It’s been a while since ISCP member Rowena posted about her challenging journey with Cauta, the Romanian street dog she adopted. Today’s sad blog demonstrates that sometimes even love, dedication and skill aren’t always enough when the environment is wrong for a dog.

Where to begin? So many things have occurred since the last post, such a jumble of knots. We hoped so much for Cauta to be ok. We prepared meticulously, but one incident after another piled up.

We had to face the bleak situation of realising the narrowing options that Cauta had. We consulted those with far more experience than us. The verdict was clear: it would be a huge risk to have him at home with a newborn. So I set about trying to find a place for Cauta. I entered a world of doors being continually slammed in my face, because rescues were full, because he was Romanian and not British, but most of all because he had bitten. This is the grim reality and completely understandable, when there are so many dogs needing homes, why take one who has used his teeth in the past?

We tried everything we could think of but still the doubts go round and round…could I have tried harder, tried something else, been different, more committed? What if…?

The truth I suspect is close to what one of his specialist vets told us, that if he lived on a mountain in rural Wales he wouldn’t have behavioural problems. We gave all we could and more, we gave until we were empty and then kept crawling. Kev contracted pneumonia, I sank under the strain of taking Cauta out with a newborn, devising endless enrichment games at home and being consumed with worry for all our futures.

How did we get here, from that first meeting in the twilight of Romania?

He had come so far, we got to the point where, if he was with Kev he could look at the trigger and then look at Kev for chicken, where he would recall away, where he could wear a muzzle happily, where his on leash reactivity was minimised. But still the incidents happened, even with a muzzle, even with all the precautions and training we could think of, still safety issues loomed large. We fretted and planned and Cauta’s world became smaller.

The heartbreaker was that, generally he was well mannered, responsive, able to be calm and listen, but the times he wasn’t had devastating consequences. His past trauma, his breed, his physical injuries, size and background all intertwined to work against him.

Knowing this, we knew that with a baby in the house there would be no second chances, no going back if Cauta lost his shit. I vowed to do everything I could not to allow that situation to arise. It is beyond exhausting, completely numbing and the most frequent emotion is one of despair.

Luna kept me going, by licking our little cub’s feet when he cried, by refusing to leave his side, by staying close and doting on us. We hunkered down and waited, we tried to find a place for Cauta through rescues, charities, friends, but so far nothing has materialised. This has been going on for months, hope curdled over and over again.

Tomorrow Cauta will go to emergency kennels because we cannot go on, we are spent, physically, emotionally and financially. At least there we know he is safe. There is a place for him at a specialist rehabilitation centre with his original charity, but there is no space there yet. The future is uncertain.

What I wished for Cauta was a place where he could be Cauta, a place with space where he could be how he was designed. I still hope for this for him and we will keep trying. But right now I can’t help feeling I have failed, betrayed him somehow, let him down. I am sorry Cauta. I am sorry I couldn’t be who you needed. I am sorry.