Here is Moosh’s story from Jon and Ethaar
“It’s a big decision to adopt a dog and particularly so from Afghanistan! We had personal reasons for wanting to do so and hoped that our new family member could become a good pal for our eight year old collie-X ‘Billy’. The application process seemed to happen very quickly and before we knew it we were approved and into fund raising for a young dog – ‘Moosh’ - who had been taken into the shelter following a traffic accident. The amount to raise seemed huge at first but before we knew it the amazingly generous family of Nowzad supporters were chipping in contributions and with the encouragement and support of the Nowzad team the total was raised without drama and in less than four months. Throughout this time we were kept up to speed by one of the Nowzad vets in Afghanistan with regular updates and photos. We decided to delay bringing Moosh over to the UK for a further four months to ensure that when he arrived we would be in the best position to give him the time he would need to adjust and settle into a strange new environment and Pen, Hannah and the whole team were very supportive in this. This was the right thing to do for us but did mean that his arrival coincided with a very wet autumn which was not ideal for house training! Something to think about perhaps.
On arrival the pick-up from Heathrow went smoothly. Moosh came with us willingly though it took a fair bit of coaxing to get him to enter the car – in hindsight it may have been simpler to keep him in his travel crate! On the journey back he hid in the rear footwell and was understandably anxious about his new situation. Getting him home however was reasonably straight forward with just one accident on the carpet and a good appetite before bed. We’d decided one of us would sleep with him downstairs until he settled and for the first few nights made a point of getting up to take him outside during the night. The first few weeks had their fair share of challenges, some which you could expect with any young dog but some which were specific to adopting a street dog from Afghanistan. In particular, we had underestimated just how low his confidence baseline would be and his anxiety around anything new or unfamiliar, but this neophobia, especially around people, is a common trait found in undomesticated dogs so probably not surprising for a street dog from Afghanistan!
After a couple of weeks we were able to venture beyond the house and garden though living on a busy street we had to time our exits carefully to avoid too many interactions. It probably took another couple of weeks, or a month all told, before Moosh started to relax and enjoy a walk in the woods. It still wouldn’t take much to upset him though and his tail was a constant barometer of his mental state. If he was really worried the anchors would go on and it took significant reassurance and/or the new event to pass before he would carry on. After two months things were noticeably improving both with strangers coming into the house and encountering new experiences outside making the situation far more manageable, but we recognise that these are traits which have been bred out of domesticated dogs so accept that socializing Moosh will likely be an ongoing process!
So where are we now some four months after arrival? In a much better place. Not that it was ever a serious problem but it did have its moments! At three months we had sufficient confidence in the bond we’d developed to let Moosh off the lead in quiet areas which was a significant step and now makes walks a joy, though in truth the recall remains a work in progress! This may also take significantly longer with some dogs and the general guide seems to be about six months for most rescue dogs. However it was a real breakthrough for us. Moosh is just much calmer going out now and even walks well to lead around quiet roads. At home he is a joy, curious of everything, always hungry and looking for food but a real gentle giant at heart who just wants to snuggle up and be loved. Things may disappear - he has a particular penchant for chewing socks and slippers – and we have the odd growl with Billy, usually of the jealous or food related variety, and he can certainly shed hair, but overall he has settled really well and is now one of the family. It’s hard to remember life without him and we wouldn’t have it any other way. If you’d like to meet him and are ever around the East Midlands get in touch”