Noyzi’s savior… a sunflower planted in the right place

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By savior, I mean the man who saved Noyzi’s life when he was unceremoniously dumped on a street in Pristina one day in 2018. Noyzi’s very first rescuer is a young man named Florent who has a habit of taking care of street dogs. There are many homeless dogs in Kosovo, and a lot of people don’t like them. So Florent does what he can to help them. He gets some help from others who like dogs, like my American friend Meg, who was responsible for bringing Noyzi into our lives. Meg used to live in Kosovo and has many contacts in the countries that were once collectively known as Yugoslavia.

Kosovo’s population is mostly Muslim. On the whole, the Muslim culture doesn’t value canine companionship. There are also many poor people living in Kosovo. Many of the dogs that have value in Kosovo are working dogs, rather than pets. At the same time, spaying and neutering pets is not a popular practice.

Just last week, someone dumped three female puppies near Florent’s house. Meg has told me it’s because females get pregnant and people don’t want to deal with pregnant dogs. I saw a picture of the female puppies that were rescued in another part of Pristina last week. They look like could be Noyzi’s sisters, and they are just as young and tiny as he was when he was found… about four weeks old. They’re lucky they were simply dumped. I read a horrifying account of what regularly happens in nearby Albania, when it’s time to cull street dogs. A woman from New Zealand who lives in Albania rescued a street dog and blogged about it, as well as the plight of beautiful Albanian dogs who roam the street and are horribly abused or killed in very inhumane ways. Parvo virus is also a constant threat to puppies in Kosovo.

This is Noyzi’s namesake!

So there I was last night, newly friends with Florent, and he was telling me about Noyzi, and how he got his name. Kosovo is a “brother nation” to Albania. The people who live there are mostly ethnically Albanian and speak Albanian. There is a rapper in Albania whose name is Noizy. Florent says he likes Noizy’s music, and the dog, Noyzi, was kind of noisy when he was found. He’s not very noisy anymore. I did change the spelling of Noyzi’s name for a couple of reasons. First off, I’m a spelling nerd, and kept wanting to write Noisy instead of Noizy. And secondly, on his paperwork, it’s spelled Noyzi. I figured it would be easier to keep it spelled as it is on his documents. I had originally meant to change Noyzi’s name, but I could not think of an appropriate new name for him. Now that I know that the name has a connection to his homeland, I’m glad we kept it.

Around the time we first got Noyzi, Meg told me a bit about how she came to take him into her rescue. I wrote about that on my original blog. It was back in October, just a few days after we finally had him in our home, when I was thinking about how the stars aligned for us to have this dog from Kosovo in our family. We’d been waiting a long time for a new dog to come into our lives after we lost our sweet beagle, Zane, on August 31, 2019. We tried to adopt another beagle in March of 2020, but that experience ended in senseless tragedy. About a month later, April of last year, I saw Noyzi’s picture for the first time. There was something about his face that touched my heart. I wanted to know more about him. Before I knew it, I was agreeing to adopt him.

It took six months until we were finally able to get Noyzi and bring him home. That adventure, which happened in early October, involved going to Slovenia to pick him up. That was the last time I left our neighborhood… and the last time I was in a car. COVID-19 has really altered my lifestyle in so many ways. A year ago, we were planning trips to France. Now, we’re waiting until it’s safe to travel… and instead of writing about our adventures in other countries, I’m writing about this big, sweet, skittish, and shy dog from a country not everyone even recognizes. And I literally haven’t been anywhere in months since we brought him home. Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t bother me that much.

Last night, while many of my friends and loved ones were reeling from the drama happening in our country, I was sitting in Germany, and Florent was telling me about what it’s like to live in Kosovo. According to Florent, Kosovo is kind of like a “jail”, which is only good for people who are wealthy or politically affiliated. Maybe Donald Trump ought to look into moving there, since it seems like no one else wants him. On the other hand, Florent makes it sound like Kosovo has more than enough problems. I got the sense that maybe he’d like to move somewhere else. I understand how that feels. I was ready to leave the United States in 2014, and that was before I knew what was on the horizon.

Florent shared a couple of videos of the tiny puppy version of Noyzi, greedily eating kibble and yogurt. I can see that he’s always loved food, although it took him awhile to learn the concept of treats and “people food” in our house. He will let Bill pet him and give him a treat, but only if he’s in his bed. The bed seems to be his safe zone, and he stays there almost all the time. But he will come to me for treats and snacks, and to be walked. He loves taking walks, though I had to teach him about leashes and show him that they aren’t meant to hurt him. He will let Bill walk him, but only if I put the harness on him. He won’t let Bill do it.

