Category Archives: Rescue Happenings

A Dog Rescuer’s Point of View on Puppy Mills

Image from Facebook

You may get a puppy from a puppy mill and it turns out fine, so you think what’s the big deal.

Your thought process says, “My puppy is healthy and all is well”. That’s great but where did that puppy come from? I’m betting the parents are not well. They are are probably living in squalid conditions and receiving little to no veterinary care. You’ve seen the photos. I’ll spare you those here. But, look at the offenses documented above.

Why wouldn’t the kennel owners provide veterinary care to the dogs? Because the dogs are seen as a product and spending money cuts into the profit margin. The dogs are a commodity and it is cheaper to get another one than put money into the adult dogs that live there. Ditto for any puppies that cannot be sold for a profit. Compassion and emotional well-being are not a factor that is considered.

Your puppy mill dog may be perfectly healthy and be a fine companion. But by buying from this source you are promoting the system and allowing it to go on. Each puppy sold provides more money for these people to continue with what they do.

Some people buy their puppy directly from the puppy mill farm. They see the conditions the dogs live in and pay for that puppy and take it home to get it out of poor circumstances. This is a double-edged sword. You save the puppy you went to meet, but you feed the system. It continues with the parents left behind and new generations of puppies born into suffering. I would not condemn anyone for choosing to buy the puppy and save it after you have fallen in love with it. I don’t know what the right answer is. But you should have the full knowledge of what you are doing before you make the decision.

I am the President of a local breed rescue for Northeast Ohio. I have seen some of the dogs who make it out of the puppy mills. We rarely get puppies from any source. When it comes to puppy mill farms, we get the breeders and the dogs that didn’t work out as expected. The dogs who didn’t produce enough puppies or they have health problems that the owners don’t want to deal with. They come to us generally in poor physical condition and they have not been socialized.

These dogs are afraid of people and life in general. They are afraid of going outside. They are afraid of coming inside. They are afraid of stairs, petting, and direct eye contact. Our rescue had one who would only eat in the dark, after the rest of the household had gone to bed. These are the dogs that usually stay in rescue for a year or more. They go to homes where people are willing to live with their issues. Sometimes, they stay with their foster families forever, because we don’t want to subject them to the trauma of going through it all again. Also, it is not easy to find the special families who are willing to work with these dogs. If they do get adopted, there is the possibility of them being returned.

The average dog owner wants a dog that they can do things with, like go to the dog park, take a leisurely walk around the block, and snuggle on the couch. Many of these puppy mill survivors will take many months or years of work before they get to this point. Some will never make it.

There are those puppy mill survivors who are able to integrate into a normal life with a bit of retraining and lots of love. If you become the owner of such a dog, the rewards are great. Knowing you have turned life around for a dog like this is a feeling like no other.

Some rescues and shelters frown on buying purebred dogs from reputable breeders. They think the only answer is adoption from a rescue or shelter. And I agree, adopting from rescues and shelters is indeed a wonderful thing! I recommend people looking for dogs, check into adoption first. There are many wonderful dogs awaiting their forever homes. Many of them have no issues whatsoever and are there through no fault of their own. Purebred and mixed breed dogs who would fit into many homes seamlessly.

And I think there is also a place for the reputable breeder as well. The good breeders go to great lengths to plan their litters. They take great care to make sure their dogs are healthy and receive prenatal care and general veterinary care. They may do genetic testing if it would be beneficial. They breed for maximum health and to maintain breed standards. These dogs and puppies are housed in good and safe places, often the breeder’s own home. The resulting puppies have been handled and are used to people. The mother dogs only produce a few litters, so their bodies do not wear out. And when the puppies are gone, the adult dogs are still a part of the breeder’s family life. These puppies may cost a little bit more, but it is an investment in the health and quality of the dogs. And reputable breeders take their puppies or dogs back if they do not work out or the buyer cannot keep the dog at any time down the road. They will take the dog back until they can re-home it, or they may decide to keep it.

Sometimes our rescue will even refer people to a reputable breeder. We may not have an available dog that is right for every situation. If we are not sure our rescued dogs are good with small children, we may refer them on to someone who has puppies. The children and puppies can grow up together. If someone wants a dog for a specific activity like agility or herding, we may refer them to a breeder who specializes in dogs who were breed for this. When the dog is a good fit for the home, things tend to work out.

If you plan to make a canine addition to your home, think about how you expect your life with a dog to look. Do you want a companion? A working partner? A running buddy? Pick a dog that is likely to fulfill the plans you have. Be willing to put in the work.

And above all, consider where they come from. By making an informed choice, you have the ability not only to set yourself up for success, but to play a part in ending puppy mills and the suffering that takes place. YOU can make a difference!

