This is a story that’s bitter-sweet but one we’d like to share as it reflects much of the emotional journey that we’ve been on during the past year or so with Susie-Belle which has included getting to know a lot more about the terrors of the battery farming of dogs.
As you may know, Janet is Susie-Belle’s foster mum – I know grammatically I should probably say she “was”, but for us, she will always retain this very special epithet, so foster mum, in fact super-foster-mum she remains. Anyway, back to the story, she has spent a number of years taking in and caring for miniature schnauzers rescued out of the battery farms/puppy mills and nursing them to health, both psychologically and physically ready to go to their forever homes. What little we know about Susie-Belle’s background and the state she was in when she first arrived at Janet’s can be read here.
The dogs Janet has cared for have all been in various states of poor health, some worse than others, but one thing they’ve all had in common is that they have experienced neglect to a shocking degree and have never lived in an environment where humans have showed them even basic levels of care or attention. But the worst case Janet has experienced – and every time she thinks she’s seen the worst, sadly worse comes along – has been a little female schnauzer who arrived at Janet’s in February this year, Tica.
Tica was so terrified of everything around her to the extent that Janet couldn’t get near her without Tica rearing up on her back legs in terror. It took weeks of patience, love and tenderness for Janet to reach the point where Tica would at least allow her to approach her without overwhelming fear, and eventually to be able to gently touch her to put on a harness so she could explore the wider world. Janet has a very good set-up at home as she runs the Diana Brimblecombe Animal Rescue Centre and has access to enclosed paddocks and acres of safe space as well as the canine companionship from her own pets that is so essential for dogs coming from the puppy farms who have known only canine company. Tica was in the best of places for her recovery.
Talking to Janet in recent weeks, it had become so clear to me that she was smitten with Tica and secretly I hoped Tica would be joining her family permanently. But Janet has 6 dogs in her family and I know that to make it 7 is a pretty big step and not one Janet would lightly take.
But yesterday, it became official, Tica is Janet’s 7th dog and very special. So today we’re celebrating, Tica is going to have the stability, endless love and care that she so deserves. We’ll get to meet her again and again on our schnauzer walks and watch her flourish and thrive in time.
But the celebrations are tinged with sadness – the bitter part of this sweet tale of schnauzer love. Janet has been noticing that Tica has increasinlgy seemed unsure of where she is at dusk or in poor light and she’s been bumping into things, so yesterday Janet took her off to the opthalmologist. Heartbreakingly, he diagnosed Tica with Progressive Retinal Atrophy (also known as generalised progressive retinal atrophy) which means that she is slowly losing her sight. PRA is an inherited disease of dogs and currently there is no treatment for it. This is so sad for little Tica, and Janet, who has done so much to help other dogs regain their sight from cataracts, including Susie-Belle.
As PRA is an inherited disease, affected animals should not be bred from. How awful that Tica has probably bred tens and tens of puppies during her years in the puppy farm. Her puppies will likely lose their sight. Her puppies will have been sold through pet shops, online ads, through dealers, sold to people who either don’t know any better in terms of how to buy a healthy puppy, or who don’t care. This is the reality of the mass breeding of puppies in the UK and other countries and why campaigns to raise awareness of the business of breeding puppies need to be effective and why we continue to try our best through this blog to do our bit to make people aware.
I am sure that with Janet’s care and in her wonderful home, Tica will cope well with her darkening world, she couldn’t be in safer hands, however, this may not be the case for her many puppies in the years to come. We can only hope they are in the right homes.
But we want to end this on a sweet note, which is that we will be getting to meet Tica again early in October on a schnauzer walk and we can’t wait.