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Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Trip: Part 4 ... That is When I Saw Her

From where I was standing in the tiny office, there was half of one cage that was visible. In this cage, there was a little white dog. She was staring at me, straight in the eyes, and wagging her tail. "NO BONDING!" I reminded myself, "NO FALLING IN LOVE!"  If I bonded, if I fell in love, I could not take that dog with me.  If that dog was not on the retirement list, it was not coming with us. It would just break my heart to look deep into a dog's eyes and leave her or him behind knowing that the cage was all he or she would know.  So I did all I could to avoid looking at her.  I moved a little further into the office in an attempt to get her gorgeous pleading eyes out of my line of sight.
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.

Maltese Born July 2004

Shih Tzu Born October 2006

Shih Tzu Born December 2006

Bichon Frise Born March 2005

Robin: one of Little White Girl's cagemates
Lhasa Apso Born April 2005

Silky Terrier Born September 2006

Sugar Watch her Video : one of Little White Girl's cagemates
Lhasa Apso Born May 2006

Shih Tzu Born August 2007

Maltese Born May 2010

Brussels Griffon Born July 2006

Shih Tzu Born November 2007

And my precious little white girl:

Lhasa Apso Born April 2006

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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annie said...

Bless you for being an Angel to these babies. I would have been lost with dove (little white girl) too. I would have been lost looking into those deep eyes of her. Please kept us posted on her progress. As haven raised a puppy mill girl myself, I know what a challenge they are, but also how each new triamph is a feat to be cherished.
Thank you for all that you do!!!

Karen Schroeder said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Dove has the most angelic face. Has Dove been adopted? I didn't see her on your website; looked through all the "Adopted" dogs twice, and still couldn't find her - maybe I just missed her . . .

Heidi said...

Love it! :)

Jennifer Currie Rose Depp said...

sniff, sniff. I can totally relate to the little eyes pleading with you.

Amy Haas-Gray said...

Worth the wait!

Cindy Khalsa said...

I have to applaud you , I could not walk in there and keep my mouth shut , you have my deepest respect for that. I have been at one livestock auction site (not the auction) and seen how those poor souls are abused also , the rescues that go in and save these animals are special people also . I will continue to be a loud voice and strong hand in writing to change the laws of this country for the sake of the animals , but hats off to people like you who can go in and do this kind of work .

Jennifer Currie Rose Depp said...

Oh my gosh they are gorgeous. My two little ones (Brussels, Riggles and yorkie, Pickle) are both mill survivors and I tend to foster primarily mill dogs. They have the sweetest most gentle natures - it breaks my heart to think of them just wanting to show kindness and not getting anything back. I'm so happy your girl was on the list. If I lived closer I would come and snatch Truffles up. She is such a beautiful little monkey and I love all the names you have chosen. Give her (well all of them) a hug from me.

Theresa Johnson said...

Thank You! As I'm sitting here hurting from a shoulder injury thinking about how the heck I'm going to get my crates together YOU show me why we do it!!! While we may never meet each other I feel as though we are sisters, rescued by the animals. Thank You I feel better all ready.

Diane/Canada said...

Thanks so much for that wonderful story. You have made a difference to 12 lovely furkids. I hope they all get adopted soon. Cuddles looks like my little girl that was adopted from the SPCA. Amy, I didn't find out until later had been debarked by her previous owner so she has this little bark like a squeaky toy! We love her just the same though. Keep up the great work.

Robyn van den Bemd said...

SO happy to read that your little girl's wish came true ♥ THANK YOU for all you do!!!! ♥ when I was reading it I was wondering if you were going to write that this turned out to be one of the mill dogs that you had written about a while ago that ended up having to go back into the mill system - I don't remember the exact story, but I remember you writing something about something like that happening.....

DannaChanna said...

you are so precious to rescue these breeder dogs...

Holly Adix said...

I cried reading thru this this morning.

Dianne Engleke said...

I wish that Whoopi has an opportunity to read this series. Makes me sad and relieved and almost happy all at the same time...oh, and angry..."

Mel Battison said...

Ahhhh, you're my hero.

Dave Marchetti said...

I loved this!! I could feel your emotion as I read it. Thank you.