That is the question I posted on my Facebook page last night. I asked the question after seeing a posting for a missing dog that listed the breed of dog as Teddy Bear. Ummmm… What?
Two thoughts immediately ran through my mind when I read that posting:
- What the heck is a Teddy Bear?
- Who the heck is going to know what a Teddy Bear is so they know what to look for?
I can reassure you that the dog has since been found (thank goodness), but it led me to ask the question of my friends “What kind of breed is a Teddy Bear dog?”
Here are some of the answers I received:
- A pom mix?
- Never heard of it.
- Shichon or cross between a shih tzu and bichon.
- Also called a Zuchon.
- Bichon and Pom and Shitzu (I think).
- It can be any mix usually toy anything that will sell.
I Googled it and came up with this:
Teddy bears are “designer dogs,” hybrids of two or more breeds. Most commonly, their parents are Shih Tzus and bichon frises or bichon-poodle mixes, although breeders continue to experiment with adding other dogs, such as schnauzers, to the gene pool. Because of their small size and sweet nature, teddy bears can be perfect pets whether you live in an apartment or a large house.
Apparently, according to this page, they are also great therapy dogs, perfect for people with allergies (yeah, right), and smart and easy to train.
The most likely reality is they are also mutts (yes mutts) with a cute name and numerous health issues that cost thousands of dollars and were raised by puppy millers looking for another quick buck. I can’t wait for the new waves of puppy mill breeding dogs soon to be headed to your local shelter (after a raid of a breeding facility).
To steal a phrase from a friend (Thanks Marie!): “Good Grief. People will do anything to say they have a “rare or special” dog breed won’t they?”
Yes. And, people will pay anything for a dog with a cute name.
I’ve been wanting to give a shout out to my dog’s veterinarian for some time now. She is truly one of the best, especially if you have a shy or fearful dog. My visit with her yesterday just reminded me why I love her so much.
I first discovered Dr. DeWoskin back when I first adopted Daisy (almost 7 years ago). In those days, Daisy was a very scared puppy mill girl. She was fearful of people and new places, and cowered at the slightest sound. Dr. DeWoskin and the staff went out of their way to make Daisy feel more comfortable. They gave her space, shared treats to help make things a little less scary and used slow movements to check her out. Because of their efforts and kindness, Daisy now looks forward to going to the vet. She is only too happy to see Dr. DeWoskin or the staff because she knows yummy treats and gentle hands will be the experience of the day.
Yesterday was Maggie’s first visit with Dr. DeWoskin, and once again she reaffirmed to me why I continue to bring all my dogs to her. Here is how Maggie’s first encounter went with Dr. DeWoskin:
- She came into the exam room and instead of coming right over to Maggie, she sat down on the floor opposite from her.
- She talked with me and watched Maggie as she opened a package of string cheese.
- As we talked about Maggie and how she was doing and where she came from, Dr. DeWoskin tossed her pieces of the cheese.
- Maggie might have been unsure about the room and the sounds in the clinic, but she was more than happy to eat the cheese. (Serious progress for a puppy mill girl!).
- Dr. DeWoskin didn’t stand for some time, but when she did she moved slowly and watched Maggie’s body language the whole time (Oh yeah. Did I mention that both she and the staff make an effort to understand dog body language? That is such a huge a win for the dogs!)
- She then laid a mat out on the exam table, so Maggie wouldn’t slip and slide, and examined her slowly while sharing cheese bits with her throughout the exam.
- When she was done, she gave Maggie her space and let her settle in.
As a result of her efforts, Maggie left her office much calmer and comfortable than she had been when we first got there.
I could be totally generalizing here, but I think it is pretty rare to find a vet who understands shy and fearful dogs. Dr. DeWoskin just “gets” it. I never feel like I am putting my dogs in a situation where I end up feeling guilty for subjecting them to their care.
I love that she watches a dog’s body language before making a move towards them. I love that the staff are as gentle as she is in caring for my pets. How often do you hear about veterinarians and their staff studying dog body language as a part of their day-to-day work?
So a big shout out to Dr. Melissa DeWoskin! This is why I continue to drive across town to see you. You totally rock!
I should also mention that Dr. Lillie and Dr. Mead are great too!
Maggie is a puppy mill breeding dog rescued from a puppy mill in Pine River last summer. She was not yet ready to be adopted into a home, so I am fostering to help her adjust to life in her new world.
