Dog Feels Sunshine On Her Fur For First Time In 12 Years
Most puppy mill dogs go their entire life without feeling the warmth of sunlight against their fur. But thanks to a few generous humans, Chihuahua Belle got to do exactly that - and so much more.
Her story dates back to the late '90s, when she started her life as a breeding dog for a puppy mill in Portugal. For over a decade, her days were spent in small cage. Her only purpose in life was to incubate young puppies, who would almost immediately be taken from her and sold to pet stores.
Belle begins her new life
Then, in 2010, Bianca Associado, a local rescue group, raided the mill. On that day, Belle's working life was over, and she became a puppy mill survivor.
After spending so many years in confinement, Belle was extremely emaciated and needed medical attention. The hospital determined that she had parasites throughout her body and glaucoma in her left eye.
Some humans might've looked at Belle and thought, We don't need a dog with so many medical problems. We don't have the time.
Not Irene. She didn't see Belle as disabled or less fortunate. Irene told The Dodo that Belle, who's now 15 years old, was "differently abled."
Since 2011, Belle has been living at her forever home in the Netherlands with Irene, her husband and their family of dogs and horses.
There, Belle is able to explore the beaches, and experience a freedom she never could have imagined in the cages of her old home.
Dogs like Belle "are often seen as sad or pathetic, as dogs who can't live a good life," Irene told The Dodo. "Dogs who are differently abled, like any other dog, can perceive and experience the world around them and have quality of life."
Even as Belle's health declined and she lost sight in her left eye, her bond with Irene grew stronger. Irene even painted a portrait of the lucky dog.
Eventually Belle also lost her right eye.
Irene said that Belle has adjusted well to blindness, noting that although Belle can't see her dog brothers and sisters, she "can feel their presence and their support, being at her side or by having experiences and adventures together."
Losing her eyesight hasn't taken away Belle's sense of freedom. She still has her skin to feel the mist of the ocean, her ears to hear Irene's gentle call and her nose to get a whiff of cucumbers, her favorite food.
When asked if there was anything that Irene wanted to share with The Dodo community, she said that people should realize how Belle and other differently abled dogs live to the fullest: "How they are eager to experience all kinds of adventures and especially how they enjoy life!"
Belle may not have her sight, and she may not have had a happy youth, but her smile shows everyone that she couldn't care less. She has Irene, a family and a whole lot of exploring to do.