A Romanian rescue dog has helped bring joy to a couple who are coming to terms with their grief.
Puppy Dochas has become a welcome addition to the Woodhead family.
Martin and Nikki Woodhead took Dochas home from Animal Care in Lancaster in December last year, shortly after Nikki lost her father.
The pair quickly developed a bond with the pooch, who shares the home with two cats.
“Dochas is the Scottish Gaelic word for Hope and during the festive period, despite the grieving in our house, Dochas helped us get through the difficult time with love and cuddles as much as being purely a distraction,” said Martin, who lives in Scale Hall, Lancaster.
“Dochas is a much needed companion and although it’s difficult and stressful at times, every day things are improving and it’s great to see his development.”
A glimpse into Dochas’s past has made the couple all the more grateful for their furry companion.
“We had done our research and were horrified at the way in which dogs were treated in Romania, which enforced our reason for getting a rescue dog, but also gave us a better understanding of how his behaviour may be affected too,” said Martin.
“Dogs over there can be burnt, stones thrown at them, set on fire, kicked and punched and run over.
“Romanian shelters though are commonly quite horrific in the way they treat dogs; no veterinary care, over crowding, malnutrition.”
In the 1980s, Nicolae Ceaușescu was the communist leader of Romania and had brought in a new model of housing, high rise flats in city centres as opposed to suburban housing.
It was when people were moving into these flats that dogs were left behind and became “street dogs.”
Pressure was on to sort this problem, so rescue shelters were set up.
Martin said: “Animal welfare charities take in dogs from these shelters to re-home, Animal Care take in two intakes a year.”
The couple are unsure whether Dochas was born in a shelter but feel he experienced life on the streets after witnessing “triggers” during his walks which cause him to crouch down when frightened.
Advice from Animal Care gave the couple useful tips to help Dochas settle into the home with the cats, Cuillin and Marsco.
“He fitted in nicely despite being able to jump over the heights of baby and pet gates which we installed to separate him from certain areas of the house, and the cats,” said Martin.
“We did at that point wonder whether to change his name to Houdini.
“Dochas is an active, fun loving, sharp, quick and delightful addition to our family and he’s the focus of attention of our friends and family.”