Although his savior was a man, Noyzi doesn’t like men. When he sees male strangers on the street, he panics, and will backpedal or try to bolt. When we first got Noyzi, he used to get so scared that he’d pee involuntarily. Some things would literally scare the piss out of him. That behavior has stopped, which is a blessing. However, I have never needed to house train him. He naturally goes outside to do his business. Noyzi also doesn’t like sudden movements or noises. It’s like he has PTSD. And yet he’s so sweet and basically well-behaved. He doesn’t have an aggressive bone in his body. He keeps himself clean, and even takes care of the dog toys, “saving” them from our other dog, Arran, who likes to destroy them. Noyzi will grab them when Arran isn’t looking and stack them in his bed, like they’re his friend.

Noyzi has been acting more like a normal dog lately. He loves to run around the yard, especially before and after a dump or a walk. He loves being brushed, and although he’s so far only had one bath, he does enjoy being bathed. Once he realized that warm water feels good and being scrubbed is a pleasant experience, he was happy to sit in the shower and get clean. Florent told me that street dogs are very smart. They know what it’s like to have no food or water or love… so when they find a home, they adapt fast. Florent also told me that he had rescued a dog that ended up going to one of our soon to be President Joe Biden’s friends. I can believe it, since there are Americans who work in Kosovo. It wouldn’t surprise me if one of them, working in government service, took one of Florent’s rescues.

Our conversation went on for about an hour or so, and then Florent said something that was very profound to me. He told me that he rescues dogs because “they are angels, and God is testing us with them. And if we help them, God will love us.” I remember being a senior in high school, when the Eastern Bloc was falling apart. My government teacher, Mr. Jim Eccleston, was talking about the fall of the Iron Curtain, and described Albania as the “Iron Lampshade”, since all of the other countries were opening up and Albania was the one holdout. At one time, it was the site of the harshest and most repressive Communist regime in Europe. When I lived in Armenia in the 1990s, there was a violent uprising in Albania that became the Albanian Civil War. The Peace Corps program there was suspended and the Volunteers had to be evacuated. They later reopened the program. I have always been curious about Albania, and I’ve seen that parts of it are very beautiful. I would like to visit sometime… but hopefully at a time when the street dog problem is handled more humanely.

Florent says Kosovo isn’t such a great place right now. A lot of people don’t have anywhere to go. He described himself as “a sunflower planted in the wrong place”. But then he told me about how he and Meg once rescued six puppies stuck in a hole at a train station. One by one, they pulled them out… and if Florent hadn’t been there with Meg, those puppies would not have survived. I can’t help but think that this young man, who obviously has faith in God and a love for animals, is a sunflower planted in the right place. He brings light, beauty, hope, and humanity to dogs who just want to find loving homes. They just want a safe, warm, dry place to sleep, enough food, walks in the sun, and someone to shower them with love in the form of kind words, loving pets, and treats. And every time one of Florent’s dogs finds a new home, the sunflowers are planted anew… in Germany or the United States, or Poland… or any of the other places where they find themselves with people who want them and are committed to loving them forever.

An example of the good work Florent has done.

It’s been such a privilege to have Noyzi in our lives, especially during this endless pandemic. He’s given us something to focus on besides all of the bad stuff. And every day, he surprises us with something new and adorable. By saving Noyzi’s life, Florent gave us an amazing gift… and a permanent bond to a country where there are still many sunflowers waiting to be harvested. Florent may not know it, but what he’s done has had ripple effects way beyond Kosovo.

Noyzi had another breakthrough!

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Those of you who follow me on my personal Facebook page might have already read about this. For those who don’t follow me there, here is a quick update on our pandemic pup’s progress.

Noyzi, our adopted Kosovar pandemic dog rescue, has serious trust issues regarding men. It might be that he doesn’t like certain types of men, such as older white guys. My husband, Bill, is 56 years old, but he doesn’t look it. Noyzi is, nevertheless, very afraid of him to the point of keeping a distance from him whenever he can.

Our Eckbank Gruppe is in what was probably supposed to be the dining room. Bill and I were sitting there last night, listening to music and drinking wine. Arran, our other dog, wanted a treat. I got up to get him one, then called Noyzi. Noyzi is reluctant to go into the kitchen, especially when Bill is in the dining room. He has to pass Bill to get there. But even when Bill isn’t home, he doesn’t want to go into the kitchen. I have his water bowl outside, and that’s where he goes to drink, rather than in the kitchen where Arran drinks.

