Registered Charity No 1166291
Hello BRNGB family, friends and supporters.
We have a heartbreaking story of a beautiful foster girl, Sophie who joined the BRNGB family in January 2022.
Please read her story and make her life count.Sophie's Story as told by her foster family, Cara, Gavin and Evie:-
2022 started with a bang for BRNGB, with about 8 hounds being surrendered within 48 hours of us all welcoming in the New Year, the Christmas clear out had begun.
Unfortunately based on surrender notes we, as a foster family, were not a suitable placement for any of the 8, the feeling of helplessness was overwhelming.
Seeing Dawn's pleas for some of these poor hounds who hadn't had been matched to foster homes, I messaged Dawn to see if there were any the team were struggling to place who could be chanced with us to ensure they were safe and not at risk. Her response:was hang fire, there was another little lady needing to come in urgently who sounded like a great match for us.
Her name was Sophie.
Sophie was described as a closed and a broken soul, she was coming in from very heart-breaking circumstances and arrived with us on the 9th of January 2022.
I was part of her transport run, with one other Transport Angel, Ami; the look of bewilderment was so clear to see when I met her; there was no sound and she was in a tight a ball as she could make herself. The journey of almost 2 hours there wasn't a peep out of her.
Arriving home, I had to carry her into the house. She was petrified; tense and would not move from the car. We managed to get her into the living room, where she just sat frozen on the floor in the place which we spent hours coaxing her to.
This was not going to be an easy foster; Sophie was a serious flight risk.
Her surrender notes said she would only eat during the night, she didn't walk well, easily startled and wants to avoid people at all costs, and for the first few weeks this was all very, very true.
We couldn't get her to eat or drink for almost 48 hours, so we reverted to the best local butchers' sausages, anything to coax her to eat (much to our own dog's delight!). She took a tiny piece from me, then another, then another. We continued feeding her like this for almost 2 weeks before she was brave enough to eat from a bowl, however the moment she heard my husband's voice, or he entered the room she froze and wouldn't touch another thing.
We quickly realised, men were the primary fear for Sophie. We have never seen such fear before in any of our foster hounds, and it was devastating for my husband to see in particular, as he was normally the foster dog whisperer. She was also terrified of any person who moved, regardless of how quiet, gentle etc. you tried to be. Our living room and a particular chair was Sophie's safe place, the moment anyone moved, or there was a noise she didn't know, she darted back to the chair, back turned and squeezed into the corner to try and protect as much of herself as possible from whatever bad thing she thought could or might happen.
Around day 10 she started to venture, we were sitting having dinner and out popped this little nose from the door, when she realised, we had seen her she ran back into her safe space. This was to continue as her go to check, like Marlin showing Nemo how to check if the coral is safe, 'you got out, look, and back in' then repeat until you know all is ok.
If Sophie wanted to go into the garden, we all had to either leave the room or stand behind the kitchen so she knew she had a safe escape route that no one could get to her or trap her.
High value food soon became our best friend and helped us coax a little confidence out of Sophie. She then went from not eating, to telling me it was her dinner time and ensuring I didn't miss her next meal. All served in the safety of the living room, with the dog kibble we added into spat out across the floor or on the couch in disgust. This little girl was getting used to the finer things in life, quality sausages and steak mince please! We couldn't be happier, although we just didn't think her future forever home family would appreciate this expensive diet! Only the best to help Sophie get to where she needed to be.
Sophie had never seen a vet and was booked in for a general check up and her injections. Overall, physically she was in an ok condition, needed to put about 2kg on in weight but nothing significant could be seen, it was the mental trauma we had to focus on.
The vet confirmed she had just come into season, and her view was that she had been physically abused, kicked etc. and given very little human interaction based on her behaviours. The only thing she had which could hopefully give us some insight into her history was she was chipped.
Sophie had 2 previous owners before coming to us and was sold online to her second owners with no papers. They had been told she was 3 years old and had only ever had one set of puppies.
