ever since we moved, we've always felt there's been that little something missing from our home, and we'd spoken about getting a dog for a little while. After looking at puppies (Which are really expensive by the way!) we decided to have a look at the possibility of rescuing a dog through Donna, which is where we stumbled upon some pictures of little Cleo.
The long and short of it is that Rachel immediately fell in love with her the moment she saw her pictures. Whilst I was on the fence about the whole arrangement, as it was going to involve a serious amount of work and commitment to take on a rescue dog, I messaged Donna to see if we could meet Cleo when she arrived in the UK at her foster home where she would live until she'd been adopted.
Just 3 weeks ago now, Cleo was sitting in a kill shelter in Romania, where if she hadn't have been rescued, would have been killed.
Since then, through the amazing work that Donna and her team do, she's travelled thousands of miles in the back of a van with about 20 other dogs that were also given a second chance. She's scaled oceans and crossed multiple countries on a journey that would take around 24hours from start to finish where she would eventually arrive in the very early hours of the morning in Coalville to meet Suzanne, her foster mum, who she would stay with till we eventually went to meet her.
When we arrived to see her for the first time, we were greeted by a very very nervous little dog. Understandably she was absolutely terrified, incredibly timid, and didn't want to leave Suzanne's side. We took her for a little walk, gave her some fuss, and there and then we decided there was no way she wasn't coming home with us.
And that was it, just like that we paid the fees and we made the journey back to rugby with our new shaky, furry little friend.
Safe to say she's slotted right into our lives since then. She's still very timid, and it's going to take a lot of work on our part to build up that trust, but every now and then, we see little glimmers of her personality showing through, and she's a real joy to have around the house.
In just over a week, she's come on leaps and bounds, but we've kinda had to relearn everything we knew about dogs to date and go right back to basics with her.
She's quite clearly never been fed properly and probably had to fight for scraps of food in the past, and as a result, she's all skin and bones at the minute, so we're doing our best to get her weight built up and used to eating at set times. She won't even go near her food unless the room is empty.
Treats are a completely alien concept to her, and despite us spending a small fortune on bags and bags of little biscuity treats and dentasticks, she's only really motivated by chunks of ham. (I did buy her a cheeseburger the other day though, which she absolutely annihilated in about 5 seconds flat.)
All in all, though, she's turning into a smashing little dog, and we've loved every moment with her to date. We can't wait to spend our first Christmas with her, enjoy lots of walkies and it's already apparent she's going to be incredibly spoilt and photographed A LOT!
Just finally, I want to give a huge shout out to the guys over at Rommi Rescue. Donna and her team do an ungodly amount of fundraising to save these helpless little dogs, and they're always bringing animals over (Including puppies!) from Romania to give them a second chance and a new loving home.
Definitely go and shoot them a like on Facebook, join in with the fundraising (Donna bakes some awesome cakes and regularly raffles off Gin - I'm still trying to wrap my head around how I can get drunk, eat cake and save dogs - It's literally guilt-free!), and if you are looking for a dog, I can't recommend rescuing through Rommi enough.
As a thank you, I'm going to be offering up a free pet shoot for Donna to raffle off in their Facebook group. All proceeds of which will be donated to Rommi Rescue to help save the Puppers! They do some incredible work, all voluntary, so it's definitely a worthy cause!
Peace, love, Paws, and Photos.