So anyway, there I was in the kitchen calling Noyzi. He was definitely interested in the treats, but too afraid to pass Bill. After a few minutes, I finally grabbed him by the collar and slowly led him through the dining room. He gave me the whale eye a couple of times, and panicked a bit, backpedaling. Bill kept his eyes downward, not looking at Noyzi at all. I kept reassuring him and coaxing him forward.

Finally, after a couple of minutes traipsing through what must have seemed like a shark infested ocean to Noyzi, we got close enough to the kitchen at which I was able to grab the bag of treats. I gave him a couple of them, then let him go. He ran right back to his bed. But then he noticed that Arran was still in the kitchen eating treats. He looked at me and I said, “Noyzi, you can come back in here. It’s okay.”

After a couple more minutes, he got up and cautiously came back into the kitchen. Bill never moved from his spot. He had a couple more treats, then went back to his safe spot in his bed, where he seems to be most at ease. About an hour later, I tried again. It took a couple of minutes, but he finally did come to the kitchen for another round.

This morning, after breakfast, I had Bill put the harness on Noyzi. Normally, I do it, because he’s so afraid of Bill, but not so much that he won’t let Bill walk him. Today, I held Noyzi by the collar and reassured him as Bill put the harness on. He backpedaled and panicked a bit, but Bill was able to get him suited up and ready to go. They had a walk and Noyzi got more treats. I have a lot of empathy for Noyzi. I have suffered from phobias myself, and I know how hard it is to get over irrational fears. To him, being terrified of men isn’t irrational, though. Someone in his past probably really traumatized him.

Once again, I am amazed by how fast he’s learning. A couple of months ago, Noyzi wouldn’t even eat treats. He wouldn’t eat “people food”, either. He’d never been exposed to it. I’m glad he’s turning out to be food oriented. That makes working with him easier. And, in some ways, he’s better behaved than his teacher, Arran is. For instance, I have yet to clean up any doggy messes from him, other than his hair, which he sheds copiously. He seems naturally predisposed to doing his business outside, which is a real blessing, since he’s a big boy.

I hope that soon, he and Bill can bond more. He hit the jackpot in doggy daddies. He just doesn’t know it yet. I am grateful to have him around. He’s helped make this lockdown more interesting and fun.

Noyzi’s new walking skills! And booze free treats!

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Here’s another update about Noyzi, the street dog from Kosovo. He’s really come such a long way since four weeks ago. For the first couple of weeks in our home, Noyzi was terrified of leashes and harnesses. He was so scared he’d actually submissively pee and run away in fright. But, as you can see from the video below, he’s come around.

He loves to explore the neighborhood and is probably calmer than ever when he’s walking on a leash.

A month ago, prior to his adoption, his rescuer, Meg, sent me videos of Noizy’s first stabs at leash training. She described him as a big child and sent me a couple of videos showing him lying down while on the leash, completely shut down from the concept of being led. When we got him to our house, I spent about a week leading him around the fenced backyard. He didn’t like the leash at all and would rear up or backpedal.

I started taking a few minutes to brush him before our lessons. He liked being brushed. I’m sure it felt good, both because of the personal attention and because it scratched his itches. Noyzi had never had a bath before and was shedding something fierce. The brushing helped with that, too.

As you can see at the end of the video, Noyzi now walks like a champ, although he still needs the harness because he startles easily. I have a feeling it won’t be long before walks are old hat. I took a walk with him and Arran alone, too. It wasn’t as easy to walk them together without Bill, but we’ll work on it. Below are a few fall photos from our area. It’s not quite as pretty as Jettingen is, but it’s not bad.

I sure do miss traveling, but having Noyzi around is very rewarding and fun. It’s been great to see him progress over the last month. Every day, he gets more confident and adorable. Below is a video of him almost playing with Arran. Arran is still trying to get used to sharing us, but I notice that Arran has already taught his little brother a lot. For example, Arran taught Noyzi that treats are a good thing.

They aren’t too rowdy yet.

Moving on…

This week, Bill ordered a couple of alcohol free treats he saw advertised on Facebook. One product he ordered is called Lyre’s Dry London Spirit, a type of alcohol free gin. Lyre’s is an Australian company, but they have an outlet in Europe and specialize in producing alcohol free versions of libations. Bill likes gin, but is wanting to cut back on alcohol for health reasons.

We tried the gin, and while it didn’t taste exactly like the leaded version, it wasn’t bad at all. It has no burn, but it does have sort of a citrusy flavor– bitter orange peel and a hint of lemon. There is no taste of juniper.

