Why was the rescue founded and what has it done to date?
The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Club of Great Britain has been working to raise awareness of our breed, its needs, tendencies and lifestyle requirements for years. We are facing two big challenges: one is the rise of “uneducated” demand for the breed following movies portraying wolves, the other is the supply of unethical breeding of CWDs and crosses thereof.
While Club members have a history of ad hoc rescuing, there was a single organisation in Wolf Dog Rescue who was available for dogs in need.
When earlier they announced their closure, the Club immediately realised that this would spell trouble – anyone looking to rehome a CWD would not have anyone to turn to easily. Within days the committee agreed to start the CWDR. This is not unusual – most breed clubs have dedicated rescues, and although we had little time to plan and an already overstretched team, we all felt strongly enough that a rescue was in the best interest of our breed.
We started operating on bare bones, setting up a facebook group, and sharing our decision on the wolfdog pages on facebook, where the community gathers. Some volunteers came forward, offering up transport or foster care where needed, donations, or simply words of support, all of which were greatly appreciated. And so the work began…
The rescue receives an influx of messages from facebook, instagram, our website, referrals, and there are three members currently triaging and answering these. Some reach out because they need some guidance, others require their dogs to have a full behavioral assessment and training programme… and sometimes they need us to drive through the night to collect dogs before they are sold off online to unchecked buyers, or worse. In some cases, the outcomes are epic – dogs that transform with the right advice, those that blossom when they are taken to a new home that is suited to their needs…Unfortunately that’s not always the case. The rescue work is hard, and when it doesn’t work out, it is absolutely devastating.
We want to share the stories of some of the dogs we have worked with so you can get a feel for the variety of situations the Rescue has faced in its first 6 months. We will aim to share regular updates but we have very few boots on the ground, so forgive us if these don’t come as often as you would like. If you want to support CWDR, there are several things you can do:
- Raise awareness – join our page and share it, so if people ever do need support, they know that we exist.
- Sign up to be a volunteer – can you provide transport for dogs in need, or maybe foster? Get in touch!
- Donate – the rescue is run entirely on donations, the money goes toward paying for dogs to get them out of bad situations, healthcare, transport and food. You can PayPal to email@example.com with reference “rescue”.
- Attend events – Lookout for shows, packwalks and other fundraising events. The next one is the CWDCGB Annual Breed Show on Oct 6th, where you can show your support, donate , and talk to the team.
- Be Supportive – we are just starting on this journey and we are doing our very best. We are already stretched very thin, dealing with negativity online sucks up time and energy that could otherwise go toward helping dogs. We absolutely do welcome suggestions and ideas on how to improve, and welcome anyone who wants to contribute to the growth of the rescue to join us.
Without further ado – here are the stories of 6 dogs. Their names and identifiable details of people have been changed in places, in order to maintain privacy.
Kira was spotted on a website – she was named China, but we have changed the name, you will learn why by the end of this article. The website is known to be used as a general advertisement board, not a suitable way to sell a dog, and on top of this Kira was listed as a husky. This immediately rang alarm bells for people, who reached out to CWDR (this is why awareness is so important to us!). Within 24 hours, Kira was traveling back from the pound where she was kept, in the safe hands of CWDR. She had been staying with the Dog Warden, in kennels where she was stressed and unhappy, and likely to end up in an unsuitable home due to the lack of breed knowledge. Kira has a chip, and the pound contacted the registrar (likely the breeder), but never got a response. During her assessment in the pound, the poor animal was hiding under chairs, tail wrapped under her legs, scared and unsure. We were told she liked other dogs, so the team brought a transport companion to help her settle in during her travel back. The moment Kira saw a crate, she tried getting into it immediately, even though it was closed. This led the rescuer to believe she was crate trained, and now offers her to sleep in one overnight to make her feel safe and familiar.
Three days later, Kira is really coming out of her shell. She has been introduced to a raw diet, and her stomach is settling. She plays with younger and older dogs, gives kisses to her foster, and goes on several countryside walks every day. She walks on leash nicely, that’s until she sees rabbits at least – she does seem to want to chase them, but doesn’t mind the sheep in the field next door. Kira is staying in a kennel run, she isn’t showing any signs of separation anxiety from humans, but will likely want to be in a household with another dog, as she really does seem to enjoy their company. Some messages for interest have come in, which we are grateful for, but we are in no rush – the assessment continues so that we are sure that we have the right home for this 6 year old lady.
A few weeks ago a video of dogs at a slaughterhouse in China went viral. One of the team members spotted, in the melee of dogs painfully tied up, a scrawny wolfdog being moved out of a truck. We immediately started tracking the source of the video, to see if the dog was alive. We don’t have the capacity to support rescues worldwide, but the situation was so extreme and heartbreaking, it was decided that we would try and find the dog. With a bit of luck, someone recognized a man on the video as a rescuer from the UK, we made contact and he confirmed he had seen the dog. Upon CWDR’s request, he went back to the slaughterhouse to buy it off and bring it to a rescue. CWDR paid for the dog, and started organizing funds to have it go through a vaccination and quarantine cycle, and then be brought to France, before coming into the UK. Hope was in sight for Sarabi as she entered the Plush Bear rescue in China, started by a local woman trying to get as many dogs out of the meat trade as she could. Two days later, Sarabi sadly passed away from distemper. You may recognize the name of the disease as it is a standard vaccination in the UK. Unfortunately it is highly contagious through bodily fluids, and in the slaughterhouses where dogs are covered in urine and blood, distemper is a common problem and the fatality rate is very high.
