But she moved. She stuck her head into the top corner of the kennel, the only part that was now visible to me, and she was again in my line of sight. She stared. She wagged. Her eyes pleaded, and my heart sank. She acted as though she knew me, although that was impossible. She had two cagemates, but only she wanted to make eye contact. Avoiding eye contact is an act of submission often seen in puppy mill dogs. The little white dog wanted to make eye contact so strongly that she was contorting herself in the upper corner of the back of her cage to achieve it. She looked at me, tail wagging, and body wiggling. I moved again, and so did she. Damn.
There were only a few dogs left on the list. "Some Lhasas, some Bichons..." as the kennel owner went through the remainder of the list. The other rescue girls were done. Their limit was reached, so they asked if my assistant and I wanted to see the remaining dogs. My assistant looked at me, and I responded affirmatively. As I walked out of the office, I tried not to look into that little white dog's cage, but there she was! I turned away again. Damn.
The owner walked us deeper into the building. He showed us a few more dogs. As we walked back to the office, he pointed to one more cage. It was a cage by the office. It was her cage! It was the little white dog's cage! He said something to my assistant, but I could not hear the words over the barking. My heart was pounding! My assistant asked me if I wanted any of them. My reply into her ear, "Yes, take them all." She was completely unaware of the interactions that took place between the little white dog and me. Her response was, "All of them?" I responded with a yes that was outwardly calm, but inside of me I was screaming "YES! TAKE ALL OF THEM! WOO HOO!" I agreed to take all three of the dogs from that cage in order to be certain that the little white dog was mine! I could not believe my luck! The little white dog was coming with us!
The owner started pulling the dogs out of the kennel and handing them to us. The little white girl was placed right into my arms. Her little body went stiff as I held her because she was now out of the only comfort zone she had ever known, her cage. This is a very typical reaction of puppy mill dogs when removed from the only environment they know. Their body stiffens and it is like carrying a doggy CPR dummy. But I could feel her tail wagging as it hit me in the back. I carried her to the tiny office. If I had a tail, it would have been wagging too! I was thrilled, but tried so hard not to show it.
Inside the little office, the dogs' microchips were scanned and the owner checked them off the list of his breeding stock. These dogs were no longer breeders! They were ours, and they were going to a new life! Even the little white pest who kept staring at me!
When the final dogs were checked off the list, and the kennels in our vans were beyond full, the owner turned and shook everyone's hand. The deal was done. It was an easy and inexpensive way to cull his breeding lot. The owner seemed to appreciate having this option.
When we shook hands, it was a business deal. It was his way of thanking us for doing "business" with him. It was my way of thanking him for allowing us to do business with him. It was not an acceptance of what he does. As long as what he does is acceptable by local, state, and federal laws, I will continue to be there for the dogs being handed over to rescue. The handshake was an appreciation of what he is allowing us to do. For that, I do thank him, and so do the dogs.
And now for the moment you have been waiting for, here they are...
The 4-6 dogs I was going there to rescue, somehow became 12 dogs.
And my precious little white girl:
On the drive home, the car was oddly quiet. The dogs were too frightened to make any noise. My adrenaline was still pumping. It is not a good thing to visit a place where animals that you think of as family are considered no more than inventory, especially when you care for animals as deeply as I do, but I felt good about the fact that I finally did experience the "thing" about which I am so vocal.
I would and will do it again, because each dog I am given, gifts that dog and it's future family a new beginning.
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