Ricky Gervais, with beautiful Beagle Scarlett.

FLOE's Patron, Peter Egan, with Scarlett.

Photos © K9 Magazine

Living with Scarlett’s Trauma and PTSD

“Although no details of Scarlett’s background have been disclosed, her behaviours are a heart breaking indication of the pain and suffering of her former life in the lab” say Janie and Phil, Scarlett’s adopted parents.

“Scarlett gets excited when we get ready to take her on a walk, but the moment the harness and lead appears she goes into ‘compliance mode’, crouching down with her head and paws all flat on the floor. When picked up she is all limp. These are indications of the training she would have endured to get her used to a laboratory environment, having learned – often through physical abuse – that ‘the less I move, the less I hurt.’ Even when mummy or daddy come home, she is initially excited and runs to greet us but quickly crouches down in compliance, waiting for permission to move and fearful of doing the wrong thing.

Safe and sound in the loving arms of Janie.

Scarlett does not travel well and will shake and drool profusely at both the start and the end of a car journey, having learned that being transported anywhere results in pain and suffering. We try to counteract this by making sure that every car journey ends with something nice and fun for her.

Scarlett is fearful of being covered, an indication that she has been placed in a sling, jacket or other restraining equipment when being tested on. This makes it impossible for us to dry her with a towel, or wrap her in a blanket to keep warm. If accidentally covered, she will bolt.

Scarlett has issues around eating. Even when hungry, she needs considerable coaxing and sometimes even needs hand fed. Sometimes she will not eat at all when watched, choosing instead to eat while we are asleep.   We can only guess that she may have been subject to tube feeding, i.e., gavage (forcing a long tube directly into the stomach via the mouth and oesophagus, in order to administer something for testing, sometimes in toxic doses).

Scarlett is highly sensitive to sudden loud noises, especially metallic, consistent with the sounds of a lab environment, i.e., banging of cage doors, jangling of equipment and clanging of food containers. Any sudden noise, even a quiet one, can worry Scarlett.

Outdoors, Scarlett is fearful of objects such as large flags flapping in the wind and anything that moves involuntarily. Large metallic constructions cause her to crouch down in fear. Any doorway, gate or entrance can be a source of anxiety for her.”