Schnauzerfest 2018 couldn’t have come at a better time for the dogs at DBARC . Right now, led by manager Janet North, the experienced DBARC team is caring for a significant number of dogs (not just schnauzers) who have come out of lives spent in breeding facilities. The neglect and abuse, endemic in the breeding industry, has left a cruel toll on the minds and bodies of the dogs. DBARC is steadily working through a long list of their problems, fixing them up, providing extensive veterinary care and in some cases specialist surgery. Some are blind, there are infections, the need to spay, neuter and vaccinate, dental care for shockingly neglected, rotten mouths and many more issues requiring attention. All of which the dogs will get. Along the way, these innocent animals will slowly begin to trust that humans can be kind and abundant love exists for them in the world outside the breeding shed.
The first schnauzer who will benefit from surgery to restore her eyesight is Gertie. She has lived totally blind in the puppy farm – for how long no-one can be sure – but with the expertise of many, and the fundraising of Schnauzerfest, she will soon be living a fully-sighted life.
Gertie has her new home lined up already, so as soon as she’s ready post-surgery she’ll be heading off to live with Joanna and her family. I asked Joanna to tell me more about the new life they will be sharing:
Tell me how you heard about Gertie, Schnauzerfest and DBARC
I have 2 dogs and 2 cats who are all fairly old so I’m in the vet pretty much every other week. I recently saw Janet in the reception area with beautiful Violet and I went and said hello. Janet told me they had several schnauzers at the rescue centre, including Gertie. I decided to visit the next day, and the rest is history!
Have you adopted a dog before?
My husband and I have adopted 2 dogs (and cats). A few years ago, we adopted Baxter from Dogs Trust. He was 10 years old and our best guess was that he was a cross between a Lhasa apso and a Yorkshire Terrier. He’d been picked up as a stray in Scotland so there was no information available about his background. Baxter was with us 14 months. Then one night he suddenly had a series of seizures, the vets did everything they could for him but we had to make the devastating decision to let him go. It was absolutely heartbreaking. The poor little boy must have had such a tough life and had finally found a loving home and only had 14 months to enjoy it.
Last year in October, we lost our gorgeous schnauzer, Gwilym. He was almost 15 and I had had him since he was a puppy. It all happened very quickly. His heart was failing and he couldn’t stand up or breathe properly. I rushed him to the emergency vets and we were there for several hours while they ran all kinds of tests. They couldn’t do anything for him, and I had to say goodbye to him. It was just awful. Everyone who knew him was heartbroken.
Leo, our Border Terrier was grieving. He seemed to age overnight. He was so sad without his lifelong friend. I’ve had him since a puppy and he’s now 14.5 years old. In November l had a text from my dog groomer. It said “He isn’t a schnauzer….. but he needs a home” and she sent a photo of the most adorable little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. So, we adopted Henry, he was 11. He’s settled in beautifully and it feels like he’s always been around. Henry has a grade 5 heart murmur and Mitral Valve Disease and is on medication for the rest of his life. He’s a happy, active little fellow and great company for Leo.
We also have a pretty and very mean tortoiseshell cat called Princess who turned up at my husband’s house in the USA many years ago as a stray and never left. She isn’t even slightly grateful! But thats ok, because she is a real character – and can be very affectionate when she feels like it. And last August, we adopted a 10 year old Maine Coon / Bengal cross called Rufus. Rufus is giant and orange – he weighs almost as much as Henry. His elderly owner had died and he needed a home.
How did the first meeting between Leo, Henry and Gertie go?
Everyone sniffed everyone and just bumbled about happily. Gertie was a little distracted wondering where Janet was so she would interact with us and the boys for a bit, then wander over to the fence to see if she could sense Janet returning. Our next two visits were spent walking around in one of the dog walking fields at DBARC. Gertie is just incredible for a dog who can’t see. She had a lovely jog with my husband and everyone had a good sniff around. There wasn’t much playing but hopefully in time, when she’s more used to us and can see, she’ll have a little play with Henry.
Tell me why you have decided to adopt a puppy farm rescue dog
My first two dogs – Gwilym and Leo – were puppies when I got them. Over the years, I’ve become more aware of puppy farming and of how many dogs are desperate for a home so I decided that if and when I got another dog, I’d rescue. Once I met Gertie, there was no question we wanted to adopt her.
What kind of daily life will Gertie be enjoying with you?
One of the reasons we’d been thinking about getting a schnauzer is because I quite recently started my own business, an online pet boutique, Barks & Squeaks.
This means I’m at home all the time and can offer a rescue dog a lovely life with lots of attention. We’ll see what Gertie needs and take advice from Janet about specific dos and don’ts.
Also, we’re making sure that Leo, Henry and her all get to know each other by the time she comes to live with us. In the evening, we have ‘sofa time’. In our house, dogs and cats are welcome on the sofa. Leo actually gets quite impatient if we spend too long sitting in the kitchen. He tries to round us up so we can all sit on the sofa together!
The boys sleep on our bed, and Gertie can too if she wants to. She’ll have the run of the house and can choose where she would like to sleep. My husband and I take several trips to Devon each year and we love going walking along the coastal paths and this year we hired a boat to buzz up and down the estuary. We are very excited as it is a super-dog-friendly place and I think she is going to love it.
We hope that she has a long, happy and fulfilling life and that any memories of horrors she may have experienced in the puppy farm fade away into the background.
I think it’s safe to say that Gertie will be enjoying a brilliant life with her new family, one she certainly deserves having been denied the even the basics of kindness in her puppy farm years. She’s booked in for her eye surgery next week and I look forward to reporting more on her life in future.
It will cost around £4000 to restore Gertie’s eyesight. Schnauzerfest fundraising will pay for this and much of the other extensive, costly and complicated care being provided by DBARC for these deserving animals.
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