Dalmatian Beau was nine-months-old when she was brought to the RSPCA Millbrook Animal Centre in Chobham.  Her owners, who purchased her online, were told she was vaccinated but never saw vaccination cards as proof – and four months later, Beau became very ill. She was suffering from the very contagious parvovirus, which can be fatal to puppies.

Extremely poorly and bleeding heavily, she was signed over into RSPCA care. Unfortunately, staff at the Millbrook had to isolate Beau so she her illness wouldn’t spread to the 46 dogs in their care. The time she spent recovering meant missing out on everyday experiences she needed whilst growing up.

Once Beau physically recovered, she was rehomed in April but was sadly brought back to the centre because of the behavioural issues her experience had left her with. The Dalmatian was frightened of doorways, fearful of entering the house and new noises, sights and smells all seemed to terrify her. She was scared to go out in the garden and had a tendency to play too roughly, which overwhelmed the family that tried to adopt her.

Determined to help Beau get rehomed, staff at the Millbrook Centre spent the next six months building up her confidence and training her. Bounces Retreat is a mock-up house the centre uses to get dogs used to being in a home environment. Complete with a TV, radio, kettle and hoover, Beau was gradually introduced to the noises of home appliances with lots of treats and encouragement.

Then finally Trudy, who lives in Ascot, in Berkshire, was told about Beau by her vet and rehomed her in September. Trudy worked for British Dalmatian Welfare for 15 years and has owned about 12 Dalmatians herself throughout her life, as well as helping rehome over 100 Dalmatians to loving owners.

Trudy said, “I lost both of my Dalmatians two weeks before I rehomed Beau, so she came along at just the right time for me. She’s an absolute poppet, I couldn’t have picked a better dog.”

Trudy is a mobile hairdresser and Beau, now named Bonnie, goes to work with her every day. Trudy also has a retired racing greyhound called Penny and the pair of them get on very well, with Bonnie finding reassurance in having another dog around the house

Bonnie playing with Trudy’s retired racing greyhound, Penny

“The day she came back with me, she was so nervous coming through the door. I had to pick her up to get her in the car or through the door and now she jumps in the car on her own. I even slept with the door open when she first came home because she was wary of doors, but she’s much more confident now. I don’t even need to have her on a lead all the time now, she’s so well-behaved.”

Trudy continued, “She’s getting better all the time and coming on leaps and bounds. The girls at Millbrook did a fantastic job with her and I’ve carried on her training and just getting her used to all the things she never had the chance to experience as a puppy because she was so poorly. She’s a lovely dog and a typical dalmatian so I’m really glad I’ve been able to give her a loving home, a new sister and a second chance at happiness.”

We are just thrilled that Trudy came along and has helped Beau overcome even more of her fears and given her the loving home she deserves

Joss Iveson, from RSPCA Millbrook Animal Centre said, “Poor Beau is a fantastic dog but she had a tough start in life that really had a negative impact on her – which meant she had no idea how to be a normal dog. It took a long time and lots of effort to try and build up her confidence and get her used to all the experiences she would encounter in a normal home environment.

“To Beau, these everyday things were completely alien because she had to be in isolated kennels for an important time in her life when she should have been socialising and being a typical puppy. That is why we are just thrilled that Trudy came along and has helped Beau overcome even more of her fears and given her the loving home she deserves.

 “Sadly, we do see people buying puppies online without knowing very much information about them and often this can result in the puppy becoming very ill because they haven’t had the right vaccinations.

“We’d always encourage people to consider a rescue dog but if you are buying a puppy make sure that you see proof of vaccinations, ensure you see the pup with its mum in a home environment and make sure to ask lots of questions to ensure you get a happy and healthy puppy.”

What is parvovirus?

Parvovirus can often be a fatal virus for dogs. It mainly affects puppies between six weeks and six months of age – often after they are weaned too early or stressed (e.g by some puppy farming conditions). But it can also affect older dogs which are unvaccinated or have not had regular boosters.

The main signs are vomiting and bloody diarrhoea. Dogs become depressed, dehydrated or feverish; they may collapse and it can be painful for them. Puppies who are affected at a very young age can suffer from heart problems, which often can be fatal.

The most important ways to avoid this horrid disease are to make sure you get your dog from a reputable source and ensure they have had their vaccinations – often three vaccinations are needed, spread a couple of weeks apart. Good breeders and rehoming centres will do the initial vaccination, and you may need to continue those.

For more information and guidance, use the Puppy Contract on what to look for and how to find a responsible breeder.

Images by RSPCA

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