Tag Archives: ban puppy mills

Happy Gotcha-Day Callie-Wag

To the girl who started it all, the one who fit the missing space in our family, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love you.

You are magic. Your presence has changed our family for the better since the day we saw you; first on Petfinder, with your terrified eyes and ridiculous looking picture – you still make yourself look like a fat turtle in some photos – and then, in person, at the rescue. Again you looked scared beyond belief but you rose above your fear to protect your fellow adult rescue, cutting her off to keep her from pacing too close to the wires where she would jump up and cut her feet. That’s who you are. A lover, a protector of other animals from whatever possible abuses you had experienced at the puppy mill where you had been churning babies out for years.

Even in your eyes on the car ride home, I could see the love blooming, despite your understandable myriad of fears.

I can’t fully put into words just how special you are, Callie, instead I have a photo tribute. Happy First Gotcha-Day baby girl!

The ride home from the rescue
Is that love hidden behind the fear? The car ride home.

 

Callie snuggling on couch
Callie learned that kids make the best friends, and cuddle buddies.
Callie running
Callie learned to go for walks, even if it meant she had to run to catch up
Callie walking
She got a little better at walks 😉
That first time you fell asleep on me. ❤️
Callie watching us in the snow
Callie learned what snow was, but questioned why we played in it.

Callie did amazing in her first obedience class.

And then she got to learn what a real vacation was on our Cavalier & Mother’s Day vacation at Wilburton Inn in Manchester, VT.

Our Twitter CavPack book with our dear friends’ faces and silly pictures throughout.
That time we brought home a puppy. You don’t look very happy in this photo, Callie.
Rescue Cavalier's Callie and Charlie snuggle
Serious little brother love happened anyway.

So much so, he taught you to play –

We started having doggie play dates and you found a new best friend.
Although you’ve been a bit sick lately and we’ve even started acupuncture to help, that hasn’t changed everything about you.
Callie's smile
You’re still one of the smiliest girls around 😊
We were bad, we couldn’t resist getting her some kind of treat for her gotcha-day 😉😁
Because this girl gets to experience freedom forever, even the freedom to go past the yard limit and get in trouble (recognize that facial expression anyone 😂)

Mom made her dinner gotcha-day cake, although sitting at the table was a little scary!

Charlie's bowtie
Charlie looked dapper with his first bow-tie

I love you forever Callie Wag. I hope we will be so lucky as to be celebrating your gotcha-day next year when you turn 8.

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

If you want to see another small tribute to Callie, check out this post from the mini version of Callie’s Wag, a new blog on a local website called the DailyUV.

Rescuing Puppy Mill Girls – Charlotte and Felicity

Charlotte was three months old when her mom adopted her. She had gone to the pet store for rabbit food, but,

“[There was an] adoption drive all set up and boy did they have puppies that day – tons. Most were in one big pen, jumping all over each other and yapping.

‘She was sitting by herself in her own crate. I swear she stared me down. When I walked over, she cautiously wagged her tail a little bit and sniffed my fingers. I asked if I could hold her and when I did, she put one paw on each of my shoulders and buried her head in my neck. So I got a puppy that day.”

Charlotte's first day
Charlotte, the day she was adopted

Charlotte was from a puppy mill but was rescued when she was still a young pup. She was with a rescue called Coalition for Animal Rescue and Education (C.A.R.E.) out of Hillsboro Missouri.

She had already been bounced around between homes at only three months old. The first adopters gave Charlotte back and then she had two foster homes before her forever home came along. Her mom noted that it was a while before Charlotte realized she was going to stay.

Charlotte and mom on bench
Charlotte and her mom

As with many puppy mill puppies, Charlotte was often sick. Her mom said “I don’t believe she came from a very healthy mother. Most of a puppy’s immune system comes from their mother’s milk, and she didn’t have much of one at all. We went through a few upper respiratory infections when she was younger, lots of tummy troubles, and then it turned into a slew of eye infections, UTIs, and eventually diabetes when she was five.”

But even diabetes didn’t stop this pair from their exploits. Like many Cavaliers, Charlotte is her mom’s best friend. She’s 9 years old now.

