Puppy Rescued From Testing Lab Can't Believe How Lucky She Is
"I have apologized to her so many times for all she's been through, and promised that we'll love her forever."
The little beagle never got a chance to be a puppy. About three months after she was born, she was shipped off to an animal testing facility in Hungary, where she'd live inside a cage and be used in laboratory experiments.
She didn't even have a name - she was just referred to by the federal ID number tattooed inside her ear.
While little is known about what happened to her at the testing facility, Shannon Keith, founder and director of Beagle Freedom Project (BFP), believes that the beagle, who'd later be named Bea, would have been used for a series of tests.
"They [the animal testing facilities] prefer to paint a pretty picture and say, 'It was nothing majorly intrusive,' or, 'She was just a control dog,'" Keith told The Dodo. "However, we know that this facility is a contract research laboratory, meaning they are hired by other companies to test specific things, and they test everything from pharmaceuticals to medical devices, chemicals and cosmetics there, as well as perform horrific inhalation tests."
Whatever Bea had been through had clearly traumatized her.
When she was eventually rescued by BFP in December 2016, she was shy, exhausted and terrified of everything - cars, roads, reusable bags, the vacuum.
Bea also had very little muscle tone, probably because she'd been cramped inside a cage for so long, and she didn't know how to do normal 'dog stuff' like drink out of a bowl.
"We used to have to hand-feed her water when she first came home, as she had no idea what a water bowl was," Tina Lobel, the woman who adopted Bea, told The Dodo. "I'm not sure what she had been fed but when she ate proper, food loads would fall out of her mouth as she chewed."
Luckily for Bea, Lobel was there to patiently help her through all the hard stuff. Lobel took her to hydrotherapy sessions to help build up her muscles, and she reassured Bea when she was scared.
Bea also became great friends with Lobel's other two dogs, Rufus and Chip.
"Rufus and Chip have been fantastic with her and taught her things I just couldn't," Lobel said. "She soon learnt not to jump on a sleeping terrier's head, and that taking food directly out of a Labrador's mouth was not the done thing. She's still learning some play manners as she can be very rough and I have to step in sometimes."
It was Rufus, Lobel's yellow Lab, who became Bea's greatest ally.
"She's always chosen to sleep with my Labrador at night," Lobel said. "She's had a couple of nightmares, but not many fortunately. She often looks to Rufus for his reaction and follows his lead."
Still, Bea sometimes has her bad days.
"She will just shut down," Lobel said. "She would go totally floppy and vacant which was heartbreaking. We think either a noise or smell or a person's reaction or movement caused it. Without sounding dreadful, it used to be like she was dead but breathing if that makes sense."
"Sometimes you just walk past her doing whatever it is you're doing, and she cowers," Lobel said. "I still don't know why, but it makes me want to cry when she does."
But as the days go on, Bea is having fewer and fewer bad days, and she's now loving life with Lobel and her family.
"Bea is so much happier, more confident and more loving ... and I'm sure she will continue to grow," Lobel said. "She is also much stronger as she now has muscles, which she didn't have before. Her love of food also means she now shamelessly begs."
Bea's also loving all the attention she receives.
"Bea has always wanted affection but now she asks for it," Lobel said. "She will come and tap you if you're sitting down and jump on your lap. Her greetings are fabulous when you enter the room."
Besides snuggling in Lobel's laps, Bea loves chasing balls in the garden, going to the beach and using her beagle nose to explore the woods and local parks. At night, Bea enjoys snuggling on the couch.
"She has her own spot and will pester anyone who sits in it to move," Lobel said. "She's embracing her freedom and we're doing our best to make sure every second counts."
Bea's only been with Lobel for a few months, but Lobel already can't imagine life without her.
"Bea is family," Lobel said. "We love her to bits. I cannot put into words how special she is. I have apologized to her so many times for all she's been through, and promised that we'll love her forever and make every moment count. I didn't know our family was missing a Bea dog until we got her, and now it wouldn't be complete without her."