Transformation of a Foster Dog

Claire the sheltie relaxing
Claire hanging out at home

Claire has been with us for a year now. She came to us as a foster dog last January. She was turned in with four other dogs from the same owner. The elderly owner knew that she was reaching the point where she could no longer give the dogs the care they deserved. So she made the heartbreaking decision to turn the dogs over to our sheltie rescue group. I really felt for this lady because these dogs were members of her family.

Claire became a permanent member of our family over the summer. She was with us longer than expected because of the pandemic. When there was finally a  serious inquiry into adopting her, I couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t let her leave. Luckily for me, that adoption fell through, so I didn’t have to let her go. I remember when things were up in the air. I spent an afternoon sobbing while weeding the vegetable garden and thinking about her departure. The neighbors must have thought that I had received bad news and had some dread disease the way I was crying. So, once it was determined that she wasn’t leaving, we adopted her.

She has undergone a transformation in her time with us. Not only has her coat become shiny and plush, but she has developed an outgoing personality. Upon her arrival, she was quiet and shy. This lasted the first few months. She kept to herself and didn’t interact much with the other dogs and did not seek attention from us either. Boy, have times changed. Now Claire comes up to us and pokes us with her nose for attention. She is very persistent. And she will put her front feet in your lap and sit beside you demanding that you pet her. If you don’t, you get “nosed” repeatedly.

Claire the sheltie relaxing with daddy

Claire relaxing with daddy

We are still working on obedience commands. She has mastered the sit.  And when I tell her to come, she approaches me and stops at the half way point. Any thing else is currently beyond her. We continue to work on commands and know that one day, she will get there.

Dogs playing frisbee in the snow
Claire and Baxter playing in the snow

Claire has recently developed enough skills that she is a pack member, playing with our five other dogs. At first she didn’t understand respectful boundaries in regards to the other dogs’ food and toys. Fortunately, our other dogs our quite tolerant of new dogs. They have survived enough foster dogs that they cut a new dog some slack until they learn the ropes.

I just put the dogs outside for a minute. Claire and our sheltie mix Zekie (Zeke the Wonder Dog) were chasing each other in circles and playing. And when the other dogs play frisbee, Claire tries to join in. She has yet to grasp the idea of picking up the frisbee, but she has a grand time running and barking with the rest of the pack.

I’m sure the changes in her will continue and we will enjoy watching the development. We are blessed to have her.

A Memory Captured

Super Weasel

This is a sketch I drew of one of our foster dogs a number of years ago. I know it’s no great piece of art, but it captured a memory.

This was a foster dog that came to us with the name of Lawrence. Our neighbor Larry had recently passed away and I felt odd standing in our yard repeatedly saying “Lawrence, do you have to pee?” Not to mention, it was a formal name for a one year old sheltie. He had a vey slender build and was always jumping up into the air. He especially liked to jump up and hit me in the butt with both his front feet when I would turn around to walk away. I often turned and said “You little weasel.” This eventually led to me affectionately calling him by the moniker Weasel.

Hence, this sketch with “W” on his front that I call Super Weasel.

He was a wonderful little dog that I loved dearly. I still remember tearing up when we left him at his new home. He went to a great family that also loved him dearly. He was renamed Scotty and became best friend and companion to a young girl. He became a 4-H dog and went on to run lots of agility. I couldn’t have asked for a better home for him.

Scotty left us to go to the Rainbow Bridge much too soon. I am still happily acquainted with his family, and that young girl is now an adult who has since adopted another sheltie from our Rescue.

Sometimes You Get It Right

Do you ever feel like fate has a hand in your life and when you follow your gut instinct, sometimes you get it right?

I recently did away with our landline and switched that number over to my cell phone. The old cell number is now defunct. I felt that it was important to maintain the old landline number because it has been used for our dog rescue business and is printed in numerous places so that people can reach us when they need help. I could have replaced it with another number, but it didn’t seem like the right thing to do. It would have been a fair amount of work and just didn’t seem right.

Well, I got a call today from someone in our Rescue family. They fostered and adopted a dog from us recently and this was not their first dog from us either. Rescue members become a real community and like family. I would not have received the call if I had not kept that phone number. The changes would not have been updated to our documents yet.

Our Rescue friend’s wife had passed away unexpectedly two days ago. We talked for a bit and I was able to offer condolences and some kind words. I was blessed to hear how the dog he has from our Rescue group comforted him. He thought we should know what happened and I am touched that he shared this with us. I hope I was able to bring him a small bit of comfort in this difficult time.

I have long said that rescuing dogs, is helping people too. I am blessed to do both.

A Home With Friends

My post last week about Maizie generated lots of interest. You can read it here if you missed it. A Heart of Gold

Rest assured Maizie enjoyed her life here. She became a permanent member of our family the day we received her diagnosis of kidney failure and found out her time was limited. She loved going out to the pasture with the other dogs and coming back in to sleep on the dog bed.

