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Adopting Maggie – You need to understand what is involved

November 24, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Freshly groomed.This week I learned that someone was interested in adopting Maggie. My first reaction was not what one might think. I was uncomfortable with the idea.

I know some of you will think this means that I have fallen in love with Maggie and just can’t bear to part with her, but that would be incorrect. Yes, I love her, but I have three dogs of my own and the reality is four is more than I can, or want, to handle on a permanent basis. So, I while I will be sad when she is adopted, I am okay with her finding a new home – as long as it is the “right” home.

The real reason my reaction was less than enthusiastic is because 1) I do not think Maggie is ready for a new home yet, and 2) because when it comes to puppy mill dogs like Maggie, I struggle with trusting that the potential adopter(s) truly understands what they are getting themselves into.

I have met people who think they are absolutely the right home for a puppy mill dog only to realize that they didn’t really get it. They had fallen in love with a face, a story, but not with the reality of what life is truly like with a mill dog. They didn’t understand that most puppy mill dogs don’t like to be touched (at least not at first) or that some may never be able to leave a yard to go for a walk. They didn’t get that calling the dog’s name and holding out a treat would not result in the dog running to them with a wagging tail. They didn’t quite get the potential “flight risk” of a mill dog. They thought love could fix all the dog’s fears when the reality is that love has little to do with helping a puppy mill dog. It’s good to have it, but more is required.

That is not to say that there aren’t people out there who DO get it. There are. I have met them as well. They are awesome and amazing people too, and I hope one of them finds Maggie and adopts her.

But, I also know of other dogs who came from Maggie’s puppy mill and who are now lost because someone did not understand the flight risk. I know of one that was sold on Craigslist because the adopter could not handle the dog they adopted (fortunately she ended up in the absolutely perfect home). And I know of another dog who now faces being returned, or euthanized, because the adopter was not told what she could expect adopting a puppy mill dog and she does not want to see her suffer.

Maggie on Saturday, October 11, 2014Puppy mill dogs are special and they deserve a home and an adopter who gets it. I know from experience that adopting a mill dog can be one of the most rewarding experiences of one’s life, but I also know the time, patience, work and commitment are needed to help them thrive.  Not everyone is cut out to for that kind of work, and that is okay, but I want Maggie’s adopters to understand the commitment involved and have the knowledge and support needed to ensure that they, and their dog, are successful.

Maggie (and I) are lucky Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR) gets it. I know they will make sure that Maggie lands in a home with an adopter who gets it too. They will make sure it is someone who understands the special needs of a puppy mill dog. They will also make sure the adopter is educated on flight risk and how to keep them safe. They will offer support and guidance, as needed, and will ensure that the adopter knows of the resources available to them (like Shy Sheltie Classes) and their dog. Maggie has what she needs to back her, and her adopter, up when the time comes and she is ready for her new home.

Not all puppy mill dogs have that chance. Not all rescues and shelters provide adopters of puppy mill dogs with the support and information they need to be able to help their dogs. I hope this will change with time. Debbie Jacobs, of FearfulDogs.com, just wrote about this in her blog post, “Should this dog be up for adoption?”

PeaceOn Monday, I will be attending a Speaker’s Forum hosted by Animal Folks. The speaker is one of the premier experts on puppy mill dogs and the mental and emotional impacts puppy mills have on them. The speaker, Dr. Frank McMillan, is board-certified specialist in veterinary internal medicine and the director of well-being studies at Best Friends Animal Society (Utah). I am really excited to hear him speak, but I am also excited that both rescue groups and veterinarians will have a chance to learn more about the trauma these dogs suffer and how we can help them when they come into our care. It is my greatest hope that in the future puppy mill dogs will go into homes that are ready for them, and that they too, are ready for their new home. 

I plan to share more about Dr. McMillan’s speech on my blog at a future date, and hopefully, some additional info on how we can all help puppy mill dogs.

In the meantime, here is the latest Maggie video. I share it with you to show you where Maggie is at when it comes to doorways. While Maggie has made great progress, she is still a very scared dog. She had been going through the door on her own all summer long, but then the snow came and she got spooked. Since then she has had a hard time with it again.

I have been using the long line to catch her. Without it I would not have a chance . I have been outside as long as 40 minutes, just trying to herd her inside.  With the long line, she is less fearful and follows me inside easily. I reward her with treats immediately so that she knows going inside means good things. I am hoping that we can work more on doorways so she feels safe enough to go through them again. Cross your fingers!

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  1. d.heartfarm@verizon.net
    November 24, 2014 at 6:21 AM

     Hello,  well expressed artic

  2. November 24, 2014 at 6:51 AM

    I trained a “wait” to deal with this situation. She’s lucky she has you looking out for her. This is not a dog with skills to live with well meaning but unskilled handlers. I’d be worried about her too.

