Second Chance Stories: Nina & Goldie

Meet the next of our Second Chance Stories here on The Dogvine: Nina & Goldie (@goldiewunderdog), a rescue dog from Romania. Nina & Goldie live in London, and this is Nina’s story about how she came to give Goldie a second chance…

Nina & Goldie in Cornwall

Tell us about yourself…

I am a freelance writer and editor, so I spend a LOT of time at home. When I adopted Goldie, I was living in the same one-bedroom flat, without a garden, that I lived in before when I had my first rescue dog, Pippa. The area I live in, on the Hackney-Islington border, is extremely dog-friendly, with many other home-working dog people around. We don’t have that many amazing green spaces, but walking along Regent’s Canal is a good way to get around.
I met my partner through our dogs (both rescues, of course), and we now live together in the same area, but with a small garden. 

Tell us about your rescue dog…

Second Chance Stories Nina & Goldie with Tara at Camber Sands Beach

My dog Goldie is from Romania and is a typical village dog. Romanian dogs have a look about them – a fluffy tail and lots of attitude! She was found wandering around in a village near the southern city of Constanta at around four months old, and she had a chain around her neck that had grown into her skin. She was in bad shape when Romanian Rescue Appeal took her in. Fortunately, they did an amazing job in clearing up wounds. Their vet has a yard, and he always keeps some dogs as foster dogs and for observation. Goldie was on one of them, which is why she is very good at the vets! I knew from the pictures that Goldie was very friendly and sociable – a wiggly puppy who had a rough start.
My partner rescued his Podenco Tara from a charity near Andalucia, Spanish Stray Dogs UK. We believe that Tara was just under one year old and had been a pet before she was abandoned. She was very timid but friendly.

What made you decide to rescue?

Second Chance Stories Nina & Goldie in the Duoro wine region

I’d never consider buying a dog. I object to everything that is associated with breeding – the forced “coupling”, the money-making, the many health issues that breeders know about and still decide to breed for profit. People often talk about ‘ethical breeders’, but I consider that a contradiction in terms. If they did it for the health of the bitch, they’d donate the proceeds of the puppy sales to a dog charity. I’ve also been to Crufts once – as a research trip – and I really had nothing in common with the breed exhibitors.
If you haven’t already, I strongly suggest you watch the movie Best in Show, with Christopher Guest.
And why wouldn’t you rescue when there are so many homeless dogs in the world? Every year, around 120,000 dogs in the UK need rehoming, and that’s not even considering the 660 million stray dogs worldwide.

Not all of them need a home – many are quite happy as free-roaming or village dogs – but those that do need a home make amazing pets. 

How did you choose your rescue dog?

My first rescue dog, Pippa, had been found in Camden and was brought to me as a foster dog. I was a fosterer for a smaller charity called Pro Dogs Direct, which doesn’t run kennels and has all its dogs in foster homes.  We had time to get to know each other before I adopted her. She was initially very shy and didn’t make a peep. It took her around two months to come out of her shell, but she turned into a very funny, intelligent, cool pooch. Previously, I hadn’t thought about her type – a mid-sized collie cross – and was set on a smaller dog, but fate brought us together, and I am so grateful it did. 

Nina & Goldie with a young Goldie

With Goldie, since she is from Romania, it was slightly different. You can agree with most dog-importing charities to “foster with a view to adopt”, which is a trial run before signing on the dotted line. I had my heart set on another dog on the website of Romanian Rescue Appeal, but that dog was quite happy where she was, so they decided to keep her there. My friend and I looked through their list of available dogs again, and my friend said: “What about Goldie?” Goldie was already spoken for, but luckily for me, the other person dropped out. When Goldie arrived on the van from Romania, she was placed into my arm, and when she put her head on my shoulder, the ‘foster’ period ended, I knew straight away that she was my girl.

Tell us about the rescue/shelter you adopted from

I don’t want to go, “Don’t you know who I am?” but since I run Wunderdog Magazine and spend my life writing, thinking and talking about rescue dogs, I really thought I could adopt any dog! Not so.

Wunderdog Magazine

After Pippa died, I contacted 15 charities big and small – all of them with a personalised email, explaining my situation and that I was happy to foster or volunteer for them before adopting. I was ignored by practically everyone, including Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. Two charities that I had personal relationships with through the magazine didn’t have dogs suitable for inner-city life, and Dogs Trust very kindly came back to me explaining about volunteering at a shelter that was too far away for me, and they also didn’t have any suitable dogs for me. The only charity that had properly read my email and replied in a kind, sensible way was Romanian Rescue Appeal. It’s so important that the relationship with the charity is off to a good start – adopters don’t want to feel like beggars, and rescue staff don’t want to deal with time-wasters. We had fruitful discussions about my shortlisted dogs.

I later learnt that Romanian Rescue Appeal has around 1,000 dogs in its care across several shelters in Romania. It was founded by Briton Lindsey Church, who has since stepped down from running the charity to concentrate on her family. I interviewed her for Wunderdog’s website, and it became clear that hers is quite a typical story: a kind-hearted person sees dogs in need and decides to do something instead of walking away. Lindsey has saved thousands of dogs, and Romanian Rescue Appeal is a wonderful charity.