“Charlotte is my nonstop adventure buddy. We have taken road trips all the way from our home in St. Louis to Galveston, TX, Key West Florida, Savannah, GA, northern WI, even NY, and everywhere in between. Most of the time, it’s just her and me on the road trips. Those are my favorite trips. Just me and my dog on an island, or a mountain, or lakeside, and in the car for hours. She loves fancy hotels and acts like a total diva when we stay in one. When we are home, we go to all the local parks, the drive-in movies or movies in the park events, food truck festivals, run in charity 5ks (her in the stroller) for local rescues, she rides on my paddle board while I paddle around local lakes, and we brunch out on dog friendly patios. Things got tricky when she was diagnosed diabetic, but learning to home test has meant that not only are her sugars very well controlled, but I have the freedom for her to live a normal dog life. I just take that meter and some snacks everywhere so that if there is ever a problem, I can detect it and treat it on the spot. 3.5 years diabetic and you would never guess it, she lives a totally normal, dog life, she just gets poked several times a day, which she doesn’t mind. She’s been the best friend I didn’t know I was missing. She is my absolute heart and soul.”

Charlotte on the beach
Charlotte the Beach Dog

Recently, Charlotte and her mom decided that it was time to add to their rescue Cavalier family and they brought home Felicity. Felicity is a 6 yr old former puppy mill breeder who was saved from the auction block by Gateway 4 Paws, in O’Fallom IL.

Felicity on the couch
Felicity arrives home and discovers the couch!

Gateway for Paws attends puppy mill auctions where they sell off various breeder dogs and puppies, and they buy as many as they can to rehabilitate them and get them out of the cycle. And, as is often true for rescues, they spent four times what her adoption fee was to get Felicity out of that auction and fix her up. She got spayed, cleaned up, and had 11 painfully rotten teeth pulled.

Felicity’s new mom said, “9\16\17 is the day she was thrown up on the auction block, listed as a breeder, covered in matted fur, a mouth full of rotten teeth, and her eyes swollen shut from infection. She was only with them for a week. I adopted her on 9\24. She was still recovering from surgery at the time and required meds, and we are still treating the eyes (I’m betting that will be lifelong), but the foster knew what I go through every day with Charlotte’s diabetes, so she knew I was responsible enough to handle it. Special needs pups are right up my alley.

‘When I applied to Gateway 4 Paws, it was actually because they had posted some cavalier puppies for adoption. When the foster called, she told me about Felicity. I knew that this mill mama needed me and deserved to have a happy, spoiled life. I also knew the puppies would have no trouble finding homes, while not too many people want older rescue dogs, especially when she wasn’t exactly a beautiful cavalier in her current state, but I saw it and knew she was gorgeous under years of neglect.”

And she’s right. It can be hard to see the love and beauty under the horrible condition the mills have left the mamas in. But, if you look closely, there is a glimmer in these mamas, a force of light, because they have already spent so much of their lives fighting to live, they are going to fight to love.

I asked Felicity and Charlotte’s mom how much Felicity has changed already, and her emotional response belies the feelings that most of us have, especially when rescuing puppy mill dogs.

“I have never cried so much in my entire life! Every time she learns something new, that it seems all dogs should know all along, like what a treat is, or a warm bed, you can see the utter joy in her eyes. The fact that she is so willing to trust me and wants to make me happy (that cavalier need to please), even after all the crap she has been through just amazes and inspires me. It was slow going at first. She was just terrified and confused. I patiently taught her all I could. I made a point to hold her and cuddle her, even though it made her uncomfortable at first, so she could see that I wasn’t anything to be afraid of. I had to hand feed her the first night, but now she eats like a champ.

‘My friend who has two mill rescues told me to take her everywhere, make people pet her and hold her, so that’s what I’ve done. She’s been to the pet store a couple times, my parents came over, I introduced her to the neighbors (who work in rescue and have three rescue beagles), and then I mustered the courage to take her to the Canine Carnival this weekend, which I was afraid would scare her, but instead she was so happy. She was totally loving it, letting strangers pet her without flinching, sniffing other dogs, she was all about it!

Stroller dogs in pumpkin patch
Charlotte and Felicity in the Pumpkin Patch

‘She still panics and runs from me sometimes, hasn’t slept through the night a few times, and gets a little freaked out in the back yard if the air conditioner kicks on or a noisy car goes by. She’ll learn. I don’t believe she sees well, which probably contributes to her anxiety. My vet said there is significant damage to her eyes from years of neglect, which may or may not reverse. She greets me at the door now when I get home from work, Cavalier tail wag in full effect, so we’re getting there.”

