Home > Animal Rescue, Backyard Breeders, Dog Behavior, Maggie, puppy mill dogs, Puppy Mills > Meeting Maggie – A Pine River puppy mill dog

Meeting Maggie – A Pine River puppy mill dog


Maggie is looking up because she is hearing strange noises that concern her.

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 hides in the garage, where she feels safest. She continuously looked at the ceiling because of the noises above her.

Maggie hides in the garage, where she feels safest. She continuously looked at the ceiling because of the noises above her.

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.


Finally able to sleep.

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.

  1. January 2, 2014 at 1:47 PM

    What a beautiful girl! Thank goodness she is in good hands with you and giving her a chance. Love to the updates on Maggie.

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 11:24 PM

      Thanks 24 Paws. I hope that I can help her.

  2. gvannini
    January 2, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    Bless you for taking her in. Interesting timing as there was just a big puppy mill shut down in NY, with Keeshonds, and we have had our new Kees foster about the same amount of time you have had Maggie. He sounds very similar to her – loves other dogs, but not huge on people or sudden movements or noises. And his first reaction is always to run to his safe spot in his crate in the closet. I’ll look forward to seeing how Maggie does with your help!

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 9:04 PM

      How sad. It seems like there is a mill shut down almost every week in the United States. And yet, there never seems to be any less of them than before. Kudos to you for fostering another mill dog. Keeshonds should be happy-go-lucky dogs. How sad jot must be to see him in this state. I have been re-educating myself on working with a mill dog by watching Debbie Jacob’s videos on her dog Nibbles. You can find them here – http://fearfuldogs.wordpress.com/category/nibbles/. The videos may be of help to you as you work with your foster dog.

  3. Victoria Carter
    January 2, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    Puppy mill dogs aren’t the only ones with these issues. I have discovered, despite Kevin continuing to tell me and me refusing to listen, that GSDs are all bluff (unless otherwise trained). When we first got Chloe she was afraid of EVERYTHING! It was only after being with our other three older dogs for a few months that she learned how to be a good dog. We recently had another adventure in teaching a puppy how to be a dog as well. Kevin’s niece found a 4 month old min-pin puppy on the side of the road, she was trying to re-home it but her husband surprised her with being able to keep her, while she was visiting her husbands family, we were watching the pup. After spending 9 days with our four, she’s become a very confidant pup, and the one who really helped her blossom was Chloe! That being said I’m sure Maggie, with the help of Daisy who’s been there done that, and Cupcake and Jasper too, will learn to be a confidant and loving companion to her future family.

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 9:01 PM

      I most certainly am hoping that is the case. I am so glad that Chloe and Kevin’s niece’s dog have started to shine. That is such great news.

  4. January 2, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    Poor Maggie, I’m glad she landed with you Mel, I know you will do everything possible to help her.

    You’re so right, people need to understand what being a puppy mill dog does to the poor dogs. They basically have PTSD. Which is no way at all to live.

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 8:59 PM

      PTSD. That is a great way to put it Jodi. Yes. The trauma they experience continues to haunt them long after they are out. I will help Maggie as much as I can. I am hoping she will start to come out of her shell.

  5. January 2, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    You can do it maggie! I’m a puppy mill pup and I could do it tooowooowooo!

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 8:57 PM

      Kuruk – You are so lucky to be out. I am so glad you have a safe home so you can enjoy the small pleasures of life. It’s what a dog’s life should be not what it sometimes is in the mills. Thank your mom for me. She is a saint.

  6. January 2, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    A couple of my family members started an animal rescue (Mulligan Animal Rescue) and they rescue dogs from the Amish puppy millers in Pennsylvania. It is heartbreaking to see the conditions they live in and the poor physical and emotional state of the dogs. It is animal cruelty and should be banned. As you know, many of these puppy mills are AKC registered! The standards are so low and even they aren’t enforced. Getting the truth out to the general public is necessary to stop people from supporting this industry and buying puppies from pet shops and online. I am glad to see more and more campaigns in social media to educate people. We try to do our part. Thankfully Maggie has a safe place to live and a chance to experience life as every dog should – with a family who doesn’t think of her as just a way to make money. I look forward to seeing her progress!

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 8:56 PM

      Hear! Hear! Your family is awesome for starting a rescue and for rescuing dogs like Maggie. I imagine they see a lot of dogs like Maggie on a regular basis. I agree. It is about educating people. I hope Maggie’s progress will help others and help to educate people on the damage that is done to dogs like her.

  7. January 2, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    Poor thing! How very sad!

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 8:54 PM

      Very true. I imagine your sister was similar to Maggie in the early days.