He also ordered a bottle of Gimber, which is an alcohol free cold pressed ginger based mixer. It consists of ginger, lemon, herbs and spices and can be mixed with spirits or alcohol free beverages like sparkling mineral water. The Gimber is very spicy, but you can dilute it until it suits your tastes. Gimber also has a classic dream story behind it. Its inventor, Dmitri, was tired of sugary sodas and bad wine. He sank his last euros into buying a ginger press. Now he’s got a product he can sell on Facebook to bored Americans like us!

And finally, last night, I took a few photos of the “blue moon” as it appeared in Germany. This was supposed to be an especially rare moon, since it was visible across all time zones. I took several of these pictures with my digital camera, which I don’t get to use very often these days. For some projects, it’s better than my iPhone.

Well, that about does it for today. We don’t have much going on, thanks to the pandemic. I miss going on trips, eating in restaurants, and hanging out at naked spas. But maybe someday we can get back to it. For now, we have new products to try and a new dog to teach how to enjoy being a pet. Things could be worse!

Training “Private Noyzi”…

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So, as of tomorrow, Noyzi will have been in our lives for three weeks. I thought I’d offer an update for those who are interested. First of all, the name… I had been planning to change his name, but none of the names I was thinking of seemed suitable. It also occurred to me that he’s been through so many changes in the past month that it seemed cruel to force him to get used to a new name, too. So we decided to just call him Noyzi. We changed the spelling because “Noizy” was offending my grammar/spelling snob complex. Also, that’s how it was spelled by the vet in Kosovo (I’m assuming) who made their version of the pet passport.

This week, we took Noizy out for his very first walk outside of the backyard. The first walk was just halfway down the block. He submissively peed a couple of times before we got him out the front door. But once we got him on the leash, he did quite well and seemed to enjoy himself. Then, when we brought him back inside and Bill took Arran (our senior dog) for a longer walk, Noyzi finally ventured upstairs for the very first time. He was fascinated by the balconies!

Noyzi still pretty much stays in his little area of our living room, although he has been ranging more bravely into the foyer and dining room. He’s also taken to hanging out by the couch instead of the back door.

Bill is still a scary boogeyman to Noyzi. I get the sense maybe someone hit him with a belt or a leash, because until the past few days, he was petrified of the leash. And he peed on himself when Bill took off his belt. He also doesn’t like the broom, although I am hoping that after seeing what it’s used for and never using it to hit him, he’ll see that he doesn’t need to be so scared. This dog doesn’t like men very much. He’s not very trusting of anyone, but he definitely seems to prefer women. Hopefully, he’ll get used to Bill after a few more feedings which include homemade goodies– chicken, sweet potato, and green beans on top of kibble! He’s learning to appreciate treats, too. He takes them gently from me, the way Zane used to. But it wasn’t until he saw Arran eating them that he realized that’s what he’s supposed to do, too.

I’ve seen some evidence that Noyzi likes to play and would enjoy a play session, once he gets more confident. A few days ago, he even play bowed to me, although he’s so big that it’s not the best idea to play inside. Maybe at some point, we can take him to the dog park on post. He needs to learn to come to me more reliably, first. He also likes toys, but this week, he doesn’t seem to need to sleep with one in his bed. That is such a cute habit! It’s like he needs a teddy bear!

We did a couple of walks around the block this week, and this morning, Bill, Arran, and I took Noyzi on his very first trip around the full walking route of our neighborhood. He did extremely well. Yesterday, he got a little panicky when a German man who was carrying things got too close to him, but today, he was much better. In fact, he was calmer today on his walk than I’ve ever seen him. I was very proud of the way he was carrying himself, his powerful stride matching mine. He reminded me of a supermodel!

When we brought him back in the house this morning, he followed me upstairs, took a look around, then went back downstairs. I think I heard Arran bitching at him. It probably won’t be long before he starts hanging out with me in my office. In fact, as I write this, he’s hanging out in the upstairs hall.

Speaking of Arran, he’s handling this a lot better than I thought he would. He seems to understand that he hasn’t been replaced and, in fact, is now promoted to “big daddy dog”… or maybe “gramps”. He leaves Noyzi alone, except for when Noyzi encroaches too much. I expect there will eventually be a fight, and then it’ll be okay. Noyzi is super gentle and not at all alpha, anyway… or at least he doesn’t seem to be.

I noticed in videos I have of him as a puppy, he once seemed very confident and self-assured. I don’t think he’s naturally timid. I think maybe he’s experienced a lot of trauma, but he’s a quick learner and so sweet. He just wants to be loved and a member of the family.

