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Photo Friday essay: A Canine Ride Through Romania

Once upon a time, my husband and I (writes Tara) cycled through Romania.

Sighi?oara Train Station
Relaxing Free-Camp
Free Camp
Muddy Wheel

Along the way, we fell in love with the remoteness of its mountains

Romanian Forest Free Camp
Our Bikes
Tara & Bogies
Tara Pushing

 

and the generosity of the kind folk who lived in its small villages.

Romanian Coppersmith
Old Woman Selling Flowers

 

Perhaps most of all, we adored the stray dogs that roamed the streets in droves.

Romanian Dogs & Tyler
Playful Stray

Many cycle tourists are wary of dogs, but we, perhaps imprudently, couldn’t help but develop a fondness for them. They rarely chased or barked for long; instead, they would sidle up to us for some attention. We happily fed them our leftovers and rubbed their bellies on many occasions.

Feeding Romanian Stray
Tara and Doggie

 

One day, after a long ride, we stopped by the roadside in search of a place to sleep, just as we had every other night. What happened next was unlike any other evening we spent camped in the woods. Just as we were setting up, two pint-sized border collie pups pranced out of the woods and into our camp, as if out of thin air.

Abandoned Border Collies

Much to our delight, they quickly made themselves at home with us.

Tara With Abandoned Puppies

“Where did you come from? Where is your mama!?” we asked them, as we petted their soft, fluffy fur. Even as the words escaped our lips, we knew full well the most likely answers. Their mother might be dead along the roadside, one of the many canine corpses we passed. Or perhaps she was chained up to a barn, barking her brains out, with just three feet of tether in which to live.

Life isn’t easy for a Romanian dog.

As night fell, a bitter cold descended on the Romanian countryside, and we knew we had to do something, or the pups would likely be frozen by morning. So, we brought them into our tent, where they slept like babies, breathing softly between us.

Abandoned Collies


By the time the sun rose the next day, we knew we couldn’t leave them. Though we weren’t equipped to be traveling with animals, we decided to take them with us anyhow. So, that morning, I cooked them mushy pasta while my husband emailed anyone he could think of that might connect us to some Romanian version of the Humane Society.

Without a plan, we fed them a starchy breakfast and packed them each in a backpack, which we wore facing frontwards.

Abandoned Border Collie Drinking
Out for a Ride

and then we set off, with precious cargo against our chests.


We wound our way up hills and mountains, stopping often so the doggies could run around and play. The tough climbs were followed by precarious and nerve-wracking descents. With one hand on a brake lever and the other trying to calm a squirmy, panicking pup, we sped down the slopes as semis blasted by us on the shoulder of the road.

Out for a Ride

In each of the villages we passed, we stopped, looking for a friendly person to adopt them. Every time we were turned away, we felt more desperate, hopeless, and utterly unequipped to care for these two small lives.

And then our phone rang. It was a lady from the Daisy Hope Foundation. She put us in touch with the AULIM, who would send a veterinarian to meet us at the nearest city!

Saying Goodbye

It was a small miracle when the four of us rolled into town, exhausted and sweaty, but safe and sound. We cheered to celebrate our success, and then we waited anxiously for rescue to arrive. Not long after, a blue van showed up – it was the good doctor, and it was time to say goodbye to our little puppies.

Dr. Bratulesai of AULIM

With final hugs, we bid them farewell, tearfully happy in the knowledge that they’d be well cared for, but very sad to be letting them go.

Saying Goodbye
Saying Goodbye

Our little border collies were loaded into a dog carrier

Off to the Safety

and driven away, to be vaccinated, neutered, and adopted by a loving family.

Off to the Safety


It’s been over a year since those pups waltzed in and out of our lives, and the experience remains one of the most memorable of our two year adventure across Europe and Asia. Though we’ve tried numerous times to find out how they are doing, we have yet to hear word.

Tyler & Abandoned Pups

I like to imagine that the pair are happy and healthy, and that somewhere in the deep recesses of their canine minds, there exists an inexplicable, dream-like memory of the wind in their faces, and of the reassuring hands of two cyclists who loved them.

Romanian Border Collie Pups

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Comments

  1. Just rambled on your blog for coincidence.
    Great posts. Great blog. Great motivation.

    As a heart follower, adventurer and doing what I love for work (even though it’s no work, only play) I will definately follow you from now on.

    Keep it up.

    Best,
    K

    Reply
  2. This is so sweet. And the pictures are beautiful. 🙂

    Reply
  3. That’s my kind of cyclists.
    I find that people who are kind to animals tend to be kind to people.

    Reply
    • you are right i’m from romania and being kind here isnt that easy because people tend to take you for a fool. And i get sad when i see animals hurt people dont care about them anymore and they throw them on the street or just put them in a bag and take them somewhere farr away from where they live….anyway i watched the images and read the description and it makes me happy to know there are others like me out there in the world.

      Reply
  4. Awesome story

    This took me down the memory lane. When we siblings were growing up, my kid sisters would almost always bring orphaned (or what they thought were orphaned) puppies home. When asked, the two would have a perfect reason. “Well we waited for 3 hours and their mom did not show up”. Our mom took on the duty of raising them. It is true that they never stayed longer, because perhaps free ranging was in their DNAs. But I would like to think that my two sisters and mom did give them a second chance to live their lives.

    Reply
  5. just about greetin’ !

    Reply
  6. This story made me cry! As a fellow traveler and dog lover, I found your story truly inspirational and sincerley hope that these puppies have found their way into good homes.

    Reply
  7. Great story showing a dtfferent side of touring. Couple of manly coughs required. Hope the wee blighters are doing well.

    Reply
  8. Great story and photos. We had a similar experience of growing very fond of a particular stray in Macedonia. We brought him all of the way back to the UK with us. A year later he is still here and will be coming with us on our next trip!

    Reply
  9. The puppies are extremely cute, and good pictures!

    Reply
  10. Corin Donne Posted

    Those puppies are very cute – but, no mention here of the Romanian sheepdogs that are common in the mountains.

    These dogs are usually enormous, often aggressive, and trained to defend flocks of sheep against predators. They’re monstrous hounds and they’re known for not distinguishing between wolves and walkers, especially in areas where walkers are not a common sight. The writer of the Cicerone guide to the Romanian mountains has been bitten before and I agree with him – if you encounter strange, aggressive dogs in the mountains it’s best to open fire with pebbles and try and keep them at a safe distance until the shepard calls them off.

    I’ll grant you that street dogs can be endearing (I’ve befriended them in other countries before), but I spent a month in Romania with a friend and the dogs were our least favourite thing about the whole, wonderful, country.

    Reply

 
 

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