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Taj - home at last


Photo by Tony Price
Dina and Darren with ‘Taj’

TAJ’, the crossbreed rescued from the streets of New Delhi by a kind-hearted British cabin crew attendant and brought to the UK has finally found a home he can call his own – with the dog trainer who was rehabilitating him after a previous rehoming attempt went wrong.

Not only that, but Taj helped his rescuer find love with the dog trainer who helped Taj adjust after his ordeal.

As reported previously in OUR DOGS, Taj was rescued thanks to the efforts of Dina Khazragi, a senior cabin crewmember with Virgin Atlantic and her friend Jo Robertson, who became concerned for his plight when they saw him as a puppy scavenging with a pack of dogs in the streets of New Delhi.

Animal lover Dina, 29, from Cardiff, always takes a huge sack of dry dog food to feed the local strays in New Delhi during her long-haul flight stopovers in the Indian city. Although most of strays are ‘transient’ and may only be seen once, there is one particular pack of street dogs, which she feeds regularly.

"I do what I can, but I always wish I could something more permanent to help them," says Dina. "I’d become used to feeding a really lovely, but very tired-looking bitch that always seemed to be lactating. I never saw any pups with her, so I can only assume that maybe she had a den somewhere, or maybe that the pups never survived.

"Then one day last year when my friend Jo and I were on stopover and feeding the regular pack, the bitch came along with a rally adorable puppy in tow. He was too young to have become wary of people and he came bounding up to us, full of bounce, smiling all over his little face. He didn’t want us to go, and kept following us, so we decided there and then to pool our resources and bring him back to the UK with us and try to give him a good life with a loving family."

Dina and Jo made contact with Alan Knight of the charity International Animal Rescue who gave them lots of helpful advice and put them in touch with a charity based in Delhi, Friend Eco, who run spaying and welfare clinics for all of India’s street and working animals.

"We took Taj along to their clinic and the vet gave him all the necessary jabs for his trip to the UK, and then we spoke to the Ministry in the UK who told us how to go about the actual importation," says Dina. "So we got all the paperwork sorted as quickly as we could and I took Taj back to our 5 star hotel with us in my crew bag! We fed him in our room for the next couple of days and then got him over to the airport for the flight back to the UK."

Taj was quarantined at Moonwinds quarantine kennels in Lymington, as they often quarantined animals for International Animal Rescue and had been recommended by Alan Knight.

"I can’t speak highly enough of the kennels," says Dina. "We used to visit him as often as we could, but obviously couldn’t be there every day. The staff there did so much for him, socialising and training him, getting him used to obeying simple commands and generally making him into a pet. The Kennel Maid who looked after him cried on the day he was released at the end of April.

Sadly, Taj had a false start when Dina rehomed him to a couple who initially seemed ideal owners for the young dog.

"I thought I had found him the perfect home with a middle aged couple who
lived by the beach," says Dina. "They had another dog and seemed very excited at having him so I didn't think I needed to look for another prospective home.

"However I wasn't aware of the problems they had within their relationship. The husband proved to be very controlling over his wife and resented Taj, even going as far as refusing to allow Taj in his car when he, his wife and other dog went out for the day.

"As soon as I was made aware of this, six weeks later, I fetched Taj home with me.

Although he was nervous of everything when he came out of quarantine he had
a lovely nature and I never heard him growl or bark. After his six weeks away he was even more nervous and had a dislike of men, growling when one came near him. He also growled at my niece and nephew when previously he had allowed them to pet him."

Taj was taken to the Royvon Dog Training School in Wales, where he came under the care and training of owner Darren James, 30,who attempted to ‘reprogramme’ Taj and help him adjust to domestic life and general canine obedience.

Initially, Taj found another prospective home with a lady named Jenny from Bournemouth who came along to collect Taj from the centre on his ‘graduation day’.

Animal mad

"She seemed ideal, animal mad," says Dina. "She fell for Taj and came to collect him on his training 'graduation day'. It was a big deal and Darren, the owner of the training
school had pictures taken of us all. A lovely day, I was so proud as I watched Taj being put through his paces.

"The staff at Royvon were so touched by Taj's story that Darren wanted to
waive the training fee but we came to a compromise and donated the money to the NCDL."
Sadly it was to prove another false start for Taj. After one week on he was being territorial with Jenny's other dog and three cats, wanting Jenny's undivided attention.

Sadly, Taj would not respond to the training tips given by Darren over the phone, so reluctantly, Jenny had to return Taj to Royvon.

But here, the story takes an unexpected – and romantic – twist:

"Meantime 'back at the ranch' Darren and I had struck up a rather special friendship and decided we were a match made in heaven!" smiles Dina. "Darren decided to adopt Taj as they both got on so well and being a trainer, he knew how to handle him. "The three of us are now very happy together and keep having to pinch ourselves to believe it’s true. We’ll be getting married in the next few months and Taj, of course, will be our page boy!"

"Things have a funny way of working out don't they?"