It sounds like it! And what amazing rescue stories 😍

Gotcha day and welcome home
Gotcha Day and Welcome Home all in one!
Snuggling with mom
Charlotte taught Felicity all about snuggling with mom on the couch.

The Sting of Judgement

Over the past few days, I have been highlighting several different rescue dogs and rescuers who work to save Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in particular. I do want to say that my specificity is not to negate any of the impressive, overwhelmingly hard work those who rescue other breeds or any dog at all, but merely because my blog focuses on Cavaliers.

I started doing writing these highlights this week in honor of the UK’s Puppy Awareness Week and yesterday’s Puppy Mill Awareness Day, but I am going to continue because, over time, I have felt the sting of judgment. Judgement about rescue dogs, rehabbing puppy mill dogs, and against particular dogs that have been highlighted.

The comments have ranged from “not a normal Cavalier,” to “messed up rescues give all Cavs a bad name.” to (paraphrasing for grammar) ‘Dogs are supposed to get along with most all other dogs. I guess some are still not so affected by their bad situations they are still little loves. My experience has been different. That’s all. My neighbor’s rescues are all shitty snarling dogs. I recognize [rescue dogs] from a block away. Because they are barking banshees. What happened to mans best friend?’

Apparently, they aren’t “normal” Cavaliers if they aren’t big cuddlers. Or if they continue to have fears about certain body parts being touched first. Hey, I don’t know many dogs that like people to reach their hand over the top of the dogs head to pet it. Just because Callie wants you to put your hand to her side doesn’t make her “not normal.” Just because a Cavalier doesn’t love other dogs doesn’t make it “not normal.” Oh wait, do people love everyone else?

What about Charlie? No matter how much I socialize him, both with and without Callie, his instincts are always going to be a little fearful, and he is always going to look to me, his other mom, or Callie for assurance. Some of that is because he is a puppy mill dog and we don’t know his genetic background, some is because he spent ages 7 – 11 weeks on trucks, back and forth with brokers, and finally to the rescue. And some of that is because when we got him at 3 months he was riddled with parasites and then broke his rib and we couldn’t bring him out and about in that 3-4 month period like we wanted to. Is he “not normal”? Or is he a kind of normal and also a product of his circumstances?

STOP. Just STOP calling rescue dogs of any kind “not normal,” “messed up,” or somehow otherwise wrong in some way. As though the dog had any choice in the matter. 

A response from Judith, the owner of Nellie who we met earlier in the week, was perfect, “One thing I learned, while re-socializing Nellie, is that a dog’s social “wiring” is learned between the ages of 8 – 12 weeks. So for a dog rescued out of a scary or intimidating situation, it can take a long time to overcome that early conditioning. I’ve tried to de-sensitize Nellie to other dogs and let her learn that she can still be safe, but I recognize that she will never be comfortable interacting with them.I try to alert other humans that I have a very dog-reactive dog. This may be why people are telling you, “my dog is a rescue” — it’s to let you know why the behavior is happening.”

I try to alert other humans that I have a very dog-reactive dog. This may be why people are telling you, “my dog is a rescue” — it’s to let you know why the behavior is happening.”

And another, as Brittney Wilk said, “What happened to man’s best friend? I’ll tell you what happened to man’s best friend. The greedy man who only cares about money in his pocket has neglected and abused and broke dogs- he fights them, he reproductively abuses them, he tests chemicals on them, he breeds them for murder, for slaughter, for sick entertainment…. he breaks them. And there are a few lucky ones who somehow stay strong enough and have an angel on the other side to help them… they are broken, they are damaged, they need help but not ONE BIT of it is their fault. So don’t even go there about ‘messed up rescues.’ They are not messed up, but they are damaged at the hands of HUMANS.”

Not normal… The ones who aren’t normal are the people who can’t even take the time to understand that not all dogs are going to be their image of a perfect dog. These are the people that allow bad breeding to continue, that allow puppy mills to continue.

The more judgment I hear, the more I will write. Those of us who know these dogs know how badly they need all of us to fight for them.

Sting

 

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.

