Brie is a very special little dog and has been the inspiration for me starting Brie’s Boutique. She started in life in possibly the worst way an animal can, in neglect and abuse. Brie was born into a puppy farm and spent 3 years kept in total darkness, with no human contact, little food or water and bred for her puppies. She is known to have had 2 litters via c-section and was due to be drown in the farms slurry pit before she was rescued. She arrived unable to open her eyes in the light, with leg muscles so weak she could barely walk, her ears were flea bitten and she was terrified of people.
This is from an interview we had with the Dodo magazine.
I was feeling very down as it was the year anniversary of the death of my 19 year old Chihuahua Uma and so I was cheering myself up with a Caramel Soya Latte and answering numerous stupid facebook messages when I noticed a message by a rescue in Wales. The advert showed a tiny chihuahua being helped to stand next to a can of spaghetti. She could barely see over the top of it and she looked so precious and vulnerable I found myself calling the rescue centre before I even knew what I was doing.
I had to have a home visit and I was getting more and more anxious as the rescue told me that “hemp” her original name from the farm, had to undergo an exploratory operation to make sure that her past c-sections had not been botched, they told me that some times they opened up puppy farm dogs to find vet tools, cotton wool and other items simply left inside, so they were wanting to make sure that ‘hemp’ was ok and also thought that she might need to be spayed. I kept ringing all day on the day of her operation and was happy to hear that her surgery had gone well and that nothing had been out of place.
A few days later a lady came to check my house and garden to make sure that ‘Hemp’ would be safe and would fit in, we had a lovely chat and I showed her that the dogs had their own room and that the new arrival would have her own private cage with bed and blankets and toys. She explained that an ex breeding dog would not be like my other dogs, who made a fuss of anyone who entered the house, that I would not likely be able to pick her up, or walk her, or even play with her as she would not understand play and would be terrified of humans. It didn’t put me off, I had had chihuahuas for over 20 years and I was positive that ‘hemp’ (I had decided her call her a different name as I didn’t want anything left of her horrible time at the farm – I decide on Brie after Brienne of tarth from GOT ) would fit in perfectly with my little pack Vesper, Bouddica and Dexter. Before she left the lady told me that she would be happy to see ‘hemp’ come to me and that she was recommending that to the charity.
When the day finally came and I heard that I had been accepted I was still nervous, I suddenly found out that I would have to take my dogs with me so that they could see them all interacting. Not only was a worried that they would not get on, I was also worried about the huge car journey from Durham to Carmarthenshire South West Wales we would all have to make a 300 mile journey there and back in one day (thats 600+ miles in one day)
I asked two of my best friends Sandy and Paul also dog owners if they would help me and we all decided to do the doggy road trip together with two of my dogs (not vesper as she would be horribly car sick) and his 2 labradors and 2 staffies, we were like a travelling zoo.
When I saw her I was shocked, she was emaciated and shaking. She clung to the lady at the rescue and I wondered for a second if I could really help her, she looked so pitiful and It was really upsetting. Bou and Dexter just sniffed her and they all seamed fine with each other which was a relief, we filled in the paperwork and after a quick dog walk we headed off.. she was crouched at the back of her little carry case wide eyed and scared.
I noticed after an hour that she came to the front of the case and started to sniff at dexter, I took the front of the case off and she all of a sudden ran up my stomach and clutching at my top she hid her face in my neck.. I was dumbfounded and just sat there enjoying the feeling of her little breaths on my neck, she fell asleep and soon we were all dozing in the back of the car, needless to say we bonded very
quickly after that.
– When did you get Brie?
We travelled all the way to Carmarthenshire on the 27th of May 2016
– How old was she when you got her?
She had just turned 3 years old
– What kind of puppy farm did Brie come from?
