Where Life Gets Going
Everything is bewildering to dogs when they first leave a puppy farm. All is new in the outside world. While being lifted from the darkness of a breeding shed is good for them, it’s also terrifying in its entirety. Traumatised dogs land in rescue and don’t know what’s coming next. Up to that point in their lives, nothing ever good has happened; they have no measure or expectation of goodness. Humans may mean well, but the dogs don’t know that. With their senses on hyper-alert, the brutal world they’ve left may be out of sight but it’s not out of their minds.
Good rescue work begins the moment the dogs are safely away from the breeding facility. It should continue for as long as necessary. For some dogs, it can be many months before they’re ready to head off to the rest of their lives.
When I adopted my first breeeding dog, Susie-Belle, she stayed for 6 months at the Diana Brimblecombe Animal Rescue Centre. During that time she spent a lot of time in a part of the centre away from the main kennel block. It was a building where dogs who required a quieter, more particular environment hung out together.
Mostly it was breeding schnauzers at various stages of their rehabilitation and treatment. Others with long term health or behavioural issues, adopted by members of the DBARC team would spend time in the unit. This greatly helped dogs like Susie-Belle in their journey towards knowing life would be better. They could witness human-dog interactions from their safe places in the unit, or mix freely if they felt braver.
I write about my early visits to DBARC in Saving Susie-Belle and I will never forget them. The impact on me of seeing so many dogs together who had experienced great trauma, but who were now adapting to being with humans was lasting. I have not let up in my support for DBARC since my first visit.
So it is with a lot of memories that I’ve launched an appeal for a very special building project which began at DBARC this week. The unit where I met Susie-Belle, Twinkle and many other schnauzers like them in the years since, is being rebuilt. For the last couple of years it’s been out of action. It became an unusable place as it needed serious refurbishment and the funds were not available to do so. The Centre has missed it and I’m delighted that it’ll soon be back, better than ever.
The unit will be a particular, quieter space, made as homely as practicable to do. There’ll be sofas and chairs where the dogs can hang out with sensitive humans who will help them learn to accept kindness. They’ll be away from the usual hustle and bustle of the centre while learning, slowly but surely, that life outside a breeding shed is good.
The unit will have a vibe making the most of canine companionship; this is something rescued breeding dogs need, coupled with a homeliness that will prepare them for life once adopted.
Through a legacy left by Liz Auchterlone a former DBARC Trustee, the building work is now possible. All told, it’s likely to cost around £90,000. All money we raise means more of the legacy will help other important work the centre undertakes.
Susie-Belle’s first Memorial Walk in 2016 raised £1600 for the unit and I hope this appeal will add significantly to that.
There really is no better way to remember the impact that Susie-Belle’s life had. And continues to have on many. By contributing to a very special place for dogs for years to come, you’ll be part of a lasting tribute to an incredible dog.
To donate in Susie-Belle’s Memory please click here.