One thing that still makes me laugh about the adoption process was when I was home-checked, the volunteer brought with her two lurchers that immediately peed against all my furniture. I think that was a test!

How easy was it to get your rescue dog to the UK?

Goldie in Epping Forest

The charity needs to sort all that out. Since Brexit and the brucellosis incident a few years ago, Defra has greatly strengthened the import protocol. UK-registered charities that import dogs from overseas need to be licenced, as does the transport company (if the charity doesn’t use its own vans).
Adopters really need to check that the charities comply with Defra’s new regime, and I also strongly recommend that dogs coming in from countries where leishmaniosis is present are tested before travelling. Leish is a degenerative disease that needs to be managed carefully and as soon as it’s detected. You can find out more about the testing protocols on Wunderdog Magazine here.

As for dogs coming in from outside of Europe, there’s a chance that your dog may be flown to continental Europe and then brought to the UK. In this case, the paperwork may be different, and I would advise you to ensure the charity is aware of that. Soi Dog Foundation in Thailand is a leading dog charity that is always very helpful.

How easy was it for you to adopt?

My first rescue dog, Pippa, as mentioned above, was my foster dog first, so the charity knew we were a good fit. I definitely recommend fostering first! I often hear that charities reject applications outright because of the lack of a garden. I reject that argument – sadly, many dogs do have access to a garden, but then what? If there’s nobody to play with and nothing to do, a patch of grass isn’t enrichment. What matters is that this little pack animal we’re adopting has a pack and plenty of stimulation.
Adopters with small children also find the process difficult, and I have more sympathy with charities on this matter. The risk of something bad happening with a toddler and a new dog is simply too big, and the charity risks bad headlines and reviews online.

What did you think about rescue dogs before adopting?

Second Chance Stories Nina & Goldie

I never bought into the idea that rescue dogs had more behavioural issues than bred/bought dogs. After all, if it was just the adopted dogs that had issues, dog trainers and behaviourists would be out of most of their work!
In truth, most rescue dogs have hit a rough patch, most likely because a human let them down. This made them more resilient – they experienced ups and downs in a more pronounced way than dogs that never had to go through this trauma. They also had to be more resourceful and learn to trust again. So, rescue dogs have – through their bout of tough luck  – become more interesting, more characterful and unique. If you want a ‘cookie-cutter’ dog, sure – get one from a breeder. If you want a real character, get a rescue dog. I always wonder what stories they could tell if they were human!

What do you think about rescue dogs after adopting?

It hasn’t changed my mind, but affirmed my belief that rescue dogs have far more character than traditionally bred/bought dogs. And because their experiences are different, the outcome is different too. You can generalise rescue dogs to a certain degree – some are fearful of men, some are fearful of the outside, etc. – but beyond these broad generalisations their true character is unique.
What I really enjoy seeing is the different groups of rescue dogs that live in London interact with each other. Goldie, for example, who is from Romania, always spots fellow Rommies whenever we bump into them on walks. Especially on Walthamstow Marshes, we often bump into other dogs from south-east Europe. They have a look about them – the confident walk, fluffy tail, and quite often an underbite. And when I chat with their owners, I realise that Goldie is both unique and not – all Rommies have character quirks, they are all individuals. It reminds me of the scene in the Life of Brian: “You are all individuals!” “I’m not!”

What is your message to anyone who is thinking of getting a rescue?

Nina & Goldie

Go for it! You won’t get the dog you think you want; you’ll get the dog you didn’t think you deserved! You’ll get a little canine being whose DNA has, for 15,000 years, been selected to be your best friend. And since you adopted that little canine being, they will be your grateful best friend who thinks of you as the best thing since sliced treats!

What have you learnt from rescuing your dog?

Well, Goldie is very funny and also quite bossy. Apparently, she got the latter from me! Seriously, I have a unique dog who is unlike any other dog I’ve ever met, and she surprises me every day. Rescues, especially village dogs, have a strong character and can be quite independent, so you have to work for their affection and sometimes just learn to let them be their quirky little selves. I would never have a dog of a specific breed, as their DNA has been meddled with too much. I feel sorry for these cookie-cutter dogs that all look the same and act the same.

What are your favourite things to do in London with your rescue dog?

Second Chance Stories Nina & Goldie  on a muddy walk

We love Hampstead Heath as it’s huge and has so much to do for the dogs. Goldie always comes back completely muddy and sleeping for the rest of the day. Walthamstow Marshes isn’t pretty, but it’s also great for the dogs, and we always meet other rescues from southeast Europe. Goldie also loves to go to the shops on Upper Street with me, although I wouldn’t take her into busier shopping areas.
Last Christmas, we took advice from The Dogvine and went to the Egerton Hotel for Doggy High Tea. The girls absolutely loved it!

Second Chance Stories: Nina & Goldie

Thank you, Nina & Goldie, for sharing your Second Chance Story and also some of Pippa and Tara’s, too. Belinha and I were lucky enough to meet beautiful Pippa, and it’s been wonderful watching Goldie continue Pippa’s legacy at Wunderdog Magazine.