Oh, Charlie

Last week I introduced everyone to Charlie, our newly adopted (surprise) puppy. Charlie comes from the same rescue as Callie and likely the same puppy mill. It’s not just my guess that they might; the women in charge were pretty certain, the other male, a five-year-old stud, had the same look as Charlie and Callie, as well as another dog rescued three years ago by a woman I met recently on FB. Here’s last week’s post if you need to catch up.

 

IMG_3591
Twinsies

 

It’s interesting because this mill breeds for certain positive breed aspects, like the slightly longer nose which helps to avoid bronchial issues and a size that fits close to the breed standard. No, they are not good breeders. It is a farm. I just found that piece of the puzzle curious.

Charlie rode the puppy roller coaster. He was sent out to a broker to be sold to a pet store, but the pet stores didn’t want him, and he was sent back. Lucky Charlie, just before the next auction, the rescue took a trip out to Ohio and brought him back.

Charlie is a puppy mill mascot. Unlike Callie who managed to make it out at six years old and in perfect health, he came to us with some things we knew about and some we didn’t.

fullsizeoutput_ef1
Puppy Snuggles 😍

Before they headed out, all the dogs visited the vet in Ohio where they noted that Charlie has “grade 1” luxating patellas and an umbilical hernia.

Luxating patellas are when a dog has a very flat patella ridge. This means the kneecap doesn’t seat snugly in the groove and it can pop out either medially, to the inside, or laterally, to the outside.
There are four levels of severity of a luxating patella. Grade 1 is the mildest; Grade 4 is the most severe.
• A Grade 1 luxating patella describes a kneecap that pops out (or can be manually popped out of place) but pops right back in on its own.
• Grade 2 describes a kneecap that pops out of place and doesn’t always pop back in automatically, sometimes requiring manual manipulation to re-seat it.
• A Grade 3 condition is when the kneecap sits outside its groove most of the time but can be manually positioned back in the groove, where it stays temporarily.
• Grade 4 luxating patella describes the worst-case scenario, in which the kneecap sits outside the groove all the time, and won’t stay seated in the groove when it is manually popped into place.

The morning after the caravan arrived back in VT, we got a call about the availability of an 11-week old puppy or a five-year-old male stud – to be neutered, but if we wanted one, especially the puppy, we had to come that day. Sherry did tell us about his knees before we made the trip. We quickly discussed the pros and cons and made the call to go “meet” (i.e. get, lol) the puppy.

Charlie came home without having visited the groomers yet and with diarrhea and a little cough. First, if you haven’t ever smelled a puppy mill or a dog from one, it is horrendous. Little Charlie was so sweet and snuggly, but he reeked! The first chance we got on the trip home we stopped for doggie bath wipes to get as much of the green and brown stains and nasty smell off him.

I made an appointment with our vet, however, due to one vet being on vacation, we had to wait a few days for a time. Charlie’s cough went away within a day or so, he just needed to be consistently warm. His diarrhea didn’t though. I was fairly sure he had some parasite that wasn’t treated by regular de-worming, but it wasn’t until I saw some blood in his stool that I called the vet and made an emergency appointment.

Charlie had giardia, coccidia, and whipworms, poor baby. That was a lot of medication! Even Callie had to be treated again. The vet also confirmed his luxating patellas although she said she doesn’t grade them when the puppy is this young and also informed us that Charlie has a minor heart murmur.

Because he is so young, we are lucky, and there are some things we can do to counteract his physical issues. Regarding the murmur, the two most important are diet and exercise – keeping him at the correct weight when he is grown, and daily exercise may keep his heart working a bit better. Regarding the kneecaps, again exercise and weight, but certain exercises are particularly beneficial.

As our vet recommended, we do a lot of hill climbs, up and down, both straight and in zig zags, and anything else we can think of that will strengthen his quads as those are the muscles that will be the most beneficial. Also helps tire the rambunctious puppy out! It’s been excellent for Callie too.

fullsizeoutput_ef2
Out for a walk with the girl!

Hey – got any good game or exercise ideas that are low-impact on the knees but work the quads on our pup?

IMG_3571
Tug seems to be a good one, too.

Don’t worry all – Charlie is doing GREAT! These are just things we have to keep in mind as he grows. And these are some issues that puppy mills cause. FIGHT TO END PUPPY FARMING!