Remember back in June, we discovered Duke chained to a trailer and left to die? His only food and water was thrown at him by passers-by and his front legs were desperately deformed by sadistic mistreatment.
We have been blown away by the love and the support that people have shown him in his long road to recovery. He has been through painful treatment to straighten and strengthen his legs and finally, last week, he boarded the adoption bus to his forever family in the UK. Here is the next leg of his story – please pardon the pun!At the end of our last blog, Duke had just undergone the first operation to reset the bones in his foreleg. We had to restrict his movements so that he could heal, but that was like telling a toddler to stop running about. It was as if he didn’t know he had just undergone major surgery!
The cut on his leg healed well and eventually we were able to take out the stitches – we have become quite good at animal first aid since founding the Shelter – to save him the tiring three and a half hour journey to Provet in Plovdiv.
By the middle of October, Duke had progressed so far that we started discussing with the vet what to do next to make sure that Duke would be able to walk again properly. As usual, he charmed everyone at the clinic.
We were told that his right leg would still need surgery in the new year to put a plate in his carpel joint, which was still a little loose. This would also help prevent the early onset of osteoarthritis. The good news was that the operation to correct the unnatural movement in his shoulder caused by the damage to his foot had been a great success.
Then, at the end of November, something amazing happened: a lady from the UK applied to adopt Duke! Her name was Diana.
We vet our adopters very thoroughly so one of our UK admin team spoke with Diana at length during a phone interview. She was provisionally approved and then received a visit from a home checker. Everyone thought that she would give Duke a wonderful home.
Diana suggested that Duke could finish his treatment in the UK, but said that she also just wanted whatever was in his best interests and that she was prepared to wait for however long it took until he was ready for adoption.
It was an opportunity we all thought about and discussed and, after weighing up all the options, we decided it would be better for Duke to stay in familiar surroundings with people he knew well. After all, the vets in Plovdiv had been doing a superb job caring for Duke. They had been discussing Duke’s case with specialists in Bulgaria and Italy so we thought it best to continue with them until they agreed that he was ready to leave for adoption.
And then there was more good news when we went back to Provet in January. After more X-rays to determine the next steps, the vet gave Duke the all-clear! He was so happy with Duke’s progress that he said there was no point in doing any more operations. The chances are that Duke will develop osteoarthritis one day because of the damage he suffered to his feet and carpal bone – if he does, he might then need another operation.
But he was at last ready for adoption and how lucky was he that Diana was waiting for him!
When I saw Duke on the RSDR website, my heart went out to him. I wondered whether he would have issues with his legs and paws in the future and if anyone else would want to adopt him when there were so many healthy dogs and puppies on the website. I knew I could give him a loving and comfortable home and deal with any health issues so I registered my interest. I’m very happy that he recovered so well in Bulgaria and his future looks much better and brighter health-wise. All the recent photos are wonderful and he looks such a happy and friendly boy – such a difference from the frightened, timid dog Tony rescued.
And then came the day to say goodbye. Last Friday, we bade him a teary farewell as he got on the adoption bus to the UK. We were absolutely delighted that he was on his way to a fabulous forever family, but given how we found him and what we have all been through together, it was a bitter-sweet parting.
The bus trip takes the best part of three days and once the dogs arrive in the UK, under the DEFRA-regulated TRACES procedure, they must all spend 48 hours in kennels to be inspected by an authorised vet. This also gives the dogs the chance to get used to the new sights, sounds and smells of a new country and to catch up on some sleep.
The big day finally arrived yesterday when Diana was able to collect Duke from the kennels and take him home to be given a happy life and so much love. She has sent us these photos of him making himself at home.
We wish you the best of everything, Duke. You deserve it!
We are often asked whether the person/people who abused Duke have been prosecuted and brought to justice. The sad fact is that we don’t know who hurt Duke and most likely we never will. So we focus on what we can do to help the many, many other street dogs and cats who need our help like Duke.
Read an update on Duke from July 2016 to see how he’s thriving in his forever home in England.