  8. January 2, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    Poor Maggie. My Aunt has dealt with two ex puppy mill dogs and she felt that her other dog was the most helpful tool in getting them better. I hope she settles in time and realises that not everything is out to get her

    ~ Amy

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 8:53 PM

      Then you know exactly how sad it is to see dogs so scared. I am glad your aunt had another dog to help them along. It’s funny, but in many ways it was Jasper (a puppy at the time) who helped Daisy come out of her shell. Aspen helped her to learn to live in a home, but Jasper was the one that erased the haunted look from her eyes. Having another dog can help so much sometimes.

  9. January 2, 2014 at 3:57 PM

    Mel, I am so glad Maggie is with you. And it is so sad to hear that the puppy mill is still in business. We are pet sitting over the holidays for a rescue from a puppy mill in OK that was shut down 2 yrs. ago. Britta has come a long way, according to the couple that adopted her and she is a sweetheart but she is afraid of so many things, particularly loud noises. She loves people which I find surprising and wants to be held all the time. She is afraid of doorways so consequently gets stuck in a room if left there. She has her favorite spots and seems comfortable there. She is not food motivated at all which makes it hard to try to train her. You have to wonder what her (and Maggie’s) life was like before and only hope that they both can overcome their fears. I truly wish we could shut down all the puppy mills. Good luck with Maggie. I’m sure you will make great strides.

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 8:50 PM

      Thanks Coni. Britta is lucky to be with a family who understands her unique needs and fears. How wise they trusted you to care for her while they are away. I cannot think of anyone better. It is an eye-opener to see how different a mill dog is from a dog that was socialized early isn’t it? I cannot imagine helping a dog who was not food motivated. That would be extremely hard.

      Thanks for the encouragement. Some day I hope all the mills will be closed. One can dream anyways. 🙂

  10. whydowepaythem
    January 2, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    It’s very sad for Maggie. The one good thing is that she’s with you, a kind understanding and comforting person.

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 8:47 PM

      Thanks BJPup. I feel as if I am learning all over again. In many ways, Maggie is very different from Daisy and in some ways the same. We will both learn together.

  11. derrycats
    January 2, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    Bless you for helping Maggie! As a pet sitter I deal with the dogs that come out of puppy mills all the time, and it is very sad. Makes me crazy that people who should, and often, do, know better still get puppy mill dogs and keep these places going.

    My own current adventure is taking in a feral kitten (6 mo old +) who was sick and close to death, and her healing and socialization has been a challenge. Six months is old to bring in a feral cat. But she is healing and becoming social. You can pop over to my blog if you’re interested!

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 8:46 PM

      I can understand DerryCats. I saw the same when I was a pet sitter. How wonderful that you are helping a kitty find a way to enjoy life! Feral cats can be very hard to rehabilitate. I would love to check out your blog. What is it called?

      • derrycats
        January 3, 2014 at 6:15 AM

        Mel, here’s a link to my blog with one of the earlier reports about Annie, the kitten I’m rehabbing. I am part of a TNR project in my area as well, so reports in the blog about that important task and lots of photos of the cats, as well as pet sitting tales. http://blessinganimalcompanions.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/roger-rita-annie/
        Looking foreword to following Maggie’s progress!

      • Mel
        January 3, 2014 at 7:55 AM

        Thank you! I’ll come on over and check her out. Very cool that you are part of a TNR project. When I was a pet sitter I saw one in action in St Paul. It made a difference. There many feral cats there so anything they can do to lower the population without killing them is a good thing. Kudos to you!

      • derrycats
        January 3, 2014 at 8:23 AM

        TNR does work. We just started a year ago, and we spayed/neutered 400 cats the first year. That’s a huge # of kittens that will not be born. Little by little…

      • Mel
        January 3, 2014 at 8:34 AM

        Wow! That is HUGE progress! Yes. It takes a while, but sometimes slow is good. The impact will last generations. I just read about little Annie. What a lucky girl. You clearly have a husband who has a kind heart like your own. She looks so much better than that first picture. I am so glad she is acclimating well. I usually hear stories of new cats not getting a long, but she seems to be a very special kitty. I am so glad you could save her.

      • derrycats
        January 5, 2014 at 8:06 AM

        Hope you don’t mind, Mel, but your blog got me thinking about Maggie and Annie, and what they have in common. I linked to your blog in my own of today:

      • Mel
        January 5, 2014 at 10:30 AM

        Mind? Not at all! I think Maggie and Annie have a lot in common. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Michelle
    January 2, 2014 at 4:53 PM

    I just had to stop reading when I reached the part where you said that euthanasia was an option. Should you reach that point, and I pray that you don’t, please contact Hearts United for Animals (hua.org) and have her placed with them. They work primarily with puppy mill dogs, and they do NOT euthanize a dog for lack of socialization. Dogs that aren’t adoptable become “sanctuary sweethearts” and live an amazing life with lots of love and the very best of care. Please check them out. I’m also sure that they would be happy to share advice for working with her, as well.