We still have more of these inspiring Second Chance Stories to share from our Rescue Dogs of London Community, together with Miss Darcy’s Adventures (they feature on alternate days on our blogs), so look out for them in the run-up to our Rescue Dogs of London & Friends Meetup on 12 May and National Rescue Dog Day on 20 May.  

Rescue Dogs of London & Friends Meetup

And if you would like to join us for the Rescue Dogs of London & Friends Meetup on May 12th, you’ll find a copy of the brilliant Wunderdog Magazine in your goodie bag, and that’s not all…

The inaugural Rescue Dogs of London & Friends Meetup is on 12 May from 11 am, at the Queen Caroline’s Temple in Kensington Gardens. Tickets are just £20 (+ Eventbrite fee), and you can get yours on Eventbrite. 100% of the event proceeds go to two deserving charities ZEM Rescues in Greece (the Animal Welfare Association of Megara)and Harbin Slaughterhouse Survivors in China.

Here’s what’s included with your ticket:

  • Meetup at the Queen Caroline’s Temple in Kensington Gardens – there’s plenty of space and plenty of leafy shade too.
  • Making memories – included in your ticket is a photo of your pup (or you & your pup) taken by legendary London dog Photographer Andrew from Raven Imagery. Photos will be emailed to attendees after the Meetup.
  • Knowing your doggy social life is helping dogs in need, as 100% of proceeds from this event will go to two amazing dog rescues/shelters, as mentioned above.
  • Respected London Dog Behaviourist and Trainer Emilia O’Hara will be at the meetup to share her expertise and answer any dog training or behaviour questions.
  • Plus, there will be surprises from our pawsome Meetup partners The Rockster PAWD DRINKS Biome9 & WagWorks and treats to take home with a brilliant Goodie Bag from Beautiful Joes, Wunderdog Magazine, James & Ella, Caboodle, Project Harmless & Pawer Water.
  • Don’t forget, you can treat your pup to a box of special edition Rescue Dog Cookies from Darcy’s Bakery, created especially for the Rescue Dogs of London & Friends Meetup.

All dogs are welcome for this Meetup – rescues and friends of rescues, so we hope to see you there!

Our Partners for the Inaugural Rescue Dogs of London & Friends Meetup

Rescue Dogs of London Meetup Partners

With Thanks to our Meetup Partners

  • WagWorks: WagWorks is a new and unique concept challenging traditional canine care. Our premium membership club for dogs conveniently incorporates all aspects of care under one roof, all led by highly knowledgeable and passionate industry experts.
  • Biome9: BIOME9 has launched a revolutionary gut health test for dogs. GutDiscovery® is a simple, at-home test using pioneering science to analyse what’s happening inside your dog’s gut. It removes the guesswork from their diet and helps to support their long-term well-being.
  • PAWD DRINKS: PAWD DRINKS is a range of preventative and functional liquid health supplements for dogs that are scientifically designed to target common health-related issues.
  • The Rockster: Rockster quite simply has established a new standard in calibre of ingredients, dog nutrition and palatability never seen before in the industry. Hailed as “more than just food”, Rockster is the only Bio-organic dog food in the world that is certified as a superfood in its own right, having transformed the lives of many dogs.
  • Raven Imagery: Renowned and internationally published London dog photographer Andrew Richardson from Raven Imagery, with a long background of working with rescue dogs, has a stunningly unique way of storytelling through his canine portraiture. For the modern city dogs to the rescued jet setters.
  • Darcy’s Bakery: Darcy’s Bakery is an artisanal dog bakery specialising in catering for parties, events and brand collaborations in Central London. We make bespoke dog-friendly cakes, pupcakes, cookies, brownies and donuts.

And our Goodie Bag Partners

  • Beautiful Joe’s Dog Treats: Beautiful Joe’s offers a range of irresistible, completely natural, handmade treats. Whenever someone buys a bag of our delicious dog treats, we give some to a rescue centre. To date, we have given away over £700,000 worth.
  • Wunderdog Magazine: Wunderdog is an independent magazine for rescue dogs and their people. Published twice a year in London, Wunderdog covers international stories of dog rescuers and those who work every day to make the world happier and safer for our canine companions.
  • Caboodle: Delicious meals in daily boxes, perfectly portioned for your pooch. High in protein and with 100% natural ingredients, it’s doggie delight delivered!
  • James & Ella: We’re James & Ella, by James Middleton. A happiness and well-being company for dogs.
  • Project Harmless: Project Harmless offers the award-winning Harmless Poop Bag, made of medical grade, water-reactive, and non-toxic material. It can rapidly disintegrate in landfills and our oceans, posing no harm to the environment, marine and wildlife.
  • Pawer Water: Pawer Water is the new hydration supplement for your dog’s wellness. Our pocket-sized 4.5g sticks are packed with electrolytes to hydrate faster and 7 pawerful active ingredients to strengthen their bones, skin, and coat.

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