Village dogs

There is a common knowledge in the rural area of Romania that dogs are tools which are meant to be exploited; they are not man's best friend, but man's best tool of keeping thieves or wild animals far away from his household. Dogs do their jobs better if they're starved, chained, beaten, mistreated, ignored; these methods go as far as people can remember and they are known to build a guard dog's character.
Usually, village dogs' diet consists of bread, polenta, raw corn or, if they are truly lucky, that days' leftovers. Sometimes, they are given a full, even though filthy, bowl of water; usually, in the winter time, people don't bother to water their dogs, with all the free snow going around. For a guard dog to be as efficient as possible, they have to live chained outside, far away from people, best in the back of the yard with a very tight chain. It is essential they build up their anger and frustration for the night time when they are released and given the privilege of guarding their territory. They are never given any attention during the day and the only words that can describe a village dog are "bad", "good", "stupid", "clever", "useless", "mean", which is considered being very good at what he does, being mean to thieves. 
A village dog will hardly ever be described by his owner as being "sociable", "friendly", "adorable", "cheeky", "inquisitive" and the owner will have problems in describing even their physical features, because such qualities in a village dog are completely useless. Children hardly ever share their time with dogs, because they are labor animals meant to stay in the back of the yard, not running around, playing; playing and normal dog behavior won't feed them at the end of the day. 

A big size dog spends her days here for the past 10 years, she is released during the night; she is so scared of people, she never got out of her dog house for 2 days, while we were there

In a rural household, there is no less valuable animal than the dog. A dog doesn't give milk and eggs and one can't eat dogs. They are good for guarding, but not all of them are excellent at it. If they have the audacity of eating eggs or chicken (because all they ever eat is bread and they are terribly hungry for proteins), they are instantly killed, hanged or stabbed with a fork. If a dog gets sick, people don't usually call the village vet, it would be a waste of time and money, cause dogs are for free and as long as you can keep the old chain (very valuable for people), you can always chain another dog to it. 

Chains are used as collars

A village dog who never had a normal collar on

The rural medicine for dogs states that burning their nose will build up their immunity and help fight against Distemper, so most of the village dogs have the "V" burnt on their noses, giving them an "evil" look that will make them even more efficient as keeping thieves (and everyone else) away. 

The stray dogs issue is not that common in the rural area, because people there always knew how to handle it: they drown newborns twice a year, sometimes keeping a male puppy, if the dog has proven to be a good guard dog, in the hope this very highly valued quality will stay in the family. Usually female dogs are considered whores, guilty of neighbors' dogs crashing the fences in their desperate attempt to mate. Mother dogs are not given special treatment or fed more. She is usually cursed all through her pregnancy.
Making a good guard dog means they have no shades in the summer and no proper shelter in the winter. People don't consider them beings, so it never crosses their minds that dogs run by the same general laws as a human being or as a cow or a pig (animals with commercial value ).

A village dog lives in complete solitude and darkness; they will never know what a normal relationship with their owner feels like and their owner and his family will never get to really know their dog. The dog is, after all, a lifeless tool having the inconvenience that it has to be  watered and feed  from time to time. 
Village dogs are nothing but broken spirits; they are reduced to their primary instinct of defending what's theirs and attacking who ever looks suspicious. They sometimes are so desperate for human contact that they jump on their owners, inviting them to play; they are chained further away in the back of the yard.
All this I learned ever since I was a child in my grandmother's home; she considered herself an animal lover and always kept cats and  dogs around her household. The cats were kept outside and the dog was always chained in a different area of the yard of that where we spent the day. I didn't know I was supposed to play with the dog and the cats were always full of fleas. I was afraid of the dog, Ghiocel (Snowdrop), and took his jumping on me to play as attempts to attack me when I went to the toilet (built in the back of the yard, as most village households still use). I was afraid of dogs until I was 19 years old and never paid attention to them as living beings. If cats were stealing food off the table, they were taken away from home and dumped somewhere, I never knew or asked where...if dogs got sick, they died and my grandmother found another one and he would take the place of the one before him, same chain, same dog house, same old pans as food and water bowls...
After I started my rescue work I took some dogs to my grandmother's house, some stayed there (Zambiluta, her favorite dog, although she is not very good at guarding and sleeps with the hens). Others had to stay inside until they got used to living outside, I remember Biluta (little ball) hiding under the bed for the first 3 weeks and even had to sleep in bed with me, so she felt safe. My grandmother was besides herself with wonder at the though a dog is sleeping in her bed, as this is hardly ever seen in the rural world; she even said she would be the laughingstock of the village if people found out about it.
Ever since I can remember, we were always afraid of the shepherd dogs, we all knew they were raised to kill whatever crossed their land. I knew they were "vicious" dogs and I would stand no chance if attacked by them. I never bothered to ask myself or others about their lives, if they are fed or happy, this was not the issue. I recently was given the chance to see them face to face and the image broke my heart: terrified, skinny, matted with thistle, wild, noses burnt; their expression told people off, because that is what they know, to keep people off, to guard the sheep, to bite and attack who ever passes by. One older dog looked as if he wanted nothing from the world, while the youngest of the pack, a 6 months old male was screaming and fighting and trying to keep people away with his young teeth. His owner thinks it is all right to hang him by the neck and children think he is a "mean" dog because he reacts to fear and mistreat; he most likely never knew anything else but fear, maybe even felt it in his mother's womb (also a member of the shepherd's pack). The unwanted puppies are killed, as simple as any other task in a shepherd's life.

His eyes say it all...no more!

Reaching for his mom, for safety

There is so much need for spay/neuter and, most of all, for education in the village area of Romania! People need to be shown what truly amazing creatures live in their yards and children need to be taught to play with them. I have seen wonder in people's eyes when we cuddle their dogs and they cannot understand why we treat them with such respect and love. Both they and their dogs live in total darkness and it is such a shame both of them are missing the amazing bound that exists between man and dog.
Please support Romania Animal Rescue in their struggle to purchase a mobile clinic so that more village dogs get help and more people are educated through the good example! Our goal is to bring light into the helpless animals' lives and educate children for a brighter future.
Please join our event and become part of the solution: https://www.facebook.com/events/391570484382920/ !

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