    I am “mama” to a puppy mill survivor/rescue that was born at the puppy mill and kept as breeding stock. She was the worst of the worst in terms of social skills and adapting to a world outside of a small cage. No, she’s not perfect, and she will never be “normal, but to think that somebody might have killed her because of her faults, is completely mind blowing to me. Yes, it’s been a tremendous amount of work integrating her into this world of ours, but definitely worth it.

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 11:36 PM

      Michelle – I admire what you do. I have former mill dogs myself. Daisy was my first and the most damaged of the three. I understand your feelings on this issue, but I believe that every mill dog needs to be judged on his/her quality of life and ability to deal with their environment. I believe it is cruel and unusual punishment to keep a dog alive purely to say that we did so. If the dog is living in a terrified state 24 hours a day/7 days a week that is not a good quality of life and making them live through that terror and fear is not fair to the dog. That is not to say that I don’t believe every dog should be given a chance. I just believe that we have to think of the dog’s well being before our own. Too many rescues ship their off to sanctuaries without checking them out and then we end up with situations like OAS where the dogs are put through even more cruel treatment. We must always have the dog’s best interests at heart. Sometimes euthanasia is kinder than keeping them alive to suffer day after day.

  13. January 2, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    So many similarities with our Maggie…As I said on FB, she is in good hands with you. I’ll be anxiously watching her progress.

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 8:44 PM

      I thought of your Maggie as I wrote this Kate. You know all too well the time and dedication required to help them along. Your Maggie is lucky to have found you and to have Jack as her guide.

  14. Carole Lunn
    January 2, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    I’m glad Maggie is with you, they really do need an experienced foster with other dogs to help them. It’s still a long road for them to start to trust again.

    I hate that woman is still in business and all the animal still suffering in her care. I just can’t understand why they let her continue. I did hear that there now charges against her, so can hope she will be closed.

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 8:43 PM

      Thanks Carole. We have many great fosters with MNSR who are experienced with dogs like Maggie (thank goodness). I am glad I am able to help Maggie out in some way. I hope she will learn to enjoy some of the pleasures of her new life some day.

      I agree. I hate that this woman is back in business. It’s disgusting that $230,000 was spent caring for all of these dogs and she got off with a $136 fine. I don’t believe those charges are for her, but another woman in Pine County charged with animal cruelty. Unfortunately.

  15. January 2, 2014 at 6:13 PM

    That poor, beautiful girl! She started out with an awful, heartbreaking life – but now it’s time for that to change and bless you for helping her towards that much better life.

    – Amanda

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 8:40 PM

      It will take a lot of time and dedication, but I thick she can have a good quality of life. Thanks for comment Amanda.

  16. January 2, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    Such a good post and so glad to hear Maggie has a great home to help her out through her recovery. Hopefully more visibility of stories like Maggie’s will get these places shut down!
    Definitely sharing her story through Actions Speak Louder and looking forward to reading more of her progress as it happens!

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 8:39 PM

      That would be awesome if more people shared stories like Maggie’s with people Jen. Thank you for sharing. I appreciate it.

  17. January 2, 2014 at 6:30 PM

    Thinking of anyone being that frightened makes me heartsick. I don’t understand how anyone could be so cut off from empathy for another creature that they could allow a dog in their “care” to suffer so much.

    I hope you and your dogs are able to help Maggie find some peace. And that all your work shows the importance of ending puppy mills.

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 8:37 PM

      Me too Pamela. it’s why Daisy has such a special spot in my heart. Watching her move past this fear has been a blessing, but it reminds me of how many more dogs like her, Maggie and Cupcake there are out there. I will never understand how someone can turn off their empathy enough to do what they do to these dogs (and cats). I hope we can help Maggie too. Thank goodness I have Debbie Jacob’s blog to rely on for help.

  18. Lisa Rymer
    January 2, 2014 at 7:11 PM

    First, I want to thank you for all you are doing to help Maggie. Secondly, I can imagine living in a heightened state of fear every hour of every day because I have raised a child with autism. Watching Maggie’s behaviors were very much like watching my son’s childhood videos. Eyes constantly darting their environment looking for a way out, a safe place to be…. and never finding it.

    I will enjoy reading your blog and have bookmarked it.


    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 8:35 PM

      What an interesting comparison Lisa. I had not thought of it that way before. My sister works with many autistic and special needs children and she has described some of this behavior before, I just never made the connection. I want you to know that I helped search for Tucker and continue to pray for him to be returned to you. I have not given up hope.

