A Pine River puppy mill dog update – Maggie’s progress
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.