Tag Archives: support

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.

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.

Round and round and round we go!

I can’t remember if I have said anything about it on here but, I have fibromyalgia (along with chronic pain and chronic fatigue – aren’t those part of fibro?) I was diagnosed when I was 29, 3 years ago, but I likely had it for a couple of years before.

What does this have to do with Callie or Charlie, you might be asking yourself. Nothing and everything. 

Fibromyalgia is not really understood yet by doctors or the public, heck, it’s not really understood by the patient who is experiencing it; it’s what’s often called an “invisible illness.” See the great spoon (energy) theory. Technically that was developed by a woman with Lupus, but she has spread it intending to be for all invisible illnesses.

Fibro affects those who suffer from it differently. It’s a nerve disorder of sorts. Some people get numb or tingling or sharp sensations in their faces, some get brutal muscle pain that spreads to their joints. I often suffer from “fibro fog” in which I struggle to think super clearly or say what I am thinking. The words are there, the images are there, but I can’t say them.

And then there is the worst, the flares. Sometimes when it flares up it’s just a bad neck/back/arms for me, but between the moving and all the activity this past month, my body shut down. I have spent the last three days in bed, getting up for food or to let the dogs out to go to the bathroom. I’m recovering, but that’s one of the things fibro does, it will slam you to the ground like a big wave if you don’t plan for rest times.

The dogs have been great, mostly happy to lie in the bedroom with me, especially now that they like to wrestle, but Charlie, as a 5-month-old puppy will do, is starting to go a little crazy. Yesterday, he purposefully antagonized our next door neighbor’s grumpy little Chihuahua TWICE, just so he could outrun her and fly back (I don’t even know how he got away from me the second time.) Thank goodness she’s a friend of ours!

I rescued this breed purposefully, not only out of my love for Cavaliers but because they can also either go or be mellow. I also knew that taking Charlie on meant a few years of craziness before the easy, mellow part – although he’s surprisingly good about that!

I feel like a failure when I hit this cycle again where my flares are so bad they prevent me from doing stuff with my dogs.

Charlie needs a regular training schedule. I can’t promise that. Callie needs to go on daily walks to stay a healthy weight and Charlie too, for weight as he grows, for exercise, and for energy. I can’t promise that either. I was able to when we got them, I was so good with Callie all winter and with Charlie this spring and early summer. And now… guilt

But then, right before we had to move, so many other things suddenly happened – mostly good, but energy-sucking none the less, and I’m back on the old carousel ride. 

 

Fibro, how I hate you.

 

 

 

 

And how grateful I am to have such a wonderful family who loves and supports me, and my fabulous dogs who may get cheated out of some things but are certainly spoiled in other respects! I just hope it’s good enough.

Carousel

Back to Reality

Let me begin by apologizing for the radio silence – we’ve spent the last week moving and the previous one packing. And now I have the longest post – mostly about our new house!

Oh moving, how I hate you. Thankfully, this should be our last move for a few years! Jess and I have moved four times in 3 years…But now we have bought a lovely townhouse/condo in a great community, right where we want to be.
Jess took this past week off from work for moving in and, what we hoped, would be some relaxing time. I love when Jess is home during the day. Working from home can be incredibly lonely but, between the dogs and my fibromyalgia, getting out to co-working spaces is often difficult.
This was even better than the rare days she also works from home because neither of us did any work of that kind, we solely focused on our house and getting our animals situated.

Even with the stress of moving, it was a wonderful week. We spent time together shopping for a few things we needed/wanted to make the place feel like home right away.
We *read Jess* set up G’s new loft bed so when she arrived, she could spend time decorating her room. We haven’t had our own rooms since we sold the house in January, and OMG were we all desperate for space!

We had a few visitors come by, mid-mess but who cares? We love this place more each day we are here.

View of patio
Callie watching over her new yard

The unit we purchased has one of the more private patios, it looks into the woods, and we have a perfect area to let the dogs out.

 

So far we have been going out with them, but only Charlie seems to need the tie-out that we bought for each of them.

The tie out in the back yard confuses
Hoomans, what is this nonsense?!
Charlie runs towards us
Run Charlie RUN!

We also have a loop drive around the complex that is approximately a quarter of a mile which makes for a great walk with the dogs. It’s just long enough that Callie gets good exercise for her but still enjoys herself, even if we go twice in one day, plus if we go one way around, we end with a hill-climb which is perfect for Charlie’s patellas.
There are many dogs in the neighborhood, most of whom are friendly. Two Border Collies, Julien and Vincent, live in the next building over and often visit if we are outside. We were suckers the first time the first time they came and threw a stick for them a bit, and now they LOVE to come try to get us to play. Charlie is terrified of them even though they are super sweet and tend to ignore him as they are hyper-focused.
There is a six-month-old Lab-mix two doors over who is still frightening to Charlie – although he is starting to relax a bit, she’s sweet and relatively mellow – and then another puppy-mill rescue two doors down from there. The only dogs who aren’t nice are our neighboring dogs (of course!🤣)

I’m not really surprised, they are two older chihuahuas who have never been super friendly, and now they have gotten rather mean in their old age. I do feel older dogs have the right to be tired of politely interacting all the time, especially on their turf, but it is funny because they were fine with the two-year-old Cavalier who was living here with the tenants last year!

Charlie introduced himself to our neighbor on the other side by tipping over her beautiful succulents… thank goodness she has owned dogs her whole life – albeit not at the moment – and loved meeting him so much, she didn’t care about her plants!

Knocking over plants
What plants? I didn’t knock those over earlier!

 

The new condo has stairs, and both bedrooms are up there. I don’t think I’ve talked about it in a long time, but at the old place we lived on the second floor, and Callie was scared of stairs at first, so we started a terrible habit – we carried her down. For six months we ended up carrying Callie down those damn stairs every time we needed to take her out. Jess and I made the decision, having seen Callie learn to go down shorter sets of steps just fine, that we were not going to pick her up to carry her downstairs at all. Callie was SO mad.
The very first morning, I laid down treats, shut all the upstairs doors, and took Charlie out. I came back in, and she was still at the top of the stairs. So I made breakfast. Callie is a food driven dog, but she was still at the top of the stairs. So I went up and helped *perhaps read forced* her to walk down them. She wouldn’t eat many of the treats as she went and I felt it was only fair she still get them for all the work, so she was greeted at the bottom of the stairs with breakfast AND a rather large pile of training treats. That made her forgive me a bit.
Slowly, using this method but “helping” less and less, over Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday she got better.
Regardless of whether I helped her with any stairs, she did want me a few steps down at all times. Her left side seems to slip a bit, so it goes faster than her right. Anyway, Friday came, and the kiddo showed up. Callie went wild, almost everything was ok again in her world except she hadn’t seen G here yet.

The kiddo and Big C cuddle on the couch
Besties Furever!

I mean, look, the girl is Callie’s BESTIE! Well, once G went down the stairs Callie forgot all her fear in her need to be with her girl, and now the stairs are no problem for this lady.

 

 

Now, it’s back to life, back to reality. Monday morning went back to the same old routine, and Jess left for work at 7. Then I sat in what is my usual silence. Except it was so much lonelier. It always is when Jess has been home for a day or two, but this silence has made everyone mopey.

Callie just discovered something magical! She can get away from Charlie and keep him from stealing her bones by taking them out on the patio. 😁 Smart girl!

Callie and goat horn
Look, mom, I CAN get away from the little turd!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you if you have read this far 😆! And the next post should be coming soon! I have many updates on Charlie and his health!!!