By Richard Beale ……
Last Wednesday I was privileged to accompany the TRNC’s own “dog whisperer” Rob Astley on his daily journey caring and feeding stray and unwanted dogs and puppies.
In November 2017 he came across three puppies in a field at the back of Stone Castle, Esentepe and started to feed them on a regular basis.
From that moment on his daily life has changed as he put into plan a daily routine that would save the lives of many dogs, who are homeless and are 100% dependant on him. He has managed to find permanent homes for many of his “flock” including a number of dogs that have gone to the UK. At times he was spending £100 per week on food and veterinary products and of course is grateful for any help and donations that have been given.
I first came across Rob a few months ago, when unknown to me he was helping with the feeding of BOUNCER (the Esentepe Stadium dog, see CyprusScene.com E newspaper number 30), we met at the Stadium one day and he told me what he was trying to do for the many stray dogs in the area.
Rob lives in Esentepe with his partner Cheryl and their four beautiful dogs Misty, Marley, Belle and Bow all of whom he rescued. Misty and Marley were found as puppies in a water pipe, while he was on his way to watch a football match. Belle and Bow were two of three puppies he found abandoned in a field all very close to death. He managed to revive Belle and Bow but the other puppy unfortunately died.
Anyway back to his daily round, which varies every day, he has regular dogs he cares for, he has dogs that he occasionally sees and of course there is always a new dog that appears, every day is different.
He visits his “flock” mornings, afternoons and evenings and also is back and forth to the vets with animals that need treatment, vaccinations etc. For Rob, there can never be “I can’t be bothered to do my rounds today” this is a full 7 days a week commitment, too many hungry mouths depend on him.
Rob does his rounds on his motor bike with his three panniers crammed full with food, water and various veterinary items that he may need, you have to cater for every eventuality.
We started our morning round in Esentepe visiting Barney who had just had the “chop”, he is staying at a neighbour’s house temporarily while he recovers. Barney was looking well and will be released back to his life around the village green very shortly.
Another visit to an Esentepe house where Rob is looking after two baby goats that were given to him. He feeds the two very hungry kids with milk which he does three times a day.
Next stop is Tempo Supermarket, where we visit Lady and an Alsatian “Big Boy”, where Rob feeds them with some tasty bones. He says he only visits these once a day as they are given food and titbits by the Supermarket customers.
Off again to a farm near the Spice Gardens where he feeds and waters two Kangal dogs, one being a puppy. Sam the big Kangal was not to be seen, so we drove around to some derelict villas where we find the missing dog. He is fed and watered and we are on our way again.
A stray female puppy has been seen hanging around near Charlie’s bar, we see her but she is very nervous and terrified. She needs to be caught so that she can be checked over, wormed and deflead. We also need to take her to the vets to be spayed and have some vaccinations. Unfortunately she is too scared so this time we just leave her some food.
Around the corner from Charlie’s Bar we try to visit another puppy Slim, who has recently been to the vets for his Distemper injection but alas he is not around.
As Rob has managed to re-home quite a few dogs recently, his round for the time being is fairly light but that can change immediately if he gets a phone call saying “some puppies have been dumped”
We finish at Catalköy near Shayna Beach where Rob has been caring for three black puppies ‘Snap, Crackle and Pop”, on seeing him they rush from their shelter in some bushes and are all over him licking and kissing him. They are “his babies” and Rob has managed to put a kennel and some blankets on pallets in the shade for the puppies. They are so adorable you just want to put them in the car and take them home, what did they do to deserve this, they didn’t ask to be dumped, again they are totally dependant on Rob, and also another Ex-Pat, Danielle Batt, who also helps to feed them.
This is just a sampler of what Rob does, three times a day 7 days a week, he is very much an “unsung hero” to the animals.
With the death of BOUNCER through Distemper, Rob has recently changed his policy. It’s not enough to just feed the dogs, without getting them vaccinated as they could die. With this in mind Rob is trying to get all his “flock” vaccinated and also spayed and neutered.
It can be very stressful and very emotional for Rob and Cheryl, they have many heartbreaking stories they can tell. I will write in next week’s paper an amazing story of a dog named Amber and how Rob saved it after it had been bitten by a viper. You can get so attached to an animal, if it goes missing they worry and are very anxious about its whereabouts. He says he is getting better at coping with the ones he cannot save, but can be reduced to tears in minutes if he comes across a dog that has been ill treated.
Even when Rob and Cheryl go out for an evening, the boot of their car has food and water in it. Cheryl has said many a times if he sees a stray dog on the road he will slam on the brakes and try to check it over, feed and water it!
Rob and Cheryl moved to the TRNC, in 2012, when they came out with their pet dog Caspar who has unfortunately since died.
His ambition is to buy a smallholding, where he can keep horses, cows, goats, chickens and of course dogs.
We also must mention Carol Harrison, who helps Rob with the feeding, mostly with cats.
Also the many butchers that Rob visits from whom he gets his supply of bones.
With the hot weather approaching being a stray animal on the streets is very dangerous, not only have they to put up with the heat, there is also disease, snakes and of course poison.
With KAR, Hope for Pets and people like Rob, dogs and cats are slightly better off than they were a few years ago,
Rob certainly is an amazing character, he freely admits he gets on better with anything on four legs than on two. Without him and his helpers many more dogs/cats would not be alive today.
HOW CAN YOU HELP ROB PLEASE?
By providing a permanent home for an animal – providing a temporary foster/emergency home – of course making a cash donation – or donating food, preferably tinned food, – flea drops/ flea collars – dog kennels – dog beds.
HOW CAN I CONTACT ROB?
Phone him on 0533 8227791 or on Facebook Bouncer’s Legacy. Pay Pal RJA Transport @ aol.com.
To learn more of Bouncer’s Legacy please click here