Cavalier Rescue of AL talks Puppy Mill Rescues

Today is Puppy Mill Awareness Day.

Today is the day dedicated to educating the public about the horrific conditions in which many dogs are being bred.

Today is a day devoted to dogs like Callie and Charlie. Callie who spent six years in a mill, being bred over and over and over again. Charlie, who was lucky to escape the cycle at 3 months and end up with people who understand and are willing to deal with his luxating patellas.

To dogs like Dewey, who was rescued by Cavalier Rescue of Alabama at a mill dog auction and is learning love with his foster mom, waiting for his forever home.

 

I had the chance to interview Brittney Wilk, Co-Founder & Rescue Coordinator at Cavalier Rescue of Alabama and foster mom of Dewey, among several other dogs at the house.

Brittney and her dogs
Brittney Wilk, left to right: Juliet, Dewey, Harley, Happy Go Lucky, Romeo

Me: How long have you been rescuing?

B: I have been rescuing for about nine years. I started doing it privately and then found Cavalier Rescue USA. There I was the coordinator for Alabama and Georgia for several years before my rescue partner, and I co-founded Cavalier Rescue of Alabama together in January 2015.

Me: What got you into it?

B: I got into Cavalier rescue after I purchased my first two Cavaliers – Like so many people, I felt I had done my research but at that point didn’t have a trained ‘eye’ to pick up on ‘red flags’ and ending up discovering that I had purchased from a substandard breeder.

My two puppies were very, very ill with pneumonia for months. Throughout their journey of getting them well and afterward, I heard of so many people with similar stories as mine and felt it was so important to help educate and advocate for the breed. Learning more and more about substandard breeding and Cavaliers being so prolific in that industry, I found rescue and felt that is where I could make a difference.

At that time I got involved in Cavalier Rescue USA, there was not an in-state coordinator there, and the role sort of fell into my lap. I had no idea what I was necessarily getting in for and certainly had no idea that it would be so life changing and lead me to where I am today.

Me: Do you work outside of rescue or has it become your full-time job?

B: We are an all-volunteer organization, so none of us collect any salaries or stipends for the rescue work we do. Therefore we do have to manage full-time jobs in addition to our rescue work which at times can be challenging and overwhelming as our rescue work is definitely a full-time job.

 

Dogs on bed
Even the dogs get tired with all that work!
L to R: Romeo, Happy Go Lucky, Harley, Dewey, Juliet

Me: How many hours a week do you think you put into rescue?

B: I have never kept track of my rescue work hours, but it is certainly around the clock from the moment I open my eyes until I fall asleep. If I had to make a best guess, I would say on average about 60 hours a week with there being times of heavy intake when we put forth much more than that.

Me: How many rescues do you personally have?

B: I have four rescues, and am currently fostering two. I have two rescue alums from Cavalier Rescue USA and two rescue alums from Cavalier Rescue of Alabama, and then two current Cavalier Rescue of Alabama fosters.

They are all puppy mill survivors as my expertise is in rehabbing abused, neglected, emotionally damaged and under-socialized dogs.

Me: Why did you rescue?

B: I rescue because I know I can provide a home, family, endless love, and wonderful care to Cavaliers in need. My favorite thing is seeing [my rescue dogs] relaxed and peaceful after enduring such suffering and stress.

Happy dogs
Happy dogs ❤️ In no particular order.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the most important thing though – today may be Puppy Mill Awareness Day – but every day these dogs are stuck in mills, every day these dogs need you to fight to end puppy mills, to stop the breeders that are cruel, that breed without care, that shove their dogs into tiny cages. FIGHT BACK FOR THE DOGS.

Fight for the love that these dogs still have, somehow, inside them.

Who Rescues Cavaliers with Special Needs?

On Tuesday I wrote about the importance of last week’s focus on Puppy Awareness Week in the UK and this coming Saturday’s Puppy Mill Awareness Day. If you’d like to read that post, you can here.

My way of bringing awareness is through my writing and my blog. So, today I would like to highlight a couple who built their lives around rescuing older and special needs Cavaliers. I am overwhelmed by their story, not many people can take on the workload and the heartache that they do daily.

