Meat dog to Crufts celebrity

From meat dog in China to pampered friend and celebrity in the UK! Such was the journey of Twizzle, who very nearly ended up in a restaurant in southern China at the beginning of 2009. Twizzle was one of 149 “meat” dogs en-route to the grim live-animal markets of Guangzhou when the truck was intercepted by a Chengdu animal-welfare charity, which called and asked for our help.

As many of you might remember, New Year's Eve 2008 saw members of our vet, bear and education teams speeding towards the rescue centre and coming face to face with a truck piled high with cages holding squashed and whimpering dogs inside.

That day and the next few weeks will be etched on my mind forever. Despite everyone putting heart and soul into helping as many dogs as possible, we finally lost a total of 102 of the dogs too sick or too diseased to pull through.

Helping us throughout this time was dedicated volunteer Helena Molloy who had originally come to help us with the bears. Poor Helena was somewhat abruptly introduced to our world of the unexpected but never once buckled under the stress of seeing China in the raw. 

She kindly and professionally helped to heal as many of the dogs as possible – with one in particular catching her eye. We called her Mummy dog and cried rivers when euthanising her new-born pups knowing that there was nowhere to quarantine her and that the pups wouldn't survive in amongst the chaos of misery and disease around them.

Mummy dog was the most sweet and gentle dog in the world, shy at first but despite everything that had happened to her, she began to trust us and would quietly sit beside us as we worked. It wasn’t long before she’d completely won over Helena’s heart.

Helena was at Crufts in the UK recently, helping our team there to spread the word about the plight of our four-legged best friends in Asia. Who was right by her side, charming staff and supporters alike? Yes Mummy dog – now called “Twizzle”. 

Helena had spent thousands of pounds bringing her over from China and here she was in the UK at last. In a happy ending and a story to rival “Lassie”, here is Helena's update and a couple of pics of Twizzle with her new doggie pals and some special human friends as well (Helena holding Twizzle, and from left Annie, Hayley and Judy). 

“I have no regrets in spending all that money on a Chinese meat dog. It’s quite funny actually because I cannot tell you how many other dog owners I have seen whilst out walking with her, who have told me how pretty she is, without me prompting! In China she just looks like all those other dogs, but here in England she really is quite unique looking, in a good way, I think. 

She has settled in well to home life and other than getting on the sofa when I leave her home alone (clearly she is intelligent as she doesn’t even try if I am there, but the warm patch gives her away) she is the perfect dog.

She is loving her walks and has two doggy friends, Bob and Beanz, who belong to my friend, so she gets to charge around with them nearly every day. Sadly she is very nervous of the car and gets sick, but I am working on that and hopefully she’ll soon learn that the car only takes her to fun places, where she can run free and explore.”

Twizzle's story also made headlines in the UK, including in "Dogs Today" magazine.

As Nicky, our UK PR and Events Manager, said after Crufts:

“Meeting Twizzle for the first time was extraordinary. My first impression was that she was so small I couldn't understand how she could possibly have been valued as a meat dog.

Then, having seen her with Helena (to whom she is obviously devoted) and being petted by the hundreds of visitors to our stand, starring in a TV interview, having her photo taken by lots of reporters from dog magazines, I was amazed by how calm and relaxed she was, especially when you consider where she came from just one year ago. She is a real credit to the love and affection bestowed on her by all since the day of her rescue.”

See here for more on Helena and Twizzle's journey.

Thank you Helena for being such an amazingly kind and dedicated volunteer – and for giving Twizzle the life that she loves.

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