    • Mel
      November 24, 2014 at 8:01 AM

      Thanks Debbie. I will definitely try that.

  3. November 24, 2014 at 8:42 AM

    I will say it again, she is so lucky to have you to help her navigate this new world. She has made such progress, but I can sure understand your reservations about her being adopted.

    • Mel
      November 25, 2014 at 7:06 AM

      Thanks Mary. I am sure she will find the right home. I just want people to understand that there is more involved than just loving a dog like this.

  4. November 24, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    I totally understand you being worried about her forever home. Many people don’t even know what they are getting themselves into when adopting a “normal” dog without any puppy mill background, thinking all that’s needed is an abundance of love and food.
    I’d be worried too, and would want to make sure the potential new owners know about dog psychology and body language, in addition to realizing what it takes to open their home to a puppy mill dog.

    • Mel
      November 25, 2014 at 7:05 AM

      Thanks Barbara. You clearly have some background and knowledge in this area. I know the rescue will make sure Maggie ends up in the right home. I just want potential adopters to understand that this is not a case of love curing all. It is necessary, but it is not the only thing needed.

  5. Dan K
    November 24, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    That reminds me of when I got my PM dog from MNSR. His foster mom did her best to get him adjusted to life beyond the puppy mill. She was not sure he was going to be adoptable. When I got Katche, I was worried too that he will never get to trust me. It was hard to take since I was use to dogs just being happy to be with you. At the suggesting from a friend, I started hand feeding him every meal for a month. I could see him progressing to trust me. I started working on some tricks with him since just feeding was boring. He learned to do some basic tricks. He loved it when I shared chicken wings with him. Later I got him into tracking and that really brought him out of his shell. He now has a CGC and TD titles. Katche will shut down in obedience class because all the commotion is just too much for him. I got a 2nd Sheltie that doesn’t have the same issues but he has taught Katche some more dog type things. Like nudging his nose under my arm to pet him. I have had Katche for 5 years now and still some of the puppy mill stuff remains. But he is always progressing and he is still my Honey Babe. Takes a lot of patience to bring a puppy mill dog to light. Wish I had room for more, really.

    • Mel
      November 24, 2014 at 9:44 AM

      That is so wonderful Dan! I love hearing how you helped Katche. Clearly, he has a quality life with you. What a lucky dog. Daisy also learned more when Jasper came along. He has taught her how to play. I never thought I would see a day like that.
      To be honest, I wish I could take more too. If I had the time and space, I would.

  6. November 24, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    Thank you for saying and sharing your feelings on a potential adoption. I once wanted desperately to adopt a mill Standard Poodle and came ‘this’ close.’ In the end I realized that it really was her story that was most compelling. I wanted to fit a square peg into a round hole. I do often think of her and hope the family that did end up adopting her understood the commitment and challenges that will probably always be part of her and provide her with the love, patience and understanding she’ll always need. When the need to rescue a mill pupster comes along, I know for me, it’s probably better to send a check than to bring them home, at least for now. Perhaps when I’m retired I can make the kind of commitment that is needed. They won’t need for love, but will need a lifetime of patience and understanding.

    • Mel
      November 25, 2014 at 7:03 AM

      Thank YOU for sharing your story! I want people to understand that I am not saying people cannot be the right owners for Maggie, but they must know themselves and what they are able to handle. Puppy mill dogs are way more challenging than an average dog, but they are also hugely rewarding. I love that you made the right decision for you. Thank you so much for sharing your story and experience.

  7. November 24, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    I think you know her best and if you feel she’s not ready I do hope the rescue will listen to you. She really has come a long way, but she does have farther to go. You’ve done a great job with her. 🙂

  8. November 24, 2014 at 9:15 PM

    This must be hard for you – to wish for a forever home for sweet Maggie, but to worry if it’s the right one. What a tough choice. She’s done so well in your loving home, I hope she does find a forever family where she can blossom further.

  9. November 24, 2014 at 10:43 PM

    We had a few fosters that I felt similarly about. Not because they were mill dogs, but they just had a peculiar fear or perception of the world. One was taught a “trick” of sitting, then leaping off the ground to take food from someone’s mouth. She was a really pretty thing, but had a host of issues that made me worried. I was really scared that someone would want her for her looks and not be able to deal with her issues.

    • Mel
      November 25, 2014 at 7:01 AM

      You hit the nail on the head Carrie. That is exactly what I am worried about. I have seen potential adopters fall in love with a dog because they were cute and/or their story. They wanted to help, but did not understand that love would not make some things better. It’s hard to get until you have been through it with a dog like that. You clearly get it with all your past experience. Thank you for your comment.

