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Saturday, September 12, 2009

The One You Left Behind...

Do you ever get sentimental about the old days. The days when the biggest concern you had was if you were going to make it home before curfew? You didn't pay rent. You didn't pay for utilities. You ate Mom and Dad's food...and still complained that they did not have what you wanted. Your friends knew a carefree side of you that most of your new friends never knew existed.

That being said, I do not want to go back to high school. But with the addition of facebook to my life, I have been cyberly reunited with most of my friends from the ol' days. We were creative, easily excited, and always had a good time, all without drugs or alchohol or police involvement. Not bad hunh? This was long before the internet and cell phones. This was before most video games unless you count Atari and Intellivision (does anyone else remember that one?). This was when you had fun with your friends by using your imagination.

Darryl was one of my best friends. He was not the one that you called to cry on his shoulder about the bad day you had. He was the one who made you forget that you had a bad day. He was the life of the party with a natural comedic timing. He was the one that always had the punchline. It seems he is still like that although only talking via text on facebook sometimes loses the punch.

I don't recall Darryl having any pets back in high school. Oh, there was Baha! Baha was a fisher price sheep we never went anywhere without. He sat perched upon the dashboard of the world's ugliest car as we drove down the road. Darryl and I never related much on our love of animals, although I was already a defined animal lover. Perhaps he had not yet discovered this love.

I was quite surprised after our cyber reunion to find out that he is a now a vegetarian (refuses to eat anything that was breathing at some point), and has a tattoo of his two dogs, Snoopy, a Beagle, and Bigglesworth, a Basset Hound, on his leg! OUCH! It must have hurt, but I must say the artist did a great job. He has photos of his dog's birthday parties with hats and cake and presents on his page. A more loving pet owner, you could not find. He is the ideal client for any vet.

To the 20 year older Darryl, his dogs are his children. They are also aging, as dogs do. With an average life span of 10-12 years, they are bound to age as we watch.

A few weeks ago, Darryl started mentioning that his sweet beagle, Snoopy, was sick. She was 11 years old. They had done everything medically possible. There is a point where even the best medicine does not have a solution, and only comfort is the key. Comfort for Snoopy, and comfort for Darryl.

About a week ago, Darryl messaged me that Snoopy had quit eating and requested advice. The desperation in his writing was obvious. I dispensed some advice, but having been such a good pet owner, he had already consulted his own vet, who had given similar advice and nothing was working. He was desperate for any help that anyone could offer. I would love to write that a miracle occurred, but unfortunately, it did not.

Friday, Darryl's friend messaged me that Darryl had lost Snoopy. They had raced her to the emergency room and were told that there was nothing more to be done. He brought her home, and Snoopy died in Darryl's arms.

I know that pain. Many of us do. Those of us who have experienced a dog's love know that they have a soul to be seen deep in their eyes, that dog's have feelings, that dog's give unconditional love. We know this pain.

Darryl wrote a heartwrenching yet wonderful memorial for Snoopy, the love and tears flowed out of the computer like ink from a pen. You cannot read his memorial and not cry. So much love for such a little dog, and I am certain every bit of it was returned in kind.

But as I read his memorial, I got concerned. I was concerned with the details posted in the memorial about where Snoopy was purchased. I have been working in rescue a long time, and I could see a few red flags.

So many people do not know what puppy mills are. In high school, I knew what they were but really did not understand how big the problem is until I moved to Iowa. As a state, Iowa ranks fourth in the highest population of puppy mills. I see the results of these mills all the time in the rescue work we do.

Snoopy was born and purchased in Wisconsin. RED FLAG! Agricultural states are high in numbers for commercial breeding of animals, and that includes dogs, and cats. Okay, thinking positive, there are a few good breeders everywhere. Breeder's whose dogs go to the vet routinely for health care. Breeder's whose dogs live in the house as part of the family. Breeders who are heartbroken when they lose the 12 year old dog they spayed when she was 7 because the vet said it was not safe to breed her anymore. Perhaps this is one of those breeders?

Darryl mentioned the name of the kennel. It sounds like a wonderful place, out in the country where puppies run free, chasing chickens, and tumbling in the grass until a new family comes to buy one.

I googled the name of the breeder. Under the business listing were reviews of this breeder written by customers. A few of the reviews were positive. Two people defended the breeder stating that the dog they purchased from this farm was very healthy. This gives people a false misunderstanding of puppy mills. Not every puppy from a puppy mill is sick or has issues. I did a little more research and was shocked to find a website with photos, and details of this farm. There is even a link to a video with the owner, although I have been unable to view it but there is a transcript. Please visit.