Peabody and Jason Johanson didn’t initially start out with the intention of rescuing special needs and elderly dogs, but, as Peabody said, “We just bought a one level house (for the older dogs) with 1/3 of an acre all because of the dogs. We concluded that this is how we were spending the rest of our lives, adopting senior and special needs Spaniels.”

Many people that get into rescue adjust or renovate their homes to fit the dogs’ needs, but it’s not often one gets a chance to purchase a home that happens to fit exactly what is required for their rescues.

Skoshi

It all started with Peabody’s first dog, Skoshi, a Cocker Spaniel rescue. Peabody said, “Her last year with us she developed an allergy to the yeast on her own skin and got MRSP (like MRSA but for dogs) several times because of it. We had to give her daily baths and wrap her in bandages three times a day.

My husband and I both realized that we had the patience to deal with dogs with special needs. When she got cancer, we traded sleeping on the floor with her for months.
We knew she was nearing the end and we started talking about what kind of dog we would want next since we knew we would want a dog right away.”

Peabody and Jason were active fundraisers for Old Dog Haven, an organization that has over 300 senior dogs in their care,

“They are all in final refuge foster homes and pay all medical bills. They find the un-adoptable seniors in the shelters and give them loving homes no matter if that is a year, a month, a week, or a day.”

The couple decided that they would rescue a younger Cavalier from Cavalier Rescue USA and then get an Old Dog Haven foster. But, life had other plans in store for them.

First came Mickey.

Mickey

“The day after our cocker died, Mickey popped up on the website. I just looked at him and knew he was my dog. He was 8 and deaf with two spinal conditions (SM/CM and altano-axil malformation where his C1 overrides his C2) as well as behavior issues. He was fostered by a mutual friend, and we set up to meet him right away.

We were smitten the first time we met and had another meetup and decided to adopt him. We were told he was not a typical Cavalier in that he did not love everyone. His owner, a single female, had passed and his spinal condition was never diagnosed until rescue, so he was in pain his whole life. While he is not the typical Cavalier he does love me, his mama, something fierce and is very much the typical Cavalier to me. Mickey is now 10 1/2 and has MVD as well and is in stage B1 with a grade 2 murmur. ”

Mickey was not comfortable around men, and Jason felt that lack of connection, so the couple contacted Cavalier Rescue USA again.

Then came Holly.

“Four months after getting Mickey, Holly came into our life. She was just turning 8 and was a breeder release, and sadly was in Congestive Heart Failure. They warned us that it would be hard to watch her decline, but we chose to take her anyway. We only had a year with Holly, but she brought such joy to our life. Because of Holly my husband and I decided to focus on taking in Cavaliers with heart issues and Syringomyelia which both she and Mickey suffer from. Holly passed just a month after her 9th birthday of complications from pneumonia due to her heart being too large.”

Next, Daisy.

Daisy

“She came from a woman who bought her from a breeder (breeder release) but couldn’t keep her as she did not have a fenced yard and Daisy was a runner. We didn’t expect to take her as she was only six with no real health issues but we fell in love with her right away. Daisy loves any and all people that she meets, in true Cavalier form. Daisy just turned 8 and knock on wood continues to be healthy.”

And the sweet Crissy.

Crissy

“Crissy was also from Cavalier Rescue USA. She was 10 with MVD. Her owner was going into hospice. She is a total love and the perfect mix of sweet and sass. She is now 11 1/2 and has sadly progressed to a B2 stage with a 4/5 murmur and has started medication. We focus on enjoying each day with her that we have left.”

An English Toy Spaniel Rescue, Georgia.

Georgia

“Georgia came to us from a place called Panda Paws Rescue they are out of southern Washington state. They specialize in special needs breeds of all types. A friend who followed them had tagged me in a post about a couple of English Toy Spaniels they had. One of them had Syringomyelia, and they were looking for someone familiar with the condition. I talked to a friend that also had English Toys’s, and we decided to go for it. Georgia was a breeder release (once they knew she had SM they decided to let her go) and was very well socialized; she fit in immediately.”

