The Story of Brie
Though now a relentless crusader for their cause, I am ashamed to admit that years ago I was blissfully unaware of the plight of rescue dogs. In fact, when I used to hear the term “rescue dog,” I envisioned a German Shepherd wearing a brightly colored orange and yellow vest, poised and ready to jump into frigid waters to save a drowning child.
I was familiar with the concept of government-run animal shelters that took in the community’s lost or wandering dogs. But what I didn’t know was that there is a vast network of kind-hearted people who are involved in the animal rescue process. There are more roles in this web of altruism than you can imagine; from those who help in the initial rescue of the animal in need to those who manage the final paperwork once an adoptive family has been found. And, in addition to these critically important roles, there is also a need for foster homes, volunteers for grooming and veterinary care, and volunteers for driving – or even flying – It’s heartwarming to realize that there are members of the community who are willing to take time out of their week to give these potential pets a fighting chance.
The encouraging news is that not all dogs in need of rescue are so far gone. Most are healthy, but facing the most heart-breaking prospect imaginable: being put to death by euthanasia due to overfilled shelters that simply don’t have room or as the result of puppy mill raids.
Love At First Sight
I will never forget March 29, 2013, the day I first laid eyes on our beautiful Yorkie, Brie. My husband and I were visiting the Pet Show in Toronto, and it seemed as though there were rescue organization booths lined up for miles. What an eye-opening day it was for both of us! There were so many beautiful dogs, each with their own story of abuse, neglect, abandonment, and confinement, who needed the right person to find a place in their heart – and their home – to deliver them from the limbo they had been living in for so many months.
Brie was a puppy mill dog who endured horrible conditions for the first five or six years of her life. Puppy mills mass-produce puppies for sale in small wood and wire cages, and are known for their filthy and overcrowded conditions. Many mill dogs are malnourished and remain outside all year long, exposing them to extreme temperatures, both freezing and sweltering. Brie was severely malnourished, and had been perpetually pregnant for nearly five years. Puppy mill momma dogs are usually killed by age seven, when they can no longer breed; Brie is one of the lucky dogs who was rescued in time.
We visited many rescue booths that day. Some were filled with beautiful pedigree dogs, and others with adorable mixed-breed dogs. Sadly, every dog broadcast the same haunted, almost lifeless look in their eyes. I could only imagine their thoughts. They were likely overcome with sadness and loneliness, broken hearts – and some with broken bodies, too. Would they ever be able to trust humans again?
When we came across Brie, she was quietly lying on a table, lifeless as a statue. It was as though she dared not move for fear of being noticed. I had felt sorrow and heartache for each dog we saw that day, but with Brie it was amplified. I had this overwhelming urge to bundle her up and take her home with me that very second. I could only think of protecting her and helping her forget her past misery.
A Life-Saving (and Life-Changing) Process
We put our names down for an adoption application right away. Knowing how quickly and how hard we had fallen for this pup, I was worried that there would be a line-up of people wanting to adopt Brie, who we already considered ours. I desperately wished that we could bring her home to start her new life with us right then and there.
It took two agonizing weeks to deal with the application, telephone interview, and home inspection. Finally, on April 13, 2013 we received word from Loyal Rescue that we were all clear to pick up Brie. I breathed a sigh of relief when she was finally placed in my arms, knowing that our home was now her forever home.
Brie’s foster mom, Brenda, was very emotional when it came time to give her up. She hid it well, but I could see the distress in her face and in the way she handed Brie to me; I know she would have kept her if she could. You can imagine how hard it would be for anyone to lovingly foster a dog for over a year, and then have to give them up – I know that it would break my heart!
Luckily, Brie’s adoption opened up a space in this loving home, and Brenda had already been notified of a new foster puppy arriving that same night. Another life saved!
Since meeting Brie, it has been my intention to spread the word about the life-changing power of the rescue dog system. I urge my family, friends, the Shizzle Dogs® community, and whoever will listen to remember one important thing. When you adopt a rescue dog, you are saving two lives: the one you adopt, and the one that takes its place.
Co-Founder of Shizzle Dogs