Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Days Are Full!!

It is Saturday morning and the clinic is wrapping up. I don't know the final count of dogs and cats that have been sterilized... it is all such a blur, but I do know that each and every dog and cat that has passed thru the surgery door this week will be part of the stray population solution here in Craiova, RO.

Dogs are given a pre-sedative in the lobby. Some dogs have owners, but most have been caught by an expert team who travel to various areas in and around the city. There was group of animals brought by a local shelter as well.

Once sedated, dogs/cats are brought in the the prep area where surgical areas are clipped, IV catheters, ear tags and endo-tracheal tubes are placed.

Surgery room...

A nurse carries a newly spayed dog to the recovery area where they are kept warm, groomed and given flea and tick preventative.

In case you are reading this and wondering WHY in the world we have traveled all the way to Romania to participate in this spayathon, I thought I would post some info I got off of the RAR website to share. 

The following is from

During the Communist regime of Nicolai Ceausescu, farmers were forced to move from their villages to Communist bloc housing in the city and to work in factories. He did not allow cats and dogs in public housing, so many were abandoned. Though Communism fell in 1989, the number of homeless cats and dogs living in cities and towns has reached crisis level.

Romania underwent a short-lived period of economic stability in the 1960s and 1970s during the early part of Nicolae Ceausescu's regime. In 1981, Ceausescu instituted an austerity program that resulted in severe shortages of food, electricity and consumer goods. In 1989, after antigovernment violence broke out, Ceausescu fled, but was captured, deposed and executed along with his wife. A 2006 presidential commission report estimated that under Communist rule (1945-1989) as many as 2 million people were killed or persecuted in Romania.

The economy continued to lag under the 1990 presidential election of Ion Iliescu, a former Communist party official. Price increases and food shortages led to civil unrest, and the closing of mines set off large-scale strikes and demonstrations by miners. In the 2000 elections, Iliescu again won the presidency. It was during his presidency that stray dogs and cats of Romania began to multiply in great numbers.

Before Communism, Romanians enjoyed a good relationship with their animals. Seen more as workers than pets, they shared their lives with many families in rural villages and were well cared for and never hungry. Dogs herded sheep and cattle, and cats hunted their food.

During the Communist era, family planning was not allowed. Romanians took desperate measures to prevent the births of more children. Some had to abandon their newborn babies who ended up in government run orphanages. Most families from rural villages were forced to move to cities, housed in crowded Communist bloc apartments, some with other families. Ordered by Ceausescu to leave their dogs and cats on the city streets, no animals were allowed in the small apartments.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I am so tired after today that I don't have much to say except that I think RAR and the medical staff do an amazing job at these clinics. I am super impressed at the efficiency and quality of medicine being practiced here. And the love that everyone involved feels for these animals is apparent in every action. I am honored to be a part of this spay-a-thon! Here a a few photos from the day:

The ladies grab an already spayed girl off the streets that is in need of some major grooming and named her Isabella.

This girl and I had some deep moments today... 

Isabella was released after her grooming session and proceeded to follow us thru the city.

Isabella and her gang...

Do you see what is hiding on the roof?

Isabella finds water.

Sunset over Craiova.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Arrived in Craiova

After 2 very full days of travel, we have arrived in Craiova, RO. SFO to Bucharest was sleepless and sureal, but all went as smoothly as possible, except for that one security check point in Heathrow where the entire contents of my luggage were dumped out and rifled thru. But, whatev, right???
We were amazed that we somehow got from the airport to our hotel last night...not only was it a struggle finding a legitimate taxi, but once we did, it was like a video game, driving faster than a bullet thru the busiest streets I've seen amongst the thunder and lightening. Woke up to a tasty Romania breakfast and braved another jaw-clenching taxi ride to the train station, where we bought tickets and somehow boarded the correct one. So far, everyone has been extremely kind and patient with our stupidity and lack of language. 
The 3 hour train ride was scenic and filled with friendly conversation from our seat mates (well, two of them, that is - the other two were busy downing a 2 1/2 litre beer and staring at us). Horse-drawn carts are common out in the fields and stray dogs dotted the landscapes. Wild roses and red poppies are in full bloom. Here in the city, dogs nap on the sidewalks and in the street medians. Many are "tagged" which means they have been already sterilized by RAR, but their sheer overwhelming presence everywhere you look is proof that there is still much work to be done. 
We were so happy to be met by Nancy and Rory of Romania Animal Rescue at the train station of Craiova, who shared that it is amazing how many LESS puppies are seen on the streets than when they first began these sterilization clinics here, which means it's working!  We have a big day ahead of us in the clinic and for now, are happily sipping on yummy wine and beer in our hotel room. Here are a few photos from our travels thus far. More to come! 
Peace, Gwyneth

on the plane

Outside our hotel, Bucharest

Much appreciated coffee!!!!!!

working horse in field, along the way...

horse and cart, Craiova

Friday, May 10, 2013

Leaving on a Jet Plane... tomorrow

We have gotten to be quite efficient at leaving.... stock up on dog and cat food, extra paper towels for the pet sitter to clean up messes that might be made by any one of our numerous aged pets we leave behind. Dishes cleaned, put away. Clean sheets in the dryer, ready for our return.
We are scheduled to leave tomorrow, and tonight we are wide awake... restless. The van is not packed. Instruments are in their cases, put away in the closet. No preliminary set lists litter the kitchen table. No makeup bag stuffed into cowgirl boots by the door.
It's all about cramming the bare minimum into carry-on luggage. It's all about scrubs and stethescope. It's all about dogs. ROMANIAN dogs. WE ARE GOING TO ROMANIA to volunteer for Romania Animal Rescue!
How this came to be is a long and beautiful story and it all has to do with one lovely animal lover by the name of Cathryn Heart. She and I first connected over the love and care of  her old cat named Spirit. As a vet tech, I helped Cathryn treat and keep Spirit comfortable in the last months of his life. Spirit, and years later, Cathryn along with the other 3 sweet cats of the house have all now passed on. As Cathryn wished, her estate has now passed on great gifts to the animal welfare community. As part of these gifts, Monko and I are being sponsored to travel to Romania to assist Romania Animal Rescue in helping the dogs of Craiova, RO. We are thrilled to participate in this celebration of Cathryn's life. We will be working hard and hope to also share music with those we meet along the way. Please stay posted, as we plan to keep you updated on our travels as often as we can access wi-fi. Much love, and please consider giving to this amazing organization, if you are able.

For now, it's goodbye to our two sweet family dogs, Woodrow (black) and Quincy (curly)... We're off to meet new 
friends, but we'll have home in our hearts.
Love, gwyneth