(NOTE: This post was part of a previous domain and not all comments were not migrated over.)
This weekend we added a third moo to our pack.
Gizmo is a 1.5 year old male Cavalier and he’s very special. Gizmo is a puppy mill survivor – that means, alongside being a rescue pup, he’s also going to be a very large “work in progress” in our home. 🙂
Up until six weeks ago, Gizmo was living in a commercial breeding facility as one of the ‘stock’ – a place where dogs are bred for online pet stores and pet shops. Puppy mills, if you will. He didn’t have a name. He had a stock number. Dog # 232.
Many sites/stores will tell you their puppies come from local breeders, raised in loving homes (cough Petland cough) – but they don’t. If they can’t produce the paperwork or give you the address to investigate yourself, they’re bluffing, and the laws are not in place to penalize that fabrication. Many sellers work around this truth because they purchase store stock through puppy brokers, who purchase dogs from commercial breeders during auctions, enabling the shops and sites to claim their puppies come from healthy, loving, hobby breeders.
Gizmo’s mill is run by a woman and her two sons, producing endless breeds, and raking in salaries over $100k per year. They’ve been fined four times in recent years for neglect or abuse by the USDA and they’ve had over 103 dogs confiscated due to inhumane conditions (which says a LOT if you knew how poor the required standards are). None of this, mind you, has forced the mill to shut down.
Gizmo was born, and spent the first year plus of his life in small wire cage, stacked atop other cages, filled to the brim with siblings and likewise. He doesn’t know human contact (and the little he does was not kind), he doesn’t know grass. He experienced so little and lived so inhumanely that he is scared of everything.
Sneezes. Movement. Cars. People going from sitting to standing. Human touch. Leashes. You name it, it’s new, and it’s frightening. He’s not my first rescue, but he is my first mill rescue, and it is an entirely different ball game. Per the experts:
“Rehabilitating a puppy mill dog is a long, slow process, and success is by no means certain. On average, it takes 6 to 8 months to see progress in the transformation. Mill dogs know nothing about being a beloved pet, or companion, or playmate. These dogs have lived in wire cages, eaten poor quality food, been forced to share their cages with many other dogs, never had the proper medical care, and have never known the human touch of affection and kindness. They are used to lying in their own excrement, and the excrement of other dogs that share the same fate. Not only will these dogs bring tremendous training challenges, they will also challenge your patience and commitment as you attempt to integrate them into your family life. Many of these dogs are shy. Many are fearful. Many will bark at, or run and hide from, the “normal” sounds of a household – the doorbell ringing, a child’s joyful squeal, the running of the vacuum cleaner, and the jangling of car keys.”
Gizmo was immediately placed after the auction with an elderly woman – the rescue was aware at how little stimulation Gizmo could handle and knew he would need a quite, routine, slow-paced home. Within the week, the lady returned him, stating she couldn’t handle how skittish and distant he was.
We began his next hope – and whether he likes it or not, he’s stuck with us. 😉 We have learned that while he might not know much, one thing he does know is other dogs – and having Emmie and Bailey has been an invaluable help. Being in their company, he is at ease. Much to their demise, he lives under them and where they go, he goes, what they do, he does. It’s incredibly helpful. We can’t approach him, but if we catch him next to one of the dogs and move slow, we can nearly touch his chin. He learned toys aren’t so bad (and we have learned he hoards – a habit many mill dogs develop is pulling anything they can through the bars into their cages as a makeshift toy, so he’s been collecting the bath rugs, unsupervised socks, my cell phone…).
He learned the stairs, slowly, by bribing him with treats and Emmie. He attempted the dog door. He’s a gentleman to the cats. And despite the fact his coping mechanism is to yell, growl and hide from everything new (the dishwasher, me brushing my hair, Sean making coffee, switching rooms — no joke, we spent four hours last night being barked at, full volume, endlessly… but we ignored it and he’s already lessening this morning), he’s making his own version of progress. He helped himself onto the love seat to hang with me and the dogs earlier.
For how frightening we are, he shocked us both by sleeping on the big bed. Our best progress was made, oddly, at that time. Perhaps it was the first night in his life that he felt he was given the option to join the pack, as it was the first night he slept outside of a cage (mill) or crate (rescue). He waited until he thought we were fast asleep, and then quietly climbed up the pet steps, onto the bed, and sniffed our faces (SQUEE!) before settling down between us. This morning, he brought Emmie a toy (who “helped” teach him how to destroy it), and he let Sean hold his food bowl, even though he grumbled the entire time – we do not eat out of bowls yet.
Gizmo may never be “normal”, but we’ve decided that’s okay. He’ll get better, we’ll work harder, and he will see that life with people isn’t a nightmare. He’ll be safe. And that’s the entire point anyway, isn’t it?