A few of our neighbors met Noyzi today. One asked us about Zane. Bill explained that we lost Zane to cancer last year. I’m sure they were curious about where he was. I wonder where he is, too. :'( I still miss him, although Noyzi is turning out to be a very rewarding project. Best of all, he seems to have come to us mostly housetrained somehow. He prefers to do his business outside and seems to only need to go once or twice a day. He doesn’t mark or cock his leg, either. He’s a squatter!

Anyway… since COVID-19 is flaring up, I’m not so sure how much traveling and dining out we’ll be doing. But I think Noyzi will keep me plenty busy. It’s a good thing we went to get him this month. With the virus flareups going on, I don’t think we would have managed as easily if we had waited. Now we need to get him to the vet and checked in on post. Hopefully, he’ll have a chance to try out the Hunde Pension soon, so we can travel again… when the virus isn’t running amok, that is.

As I close this post, Bill and Arran are trying to negotiate around Noyzi, who has taken up residence on the steps. As Bill and Arran tried to pass him, he pooped a little. He seems to do that when he’s scared. At least he doesn’t do it in the bed, like Arran does sometimes. I have every confidence that he’ll be one of the gang very soon!

Our pandemic dog rescue story… part six

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I think this will be the last part of my tale. I’ve got bitching to do on my other blog, which has been neglected for a few days.

Our drive back to Germany was long, but relatively peaceful. Once we got through the Katschberg Pass in Austria, the weather cleared up a lot. We had sun, or at least just a few clouds, all the way back home to Wiesbaden. Since we had to do the whole drive in one shot, I’m really glad we did it on a Sunday. There’s road work going on that we noticed had backed up traffic for miles on the way down to Slovenia. Since it was Sunday, there was still a slight bottleneck, but it wasn’t nearly as horrible as it was on the way down. Here are some more photos from the drive…

We made several stops but, following Meg’s advice, we didn’t attempt to take Noizy out. He’s still working on walking on the leash. When the rain stops, I’ll be giving him a few lessons. He’s going to be needing some exercise soon, although he’s so far seemed content to lie down in a corner of our living room, right by the doors to the garden. Speaking of the garden, I’m really glad we have one and it has a very tall fence surrounded by hedges. Noizy is about the size of a small deer and could probably jump pretty high if he wanted to. Arran is also a high jumper, but he’s way smaller than Noizy is.

So… now we’ve had our new family member for two days. He’s already blown my mind by being a super fast learner.

Bear in mind, when he lived in Kosovo, Noizy resided at a “pension”, which is not like the pensions one might find in Germany. He lived with a bunch of dogs on a farm and they were outside all the time, fed communally. He’s never been trained, hence why he still needs to learn how to walk on a leash. And although he’s very friendly and sweet, he’s not used to living with people. He’s also not very alpha at all, despite being so big. Arran easily dominates him, and Arran is not a particularly alpha dog, either.

When we first brought him into the house, Noizy seemed very confused by the glass doors. I have a sense that he’s never seen glass before. He tried to walk through the glass when he first came into the house and it took a couple of bonks on the face before he realized that I have to open the door for him. One of the doors has a holey mosquito screen thing put there by a prior tenant (it needs replacing). At first, Noizy had no idea what to make of that at all. But after he saw Arran go through it once or twice, he caught on that he can do the same thing.

The first night, Noizy was obsessed with being outside. I think it’s because that was what he knows best. However, in less than 24 hours, he seems to have figured out that being inside isn’t so bad. It’s warm and dry. Now, he gets upset if I close the door when he’s in the yard. He comes right back inside and curls up on his makeshift bed.

Noizy is still pretty scared of Bill, who is probably one of the gentlest men on the planet. But he’s pretty much at ease with me, and loves it when I pet him. When I approach him, his little stumpy tail wags and I can see in his eyes that he wants affection. He’s also learned to trust me enough to roll on his back for belly rubs, which he clearly adores. I knew he liked them because Meg sent me a video of him getting a belly rub from a boy in Kosovo. Still, I can tell this isn’t just him being submissive and showing me his belly. He trusts me enough to let me rub it.

Although he hasn’t wanted to leave his corner yet, he is a lot more relaxed than he was. He is also slowly getting braver and exploring more of the living room. Arran barks at him to keep away from me, especially when food is around, but I don’t think his sternness is going to last. Eventually, they’ll have to work something out.