  10. November 25, 2014 at 12:06 AM

    I guess the snow around has changed the doorway as far as Maggie is concerned and she has to learn to trust it all over again 😦 She has come an awful long way since she’s been in your care. I wonder if the person interested in adopting her is the home for Maggie? Having had a couple of ‘spooky’ (but not as ‘bad’ as Maggie) foster Greyhounds I totally understand your concern about Maggie’s future home.

    • Mel
      November 25, 2014 at 6:59 AM

      I think you are right about the snow Sue. I don’t know if the person interested in her is someone who gets it or not, but I trust Sheltie rescue to make sure. I have fielded a few questions about Maggie from people who are interested in her. Many do not quite get it. If you have had “spooky” Greyhounds, no doubt you know what I mean.

  11. November 25, 2014 at 1:26 AM

    Read Maggie’s story and felt for her. I really wish Maggie can find her perfect home soon.

    • Mel
      November 25, 2014 at 6:57 AM

      Thanks Austin. She will. When she is ready. 🙂

  12. November 25, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    After all the time and effort you have put in with her, it would be hard to find someone “good enough” to care for her. We can totally understand!

  13. Pam
    November 25, 2014 at 11:42 PM

    I was fortunate to get my Charlie when he was still pretty young even though I don’t know if that helps, but… I remember crying – often. I had no idea he was from a mill, or that he’d had a broken leg and crushed toes from the ill-fitting cast. I only had the experience of a previous Sheltie love, so I knew how he could be.

    He wouldn’t take a treat, let me pet him, or come to me, or – well, you know. I grew so much with this dog. I love him so deeply, and now, 4 years later, I know how very much he loves me. If I were not where I am today, old and patient, I never would have been able to find a way. We found it together.

    Tomorrow, we are adding a retired female Sheltie, who kept loosing her litters, to our home. I know it will be a long road, but we are patient 🙂 Thank you for this blog! And thanks for making sure Maggie gets a good life!

    • Mel
      November 26, 2014 at 6:31 AM

      Thank YOU Pam! For taking in Charlie and for having the patience to help him. I know just how you feel. When I first adopted Daisy I felt much the same way. Now most people would never believe she was that shy, fearful thing I once knew. She is an amazing dog. I wish you much luck and love with the ew female. She is already lucky to be landing in a home that gets what she will need.

  14. November 26, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    This post brought back my feelings when our fearful foster Cherie was adopted.

    Cherie was extremely frightened and only a small fraction as traumatized as Maggie. We were lucky to have the help of Honey’s trainer to help us build her confidence and we were thrilled to see her progress.

    But I always wondered if her person understood how fearful Cherie still was and would continue to work with her. I only saw one initial follow up from the shelter and nothing since.

    Your videos could actually be a great tool for the rescue to share with prospective adopters. A (moving) picture is worth a thousand words. And they communicate far more about Maggie’s state of mind than a lovely still picture of her pretty face.

  15. Kathryn Bernabeo
    November 27, 2014 at 11:26 PM

    I have adopted two puppy mill dogs, not at the same time but it is true #1 did not want me to touch her, did not want to go through door ways, but I’ve had her for 3 years now and she is my sleeping buddy. She does not kiss but that doesn’t stop me from kissing her. Now #2 I’ve had only 10 months she is a kisser and loves going out,, when I come home she wags her tail but went I go to pet her she bows and tail goes between her legs. When I first brought her home she would not drink out of a bowl, she watched my other one and got the idea. But she will not eat out of a dish, any suggestions on that one would be greatly appreciated.
    Good luck with Maggie, all it takes is time and I am sure you know that already.

    • Susan J. Gendron
      November 28, 2014 at 7:39 AM

      We have 5 puppy mill dogs, some were also afraid of a bowl. We’ve had the latest one since Oct 14 and we feed her off a plate instead. In the beginning she wouldn’t eat treats or anything out of my hand, but now she will. Our first rescue a little over 2 years ago was a bichon. At the time we had 4 poodles. She really didn’t socialize with them. So a few months later we adopted 2 more puppy mill bichons. Those 2 were very bonded already and the first one joined in with them. It was like “I’ve been waiting for more bichons”. I didn’t know what to expect exactly except that I knew what puppy mills were all about and that they would be severely traumatized. It took a year and a half to teach one to climb the stairs to go to bed at night. We still need to carry to other two up. In August and October we adopted 2 mill yorkies. One was more a backyard dog from an Amish man and she is pretty “normal”. The other one a true mill dog. Amazingly, she just starting going up the stairs on her own the first day. But she wouldn’t eat, drink or pee. The bichons followed our other dogs, and once past the marking in the house stage, housebroke themselves. This last one is having a hard time getting it, but that’s what linoleum floors are for! We also have 2 toy poodles, full sisters, 10 months and 16 months, full sisters purchased from a very reputable breeder. I haven’t had too much trouble getting them to bond with me. But they are so afraid of men, it is difficult for my husband, who loves dogs as much as me. As we watch our dogs cuddled in bed at night, or relaxing on a dog bed during the day, we are so happy for them to finally have a good life. But we grieve for the dogs left behind.