And the most recent addition, Tulip.

“This last March the same rescue, Panda Paws raised money and went to a puppy mill auction in Missouri to rescue as many as they could. They had a few English Toy’s, and so I just said that if no one showed interested in the extremely shy ET that we would take her. Tulip had no inquiries and so after she had a month in foster care, where she was spayed, had a dental check, and had stenotic nares surgery, she came to us.
She was beyond shy when we got her. Typical puppy mill dog where she was fine with the other dogs but petrified of the humans.

Tulip

We have had her five months now, and she is making a lot of progress. She will sit on your lap and likes pets but will still run from you when go to pick her up. She does come to us but then runs away, but each day she gets a little more brave. Tulip is our youngest at age 2, and so we hope we have lots of time with her to watch her flourish into a trusting dog.”

Peabody couldn’t be happier with her pack of special needs dogs, and neither could Jason. “Both my husband and I are bleeding hearts, and so we just seem to keep collecting spaniels.”

But that’s ok, Peabody, because we need people like you!

 

 

Rescues that Appear When You Need Them – Winston and Nellie

Sometimes beginning the process of re-training a rescue dog can seem more work than one thinks possible, but the effort put in returns an incredible relationship bond between human and dog.

Yesterday I talked about why I want to highlight rescue dogs and their owners as well as rescue workers this week (if you missed it catch it here) and today I have two different stories to share.

Mom hugging Winston
Winston love with his favorite Aunt June!

Tammy rescued Winston shortly after she lost one of her first two Cavaliers to IMHA or Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia. IMHA is not uncommon in Cavaliers, according to Pet Health Network, “With primary IMHA, your dog’s immune system mistakenly produces antibodies that attack its own red blood cells. This is the most common cause of anemia in dogs. With secondary IMHA, the surface of your dog’s red blood cells is modified by an underlying disease process, drug, or toxin.”

IMHA can be fatal and have a fast onset. As Tammy said, “My girl Queenie with IMHA was diagnosed on a Saturday and had 3 blood transfusions when none of these helped her, we decided not to put her through anymore. She was 1 week shy of her 7th birthday. So she lived with it for only about a week to 10 days.”

Fidose of Reality has an excellent post on IMHA

But, as often seems to happen, while Queenie left a hole, another dog needed a home. Tammy said, “I saw where they saved five Cavs from a hoarding situation. So we decided we wanted to rescue one. He was seven and needed a lot of training, never walked up stairs, had people food, played in a yard, or received any pats or attention. He lived his seven years in a cage.”

“We brought Winston to an 8-week training class because he would bark at everyone and try to nip them. He now lets people pat him if we are outside walking. He still barks at people when they come to the house, so we have to put a leash on him and usually keep it on the whole time we have company. There are a few select people he likes to come over, people who have other Cav’s.”

Winston on couch
K.C. and Winston

Many people are grateful for their other Cavaliers showing rescues the way, and Tammy’s K.C. did this for Winston quite a bit. At first, Winston was a little skittish around K.C. but he has come to love other dogs.

Winston still doesn’t fit the mold of the “typical” Cavalier,

 

“He never allows us to touch him much, but now he enjoys being patted and he will sit on my husband for about 5-10 minutes then he gets off.

Winston
Smiling on Dad’s lap

 

He won’t really allow us to hug him or kiss him too much but we do it as much as we can. He does now know commands like sit, stay, down, sometimes come. So he is still a work in progress but he is getting there, we want to give him so much love but he tenses up. He never had pats for seven years of his life so this is still new to him.”

But he shows his love in other ways, “The best thing about my Winston is that he is very loyal to us and I know he is thankful to be in our home. He still has problems with strangers and trusting some people and it has been two years in our home, but he is realizing more and more that no one will ever hurt him again.”

 

Watching our rescue dogs realize that they are safe, home, forever, that has to be one of the best gifts they could give any one in return.

 

There’s a second story I want to tell today, and that’s about Nellie who was rescued by Judith.