Maggie has made some great progress since coming to stay with me just after Christmas. Here are some of the areas in which she has made progress:
- Going outside – She now follows my dogs outside like she’s one of the group. For those times she doest, I am able to lead her out easily on her leash.
- Coming inside – This was a problem for her before (doorways are often a problem for mill dogs). I would often have to let her drag a long line behind her so I could easily catch her and lead her inside, but this became an issue because she would often get it tangled on the bushes and trees in my yard. Now she drags a short leash and chooses to go inside on her own, often with my other dogs. She won’t do it if I am standing in the doorway, but if I go outside and walk away from the doorway, she runs right in. This is huge progress!
- Interacting with me and my dogs – When Maggie first came, she was frightened of me, but not as much by my dogs. (This is common for mill dogs, who are often more comfortable around other dogs than humans.) She wouldn’t engage with my dogs, but she would often follow them around. Now she has started to engage them, coming into contact with them, sniffing them, and even making an attempt to play with them. She will also take treats from me and interact with the dog puzzles I use with my own dogs. We are now working on her making eye contact with me. I am very impressed with how much more confident she is around me.
- Eating – Maggie seems to have no trouble eating as long as she feels safe. Like Daisy, I often feed her in her kennel because that is where she feels safest. It also allows her to eat without my dogs trying to swipe a kibble or two from her. She is great about going in her kennel and loves the Kong I leave her before I leave for work each morning.
Despite all the progress Maggie has made, she still has some things that frighten her and cause her to run and hide. Most of them seem to occur in daylight:
- cars going by the window
- reflections from the sun on the window and on my walls
- birds at the window bird feeder
- reflections of the TV on my walls
- Strange sounds
- Loud sounds
All of these things frighten her and many will lead to her looking around frantically and running to my bedroom to hide (see the video below). Darkened rooms are much more comfortable for her than rooms doused in sunlight. (I imagine if we had grown up in a dark room and had little exposure to daylight, we might also be afraid of these strange shadows and reflections too.)
I am working with Maggie to help her change how she sees these scary things, but it will take time. We use treats and her Thundershirt to help her.
Here’s just a few of the more recent pictures I have taken of Maggie and the video I made to show you how she reacts to shadows and reflections she sees during the day.
Notice in the video that Maggie is panting and constantly looking around. Her ears are pulled way back on her head and at times she will pull her lips back in a tight, close-mouthed display. She also paces, coming back to me for comfort, but then moving away again when something she sees really scares her. These are all signs of stress. As I mentioned, I am working on this with Maggie but I wanted you to see a little bit of the stress and fear a puppy mill dog experiences when rescued from a mill.
Being rescued is not the end of the story for dogs like Maggie. It takes a lot of time, patience and dedicated work to help them deal with life. For some, life is just too stressful for them and they live in constant fear, unable to move forward. In those cases, euthanasia is almost a blessing, but for those who are able to adjust and cope, those who can be rehabilitated, life can be better. It just takes time. Maggie is a work in progress.
Please don’t shop, adopt. When you buy a puppy from a pet store, you support puppy mills and ensure that dogs like Maggie stay in them.
If you read my post from last Thursday, then you know about Maggie, our new foster dog.
That post provided you with some general information on Maggie’s background and her fears and shared some videos of her outside.
If you don’t know, Maggie came from a puppy mill and has been staying with us just a little over a week. Dogs like Maggie, are often damaged – emotionally and physically. Building trust with them is difficult. It takes time, patience and dedication. Oh yes, did I mention time?
My Lab Daisy took almost three years to come out of her shell. People who meet her now would never guess how emotionally damaged and scarred she was when she came to me just over 6 years ago. I still see it sometimes, it never goes completely away, but she is miles from where she started. For that, I am grateful.
When Daisy first came to live with me, I made sure to give her a lot of time and space – time to get used to me, Aspen (my dog) and our routine and space to decompress and adjust to this new life she had. I wanted her to have a say in what she felt comfortable doing and I wanted it to be on her timeline. Building trust with her was my goal, but that could’t be done completely on my terms. That had to be done on her terms. If I forced her to do something just because I wanted her to do it, I would have risked her shutting down or regressing, and I most certainly would have destroyed any trust she had with me. So instead we worked together, in tandem, with Daisy telling me when something was too much for her and when she felt she could trust me enough to push past her discomfort. it required me to listen to her and to watch her body language in order to know I needed to stop or move forward.
What I did with Daisy is similar to the approach I am using with Maggie. The only difference between then and now is that I have a little more wisdom and experience this time around, and I have a few more resources at my disposal.
