Broken …

Tess

Unknown to most of my readers, I took in two puppy mill survivors who were adopted by a family from a local  shelter (“local” being a relative term here in the West).  Unfortunately, the family was in a serious automobile collision necessitating emergency back surgery.  Because of this … and the fact they lived in a second story apartment … they were no longer able to care for the dogs and get them in/outside.

Unlike our first mill survivors (MaeMae and McKenzie) who came to us at less than two-years of age, Andy (5) and Tess (6) had spent many years in the mill.  They both bolt from their crates when the door is opened, like it’s on fire.  To my knowledge, the only time Tess was handled (if one can even use that term) was when the miller reached into her cage, grabbing whatever body part he/she could to pull her out and then remove her puppies.  Given that’s the only contact Tess had with humans, her behavior was like a wild, cornered animal.  If one managed to get her picked up (and in the process sustaining long scratch wounds from her nails), she emotionally shut down.  Her fear of handling by humans so great that she defecates on the spot, physically shutting down as her heart races and her eyes lose focus.

Separation from other dogs causes anxiety as well.  She’s climbed a 24-inch exercise pen, a 30-inch exercise pen and a 27-inch baby gate.  Contained in a crate, she managed to break a lower canine chewing at the door.  Any anxiety causes her to soil her crate.  Short of putting her in a 2×3 or 3×3-foot pen with a secure lid on it, there is no other way to contain her.  Certainly that’s doable but then she’d be removed from the other dogs as space is an issue.  Putting her in with one of my dogs doesn’t work because they get upset with her behavior.

That someone could do this to a dog — solely for for profit — just infuriates me.  And it greatly saddens me because Tess could have been a sweet dog given even the littlest bit of handling and socialization.

When I first became involved in rescue, my mentor shared the following:  “Some dogs are so damaged they can’t be fixed … some dogs are so badly damaged they shouldn’t be fixed.”  After several consultations with my vet (who does rescue herself), a trainer, use of an anti-anxiety drug and a course of Rescue Remedy, we came to the conclusion that her psyche is so damaged she will never accept handling.  Her fear is so great that she is miserable, living on the fringes and scurrying away from humans.  I also had to accept the fact that if I … an experienced rescuer and dog owner of some 28+ years … could not handle/manage her behaviors, then she was not, by any definition of the word, adoptable.

I have cried over no less than seven dogs on the euthansia table in my lifetime.  Some my beloved, long-time companions; others, badly-damaged fosters, victims of circumstance or greed.  It never gets any easier even when we know it is the right thing.  Godspeed Tess … I hope you can, at last, find the joy that eluded you here on earth.

The next time you see a cute puppy in a pet store, remember Tess.  Remember what was done to her, all in the name of profit.  Remember that she wanted to be a good dog but didn’t have even the basic skills to interact with humans.  Remember that there are thousands and thousands more like her, living in misery in the mills.  So broken that they can’t be fixed by anyone.  Remember.

Andy is one of the lucky ones … he’s making weekly progress, is learning to interact with humans and to play with his canine housemates.  My deep thanks to John and Neil who said “yes” and took on the challenge.

The little red dog …

The little red dog ... Mae-Mae
The little red dog ... Mae-Mae

… is an absolute joy.  And the resilience and adaptability of the canine never ceases to amaze me.  Mae-Mae — our little puppy mill survivor — has been here five weeks now.  Other than watching her a little more closely to monitor her house training, you’d think she’s been here forever.  Nothing short of astounding as she lived her entire life in a puppy mill.  Many of the mill dogs are fearful, having had little human contact, and their adjustment can take months or even years.  Some never get over the trauma.

Mae-Mae sleeps through the night in her crate.  She toilets appropriately having decided the grass is more “user friendly” than the concrete or stone patios.  She knows what “outside, go potty” means .. and will do exactly that … walk outside into the grass and go potty.  She dances for her food bowl and will take a treat from my hand.  She delights in being petted and will seek out this attention.  She is comfortable being picked up as she no longer splays her front legs out, stiff as a board and as wide as they’ll spread.  My Apsos are not lap dogs per se; however Mae-Mae definitely is and a favorite evening pasttime entails curling up next to me on the couch.  She probably thinks she’s died and gone to heaven.  In her five weeks here, she’s taught herself — with little input from me — to walk nicely on a leash.

Her greatest joy, I believe, is having the freedom to run in the yard.  Zoom, zoom … there she goes with a happy grin on her face.  Sometimes she just sits and suns herself, contented to soak up the warming rays.  I would surmise that her former surroundings were rather dark and dismal.

Sugar doesn’t come any sweeter than this little red dog …

Her name …

Mae-Mae
Mae-Mae

… is Mae-Mae.  And she’s a puppy mill survivor from Missouri.  Despite her lack of socialization and handling, she’s an unbelievably sweet little dog.  Living in a puppy mill, she has no household skills and is unfamiliar with even the most basic of sounds.  Like the telephone or the dishwasher.

She had her rescue exam this morning.  The vet’s office was a bit chaotic with ill-behaved and/or loud dogs.  Mae-Mae just sat there, taking it all in.  More than one person commented on how calm she was.  Pretty amazing considering what she’s *not* been exposed to in the past.  As suspected, she has a pretty severe infection in both ears.  They will need to be flushed out while she’s under anesthesia to extract a broken canine tooth.  The spay sutures will be removed as well. 

Image041More to follow on this little one as we update her progress in foster care … and her new life outside the confines of a wire cage and endless breeding.

Update  22 July— I can tell she’s feeling better now that the ear meds are beginning to work.  With the amount of black goo that was coming out during the daily cleanings, I’m pretty certain she was in quite a bit of pain from the infection.

Mae-Mae is already crate trained and sleeps the night through.  She gets along with the resident critters, dogs and cat alike.  She has good canine social skills and respects the corrections that Ali and Frankers issue, modifying her behavior appropriately.  She loves to run in the grass/yard — something she’s never had an opportunity to do before. 

At the moment, we’re trying to impress upon her that the plastic airline crate in the bedroom is the same as the wire crate in the front room.  I’d like her to sleep with the rest of the pack; however, her digging at the door when placed in the airline crate doesn’t work for sleepy humans (makes hubby really grumpy).  Baby steps … she spent a little time there this morning while I was getting ready for work.  Both times when she started to dig and get all twitterpated, a quick “ehh, ehh, no!” stopped the behavior.  She’s a quick study …