The Basra Six
In March 2015 we received an email from a contractor who we had previously assisted with the rescue of a dog.
Her email told the story of a British man who was working in Basra and had befriended six dogs and wanted to give them all homes.
Many of the dogs had endured horrific cruelty so to leave them in Iraq was not an option for him.
We contacted the man who wanted to undertake this massive task and soon arrangements were underway to transport the dogs a couple at a time to Jordan where they would stay with Judith at Welcome Home Kennels.
Four of the dogs were destined to head to Dubai to the contractor and his family and two of them were destined for life in Ireland.
We soon received an update from the contractor who tells the story of their rescue better than we ever could!....
“The Great Escape
At 0942 on Friday 20th March 2015, Royal Jordanian flight RJ 831 lifted off from Basra airport for Amman Jordan.
Secure in the hold, Princess and her surviving pup Lady, left the pain and torment that had become their life in Basra behind them.
Just over four hours later, having cleared customs and immigration with their new guardian Jim; they arrived at their temporary home at the Welcome Home Kennels near Madaba, Jordan.
Here in the cool air of the hills above the Dead Sea, they would wait on their blood test results; under the care of Judith and Nabil, with their two sons Hasan and Zaid.
Exactly one week later, the three pups Kaz, Shima and Belle made the journey in the same crate that had been used for Princess.
Unfortunately for all involved, at least one of them had an embarrassing “toilet” moment en-route, which meant they were all in dire need of a bath on arrival in Jordan. This led to some comic sketch conversations between their escort, Jim and security who wanted the pups out of the cage so they could x-ray it and then a customs official who wanted to charge duty on the dogs.
Following a brief side conversation amongst the security team, the decision was made that a visual inspection of the cage would suffice.
Onwards to customs, where we were stopped and asked for the value of the pups, as we should be paying import duty. The explanation that the pups were being rescued by a charity and only transiting through Jordan didn’t fully persuade the official; so Jim resorted to rhetorical questions along the lines of “how much would you pay for young desert dogs covered in something unmentionable, when you can simply pick up a clean one for free!” This must have done the trick, as the official walked away muttering and we were free to meet up with Judith, for the journey to the kennels.
Even with the windows down, this seemed to take far longer than the week before, but eventually we arrived at the kennels where pups and travel crate were thoroughly hosed down, before the pups were reunited with Princess and Lady.
After a few seconds in the run, the pups forgot all about their experiences of last few hours and had a joyful reunion with their friends.
The obvious happiness all round was great to see, but poor Princess must have been thinking “Why Me!” as she once again had four pups jumping about vying for her attention.
With five dogs now safe in Jordan, that left Tramp, who we had known was easy to catch, just shout his name, wave some chicken and he’d come running to you.
This assumption had proven to be correct, but unfortunately, a couple of other factors came into play, which meant we missed the first attempt at getting him to Jordan on the same flight as the three pups:
- Despite his Top Dog bravado in front of the girls, Tramp is actually a bit of a wimp, and the mere sight of a needle terrifies him.
- When we locked him in the pen we had used before, he obviously associated it with a visit from the vet and fear enabled him to somehow jump/climb out as soon as we left. He was actually seen going past before we had finished parking our car back at the office.
- Not being stupid he figured we wanted to do something he probably wouldn’t like and so he promptly went into hiding and didn’t come out for five days.
Determined to get him out of Iraq despite himself, we reverted to plan B.
Stage 1 of Plan B involved the construction of an 8 foot high cage inside a secure warehouse, this was done in record time, all we needed next was an occupant. Numerous searches of the facility armed with boxes of his favourite snacks came up blank and it looked like we may need to cancel another flight until we had a stroke of luck. Leaving the office on the Tuesday night, there was the bold hero rolling about in the small patch of grass out front. Suspicious at first, when called, he danced in for a few pats then skipped away again, but eventually came close enough to be pinned; after which it was into the back of the car and then driven straight down the road and into the cage.
Now we could book his flight. Finally on Friday 3rd April, T –day dawned and Tramp was loaded into the transit cage for the journey to the airport.
He immediately confirmed he was not a good traveller and we had to stop twice in first 500 yards and clean both Tramp and the cage.
Neil, one of the unsung heroes of the rescue, came into his own, doing the actual moping out, while Jim pleaded consideration for his fellow passengers and stuck firmly to the clean end of the hose.
Fortunately, that was the end of it and following an uneventful trip through security and customs, Tramp arrived at the kennels, around 13.00 local time.
In the 4th week of May, all the dog’s blood test results came through and we could finally send some of them onto their final destinations.
On Thursday 28th May, Tramp, Princess, Lady and Belle arrived in Dubai.
Tramp settling into his new home quickly and now spends hours playing in the secure garden.
Princess and the girls are settling into their new home and slowly getting to know the resident rescue cats; to date, with a lot of supervision, which has thankfully been painless on both sides!
The dogs arrival have resulted in a few changes to our lifestyle and furniture layout; we are now up before dawn to stop any barking waking the neighbours and have discovered that 3 dogs playing chase can cause havoc with vases, lamps and plant pots: but everything broken to date can be replaced.
Watching the dogs, especially Princess, coming out of their shells and learning to trust us, makes it all worthwhile.”