Dogs ‘n Dracula – Our Romance with Romania & Adopting Transylvanian Orphan!
As a dog-friendly destination, Romania isn’t the first place to spring to mind.
“Packs of wild dogs, bears and wolves; pickpockets, scammers, corrupt officials; TERRIBLE roads, AWFUL drivers – and in 2018, rain, floods, anti-Government riots…”
And what about those vampires?!
Lured by magical landscapes and 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it was with trepidation that we crossed into Romania in our caravan with four Cavapoos - Kai, Rosie, Ruby and Lani. Well, we always had Plan B; turn round and go elsewhere!
However, I would like to set Romania’s record straight. From Day One, our experience was of nothing but kindness; an allotment-owner’s gift of luscious home-grown tomatoes, a Tourist Information Officer delivering us to our destination rather than give directions, “My Uncle’s home-distilled pălincă” (48% alcohol. Handle with care!) Warmth and generosity was literally a daily occurrence.
European money means that stray dogs are fed and neutered and the roads are improving rapidly - although the driving does belie Romania’s Italian heritage! Our Sat Nav possesses either a sense-of-humour or a ‘random adventure’ algorithm, which denied the existence of the excellent DN7 and took the caravan through a cornfield!
Bears are largely nocturnal vegetarians. You won’t see bears if they hear you coming and there is no record of healthy wolves attacking humans. It’s wise to carry a stick while hiking in case you meet fierce shepherd dogs protecting sheep - as in the Alps.
And far from “They beat dogs and it’s illegal to give them water” (a Romanian blogger!) our fur babies gathered crowds of cooing admirers EVERYWHERE!
The up side of a country rife with strays is that no-one is precious about dogs. Mark was asked to wear a T Shirt to visit the Dacian site of Sarmizegetusa Regia but the dogs could run free!
The converse is that Romanian dogs are less well behaved, so dogs are not allowed inside some attractions. A curator at the magnificent Corvinilor Castle told us “There have been a few ‘accidents’, so no dogs inside…” However, she let us all into the castle museums and offered to look after the pups while we went inside the castle!
We did go for the ‘full’ Romanian experience. Magnificent medieval castles, fortified churches and citadels; Dacian World Heritage sites; Dracula’s birthplace; we crossed the Carpathians via the Transfăgărășan -‘The Best Road in the World’; adopted a Transylvanian orphan…
We named him Blade, The Vampire Slayer.
The Fab Four became The Famous Five when the campsite owner told us that the affectionate little black stray probably wouldn’t survive when the campsite closed for the winter. With summer temperatures in the 30s, the sign for snow chains outside seemed incongruous. But before his first birthday, Blade received toys, collar, lead and tag, a microchip and jabs - and a passport to a new life in England!
It is just 30 years since the fall of communism. Romania has some way to go. But as with Blade, there is definitely hope for a better future!
So, Romania with dogs? It’s a ‘YES’ from me!