Editor’s note: Zac was named “Bob” when Sam first adopted him. This is the first chapter about his adventures with his adoptive Mom, Sam, in the UK, since he arrived in the fall of 2017. More of Zac’s adventures to come!
So, I had stumbled across this wonderful charity called RANA (Rescue Animals of North Africa) whilst searching for a dog. My heart was still aching from the loss of my beloved spaniel a few weeks earlier. I needed something special, it had to feel right, reach-into-my-soul and grab-hold-of-my-heart kind of special!
I looked at all the lost faces on the ‘dogs to adopt’ page, I didn’t want to overlook anyone. I read all the stories, but one in particular had grabbed my attention. A sad, scared and scarred little face stared out at me from the page; Bob. He had been abandoned as a puppy with his tail chopped off, presumably for no reason other than someone had just fancied inflicting this upon him at the time! Bob had been in the shelter since 2013 (4 years!) and had, according to his short write up, resigned himself to the fact that this was all life had to offer him. He was depressed and had become reclusive, shutting himself off from the noisy madness around him. Uh oh, there it was!!!! Something had reached out and grabbed me, this boy needed to get out of there and I wanted a part in making this dog see how special he really was!
Decision Made—Bob was coming home to the UK!
As soon as I expressed an interest in Bob I was met with elated enthusiasm and told that he would be perfect for me! Suddenly I was filled with purpose, I set about reading every book and article I could find, preparing for my boy’s arrival.
RANA dealt with all the logistics and a fundraiser was created for us. I shared it everywhere I could think of where dog lovers would see. By some miracle, a very kind, anonymous person made a very generous donation…the target was hit and before I knew it, a date was set; on December 15th 2017, Bob would arrive at my door!
Preparing for Bob—My First International Adoption
The mammoth journey had begun for Bob, he had to fly from Tunis to Paris and then endure the drive all the way to Calais, through the channel tunnel and on to his new home here in Kent.
For me, I felt the prep was complete; bowls, food, treats? Check. Collar, lead, harness, ID tag? Check. Pet insurance? Check. Coat? Check. Toys? Check…about a hundred of those actually!
My Rescue Dog from Tunisia Arrives Home!
I had a sleepless night of excited/nervous anticipation and the arrival had been pushed back due to delays at the channel tunnel but finally came the knock at the door! He was here!!! In came a huge cage with a worried little face peering out at us. Once safely inside, we opened up his metal door, our eyes met and I greeted him with smiles and enthusiasm…he looked at me, horrified, and shrank back into his cell as far away as the crate would allow! Oh, well, ok, erm…food would fix this! I filled a bowl with food and another with water and he did step forward to empty the bowl after a careful 2 seconds of consideration, promptly withdrawing inside with a full belly! I couldn’t persuade him to make my acquaintance so our lovely driver, Ashley, suggested we show him the garden.
Bob Explores His New Home and Garden
The new smells were fortunately sufficiently enticing to make him venture outside. As he stood up and came forward I was amazed by his size, a tall, leggy dog stepped out tentatively. His markings were gorgeous! He stood there taking in his new surroundings with all the sights and smells.
We then took our first tiny walk together around the garden with an audience of 2 kind drivers and 1 uncertain looking husband watching on! I already knew, this handsome lad had me hooked, 100%, I would do my best to provide whatever was needed to make this work…Bob’s happiness was paramount from here on out! I knew it and my husband knew it too as he watched me walk this nervous, trembling dog around with a loving, possibly stupefied look on my face!
Reflections on My International Adoption
So this was us day 1, since then we have come a long way! I can’t say I was as prepared as I thought I was, not even close. We were far from perfect, we made mistakes, we took small steps forward and big ones backwards but I have learned a lot along the way.
We are now 3 months in and I can honestly say I haven’t regretted my choice for a second, I love this dog with all my heart, he’s smart and curious, he’s made amazing progress very quickly but I know we still have a long way to go! The warm, fuzzy feelings you get from this journey are just so rewarding, it’s worth every bit of anxious sweat I have shed!! Would I change him? NEVER! It’s been a rollercoaster to be honest, but I hope to share my experiences further, the mistakes, worries, things that helped…resources found! If you are tempted to take on a rescue dog or cat, please take a look at all the little patient, hopeful faces on RANA’s adoptions pages, you won’t regret it!
Stay tuned for more of our story, how expectation differed from reality, how some issues were overcome quickly and how we’re still working on others in this wonderful journey together.
Rescue Animals of North Africa (RANA), Ashley Walker, Sam Yusuf, Chris Yusuf.
Sam has always been passionate about animals and spent the first decade of her professional life working as a veterinary nurse for the PDSA. Her heart has always been firmly owned by the canines of the world. She has had dogs throughout her life and has taken a huge amount of emotional reward from taking on rescue dogs, particularly favouring the overlooked and ‘forgotten dogs.’
Sam is a volunteer for the Cinnamon Trust and, since Zac’s arrival in December 2017, has also become involved with RANA, helping to raise awareness via their blog about the work they do by sharing her experiences with Zac and the plight of other RANA dogs still waiting for their happy ever afters.