Let me set the scene for you. Kosovo has a terrible problem with stray cats and dogs. They are everywhere. It takes us less than 5 minutes to walk to work, and it’s pretty normal to see a few dogs running around, and a few cats fighting or hiding under cars. Many of our colleagues have adopted a cat or dog (or several) during their time here. Not us. We live in a small second floor apartment, we do not have a yard, and we have a fat cat that wants nothing to do with any other living species, including us most of the time since the baby arrived. Oh yeah, and we have that baby now. In addition to the immediate concerns and logistics of taking on another pet, when you are in the FS you have to think about the long term issues (including major expenses) of moving your pets around the world with you. We also travel frequently, and it’s hard enough leaving our cat and worrying about her care.
Surely I’ve convinced you that we are the last people in the whole wide world who should be taking a dog home.
Friday morning I was on my way to work when I heard a whimper to my left. I looked over and saw a small, cute puppy hobbling towards me with a bandaged front paw. She followed me another minute or two until I arrived at work. I knelt down to pet her and she was shaking and quiet. Another woman who was walking her dog had also stopped to see the puppy. I called JR and asked him to meet me out in front of the Embassy because there was a hurt puppy and I didn’t know what to do. He came out a few minutes later and gave me a look that was equal parts “oh that poor puppy, you have such a big heart to want to help” and “seriously you are nuts, why are you dragging me into this.”
I asked him if we could just keep her for a day or two, take her to the vet and get her checked out, and then drop her off at a shelter. Easy peasy, right? He was less than thrilled but agreed. Then came the discussion of what we would do with the puppy while we were at work all day. Luckily, the other woman who had stopped agreed to keep the puppy at her house until 5pm.
So off we went to our respsective offices, me feeling like I had done a good deed and JR contemplating divorce. At 5pm on the nose, we gathered up the puppy and took her to the vet just down the street. Her poor paw was infected. The vet suspects she was hit by a car, then someone took her to a vet to get her paw stitched and wrapped, and then put her back out on the street. 😦 We met a Canadian woman there who works to get stray dogs fostered or adopted back in Canada, and as often as possible, she flies them there as cargo. When I told her that we planned to take the puppy to a shelter the next day, she was adamant that we could not do that.
Apparently the shelter situation in Kosovo that was at one time just bad is now in a really horrible state. There was a reputable shelter (even there, it’s not like a shelter in the US. Dogs are often outside in a shared yard where many die from fighting and disease.) but the founder was frustrated by the lack of help from the local government, so he ordered that all of the rescued animals be put back on the street. Over 600 cats and dogs! One of his staff members was trying to keep them all, but then he had a heart attack. So there was literally no one to provide food and water to the animals in their enclosures. Jill, the woman we met at the vet, and some of her friends, along with the vet and his colleagues, were trying to rescue as many of those animals as they could.
I was extremely naive to assume that we could help the puppy get better and then drop her off someplace safe and call it a day. In less an 10 hours, I had somehow acquired a puppy and it was my responsibility to find her a home or keep her.
And so began our weekend with the puppy. To be continued…