Susie-Belle’s Work Continues
Sunday will see me attending the annual Diana Brimblecombe Animal Rescue Centre summer Fun Day. It will be the 6th time for me, the third without my little friend Susie-Belle at my side and the second time I’ll launch a book there. You might guess I’m in a reflective mood, especially when I see the excitement build for a day which has become a firm fixture in the friendly world of UK schnauzerdom.
When Susie-Belle and I first attended in 2012, she won the Dog of Courage award, I was shocked, she took it all in her stride as she did most things we did together. There were a few schnauzers around on the day, friends we’d made during the months since her adoption and the group walking network we’d been a part of establishing. DBARC had been helping rescued schnauzers for a while by the time I adopted Susie-Belle and it was nice meeting some of them and hearing their backgrounds. At this time I was still new to the world of rescue, Susie-Belle hadn’t been with us a year.
The next year we went was Twinkle’s first summer with us and there was a noticeable increase in schnauzer numbers. My blog had been up and running a couple of years by then and people had been following Susie-Belle and Twinkle’s journeys there and on the UK Schnauzer Forum. Some came along to meet the sisters and hear more about how they were getting along. We had another superb day out, our network and support for what we were all doing together, supporting DBARC and awareness of puppy farming was steadily growing.
The year Saving Susie-Belle was published (2014) there was no DBARC Fun Day but the following year we were all out again in force; a growing force of goodness as more people than ever had heard about the work DBARC was doing for dogs like Susie-Belle. Not only through my blog and book but by this stage Schnauzerfest had officially been born and in October of 2014 we’d raised a brilliant £7702! This had generated a lot of buzz around rescue schnauzers and the help they needed. The amazing first year of Schnauzerfest was only possible because a lot of great people came together and made an idea I had work. As they continue to do so, as Schnauzerfest grows each year, helping more dogs than I could ever have imagined we might together. Many Schnauzerfest supporters have been with us from day one and help every year to make it what it is. They remember the little dog who inspired us all in the first place; some were lucky enough to meet Susie-Belle out on the many group walks we took part in during her years with us.
It’s only through people caring enough about dogs saved from puppy farms to want to do something to help that big support, money, donations and help of all kinds floods to DBARC each year. And although it may not be realised, at the heart of much of the support coming from the schnauzer community lies Susie-Belle.
She was the dog who motivated me to document her journey, make it public and to keep doing so, year after year so that her suffering, like that of every other dog in a breeding facility, would never be forgotten.
As the years pass, and Susie-Belle is no longer here able to work her magic in person, it might be easy for some to forget that it was due to her impact on me, which motivated me to give her a voice, that a lot of excellent, life saving and transforming work is made possible. She did it. Does it. Some who today get behind fundraising goals and days like Sunday at DBARC may not even realise that none of it has happened by chance. One dog given sight by DBARC has gone on to enable the same for many more dogs in the last few years.
I know that as the threads of her network stretch, it’s possible to forget that one special little schnauzer with the most bewitching character and soulful eyes inspired a human to write a blog, which became a book, which spurred on a fundraising effort of awesome proportions with fantastic grassroots support; if Susie-Belle hadn’t been who she was, then little of the wonder of what we see today in the schnauzer network, especially for DBARC in particular would be happening. Now I find that just an incredible thing that one dog is responsible for.
So, as I reflect on Susie-Belle’s life and legacy – which in fundraising terms alone now easily exceeds £110,000 as it’s not just Schnauzerfest we do it through – does it matter that some may never know about the dog who ignited a movement which a few years on, at times seems to have a life of its own? Or is it a bother that some who know, decide not to mention her while following in her footsteps? It really shouldn’t matter, if in her footsteps we do good things for other dogs like her. But just sometimes, on days less luminous than they might be, it seems it does matter; I am after all a mere human. I fear my girl being forgotten, a saddening thought. But, I know on Sunday although she won’t be seen beside me, I’ll know she’s there, guiding me to continue her work; and I know others will also be doing so, perhaps unknowingly. Now that’s some nod to the marvel that Susie-Belle was.