A happy ending in Lancashire for Ralph the Romanian street dog
PUBLISHED: 00:00 25 May 2016
With one ear and one eye, there’s a happy ending in Lancashire for the Romanian street dog subjected to horrific cruelty. Emily Rothery reports
You’d be hard pressed to find a sweeter more affectionate dog than Ralph. He lives happily with his beloved owner, Ursula Dalton, who runs Moorview Equestrian Centre, near Darwen, yet two years ago he was living on the streets of Bucharest where he survived by eating rats and foraging for scraps. During his time on the streets Ralph was attacked, probably in his sleep, with acid which left him with just one ear and severe injuries to his skin and one eye.
A kind hearted Romanian family took him in and from there the charity K-9 Angels took over. The UK registered charity educates people about animal welfare and prides itself on improving the quality of existence of our canine friends, particularly strays, from all over the world. It provides a much needed network link between dog rescuers in foreign countries and prospective adopters in the UK.
Ralph was given care and medical attention and his picture and details were then posted on the charity’s website. At the time Ursula was looking for a new dog. ‘I was surfing the internet and came across K-9 Angels. The same dog kept coming up again. I noticed that the cute, cuddly dogs were being adopted but this one wasn’t. He was different because of his bald patches, missing ear and damaged eye but after speaking to K-9 Angels and giving it a bit of thought, I decided to adopt him.’
‘After we had made a donation the charity we then made all the arrangements for travel including vaccinations and passport. When we met him in London he was really pleased to meet me even though we’d never met and when we tried to put him in the back of our estate car he wasn’t having any of it and sat on my knee all the way home,’ laughs Ursula.
Soon after arriving at Ursula’s riding school, Ralph underwent a lengthy operation to repair some of the burns on his body and remove his eye. ‘He was very poorly for a fortnight but then he was fine. It’s thought that at some time in his life he has also been hit by a car so he’s done really well to recover,’ says Ursula.
Despite the plucky mongrel’s troubled start to life he immediately put his trust in Ursula, her husband John and son Jack, now eight.
‘K-9 Angels had reassured me that Ralph was good with children and it turned out that he has a really good temperament. I also needed to know that he would be good at the centre around horses and people. At first he was frightened of the horses but he’s fine with them now. He tried to chase the peacocks and the cats but now our cat Thomas is his best friend. He’s learned to give the peacocks a wide berth though!’
Ursula, who has a natural affinity with animals, already had two rescue dogs when Ralph arrived. She rescued Ella from a stray complex in Greece 14 years ago when on holiday. ‘It was a bit more difficult in those days as dogs had to be put in quarantine but once I’d seen Ella I knew that I couldn’t leave her behind. Ted came to us from Manchester Dogs Home and Ralph fits in well with both of them.
‘At first some of the clients at the riding school were a little shocked to see him but when they saw how affectionate and calm he was they soon took to him.’
Ralph now enjoys life with a loving family with plenty of food and a cosy bed yet he still loves the outdoor life. ‘Ralph really doesn’t like being in the house all the time so he stays outside all day and comes in the house at night. We go for long walks every day and he has the run of our land. I’ve recently got a tracker for him, though, because although he’s really settled here he still loves to roam.’
It’s thought that Ralph is now about four years old and had probably lived on the streets since he was born. Ralph, in contrast to his previous life, now lives on a diet of Pedigree Chum but old habits die hard. Ursula explains: ‘The one thing that we have to be wary of is Ralph’s instinct to hunt down rats which were once his staple diet. If he gets a scent, it’s nose down and he gets cloth ears even though he’s well fed.
‘We have been very lucky, though. His injuries don’t seem to impede him in any way and he’s such a well-behaved friendly boy. I think that dogs do appreciate you more if they’ve had a rough time and it’s a great feeling to know that we have given Ralph a second chance.’ w
Find out more about the charity at www.k-9angels.org