Snoopy came from a terrible place. She went to a wonderful place for the remainder of her 11 years. She was spoiled rotten. She had birthday parties, and photo shoots. She got cookies. She went to the vet, although it was likely not her favorite day. (The downside of being the vet is that the animals are never really happy to see you.) She was one of the most well loved dogs on the planet! I love Darryl for giving her that. Darryl you rescued her, and perhaps she rescued you.

But Snoopy's Mom likely spent her entire life within this mill. Breeding every cycle, watching her puppies go on to a new and better life. And her death was not likely one that was memorialized by anyone. Another link...

I am hoping Darryl does not read this for a while. I sympathize with his pain, I wish I could take it from him. He is dealing with a lot of emotion right now. Some people go back to the same breeder after losing their pet, hoping to get another dog like the one they lost. This is my reason for writing this. I want Darryl to think long and hard about that. I want Darryl to know that this guy likely has 30 beagles, none of any relation to Snoopy.

I hope when Darryl does read this, his anger will enlist him into the fight. The fight for all the dogs that are legally being cared for in a way that is blatant neglect. When I see eight month old pups coming from these mills, and they require dentals due to tartar buildup, there is something wrong. When there is so much ammonia and debris in the air because there are so many dogs in one building, and the dogs get dry eye and go untreated because it would be an "unnecessary business expense", there is something wrong. When they are breeding dogs that have congenital defects that are being passed on because the dogs have NEVER been to a veterinarian for a physical exam, there is something wrong!

To those people who believe this farm is okay, because their puppy is okay, I would like them to consider their dog's parents. What if the farm had decided to make a breeder out of your puppy, and you never had the chance to purchase it. Your puppy, your dog, the one that you currently love, would be sitting in a cage with only a wire bottom just like your dog's parents. He would be highly undersocialized and afraid of everything that he has never experienced before including humans, grass, and the wind. Your dog would be breeding every cycle throughout it's lifetime, regardless of age and health. Your dog would likely die in it's cage or at the hands of that breeder when it's productive days are over, without EVER having seen a veterinarian.

Now think about the puppy that was sitting next to your puppy when you picked him.
I wonder where she is now.


Gabrina said...

As the director for a rescue that regularly takes in puppy mill dogs, there is nothing as sad and pathetic as a dog who has NO IDEA what it's like to be a dog. The breeders will say the dogs are healthy and happy, that at the age of ten she still "loves raisin' them pups". Really? Because I'm positive that the Boston terrier raising her very last litter of puppies in my kitchen is a heck of a lot happier in the house, with my kids and my other dogs, counting the days until she is up for adoption and a pet. We trimmed her long nails, put meat on her noticeable ribs (we didn't even know she was pregnant), and showed her it was okay to be part of the family. This dog is now a member of the family, not a dollar sign. I wonder what happened to her previous litters, if she has daughters now living in cages. I won't ever have to worry about the next litter...because there won't be one!

Anonymous said...

I live in Canada, and have own many many animals in my lifetime, as a child, and so many as an adult, unfortunatley, none have out lived me yet..and my heart breaks everytime one passes on..but I sleep easy at night..none..NOT ONE of my pets has come from a puppy mill..from the pound as mutts when we were kids, and from Breeders..that lived local, and I had checked out from Sunday to Saturday..I lost my little Schanzer, 2 mths after I lost my husband..I didn't know a person's heart could truly break so much...but I did what I do best...I found a new baby, that needed me, not as much as I needed her..and then I found a Golden..just to make sure I had a spare..LOL..I have been truly blessed in my life..and dogs have made a huge my Mother said when Molly came to me after my husbands death..."That little girl is God's way of saying Richard(husband) and Whitney (dog) are together and you take good care of Molly until you both get to us"...and that's what I plan to little Whit, was 18 when she passed on, she too died in my arms..but it was at the hands of a very loving Vet, that had cared for her, her entire life. I can't thank you enough for your post..your work..and your gift.

Kathryn Uden
Pickering Ontario

Anonymous said...

In July of 2009 Stop Animal Cruelty in Hot Spring County, AR busted a "small" puppy mill. One of the dogs we got was a small poodle named "Rosie" Rosie's rear lega had been deformed since birth with treatment at 6 month of age they might of been fixed but this was not the case. Rosie was about 3 yrs when we got her. She had spent her whole life laying in a cage making babies for her owner to sell and make money on. The happy ending to this story is that Maltese Rescue in Wisconsin took Rosie had surgery done to remove part of her legs, she has a prothsesis and a cart but the best thing is she is now the spokes "dog" against Petland Stores in WI that buy puppies from mills and she is known all over WI, she has been in the papers, on TV and out in public against puppy mills. We are all very attached to Rosie and we are so proud of her coming from our little town of Malvern, AR. She lives with Mary head of the Maltese Rescue in WI and we receive updates on her all the time.
Mary Ann Taft