… is never more evident than when dealing with puppy mill dogs. Typically, they have never been socialized to humans or handled by humans and are not familiar with the sounds and routine of a normal household. Some never get over trauma of living in abject conditions. These are the dogs that, upon release, are so shut down they move through the rest of their lives with very little interaction with their surroundings. The canine spark we have come to hold so dear is simply gone.
Rewind four weeks’ past. I’m contacted by the local humane society about dogs from a BYB (backyard breeder) bordering on being a puppy mill on the eastern plains of Colorado. Dogs are being surrendered as forced by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Y’all have seen the TV shows where animal control goes in and removes dogs in horrid, horrid conditions. Our scenario is basically the same only without the film crew on hand. I agree to take on a two-year old female, knowing full well this will not be the typical foster.
During the hand-off, I am completely appalled by the condition of this dog. She has huge mats throughout her coat … mats that have been there for more than quite a while. I’m concerned about whatever else might be under the matting, i.e., open sores (severe matting can literally pull skin off the dog) and parasites. She has a cherry eye on the right that, gauging from the size and inflammation, is also long standing and, most likely, infected. She is filthy dirty and reeks of urine. And she is so scared of being handled that her body is board stiff, front paws splaying wide and outward at any movement I make while holding her.
In less than twelve hours of her arrival in rescue, she is being shaved down and given a much-needed bath immediately after which she undergoes a spay, surgery to tack down the cherry eye and her ears flushed in the first step to start dealing with the ear infection present. She tests negative for heartworms (thankfully) and has a microchip implanted while under anesthesia. A very big day for a very little dog. For the next two weeks, we keep her quiet in an Elizabethan collar … actually, a large blue floral donut that brings to mind images of a frilled lizard.
As we move slow and speak softly, she starts to respond to us and her surroundings. She’s canine savvy, interacting with Frank and Dante appropriately. My heart swells when I get to see her run on grass for the first time in her life … her joy is unbridled, her feet swift. Then there are the mill survivors … those dogs who embrace fully their new-found freedom and the world around them. Meet McKenzie. A survivor.
While she may start away at sudden movement or noise, she recovers quickly and engages with the household. She is curious about everything! She sleeps quietly in her crate at night. She’s also learning not to whine or howl when we’re not in her line of sight. She’s discovered chew bones and squeaky toys … and how to jump up in the middle of the bed! I won’t say that she’s house trained; however, she does potty appropriately when taken outside and she’s clean in her crate. She didn’t have any accidents here but I tend to watch the new arrivals a little more closely and get them out more often. A quick study, I have no doubt that she’ll pick up the housetraining easily. You’ll note her coloring … she is what as known as a “red-white parti color.” On the small side, she weighs 12.5 pounds.
McKenzie is available for adoption. Her ideal home would be a single woman, a retired or semi-retired couple with or without another small dog in residence. Or a young couple with no plans for children. If interested, please visit our website for more information or contact me directly: ApsoRescue@aol.com.