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Love of breed leads family to rescue pup

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It was a long trip to a happy life for Snickers, in more ways than one.

The 7-year-old English Cocker Spaniel adopted by the Squire family of South Charleston was originally born in Illinois, near the Indiana border. She was the product of a bad breeder who had kept her crated so much that when the Squires adopted her as a 9-month-old pup, her muscles were atrophied, and she was totally unsocialized. Her first car ride with them was during a blizzard.

Since then, things have greatly improved.

Then, Sandra Squire said, "she was just a frightened little puppy."

Now, she lives in a loving home with the Squires and her 8-year-old canine sister, Bella, also an English Cocker Spaniel. Her muscles are back to normal, and though she's still afraid of people initially, she warms up to them and has embraced other family members, like the Squires' grandchildren, when they come to visit.

The fact that the Squires did not have young children at home was one of the reasons they were able to take Snickers.

"We didn't have any young kids living in the house, so we knew we were a good fit for her. They come to visit, but we knew, had there been an issue, we could have put the dogs away."

They adopted Snickers about a year after getting Bella from a breeder in Baltimore.

"[Bella] was lonely, so we called the Adoption Society for English Cocker Rescue. That person told me about Snickers. We knew before we went to get her that she wasn't socialized at all and that she hadn't been around children or other dogs," Squire said. "We knew we had the time to devote to her, and we really wanted that specific breed, so to find a rescue dog in that breed, we decided to do whatever we could to socialize her."

Though the Squires knew about Snickers' situation, they were still shocked when they met her.

"When we pulled up, the breeder had her in this small crate in the back of her car. She grabbed her by the ear and pulled her to get her out of the crate," Squire recalled. "I was more skeptical than my husband [about getting Snickers], but when he saw how the breeder mistreated her so easily, it was a done deal. We were taking this dog."

Snickers' name comes from her original name from the breeder: Snickerdoodles. It's not one the family would have chosen, Squire said, but given all the other changes she was facing, they decided to keep it.

"It's hard to believe a breeder would do something to a dog like that," she continued. "I think she was still showing dogs. That's what I don't understand. Snickers is a beauty; she's a show-quality dog. She would have been a great show dog if she'd been treated properly. She's just a sweet, sweet dog."

Squire admitted that there was a bit of a struggle socializing Snickers. In the beginning, they tried classes at PetSmart, but those caused Snickers too much anxiety. Having Bella around to provide canine comfort helped some.

"Bella loves everybody and everything; she took right to her. Snickers shied away, but Bella followed her all over the house - she wouldn't give up. They run through the house now shoulder-to-shoulder. They don't like to be apart."

Snickers still bears some scars from her upbringing, though.

"She's very reserved around new people. It takes probably a good hour or so to let them get near her," Squire said. "And she still barks at family members when they first arrive. Until she calms down a little bit, she barks and backs away.

"She's just really afraid of everybody, but once she gets to know you, she's a very loving dog. She's just very cautious because of the way she was treated."


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