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!
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.
So much so, he taught you to play –
Dinner cake (boiled beef and pumpkin… YUM!)
Less Scary to eat on the chair
Mom made her dinner gotcha-day cake, although sitting at the table was a little scary!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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!
‘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 😍
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!!!
Hey, friends! Callie writing today 🙂 Mom has been super-duper sick for the last week, so she hasn’t been writing and I have been VERY busy taking care of her.
I wanted to share some fun moments with you because mom says I’m becoming a dog and I think that’s supposed to be a good thing. At least, it feels good!
I’ve learned I can stretch out on the couch:
Which mom says is both a good and bad thing. She likes that I now think I can take up my “own” space since I am still “good” (what does that mean?) about getting off the couch, but she gets annoyed that sometimes I take up more space than the humans. Ummm, time for a bigger couch, duh.
Lucky for me, mom says I have nearly perfected the Cavalier face. I’m working on it. Seriously, WHY would you kick me off the couch?
Speaking of WHY, my HUMANS gave me a BATH! Seriously. WHY?!?
I was cold after, they used this loud thing that blew air at me, and rubbed me lots with towels. Not happy. But then they wrapped me in fleece blankets, and I got lots of cuddles… that part was ok. I guess.
Ooooh! But on a better note, this is me greeting my BEST FRIEND IN THE WHOLE WORLD when her dad dropped her off. I used to be scared to do more than wag my tail, but now I have learned to dance and play. This time my best friend kind of stole the show, but I think that might have been because she knew mom was filming.
Oh yeah, and I’ve gotten a lot calmer about cuddling. My mom makes me feel relaxed.
Do you see how pretty and long my fur is getting? You can really tell on my legs and feet. YAY! I’m starting to feel like me again. I’ve never been able to grow my hair out before – I think I might want this to be my new look:
It can’t be THAT much more grooming, right?
Edited to add:
New favorite things:
DUCK FEET! Well, anything duck, but duck feet, mmmmm.
Playing with the cat toys with the cats
The pet store – I know it now so I LOVE it!
Less favorite things:
Winter coats – why did I have to get stuck in Vermont?
Road salt and that gunk mom puts on my feet – BLAGH on both
The cats still weird me out, they come out of nowhere, they rub up against me then they run away. They lay near me and put their tails over my head. Cats. What?!?
❤ to you all, thanks for continuing to follow along with my story!
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.