As many of our animals do, she seemed to enjoy the Christmas tree. I think it has something to do with the lights. Even with kidney failure and occasional infections, she never messed in the house. She was such a good girl. And she always greeted me with a smile when I opened the door to let her back inside.

Maizie developed a special bond with our cat Lacey. They could often be found sleeping together. Maizie passed before Lacey. When Lacey passed a year or two later, I buried her with Maizie’s ashes in our little pet cemetery. She earned this right as a part of our family and the two friends were together again.

Maizie’s time here was happy. She was only visibly failing for the last few days. The rest of the time she enjoyed doing her goofy gallop around the yard with the other dogs, playing, going on walks, getting lots of petting, and sleeping on a warm bed with her friends. Good dog Maizie, good dog.

A Heart of Gold

This is Maizie. She was our foster dog seven years ago and passed to the Rainbow Bridge after spending a little over a year with us. She had a heart of gold. Following is what I wrote at that time.

Dear Person Who Abandoned this Senior Dog,

Maizie was found by the pound and when they sent you a letter to come and get her, you did not come. She spent 30 days in the pound kennel waiting for you before the efforts of two rescue groups brought her to our house as a foster dog. Today we discovered that she has kidney failure and will live out the rest of her life with us however long that may be. What lesson am I supposed to learn from this? Perhaps to have compassion for you and not be judgemental? I will work on that.

I know that I have been blessed to know this dog who is sweet, loving, and grateful for every bit of attention. She smiles at us constantly and is one of the happiest dogs I have seen. Occassionally she will try to play and has a small, joyful hop to her step. Our lives have been enriched by knowing this kind dog.

My dreams will be sweeter knowing that I have helped and loved this girl. May you be able to sleep at all.

Welcome Home!

This is the newest member of our family! Meet Claire. She has been our foster dog for the past 6 months so if you know us, she’s not new around here.

I honestly did make a good effort to adopt her out. Our rescue isn’t doing home checks right now because of the pandemic. Over the past three months I did speak to previous adopters about her but the time and situation wasn’t right for any of them.

Mercifully, after speaking to the last potential adopter last week, they decided the timing was not right. I say mercifully because after I got off the phone with them before they had decided, I fell apart at the thought of Claire leaving us.

I don’t know if I’ve changed? Or I lost my edge after taking a year and a half fostering break after Zekie came to us? Or if it’s due to the fact that I’m home all the time now? Or if it’s just Claire. But the thought of her leaving is unbearable.

This does mean that we are on a moratorium from long term fostering for now. We will still be available for fostering those shelties that only need one or two weeks here.

So Claire is home! As you can see, she is quite happy about this. And so am I.

A Day in My Life

Today was one of those days where I got a lot of necessary things done. Those things that you don’t like to do, but it feels good to have them done.

Our township provides a dumpster that is at the township garage for one weekend each year for spring cleanup. Anyone in the township can use it to dispose of large items, until it is full. And you need to get there quick, before it gets full. Today was the start of that weekend. I hauled two loads up to the dumpster for disposal, consisting of an old, musty Christmas tree, a couple pieces of decomposing wicker furniture, and various odds and ends.

This afternoon, I spent a few hours doing various forms of paperwork for our dog rescue group. I worked on some financial paperwork, some filing, and some educational material. Not fun, but things that are necessary.

And since I was on a roll doing dog stuff, I decided to give three of our dogs their annual DHLPPP-type shots that were in the refrigerator. Followed by cleaning litter boxes and picking up poop outside. I clean up our dog yard every time the dogs go outside now, because we have two who apparently consider themselves to be connoisseurs of poop. Even so, I sometimes run around with the scoop yelling “drop it” while chasing the offender. It’s a fine line between following the defecating dog around closely enough to get there before one of the other dogs grabs the result, but not so closely as to interrupt the dog doing his business. Such is my life.

As a reward for a productive day, I made Indonesian stir fried noodles for supper. Noodles, vegetables, and fish. Yum!

Just a day in my life.

Seniority Has It’s Priveleges

Nikki, 12 years old

Seniority has its privileges.

Nikki sleeps upstairs in our bedroom now. She previously slept downstairs with the other dogs.

Only Zekie slept upstairs with us. He sleeps in a crate. We moved him upstairs only because he carried on so terribly due to his separation anxiety that we couldn’t sleep. Once he moved to a crate next to me, he sleeps like a baby.

Nikki has been barking to wake us up at first light recently. It started when foster dog Claire arrived. Claire was getting us up and then Nikki followed suit. Claire doesn’t get us up as early now. But Nikki is still trying.

Nikki has only minimal hearing left, so you can’t yell at her to be quiet. She barks, then stops to listen. Hearing nothing, she barks again. And so on. Since moving upstairs a few days ago, she has been quiet.

Ah, the joys of having a senior dog. I wouldn’t trade them for anything!