In Maggie’s first few days with us, I tried to give her some space, some time to adjust – to me, to my dogs and to our routine. Now I am focused on building her trust. There are two things I am doing to help build that trust (with more to follow as she progresses). The first is modeled after a video I shared on my blog a year ago showing how you can determine if your own dog likes to be petted by you. I recommend watching it, if you haven’t already, and trying it with your own dog.
Briefly, what I have been doing is petting Maggie for a short period of time and then letting her tell me if she wants me to continue or stop. It’s taken some time for her to figure out that she has a say but she has started to realize that if I pet her and stop, she can tell me if she wants me to continue by simply nudging her nose at my hand or by touching my hand or making a movement with her nose towards my hand.If she does not want to be touched she stops nudging me and I stop petting her.
Here is a video demonstrating that behavior. As you can see, there is one point at which she becomes distracted by a noise and looks around. I let her and wait to see if she chooses to come back to me for more petting. I don’t try to get her attention back, I just wait and let her decide, which she does. This is Maggie choosing on her own what she wants from me. Pretty cool huh?
The second thing I am doing is similar to the first, except I am asking her to do something in return for some cheese. It’s called hand targeting. I don’t have a video of this with Maggie yet, but Debbie Jacobs from FearfulDogs.com was kind enough to direct me to some of her videos on hand targeting that she did with her dog Nibbles, who came from a hoarding situation. I have included one video below, but I would really recommend going to her post titles “Nibbles” so you can see a few of the videos of her work with Nibbles and hand targeting.
If you are working with a dog like Maggie or Nibbles, you should absolutely check out the rest of Debbie’s videos and blog posts about Nibbles. He has made such amazing progress in her expert care. To me, Nibbles is proof that sometimes you can rehabilitate dogs like he and Maggie and give them a good quality life.
I will continue to work with Maggie to help her along her journey, but I know it will be a slow process that will have its ups and downs. It just takes time and patience.
Note: Maggie is one of the lucky ones, she got out of her puppy mill, but there are many more still living a life of hell. Please continue to spread the word about puppy mills and the damage they do to dogs like Maggie. Not every dog can be saved, but every dog should have a chance.
If you follow my Facebook page, you may have seen me post a picture of a new dog that is staying with us right now. Her name is Maggie. She is a foster dog and will be staying with us for a while.
Maggie had the unfortunate luck to be born in a puppy mill in Pine River, Minnesota. (I wrote about the Pine River puppy mill in a previous post - How many Pine River Puppy Mill Raids will it take to change laws? That’s up to you. and shared a video of the dogs that came from there.)
Unlike most of the dogs rescued from Pine River, Maggie was too frightened to be adopted out right away, so she came to Minnesota Sheltie Rescue for additional time and attention. She is very afraid of people and strange sounds (and sudden movements by me), but like many puppy mill dogs she is not afraid of other dogs, including mine.
A lack of early socialization with people and new environments, and mostly negative experiences with people (her puppy millers), has made her afraid of most everything she sees or hears. Her first reaction to something that scares her is to run. For that reason, she is a flight risk. I
n the week that she has been with us, Maggie has worn (and will continue to wear) a harness with a leash attached and a martingale collar that can be attached to a long line. It is for her protection that she wears these items. If she were to get loose, she would run and there would be no chance of catching her. Absolutely none.
For most Americans (at least those who know what a puppy mill is) a puppy mill is a terrible place where dogs are bred to be sold online or in pet stores. Most of what you and I know about puppy mill dogs comes from images we have seen of a puppy mill raid. Usually these include images of the squalid and dirty conditions in which these dogs are kept and pictures of their rescuers carrying them out of a facility like Pine River. But what we don’t often get to see is what happens to these dogs once they leave the facility. Nor do we see the emotional damage that remains with a dog that comes from these places. I wanted to share Maggie’s story with all of you because I think it is important to show you the emotional state of a puppy mill dog after it has been rescued.
Maggie has been with us just under a week now and continues to be afraid of most things. Here is a list of the things she fears:
- Hands reaching out for her
- The sound of the furnace turning on and off
- Cars going by the house
- Planes flying overhead
- Me pulling up the blinds in the morning
- Me cleaning out the hall closet
- Sudden movements by people
- The house settling
- Birds eating from the bird feeder outside
- Shadows or reflected light on the walls
- Having the long line attached to her martingale collar
- Coming into the house from the garage (she makes it in the door and readily follows the other dogs, but needs me to back away from the doorway so she has time to run to the living room or her safe spot in the kitchen
Maggie’s response to these fearful things is to do one of the following:
- Run away from the source of the fear.