  19. January 2, 2014 at 10:26 PM

    It sounds like things are looking up for Maggie, even if she has a long road ahead of her to becoming a pet.

    You mentioned keeping a long line on her martingale collar, and as a person with a lot of experience with martingales, I just want to say, please DON’T. I understand the flight risk, but putting two leashes on her harness or a very tight buckle collar would be a better choice. A dog who is fearful and then runs to the end of a line on a martingale is in for a dangerous situation. She could crush her airway if she ran or pulled hard enough. I don’t want to sound all preachy or anything, but that was a big red flag for me. I love martingales, but they need to be used properly like any equipment you use with your dog. A dog on a long line who runs to the end and then gets snapped back while on a martingale can really get hurt, especially if they’re running out of fear.

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 11:28 PM

      That is a really great point Carrie. Duh. Don’t know why I didn’t think of that. I originally had a long line on her harness and one on her martingale for security, but switched to the one because she pulled out of her harness even though it was fitted to not allow her to do so. I can now go back to the harness because she is not afraid to follow me inside like she was before. Thank you!

  20. January 2, 2014 at 10:35 PM

    You keep on telling the world, Mel! And if anyone can bring Maggie around, it’s you!

    • Mel
      January 2, 2014 at 11:26 PM

      Thanks Lori. I’ll continue to share the story of puppy mill dogs and show why laws need to change. Dogs like Maggie deserve to grow up in a humane environment and have the chance to be socialized and trained and loved.

  21. January 2, 2014 at 10:59 PM

    You are truly a saint. I think that Maggie is in good hands. Thanks for what you do.

  22. January 3, 2014 at 6:45 AM

    Bless her heart!!! It sounds like she is improving in just a week, so hopefully things will turn around for her and she will learn she doesn’t have to live in fear any longer. Puppy Mills are so sad and cruel. Maggie seems to have found the right person to rehabilitate her. Good luck and keep us all posted on her progress.

  23. Hindy
    January 3, 2014 at 7:03 AM

    My husband and I rescued a puppy mill dog Jan. 2013. She spent 7 years in a chicken coop, before rescued by the shelter where I volunteer. She would pee and poop if you looked at her, and shake uncontrollably. It took 7 months of me being with her constantly, until she felt safe and confident enough for us to pet her. The first time she sat and let me pet her, I cried. Sadly she died after only 9 months with us, just as she was starting to become who she was supposed to be. It still breaks our hearts. I know we gave her a great home, but she left just as she was starting her new life.

    • Mel
      January 3, 2014 at 7:52 AM

      I am so sorry Hindy. That makes me so sad. I cannot imagine seeing her start to make progress and then to lose her before you could see her really blossom. I have been lucky. I would be devastated if I had lost Daisy before seeing her as she is now. God bless you for giving her a chance and for letting her know that some humans are kind. It’s not easy, but so worth it.

  24. January 3, 2014 at 5:55 PM

    Mel, what a sad little girl…are you considering meds?

    • Mel
      January 3, 2014 at 8:26 PM

      Yes. Clomapramine.

  25. Jessica
    January 4, 2014 at 7:06 AM

    Good Morning,
    After reading your post I felt like you were describing the dog I adopted a little over 6 months ago. She is a chihuahua mix, and we’re uncertain of her age, but EVERYTHING scares her. I just said to a friend the other day that it must be tiring always being afraid. I don’t know much about her history so I’m not sure how she got this way, I’m just assuming no socialization. Do you have any tips for helping my little girl out? She has come A LONG way since I first got her but it’s still very hard. Thank you.

    • Mel
      January 4, 2014 at 7:35 AM

      Ho Jessica – Chihuahuas tend to be high strung nervous dogs anyways, so if she is really frightened of everything then it must be very sad to see. Kudos to you for adopting her and for helping her come as far as she has over the past 6 months. The resources I would recommend are http://fearfuldogs.com and Debbie Jacob’s blog http://fearfuldogs.wordpress.com

      I used Debbie’s tips to work with my other puppy mill girl, Daisy, and will continue to use them with Maggie. We are currently following the videos Debbie created for Nibbles, her dog that came from a hoarding situation. They are extremely helpful at building trust and confidence. Here is a link to all her blog posts and videos pertaining to him. I hope it helps. http://fearfuldogs.wordpress.com/category/nibbles/

      Let me know how it goes!

