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Life at the dog shelter and beyond

09 November 2019 by
At home with a friend At home with a friend
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After taking new dogs home from the dog shelter, we need to give them some time to be confident enough, and to conquer their fear.


The confidence of Cukri started to increase slowly as well. Walking around the housing estates, the many dogs we met, and the people who loved him, as he was so lovely, all had a good influence on him. However, the one who had the strongest impact on him was my brother`s dog, Bubu. They were playing non-stop. If there is a hyperactive animal, Bubu was that for sure. Originally my dad chose him because of this reason, as he did not let the other puppies play, he was dragging them by their ears all the time. He was two month old when he arrived, dashed into the flat, and was racing along the rooms happily without stopping. He should have been shy a little bit, or should have cried for few hours like an average normal puppy would do after taken to a new place. But he did not of course, so he was an ideal stress relief for Cukri.


Socialisation with them had a good effect on me as well. After working at a dog shelter as a volunteer for a year, my undermined confidence in people started to recover, and I made new friends. Sometimes I still visited the dog shelter, but I started to pay attention only on my dog, as in spite of the fact that everything went well, there were still some problems. For example with his eating. Being a homeless dog before, he had the fantastic habit to eat everything he found on the ground while we were walking. He was like a vacuum cleaner. It did not matter what it was, a shrunken worm or a dead insect, he swallowed it. But finally, after 3 months of hard work I could make him give up doing this weird habit and his regular diarrhea and vomiting stopped as well.


And perhaps stress was the other reason of his constant stomach problem, as there was a big contrast between life inside and outside the shelter. Although he was shaking in there as well, was afraid of other dogs, outside he had to get used to the new environment.


In Hungary, there was not much difference between life at dog shelters at that time, I mean in 1994, and life there nowadays. They were full all the time, they operated on donations, and they would have needed more volunteers to help and adopt homeless animals. Despite the processes in other towns, in ours there was and still is a no-kill policy, and students have been coming to take dogs for a walk regularly for years. I used to do the same, walked many of them at the same time, some were on a leash, some were without it. We went to the area under the vineyards, they enjoyed it a lot, running happily and playing on the way. At that time, at the age of 16 I was even braver, or maybe reckless is the right word for it. Or perhaps I was just more confident, as it is said that confidence decreases by the age.


I can remember Nero as well, the huge old grumpy shepherd dog, whose owner moved to another town and took him to the dog shelter. He shut down after this, and let only Rudi, an employee, to feed him. One day Rudi took him out of his kennel , using a huge rope as a leash, and led him to me. `You can pat him.`- he said. At first Nero let me touch his head, but when I wanted to pat him again, he jumped up, and with a quick movement he tore my winter coat into two parts. Rudi was frightened to death of course, but I was only laughing at it, as I knew Nero did not want to hurt me. If he had wanted, he would have been able to tear me into parts as well, especially because he weighed twice more than I did. He just wanted to warn me to understand he did not want me to pat him. Rudi asked me not to tell it to the leaders of the dog shelter, and I thought he was afraid to lose his job. But later I understood. He was just afraid to lose Nero.


Of course, Cukri was privileged there as well, as because of his small size, he was allowed to sleep inside the office in front of the radiator, and later, in our flat, he could sleep on my pillow, he guarded our home from there, and barked at the noises.


The leader tried to find home for the other homeless dogs too as soon as possible.  Her own house was always full as well, 15 dogs were there for sure when I visited her one day, and puppies were running around in all of her rooms. She said she was doing that because when she had been down in her private life, her two dogs had saved her, and since then she had been living for the animals.


Now, 25 years later, the whole animal protection team is changed, there are new members, but these people do incredible job as well. Maybe one day the animal welfare education of the new generation and a change of mindset in the whole country will help to solve the problem, but until then dog shelters need as much help as possible and more people who adopt dogs and who are patient enough to help them live a happy life.



(The Hungarian translation of the story is available on .)


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