Winnie the Pooch

Winnie, shortly after being rescued

Reprinted from the Unleash Jacksonville Resolute Issue   |   by April Courtney

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The day Winnie and her siblings were rescued by Rescue + Freedom Project (R+FP), formerly Beagle Freedom Project, this little love pot couldn’t contain her excitement for her new found freedom! She was loving everyone and everything. She sprinted around the yard and was the only dog brave enough to hop in the little doggy pool. Up until this happy moment, Winnie had spent her whole life in a cage being used as a test subject for beauty products.

The world is a scary place for a little beagle who has never seen the grass or sunlight before. Winnie was fostered by a lovely family for a month before we added her to our motley crew. When we adopted Winnie, she didn’t know how to drink water from a bowl, she only ate her food in the dark, and she was petrified of any loud noises. We knew adopting a special needs animal would be difficult, but I didn’t realize how heartbreaking her story truly was. She didn’t trust humans at all and preferred to spend her time in a small fort made of sheets and pillows in our bedroom. She was scared of the television and all noises. We’d often find her on our bed just sitting there and listening to all these sounds she’d never heard before, shaking in fear.

Winnie confided in me to be her safeguard and was my little shadow, following me around the house wherever I went. She’d sleep under the covers, curled up underneath my chin every night. Slowly but surely, she started to trust more and started coming out of her pillow fort. She started imitating our other dog, Jumbo, and learned how to sleep in a dogbed, hang out on the couch, and go potty outside. She enjoyed going for walks and doing zoomies at the dog park. This little scared beagle started to feel safe and started to explore this big new world of hers.

One of her biggest moments (for her and us) was when she finally jumped up on the couch and cuddled with us while we watched a movie. What a great moment!

We’ve now had Winnie for 8 months, and this little girl has turned into the crazy beagle she was always meant to be. She spends her time sniffing around the backyard, howling at her brother to play, and trying to eat any and all food that she sees. She absolutely loves playing couch gymnastics—jumping from couch to couch and seeing how far she can jump off of them. She has blossomed into such a little daredevil, and it’s been amazing to watch her personality unfold.

We fostered another beagle puppy from Rescue + Freedom Project, which only made Winnie come out of her shell even more. She’s enjoyed playing with him and teaching him how to be a dog! Adopting a special needs animal can be challenging at times, but it has been the most rewarding experience of my life. While Winnie still hasn’t given me a kiss on the cheek, I am patiently waiting for that miraculous day!

The best way to help animals like Winnie is to adopt a cruelty-free lifestyle. Switch your products like toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, cleaning products, etc., to brands that don’t test on animals. There’s even an app that makes it very easy to scan a product at the store to find out if it is cruelty free. You can download the R+FP’s Cruelty Cutter app for free!

See an updated video with Winnie for Giving Tuesday right here!

Please DONATE today for #GivingTuesday and your life-saving donation will be DOUBLED by a generous donor – up to $50k!

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April Courtney adopted Winnie, an animal testing survivor rescued by Rescue + Freedom Project. Winnie + 1,500 more survivors are now free from labs, shelters, cruelty, and captivity because of people like YOU donating, supporting the cause, and promoting a #RescueLifestyle. YOU make all the difference in these animals lives.

To find our more about animal testing, going cruelty free, or adopting a testing survivor: rescuefreedomproject.org.

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