Recently I was introduced, via Facebook, to a bright-eyed, energetic little dog named Rocky who was rescued from a shelter in Romania. Rocky is paralyzed and his story touched my heart. I used to write for an animal welfare website so I was pretty familiar with the tremendous dog overpopulation problem in the country. Years ago when Romania became a Communist state, people had to move into government housing that did not allow pets. Dogs and cats were left behind to roam free and breed at uncontrollable rates. Romania has never recovered from that period.
I knew Rocky’s story was one in a million because dogs with disabilities have an even bleaker future than the rest of the homeless pets.
Rocky’s long road to happiness began when he was adopted by Niki and Jez Moore. The couple lives in England with three other special needs dogs, a puppy and four cats. Here is what Niki said about adopting Rocky and his new life.
Q: Tell me about Rocky’s life in Romania.
“As far as we know Rocky was a street dog,” said Niki. “He likely got hit by a vehicle and someone took him to a local vet where he had surgery on his spine. However, Rocky didn’t receive any aftercare and was left alone in a small cage. One day a woman named Mada, who runs a rescue group, brought another dog to that same vet’s office and she couldn’t help but notice Rocky who was making quite a racket in his cage. She had Rocky moved to a different clinic where he had more space. She knew it is virtually impossible to get disabled dogs in Romania rehomed so she set up a Facebook page so people outside the country could see him. That’s how I found Rocky.”
Q: How did you decide to adopt a special needs dog?
“I had recently given up work and had more time, but we weren’t really looking for another dog to adopt. We already have Conor who is a blind Greyhound, Twiggy who is deaf and Izzy who lost an eye and we have a 10 month-old puppy named Hooch.
I followed Rocky’s story and we were delighted when someone else came forward to give him a new home. However, the updates on Facebook said the new person decided not to adopt Rocky soon after meeting him. He was already in England at that point, and there was something about him that made us want to help. I talked to Mada and agreed to take care of Rocky on a trial basis. Of course after a few months we decided that we could not possibly let him go to anyone else and he became a permanent and noisy member of the family.”
Q: Tell me about your other pets.
“Conor is the second greyhound we’ve adopted. He has no sight due to a genetic condition. After adopting Rocky, we added another Romanian dog named Izzy. She had been abused by her family and lost an eye as a result. She and Rocky didn’t like each other at first, but gradually they accepted each other. Twiggy is a rescue dog we’ve had since she was about 6 months-old. She is now 16 years-old and deaf. Our fourth dog is Hooch, a 10 month-old Alaskan Malamute mix. We also have 4 cats; Phoebe, Wilf, Dora and Millie who tolerate the dogs.”
Q: Does Rocky do any rehab therapy?
“In the beginning he had physiotherapy regularly, but unfortunately he didn’t respond to the treatments. Rocky now goes to the chiropractor for gentle adjustments and he gets cold laser therapy. Rocky has adapted to his nonworking back legs and we do simple exercises to keep his joints loose. He can’t empty his bladder so we do that four or five times a day along with his bowels.”
Q: What are your hopes for Rocky?
“At first we thought he might have a chance to walk again. The veterinarian who did his surgery expected he would regain some mobility, but Rocky spent so many months in a cage that he had virtually no muscle tone left in his back by the time he was rescued. He scoots around the house fine and he has wheels for walks and a buggy for longer walks.
We get a good response when people meet him so Rocky is raising awareness about disabled dogs. We want people to understand there are all types of rescue dogs and those with disabilities can still have a good life and be a great companion.”
You can follow Rocky on his Facebook page.