The Story of Raha, a Special Dog From Iran


After years of working with all kinds of abandoned, neglected and abused dogs, right when we thought we had seen it all, a special dog arrived at Vafa’s shelter. We named him Ghahraman, which means hero in Farsi, and we call him by the nickname Raha. He is indeed a hero for still being able to trust humans. He was living as a street dog when people put firecrackers in his mouth, taped it shut and then set the firecrackers off. It was a near miracle that he survived the initial assault, but the attack left him with severe facial damage and disfigurement. He is a hero when after all he’s been through, he can still walk with us, let us touch him, and wag his tail to show his happiness.

Raha when he was first brought in to Vafa shelter. You can see he is very thin and has injuries from the fireworks. 

Raha is the main hero of his story, but he is not the only one. His story has other heroes too. When two of Vafa’s volunteers heard that some heartless people had hurt a dog during a party, they rushed to help him. They drove all the way to another province, to a faraway city, and even farther away to a small village. A video here shows the rescue, and in it you can see Raha’s gentle, trusting nature, even right after being harmed so badly. The volunteers brought Raha back to Vafa Animal Shelter to save him, reminding us of the kindness of our volunteers. Vafa’s many volunteers back at the shelter all took turns lovingly hand feeding Raha.

Raha was checked by Vafa’s veterinarian and other professionals several times. All of his broken teeth were either fixed or pulled out. His food had to be prepared extra soft or even in liquid form at times. To prevent excessive stress, Raha had to eat separately from the other dogs with the help of a volunteer until he learned to eat by himself again.

When Vafa’s veterinarian was asked if life is easy for Raha, he said, “No, but he is happy and full of life. His positive attitude makes everything easier for him.”

In order to improve his quality of life, and due to his complicated medical needs, we decided to send him out of the country. Raha arrived in Toronto, Canada, on August 4th, 2017 and stayed there for a couple of days before flying to his final destination.

Raha arrives in Toronto after a long day of travel.

Raha and his story of survival is one case of extreme animal abuse and demonstrates how disgusting and cruel humans can get, but his story also demonstrates how strong animal lovers can be when they come together to help and support those in need. Four volunteers were at Pearson Airport in Toronto, Canada, on August 4th to welcome Raha, whose flight landed after a long delay due to bad weather and thunderstorms.

Many flights that day were canceled and even more were delayed. Hundreds of people were waiting for their loved ones, and four Vafa volunteers were waiting for Raha. Finally, around 11:30 pm, after a long wait, Raha arrived. Tears and laughter were the volunteer’s reaction when they saw Raha. They took him out of his crate right away to let him stretch his tired limbs. To their surprise, he trusted them almost immediately. He let them hug him and kiss him. He patiently stood there, let them cry while holding him. He showed them the power of forgiveness and of learning how to trust again.

After a short walk, drinking a bit of water and surely doing some private business, Raha got a ride to a foster home to stay there for three days. Friends of Vafa in Toronto also donated enough to cover all the expenses for Raha’s final trip to the United States.

Raha shows his playful side at Home for Life Sanctuary.

Smiling Raha.

Raha flew to the United States on August 7th, 2017 to Home For Life Sanctuary in Minnesota, a beautiful facility which is known as one of the best sanctuaries in the world, in order to receive better care and medical attention. He joins many other dogs rescued by Vafa, such as Soosan, Noor (Soori), Venus and Parichehr.

Now, after more than a year, Raha is doing well and he is one of the most popular dogs at Home For Life. He even took a picture with the distinguished guest of the sanctuary, the famous Ms. Jane Goodall. Volunteers at Vafa enlarged this photo and took a group photo with it, and sent that photo to Raha’s new home to say “We won’t forget you.”

The group photo taken back at Vafa animal sanctuary, to show we are all still thinking of sweet Raha.

Featured image: Raha poses with Jane Goodall. All images in this story via Vafa Animal Shelter.

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About Author

Vafa is a charitable NGO run by grassroots donations. It runs two animal shelters in Hashtgerd and Qazvin, Iran, housing more than 1500 dogs. Click to see author's profile.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you to all the wonderful people who rescued this beautiful dog. I’m so glad he’s safe and sound and now in a forever home. Thank you Vafa and thank you Home for Life.

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