We sought to find out which breeder was selling dogs to slaughter, and uncovered a dark reality of the meat trade : these are not dogs bred for meat, but unwanted pets being disposed of willingly by owners who no longer want them. Our hearts break for all the animals in this situation, and we are so grateful for the rescue organisations who do their best to save as many as they can. Rest in Peace Sarabi.
Timon and Pumba
These two males were imported separately, live in different parts of the country, and from what we know have never met each other, but we are telling their stories together because they were both on the brink of being given up, when receiving appropriate advice and training turned their situations around.
Timon was very destructive, could not be left alone at all, his owners were at their wits end. They talked at length with a team member, and made some big changes as a result – they booked the dog into daycare so that he wouldn’t suffer at home alone and get sufficient exercise, began crate training so that he has a safe space, and booked in with a local dog trainer to build up his mental stimulation and engagement. They bought lots of enrichment toys, Kongs and bones, so that when they start introducing alone time the dog is happily occupied. Timon is doing much better now, and was not handed over to CWDR – his family are working with him, but they know we are on hand if they need us.
Pumba was struggling too, his tummy was always upset and he had turned from an outgoing pup into a reclusive teenager. First thing, the behaviorist recommended a diet change, which had a quick improvement on the dog’s demeanor. Next, the owners were advised to socialize him in a controlled setting – a puppy class was a good start. It has been 5 months and Pumba has gone through the Kennel Club Good Citizen Scheme Foundations, Bronze and Silver, and will be attempting Gold. He isn’t a social butterfly, and might never be, but his confidence is growing and he is calm, focused and very much loved by his family.
Mufasa came in as an older male dog, purchased from an unscrupulous breeder. He was bought as a puppy but due to a family separation, he had to be given up – the owners decided to keep the other two dogs, which were even older. They said Mufasa was a big, kind dog, that never caused them any problems, was relaxed with people, had all his vaccinations up to date, and lived happily with young children. One of the breeders had a list of buyers for her own litters, some of which had also expressed interest in adopting older dogs, so she started searching for a family to take him in. The rescue eventually found a home that had working breed experience, the time to take him on long walks, lived next to woodland, had a secured fence and was eager to take him in. They called back for support and training with separation anxiety and general obedience, working with Mufasa as he settled into his new home.
Owners of this young lady reached out to the rescue because they had problems with her growling at the other pet dog – a middle aged toy breed that enjoyed sitting on her human’s knees and getting attention. When a behaviorist was sent out by CWDR to assess the setup, she immediately noticed the chihuahua was guarding the family sofa time as its own resource. If Nala tried walking past, she would be starred at, if she moved in for a chin scratch, the Chihuahua’s entire body language would change, stiffening and eventually pulling its lips up. The family was not equipped to read the interactions correctly, and the behaviorist decided that a young wolfdog with a resource guarding toy breed, in a family that wasn’t set up to train around these interactions, was too risky, and so decided to take her in. She looked through her papers, and contacted the breeder, who had given lifetime assurance to each litter he bred. The family were amazed to find out they could have reached out to the breeder for support at any time, and never needed to put Nala in rescue, even though this was clearly spelled out in their contract. The breeder took back Nala, and found her a new home some weeks later. Nala has settled in there now, living with other dogs, chickens and horses. She is being trained around livestock and making great progress in her new home.
All the other dogs
The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Club of Great Britain has been working to raise awareness of You heard the stories of 6 different dogs – there are many others with their own challenges, struggles, setbacks and unfortunate circumstances we have worked with this year, and we know unfortunately more will come. We celebrate every dog that has a happy ending, and frankly we cry for those that don’t.
One question we get repeatedly is why we are rescuing a particular type of wolfdog. We are a club with expertise in the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, so this is where we feel best placed to help. The reality is that at least half of the wolf dogs we have been involved with so far are not purebred, but they behave enough like CWDs for us to be the best resource to help them. We are fully supportive of any wolfdog in need – we always advertising all wolf dogs to our list of adopters and fosters, we are linking these up to specialist rescues where possible. In some cases, individuals on the team have stepped in themselves and taken dogs that are completely outside the remit of the CWDR, because they were in such dire situations. Some months ago, a mid content hybrid was driven down all the way from Scottish islands, where it was due to be destroyed after killing livestock, because a team member could not see anyone fit to help, so she took her in of her own accord, rehabilitated her and placed her in a family with racing sled dogs, where she now happily lives with the pack.
In an ideal world we would help all the dogs – not just the Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs, but the other types of wolf dogs… and the wolfalikes… and the huskies and akitas being sold irresponsibly for their looks too. As an organisation we want to be realistic and effective, and so we are biting off what we can chew. If you are passionate about saving the wolf dogs that we might not be able to support, please get in touch and we will send these requests onto you any time we receive them, and will be ever so grateful for your support and hard work.