Merlin is my stunning pooch who was born on the streets of Romania roughly eight or nine years ago. He has one blue eye and one brown eye which makes him stand out and adds a touch of mystery to him I think, which is why I chose the name Merlin!

Merlin's early life

Merlin was taken off the street when he was roughly three years old by the local dog catchers in Romania. He was skinny and nervous, but he knew the local area and knew where to find food, water and which dogs to avoid. He was placed in a local shelter along with all the other dogs that were found but this particular shelter wasn’t taking him in to give him a better life, in fact it became known as “the hell hole” and was eventually shut down. Merlin was thrown into a small cage along with multiple dogs of different breeds, sizes, sexes and temperaments and was left to live in filth. The dogs there had food thrown into the cages so they had to fight or starve. Merlin is not a fighter - he’s the sweetest, kindest, most non-confrontational dog I’ve ever known so he was very underweight when he was found. Thankfully, a team of rescuers over here in the UK heard about the shelter that Merlin was at and managed to take every single dog out of there before having it shut down. They brought as many of the dogs as they could over to the UK to various rescue centres up and down the country and Merlin ended up at one close to where I was to live two years later.

The "unadoptable" dog

Sadly, it became apparent that Merlin was far too traumatised to be adopted so the founders of the rescue centre decided to keep him there for life. After a couple of years had passed, I moved close by and decided to volunteer there. I helped clean, walk and feed the farm animals, horses, cats, wildlife and dogs, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Then, one day when we had to let the dogs outside, I noticed one dark kennel right at the end of the aisle was open but still had a dog inside. I asked about this dog and was told about his past and that he won’t come out of the kennel if anyone is anywhere near it. Even the staff who had fed him for two years weren’t able to be anywhere near his kennel as he would just stay inside and shake. I hid behind the wall with the other staff and volunteers and watched this skinny, quivering, yet beautiful dog tentatively crawl outside, eyes wide open and tail between his legs. I became obsessed with finding out more about this dog who was named Chucky at the time by the kennel staff. How could a dog not be adoptable? Why was he still so scared of humans after all this time? What had happened to him? Of course I will never have all the answers but those I have managed to retrieve over the years have made it quite clear that Merlin had one of the most traumatic pasts imaginable, so bad that he will carry the emotional scars for the rest of his life.

A new beginning?

After a few months of volunteering I was offered a full-time job. I spent a lot of time getting to know Merlin and his kennel-mate Tilly, another gorgeous Romanian rescue who was much less troubled than Merlin and thus more likely to be adopted by a family in the future. After working there for a while, I decided to focus more on my dog training business, but I just knew I couldn’t leave Merlin behind to live in that cold, dark, noisy kennel for the rest of his life. The staff were surprised that I was willing to take on such a troubled dog and said that I would end up bringing him back as he would never adjust to living in a home. Fast-forward four years and Merlin is a totally different dog! He wags his tail, barks when he’s excited and loves cuddles!

If you could see him now!

Unfortunately, because Merlin was so fearful, he wouldn’t leave the back garden at our previous home but was happy enough pottering about in the garden and then taking himself back upstairs onto our bed, his favourite place. However, when we moved to our current home, a smallholding with plenty of land for the dogs to roam safely, Merlin really came out of his shell. He went from being a timid dog unable to leave the back gate to a bouncing, smiling, bubbly pup! He loves running around in the back field and even follows me to see the pigs, sheep and horses now and again. To say that I am proud of my boy is a huge understatement. No words can describe how much joy I feel when I see him running around, just being a trouble-free dog at last. He even eats out of our hands now!

All dogs deserve a second chance

There is some debate as to whether people should adopt dogs from other countries or whether they should just try and rehome the dogs over here, but in my opinion, dogs are dogs regardless of the country they were born in. If a dog is living in a hell hole and gets offered a ticket to freedom, then that dog deserves it just as much as any other dog from anywhere else in the world.

My boy is without a doubt the most troubled dog I’ve ever known, and I’ve lived and worked with thousands of rescued dogs. He will always carry the mental scars and now and again he will act out of sorts because something has reminded him of his past. But he’s grown in confidence and never ceases to amaze and inspire me. All dogs deserve a second chance.