In spring 2018, our team in Romania were 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 anaemic. 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.
UPDATE February 13, 2019
Caju has grown into a fit and healthy dog, she is highly motivated by the interaction with children and elders (and of course, food). She spends 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 visits Floare Rosie, a center caring for the elderly.
The relationship Caju builds with patients is beautiful to see as she thrives from the interactions. Her training continues to improve, and she now works with two children on a regular basis.
Caju also takes part in the #NoStressWithFourPaws program and enjoys interacting with students too. Read more about our work in Romania.