Tiny Chihuahua Couldn't Stop Shaking — Until Her New Mom Rescued Her
She'd probably lived in the dark for most of her life.
Claire Stokoe was scrolling through her Facebook feed when her eyes landed on a photo. A tiny Chihuahua with big, scared-looking eyes, was cowering beside a can of Heinz vegetables; the dog wasn't much bigger than the can.
"She could barely see over the top of it and she looked so precious and vulnerable," Stokoe told The Dodo.
Stokoe picked up the phone and called a local rescue group, which had posted the picture. When she inquired about adopting the Chihuahua - whom she later named Brie - she learned that the dog had come from a puppy mill in a rural area of Wales in the United Kingdom.
Brie had scarring on her legs and scabs covering her ears. She has trouble opening her eyes in the light, which makes Stokoe think Brie had lived in darkness.
Brie was also tiny and malnourished - part of this had to do with the fact that she was a teacup dog, that is, a dog deliberately bred to be small; but it also pointed to the fact that Brie probably didn't get enough food at the puppy mill.
And on top of everything else, Brie had been used as a breeder dog, and she'd given birth to two litters via C-sections, which had taken a heavy toll on her small body.
Despite Brie's health issues, Stokoe was determined to adopt her. Once her application was accepted, Stokoe embarked on a 600-mile roundtrip from Durham, England to Wales to pick her up.
But meeting Brie for the first time was different than Stokoe expected.
"When I saw her I was shocked," Stokoe said. "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. She was crouched at the back of her little carry case, wide-eyed and scared."
But Stokoe quickly realized that she could offer something to Brie - comfort.
"I took the front of the case off and all of a sudden she ran up my stomach and hid her face in my neck," Stokoe said. "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. She fell asleep within minutes."
Once the dog was safely at Stokoe's home, she met Stokoe's other dogs, Bouddica, Dexter and Vesper, with whom Brie formed a particularly close bond.
"Vesper took to Brie straight away as if Brie was her puppy," Stokoe said. "She cleaned her and sat next to her. Brie would walk all over Vesper, and Vesper let Brie do anything - even eat from her food bowl."
"Vesper even had a phantom pregnancy just one month after I got Brie and the vet said that getting Brie made her hormones shoot through the roof," Stokoe added. "She was even trying to get Brie to suckle like a puppy."
With love and care and patience, Brie's natural personality emerged.
"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," Stokoe said. "It is the cutest thing I have ever seen."
"She acts very much like a young puppy in many ways," Stokoe added. "She races around the house, plays with toys, chases and throws socks around and slides along the floor dragging her legs behind her."
Brie continues to have health issues, but she seems too busy living her life to worry about it.
"She has constant contact with humans who love her and want to protect her," Stokoe said. "She plays with toys, her favorite being Mr. Duck Duck [a stuffed animal]. She sleeps in her own bed on a soft blanket with access to water. She walks off [leash] and runs with her brother and sisters."
"How she survived two pregnancies, the cold, the hunger and the fear I have no idea," Stokoe said. "She is made of stronger stuff than me, that's for sure. It's inspiring."