The farm is in a rural area of South West Wales, these massive farms have hundreds of dogs and the cruelty on these farms is horrendous due to keeping costs low. The cages are stacked in giant barns, dogs legs and paws get caught in the wire bottoms of the cages (brie has scaring on her legs and broken bones that have not healed properly) they rub away the dogs skin after years of getting caught on the wire and they get broken legs and toes regularly. There is no heating so many dogs die of the cold, food is limited so most are starving even when pregnant, they get no vet treatment except for when they cannot give birth naturally, they get ear mites, fleas and ticks (bries ears are all bitten away and were covered in scabs) There is no light in the barns so the dogs are kept in the darkness (brie could not open her eyes in the light for weeks and still struggles some 11 months on)
– Was the puppy mill shut down? How did Brie get to leave the puppy mill?
No the farm is still running, Wales is rife with massive puppy farms. The charity has an ask no questions policy so that the farm owners do not go underground meaning that they would be able to rescue any more of the dogs they consider useless and to be killed.
– She’s a teacup dog, right? What kinds of health problems has she had because of this?
She is classed as a tea-cup (basically a runt of the litter) the fashion in breeding tea-cups is vile as they are too small to give birth and have numerous medical problems. Some Tea-cups weigh only a 2 pounds .. 🙁 Brie is now closer to 3 pounds.
Her small size and lack of any exercise has meant that her legs are very wobbly and not strong at all, they bend in odd ways. She is so small that she feels the cold really badly so cannot go out with out a coat. Tea-cups do tend to have congenital heart problems – Chronic valvular disease occurs in up to 40 percent of tiny dogs. Massive anxiety problems due to having such tiny hearts they do not cope with stress very well and shake a lot. They suffer from low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, due to having tiny bladders they suffer from incontinence and in some cases hydrocephalus where the brain is to big for the skull (thankfully i do not think she has this)
– How did Brie manage to survive?
How she survived two pregnancies, the cold, the hunger and fear I have no idea.. she is made of stronger stuff than me thats for sure. Seeing the other dogs being drowned and waiting for her turn.. I cannot image.
They were in the process of drowning the females they classed as waste when the rescue arrived and she was saved from being thrown into the slurry pit.
– What kinds of health issues does Brie have now?
She has crystals in her urine which means she needs lots of water and I need to make sure she gets regular checkups, she suffers from horrible PTS meaning she screams some times under stress and can pass out. She cannot relax around people and only really trusts me. She cannot hold in her wee and we have a mini fountain when I pick her up most days. She has some issues with her legs and they bend in some horrible ways, this is something we need to check on as soon as she is more settled.
– What does Brie’s life look like now? What are her favorite activities?
Her life is the total opposite now. She has constant contact with humans who love her and want to protect her. She walks off
lead and runs with her brother and 2 sisters. She plays with toys, her favourite being Mr Duck Duck. She sleeps in her own bed on a soft blanket with access to water. She eats 2 meals a day with her siblings and she gets treats and play time whenever she wants. She even takes herself off to her own room when she feels sleepy. She has a constant companion in her sister vesper who is only a year older than her, Vesper took Brie under her wing straight away and treats her like a puppy, when we are out for a walk all her brothers and sisters protect her if any other dogs go near her, as we can walk with groups of 20 dogs at times. She gets sent lovely clothes and toys by her fans most days which is so lovely and generous, and her fans adore her.
– What’s your favorite thing about her?
Her strength, she has suffered more than most humans I know and she has come through it and still manages to smile and play It is inspiring. In fact she helps me everyday with my depression and PTSD, seeing her deal with it and be so tiny and so fragile makes me feel like I can do anything.
She does a hilarious little thing where she grabs her ears and opens her mouth really loud and makes a noise like chimps do when they laugh. it is the cutest thing I have ever seen.
– How long have you had Brie now? How old is she?
We have been together for 1 year so she is over 4yrs old now
– What does it mean for you to have Brie in your life?
She has changed my life, I know lots of people say that but over the past year I have been in treatment for disassociation, depression and PTSD.. seeing how this tiny creature deals with her trauma and anxiety has given me the boost I have needed to carry on with life and deal with my own triggers.
– Anything else readers might be interested in?
I am planning on writing a book about where brie has come from and looking to include stories of other dogs from puppy farms who have suffered in different ways and try to educate people about not buying puppy farm puppies.