I have been most impressed by Noizy at night. I was worried about him sleeping alone. Arran sleeps with us, as all of our dogs except CC have done. Noizy is way too big for the bed, though, and he needs a bath something awful (that will be a two person job for sure). He also hasn’t been brave enough to visit the other floors in the house, where the bathing facilities are. In any case, when it’s bed time, so far he’s just curled up on the little bed he’s made and been quiet all night. He doesn’t move from his spot. I have yet to find any pee spots. Arran is notorious stealth pee-er. Noizy has done almost all of his business outside, with the exception of a couple of submission pees. However… I can see that we’re going to go through a lot more shit bags, because Noizy’s poops are big, like he is!

I’m trying to teach him to use the dog bed. It’s not quite big enough for him, but our other dogs never used it much. Once he learns what it’s for, we’ll get him one of his own and station it somewhere away from the doors to the backyard.

Noizy has also learned to eat and drink from a bowl. Based on how he eats, I get the sense that he had to wolf his food down because of other dogs being around. Now, he’s learning that he can relax. Just today, I convinced him to try a dog treat. Arran loves them, but Noizy wasn’t so sure until he finally tasted one. I am hoping he’ll like the treats because they will help in training him. He’s definitely not very food oriented, though. He didn’t even want a little bit of chicken I offered him.

I look forward to teaching him to walk nicely on the leash so we can take walks. I’m sure my neighbors will be astonished when they see him. He really is quite a sight. I have a feeling he is going to go down as one of the most special dogs I’ve ever had. Just his story is amazing. He could have easily died on a street in Kosovo, a tiny puppy taken from his mom too young in a country where people don’t really care for dogs very much.

Instead, he was handed over to Meg, who had no idea what he would grow up to be. Meg has told us that Noizy represents hope to her. The young man who gave him to her didn’t know where else to take him, but didn’t want to see him die. That young man gave him an amazing chance. What were the odds that the tiny puppy left for dead would end up being adopted by Americans in Germany?

I’ve often thought about that with our other dogs, too… all of whom (with the exception of CC) have lived in Germany. What are the odds that these dogs, born in rural America and tossed away, would end up living in Germany?

In any case, I’m sure we will have our challenges. Noizy is not like any dog I have ever had in my life. But he is just such a sweetheart and so eager to please. I am delighted to finally know him after six months of waiting. It was worth everything to get him here. And so many people deserve a hearty thanks for making it happen.

One final matter… Yesterday, Bill reported to the German court, as requested. He saw the pet taxi driver who had caused the death of Jonny, the first dog we hoped to adopt over here. She didn’t acknowledge Bill at all and seemed completely nonchalant and callous about the whole thing. It turned out the magistrate, who had been the one who had answered the phone last week when Bill called to tell them he’d need an interpreter, had supposedly told Bill he didn’t need to come to court. She also said there was a letter, which there hasn’t been yet. In any case, Bill made the trip for nothing and it turned out we hadn’t needed to rush back to Germany, after all. Also, Bill noticed that everyone was dressed very casually. Even the magistrate wore jeans. Bill had put on a coat and tie. Ah well. We’ll close the book on that whole situation. We have our new family member now, and I think it was meant to be. And if Jonny hadn’t died, we wouldn’t have Noizy… who is a unique delight in every way.

I’m still not sure what we’re going to do about Noizy’s name. He comes from Kosovo, though, which is mostly made up of people who are ethnic Albanians. My German friend says there is an Albanian rapper named Noizy. Noizy was named because of the screeches he made when he was calling out for help as a little puppy, but he’s now a very quiet dog… but I hate to put him through yet another change. He’s already adapted to so much. I can’t wait to see him turn into a confident, happy house dog. I’ll be sure to keep updating this blog as that inevitably happens.

Our pandemic dog rescue story… part one

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As of yesterday, our home became a two dog household again. I never thought we’d get there, but we have. This series is about our quest to adopt a dog in Germany, which took us all the way to Slovenia and back over the weekend. Before I write about our travels, I want to offer a quick backstory about our experiences with dogs as a married couple. Please bear with me! It’s all about preserving history.

Bill and I have been dedicated dog rescuers since 2002. I grew up with dogs in rural Gloucester, Virginia, but mostly focused on horses until I went to college. Bill never had dogs, but his mom had many cats when he was growing up. Bill can’t have cats because he’s allergic to them. But he can have dogs, and he is a natural dog “parent”. In May of 2002, I had just finished graduate school at the University of South Carolina and it was time I had a dog in my life again. I told Bill I wanted a beagle. He agreed that sharing our home with a dog would be most acceptable, and beagles have been in our lives ever since.

All of our previous dogs have been beagle mixes of some sort. The first one, blue-eyed CuCullain (CC) was a beagle mixed with husky and he had incredible ice blue eyes. We adopted him in May 2002 and lost him after sixteen months when he contracted Mycobacterium Avium, an extremely rare and fatal disease in dogs.