  26. suefrad625@live.com
    January 4, 2014 at 8:13 AM

    Geo is my hoarders rescue. He is a chiweenie. He is about 2.5ys old and was rescued when he was 1. He was at the rescue for a year before I took him in as a foster. I was blessed with him at the end of June 2013. Like the puppy mill dogs, he had never been touched by people. I have a wonderful beagle mutt (Dixie) with a great heart, a husband, 2 boys (13 & 17) and a cat (George) that just died this past week. When Geo came in, like yours, he was a flight risk. I could not get near him unless I cornered him to take him out. When I did pick him up, he was a statue. I don’t think he even took a breath. What I came up with, and it is up to each person to see if it works for their case of course, I put him in a harness and tethered him to Dixie. That way he could enjoy running outside and would have to come back with Dixie. I could also start petting him and loving on him. It has now been seven months and he wags his tail and will be curious about people enough to come within 2-3 feet of strangers. He runs about himself and comes to my call, unless Dixie goes in a different direction since he is hers now. I can pick him up and he sleeps next to me. My husband is able to reach over, and pet him sometimes. Geo feel comfortable enough to lay next to him, but not to sure about him touching him. The boys can now walk into a room without Geo taking off, but they can’t touch him yet.

    Well that is my story, I hope you can use the tethering trick. And by the way, I am now officially a foster failure.

  27. January 5, 2014 at 6:10 PM

    I haven’t read all the comments Mel, but I think as long as Maggie doesn’t get any serious frights she is going to be fine. You’ll know that Shelties often are shy and combine that with the treatment she’s endured so far in her life it’s no wonder she’s afraid of everything. She is in the best possible hands with you! I hope Maggie’s rehabilitation/transformation goes smoothly 🙂

  28. January 7, 2014 at 8:22 AM

    Maggie’s a very lucky dog to have you by her side through this. It won’t be easy to recondition her, but I know you will do your very best. My heart goes out to both of you–you have a long journey ahead.

  29. Tammy
    January 15, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    I too have a Pine River puppy mill dog. I just got her on Sunday. I am the third (and final) home that she has been in since originally adopted. It breaks my heart thinking what she has been through in her life. I will give her all the time that she needs to hopefully start to trust people. Right now she spends all day in her kennel only coming out to go outside for a very brief time. I have been building her trust by hand feeding her, that is the only way she will eat right now. With time she will have the confidence to come and eat with my other dogs but until then I will do what is needed for her. Thank you for putting up Maggie’s story. It helps reading what someone else is going through. You are doing a wonderful job!

    • Mel
      January 16, 2014 at 6:23 AM

      Oh Tammy. That makes me so sad to hear that she is in her 3rd home. I am so glad you will be her last. One of the reasons I kept Daisy (my Lab and also a mill dog) is because I couldn’t bear the thought of someone adopting her who didn’t “get it”. It sounds like you are making great progress with her already. I would love to compare notes and share some resources with you. I’ll send you an email today.
      BTW – Maggie is improving and making great strides in many areas. I wish the same for your girl.

    • Sarah
      January 30, 2014 at 1:43 AM

      I have one of the Pine River rescues as well. Ours is a male German Shepherd. I wish we would have had space for the female one that was at the shelter with him. She was very timid but seemed just as sweet as he was. I will say our guy is rather mellow considering having been breeding stock for the mill. He has only really had a little toy protectiveness(mostly gently and playfully so at this point, but not surprising since he probably never had a toy ’til the shelter) and had some anxiety whimpering and whining after hearing the sound of a horse whinnying on TV. I think the females were more affected by the mill PTSD of sorts. Being repeatedly bred and having their babies taken away on top of everything probably heightens the distrust of humans and state of alarm and fear. To all of you, good luck and keep providing that love they didn’t get growing up!

      • Tammy
        February 17, 2014 at 12:03 AM

        Hi Sarah, my Pine River rescue dog is a female German Shepherd. I don’t know if she is the one that was in the shelter with your male or not. She is very timid but yet so incredibly sweet and gentle. I hope that you are having good luck with your boy and he is adjusting to life outside of the mill. She is not my first Pine River dog. I fell for everything that the owner of the puppy mill told me and purchased a puppy from her a couple years ago. Unfortunately we were not the right home for my sweet puppy but she is thriving in the home she is at now. I see so many of the same characteristics in my female that I have now. I hope that all is going well with your boy.

      • Linda
        March 6, 2014 at 1:20 PM

        Sarah – did the female German Shepherd you mention in your post have the tip of one ear missing? Our daughter adopted Zoey, a breeder dog, in October 2013. I wonder if they would like to reunite for a play date if they are indeed former mates. Zoey isn’t doing very well, sadly.

      • Linda
        March 10, 2014 at 5:58 PM

        Sarah – would you like to have a conversation about your rescue? My cell is 612-735-0563. Our daughter has a female German Shepherd from the Pine River seizure.

      • Linda
        March 11, 2014 at 7:48 PM

        Sarah – would you join a private Facebook group for Pine River Rescue families to share resources and just have some conversations? Perhaps we could get our German Shepherds together (there are 3 now) to see if that helps. Are you in the Metro area?