  16. Tena Jones
    November 27, 2014 at 11:31 PM

    Wonderful article! I too have a puppy mill ‘dumpee’ and in all fairness the animal shelter did not know that when they picked her up. It didn’t take long for me to figure it out – long enough to add plastic mesh to my wrought iron fence – since she could walk through the rails and now can climb the mesh so I still use a long line. She has been here for 3 years and has just figured out ‘house breaking’ and let’s me know when she needs to go out. She is finally brave enough to hop up on the sofa and come to me for a hug. I love my little Pom dearly, but you are so right when you tell people that it is a ‘dedicated’ commitment. Sissie & Mom

    • November 28, 2014 at 12:40 PM

      Have you heard of puppy bumpers? I use them on my small rescue dogs … our fence is the same. Wonderful products and if you do rescue work … the owner will send you one for free … they have many non returnable items and they sent me an entire box for the 108 pups that were recently obtained through “No Cavalier Left Behind” …

  17. Trudy
    November 27, 2014 at 11:31 PM

    I totally agree! I have one here that came from a breeder and was found as a stray, reason we know that she was used as a breeders dog, is that a) she was found with masitits, b) the Vet could tell that she had several litters of puppies. She is about 10-12 yrs. old, who knows how many puppies she has had. I adopted her from a Humane Society that had her spayed, vaccinated and looked after her very well, she had also made friends with another male Chi, and these 2 were totally bonded, so I came home with both of them. He is as friendly as anything, as he came from a loving home where his owner died. She wasn’t so lucky, after a couple of month she is coming around, but I am letting her pick the terms. The yard is totally fenced in so she can’t get out, can have the freedom to explore, checks things out, and comes in on her own terms, but will come when called. She has her own corner that she feels save in, with him close by as he waits for her. They are ok with my dogs, she ignores them, he mingles with them. Now after a couple of month she is slowly making the attempts to play with me, will shake a bit when I first pick her up to snuggle, but after a while she stops and just sucks it up. forcing her would have been the wrong thing to do, at her own speed realizing nobody is going to hurt her, she is slowly coming around and taking a “chance” with me. Every step is one forward in the right direction, but it takes time, and is very well worth it.

  18. November 27, 2014 at 11:32 PM

    Maybe this will help potential adopters understand.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/08/28/1234609/-Eulogy-for-Christopher

    If you make contact with National Mill Dog Rescue, they have a trainer who specializes in these dogs and she will help even if the dog didn’t come from NMDR. If Maggie gets adopted giving her Jill’s contact information could make the difference in a successful adoption.

    • Mel
      November 28, 2014 at 12:44 AM

      Thank you for sharing. I follow National Mill Dog Rescue and have the packet they give other adopters (which is now posted on their website) and it is really, really good. I would highly recommend their resources. Such a great organization.

  19. Myra
    November 27, 2014 at 11:36 PM

    I would love suggestions. I adopted a pom that was a mill dog. He will be 9 years old next month. I have had him for a year in January. He is still so scared. He would rather stay outside in the fenced in yard all day. He will cuddle up to me if I don’t move but will not come to me. I am really at a lost of what to do. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.

    • Mel
      November 28, 2014 at 12:41 AM

      Hi Myra-I remember feeling a bit lost when I first got Daisy. Back then I wrote a very kind woman who had posted videos of her work with 12 former puppy mill Aussies. She was really helpful. She was the only support I could find at the time.
      Now, there is a great resource available for those of us with puppy mill dogs.
      1. FearfulDogs.com – It’s a great website with videos and other info to help you help your puppy mill dogs. The videos alone are worth their prices in gold.
      2. Debbie Jacob’s A Guide to Living With and Training a Fearful Dog. You can find it on her website.
      3. The FearfulDogs group on Facebook. It’s a great spot to learn from others and get support, but above that, it is manned by Poitier trainers and behavioral vets experienced in working with dogs like ours. So much of the progress Maggie and other mill dogs have experienced has been because of this group.

  20. Susan Ewers
    November 27, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    Please-someone who writes as well as you do needs to make a small booklet for pre-adoption of any dog who is rescued. When someone applies for adoption of any dog this booklet should be sent to them. People do not realize what these animals really have been through. I have just rescued a small dog and she is a doll but you don’t ever know what she will do. Sometimes I see trust in her eyes and sometimes I don’t. I want there to be a time for her to look at me with full trust all the time. She is a true blessing-she just doesn’t know it yet!

  21. Jan Rice
    November 27, 2014 at 11:56 PM

    So reminds me of Daisy, my first rescued Pug from a mill. Whether she escaped or they just kicked her out, we’ll never know. I do know that in the 22 months she lived in our family, she never picked up a toy, never tried a trick or came on command. I do know she was coming out of her shell before her previous lifestyle snuffed out her candle way too soon. Love is amazing and necessary but the patience required is so misunderstood by those who have never had a mill rescue. I would have given anything to, just once, had her pick up a toy on her own to play. We did bring in a 4-month-old mill “reject” Pug and that helped to bring back some of her mothering instincts and she was coming more and more out of her shell before God called her home. Once I can retire, I hope to be able to provide a home for even more of these extra-special Pugs. My best wishes for the greatest outcome and home for Maggie.

  22. pat
    November 28, 2014 at 12:01 AM

    Very interesting. We have 2cats & 3 dogs right now & maybe someday we might take a rescue dog. Our son just got 2 rescue Wemi’s & they are doing great but they were not puppy mill dogs.

  23. Mary Ann
    November 28, 2014 at 1:04 AM

    Five years later,I still deal with my boys neglect and abuse,it took two solid years of telling him a hundred times a day what a good boy he is for him to stop ducking every time he was petted,to this day when I pet his ears I still see a slight cringe of please don’t pull my ear..I have the groomer come in,I can’t just leave him with anyone and think they wouldn’t be kind to him,he never knew how to play, he is a very serious dog,and every now and then I can get a few minutes of OK I’ll play with you out of him.just after five years is he starting to except a strangers hand,and although he is the most perfect dog greatful even just when I’m refilling a water bowl for him,greatful for everything he has,there are still reminders of the life he lived.even love can’t always fix the lives theylived before.all iI can do is make sure he has everything he needs and just protect him when he can’t cope.would I do it all over again? Of course.

  24. karen cangelosi
    November 28, 2014 at 6:31 AM

    Very well said. I adopted a rescue from a local shelter. At first they told me not to that she was a biter. Took months of sitting on a floor for hours to get her to come to me and learn trust. I can pick her up and hold her but it took one full year.

  25. Sharon
    November 28, 2014 at 6:52 AM

    Great article. I have three dogs of my own who, while not being PM dogs, came from abusive situations. They all exhibited the same personalities of PM dogs. It can take weeks or years to build their confidence and gain even a small amount of trust from them. Two have become very confident while one, after two years, still runs away if I move too quickly. I also have a small dog I captured at a local factory three weeks ago. He is going to take quite some time to reach. It is very important for people to understand that they may never make a lap dog out of these babies. Sometimes the best you can hope for is to give them a healthy, comfortable existence. I have found that having a stable, confident dog in the house helps them to see that not all humans are bad. Even with the average adopted dog there is a transition period that needs to take place, in which they are NEVER off leash when outside. They will usually try to “go home”, simply because they do not yet realize they are home. Bless you for all that you do to help PM dogs!

    • Mel
      November 28, 2014 at 7:55 AM

      God bless you for rescuing them Sharon. Yes, it definitely takes time. I will only disagree on one thing you said. Some can become lap dogs. My dog, Daisy, was my first puppy mill dog and she loves a little lap cuddle time, even if she can’t really fit into my lap completely. 🙂

      Of course, it took her 3 years to lose the sadness and the vacant look from her eyes, but six years later she is almost normal. I credit my “normal” dog, Jasper, for a lot of that.

      • Sharon
        November 28, 2014 at 1:48 PM

        Yes, I agree, some, even most, do become lap dogs, but as long as people understand that some do not, they will not be disappointed. Daisy is a lucky girl to have you in her life. And I would bet that you consider yourself to be the lucky one!

  26. November 28, 2014 at 7:18 AM

    Can I suggest that for those who are truly interested in adopting a puppy mill rescue, they should undergo a training seminar in the proper handling of such delicate cases. This may avoid disappointments, the feeling of getting overwhelmed with their quirks and all and would not resort to abandonment.

    • Mel
      November 28, 2014 at 7:52 AM

      Great suggestion! I think that is a great idea. Now where to find such a class!

  27. November 28, 2014 at 7:54 AM

    Very well written..Thank you for caring for this great girl. I have fostered several puppy mill dogs and the rescue I work with has been pulling from mills for around 10 years. It truly does take education for people to “get it” We have some who turned around very quickly and a few that 4 years later are still with the foster families and will remain permanent fosters as it is just too much for these 2 to be adopted out. They are far too fearful even with all the work the foster families have put in. They are happy and secure in their homes and trust the foster families but strangers are still just too traumatizing for them so the board has decided that as long as the fosters are okay with keeping them they will live their lives out in the homes they know and feel safe in. Thanks again for fostering and sharing this.

  28. November 28, 2014 at 8:13 AM

    Great information here.