All the dogs we’ve loved before– CC, MacGregor and Flea, Zane and MacGregor, Zane and Arran, and Jonny, whom we never got to pet.

Next, in November 2003, we adopted a dog named Flea, probably the closest we ever had to a purebred beagle. He was found on the side of a road in Chester County, Virginia, starving, covered with fleas and ticks, and heartworm and Lyme Disease positive. We had Flea for six years, and along with our third rescue, MacGregor, Flea came to Germany with us the first time. We lost him to prostate cancer when he was about twelve years old, two months after we moved to Georgia from Germany.

MacGregor, Flea’s sidekick, was a beagle-basset hound mix who was incredibly smart and funny, but terrified of people he didn’t know. He adored Bill and loved performing on camera. We adopted him in 2004, mainly because Flea badly needed a “second banana”. After a few weeks of “working it out”, Flea and MacGregor became best friends. We loved him for 8.5 years, until he developed a spinal tumor. We said goodbye to MacGregor in Raleigh, North Carolina a week before Christmas 2012, when he was about ten years old. CuCullain, Flea, and MacGregor all came to us from BREW in northern Virginia.

Zane, who was my very special friend, came into our lives a month after after we lost Flea in November 2009. We had just moved to Georgia and he was handed over to Atlanta Beagle Rescue. His first owner had bought him at Petland and said she didn’t have the money to take care of him. Personally, I think she gave him up because she was too busy and he was in his destructive “teen puppy” phase. It took us about six months to turn him into a civilized pet, but once we did, he was an amazing gentleman. Zane was with us for almost ten years until we lost him on August 31, 2019 to lymphoma. He was almost eleven years old when he died. I think Zane was mostly beagle with a dash of Labrador Retriever. He never met a stranger and loved to play. I adored him and was crushed when we lost him.

We got Arran in January 2013, when MacGregor passed. He came from Triangle Beagle Rescue out of Raleigh, North Carolina, and appears to be a mix of beagle and German Shorthaired Pointer. He’s about eleven years old, and he’s sweet, cuddly, emotional, soulful, and very jealous. Bill is his favorite person, as evidenced by the many pictures I’ve shared of him on social media. Arran is a wonderful dog who doesn’t need a “second banana”. But I needed one.

We usually adopt a new dog within a month of losing one. Since we live in Germany now, it’s not as easy for us to adopt dogs. There are a lot of reasons for this. One of the main reasons is because local pet shelters don’t like to allow Americans to have dogs. Too many military folks have abandoned animals in the shelters here, to the point at which they don’t trust us anymore. Some rescues also don’t want to adopt to Americans because there have been cases of adopted animals being abused, abandoned, or neglected. Certainly, not all Americans are abusive to animals, but unfortunately enough of them have been that we all get painted with that broad brush in some parts of Germany. I didn’t want to buy a dog from a breeder, because I know there are so many dogs who need homes. So we waited about six months after losing Zane to try to adopt from a German rescue organization. That attempt to adopt was successful in that the rescue didn’t mind that we were Americans. Unfortunately, it ended with a needless tragedy.

Our brand new canine family member, currently named Noizy, was a much anticipated arrival. Noizy came into our lives in April 2020, a couple of weeks after a dog we tried to adopt escaped before he made it into our house. We were absolutely devastated about what happened to Jonny, the dog who was supposed to join us last March. You might say that, in a weird way, Jonny was a casualty of COVID-19 and extreme negligence. But when he died, he also helped save two canine lives– Noizy, and Max, an elderly cocker spaniel who found himself abandoned at our Tierpension when his owner died. The proprietor offered him to us, but since we had already committed to Noizy, I ended up sharing his story in a local Facebook group and Max was adopted by a teacher at the American school in Wiesbaden. I take comfort in knowing that losing Jonny meant that two dogs got new homes. Still, it was horrible what happened to him.

We were approved to adopt Jonny, a beautiful beagle mix from Sardinia, in mid March 2020, right around the time COVID-19 was getting really bad in Europe. Originally, we planned to drive up to northern Germany to pick him up from his foster family’s house. But before we could make travel plans, the local command issued General Order #1, which forbade us from leaving the Wiesbaden area. We let the rescue know that we couldn’t travel and offered to pay Jonny’s expenses until we could go get him. The rescue wouldn’t agree to that, but proposed that we could pay for a pet taxi to have him brought to us. Long story short, Bill ended up agreeing, and after hasty arrangements were made, Jonny was picked up by a pet taxi and driven to Wiesbaden overnight.

