Puppy love | 

Ukrainian woman (86) who fled to Co Clare reunited with her beloved dog Tasha

Violetta, 86, a native of Odesa, tried to bring her 13-year-old black Labrador, Tasha, with her when she fled the country.

Seoirse Mulgrew

An elderly woman who fled the war in Ukraine to take refuge in Ireland has been reunited with her beloved dog.

Violetta, 86, a native of Odesa, tried to bring her 13-year-old black Labrador, Tasha, with her when she fled the country.

However, they were forced apart in Romania because the elderly refugee was unable to physically carry Tasha any further.

Violetta (86) with her beloved dog Tasha. Picture: Debbie Deegan

Violetta was devastated to leave her beloved pet behind.

A local family kindly agreed to care of Tasha while Violetta and her family continued their journey and ended up finding refuge in Co Clare.

Charity worker Debbie Deegan first offered her support when Violetta was unable to enter Romania due to her passport being out of date.

“A Russian friend of mine called me about four weeks ago and told me that Ukrainian friends of hers were trying to get over the border from Moldova into Romania,” she said.

“And they wouldn’t let Violetta in at the time because her passport was years out of date, and I got involved at that point.

“They had travelled right across Ukraine over days and then they ended up on a bus and in Moldova they ended up in a field and snowstorm. They had one bag with them and at that stage Violetta was really weak and she was losing the will to live a bit.

“She was carrying her dog in a cat box, and they got as far as a train station and at that stage Violetta was lying down, she just wasn’t able to cope.

“They got into Romania eventually and they were going to put the dog down, but they just weren’t able to do it because Violetta considers Tasha to be her best friend. So, they found a family in Romania and gave the dog to them and then routed their way to Ireland.”

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Violetta finally arrived safe and sound in Ireland, but without her beloved dog.

Ms Deegan said it was a “difficult problem” to solve and that she had to get Tasha out of Romania and across six borders unaccompanied.

“I was nervous of the company we had chosen to move the dog so that was a bit tricky for me, but I rang the van man every day to make sure he know I was kind of watching him and actually they were lovely,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“I got the dog as far as the UK, getting the dog into the UK was my biggest worry because of all the rabies rules and all the rest of it so I had to try and slide the dog into the UK quietly.”

Ms Deegan then received help from a woman living in the UK who collected the dog and homed it for a week.

“I put a word out into a UK group, a Ukrainian helper's group, would anybody pick up the dog for me there because we couldn’t get there at that point. I found a magnificent woman in Solihull on a beautiful farm who went and collected the dog and kept Tasha for a week.

“A friend of mine from Waterford then went out on Friday on the ferry with a dog handler and they collected Tasha and brought her back to Dublin and we all drove down to Co Clare with Tasha.

“Violetta was a very happy woman last night she just kept saying to Tasha, ‘please forgive me for leaving you’. She’s a different woman today and Tasha is a different dog I might add.”

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