        Linda Wogstad

      • luvslilac
  30. Tammy
    January 18, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    The past 2 days Willow has made what we think are HUGE steps for her. She has come out of her kennel on her own and stood next to me so I could pet her, she actually sat after a while and stayed there for almost 15 minutes. She has come when my husband called her for the first time and a nice chicken treat was waiting for her.
    I totally get what you said about Maggie snoring. Today for the first time she layed down completely stretched out in her kennel and I heard her snore. It brought tears to my eyes.
    I know it is baby steps but to me they are leaps. I know that there will be many set backs but I know that I must be doing a little something right.

    • Mel
      January 18, 2014 at 10:55 PM

      That is fantastic Tammy! Huge! I can totally relate to your tears. I teared up reading this. Wow. She is starting to come out of her shell a little. Don’t be too upset if she regresses a little and then makes a few steps more forward. It happens a lot with mill dogs. Baby steps are also common with mill dogs. It’s what makes the journey so rewarding. You guys are doing great. I am so glad she is starting to trust you. I meant to email you back, but have been so busy at work that I am zapped when I get home. Know I am sending you lots of love and good thoughts. You are doing a lot right. 🙂

  31. luvslilac
    February 8, 2014 at 4:29 AM

    We adopted on of the Shetland sheepdog puppies that was born a few days after the seizure. I wonder if ours are related. We’ve been wondering if he’s a sheltie or collie, because he is so big. He’s 6.5 months old now and 40lbs, 22″ tall (at the shoulder)…huge for a sheltie. Anyway…loved reading your story about Maggie. I’ve been trying to find other pine River sheltie adopters, but have this far been unsuccessful. Keep up the good work with Maggie. She is adorable.

  32. Tammy
    February 11, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    Hi Mel, Willow is doing so good. She is getting very attached to me and brings tears to my eyes when I see how excited she is to see me in the mornings. Her favorite thing to do is to wake me up in the mornings when my husband is home. She bangs on the bedroom door until he lets her in. She jumps all over me and once I am awake will snuggle right up with me. She is a different dog when she gets her snuggle time. She gets incredibly playful and would spend all day there if she could. Like you said one step forward and two steps back. It breaks my heart when she is having a bad day and doesn’t want to be anywhere but her kennel, but those days are getting fewer and fewer. She is feeling comfortable enough to sleep in the middle of the living room floor. Her worst setback was when I was watching animal planet and she heard new born puppies crying. She ran through the house looking for those puppies. She was so depressed when she couldn’t find them. I am learning to be very cautious of everything around her (no more animal planet). These dogs are so wonderful and there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the huge progress they make. It has helped so much reading about Maggie. Thank you for sharing with us. 🙂

    • Mel
      February 12, 2014 at 6:46 AM

      Oh my gosh Tammy! That is so awesome! I am so impressed with how much progress she has made in your care!
      I understand about the puppies. It was the same with Daisy. I became very protective and conscious about what sounds might scare her. I hate seeing them so scared. You are doing so great! It’s rewarding isn’t it?

  33. Tammy
    February 13, 2014 at 10:46 PM

    It is so incredibly rewarding. I have MS and have not been able to work for the past 8 years and I finally have found what I was meant to do. Even if I don’t get to continue to help more dogs knowing that my little Willow has shown me how the simple things that “normal” dog owners, as well as myself have taken for granted. Knowing that she looks for me and is so excited when she me. There is no words to describe how it makes me feel. I could never foster dogs because my house is not big enough for all the dogs that would find there forever homes with me. Thank you for your supportive words and knowing that you are there if I have questions or concerns. Thank you for all that you do. 🙂

  34. Linda
    March 6, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    Zoey, is a Pine River puppy mill German Shepherd breeder dog from that seizure, adopted in October 2013. You all know their issues. I see other posts from families with adult German Shepherds from that mill … have you had any successes and tips to share? Any contact names for behavioral therapists, because as you know, sometimes love just isn’t enough. Thank you.

    • Mel
      March 6, 2014 at 1:37 PM

      Hi Linda

      I am so sorry that Zoey is struggling. I wish rescue groups and shelters would do more to help support families that adopt these dogs. It can be so rewarding if you know what to do. I was in your same boat when I adopted my Lab, Daisy. She was also from a mill. I would recommend a few resources:
      1. fearfuldogs.com – my friend Debbie is a great resource and has a ton of info she shared on her website, blog and in her book. I used a lot of her techniques.
      2. Fearfuldogs group on FB – If you are on FB, this would be a great group to join. You’ll find support from other dog owners going through the same thing and many experts will help you with suggestions. You have to ask to join, but then you are in.
      3. Patricia Mcconnell – her books are very helpful
      4. You can also read through my posts on Daisy and how I helped her. I copied them ogver here (just search by her name), but I also included them in her blog “Daisy the Wonder Dog”.

