He could have become vicious. He could have become hardened by the cruel neglect he suffered at the hands of the humans he depended on for love and protection. However, when rescuers found this poor pup abandoned and left for dead, he showed them nothing but his unbroken affection.
It’s a sad truth that a lot of animal shelters are full. And while unwanted pets are given up on a daily basis, the worst cases are when the owners don’t even care enough to do that. Such was the treatment of a young puppy named Duke.
And in fact Bulgarian-based animal rescue charity Rudozem Street Dog Rescue (RSDR) had its shelter full to bursting when it received the call about Duke in 2014. His situation, though, couldn’t be ignored. Indeed, if RDSR hadn’t intervened, it is doubtful whether he would have lived much longer.
It was a concerned citizen living near to Duke’s place of abandonment who had called the charity about the pup’s plight. “A lady [called Alie] from a village near Rudozem asked if [we] could help,” RSDR wrote on its website in July 2014. “[She] explained a dog was in danger and had been abandoned.”
And when the rescue team got there, they found a young canine chained to the underside of a trailer. His owners had left him behind with no way of getting food for himself or finding shelter. Even more tragically, he had already been left there for over a week.
“[He] had been tied up like this for ten days,” RSDR explained on its social media page. “[He only survived] on bread and water that people passing by gave [to him].” The reason that his owners left him tied up, meanwhile, was just as reprehensible.
Specifically, they claimed that Duke was suffering from a disease that humans could catch. And no one will ever know whether they truly believed it or if they were just using it an excuse to stop people from freeing him: either way, though, it was a despicable act.
In fact, Duke’s owners had just discarded him like trash. The most heartbreaking thing, though, is that this young pup, who couldn’t have much more than ten months old, was still as affectionate as ever. And although he was understandably wary, he was happy to see a friendly face.
“When we arrived, the poor little guy was covered in flies,” one of his RSDR rescuers wrote on the charity’s website. “But within a minute or two, he was responding to me, licking my hand as I went to stroke him. [He] was soon wagging his tail.”
“Call it what you want – stupidity or ignorance – but why on earth would you chain a dog up just to let it die?” one of RSDR’s founders, Tony Rowles, added on Facebook. And, upsettingly, Duke was left in terrible health: malnourished and with a nasty cough. Still, though he was in terrible shape, he was not a threat in any way.
Perhaps the most striking problem, though, was with his legs, which were clearly bowed. “The little lad had very misshapen legs – which might have been a congenital problem, the result of malnutrition, or a mixture of both,” RSDR explained.
So even though its facility was full, the charity couldn’t leave Duke like this. Thankfully, however, his demeanor was so gentle that it wasn’t hard for the staff to have him share a room. But the bad news wasn’t over yet, as a trip to the vet the next day revealed.
“The distressing news was that the X-rays of Duke’s legs did not show signs of a congenital problem or malnutrition,” RSDR recalled on its website. The truth was far more horrifying, in fact: Duke’s leg deformity was due to him walking on broken bones.
And the reason for his broken bones and ligaments was awful to contemplate. “It seemed that his legs, and in particular his feet, had been deliberately smashed,” RSDR stated. In addition, his cough was due to throat damage from the chain around his neck.
Because of the extreme damage to the pup’s legs, the vets put Duke in splints for a couple of weeks before surgery to correct some issues. Throughout his visit, though, the dog showed bottomless affection and patience.
And although his recovery would be a hard road, in a comfortable and loving environment little Duke’s health improved. Unfortunately, however, he had to wait a long time for his corrective surgery as his bones were still growing.
While Duke’s treatment was still ongoing, though, his life would turn a corner. As RSDR revealed on its website in February 2015, “Something amazing happened: a lady from the U.K. applied to adopt Duke! Her name was Diana.” After his treatment, then, the plucky pup would have a furrever home to go to.
“When I saw Duke on the RSDR website, my heart went out to him,” Diana explained. “I knew I could give him a loving and comfortable home and deal with any health issues, so I registered my interest.” Still, Duke would have to finish his recovery in Bulgaria first.
And when the plucky pooch was sufficiently on the mend, he was finally ready for adoption. “And then came the day to say goodbye,” RSDR recalled. “We bade him a teary farewell as he got on the adoption bus to the U.K. We were absolutely delighted, but… it was a bittersweet parting.”
“Many of you have asked for updates on Duke’s progress,” RSDR concluded, “so we asked his adopter for some recent photos to show you how well he is doing in his forever [home] in England. [What] a happy chap he is!” The little dog’s story, then, couldn’t have ended in a better way.