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  • Writer's pictureshaylingandhi

Our real-life dog rescue story...

Updated: Jul 8, 2019

A long, long time ago, in a land far away...

Okay, so our real-life dog rescue only happened three years ago. But it did take place in a land far away.

Let me back up a smidge: my husband and I love to backpack. Mainly because I can actually keep up with him, at least on foot. Put him on a mountain bike or skis and he'll be flying off cliffs and leaving me in his dust, but when it comes to backpacking, we scale mountains at more or less the same speed.

I'm always on the lookout for beautiful new destinations we can explore together. Colorado offers a lot, but I'm an unrepentant traveler at heart, so when my husband and I attended a wedding in Italy in 2016, I proposed we go backpacking in Montenegro immediately afterward. Because it's basically just around the corner, right? Okay, maybe not, but it does look like this:

Krishna agreed (this is why we're married), and in July of 2016, his parents left us at the entrance to Montenegro's Durmitor National Park. From there, we hiked into the mountains, carrying two small backpacks that contained our tent, food, clothing, and a "this-is-the-best-it's-gonna-get" map.

"If we're not back in four days," we told his parents, "send in the Montenegran Mountain Rescue!" They just rolled their eyes, of course, and waved us goodbye.

About an hour into our journey, we ascended into a beautiful valley rimmed by snow-capped peaks. As we marveled at the vista, we chatted about how, once we got home, it was probably time to get a dog. Krishna had never owned one, but had wanted to since childhood, and he figured that now that he'd gotten himself a wife, it was time to really get serious and add a fur baby to the mix.

Less than five minutes later, we rounded a bend and encountered this...

You can easily tell how handsome my husband is from this picture, but it's difficult to tell how emaciated the poor dog was. (More before-and-after photos below!) Her bones jutted out in every direction, and while she was incredibly sweet and friendly, she looked like she had only days to live. What was she doing up in the mountains of Montenegro?

We still have no idea, but we gave the poor thing a spare slice of pizza, and from that moment, she stuck to us like glue. We hiked a little farther on, then ran into a shepherd who lived in the valley. As soon as he saw our new friend, he started yelling and tried to hit her with his walking stick! The dog trembled—clearly those two had met before.

The shepherd was kind to us, though, and told us (in Serbian, which we translated through his very descriptive pantomiming) that the dog lived in the valley and would often try to chase his sheep. The whole time we talked, she hid behind us, and when the shepherd asked us to take her away, we agreed, even though we had a four-day hike ahead of us.

Thankfully, once we got some cheese and sliced turkey into her, she had no trouble keeping up!

Me at the end of a 12-mile day, celebrating our new puppy with a beer

Four days later, we came out of the park and loaded our new fur baby into the rental car, much to the surprise of Krishna's parents. We settled in for the long drive back to Italy.

People often ask us if it was difficult to get her home. Surprisingly, it wasn't: a wonderfully kind vet in Sarajevo (Bosnia & Herzegovina) gave us the paperwork we needed, and we were able to load her onto our plane in Italy. We were nervous about coming through customs Stateside, and anxiously clutched our folder of paperwork, but when it came time, the customs agent just asked, "Is this your dog?" When we said yes, he waved us through, and she's been by our side ever since!

To this day, she's the happiest dog we've ever met, and she LOVES rolling around with the twins in our living room. We named her Cara (a variant of "dog" in Serbian, to honor her heritage!) and she's gone from weighing 24 pounds to a whopping 36.



We're so grateful to have found her!

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