- Run to her safe spot in the kitchen (next to the refrigerator).
- Run to her safe spot on the couch.
- Run to her safe spot in my bedroom, my closet.
- Cower and freeze.
- Look at the ceiling or in the direction of the sound.
Sense a theme here? Yes. When faced with something fearful, running is her first choice. Her only concern is getting away from that which scares her.
Can you imagine living in a heightened state of fear almost every hour of the day? This is the life of a puppy mill dog.
Imagine constantly having adrenaline running through your body because the terror you feel is in reaction to everything in your environment or not being able to sleep deeply because you are constantly on high alert in case you need to run and hide from something or someone.
I don’t think many of us would want to live like this. Would you? That is why in some cases euthanization is the kindest thing you can do for a puppy mill dog. I am hopeful that Maggie won’t be one of these dogs, but it is unfortunately an option that we have to look at when dealing with many puppy mill dogs.
Maggie gives me hope because even though she is afraid of many things, she is not always in a state of fear. She sleeps deeply enough to snore when she sleeps next to me on the couch. She is not afraid of my touch and even seeks it out when I sit on the couch with her. She is smart and a quick learner which should help her in the days ahead. She has already discovered that when all three of my dogs come into the kitchen it is because I am handing out treats. She is not afraid to venture out of her safe spot to grab a piece of cheese. She is fine with doorways and has no problem going through them. (Side note: Daisy was afraid of most all of these things when I first adopted her.) Maggie is also curious about new things in her environment and not afraid to investigate them (Side note: Jasper is very much afraid of new things in his environment and likely to run away in fear and bark than to investigate them.)
Over the coming days, I hope to share more about Maggie and her progress, but for now I wanted to introduce you to Maggie and to share with you what happens to a dog after it has been rescued from a puppy mill. I hope that you will share her story and help educate people on the emotional damage a dog suffers when it lives in a puppy mill. We need to change the laws in this country, but we cannot do so until people understand why we need to change them. By the way, Maggie’s puppy miller is still in business and breeding dogs so there are many more dogs like Maggie who will likely be faced with a similar situation some day.
Here is Maggie on her 2nd day with us.
Here is Maggie on her 7th day with us.
On July 16th of this year, a Minnesota puppy mill was raided and 130 dogs were rescued from horrific conditions. For months, these dogs and their puppies (many born after they were rescued) were kept in limbo as the court case against the puppy mill owner wound its way through the Minnesota court system.
Deborah Beatrice Rowell, was charged with seven misdemeanors and two petty misdemeanors for animal cruelty (misdemeanor charges carry a 90 days in jail and or a $1,000 fine). In the end, she got a plea deal and pled guilty to one count of failure to provide dogs with adequate shade. She was ordered to pay a $135 fine and is now back in business. Unbelievable isn’t it?
Meanwhile the Animal Humane Society (AHS) spent $200,000 caring for the animals and giving them long overdue vet care and vaccinations. A grant from the ASPCA made the raid possible and helped to give these dogs a chance at a new home and a new life. The puppy mill owner responsible for the conditions of these dogs? $135 fine.
If you find yourself saying any of the following right now…
“She should be in jail!”
“How can they let her off with $135 fine? That’s horrible!”
“The laws have got to change. She shouldn’t be able to get away with this.”
“How can they let her be back in business? That’s not right!”
She should be in jail.
She shouldn’t have been let off with $135 fine and allowed to be back in business again.
The laws have got to change.
And you know how that happens?
It takes you to…
- Get involved and call a legislator when the puppy mill bill comes up again.
- Write a quick note to committee members and ask them to support the bill.
- Share the information with your friends and family and ask them to take action.
- Join the rally at the capital.
- Speak up.
- GET INVOLVED.
Laws don’t change unless someone cares enough to speak up. Elected officials are swayed by their constituents, but only if they speak up.
Words left unspoken fall on deaf ears.
Need motivation? Watch the video AHS put together of the Pine River raid and the dogs they helped.
If care about dogs like Blue #9, then take action. Help us change the laws so this doesn’t have to happen again.
We don’t need another puppy miller getting off with just a $135 fine.