    I am a cat person and have never owned dogs. My three cats are all rescues. One is perfectly adjusted and I knew his background before adopting him. I have had the second one since he was four weeks old but even at that age he had not been properly socialized and often bites if he is scared or angry. The third is a little sweetheart that came to my door at about 12 weeks, crying and flea-infested but purring constantly. She is afraid of sudden noises but is otherwise a joy. Only the first one likes to be held; the others do not. These are the kinds of things you don’t know until you actually have the animal in your home, and some people can’t deal with it. So I do understand what you are saying about working with an animal’s idiosyncrasies. And I know that as much as I like dogs, I do not have the kind of patience to work with them like you are doing.

    Kudos to you for what you do to help these animals.

  29. Laurel Hartley
    November 28, 2014 at 8:16 AM

    Thanks for your information about Maggie and puppy mill dogs in general ! I am glad that you do understand her and I hope that you will be able to hear how Maggie is doing down the road ! Thank you and God bless !

  30. Denyce
    November 28, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    We adopted a PM Great Pyrenees from KY. We live in PA, had never had a PM dog, perhaps not totally aware of what we were in for, but the rescue we got her from felt we were well suited for her. We hasn’t actually met her in person, but we were/are ready to have her in our lives. We have never given up on a pet and never will with our Clary. We had a husky before her so we are well versed in how not to lose your dog. We are lucky in the fact our Clary LOVES to be touched, by anyone. She just completely goes into the zone & relaxes as soon as our friends or people who she meets pet her. In the 6 months we have had her in our lives she went from a dog who was terrified of EVERYTHING to a dog who wore a costume, went to a dog Halloween Party and actually had her tail over her back, sat, laid down on command and had what seemed to be a good time. We found obedience classes, chicken McNuggets whenever we go somewhere in the car and trips to the dog park where she socialized with the other dogs well. But she always looks to us at the park and will come to us when we call her. She still does not understand toys, is afraid when something inanimate moves in the house such as a “new” decoration. When she is too fearful in the house we put her on leash so she is connected to us thereby looking to us to make decisions for her. She gets a bone once a week and has decided our socks are good to chew up. So now we are neater. This weekend we are getting a small Christmas tree. I know at first she will afraid, but with our confidence and patience she will adjust. Crates are a whole other matter and I am not pushing that issues. She spent her first two years in a cage, she doesn’t ever need to be in one again. She is part of our family, our 5 cats are all patient and loving with her, giving her cat kisses and walking back and forth with her when she needs to pace. While we might not have really known what we were getting into, we wouldn’t give her up for the world. As in the words of One Direction “Our Clary is beautiful, oh uh uh Clary is beautiful…”

  31. November 28, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    I have a 4 lb yorkie mill dog of 7ys. I have had him now for nearly 2 yrs and it is hard to re raise him. I have 3 other dogs a mini poodle, a small terrier and a huge Shepard. the first two weeks Zacc (his name) he stayed in a corner of the house. I just watched him to see figure out how damaged he was and realized that his life went far beyond fear but well into constant terror……. He was starting to study me after the 3rd week. I could see him watching me from the corner of my eye but if I turned to look at him he hid his face. I knew that he was thinking “If I don’t look at her … see cant see me.” I began picking him up and petting him ( against his will at first) 5 min everyday just to get him used to gentle ear scratches. the first time I knew he was responding and he liked it and wanted more, was the greatest reward knowing that we had a huge break trough. from there he began exploring the house. H was learning his name and watching always watching me and the other dogs. 4-5 months after bringing Zacc home he had watched the other dogs going in and out the dog door. He tried it. WOW. He made me laugh because I bet that day he went in and out 30-40 times that day.
    he became potty trained and my life was great. But the damage runs deep. one day you think he has over come a problem the next week he reverts. after the first snow he began peeing in the kitchen floor again. though he does go out to poop. even now after 2 yrs he still has a lot of things to get over, but the joy at seeing him become a dog he never was in its self rewarding. last week he jumped up and put his paws my leg to be picked up cause that’s what the other dogs do. I cant tell you how my heart soared…. Yet his fear is there because though he loves being on my lap and brushed, when I reached to get him he jumped down and backed up an began his running in circles. which means I’m excited and afraid at the same time. If anyone were to ask me about pm dogs, I would tell them that they should not expect to get a ” oh your home , jump up and down greeting” when they come home. and may never happen. they should be excited over little changes. like looking at you as the only response when you say their name though immediately curl back into a ball to hide. if you are reactive than these are not the dogs for you. ….. I have a few video’s of him on fb . when he over comes his fear and allows himself to play. brings tears of joy to my eyes when that happens. its not often but they are becoming a bit more and more .

