Susie-Belle Would Approve of Nigel
I’ve just arrived back in France after a hectic 10 days in the UK. I left Michel and the girls enjoying our corner of sunny France while I was up to my eyes in sweet puppy farm rescue dogs, visits, more dogs, friends and a few less fun but necessary chores, oh and did I mention the dogs? It’s good to be back, not least because I have a mile-high pile of work to catch up on. Top of the ‘to-be-written’ pile (the most daunting sized stack of all) is a blog about Nigel. I can’t go another day without telling everyone about this special chap.
I met Nigel on Sunday at the DBARC Summer Fun Day (the highlight of my trip and next on my urgent-to-blog list). About a year ago he was with DBARC when he’d first been rescued from the hideous puppy farm where up to that point he’d spent his entire life as an abused, cruelly treated stud dog.
He was adopted after spending several months at DBARC and returned on Sunday where he was entered into the Susie-Belle Memorial Award Puppy Farm Survivor class. I’d promised Janet, DBARC manager and Susie-Belle’s foster mum, that this year I’d judge the class. It’s a class for all puppy farm rescue dogs and it’s an emotional one. I’m a painfully reluctant judge, last year I’d had to rope in help, failing miserably to get on with it. To me all dogs in every class are winners and I find it crippling to pick just one. It had all proved too much last summer, the first one following Susie-Belle’s death. But as this award holds so much personal significance I knew I should pull my head out from where it was stuck and on Sunday I did it for Susie-Belle and all puppy farm rescue dogs. It was tough, believe me. But not as tough as spending years in confinement, neglected, dirty, hungry and deprived of everything normal which is what dogs like Nigel are forced to endure. So I stopped my whining and got on with the job.
The class was well supported, which is simultaneously pleasing for DBARC and saddening that so many dogs who were there on Sunday have been wrung out of the puppy industry mangle. I loathe the puppy business and hearing the stories shared by everyone about their puppy farm rescue dogs, it brought to the surface emotions I can barely express. It really is a rollercoasting few minutes in the DBARC rings when this class is underway. I’m both elated that the dogs are now in safe homes with loving, devoted people, and frustrated that the industry continues unchecked despite all our collective efforts.
After meeting each special soul and listening to their human friends it was time to decide on the winners. This class really is one where every dog is symbolically crowned a winner, but only one can have their name etched on the Susie-Belle Memorial shield so I needed to focus and make a decision.
It’s impossible to say why I picked Nigel as the winner from all the grand dogs who sat on that field; a field Susie-Belle enjoyed plodding around during her time with DBARC recovering from years of abuse. But choose him I did and he’s undoubtedly a deserving recipient having spent years as a stud dog in a dreadful puppy farm. The dads endure terrible lives, often in isolation and the mental and physical traumas can take a long time to recover from. While we see the more obvious physical damage done to the mums not least through multiple pregnancies, the dads often remain unseen in our stories and campaigning. They mustn’t be overlooked, for their suffering is very real as Nigel’s story illustrates. Almost a year following his adoption, he still has a way to go to shake off the shackles of sadness the puppy industry inflicted on him. But he is progressing, every day his trust grows and he enjoys more of life and is blossoming into the dog he should always have been. His mum Karen has this to say about her boy’s well deserved award:
So proud of my scruffy little Nigel for winning Puppy Farm Survivor at the Fun Day. We adopted Nigel in September and although still nervous he has settled in well with the help of his ‘sister’ Whisper.
I think Susie-Belle would approve of the 2017 winner of her award.