Rescue dog Kratu, who went viral for hilarious Crufts agility runs inspires book and changed his owner's life

When Tess Eagle Swan adopted a rescue puppy from Transylvania in 2014, she hoped they’d develop a special bond. The United Kingdom resident named the pup Kratu (a Sanskrit word for “strength” pronounced “KRAY-too”) and started training him with rewards like treats and — since he’s a bit of a clown — laughter.So perhaps it’s not surprising that whenever Kratu competed in agility at Crufts, the world’s largest dog show, instead of obediently running the course, he played for laughs.
Kratu brings a zest for life to everything he does and loves being the center of attention.Kratu brings a zest for life to everything he does and loves being the center of attention.Courtesy Tess Eagle Swan

On his first outing in 2017, he thought it best to explore the scents of the arena and walk around the weave poles instead of racing through them — to the delight of onlookers, who roared with laughter.

Run a dryer sheet over your dog's fur when there's a storm — chances are, they aren't freaked out about the storm but the static electricity built up in their fur. According to Martha, this should work at least 50% of the time.

Kratu clearly made an informed decision, and that was to have fun,” Swan, 58, told TODAY. “He loves people and to have fun. And the pull of the audience in the moment and in the arena was far greater than doing what he was told.”Crufts released a video of “Krazy Kratu” that went viral — as did his subsequent appearances. They seemed to get funnier with each passing year, from Kratu turning around halfway through agility tunnels to stealing poles he was supposed to jump over.

But there’s much more to Kratu, now 8, than his hilarious antics in the agility ring, as chronicled in the new book “Incredible Kratu: The happy-go-lucky rescue dog who changed his owner’s life.”

Possibly the best use of old jeans ever: a lap pillow.

Swan writes in her book about an extremely challenging childhood and young adulthood. She survived abuse, kidnapping and rape, and used drugs, including heroin. She’s had to contend with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, bulimia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, self-hatred and ultimately, undiagnosed autism. After being diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2011, with help from doctors and a spiritual quest that led her to Peru, she started turning her life around. When she adopted Kratu, she spent so much time giving him the exercise, positive training and care he needed that it didn’t leave much time for introspection and anxiety.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: According to the ASPCA, around 2.7 million shelter animals are adopted each year. Interesting in adopting a pet? Make sure to do your research ahead of time to find the animal that's right for you!

Kratu’s fur as a puppy was so soft it was like feathers, according to his adopter, Tess Eagle Swan. Kratu’s fur as a puppy was so soft it was like feathers, according to his adopter, Tess Eagle Swan. Courtesy of Tess Eagle Swan

She also wasn’t used to smiling much before Kratu entered her life.

“I’ve always liked rebels, rascals,” she said with a laugh. “I’ve been one myself.”

When trainer Wendy Kruger from Woodgreen Pets Charity invited Kratu to participate as part of a rescue dog agility team at Crufts, Swan felt motivated to seek help for her mental health because she wanted to be able to attend — and enjoy it.

As a result, she was finally diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Sure enough, when the time came, her faithful companion helped her navigate through the Crufts crowds — and the sensory overload they bring — before and after his agility run.

Create Your Own Doggie First Aid Kit. You never know when an accident might happen so it’s recommended to have a first aid kit on hand just in case. Here’s a great list of basic items a pet first aid kit should have.

Kratu's agility runs might not be full of technical merit, but they're always entertaining.Kratu's agility runs might not be full of technical merit, but they're always entertaining.Courtesy of Tess Eagle Swan

“His goal is love and happiness, and I walk behind him. He leads the way,” she said. “He’s just this force of nature.”


Kratu presses into Tess Eagle Swan to help calm her at Autism’s Got Talent.Kratu presses into Tess Eagle Swan to help calm her at Autism’s Got Talent.Little Pip Photography
She credits Kratu — aka Baron Kratu von Bearbum — with helping her heal, and is passionate about spreading awareness of mental health for both people and pets. She wants others to consider the mental health needs of their dogs — such as force-free training — and to make the choice to rescue themselves.

Help your pet be as active as nature intended. Exercise and play time are necessary for your pet’s mental and physical well-being. If you don’t give your dog opportunities to be physically active, or if you don’t encourage exercise for your kitty and find ways to make it happen, you may well end up with a bored, destructive, overweight pet whose health will spiral downward throughout her lifetime.

“Your dog doesn’t come and kick you out of bed and go, ‘Get up and go wash yourself.’ You decide to throw back the covers, go into the bathroom, brush your teeth. You make that decision,” she said. “If you are going to be empowered, healthy and whole, you have to say, ‘I do this for me, because I’m worth it and I want to do it.’ And to be present for your dog.”

Kratu likes to make Tess Eagle Swan laugh. They share a close bond, and she respects him as an individual. “I will not try and make him do what he doesn’t want. He has a choice. I’ve always given him a choice,” she told TODAY. Kratu likes to make Tess Eagle Swan laugh. They share a close bond, and she respects him as an individual. “I will not try and make him do what he doesn’t want. He has a choice. I’ve always given him a choice,” she told TODAY. Photo courtesy of Tess Eagle Swan
Kratu is helping change other lives, too. One woman wrote to Swan that while she coped with chemotherapy treatments for cancer, she repeatedly watched Kratu’s Crufts routines to help get her through it. Afterward, she adopted a rescue dog of her own.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Labradors have been the most popular breed in the United States for the last 26 years.

“So many people around the world have got mental health problems. They’ve got sadness,” Swan said. “And they go to Kratu’s page and they talk to him.”

Kratu and Swan have also visited numerous universities in Romania to help change perceptions of rescue dogs as pets , attend a variety of charitable events to lend their support and appeared in Autism’s Got Talent.
Kratu charms students at a university in Romania, the country where he was born. Kratu charms students at a university in Romania, the country where he was born. Courtesy of Tess Eagle Swan
Kratu also volunteers as an ambassador for the United Kingdom’s All-party Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group, which seeks to improve the health and welfare of dogs and their people.

Use a carabiner to attach it to a belt loop for a long hike.

Kratu appears at the House of Commons of the United Kingdom to advocate for canine causes. Kratu appears at the House of Commons of the United Kingdom to advocate for canine causes. Donna MacDonald

Wherever they go, Swan feels pride seeing Kratu show what rescue dogs can be with early socialization, positive training and respect. She loves the way he opens hearts just by being himself.

“I’ve always found it hard to be accepted. And to see this roughneck, Romanian, cheeky, charming clown just welcomed into this world, and I’m with him … I really struggle with self-worth and self-esteem, and I have to take a step back and think, ‘That’s my dog. We’ve done this together,’” she said.

Play a Nice Interactive Game of Tug With Your Dog. A 5 minute game of tug works wonders for tiring out your dog & letting him get rid of some of that pent up energy. (and no – it won’t make your dog aggressive despite the old myth)