      I hope that helps!

      • luvslilac
        March 6, 2014 at 4:47 PM

        The AHS gave us the information when we adopted for behavioral specialists. I can try to find our packet and share, as well.

      • Linda
        March 6, 2014 at 4:57 PM

        Thanks for that offer – let me know what you find! I just ordered a book called Puppy Mill Dogs SPEAK and it sounds like it will be helpful, too. I’ll leave a ‘review’ 🙂

      • Mel
        March 7, 2014 at 6:09 AM

        Happy to help in any way Linda. I will have to check out that book. Thanks!

      • Mel
        March 9, 2014 at 5:44 PM

        I hope you and Tammy get to connect Linda. I think you could be a great resource for one another. call me any time too.

      • Mel
        March 7, 2014 at 6:10 AM

        That would be wonderful. I think people need to know how to work best with a puppy mill dog. Choose the wrong trainer and you could make the dog worse.

      • Mel
        March 9, 2014 at 5:45 PM

        Did you find your info?

      • luvslilac
        March 9, 2014 at 6:30 PM

        I have not. Still looking for our packet.

    • Tammy
      March 8, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      I also have a Pine River German Shepherd breeder dog. I would love to compare notes with you and hear how you are doing.

      • Linda
        March 8, 2014 at 7:31 PM

        Tammy – let’s talk. 612-735-0563

    • Tammy
      March 9, 2014 at 11:59 AM

      Hi Linda, would love to talk with you. email is sometimes better for me. I am home most the time but like when having small children my phone conversations usually get interrupted by my dogs. Please email me and I can try to talk with you sometime or feel free to text me. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
      email- fishlaketam@msn.com
      cell- 612-454-9998

      • Mel
        March 9, 2014 at 5:27 PM

        I hope you and Linda get a chance to touch base Tammy. I’m thinking it would be great for all of us to meet up.

  35. Tammy
    March 8, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    Hi Mel,
    I hope that Maggie is doing good. Update on Willow. She has recently found her voice. She has started to bark a little. Things that would normally be not good with other dogs bring tears to my eyes with her. She is still taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back but she is becoming more social. When someone comes in the house she runs to see who is here. Doesn’t always want to be pet but wants to be part of the greeting group. She has been trying to play a little more with my male that I have but for some reason he doesn’t want to play with her. They are very affectionate with each other but the playing is just going to take time. The potty training is still a struggle but I have learned that it is probably us missing her signals.
    The camping season is just around the corner and I am going to start to prepare her for that. Our camper is at a seasonal site so it won’t be at a different place all the time. I am getting her kennel for the camper soon and setting it up in the house so when the time comes for the camper she will have her kennel that she is already use to with her.
    If you have any other recommendations for me to make the camping season not a major set back?
    Thank you so much for all you are doing and giving us other puppy mill rescues a place to go and hear how you and your little girl are doing.

    • Mel
      March 9, 2014 at 5:40 PM

      Wow Tammy! That is huge!
      I found the potty thing challenging as well. I mostly know my dogs need to go when they start pacing. Cupcake is the only one who barks to go out and to come in. The rest of my dogs just tell me by pacing. I am so glad you are catching some of her signals.

      It sounds like Willow is learning to be a dog! The fact that she runs up to strangers but wants to pick who can touch her is great. It means she is learning from your other dogs. She wants to be so much like them, but touch is a little too scary yet. It’s still amazing progress! Touch is the scariest part for these dogs, especially if someone reaches out their arms and hands to them. I’ve found treats can make a person less intimidating, but I always tell my guests to let my dogs decide if they want to engage more. You are exactly who she needed Tammy. Exactly.

      I think it’s great that you are planning ahead for your camping trip and getting her ready for it. I would use treats and your other dogs to get her used to it. Lead her in and out of the camper and get her used to the smells and sounds of it. I would also consider getting her a martingale collar (if you don’t already have one) and maybe a harness and a long line so you can safely take her on walks or let her out without worrying about her running away in fear. (I got my long lines at Fleet Farm.) If she does her business in a fenced yard, she may not do her pottying on a leash. That is one thing that I discovered with Daisy. She didn’t understand that she could go when on leash. Who knew! You may want to plan for that by using the long line as a way to let her out to do her business while you are inside.
      I hope that Linda and her daughter will be inspired and helped by what you are doing for Willow.

      Congrats on all you are doing! I don’t know how much I helped. I think you have done a lot of this on your own and you are doing a wonderful job too. 🙂

  36. Tammy
    March 9, 2014 at 6:43 PM

    Thank you so much, it means a lot coming from you.

