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Local pets: Cola the rescue puppy

27th April 2021

When Ellie Cameron persuaded her parents to get a puppy, their preference was for a pure-bred, hypo-allergenic, non-moulting breed. Little did they know they would lose their hearts to a Romanian street dog, who ‘moults like crazy and hasn’t even got a tail!’

Words: Amander Meade

Photo of Ellie and Cola by Beth Cameron

The background

‘I’ve always wanted a dog and finally got my parents to agree after many wine-fuelled lockdown evenings,’ laughs Ellie. Shocked at the price of puppies in the UK, the family began to research shelters in the UK but found there were no puppies available – a by-product of the first lockdown of 2020. The online search extended to Europe and to Romania in particular, where there is limited animal welfare law and shelters are packed with stray dogs.  

The Responsible Dog Rescue

‘A Facebook search led me to The Responsible Dog Rescue. It’s a non-profit organisation started in 2019, after Rachel, one of the founders, travelled to Răduăţi in Romania and found that rescuers in that area struggle to get their dogs adopted. They receive little help, as they are so remote and are often forgotten. The Rescue posts a picture and profile on each dog as well as offering older dogs as fosters with a view to permanent adoption if they settle well,’ explains Ellie. 

Choosing Cola

‘When we saw Cola’s picture, it was love at first sight – she was so fluffy. We were told that she was very friendly and playful and had been found dumped in a field with the rest of her litter by one of the rescuers, Cameila. Our minds were made up, and we settled on the name Cola (Spanish for tail), after noticing that she didn’t have a tail. It’s likely that her litter was abandoned because of this, as they all have very tiny tails or nothing at all.

‘Although Covid restrictions meant that Cola couldn’t come to the UK as soon as we had hoped, Cameila sent us photos and video updates of her progress. Adopting through The Responsible Dog Rescue cost £300 and included a pet passport, all the legally required jabs plus several more, a microchip and transport to our home in Rutland.’

Getting ready

To help the family prepare to receive Cola, they were sent an adoption pack by the Rescue, detailing things that they would need in place for her arrival, including a slip lead and a collar with contact details.

On 29 May 2020 they heard the news that the ‘Happy Bus’ would be leaving Romania and they could expect Cola in a couple of days. The Happy Bus drives through Europe laden with rescue dogs and arrives in Dover before making its way up the country, dropping the dogs off at their new homes. At 1am on 1 June, Ellie received a call saying that the bus was outside the family home, so she rushed outside to be greeted by a scared and rather smelly little puppy.

New home

‘Once inside, Cola was very frightened and unsure, but the whole family stayed up until about 3am, by which point she had already settled pretty well and headed off to her crate to sleep, as she was exhausted. The next morning, it was as if she had always been part of our family, and she spent the next few days sleeping, eating and enjoying lots of cuddles.’

Ellie reports that Cola, now 16 months old, is truly incredible – clever, loving and sociable – but she is still wary of strangers and especially men… something that is common for Romanian rescues. ‘We have absolutely no idea what kind of dog Cola is. We could do a dog DNA test, but for most Romanian dogs the breed just comes up as “street dog”, because they are such a mix of breeds. We have been told she resembles German Shepherd, Corgi, Collie and Jack Russell – even the vets couldn’t agree.

‘I would truly recommend adopting a dog rather than buying one, as while the settling-in period may be a little longer, it is so rewarding to know that you saved a little dog’s life. I cannot thank The Responsible Dog Rescue enough for blessing us with such a beautiful dog… she is just what our family was missing.’

Cola was from

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