Home > Maggie, Pet Videos, Photos, Pine River puppy mill, puppy mill dogs, Puppy Mills, Shelties > A Pine River puppy mill dog update – Maggie’s progress

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

Keeping her distance. #Maggie It’s been a while since I’ve written about Maggie, so I thought I would give you all a quick update.

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.

What new game is this?

Maggie giving me eye contact

I did something I never do this morning. I went back to bed after letting the dogs out. When I woke up, this is who I saw sleeping next to my bed. #maggie

Maggie often likes to sleep next to my bed in my bedroom when the daylight shadows scare her.

The aftermath of game night.

Like Aspen was for Daisy when I first fostered her, Daisy has become a comforting presence for Maggie. She often sleeps next to her like this. It is very sweet to see.

You can't see me.

it might look funny or cute, but Maggie is actually hiding because I was tossing the ball for Jasper. It frightened her so I let her go inside where she felt safe.

Maggie's first attempt at a dog puzzle. She may not be at Cupcake's level yet, but she wasn't afraid to try! Go Maggie!

Maggie working on a dog puzzle. It didn’t take her very long to figure out that my dogs loved doing puzzles. She started moving closer and closer until she indicated she wanted to try it too. Now she can hardly wait to play. 🙂

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.

  1. March 16, 2014 at 11:16 PM

    You are doing such great work with Maggie!

    • Mel
      March 17, 2014 at 6:55 AM

      Thanks DoggyMom. It’s a work in progress.

  2. March 16, 2014 at 11:35 PM

    Such awesome progress with Maggie! Love that she’s into the puzzles, too!

    • Mel
      March 17, 2014 at 6:55 AM

      She is making good progress Jen. I agree. We love those puzzles here. I was surprised how quickly she wanted to participate, but she is smart and curious so it makes sense. 🙂

  3. March 17, 2014 at 2:25 AM

    I can’t believe how far she has come already. That’s wonderful Mel! I was wondering with that pic of Daisy and Maggie laying next to each other how Daisy is doing with Maggie? Have there been any signs of regression with Daisy or has she seem to take her under her wing? I wonder if she knows Maggie is a puppy mill dog. Do you see any signs of a strong bond between them? Just curious.

    • Mel
      March 17, 2014 at 6:48 AM

      I’ve actually been watching for any regression. She seemed to regress with doorways early on when Maggie first came, but seems to be fine now. She definitely doesn’t seem to mind that Maggie sleeps next to her, sometimes with her head on her rump. They often sleep like that together. It is very cute. I don’t know that Daisy has taken her under her wing, I think she kind of did that with Jasper, but she seems to give Maggie a little confidence. Great questions!

  4. JMO
    March 17, 2014 at 7:03 AM

    Have you tried not petting her so much when she is showing anxiety? I had a rescue dog who was born feral and had the same issues with the doorways and such. When I noticed that she seemed to have reached a plateu with her recovery, I started to not pet her when she was nervous and just telling her it was ok and ignoring what was making her scared and just going about my business. I think the petting her was reinforcing the behavior b/c she was getting rewarded (petting) for that behavior. She wanted to be near me so if I left the room, she would follow. I don’t know if that would work in every case but it worked with her. Thank you for your patience with her.

  5. March 17, 2014 at 7:59 AM

    Maggie is such a sweet girl and so lucky to have you to help her learn to become a happy dog.

  6. March 17, 2014 at 8:42 AM

    You are awesome Mel. That’s all i can say. The patience and dedication you are giving Maggie is incredible. Someone will adopt her, and benefit from all your hard work.

  7. March 17, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    It’s so good to hear about Maggie and see her progress. So many similarities with our Maggie…and not just the name. Our Maggie has been with us almost a year now and has made such tremendous gains, but the panting and the nervousness, the looking over the shoulder are all still there on occasion. She still scoots through doorways, but she will come into the bedroom and bathroom now which she would never do before. You are doing a great job with her, just the fact that she comes to you for solace is a good sign.

  8. March 17, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    The work you are doing with Maggie is pawesome and whee are glad to hear that she is making progress.
    The Pigs xx

  9. Sandy Scipioni
    March 17, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    Precious Angel! Little Maggie is coming to enjoy her life. Thanks for sharing.

  10. niki
    March 17, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    This brought a tear to my eye. I recognize that cute little petrified sheltie, as I helped care for the pine river dogs last summer, and it makes me so happy to see her learning to become a beloved house pet, thank you for caring for her! I adopted an adult male Shepard from pine river so the challenges and rewards in your article ring true. I felt like a horrible person when I had the thought that perhaps my poor dog would be happier in heaven. The thunder shirt did not seem to work for him but peace & calm/valor essential oils seem to help his anxiety.

    • Mel
      March 19, 2014 at 6:52 AM

      Oh wow Niki! It sounds like you can relate a lot. I have met so many amazing people who helped Maggie before she came to me. You know, we have a Pine River group on FB and two of the people have Shepherds from there. If you would like to join, send me a note (melspetpals@gmail.com) and I can get you added. It helps to have support.

  11. jan
    March 17, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    What a very rewarding thing you are doing. I have one more dog that my city wants me to have, but I would love to work with more dogs.

    • Mel
      March 19, 2014 at 6:50 AM

      Thanks Jan. I am over capacity too, but since she is only a foster dog I believe I have some leeway. I hope that I can help Maggie make it to her new home some day.

  12. March 28, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    Mel, do you know why doorways are a problem for puppy mill dogs. We dog sat for a puppy mill dog that had this issue; just wondering why it seems to be an issue with those poor souls who have lived at puppy mills.

    • Mel
      March 29, 2014 at 10:30 PM

      I wish I did Coni. Only Cupcake seems to have no door issues. Daisy and Maggie both have them. The only thing I can think of is that it has to do with a lack of exposure to doorways until they were rescued. People standing in doorways is a problem for both Maggie and Daisy although Daisy is better now as long as she has dogs to follow in. It may also be because doorways led to bad things for them.

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