  32. November 28, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    I like your honesty about what it’s like to adopt a puppy mill dog and the video. It would be really helpful to see more videos of the process of acclimating a puppy mill rescue dog to a normal environment. I have a puppy mill rescue Maltese. I wish I had taken a video of him in the first days. He was scared, trembling, pulled like crazy on a leash (to get out of it), not house trained etc. I did what the shelter told me. I sat on the floor with him for 3 days and let him approach me. He is now in love with me (a little obsessively), walks normally on a leash, is house trained. He continues to spin in circles when happy or excited and can’t climb or descend stairs. He still needs to be touched under his chin, not on his back or head (he doesn’t like that but will tolerate it). Watching videos of how to train these special dogs would be so helpful. I know that sitting on the floor with him made a HUGE difference and I’m glad I knew to do that.

  33. Andrea Dyar
    November 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    Lots a great stories here. Thanks for bringing up this subject. I adopted Cailin, a puppy mill sheltie, 9 years ago, and I was not prepared. She was terrified by everything. After a few weeks, I didn’t know what to do, and I almost gave up on my ability to help her adjust. Fortunately, I knew a certified dog trainer that worked with me with exercises to gain her trust and to take her focus away from the big, scary world and place it with me. It was a lifesaver for both of us as she began to relax at home. Even so, for 6 months, she would not go outside without me, and it took 3 years before she was fully housetrained. I think because we had to work so hard together, I have a special bond with her and I love her to death. She still is uncomfortable sometimes in unfamiliar surroundings, but at home she rules the roost! Hopefully by reading your story and others here, potential adopters will recognize the commitment that goes with adopting these dogs. The rewards are great, but you have to be willing to put in the time.

  34. Susan Roling
    November 28, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    I am truly saddened by your story. We have been adopting rescue Shelties including our 2 current puppy mill “babies” for over 20 years. We have 4 rescued Shelties now. Fortunately, I am retired and can keep my fur-babies safe in our fenced privacy yard to avoid distractions from outside their world. Yes, even our 10 year old girl, Shadow, would run in an instant. Our 7 year old boy is still afraid of our deck stairs despite concerted efforts to make them easier. So, he now has decided that coming through the basement doors is okay. He runs around in circles even today as he did when he first came to us in living fear. This boy has suffered so; he was left starving in a cage where he no longer could perform and was there for a year. He was so awful looking at 16 pounds. Fortunately, the wonderful lady who helped him try to adapt for the months before we got him. PATIENCE and PERSEVERANCE are the two words with which to live. My friend has a shelter/sanctuary for Shelties and has many more than I have. None of our damaged babies will every trust completely but we all must show love at all cost. Blessings upon you and your babies.

  35. Cheryl Rooney
    November 28, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    I have a 8 year old PM Bichon that is a dream. However, she has many little problems that I don’t think she will come out of. I have had her a year now and she won’t go for a walk because things scare her and she runs back home I have tried coaxing her with treats but if something scares her she only has one thing in her mind and that is run. I have decided that putting her through the torment I might as well just let her enjoy the yard she has and not worry about the walks. She started training on pee pads because of the harsh winter we had last year it was just too cold to put her out. When the winter broke I started taking her outside to go and she was doing really well for a couple of months and something startled her and she refused to go back out and it didn’t matter what i did she would just run back in the house. She is now using her pee pads again. I have decided that after a year of trying many things to work for her I will let her live her life just the way she is comfortable. If she wants to come out ok if not that’s ok also. If she would rather use her pee pads in case something scares her outside that’s ok with me. To be constantly on top of her to be something she can’t be is very scary for her and frustrating for me. I am not real sure if I’m doing the right thing but I believe she is happy where she is. She is safe and loved and has 2 other dogs here she plays with. The others are normal healthy dogs and I thought she would follow their lead but she hasn’t got all the way there yet. Sad what pm do to these dogs. Am I doing the right thing? Does anyone have any suggestions that really worked?
    Thanks

    • Trudy
      November 28, 2014 at 6:37 PM

      I think that some of the dogs take longer then others. My girlfriend took one in that came out of a horrific situation. She never got over it, had her own little ways of doing things, but adored my girlfriend. Everything with her were baby steps, accepting people into the house, not running and hiding. To bolting if you had her on your lap to finally staying there and “tolerating” the situation. She even started to enjoy going to the groomer. Some of them come around faster then others, some could take a couple of years, but every baby step is a success story, as the animal is further then it was the day before. I am sure she will get around to it eventually, especially with your other dogs there as well, it does become some sort of monkey see monkey do situation, and really as long as you can live with the situation, that is all that matters. After all, it is what works for both of you.

  36. Karen Zelle
    November 28, 2014 at 4:47 PM

    Such great information. Thanks for sharing and for the work that you are doing. We adopted a Pomeranian puppy mill dog from a local rescue a little over a year ago and you all are spot on..patience and perseverance are key. At the time of her adoption I could not find much local help but I did find a great book, “Puppy Mill Dogs Speak!” which offered great tips and information. Lydia is still making important strides and it is so wonderful to see her personality emerge. I appreciate the web site, FB page and book recommendations. I would love to get her into a shy dogs class after the holidays.