    • Mel
      March 10, 2014 at 9:41 PM

      You are so welcome Tammy. I am wondering if we all should have a meet up to share experiences and what we can do to help these dogs. It’s funny that I have only met one other Sheltie owner with a Pine River dog and so many Shepherd owners with Pine River dogs. I wonder if others are looking for some connection and support as well.

      • Linda
        March 11, 2014 at 8:05 AM

        I would love to see Zoey connect with Willow and also Sarah’s German Shepherd. Tammy and Sarah, do you both live in the Metro area? Any ideas for how to find other German Shepherd families? Perhaps they are mourning the loss of each other and it would be helpful to see each other again.

      • luvslilac
        March 11, 2014 at 10:30 AM

        I’ll set up a private Facebook group and maybe we can post on AHS site?

        I would love to get together with others, however I’m on a different spectrum since my sheltie was born at AHS 3 days post seizure. I want to find his siblings and parents. Maybe reconnecting with kin would help his mom/dad?

      • Linda
        March 11, 2014 at 12:29 PM

        that’s a great idea,luvslilac! perhaps together we can bring some healing to these poor dogs. and find some more people. FB is a pretty amazing tool.

      • Mel
        March 11, 2014 at 1:53 PM

        Linda and Tammy and LuvsLilac – I have also reached out to AHS about possibly doing a meet up with some of the adopters of Pine River dogs to connect and hopefully support one another. I’ll let you know what I hear back.

      • Mel
        March 11, 2014 at 1:53 PM

        Linda and Tammy and LuvsLilac – I have also reached out to AHS about possibly doing a meet up with some of the adopters of Pine River dogs to connect and hopefully support one another. I’ll let you know what I hear back.

  37. Tammy
    March 11, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    I can’t wait for the facebook page to get set up. That is a great idea. I do not live in the metro area, I am in Harris (the North Branch, Cambridge area). Please keep me posted on the progress of it and when it is ready. Linda I would love to talk with you. I will find a time to give you a call 🙂

    • Mel
      March 11, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      Linda and Tammy and LuvsLilac – I have also reached out to AHS about possibly doing a meet up with some of the adopters of Pine River dogs to connect and hopefully support one another. I’ll let you know what I hear back.

  38. luvslilac
    March 11, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    I’ve set up “Pine River Haven” (name can change 😉 ) it’s hard to figure things out on a mobile device, but try searching for it.

  39. Tammy
    March 11, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    I tried to search for Pine River Haven and wasn’t successful. I will give it more time and try again later. I totally get about the doing things on a mobile device 🙂

    • luvslilac
      March 11, 2014 at 4:53 PM

      You could email me your Facebook name and I could add folks that way. Luvslilac at gmail dot com.

  40. March 12, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    I can’t understand what is in the heart of a person who raises dogs for the money. I raised puppies for ten years in my home (NOT the backyard!) because of the joy it gave me to match the right person or family with the right pup. My puppies were weaned when the mom was ready, had excellent bloodlines, stayed with us for at least twelve weeks, and learned many good things from their mom, me, and the auntie and uncle dogs ( we have six). The Moms were spayed by the time they were seven, were at least two years old when they had their first litter, and never had two litters back to back. They were not re homed after they gave pups…they are all growing old with us. I had one puppy returned in all that time and found a new home for him in my neighborhood. My families could and did stay in touch and let me know how my dogs were doing, and II gave advise where needed for training, etc.

    This is just to let everyone know not all puppies bred by hobby breeders are poorly served. Some of us spend a lot of time, money, and emotions and love on our dogs. We want laws to outlaw puppy mills, but not to make hobby breeding impossible or exorbitantly expensive. No matter what people choose to do with their lives, if they are doing good things, they should be allowed to continue. Perhaps the laws should stipulated that no one can breed more than three females or even own more than three females at a time, house their dogs inside, not in kennels, and they cannot have more than five litters in their lifetime, must be spayed by age seven, and no puppies be adopted before twelve weeks. That would put the kibosh on the mills, because they would never make enough money for it to be a viable business.

    • Mel
      March 18, 2014 at 11:43 PM

      Thanks for your very thoughtful comment Ann. I agree with you. Quality breeders, breeders who care about the health of their puppies, should be valued and recognized. Puppy mills are a completely different breed (pun intended).

  41. November 18, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    Thank you for sharing Maggie’s story and her progress! I recently adopted a puppy mill collie and find it so helpful to read the experiences of other mill survivors. Here is the blog I’m keeping about our PM dog Kira’s progress with us: http://kirapuppymilljourney.wordpress.com/

  1. January 5, 2014 at 1:01 AM
  2. January 6, 2014 at 11:31 PM
  3. January 9, 2014 at 2:08 AM

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