We didn’t think that Teddy would survive when we rescued him from the public shelter in Bistrita Nasaud. It was clear from his sad, dejected face that he had given up on life as life, it seemed, had given up on Teddy. As we opened the cage to take him to Happy Tails, he got up off the wooden boards that had been his home for so long, staggered, fell and then fell over again. We wondered what could have happened to this frail, forlorn dog to end up like this, but all the clues were there. If we raised our hand to stroke him he immediately cowered in the corner expecting to be beaten. Teddy, who was also terrified of confined spaces, unable to escape from his captors and persecutors, had curled up on the wooden boards in the public shelter and just given up.
On arrival at Happy Tails our wonderful team of volunteers did their best to coax him out of his shell and he seemed to perk up a bit from time to time, but overall he wasn’t in good shape. Worried about his condition, we took Teddy to our vet who confirmed that, although he looked older than his 6 years, medically he was fine but was probably suffering from depression.
Maybe lady luck was smiling on Teddy as he had an admirer, a lady who, having seen his photo on the 1 Dog Facebook page, decided that she would rescue Teddy. However, all didn’t go well when he arrived at his admirer’s home and she couldn’t understand why Teddy needed to follow her everywhere and why he didn’t want to play or cuddle up on the sofa. Teddy’s lady admirer wanted an uncomplicated dog, one who didn’t need her quite so much and so she decided that maybe she wouldn’t rescue him after all.
Margaret and Teddy
But the gods hadn’t given up on Teddy and perhaps he would have a second chance at happiness.
Hundreds of miles away in Scotland, Margaret was recovering from her own traumas and the recent chemotherapy and radiation treatments that had taken their toll on her. Then, as if she didn’t have enough to contend with, a series of infections knocked her back even more until finally weeks later she began to recover her strength.
“It’s then that a friend shared a photo of Teddy with me and his wee face popped up on Facebook,” explains Margaret. “Here was a dog who looked like he was as lost as I was, so I said I would have him. Think I surprised myself really and then thought how on earth will I manage looking after a dog when I can’t even look after myself? There was no going back though as an avalanche of messages from my friends congratulating me meant that I had to go through with it. And so, somewhat reluctantly, I filled in the registration form, was home checked by the 1 Dog team and a few days later Teddy arrived. Nothing prepared me for how traumatised this dog was and I could see immediately that he wasn’t right as he was behaving a bit like a robot.”
The Road to Recovery
Day by day, little by little, Margaret and Teddy began their life together. They went out for 10 minutes walks, here and there throughout the day, both of them tottering along with Teddy stopping every so often and just staring blankly into space. According to Margaret, who is a psychotherapist and knows about these things, he was suffering from something known as disassociation, a medical condition often associated with trauma where the brain, unable to process stressful situations, just disconnects or disassociates itself from everything around it. Margaret firmly believes that Teddy, who at one stage must have been someone’s much loved pet, was grief stricken when he was abandoned in the public shelter and, unable to cope, his little brain had just shut down.
Gradually Teddy started to behave like a dog again sniffing and digging and he and Margaret even went on holiday together walking the beaches of the Isle of Harris. On their walks Teddy was always very gentle, never pulling and always right by her side. Eventually the strange stress related reactions in Teddy’s brain slowed down and then stopped altogether. And then another remarkable thing happened. Margaret noticed that she had been so focused on this ‘little wee soul’ (as she called Teddy), that she had started to feel better herself and stopped taking the antibiotics. Whether it was walks in the fresh air, chats to other dog lovers or not having time to dwell on what she had been through, who knows, but in the process of rescuing this little dog, Margaret had, it seemed, rescued herself.
The Great Escape
But this amazing story doesn’t end there. Poor Teddy got very ill and developed pancreatitis and the vet was so worried about him that Teddy had to stay overnight at the surgery, so grudgingly Margaret left him there and returned home alone.
Early the next morning Margaret woke to the sound of scratching at the door and there was Teddy on the door step. A character in his very own ‘Incredible Journey’ story, Teddy had decided that having found someone to love him again, he wasn’t about to let her go. He had therefore pulled out the intravenous tube at the vets, escaped from the crate, scaled a 6ft wall, chewed through a wooden window frame and ran the 5 miles back home (although he had never done the journey before except in the car). Henceforth, Teddy became known as 007 the adventurer and Margaret, in good James Bond style was M to his 007.
But generally life isn’t all action and adventure for Teddy and today in his idyllic home near Ben Nevis with Margaret and her husband, he loves nothing more than curling up on his sofa in front of the window and watching the world go by. So it seems that Teddy, as Margaret so eloquently put it, has decided to give life another go after all.
1 Dog at a Time Rescue UK
Dedicated to saving abandoned Romanian dogs and finding them loving homes
1 Dog at a Time Rescue is a UK registered charity (number 1167007)