She had just turned 5 in January 2022 and confirmed by the vets had had multiple sets of pups. With this insight and her behaviours it was a fair assumption to make that Sophie was an ex-breeding bitch, who had been used as a commodity to make money. In pup every season she had. With the timings of her being sold on line, then coming into us, it was also fair to surmise that the reason she was sold on gumtree was that on her last season she didn't come into pup. Therefore she was rendered surplus to requirements, sold online to get some final money out of her; unbeknown to her family who thought they were doing the right thing offering this little girl a home, to then wonder why she was the way she was.
From January to April, we worked hard to build Sophie's confidence, knowing she would be spayed at the end of April and hoping this would be the last 'big' hurdle for Sophie. However, we were not seeing any improvements with Sophie trusting people, being less scared of men and her confidence not improving when walking. BRNGB agreed to getting the help of a behaviourist, who attended our home and spent time getting to know Sophie, observing her challenges and building a support plan that could go with Sophie when she was ready to go to her forever home.
A lot of the work was going to be needed for Sophie to sit with my husband, he ordered her a special pouch for her chicken sausages so she could associate the pouch with him being a good thing; we bought loads of sausages to ensure always had plenty of treats ready and my husband followed the plan to help Sophie become just a little bit more ok with being around him.
We had some breakthroughs, She would lie along the couch as long in length as she could, still touching me in some way and taking the treat out of my husband's hand, and she became ok with eating in front of him, if he didn't move. We were starting to get there.
She had developed a huge trust in me, and our daughter, I became her security blanket, and she couldn't wait for us all to settle on the couch at night for cuddles.This was when we would see glimpses of her basset characters and personality start to come out. Sophie was stubborn, Sophie refused to share me with our two dogs for cuddles, either climbing on top of them, or squeezing into the smallest space just to be the closest to me.
She would paw you for cuddles and loved nothing more than a tummy or chest being scratched and would let you know if you stopped, and she wasn't finished. She also had the cutest side eye she would give you if not happy you weren't doing what she wanted you too, for example when you opened the treat cupboard, and she came running but no treats were offered as you were in there getting something else.
As the weather warmed, Sophie started to enjoy the garden and lying in the sun with the others or sitting on the bench by me as I had my coffee, she even became confident enough to go and sleep out there on her own. It made us smile and happy seeing these little sparks of personality and contentment coming through and helped when the fear quickly came back.
Sophie was the dream foster dog, she slept downstairs all night without a sound, she was fully toilet trained, she loved a cuddle, was very quiet, got on with our dogs and cats, could be left, and loved going a walk…..I was starting to have to tell myself that Sophie would be going to her forever home around summer time, and at same time questioning how we could let her go especially when her trusts in humans was so small and she was starting to trust us. I was fully prepared for my heart to break when that day came.
On the 19th of April, Sophie was booked in for her spay, vet check was all good, strong heartbeat, body condition well, they spotted a small hernia however this could be fix when completing her operation. I carried her downstairs to the pre op room as she was so scared, she would not walk. Reassuring her and giving her the biggest kiss and cuddle saying I would see her soon. The vets were fantastic and said as soon as they could get her home her home, they would, as they knew how worrying this was for both Sophie and me.
I had a call at 1.30 to say Sophie's op had gone well, her uterus was extremely enlarged and like tracing paper due to how many litters she had in her life. She would be ready to collect at 3.30, amazing, I was so happy to be getting her home and all was ok.
At 2.45 the vets called, the vet was concerned, while monitoring Sophie they noticed some blood coming from her scar, so the vet was completing an MRI to check nothing of concern. While I was on the call, I could hear the vet in the background say he wasn't happy and not willing to wait, he was putting her back under. I let the nurse go, with the words do what you need to do, and I will speak later, you need to go.
An hour or so later they called again, the surgery had been completed, there was a lot of blood and Sophie had lost a lot of blood, However the vet was confident he had stemmed the bleeding. Could we come down for 6pm to collect Sophie and the team would talk us through the aftercare?
