Home > Animal Rescue, Daisy, Photos, Puppy Mills > The Dog That Was Not There – A Look Back

The Dog That Was Not There – A Look Back

DSC00449Today 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. This is an old blog post from Daisy’s blog, “Daisy the Wonder Dog (and how she found her inner Lab).” It highlights the progress Daisy had made after 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.

This post is from August 20, 2010, almost 4  years after Daisy first came to live with me.

People have always commented to me how lucky Daisy is to have me, how I’m such a ‘good mom’, but the truth is there was a time when living with Daisy felt more like I was living in a house with no dog at all. And, it made me question why I had adopted her at all.

I’m not going to lie. I like to feel connected to my dogs. I like that they seek affection from me. That they want to lay by my side while I watch TV or read a good book. I like that they get excited when we go for a trip to the dog park or when I come home.

Daisy was not one of those dogs. She was emotionally distant. Fearful. Restrained. Reserved. Dis-Connected.

I could not expect her to wag her tail when she saw me. I got that from my dog Aspen. I never expected her to come to me for a pet. My dog Aspen did that. I would never have expected her to hang out with me on the couch while I watched TV. Aspen did that.

At the time I adopted Daisy, Aspen was my only dog. She was affectionate, funny, enthusiastic, loving, sweet, gentle, kind, and excited about life, and she was “my dog.” She made my days brighter. I looked forward to seeing her when I got home from work because I knew that she would want to hang out with me. I loved taking her on walks because she loved them so. I loved to watch her hook her head over the arm of the couch to see what I was doing in the kitchen. Aspen was everything Daisy was not.

That’s why Aspen’s death, so soon after I adopted Daisy, hit me so hard. For some people, having a second dog is a comfort when they lose another. For me, it felt like I was all alone. There was no dog to distract me from my grief when I cried. There was no dog there to greet me when I got home or to show excitement when we went for car rides, or to just hang out on the couch with me. All I had was an empty shell of a dog. One who preferred her kennel to being in the same room with me. She was like a ghost, flitting from room to room, unable to communicate, unable to connect, unable to emote any kind of emotion at all. It was sad and lonely place to be.

IMG_2710What I never expected was that slowly, over time, Daisy would become the most special and wonderful dog I’ve ever had. She touched me more than I ever thought she could. Without Aspen as her guide, Daisy had to rely upon me for guidance. She had to interact with other dogs, study them, mimic them, and find her own identity. She started to trust me and seek me out. She looked to me as her protector and I took that job seriously – I still do. Tail wags? I get them from Daisy all of the time now. Seeking affection, pets and belly rubs? Yup. Daisy wants attention, pets and belly rubs all of the time now. Hanging out on the couch? Daisy does that too, on occasion. She still prefers her kennel, but she’s not tied to it. She is just as happy to lie next to me on the couch or to jump onto my bed for a belly rub. And, she has a smile now. I love that smile.

Is she still fearful? Absolutely. But, every day she surprises me and proves that she can overcome her fears and be the dog she was meant to be. She’s finding her inner Lab and I love that. And, I love her… very much.


  1. August 22, 2013 at 7:30 AM

    I’ve been thinking about affection and Maggie recently – it’s one of the things I miss too. Our Sally was a real cuddle bug – always curling up next to me and she loved attention. Jack loves me and gives me lots of attention, but he’s a big lunk head and doesn’t really know how to cuddle – he’s too big and bulky. I miss my little female lab loving. She does show a lot more emotion now – tail wags and smiles – especially in the dinner hour! Maybe someday she’ll start looking for those pets and cuddles instead of just tolerating them. As always, Daisy gives me hope.

  2. August 22, 2013 at 7:34 AM

    sigh! 🙂

  3. August 22, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    That is a great story, and you are wonderful to have such patience and love for Daisy. Daisy IS lucky, and so are you.

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 6:09 PM

      Thanks Roxy. I feel like the lucky one. 🙂

  4. jan
    August 22, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    I have some friends who have adopted former puppy mill breeders. Your experience will be valuable to them.

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 5:43 PM

      Thanks Jan. I hope it helps. Puppy mill dogs are such a special type of dog. They aren’t for everyone, but they are amazing and watching them blossom is incredible.

  5. August 22, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    The ability for dogs to forget their past and move forward is amazing (even if not completely). I’m very happy for Daisy, she’s lucky to be in a wonderful furever home!

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 5:42 PM

      I am constantly amazed that dogs can do this too. Daisy still has nightmares on occasion, but nothing like the early days. I used to cry when she would cry in her sleep in those early days. It haunted me. I am so lucky to have her.

  6. August 22, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    She is such a gorgeous dog. Whee are so happy she has found the perfect furever home with wonderful hoomans like you.

    Nutty, Nacho, Buddy & Basil

  7. August 22, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    Your patience and giving her love even though she seemed not to accept it were just what she needed. There are no accidents or coincidences. You came along for Daisy and she came along for you when it was the right time.

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 5:37 PM

      I think you may be exactly right BJ. We were meant to learn from one another. I can scarcely believe Daisy is the same dog I described in that old post. She is such a cuddle bug now! I lover her so very much.

  8. August 23, 2013 at 1:00 AM

    That’s so sweet and so sad all at the same time. It is an aspect we take for granted with that emotional attachment and a happy wag. Sounds like the loss of Aspen, helped her to trust you more and need you, not to mention it was probably a start to her emotional healing grieving for Aspen. Just another miracle of love between you two.

    So glad you both have each other. 🙂

    • Mel
      August 23, 2013 at 6:21 AM

      Thanks 24 Paws. I think I took it for granted that all dogs were like Aspen. Daisy has taught me so much.

  9. martie13
    August 23, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    My Molly (lab/hound mix) could have been your Daisy of 2007. She came home with me in July 2011 at age 5 after 3.5 years living a solitary life chained on a rural hillside as were 16 other mostly related dogs. There was no socialization, no interaction among the dogs, little to no human contact. There were reports of harassment by children, sometimes including firecrackers. Add to that she most likely inherited a shyness propensity since several of her littermates were also shy. She spend the following 1.5 years in rescue alternately being fostered or housed in kennels. When I got her she was totally shut down.

    She has made some progress in the 2 years she’s been with me but still has severe fear issues, most involving anything outside of her safe zone. She never learned how to be a dog. She has consistently feared going outside even to do her business and since there has been no improvement I decided recently to stop forcing her over threshold except to visit her vet. She suffers from noise phobias, people phobias and anything outside of her daily experiences/routines.

    On the plus side she learned to trust me after a few months and recently started to play with a favorite toy; she is happy to see me (tail wags & happy face); and prefers her special place on the couch, in addition to her crate. Although she is relatively at ease most of the time I still catch a look of uncertainty in her eyes at times.

    Being a senior with health issues I am not able to do much work on conditioning her to the outside world. But no one but me wanted her and the rescue was so happy that somebody was finally willing to take her. I don’t expect her to ever be a normal dog but that’s okay with me as long as she is comfortable and happy.

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 5:33 PM

      Your story brought tears to my eyes Martie. I think you are doing a lot for her. I found that two things helped Daisy – 1) the Thundershirt (she was extremely phobic to noises and still is sometimes) – it helped keep her calm when she was outside. SHe became less jumpy and more confident, and 2) having another dog who was confident and happy and normal. Daisy seemed to blossom with Jasper around. That’s not to say you should go get another dog, because sometimes it makes things worse, but in Daisy’s case it helped a lot.

      Good luck to you and your girl. It sounds like she is making great progress. You are one special lady.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: