In spring 2018, our team in Romania was working on a field project near Târgoviște, roughly 50 miles northwest of Bucharest, when they found six little puppies. Unfortunately, their condition was very serious. All six puppies were dehydrated, emaciated and covered by ticks.
They were immediately rushed to our veterinary clinic for an examination. All six puppies were in the late stages of parvovirus and babesiosis, alongside being critically anemic. Despite our clinic's best efforts, five puppies were lost. However, one little puppy kept fighting and fighting, and miraculously survived the most dangerous diseases for puppies.
She was called Caju because the first thing she did when she started feeling better was to steel a bag of cashew nuts (‘caju’ in Romanian) from the table.
Caju was adopted by Ema, one of our dog handlers who found Caju and her siblings. “When I saw them, I felt mercy, helplessness and pain in my soul. All these feelings have made me help them. It is a natural reaction when you feel compassion for animals,” said Ema.
And so Caju grew up with the Dogs for People team, and soon they discovered she was not only a fighter but also very kind, playful and empathetic.
Her way to becoming a therapy dog
Caju is a quick learner, and it was because of her character that the team began conducting behavioral tests to see her suitability for the Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) program. She passed all selection tests, and so her training to become a therapy dog began! She started with great success in her very first therapy session with Eric, a child who had a great fear of dogs. With time, sweet Caju won him over with her gentle nature and playfulness. Caju was the only dog who Eric would dare to touch.
Caju grew into a fit and healthy dog, highly motivated by the interactions with children and elders (and of course, food). She spent one day a week training with her handler Ema and four days at the Therapy and Research Center working primarily with children with disabilities. Once a week Caju also visited Floare Rosie, a center caring for the elderly.
The relationship Caju built with patients was beautiful to see, as she thrived from the interactions and brought much joy to the people she interacted with. Her training continued to improve and she worked with two children on a regular basis.
Caju also took part in the #NoStressWithFourPaws program and enjoyed interacting with students too. In November 2020, Caju retired as a therapy dog.
Read more about our work in Romania.