Out Of The Darkness Into The Light
In July I had the honour of co-judging the Puppy Farm Survivor class at the DBARC Fun Day, the winner of which is annually awarded the Susie-Belle Memorial Award. This year was a very tough decision and my co-judge Aimee and I decided to hand the award to two winners, Lucy whose story can be read here, and Bronwyn. I asked Bronwyn’s mum Louise to tell everyone more about the journey they’re sharing and I’m delighted to share her words here…
Out of the darkness and into the light.
The decision to take home a rescue dog rather than a puppy was a tough one until we read into the horrors that puppy farm dogs endure and it changed our whole perspective. Bronwyn is around four years old and when she arrived at DBARC they discovered she was totally blind due to cataracts.
Bronwyn was one of the lucky ones, not only to be rescued but also to be with DBARC and to have Schnauzerfest funds available to pay for her cataract surgery. This not only helped her see again but literally to come out of the darkness she was living in, into the light!
It’s funny, I feel like I took more time to consider taking on a rescue dog than I did getting a puppy. Bronwyn has been with us since March and any reservations I had diminished within the first day of getting her home. It’s been eye opening realising how cruel people can be, but also how much love and companionship dogs can not only give but also crave in return.
Only Bronwyn will truly know the horrors she endured at the puppy farm, however we see the evidence of what it’s left her with everyday. The resistance to walk through doorways, not coming up to us if we’re stood full height; cowering if we get too close; noises we all take for granted that frighten her and make her run off to her safe place; never wanting to sit near us, always metres away; not playing with toys; not understanding the joys of a walk.
At the start we told ourselves that even if she never got any better than this, we’d have given her a life away from the horrible environment she came from; the chance to live in a safe environment where she will be loved and cared for unconditionally.
In the beginning when I felt I was doing everything to make her feel safe, yet nothing obvious had changed, I used to ask her personally for her forgiveness for what the horrible people in the puppy farm did to her. Some people may think that’s odd, but I wanted her to forgive me so she could move on and learn to trust me.
It’s true what they say – time is a good healer. Bronwyn has come on leaps and bounds since we got her, she’s an extremely elegant, beautiful and clever dog. She found her way onto our bed thanks to her new brother Wilson (our other 9 year old mini schnauzer, bought as a puppy) within the first week and this is now her bed of a night!!
Although we didn’t change her name, when she is lounging around on the couch, car, bed, sunbed etc. (you get it?) She looks like Cleopatra, so her middle name is Cleo! Wilson has been a great mentor and coach – we managed to get her on a lead and walking within a week, all during the snow period, typical!
In the early days wheelie bins where more like Dath Vader or Doctor Who Daleks to Bronwyn and caused her to fret and collapse on all fours laid flat to the floor not able to move an inch. But she has conquered this, although she will still only walk to our right hand side. We’ve tried at times to push her boundaries, as we know she can cope with it a bit at a time; but we understand we must be patient, caring and forgiving. She actually responds well to being presented with a new venture or experience, she has an unique way of processing something new and not letting it frighten her too much.
We have done our best to take her to lots of new places and she loves it – the beach, the park, the car, the pub and green grass to lie and run on. Bronwyn is not that keen on water yet and thinks Wilson is very odd wanting to come out on the paddleboard with me. She found her bark within the first couple of weeks and now she won’t shut up when she sees her doggie pals! Every time she sees a person or dog she has to tell them “I’m here, look at me!!”
We know we’re making progress when we see little milestones; such as the first time she wagged her tail when she saw me (must be similar to when a child says the word mama or dada for the first time). And the first time I called her by her name and she came running towards me. Again, when she stopped standing miles away when I put her food down; when she runs around the couch waiting for her food, tail up, excited and completing 10 laps; when I sit on the couch and call her over to come sit next to me.
Seeing her become more confident in the garden and exploring more areas of it, if only to chew on some more chipped bark! My heart bursts with love for this little angel, she does reset herself regularly, however the steps back that she takes get less and less. Don’t get me wrong we still have a very long way to go but she has made such fabulous progress I am bursting with pride. Bronwyn becoming joint winner of puppy farm survivor along with Lucy nearly finished me off!! A blubbering wreck in the middle of the judging ring!
Taking a rescue dog and seeing how they can progress is one of the most rewarding things anyone can do. It’s one of the most rewarding things I have ever done and I would do it again in a heartbeat. The puppy farming industry must be stopped, however in the meantime I am personally extremely thankful that we have wonderful charities and individuals to help save some of these tortured animals. And a word must be said for the amazing job her original carers did and continue to do for other dogs. Without them we wouldn’t have our Bronnie.