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Not interested in rescue? If you think you know what adopting a dog means, weep and rejoice as you read about puppy mill auction dog No. 18.





by Nancy Guilfoil, 2014


There Was Something About That Little Face…


I opened my Facebook page that day to a post from a friend and there was a picture of a funny little dog that needed a home. Nothing unusual with that - I get those things all the time on Facebook. This one was being fostered for just a short time and then she would go to a shelter.


All day long, I couldn’t get that little girl out of my mind. Her eyes were big and round and looked ter-rified. I knew I was “done for” so I got in touch with the foster home.


Dog No. 18 was bought at a disbursal puppy mill auction for $12.00. Missouri is well known for its horrific puppy mills. I learned about her terror, her health problems, and the rescuers driving home with the windows on the car down because of the stench. She was immediately taken to a vet for a bath, spaying and other medical problems. It was obvious she had had many litters. There were large pus-filled abscesses under each eye from the roots of teeth that had been decayed and infected. It appeared that No. 18 had been in crates so long that she was unable to stand on her own.


Being a former officer and rescue chairman of terrier breed national club, I was familiar with Pippa’s problems. Sometimes you have to give back and I knew I could help her. I also knew that it would take patience and time and I worried about how it would affect the rest of my canine household to whom I held the first responsibility.


A friend drove me to pick her up so that I could hold her in the car. No. 18 didn’t want to come out of the crate and she certainly didn’t want to be held. When I got home, I sat down on a sofa, still holding her so that my dogs could smell and see her. She was trembling and her tears were flowing. I held her close to me and talked softly to her, telling her it was okay. After the initial sniff or two from my dogs - they really didn’t care much who or what she was, I put her down on the floor by the water bowl to let her see one of the other dogs drinking out of it. As soon as I put her down, she ran as far away from me as she could. As far away as possible happened to be my bedroom and she scurried up a ramp by the side of the bed. There she sat, trembling, eyes tearing. I lay down on the end of the bed and softly sang something totally absurd (music hath power to calm and sooth …) as the rest of the dogs got on the bed and she watched them getting cuddled.


I felt she needed to go outside and I tried to pick her up — abject terror. I tried cookies — no interest. Ok then, just get used to being here and I’ll come back in a little while. I walked in and out of the bedroom a dozen times, totally ignoring her. Two hours later, she hadn’t moved.


I knew she had to go outside but she wiggled and squirmed so that I could barely hold her and even barred her teeth (what little she had!) at me. I held on as she lost total control of her bowels. “Every-body outside — outside, outside!” I carried her out but she just sat there not knowing what to do. Everyone got praised for doing their business. Pippa was trembling and so afraid to move that this time she let me pick her up.


During the days and weeks that followed, I carried her as much as possible. It was much easier to housebreak her this way as every time I put her down (in the same place) outside, she knew what was expected of her. It was also a bonding experience for a little dog that had never known human warmth. At night she slept in the crook of my arm, never moving, never making a sound.


As a puppy mill dog, it was obvious that the only time she had any attention was when someone wanted to do something to her — a shot or whatever else and all she knew was that it was going to hurt. You couldn’t approach her with anything in your hands, take her picture (the click on the cell phone was frightening), cough or sneeze, and a squeaky toy would send her ballistic.


After a couple of months, I could see the terror fading and some calmness setting in. My veterinarian suggested I bring her to his clinic and let her be bathed there and get a pedicure. Talk about total terror — me, that is! NO, I couldn’t leave my baby someplace! But in my heart, I knew it was the right thing to do. I made the appointment and off we went to the clinic, my heart in my throat but the girls there were wonderful with her. When I picked her up later she was fine and glad to see me! One step closer to being a normal dog!


It will be three years on May 12 that we have had Pippa, a Toy Fox Terrier. We call it her “Gotcha Day”. There have been many challenges, but what I can’t stress enough is the bonding and trust that is necessary in rehabilitation. She can now be picked up, taken to a veterinarian and all the things necessary for her to live a normal life.


There are things with Pippa that will never be normal — she cannot go up steps. I think there was a lack of development of her motor skills from her earlier life in a crate. She does not run up to greet people as the other dogs do. While she trusts me, you never know about that other person… Other people can now hold her however, and she adapts to my house sitter when I am out of town. She is a quieter dog than my other dogs, which is kind of nice!


Adopting a rescue dog is like training a young puppy, with the exception that you have to undo the baggage. You have to go very slow and with short learning sessions. Sometimes it feels like one step forward and two steps backward. But when they eventually pick up a toy and play with it, you feel like you just went Best In Show, won the World Series and an Academy Award, all at once!


In spite of the challenges, the love and trust that I see in her eyes every time she looks at me is all the reward I need. Little Pippa gives me everything she has to give and that’s all anyone can ask.


Adopting this baby was one of the best things that I have ever done. A friend of mine asked, “Doesn’t that dog ever walk?” I smiled and answered, “Isn’t it nice that she doesn’t have to?”


When you learn more about puppy mills (below) you will understand that Pippa was just one of millions of dogs commercially farmed and shipped world-wide.




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