When we arrived the nurse who was monitoring Sophie said she was coming around well, however still very sleepy after 2 lots of surgery. We were talked through aftercare, how to monitor her overnight etc. and the vet confirmed he was comfortable she could come home with us. We were all confident in what was needed and agreed Sophie needed to be at home, somewhere where there was a degree of trust and relaxation.
We got her home, she was showing signs of knowing she was home, sniffing the dogs, lifting her head, enjoying being stroked etc. We kept checking her, she then started to pass some blood which we called the emergency vet for advice on. It sounded like post-surgery body getting back to normal. She took herself out for a drink about 8.30pm, she was a wee bit wobbly on her legs, but she knew her way and had a lovely big drink.
We got her back to the bed we had made her, and she didn't seem to move into a more natural position, and her eyes looked a little glazed. The one thing we noticed was her gums, when checking, were so cold. At this point the emergency vet called back, I explained what had happened and as I was talking, my husband shouted we need to take her down there is a lot of blood.
We got Sophie into the car and made our way with my husband driving as fast as he could as I cuddled and reassured Sophie. It was the longest 20 minutes ever, she was moving her head and then her breathing went for a second, different. I told my husband to drive faster something wasn't right.
We got her there, called the vets who came straight out, we were told to wait in the car, they would call us.
Not even a minute later one of the vets called, Sophie had gone into cardiac arrest and his colleague was working on her. How long they worked on her I couldn't tell you, but I know it was long, it felt like a lifetime.
The vet came out, Sophie was gone, she couldn't fight this world any longer.
At just over 5 years old, our gorgeous little Soph's life was over, I have never felt such pain and heartbreak than I did in that moment. How could this be happening?
This beautiful little girl had only had 4 months of knowing what a home was that she could trust, that gave loads of treats and cuddles, consistent meals, daily walks and security that she so deserved, and most of all, all the love and care she could ever have, and it was over, less than 3 hours after we got her home.
She had gone into the vets for what many deem a fairly 'routine' operation for a dog, and now was gone. All because of vile humans who used and abused her pretty much all her life to make money, and when she couldn't do that for them anymore, sold her online to an unsuspecting family who tried to give her the home she so rightly deserved through no blame of their own.
This beautiful little girl's life was spent in fear and worry, probably never having any vet care, and paid the ultimate price. Because of the years of abuse meant her internals were so badly damaged she couldn't survive the operation that should have been her last step to never worrying about having to have puppies again.
As a foster family, I cannot begin to describe the pain and upset we have gone through, nothing in comparison to Sophie, knowing that the reason was because Sophie could produce the most beautiful puppies and nothing else. We have the guilt of 'what if's' and could we have done more to save her.
Sophie deserved a long happy life that would have shown her people are kind and caring, life can be nice; instead she is gone way before her time, and now a forever memory for us.
We are trying to keep focussed on the growth we have seen in those short months, and all the love and attention she was given, plus that she was at home and knew she was at home before she passed away.
Sophie will always have a huge part of our hearts, and I don't think I will ever get over what has happened to her, at least I know I don't need to keep convincing myself that I could part with her as I know deep down, I couldn't have. For us to consider to continue to foster other pups who will need our love, care and attention in the future I was willing to have my heart ripped out for her to find her forever home.
RIPFly high our beautiful girl Sophie, January 2017 - 19th April 2022.
Pease share Sophie's story. If it just changes one person's opinion of breeding; one person's opinion of buying a puppy; one person's opinion about adopting; one person's opinion about fostering, Sophie short life will be worth something rather than money in someone's bank.
A heartfelt thank you to her foster family, her transporters, her supporters and followers.
Please please share Sophie's story where you can. make her name known; make her life count.
HER NAME WAS SOPHIE
If you would like to make a donation in Sophie's memory to help future hounds, or the hounds in our care please do via the usual routes, PayPal, bank account of the donation button on our website. What we would really like is her story shared