There’s a scramble in front of us on the country road. A car is sticking close to the lorry in front. When it finally starts to overtake, suddenly, there’s oncoming traffic. We get off lightly. Andrei, who is at the wheel, rails. In the passenger seat, I almost don’t see the near-accident. Something else had caught my attention, a white dog. Limping along the side of the road, unkempt, one of his front legs is grotesquely deformed. A few years ago Romanian street dogs made international headlines when dogs killed a four-year-old in Bucharest. Today you no longer see strays in Bucharest, the administration has got rid of them using sometimes controversial methods. Many have been killed by dog catchers. But in the Transylvanian countryside, in the villages and small towns, they still exist. Dirty brown-grey mongrels and cross-breeds of uncertain provenance, they often have conspicuously large, dark eyes, into which one might even read a melancholic expression. They run across the fields, frolic on wasteland, and at night you can hear them barking. Romania has the biggest number of stray dogs in Europe. A legacy of the communist era when people had to move to newly-built apartment blocks and released their guard dogs as there was no space for them any longer. Their descendants still roam around today and mate with domestic dogs, which are rarely neutered. The strays in Transylvania won’t disappear anytime soon.
Text: Jasmin Jouhar
Photo(s): Nafez Rerhuf