  37. November 28, 2014 at 6:43 PM

    Thanks for your post and after reading most of the comments, the “experts” just need to talk to the fosters and adopters of PM dogs and they will get real stories of the effects of a PM! I too adopted a PM mini poodle, same issues that your dog has with the door! Same thing chasing her around, waiting for hours till she came in. Was scared to death of people, doors, slippery floors. Only had her for 2 years, she died of liver failure which was totally unexpected. By then, she had claimed our hearts, and would go up the stairs and come back into the house on her own and actually slept on my bed with me. Her 2 brothers loved her and she learned to be a normal dog because of them. They were heart broken and wouldn’t sleep on her spot on my bed for almost 5 months. We miss our Bella. It is a labor of love, dedication and extreme patience to take on one of these dogs. The reward is phenomonal if they make any progress. But it breaks my heart to think of her life before and that she only had 2 years with us. I have another PM doodle, and he bonded with me immediately and is my best buddy, wouldn’t run away from me in a million years. He doensn’t even need to be leashed. You never know. Have had him for 3 years. Thanks for all you are doing. I fostered 29 doodles over a 2 year period and had 85% success rate. Blessings!

  38. November 28, 2014 at 7:17 PM

    3 years Go, my rescue took in 9from a mill in missouri. They where in bad shape. I still have 2 left and they are the light of my life. Sissy and Zorro, 2 shihtzu’ s about 7&5 bonded pair. Each with issues, Zorro cronic dry eye, from being outdoors, Sissy emotional just like Maggie, but also shot with bb we removed a year ago. Zorro is a fun loving cuddle bug, has to be near you. Sissy’s shell is breaking down, until 6 months ago, i could not hold her unless we went to vet or groomer. She would hid in her crate because she felt safe there. Know she was to be held at times, she has learned to jump on the couch, she sleeps in bed with me at night, sometimes right next to me. But it is all about baby steps. I had them listed online for adoption, BONDED PAIR, FENCED IN YARD ONLY. And i still got people want to seperate, i live in an apt, no yard. They will both run if they had a chance, i hope less than they did in the beginning. Some people want i adopted a puppy mill survivor, but dont or wont want to listen to people that are cating for them. Sissy and Zorro are no longer avaiable for adoption. They found their forever home. And i thank god everyday these guys came into my life

  39. November 28, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    We adopted a Cocker Spaniel who had been in a puppy mill. She had a lot of problems when we got her and we had no experience with puppy mill dogs. What we did have was lots of love, time and patience. I think a lot of the healing came from those things. We didn’t need special skills. She came to know that she would always be warm, loved, safe, and have plenty to eat. Yes, it was hard at first but we got through it and Molly is the sweetest little girl ever and we love her immensely. If you don’t want a dog with issues then do not get a dog that has been abused, neglected, or mistreated. It takes much love and patience and if you don’t have it you may be better off not getting one in the first place.

  40. November 28, 2014 at 10:48 PM

    We inherited an orphaned Sheltie after my husband’s cousin died suddenly of cancer. She had not been socialized (we knew very little of her background) and she was extremely shy and fearful and also aggressive. Coincidentally we had the same name and the fact that she was so troubled (with every behavioral problem in the book) made me love her even more. We had so many obstacles and challenges throughout the years but with a lot of patience and commitment and especially “unconditional” love, she blossomed. Because of her, I became and animal activist, helped to start a non-profit animal charity (Operation Blankets of Love) and wrote a book ( memoir) “Sandy and Sandy A Tail of Love”…I recommend that anyone who has a Sheltie read my book. It is available in paperback, Kindle, Nook and other e-books, at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, google.books.com, eBay, iTunes etc.

  41. Corrie
    November 30, 2014 at 12:00 AM

    I have a puppy mill rescue that was deemed un-adoptable. He has been with us for 3yrs and he has improved but not as much as I hoped. He too has doorway issues. Once it took me an hour and a half to get him in…. The only way I did was to act like a dog myself. My other dogs know something is off about him. Sometimes they are not very nice to him. They know when I get frustrated and try to correct him.

  42. November 30, 2014 at 11:47 PM

    I wasn’t sure about Donna’s flight risk when I adopted her. But she can be skittish too, and Donna isn’t even a puppy mill dog. I’m glad Maggie has you to help make sure she lands in a good family that will take care of her 🙂

  43. Stephanie
    December 2, 2014 at 5:43 PM

    Very well expressed in writing. Each rescue is special needs in their own way. Patience is the trusted friend in finding the correct forever home.

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