Tag Archives: love

Nothing Like Normal

I came across a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel listed for adoption the other day. He’s not in a Cavalier specific rescue, but a good one nonetheless. I don’t want to point out too many details.

I could have this all wrong. I don’t know this dog at all, I haven’t spoken with his foster mother or the rescue, all I know is what I read, and it broke my heart. Not only for the dog but also because the lengthy description kept describing this adult puppy mill rescue as nothing like a “normal” Cavalier.

I guess I don’t know “normal” then because my puppy mill rescue has a lot of the same behaviors.

She’s not a big cuddler. She likes to be near you but, for instance, right now she is at the far end of the couch, away from me.

She hates to be picked up, carried, or held in a restraining way. The best thing we ever did for her was getting dog stairs for the couch and the bed. She loves the stairs so much that when my wife tripped over them and broke a piece, Callie had to wait a day for us to fix them and she was depressed all day long. She wasn’t even that excited about treats. That’s right, a Cavalier so depressed she didn’t care about food. Freedom is better.

She shakes and runs if touched from behind, even just brushed accidently. Nobody can reach for her head to pet her at first, always her sides so she can see your hands at all times.

She grumbles all the time, licks her lips, wiggles her nose, and makes this sound that I will do my best to spell phonetically – bhuumph – when she is annoyed or wants something or unknown reasons. She makes the sound so frequently that my daughter started calling her “Bhuuphy” which, of course, turned into “Bhuuphy” the Vampire Slayer.

I am being somewhat facetious here.

These points are all equivalent to ones in the adoption ad. Callie was terrified of everything (working on it), she is still “nothing like a normal Cavalier” apparently, but it’s hard to see that because she’s my Cavalier.

I know she’s not ever going to be the type of dog who runs to the door to greet me, who climbs into my lap or feels totally safe all the time, but she’s here, and I am doing the best I can with my normal.

My point is that most puppy mill rescues exhibit a lot of these same behaviors. A lot of puppy mill rescues are “not normal” for their breed. When I went to meet Callie, there were a couple of Bichon/Poodle mixes from a puppy mill, and they were wholly different than dogs of that breed mix I have met before.

The puppy mill is what makes the dog “not normal,” but to repeatedly point that out is detrimental to the adoption of puppy mill dogs everywhere. I didn’t rescue a Cavalier to get “normal,” I rescued a Cavalier because it mattered to me.

I don’t want individuals adopting puppy mill rescues without understanding the specific issues that come with the dogs, but I also don’t want people walking away just because that rescue dog came from a puppy mill.

I don’t accept the distinction of “normal” and “not normal.” I don’t accept the idea that just because a puppy mill rescue might act differently than dogs of their breed raised from puppies in a home, they are NOT like their breed at all. And, you know what, half the description of the dog sounded just like a Cavalier to me.

The Lives They’ve Lived Before

 

 

callie-sleeping
Callie the Couch Dog

It is the little things that impress-frustrate-embolden me when I am with Callie. Just now I spent 15 minutes convincing her that a. the stool I brought in from the kitchen was not evil, and b. that she could, in fact, climb on it to get up on the couch.

“Why?” You might wonder.

Two reasons again – 1. because she can’t seem to jump up on the couch and is scared of being picked up, yet she wants to be up here all the time, and 2. because she has a lot of trouble transferring skills.

She didn’t get up on the couch, but she got her front paws up on the stool and considered how she might get from there to the sofa. But, then she got overwhelmed and stepped back down. I’m proud of her. Front paws on something new in 15 minutes is pretty impressive.

It’s different than when you are working with a young one. A rescue, especially one who has never seen the outside world, sees everything with far more trepidation than your average puppy.

They’ve already lived lives.

Callie came to us from a puppy mill. She was there for the last five/six years and hasn’t known anything but the inside of a cage, puppies, and the experience of being shoved in another cage for mating. Did I mention she doesn’t like to be picked up? It’s mostly because it freaks her out if anybody touches her rear end. ‘Nuff said.

Her fear drives my desire to find solutions for Callie. I want her to experience the world in a much more positive way, without too many accommodations.

That was the life she lived then, one of fear. I’m responsible for the life she lives from here on out.

nap time early days
Callie and I nap together on the couch in the early days

One cat definitely doesn’t mind that Callie takes the couch!

pippin-on-dog-bed
Pippin the Cat-Dog