The woman who had brought Jonny to us had driven all night from northern Germany. She was exhausted, having told Bill that she had been driving for seventeen hours. For some reason, she had not properly secured Jonny with so much as a collar and a leash before she took him out of her pet taxi. She put him down on the ground, completely naked, and tried to use a lasso leash on him. The dog backed out of the lasso before it tightened, took off running, and soon found his way to the Autobahn, where he eventually got hit by a car. We were given the terrible news about it the morning after we lost him. The pet rescue found out first, because Jonny had a microchip. I also got contacted by a club in Germany that helps the police inform people of their pets’ deaths. That was weird. Especially since he wasn’t really our pet yet. There’s a club for almost everything in Germany.

Complicating matters was the fact that a couple of people in Bill’s office were sick with COVID-19, and we found out about that the morning Jonny ran away from us. Bill was forced to quarantine just a couple of hours after Jonny escaped. We couldn’t look for him ourselves, but even if we could, he didn’t know us at all. He’d never even so much as sniffed us. We never petted him. I don’t think we would have been able to catch him, even if we could have found him. It was just heartbreaking; he was only about ten feet from our front door when he escaped.

I will never forgot how absolutely horrible that experience was… I definitely learned some lessons from it. In fact, as I type this, Bill is heading to court to testify about what happened to Jonny. The rescue sued the pet taxi driver, who refused to take any responsibility for what happened. (Edited to add: I just learned that at the last minute, the pet taxi driver decided to settle and Bill didn’t even have to be at the courthouse today… so basically, we rushed back to Germany for nothing. Oh well. At least she finally took responsibility. Wish they’d told us sooner.)

Anyway, last spring, I was feeling distraught about the Jonny’s sudden death. Bill and I don’t know how much longer we’ll live in Germany, and it seemed impossible to get another dog. I’d had my heart set on Jonny. Thanks to COVID, my reluctance to buy from a breeder, and German prejudice against Americans adopting dogs from Tierheims (even if it is justified), it seemed like we’d be a single dog household until we eventually depart Germany, and I have no idea when that will be. One day, I posted on Facebook that I really wanted another dog.

Within minutes of my post, my friend Mary sent me a message. She said she could put me in contact with an American woman who rescues dogs. Before I knew it, I was chatting on Facebook with Meg, who had lived in Kosovo, a tiny breakaway nation that was once part of Yugoslavia and is not recognized as its own country everywhere. Meg now lives in Germany, but still has many dogs in Kosovo who need homes. She is very committed to seeing that the dogs she rescues all get the sweet life off of the streets of Kosovo.

My heart was already kind of leaning toward adopting a dog from the East, even before we lost Zane. I have another Facebook friend named Trish who used to live in Stuttgart and was also living there when we had our latest Stuttgart stint. Trish adopted a beautiful female dog from a shelter near Dubrovnik, Croatia. Trish had said her dog, Phoebe, was the “best souvenir ever”. I had watched in delight as she posted pictures of Phoebe, who went from homeless Croatian street dog to beloved canine family member. I was inspired, even if I’m really used to beagles.

Anyway, after establishing contact, Meg sent me pictures of the dogs she had… and when I saw Noizy’s face, he made an immediate impression on my heart. I asked Meg about Noizy and she gave me some of his details. I told Bill about him and shared his story and photos. But we knew it would take awhile before Noizy would be part of our household.

First, he’d need to pass a blood test. Then there would be a four month waiting period after the test. There was also COVID-19 to consider, with borders opening and closing at varying intervals on a weekly basis. COVID-19 also made it temporarily impossible to export Noizy’s blood sample to a veterinary school in Germany, where it would be tested. Planes weren’t flying for awhile in the spring, and that was the only way to get the sample out of Kosovo. I think that logistical hassle added a month to the wait. Then the transportation had to be arranged.

All told, we’ve waited almost six months to bring Noizy home. There were times when it seemed like he’d never get here. Sometimes, I wondered how we were going to coordinate everything to get him to Germany, especially given the COVID-19 situation and the grim news reports about how there will be a second wave.

Noizy arrived last night after a very long, yet whirlwind, two day journey from his homeland. This series I’m going to start today is about that journey. I’m going to include the usual hotel details, as well as what little I got to see of the places we stayed, but this trip wasn’t about sightseeing. It was about expanding our family to a very special dog whom I hope will have a long and happy life with us. I’m sure this is just the first of many stories I’ll have about our new family member, a big dog from a tiny country… who came to us all the way from Kosovo and has already made a home in our hearts.