Charlie jumping
Charlie Flying

Judith had just lost her first Cavalier, Charlie to Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) at nine and a half years old. He developed a heart murmur at six and was stable until age nine when his condition worsened during his last six months.

Judith said, “My first reaction was, no, I can’t, I’m just too heartbroken.

She said, I understand, but would you just go meet her?

Nellie couch
Nellie at home

And that’s how I got my Nellie. She was hyper, seriously anxious, and barked non-stop for the first 48 hours I had her home, and I wondered, how did I get into this? Nellie was a rescue from a puppy mill, who had been re-homed and then given up to the rescue.

She was two years old, and her foster mom told me she had been hand-shy, overweight and didn’t know how to play when she entered rescue. Nellie and I spent the first year together working on her barking, her anxiety, and her fear of other dogs.

Nellie at flyball
Nellie Flying

 

It’s been 4 years now, and she is super-cuddly and loving, greets all humans with joy, and loves to play tug, flyball, and go on long walks. (She’s still not crazy about other dogs but even this has improved. She’ll grumble but tolerate their existence.)”

All Judith knows about Nellie’s first home after the puppy mill is that, “Nellie was adopted by an older couple, after her first rescue. I was told that they gave her up to Quebec Rescue because they were unable to care for her anymore. I also suspect that they didn’t expect or know how to handle the behavior issues that can come from being rescued originally out of a bad situation.”

But whatever bad situation Nellie was in before, she’s a safe and happy girl now.

Nellie Costume

While neither Judith nor Tammy may have been planning on finding rescues to adopt, these two dogs landed in their laps at just the right time.

 

Meet Rescue and Therapy Dog Lucia

Dear readers and friends – I am sorry for the long silence,  my fibromyalgia got to me, then germs did, and I failed to write.

Thus far I have stuck to blogging about Callie and Charlie, but I would like to be talking more about the Cavalier rescue community in general. Such as the rescuers who go in and save the dogs, the owners who work so hard with their rescues, the health of our Cavalier’s, and, of course, the continued adventures of C & C.

Puppy Awareness Week in the UK just ended Saturday. Puppy Awareness Week, or PAW, is a campaign by the UK Kennel Club to ensure that puppies have long, healthy, happy lives with their owners. It is intended to raise awareness of puppy farms/mills and educate prospective owners as to how they might find a reputable breeder.

This coming Saturday, Sept. 16th, is Puppy Mill Awareness Day – #PuppyMillAwarenessDay. This is an initiative started by the National Mill Puppy Project to vigorously promote awareness of puppy mills and encourage the public to rescue rather than buy, or ensure they are buying from a reputable breeder.

I always emphasize rescuing because, well, until there aren’t any Cavaliers left to rescue I would rather spend the money a puppy costs on giving one a chance at a new healthy, happy life. And, although I hope it doesn’t, if that statement comes out judgmental, it isn’t meant to be. I have lots of friends with breeder-purchased puppies, and I would adore their dogs regardless.

In honor of all the puppy awareness and rescue awareness going on right now, this week I’m going to be highlighting a few dogs (erm, I mean people) who have rescued and, whether or not they intended to in the first place, wouldn’t change the experience for the world!

So today I want to highlight one impressive Cavalier rescue, Lucia and her mom Paula Stacey. In two years Lucia has gone from a puppy locked in a closet to a fully certified therapy dog.

Lucia as a puppy
When I was all alone

Lucia, or Lucy for short, was almost six months old before she found her forever home. Before that, she lived somewhere locked in a closet because she was “too much trouble.”

 

In August of 2015, Paula Stacey found out about Lucia and went to meet her. It was fate, as both fell in love with each other instantly.

Paula meeting Lucy
The day Lucy found her forever home.

Here’s what Paula Stacey had to say about the decision to train and the process of training Lucy to be a therapy dog.

“I had Lucy for about one month before I started training her. I originally started training her because I never had such a young puppy before and I wanted to be sure that I was raising her properly.
My previous dog Molly was over three years old when I got her, and she had a lot of issues such as freaking out when she had to be put in a Kennel at the vet or Groomers. She would actually make her paws bleed.

