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From Romanian Rescue to Crufts Clown

We all know that the world loves a funny animal clip, so when loveable rescue Kratu took on the agility course at Crufts in his own inimitable way he was instantly thrust into social media stardom. Over 6.8 million people have now watched the video of him sauntering around the course, doing a u-turn in the tunnel, sniffing the judges and generally having a lovely time! But Kratu is not just joyful in the ring, his remarkable story is one of triumph over adversity – he is a rescue dog in a million.

Carpathian Cross Mioritic Kratu was just a few weeks old when he was rescued from a traveller camp in Romanian along with his two sisters. British adopter Tess had been searching for a Romanian rescue and had asked her friend to keep a look out for an animal in need in her local area. This friend was then alerted to the plight of several dogs living in terrible conditions, with some having been beaten and starved. Luckily for Kratu he was rescued and taken into foster care where Tess started training him via WhatsApp here in the UK to ensure that his socialisation started from an early age. After 4 months he was given the all clear to travel to the UK and he joined her. They had an instant, unbreakable connection.

Just four months after rescuing Kratu, and haunted by the photographs of his humble beginnings, Tess made the decision to travel to Romania to learn more about the breed and visit the camp that he was found in.

On her arrival she was faced with more anguish, another litter from the same poor mother had been born. Tess agreed to help two of the puppies with a home and wanted to help the mum too. But the travellers refused to let her go at that time. Some tough negotiations followed at a later date but eventually the puppy, who was Kratu’s brother, and who Tess named Raffy, his sister Gabby and his mum were rescued and brought home to the UK. Raffy now lives with Tess and his big brother Kratu. He has had to undergo extensive behavioural work to deal with the fear issues connected to his traumatic start to life.

Once home the behaviour consultant team at Wood Green agreed to help Tess with the boys and Kratu was emerging as a very intelligent dog who loved to learn. Tess, who is on the autistic spectrum, finds communication and social interaction challenging so having Kratu gave her a purpose in life and a reason to smile again. It also set her on the path of being an advocate for rescue dogs. She started teaching Kratu the ‘Do As I Do’ training method, taught by Italian scientist Claudia Fugazza. This is a new training method based on a dog’s social cognitive skills, particularly on their imitative ability. With this technique dogs learn new behaviours by observing and imitating their owners. Kratu went on to become the first dog in the UK to pass this exam.

He also went on to pass the Kennel Club Good Citizen Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards and his continued work at Wood Green gained him a place in the Rescue Dog Agility category at Crufts last year. He placed again this year and we all saw the wonderful result that followed.

Tess tells us “It’s wonderful that the clip has gone viral and been shared and enjoyed by so many people but the story behind Kratu’s journey is far more important. He’s been described as ‘dopey’ and ‘clueless’ but he’s actually incredibly intelligent, sensitive and courageous. He’s a joyful dog, as so many rescues are. He is also a natural clown who loves to make people happy with his funny and endearing behaviours.”

Tess is also keen to point out the importance of understanding the characteristics of the breed of dog that you choose to rescue. She said ‘This exposure has been a wonderful platform for rescue dogs everywhere. It’s so important for rescue dogs to go to the right homes. Some dogs like Kratu look like big teddy bears but they are working dogs, they need lots of training, stimulation and the right kind of social interaction. Not all dogs are actually suitable for family life; if you are going to rescue it’s so important to do your research first. The sad truth is that so many people don’t put in the time and these poor dogs end up back in shelters or put to sleep. This is completely avoidable”.

Not only has Kratu landed on his feet, he has also placed Tess tentatively back on hers. She still struggles on a daily basis and has found the attention surrounding Crufts quite overwhelming. But she credits Kratu with changing her life and she is keen to share his joyful nature with other people who are also struggling. He has now trained and passed all the levels to become her assistance dog with canine generated independence and he has recently become a therapy dog with Canine Concern who help the sick, lonely and elderly by providing visiting therapy dogs to homes and hospitals.

Last year Kratu had the honour of becoming an ‘Ambassadog’ for IAPWA a charity which campaigns for change through uniting animal lovers worldwide who want to use their voice and act to help animals in need.

So what’s next for this amazing dog? Well he’s off to Romania this month to become the first rescue assistance dog to return to tell his story. Tess has interviews and appointments lined up to highlight how wonderful rescue dogs can be once given love, kindness and a big dose of determination. Well we certainly don’t convincing – Kratu is a born superstar. We can’t wait to hear about his next adventures (and comical video clips are always welcome). Fly high Kratu, we love your story.

Last modified on Saturday, 17 March 2018 12:40
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