A BLIND abandoned dog from the streets of Bucharest is melting hearts in Northumberland as he begins a new life in Pegswood.
Just a few months ago there didn’t seem much hope for Mike.
He was found in the Romanian capital with glaucoma in both eyes. The dog was in so much pain that he would bang his head in distress.
Romania usually gives healthy stray dogs a maximum of 14 days in the pound before they are killed. For those with disabilities, the execution could be instant.
But someone took pity on Mike and instead of delivering him to the pound, they dropped him off at an animal clinic.
Sadly, nothing could be done to save his sight and the only way to alleviate his suffering was to remove his eyes.
It was then that animal welfare group Safe Rescue posted Mike’s details on its Facebook page, setting in motion an operation that would see the dog travel almost 2,000 miles across Europe to a new home in Pegswood.
Psychiatric nurse Nikki Dick, who has worked as an animal nurse, saw the page and decided to help.
“From our point of view it all started when I saw the photograph of Mike in his face bandages,” she said.
“I look at a number of animal rescue pages, particularly from Romania because the conditions there are so bad for dogs. I had a chat with my husband and we decided we could give Mike a home.”
Mrs Dick and her firefighter husband Ian contacted the charity, which arranged to visit them at their Longleat Gardens home to assess whether they would be suitable to care for Mike.
The couple already had three Labradors, Beverly, Tracey and Bigdave, and a Lab/spaniel cross Wendy, who they rescued from the UK. Fortunately, all were on their best behaviour for the visit and the adoption was approved.
However, Mike had a few more hurdles to overcome.
“After having his eye operation, the conditions in the clinic were so bad that Mike got a nasty infection,” said Mrs Dick.
“It was six weeks before we heard anything more and to be honest, we feared the worst. I emailed everyone begging for information and eventually we heard that he had been very poorly, but had pulled through.”
Mike, who is thought to be about eight years old, set off on his journey on November 28, but at Calais there was a two-day delay as the Government had stopped dogs coming into the country to combat puppy farms.
“I can absolutely understand why they clamp down on puppy farms, but the dogs that were coming through included Mike with no eyes, two other blind dogs and one with no front paws. They were obviously not being sold,” said Mrs Dick.
Eventually, the issue was resolved when a solicitor got involved and on December 2, Mike arrived at his new home.
“He was very small, very smelly and in an awful state, but he was absolutely gorgeous,” said Mrs Dick.
“He just snuggled in and hasn’t left since.
“Everybody just falls in love with him, he is one of those lovely dogs.
“The other dogs love him to bits. From day one the eldest female has mothered him and when we go for a walk he uses Wendy as a guide. He keeps right up against her so wherever she goes, he goes. We also have bells on our walking boots so he can follow those.
“Adopting him was very anxiety-provoking. It was as if everything was against us, but Mike is worth all the effort.”
The couple arranged a fund-raising night at The Trap Inn in Broomhill in May for the charities involved in Mike’s rescue. Tickets sold out in just four days, but they are still collecting raffle donations and they are planning another event in September.
“Since we started fund-raising we have been amazed by the response from people right across Northumberland,” said Mrs Dick.
“We’ve had lots of prizes given for the raffle and also requests from people to take Mike along to their business and do fund-raising. He is such a character everyone wants to help him.”
She added: “The whole thing is about raising awareness of the plight of dogs and trying to encourage people to foster and adopt.
“I have had criticism from some people who say there are plenty of dogs in need in this country. That is absolutely true, but some dogs need more help and we happened to be in the right place at the right time for Mike.”
Mike has a Facebook group called Little Mike’s Adventure.
l For video of Mike, visit www.morpethherald.co.uk