'Mike and I had discussed getting a dog for a long time and having grown up with rescue dogs there was really no other option in my opinion. I discovered Wild at Heart Foundation through the blog ‘The Londoner’ and immediately loved their whole ethos. I started following them on all forms of social media, not realising how quickly I would fall in love with a little blonde beauty from Romania. We were in the middle of buying a house and everything just fell into place - 4 days after exchanging the gorgeous Rula (originally known as Bonnie) popped up on my Instagram feed and I was besotted. The application process was thorough, well organised and easy to follow. We completed our home check on the day we got the keys to our new house and 10 days later, in Feb 2017 Rula arrived.
As she was passed to us, off the back of a very noisy van, she snuggled up into Mike’s arms before being carried into the house. We thought she was perfect. We were so distracted by her cuteness that we forgot the first instruction we were meant to follow and she had an accident in the house….completely our fault! However, we were lucky, this was the only accident she ever had. Somehow we had a house trained puppy, it was a miracle!
Rula was very shy to start with as she entered her new surroundings, having a sniff around the house and keeping her distance from us. She needed a bath but considering she had been travelling for four days she was not really mucky at all! The first time I tried to take her out the house was to visit the vet to register her, she point blank refused to move and I ended up carrying her to and from. It took some time for her to be happy leaving the house, she didn’t like her lead and harness, she didn’t like going out the front door and she definitely didn’t like when it was dark outside. We used a lot of gentle coaxing and eventually she realised that outside was a wonderful place with lots of new things to sniff and lots of squirrels to chase.
As time went on she came out of her shell and developed into an extremely intelligent, cheeky and playful pup. Even more perfect than we initially thought! The first ever outing for the three of us was to the pub, she fell asleep under the table and seemed to feel as at home in our local as we do. Since then she has come with us to pubs, restaurants, street food markets and on day trips on the train to visit friends out of town. She loves travelling on the tube, she learnt early on that if she lies down in the middle of the walkway she gets an abundance of attention from the people around her. Spontaneous nights out don’t happen as often as they used to but when they do they are to dog friendly venues and she comes with us.
She has fitted in with our lifestyle well, as a social couple in central London we wanted to make sure that she would be out and about with us as often as possible! She is loved by our friends and family, the workers at her day care and other dog owners at the park. When we are on holiday or weekends away we get a lot of offers to take care of her and on nights out I think it is actually Rula people want to see, we just also happen to be there!
We don’t really know what kind of mix Rula is and everyone has their opinions on what she is (generally collie mixed with anything from Kokoni to Australian Sheepdog to Shiba Inu). We often get asked if she is a ‘designer’ breed and I am always very proud to say that she is a one off special. The only thing we can be 100% sure of is that she runs extremely fast and loves to stalk other dogs before pouncing on them to play. She does require a good long walk each day and we have a wonderful day care that she goes to a couple of times a week. She is extremely social with other dogs and at day care she gets the chance to spend hours in woodlands playing with dogs of all different ages and sizes. Every time she returns a slightly grubby and exhausted dog.
We are very lucky that Mike works from home most days so she generally just chills out with him until it is time to go out. In the winter months we arrange for a dog walker to come during the day so she doesn’t have to go out in the dreaded dark. She has puzzles and toys to keep her entertained in the house and she loves to ‘re-landscape’ our garden often. She doesn’t like the rain or puddles (heaven forbid she gets her paws wet!) and would rather have no walk than one in the rain. Whilst this may seem great, as no one really likes to walk in the rain, it can result in a very playful pup jumping on you at 2am wanting some exercise!
Rula seems to be terrified of foxes and there is noticeable panic when she hears them in the night. We have spoken to the dog behaviourist that WAHF works with (David) and he has offered some great advice and homework for us to work on! Unfortunately, it is not the easiest thing to work on as we can not properly introduce her to a fox and we can not keep them away. We hope eventually she won’t be so bothered by them but this is a work in progress.
We have spent a lot of time on her training and whilst she isn’t going to enter Crufts any time soon she follows most of our commands and is a well behaved dog. It took a while to get her off lead and we still use high value treats to ensure she comes back to us when there are better options in the park. It is amazing how she can suddenly become deaf in one ear when there is a dog she wants to play with across the common!
I can’t speak highly enough of WAHF and the work that they do. They have been incredibly supportive on our journey and I have always felt that they were there if we needed any help. The Facebook group is a wonderful support network for when things are going well and for when they are more difficult. Whilst there are some struggles, every day with Rula is one full of fun and new adventures. No matter how stressful and manic your day is, everything is forgotten when you walk through the door to her wagging not just her tail but most of her body.
She has made our new house a proper home.'
- Samantha Harlow