What I wish everyone would understand...
I will use my beautiful princess Juniper 👑 as an example and I promise you will not regret reading this, you may not even be able to finish reading it without tears, I may not be able to finish writing it without tears...you see where I'm going with this...
When we first started rescuing mill dogs I thought it was the most amazing thing in the world, I still do and I will not stop believing that. (Crying already, ahhh) For me, it goes a lot deeper than 'just rescuing' them. I spend my days, nights and weekends researching, watching documentaries, writing letters to our government officials that will never be returned and dreaming about the beautiful refuge we will have some day and what a beautiful place it will be for all of our precious mill dogs. So I may have a deeper connection with them and understand them better than others. I know where a majority of the puppy mills around here are. When I get a clue or a tip, I just want to dig deeper, to find more. I used to spend hours researching and reading USDA inspection reports before the government removed them from their website. On a regular basis I watch YouTube videos from the Thorp Dog Auctions and I often wonder if some of these dogs are now with us, or have been. I hope you can start to see where I am going with this. It's hard for people to understand without literally living and breathing this every single second of every single day, but I hope I am providing you with some insight. From the very second I lay my eyes on that list of dogs, the connection is already made. Once I confirm the dogs we can take, I go home (usually at work when this happens) and I grab my black folder and I flip through the pages to my name sheets, picking out names and imagining how they will look. Then I push, I push for more fosters, more donations, I want to help more dogs. On Friday night I sit at work and wonder about them. I wonder what they are thinking, if they know, if they can feel it. I imagine what their life is like in that moment. Then I spend my 20 minute drive home in the dark continuing to think and to wonder but I cry the entire way home. I get home and I start getting out a folder for each one, carefully selecting a color of folder, an intake sheet, a medical exam sheet and medical intake sheet. I then start rummaging through all of our supplies, still wondering what the dogs will be like and I start picking out new things for each of them. I pick out a blanket, a collar, tag and new toys. All the things they have never had. I get our towels for each, some nice smelling shampoo, Frontline and microchips. I prepare the area they will be staying in during their short time with us before going to their foster home. I get my camera all ready and set it on the table for the next morning. I go to bed and anticipate the mornings arrival. In the morning, I barely drag myself outta bed, throw on some old clothes, I call them my 'cats and clorox' 😹 clothes because they are usually stained and I only wear them when I know I will be getting dirty and smelly working with the dogs. If you have ever smelled a puppy mill dog straight out of the mill you will understand. It is a smell that I cannot stand. A mix of urine and saw dust. You will never be able to fully get the smell out of your clothes without washing them several times. And then I wait. When I see them pull up I go running outside. I get to see them for the first time. I start taking photos of them huddled and shaking in the backs of the kennels. One by one we slowly get them out of the kennels and into our arms. Fast forward, once we have all of the dogs and now we are on our way to the vet to get their vaccinations. When we get that done then we go home and unload them all into the yard and for the first time, they are finally free. Some run and hide, some fearfully approach you. Most of the time they are running in their little pack and smelling and peeing in as many different places as possible. I take as many photos as I can and lately videos, to show you all. Then one by one we take them in and get them bathed, groomed, do intake, give them names, check for microchips and tattoos. After they are done being groomed then they can go in their little area, with nice, soft, clean blankets and beds, clean food, water and treats and some new toys. Then one by one we begin to get them off to their foster homes. When Juniper and the other 5 arrived it was much the same as what I'm telling you except it was at night after our bake sale and we took them all to a fosters house where volunteers were waiting to help get them cleaned up. But there was one thing that was much different from the usual times. When I laid eyes on Juniper (then she didn't have a name yet) I knew she was the one. The one I had waited these few years for. Oh how I had longed for the day when I would get to have my very own puppy mill dog. You see 'having' a puppy mill dog is like nothing else in this world. Getting to have a puppy mill dog or more like a puppy mill dog getting to have you, is a privilege. I repeat, it.is.a.privilege. and it should be treated as such. These dogs are not replaceable, there are no other dog just like them in all of the world. You can search the world and you may find similar looking dogs but you will never find one with the personality, the behaviors or the physiological damage they harbor. When you decide that you would like to have one of these precious beings as your own, you need to understand that you get them and their baggage. BUT you should love them regardless! Puppy mill dogs are 8,9,10,11,12,13 years old, they have lived all those years but yet they are completely clueless of the world, they know nothing. I love Juniper and I love her baggage. I get to teach her, help her and we get to learn together. We get to LIVE together. Yes, sometimes she pees on the floor or the rug. Yes, she is scared of fast movements. Yes, she is scared of me watching her while she eats. No, she does not 'love' me. No, she does not like it when I try to give her kisses. No, she does not play with toys. Do not go into this with expectations. If you have expectations for your new puppy mill dog, please back up and rethink. I don't have any expectations of Juniper and never will. I let her live and learn at her own pace. Do I expect her to sometime in her life play with a toy? No, because she will if she wants to and she won't if she doesn't want to. Will I love her anyways? Of course! Will I continue to buy her toys? Of course! 😹 Am I lucky that she will actually take treats from me and she enjoys them? Yes! And at this point, some of you may be questioning, why would you want a dog like that? I want 'a dog like that because I can't wait for our adventures. For Juniper to see the Easter Bunny this Saturday, to go for her first walk, to go to the beach and see the water, to meet new friends and to watch her grow and learn and love.🌼 Try to understand this, for 7 1/2 years Juniper lived 2.7 miles from my house. Every.single.day for 7 1/2 long years. Juniper lived in an elevated wire cage with multiple dogs in the same cage, in a shed. She was identified by not a name, but a metal chain collar and tag around her neck. Juniper was not provided with proper nutrition or veterinary care. She was underweight when she arrived and last week needed FIVE teeth extracted, leaving her very few. I understand her age and condition and understand her breed and as she gets older, medical conditions will develop. And I take responsibility for that. But I also remember for 7 1/2 years she had absolutely no veterinary care. Every single night while I lay in my bed, watching TV while drifting off to sleeping in my heated or air conditioned house she lay on wire, in her own urine and feces cramped in a cage with other dogs. For all those years, her only job was to be a prisoner of greed, producing puppies for profit. Puppies that were poorly bred, more than likely sick, who would grow up to have behavioral and health issues offered for sale in a fancy looking pet store for thousands of dollars. I now have to live with the thought of every time I drove by there my little JuniBear was in there. She was suffering. How many other dogs are suffering just like her? But they never get a chance at freedom? Most times the words, and for the ones who will never see the light of day just make me burst into tears. But I need you to read those words and THEY need you to read those words. And they need you to pass it on. To tell others, tell your friends, tell your family, tell the world. I just want to scream from the rooftops and I want everyone to hear me. To hear me giving the puppy mill dogs a voice. I may never meet some of them, but that doesn't mean I don't feel for them. So for the ones who have found freedom, who are still waiting (our 9 year old little boy Cavalier, being freed next Saturday 💓) and for those who will never see the light of day...I will never stop fighting for you.