The rescue journey of a romanian shepherd dog.
BUSTER - 5 year old giant breed Mioritic Sheepdog.
Put simply, Buster’s case is one of the worst we have ever seen.
Buster was found wandering in a field looking lost and bewildered and in an appalling state of neglect. His fur was badly matted and filthy and he was painfully thin (although until his fur was removed, we had no idea just how badly).
A woman was picking vegetables in the field and took pity on him. Sensing hope, Buster followed her home to her village. Unfortunately, the residents were frightened by his size and disgusted by his state of neglect. They shouted and threw stones, sticks and bottles at him. As if this poor soul had not been through enough, one of the bottles hit him just above the eye and gashed it badly. Thankfully another villager agreed to take him in overnight and local rescuer Carmen was asked for help.
Carmen’s resources are badly overstretched and she couldn’t take Buster until she was sure of further help for him. So she contacted us here at Paws2Freedom. Mioritics hold a special place in our hearts, we have several among our rescue dogs here and we said yes right away.
Carmen collected him the next day. She gave him food but worryingly, for such a starving dog, he wouldn’t eat. This pointed to an underlying health problem. Being the weekend only the local village vet was able to attend. He found that Buster was tick and flea infested and showing all the signs of Babesiosis, a tick-borne disease common in neglected dogs in Romania. Given his state they decided there and then not to wait for blood tests but to treat him straight away.
The next morning Buster managed to eat a little tinned food! A breakthrough! This continued for some days, with Carmen feeding little and often, so as not to overload his system after such a long period of starvation. Carmen then introduced dried food and Buster began to eat heartily.
Next his fur was tackled. It was a matted mess, it must have pulled at his skin dreadfully and it was infested with parasites. It all had to be removed by the local vet. That was when we saw the true, heartbreaking extent of Buster’s condition. He was a walking skeleton.
Buster was microchipped which showed that he was 4 years old and registered to someone in a neighbouring village who often neglected their dogs. The chip was duly registered to Carmen, breaking the last link to his horrendous previous life forever. It was time for him to look forward at last. With a warm, padded dog coat and pillows in his kennel to protect his joints Buster started on the slow road to recovery.
Next we arranged for Buster to be thoroughly examined at a good clinic in Bucharest. He was too large to fit in Carmen’s car and she had to get help to get him there!
They treated the deep gash over his eye, an eye infection and a wound and skin infection on his hindquarters too.
He was 4DX blood tested (for Heartworm) and sadly, it proved positive. Worse, in his weakened state he could not cope with the treatment. He had to build up his strength first. With good food and care, slowly, he got stronger every day. Such a joy to see. Further tests showed too that the disease was only at stage one and Buster had every chance of making a full recovery within 6-12 months. He was finally declared strong enough to begin his heartworm treatment on 16th November 2019. After 6 months he was tested again and we were hoping with all our hearts that he would test negative, but sadly he was still heartworm positive. So it was decided that Buster would stay on at Carmen's for a bit longer.
In the time at Carmen's sanctuary Buster was also treated for an eye infection which later as it did not clear up was diagnosed by an eye specialist as a congenital poor quality of tears and very mild entropian. Buster will need daily eye lubrication for the rest of his life.
During his whole time at Carmen's, Buster never showed any sign of aggression at all, enduring all his scans, tests and treatments without needing to be muzzled and showing no resistance to being walked on a lead either. He travelled well in the car too. He does bark at feeding times or when a stranger enters the yard, like most dogs but it isn’t excessive. He is eager to make friends with other dogs too, and has endearingly befriended the dogs and little puppies in the pen next to his. We were touched so much to hear this. That despite all the cruelty he has suffered, he shows nothing but love and compassion to those smaller than him and no aggression to humans.
Once he has been passed fit for travel, our plan was for Buster to come to us here at Paws2Freedom for further assessment and re-homing. But unexpectedly Covid struck the world and our plans had to be put on hold. Eventually he was allowed to travel and Buster arrived in the UK at the end of November 2020. He was with us for only 2 weeks before he found his very own home where he was fostered with intend to adopt him. This was Buster's first time where he experienced home life as we know it. Sadly this new and unfamiliar life to Buster brought some issues to light which his foster home found difficult to cope with. So we arranged for Buster to come to us for re-assessment and behaviour modification where possible.
This giant of a dog now lives in our home. Whilst generally very friendly with people of all ages and also other dogs he meets when out on walks, Buster did not get on with the resident dog in his foster home and we were eager to find out how he would react having to eventually share a space here with 7 other dogs of various sizes and issues. We wanted to take it very carefully for Buster who had been through a lot of changes in a very short time. Our main goal is not to overwhelm him and take it in baby steps. Starting with quiet walks and using our field and garden a lot for outdoor times, which we are still doing at this stage.
We feel it is very important to take our guidance from Buster. So we started by introducing him to a very easy going dog first which was Max our recently retired therapy dog. They were ok with eachother very quickly and we let them share a space, but it soon transpired that Buster lacked vital social skills when it came to playfully interacting with his own kind. He also seemed to have learned that throwing his considerable weight around and bullying other dogs works for him. Sadly, after over 2 months with us he alienated all the dog he met so far here when it came to playful interaction. Even though tolerated by the gang when he is calm, Buster was firmly on the path to becoming Billy-No-Mates which made us extremely sad as he loves other dogs and so much wants and needs to play. Something he clearly never experienced in his life...
And just as we were starting to lose hope there was a breakthrough! Things started to change when he met little Spud who has severe fear issues with people, but with his own kind is a fearless terrier who speaks 'dog' extremely well. To our amazement and utter surprise they are now tentatively forming a friendship and Spud is teaching Buster how to play. For the very first time in his life BUSTER HAS FOUND A FRIEND. We are over the moon! This is still in the early stages and not without hurdles, but we can see so many little improvements already. We are helping Buster under the guidance of our team behaviourist/trainer who's knowledge we value highly. At this point we don't know if Spud's teachings will eventually help Buster in interacting playfully and politely with other dogs or whether it will remain just between the two of them. We are very excited to find out and will keep you updated.
We are also keeping a close eye on his heart health. On the 25th May Buster has been booked in for a heart scan and blood test to find out where we are with his heartworm. Hopefully he will be all clear of heartworm now.
We will keep you updated on how Buster is doing and add new photos as his treatment progresses.
Our gentle giant has touched so many hearts already and will continue to do so we believe. Please see the photo display below which shows his story from when he was found.
Has Buster’s story caught your heart? Would you like to help with a donation? We would be so grateful for whatever you are able to give so we can support him and others like him in the future. You can donate using the button below, or via our charity bank account. If you are a UK taxpayer and would like to help more at no cost to yourself, please consider signing up for Gift Aid. Please contact us for details.
Please mark your donation with ref BUSTER.
Thank you for being with us at Buster’s side during his journey to a brighter future and for caring about this darling giant of a dog ♥
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