When I got Lucy, she still hadn’t been potty trained or didn’t know any commands. Most likely because she was barred up in a room all the time with nothing. That room was where she ate, drank & relieved herself.

So I signed Lucy up for beginners classes than we went on to intermediate classes than advanced. Lucy did so well, and I enjoyed taking classes with her. Many people had said she would be a good Therapy dog because she loved attention & people. So I thought to myself why not, let’s see what we need to do to become a Therapy dog.

We had to do more courses & pass the CGN Canadian Good Neighbour test before we could move on to more training. Lucy passed her CGN test & I was in tears when she did.
It took about 18 months of training before Lucia finally received her Therapy dog certificate.”

Lucia gets her diploma
Lucia and Paula Stacey with their new Therapy Dog diploma!

After many months of study, training and hard work they successfully achieved a Therapy Dog Certification, the certification for which requires: 1. CKC Canine Good Neighbour test 2. Full Medical Exam (complete health check, vaccinations, fecal test, parasite control) 3. Municipal Licensing 4. Handler Course (safety procedures, infection control, ethics, rules and regulations) 5. Dog Training Program (4-6 months) 6. Therapy Dog Testing  7. Exam Therapy Dog Manual – Vancouver ecoVillage Therapy Dog Certification.

“Lucia turned two years old March 6/17, so I think we have accomplished quite a bit in the two years.

Lucia and therapy dog vest
Lucia rockin’ her therapy dog vest!

She is so good with other people & does so well with children with autism and special needs. Lucy has been to 6 schools so far, to help relieve stress for students before exams. We also visit senior citizens who totally adore Lucy.

It makes me feel good to be able to bring comfort and joy to the people who need it… Training Lucy to be a therapy dog helps me to get out and volunteer.”

You can find out more about Lucia or follow her adventures on Facebook at http://facebook.com/luciamollikins or on Twitter @PaulaStacey72.

Callie and Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis

I had many other topics in mind for my next blog post, I wanted to introduce the newest members of the pack, our two guinea pigs. I wanted to talk about, oh gee, a month ago when we went to New Jersey and had to have a friend dog-sit for the very first time. Maybe I was even thinking about just giving an update on Charlie, but none of my potential topics included a very frightening health experience with Callie.

Callie just experienced and is still recovering from, a bout of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.

You can read a general description here, but basically, it is an awful illness that can be caused by – ready for this list? – Stress, anxiety, eating something either non-food or drastically different food, immune-related disease, parasites, bacteria, toxins, pancreatitis, or possibly an allergic reaction to something either ingested or inhaled. The primary symptoms are vomiting and very bloody diarrhea. AND it’s a common problem in small dogs – FYI.

Wednesday Callie had diarrhea twice, both times inside the house, so it was clearly sudden and began throwing up in the afternoon. She only threw up once, so I wasn’t too worried. I was also exhausted and went to bed, so Jess was left to deal with everything. I didn’t want Callie to have dinner for obvious reasons, but I wasn’t as worried yet.

Then she continued to throw up throughout the night and went outside a few times. I called the vet first thing in the morning on Thursday for an emergency vet appointment. While I was waiting, and panicking – the only time I have ever seen a dog throw up everything including water immediately after drinking has been when they have something lodged in their stomach and require surgery – I tweeted to the cavpack. I couldn’t imagine Callie had ingested something large so I was desperate to hear that she would be ok.

The cavpack rules, and someone I can’t remember who although I think it was Holly, suggested gastroenteritis. After researching basic gastroenteritis, I wasn’t as worried until I was driving her to the vet. Just looking at Callie put my heart in my throat. She was so lethargic and sad. The night before she slept by my face, all night. She never does that, she’s a foot of the bed dog. I don’t remember the last time I was so terrified for one of my animals. That drive to the vet was horrible, she kept readjusting in the seat, trying to get comfortable, and looking at me with “help me” written across her face.

