Baladi the rescue puppy may have been named after the indigenous feral dogs who roam the streets of Cairo, Egypt, but this resilient girl is proving she is more than just another stray.
“She’s like a 45-pound lap dog,” says her human guardian, Alex Komechak of Camels and Friends.
Now at home with Komechak at the rescue organization’s property in Sahuarita, Arizona, Baladi’s journey to America was a painful and traumatic one. It all started when an office worker in downtown Cairo walked past a flower pot filled with feral puppies, known locally as baladi (an Arabic word for “native”) dogs.
“Every day the man would walk by, and there would be one less puppy in the pot, or he would see it dead,” explains Komechak in a YouTube video introducing the Egyptian dog. “He passed by the last time, and he saw one last puppy left, and that was Baladi.”
In the video, she says that while the man who walked by Baladi each day did feel sorry for the poor puppy, he felt powerless to help her.
“The problem there is just so overwhelming, he didn’t feel like he could do anything,” she says.
According to Komechak, the man was an American who traveled frequently to Cairo for work and was on the move too much to care for the dog himself, so he left the puppy in the flower pot. It wasn’t until a few days later that the sound of a car accident and a horrible howl of pain brought the man running from his office, out onto the Cairo street where he found Baladi bleeding out. The car that had struck her was already gone.
“No one was paying her any attention. This man took the puppy and brought her to an emergency vet where they were able to save her life.”
Komechak says the kindhearted office worker paid to have Baladi’s jaw and skull reconstructed, but knew he couldn’t keep poor Baladi himself due to his demanding travel schedule. He placed the puppy in the care of a friend of the veterinarian before returning to the U.S.
According to Komechak, when the Good Samaritan’s job brought him back to Cairo again, he checked in on the puppy he had rescued and was shocked to find out that the veterinarian’s friend was abusing Baladi. This man was unequipped to handle the formerly feral dog’s challenging behavior, and he punished the puppy by kicking it. After seeing this, the Good Samaritan decided he would bring the Baladi back to the U.S. and find her a home where she wouldn’t be abused.
“If it weren’t for him stepping in, she wouldn’t even have had a chance,” says Komechak.
Baladi’s rescuer brought her to Arizona, where he immediately began searching for a qualified home for her.
“I was the fifth person who saw Baladi, and the man told me she was extremely fearful of everyone else and he wouldn’t let them adopt her,” explains Komechak.
“He wanted me to have her very much because, for whatever reason, she really liked me right away and came and crawled on my lap and gave me kisses.”
Komechak initially believed she would just foster and rehabilitate the untrusting puppy. She hadn’t intended to make Baladi a permanent member of her barnyard, which already included two camels, a wolf puppy, and two large-breed dogs (a Doberman and an Anatolian), but eventually realized Baladi’s home was with her.
“I finally had to be like, okay — she really can’t go anywhere else,” Komechak says in Baladi’s YouTube debut. “She doesn’t deserve to be moved around like that. She needs someone who understands working with feral dogs. My main reason for considering that I was just fostering at first was just the money, because I have three big, big eaters already.”
Despite her initial concern, Komechak eventually realized that she could take on the extra financial responsibility of caring for Baladi.
She says Baladi and the wolf pup, Lorne, get along great and that Baladi has made great strides since moving to Arizona seven months ago.
“I always compare it adopting a Greyhound off the track, who doesn’t know how to be in the house,” Komechak explains.
Baladi didn’t know how to climb stairs or walk across certain indoor surfaces when she first came to the Camels and Friends property, but she is adapting to indoor life.
“She is really, really happy all the time,” Komechak says. “You can just look at her, and her tail will start wagging.”
Komechak estimates Baladi’s age at about 10 to 11 months. Despite her mostly happy demeanor, this former stray can be very territorial at times.
“Even though I’ve had her since May now, she doesn’t like when other people come in the house very much. She’s extremely protective of me.”
Since adopting Baladi, Komechak has learned a great deal about the plight of the baladi dogs in Egypt and has become a big supporter of the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals. ESMA cares for stray and feral street animals, organizes spay and neuter programs, and shelters animals awaiting adoption. The society organizes international adoptions, mostly through shelters in the countries where potential adopters live. Komechak says she hopes to see more baladi dogs find homes internationally, but says adopting a formerly feral dog does come with challenges.
“The trauma of what some baladi dogs go through may take a certain type of patient person to understand them.”
After surviving the death of her litter mates, being hit by a car, then surgery and abuse, Baladi is one lucky pup who has truly found someone who not only understands her, but who wants to help others to as well.
“The reason I originally made the YouTube video was to share her story, so I’m so glad more people are hearing about it,” Komechak says.
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About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but Specter the kitten and GhostBuster the dog make her fur family complete. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.