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Meeting Maggie – A Pine River puppy mill dog

January 2, 2014 104 comments
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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.

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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.

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Wednesday Winner: Fearfuldogs.com

March 31, 2010 Leave a comment

My Labrador Retriever, Daisy, is a “fearful dog”. Having spent the first 4 years of her life in a puppy mill (as a breeding dog) Daisy had had little exposure to people, cats, houses, cars, wood floors… or kindness. As you can imagine, it was very challenging for me to help her to become comfortable in her new surroundings, and with people.

But not all fearful dogs come from a situations like Daisy’s. Some are born that way. Some were abused in their former homes. Some were neglected and never had the opportunity to be socialized with other people or dogs. And, some just developed fears over time.

So, where does one go for help when they have a fearful dogs? To a wonderful little site called Fearfuldogs.com. Deb is the owner of a fearful dog herself (Sunny) and has lots of knowledge and experience working with dogs like Daisy. Her website and blog are great resources for people with fearful dogs. She also has some really great videos of how to work with a fearful dog.

If you have a dog that is fearful, I recommend that you check it out. You won’t be sorry! And, if you don’t have a fearful dog I would check it out anyways. There’s lots of great information on the website that can help everyone work better with their dog.

Today’s Wednesday Winner is:
Fearfuldogs.com

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