When we arrived, we discovered Callie has gained 2 lbs… now that’s a different topic for discussion, but interesting because she looks thinner.

Callie didn’t have a fever. The vet also thought it was likely gastroenteritis but was surprised when Callie let her palpate everywhere in her stomach and intestinal region without tensing. I tried to explain that Callie is the opposite of Charlie, she is the most stoic dog unless something is in her paw.

Of course, we had just cleaned up her diarrhea originally, not thinking twice about it, so we didn’t have a fecal sample for the vet. She attempted to obtain one from poor Callie, but there was nothing but blood on her glove when she removed her finger. She did notice Callie’s anal glands were full (but not impacted or infected so not the cause) and expressed those for us. Always nice when someone else ends up doing that!

We decided the best course of action was to give Callie fluids there, put her on both an antibiotic as well as an anti-nausea/anti-diarrheal, and, of course, put her on a bland diet.

Callie came home and seemed a little perkier so later that afternoon I went out to run a quick errand, leaving Jess and our daughter at home.

While our daughter ran upstairs to ask a question, Jess heard Callie get off the couch and move around. G ran back downstairs and then came running back up to tell her that something red was all over the new rug.

Jess came downstairs and found what looked like a crime scene, blood in a trail leading to the living room where it was sprayed in a giant poop-like circle and smelled horrific. This was still Thursday.

I am going to post a picture of the rug at the bottom of the post so those who don’t want to see it don’t have to.

Jess called me in a panic, and thankfully I was on my way home, so I was there in a few minutes. We immediately called the vet even more terrified this time. The vet then told me that they had prepared for the possibility that the gastroenteritis would turn into hemorrhagic gastroenteritis and that the best move now was to add a second antibiotic to see if we could end it there. So Callie added penicillin to her list of medications.

It was hard to get her to eat that night. But the vet I spoke with gave me so much information including a list of various things I could try that would be bland enough, among them was hard boiled eggs. I love our two vets, they treat us like intelligent humans to work with, not like idiots and they talk to each other, so both know what’s going on.

Callie LOVES eggs. So for the first day and a half, she got eggs with her pills mushed in – and YAY she eats her pills in her food! Then we switched to cottage cheese, now boiled hamburger.

Callie rallied so fast. On Friday she was still very lethargic (funny to say about a dog who spends most of her time laying around and sleeping anyway, but this was different) and had a sick face.

pic of Callie snuggling
My heart and soul. This dog is magic.

 

 

 

My heart dog, right here:

 

 

 

By Saturday morning she was starting to look and act like her old self. We even saw froggy stretches and big wags when we first got up in the morning. Plus enthusiasm about food. But she lacked energy and slept in the way the sick do.

By Sunday, she was really rounding the corner into a healthy dog. She was starting to wrestle a little bit with Charlie, she definitely wanted treats – we are sticking with small Zukes treats that we know (are pretty sure) her stomach can handle – and food was very exciting. In fact, she was mad at me by 4 pm that dinner wasn’t ready and they don’t eat until 6ish!

Today, she woke up a happy dog. Still a little tired and very glad to lay in my lap rather than near me or across the sofa, something she doesn’t often do anymore. But she came downstairs, and after they went out, she stole one of the bones.

I say stole because Callie doesn’t play with the toys or chew on the bones actually. This was Charlie’s favorite thing in the world that she took; however, because she doesn’t ever grab toys, we defended her for a long while until distracted so she could have a turn. We were both stunned and thrilled to see her chewing on a bone.

She still hasn’t pooped since the bloody scene. I think she is a bit scared to do so and understandably! I would be. Any time we say the word when she is out in the yard she comes running to jump up on the deck. But my stomach is un-knotting, I feel like she’s on the safe side now. My baby, my love.

 

 

 

 

 

Bloody Carpet Photo Coming:

 

hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
The bloody carpet from Callie’s hemorrhagic gastroenteritis

Stories from the life of a rescued puppy mill mama and the second rescue, a puppy Charlie, who arrived seven months later. Dedicated to other stories about rescues as well, particularly those from puppy mills.

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