Forever Romeo

Dale giving Romeo some welcoming love

Written by Chantelle Murray, founder of PAWS R US (SA)

We work in animal rescue with many beautiful spirits; we’re privileged in that way. Unfortunately, we also work with many selfish, foolish humans. But we also work with many selfless, loving humans who make the world a better place. And Romeo reminded us of just that…

A Magnificent Heart

Romeo is an extraordinary dog: not only is he beautiful on the outside, but he has a truly magnificent heart – he never gives up. Having been hit by a car while roaming the streets as a stray, he sustained irreparable damage to his hindquarters – in particular, his bladder and bowel function. He’s able to walk and run, but will always be weaker in his legs. Basic functionality like poops and widdles – something that we all take for granted – does not come on call for Romeo… and may never, despite his hopeful cocking of the leg or confident squat on the lawn.

Initially we worked with “manual bladder irrigation” to help him clear his bladder as it fills up. Inevitably, Romeo leaks during the course of a day. And when he lies down and his hips compress his bladder and bowels, out pops a “surprise package”. Having had truly tremendous support from Rogue Royalty in sponsorship of Romeo’s raw food diet, we managed to get those “surprise packages” healthy, making it easier for Romeo and his foster mom (and any future adopter). With additional wonderful support from Little Paws Grooming Parlour, West Rand, Romeo was collected every Friday like clockwork for grooming so he always felt like the super handsome boy he is.

Looking at the facts, we knew we were up against the odds in finding a human who would not just see Romeo’s condition but see Romeo. His condition is part of who he is – it is NOT who he is. But we know that many people would feel that his condition is a liability – taking on a dog with such a problem is a big undertaking. So we knew we had to wish upon a star, ask for some help from the power of God/the Universe, and do everything possible from a networking perspective. If it was going to happen, it would happen. And if not, we would just keep loving him and looking after him – no matter what.

Finding A Family

We waded through emails that are often a “knee-jerk response” to a special-needs dog: people mean well but have often not thought through all of the implications and sacrifices required. Still, we believed that the right person would come along.

Then, finally, out of the blue came an email from Dale. When we first responded, we were cautious but were THRILLED when we realised that he’d already done the homework, done the reading, done the Googling, and had past experience with Shepherds – including a Shepherd girl who became paralysed in her back legs.

Without hesitation, he came to meet Romeo. We sat on the grass and talked for ages. Even when Romeo made a perfect little impromptu “goose-egg present” for him, he was totally unphased. He visited again, from the East Rand all the way through to the West Rand, to come and watch a manual bladder irrigation demo from the vet, despite being vrot with ‘flu. He asked all the questions, covered all the angles.

Romeo was delivered on Sunday 14 August and introduced to his three new siblings – Allie, Olivia and Balto. Dale has since been tirelessly working on gaining his own experience of Romeo’s condition, and learning to understand his cues, his needs, and his personality.

Romeo’s journey has been a long one and its has been humbling being a part of the magic. We live in a tough world; when gentle miracles happen, we must trumpet them from the rooftops – we all need stories like this one. LOVE YOU, BOY – always and forever!

Chantelle and Romeo – getting ready to say goodbye to the big boy, as he makes his new start in his forever home

Romeo’s adoptive dad, Dale, recalls his first fortnight with Romeo…

I saw Romeo’s story shared a few months ago and pretty much immediately knew he was coming to live with us. It’s taken a little time but he is fitting in… although he definitely prefers people. He’s not the biggest player – Romeo prefers to cuddle and get tummy rubs!

Initially, there were a few stumbling blocks surrounding his bladder issues. I devised a simple sling system that holds a toddler-size nappy. The issues it solves are huge. Aside from the washing aspect, Romeo is much more comfortable and the sling system seems to encourage the emptying of the bladder, so manual irrigation is pretty much unnecessary already. Romeo’s mindset has changed too – you can see a change in his confidence.   

Most importantly though, there are very few signs of limitations. He is living the same way as the other furkids are, picking up routines very, very quickly – he really is a clever boy; the power of example, learning from the others. The biggest ‘challenge’ at the moment is all the brushing he needs with his long hair, but he loves the attention!

Chantelle Murray says: “THANK YOU, DALE – such small words for such a tremendous blessing – and thank you to everyone who supported our beautiful, loving, magnificent Romeo along his journey to date: Jess, Sheri, Anton and Claire (from Bergbron Vet), Dr Gary Eckersley, the Bluehills Vet, Linda, Jenny and all the other special people.”

Romeo loaded in the car for his trip from his foster home to his forever home


 Romeo settling in at Dale’s house


Romeo nestled against Dale’s legs, finally in the place where he can be FOREVER