Black Immigrant Daily News
Two pet lovers have turned a heartbreaking story into a happy ending with much persistence, dedication, patience and good will.
Yulia and Matteo were on vacation in Barbados and staying at an Airbnb in the East when their hearts broke for two dogs kept on the property in cages all day and night with no respite and little food and water in between.
Now, having adopted the two very shy, skittish and fearful dogs, the couple has taken the pair to their new forever home in Amsterdam after working through the tedious process of officially gaining ownership of the dogs.
Yulia told Loop that the experience has changed their lives completely. The couple who have no children, are now taking on the responsibility of these two and readjusting their schedules — learning to plan travel while being full-time dog parents now.
So how did Yulia and Matteo get to be the new owners of their rescue dogs – Jackie and Rudy?
The couple were visiting Barbados from The Netherlands and stayed at an Airbnb from January 28, 2023. This was not their first trip to Barbados but it’s one they will not forget and not for the right reasons initially. Usually staying along the South or West coast, on this occasion they ventured more inland and to the East to Kendal.
Yulia said from the time they entered the driveway on their side of the house and parked, she spotted a kennel. “It completely shocked me. I wanted to think that the dog wasn’t there permanently. I wanted to think that maybe the dog was in a safe place house, but then it didn’t feel right.”
She said on approaching, she realised, “the dog was quite filthy,” and so she asked the cleaning lady if the dog had a leash.
She said, on seeing the living conditions and the appearance of the dog, she became very worried. She said it was pointed out to the Airbnb host and he said a leash is around somewhere and the dogs will be allowed to run around the next day.
But that never happened. “Nothing changed. The dog stayed in the disgusting cage, covered in poop.”
. They will choke themselves. They were living in those cages since they were puppies
Then when she continued to hear the whining and barking, she went exploring. She explained, “I thought there was one dog like that. At night he was barking and during the day he was just going like a crazy little animal around his cage. So imagine a tiny, tiny confined space and he is like a medium-sized dog and he was just making circles and it was breaking me completely into pieces. He looked completely distressed, an already mentally disabled animal. He was just doing circles in his cage.
“So I asked my boyfriend to talk to the owner about bringing them out and he said, ‘Yea, yea, about buying a leash.’ And another day passes and nothing happens, but I discovered the second dog.”
She ventured around the home and saw a second and third cage, one empty and one with a smaller dog inside, “a baby girl, and she was so frightened, completely like big eyes in fear. It was unbelievable and I only heard her because they were barking with each other like calling out to each other at night.”
She said she was shocked when the owner was impolite to them on the third day when they asked for a chat. According to her, he got irritated when they once more asked about leashes and he told them, “‘What leash? They were never let out and never knew anything else. They have never been on leash. They will choke themselves. They were living in those cages since they were puppies.’
“It was completely different to what he said before about putting them on leash. So he just lied!” She said, “He got irritated that we are insisting on all these dogs and they don’t matter to him. I was just, I couldn’t hold myself. I was too emotional, crying and everything.
“Their conditions were absolutely appalling. It’s inhumane and for us coming from the EU, it’s shocking.”
They were completely petrified at first. They don’t even know what cuddling is
She said she could not believe that some locals treat their animals this way. “The stench and filth was unbearable.”
So Yulia said they took a chance and asked if they could take them. “He was laughing and saying, ‘You want the dogs? Take the dogs!’ He didn’t one bit care for the animals. He didn’t care that they’re in these horrendous conditions, and not only that, he added that he put them into the houses because they chase after his chickens. So the chickens are roaming free. They are free range chickens. He doesn’t want to put chickens in a barn, into a small yard dedicated to them, but he lets roam free on the entire property which is a really big area of land, but the dogs instead, that are supposed to be running, exercising and everything, they are completely stuck in those cages… It was just unbelievable and disgusting.
“So we immediately took the dogs out and had all the preparation and conversation with the people at Woodbourne and K9 Friends to help us.”
From then the two dogs got a new lease on life. They were transported safely to the boarding kennel, where Yulia and Matteo visited them daily. But that was only the first step towards gaining their trust.
Yulia said, “They were completely petrified at first. They don’t even know what cuddling is.” She said they don’t know love.
Yulia felt especially for the girl, because according to her, she had absolutely no space in her kennel. “When I was feeding them and giving them water, the girl would jump out of her cage, run around several laps, then jumps back into the cage with crazy scared eyes. I was just, my heart broke when I saw it. That was horrible to see.
“She’s still really mistrustful and scared of men.”
At first, when Yulia and Matteo would visit at the boarding kennel, “They don’t come very close but we keep going so they get accustomed because we are adopting both dogs. We are bringing them to Amsterdam to live with us and we just want them to know that we mean no harm. We’re even buying their love with boiled chicken.” She added with a laugh.
Delighted, Yulia shared that they are coming down off the anxiety and seem less stressed now, but at the boarding kennel the girl was still hiding. “It hurts seeing how all the other dogs at the kennel they just come asking you to adopt them, showing you how lovely they are and want to be patted and those two are completely wild. They have no social skills yet.”
Rudy and Jackie at home in Amsterdam
On paper, in their passports, they have different names, but Yulia talked about their placeholder names.
Matteo researches music and music history, so it was no surprise that the chosen names have a musical background and surprisingly, very strong ties to Barbados. “The dogs are named after famous Bajan singers/artistes from back in the day – Jackie Opel and Rudy Boyce. Rudy Boyce is well and helps running his wife Dorin’s Woodbourne Boarding Kennel where our dogs were staying.”
Despite this experience tainting her image of Barbados, the happy ending has softened Yulia’s first thought since witnessing the animal abuse on island first-hand, to never return to Barbados.
Yulia has filed a complaint with Airbnb because they have guidelines about pet care, however, she feels nothing may be done as the Airbnb in question is still listed.
But she is today, Sunday, March 5, very happy to share that on March 4, Rudy and Jackie arrived at their new home in Amsterdam. It was costly in terms of money, effort and time, but Yulia and Matteo are happy with their decision. And according to Yulia, “now all the house training begins and they will get showered with love, especially the girl, because she is still super scared and staying close to her carrier case while munching on her new favourite toy.” And on the other hand, Rudy is fitting right in with his new family, even playing tug-o-war with toys with her and Matteo.