How a Rescued Dog Changed My Life

My name is Martyna, I live in Krakow and I am a big fan of dogs.

I like them small, big, plain, quirky, four-legged or three-legged. I love them with two eyes or one, tail or no tail, young or old. I even love them when they are stinky and bad tempered (bad things happen to some dogs).

Why am I telling you this? Because I want to share the story of how we gave a home to an abandoned dog from the Shelter for Homeless Animals in Krakow (Schronisko dla Zwiarzat), and why you should too.

If you have wanted to have a dog forever, but haven’t been brave enough to take the plunge; if you’ve been told that it’s just too much trouble, if you’ve been told that re-homing a dog is difficult for foreigners: read on – none of that is true.

It took me five years to commit to getting a dog of my own. I had been yearning for a four-legged friend, but could always come up with a good reason not to. Then, one day, I decided to stop doing that.

Paying for a dog is crazy when there are so many abandoned animals looking for a home. The Shelter for Homeless Animals has hundreds of the little dudes of all shapes and sizes. Friends and family thought I was mad: “Rescued dogs have so many issues,” they cried (don’t we all).


I stuck to my guns. My husband and I went to the shelter – my head nearly exploded from all the barking. Then, when we thought nothing much would happen, there he was – our dog.

The first few days with Mr Benio, for that is what we named him, were intense. What if he doesn’t like us? What if he misses his buddies at the shelter? Will we be able to train him?

It took him a few weeks to stop being petrified and begin to trust us. It took only a week to train him to go accept a leash and to use the outside as his toilet. He even went to dog school (not that he needed to) mainly to socialize with other dogs.

Three years later, I can say without hesitation that getting to know Benio has been one of the biggest and best adventures of my life. Today, he is a super balanced and confident dog. My life has improved too, with more exercise, chances to get to know a lot more people in my neighbourhood and the priceless bonus of seeing his cute little face first thing in the morning.

If, like me, you’ve always wanted a dog but haven’t made the commitment, go to the Shelter for Homeless Animals in Krakow – you never know who you might meet there.

Basic Dog Rescue Tips:

  • Rescued dogs are really no more trouble than expensive dogs or puppies from other sources. They might need extra care and understanding for the first couple of months, but dogs are intelligent and naturally want to fit in with their surroundings.
  • The staff at the shelter know a lot about the characters of their dogs – they will help you make the right choice for your circumstances.
  • Consider how much time you can spare for a dog – if long walks are not your cup of tea, go for an older dog that won’t need so much physical activity.
  • The Shelter for Homeless Animals in Krakow has a fantastic animal behaviourist who will help with any problem solving.
  • Re-homing a dog is free, but please consider leaving a donation to the shelter.
  • All dogs need to be castrated before finding a new home. The shelter does this for free.
  • If you are not quite ready to adopt, you can donate 50 zł per month for a ‘distance adoption,’ which will allow you to feel you’re helping to take care of a dog. You’re even encouraged to take them for walks.
  • You can train your dog to fit in with your way of life – mine happily goes
    on my bike with me!
  • Krakow is very dog friendly. Most bars and cafes are happy to see dogs, and there are even some dog-friendly restaurants.

Front page picture: Gizmo,

2 thoughts on “How a Rescued Dog Changed My Life

  • September 4, 2014 at 7:17 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. Such a cute puppy. Thank you for giving him a loving home and providing tips on how one can help.

  • September 6, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Good for you! Dogs really do enhance the lives of their owners. They give complete and unconditional love in return for opening up your home to them. I’m always on the look out for dogs to say hallo to during my trips to Krakow and Gdansk. I’ve ambushed quite a few dog owners in order to make a fuss of their hounds.

    In my opinion people who love dogs are pretty decent folk.


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