Cupcake is a one of those shy dogs. Wary of strangers and scared of new places, Cupcake has always been happy to stay at home. It’s where she feels safe. It’s the one place she can let her hair down and be her silly self without fear. It’s also the place where she can flirt and wrestle with her brother, bark at and chase her sister, and get lots of attention from me. Some of my favorite moments are when she places her front paws on my leg and waggles her butt and tail and smiles and begs for a little attention. She loves attention. She loves to play games. At home, she is a true character and full of sass and silliness. It’s the side most people don’t get to see.
But on Sunday, I watched as Cupcake’s personality came out to play – at my mother’s house. Something she has never done before.
Granted, she has only been to my mom’s house a few of times, but on every previous visit Cupcake has been cautious, reserved and even a bit growly. Sunday she was the exact opposite. She approach my mom and her friend, Peg, for treats and attention. She wagged her tail numerous times throughout the day. She barked and played in her backyard and even laid down and fell asleep in her den. I was amazed. It was like she knew she could be herself there. (I also think she has a thing for my mom’s Sheltie, Jake.)
Like the unfolding of the petals on a flower, Cupcake is slowly starting to come out of her shell. At home, she has already demonstrated that she has a cute and sassy personality, but now she is starting to show it at the dog park. She barks at other dogs and will engage them in play. She chases squirrels and chipmunks right alongside Clover and Abby. And, she continues to approach people at the dog park for attention and treats. Truth be told, I think she may be under the impression that everyone at the dog park has treats. :)
The progress Cupcake continues to make is what makes me smile each day. She is making her own path, deciding her own way, but she is making progress. Who could have guessed that a very shy girl, on the run for 12 days, could become such a character? Cupcake did. I’m just glad she’s sharing it with the rest of the world now too.
Today I am taking another look back to the early years when Daisy first came to live with me. Daisy is a former puppy mill breeding dog who was estimated to be four years old at the time I adopted her. She was afraid of everyone and everything. She practically crawled on the ground the first few days she came to live with me. It highlights the progress Daisy has made since I adopted her in 2007.
I hope it gives hope to those who have a damaged or unsocialized dog. Progress can be made. It takes time and patience and often happens in fits and starts – for every step forward there are two steps back, but it is so rewarding when you start to take those steps forward. The key is to never give up hope. You need a lot of patience and understanding. You also need learn to learn to celebrate the small successes.
Time has a way of smoothing the edges of our memories. What once was crisp and clear, and ever so real in my mind, has been replaced by more current memories. But if I take a minute to look back and think about the early days with Daisy, I can remember some of what I have forgotten.
This past week I was thinking about Daisy and our early trips in the car. How different they used to be from today. Even now, I don’t really know if it was the car that terrified her or the movement of it.
What I do know is that she would readily jump into the car after the first week, but then immediately lie down and sprawl the entire length of the car. And there she would lay, frozen, for the entire trip. In the early days this would pose a problem because Aspen also had to fit into that back seat. I quickly learned that Aspen had to get into the car first or there was no room for her. Even then, Daisy was just as likely to lay directly on top of the elderly and delicate Aspen as she was to lay next to her.
I could not explain to Daisy why I needed her to move, and tugging gently on her collar or trying to physically move her were an impossibility. Have you ever tried to move a 60-lb dog who immediately freezes and clings to the car seat for dear life? It is not a great experience – for the owner or for the fearful dog. It used to make me feel like the worst person in the world where Daisy was concerned.
So to help make the experience less stressful, we developed a routine that included starting over (something we did a lot in the early years). What this meant was that I would call Daisy out of the car as if we were unloading (i.e., getting out) and then re-load her into the car. This allowed me to adjust Aspen, move Aspen or help Daisy to leap in and lay next to her vs. on top of her. It often took 2-3 times, but we would usually get it right and then could be on our way.
Over time, Daisy learned that the car was not something to be feared but something to be excited about. This is because it usually meant we were going for a walk at the dog park. I remember the first time she sat up in the back seat to look out the window (it still makes me smile to think of that moment) and the first time she tentatively stuck her nose out the back window to sniff the air rushing by. Who could have ever guessed that my sweet fearful girl would learn to enjoy the simple things that most dogs enjoy every day?
Now, Daisy loves riding in the car and is usually the first one to jump in. She loves looking out the window, but is just as happy to lay sprawled out in the back seat so she can doze as we drive to our destination. She knows when we are getting close to the dog park and when we are close to home. These are the times when she perks up and stands and wags her tail. No more fearful frozen moments for her. I love hearing that now familiar thump, thump, thump as her tail hits the back seat. How far we have come from those early days. This November it will be six years since Daisy came home with me. Time may have muted my memories of those early days, but it has not muted my love and pride for her and her progress.