Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Still Typing, But....

I'm still typing away on my Tally Tale.

In the mean time, I thought I'd share a column I'm doing for the paper on Snocone and her transformation from Zombie dog to household diva. We're not quite there yet, but it's happening.
She stood outside yesterday and joined Charlie, Brockle and Dinah in barking at hikers on the ridge above our house.
Not like I consider this "good dog" behavior, but she has NEVER barked outside at anything, much less joined in with her pack mates.
I can't swear she knew what she was barking at, but she sure had the "There! I told them!" strut as she came in the house.
I was as proud as she was.


Adventures with Snocone -
The Reanimation of a Mill Dog Zombie
By Janet Huntington

   To be honest, I was a little spooked by the idea of adopting a mill dog.
   By definition, a puppy mill is a large-scale breeding operation that produces large numbers of puppies for profit.
   The formal definition leaves out a lot of details. The breeding dogs are confined to unheated, small wire cages for their entire lives, fed inadequately and denied basic medical care, even though their lives leave them sick, malnourished and injured. 
   Although my heart went out to the rescued breeding dogs, stories of their problems from a life of abuse and no socialization made me wonder if one of these dogs could ever adapt to life with a family.
   When we adopted 8-yearold Snocone from the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, she was identified as a stray with no background. The little “almost Maltese” was shy, starved and withdrawn,, but she lit up when my husband held her and he immediately knew she was the dog for him. We were still providing a dog with a much needed home, but I was relieved we were missing the mill dog bullet.
   Little did we know, Snocone was going to be a project neither of us were prepared for.
   Robotic and unresponsive to our voices or other dogs, Snocone wandered in a daze. We soon jokingly described her shambling, halting way of going  as “Dogatonia.” Our joking hid deep concern. There was something seriously wrong with the matted little mutt. The concept of housebreaking was beyond her, so much so, when she woke, she peed, sometimes not bothering to even stand up. Poop fell unnoticed as she staggered along. When we took her outside she froze, mesmerized by the sights and sounds around her. She was afraid to walk in the grass or weeds and confused by the wind, learning to take care of business outside was beyond her scope.
    Some simple research brought Snocone’s problems to light. She wasn’t suffering from a neurological disease, as I had feared, her odd behavior exactly matched the idiosyncrasies of an abandoned mill dog. It turns out, once mill dogs have lost their ability to breed, sometimes a lucky few are given to a rescue, usually, they are killed, or in Snocone’s case, dumped to fend for themselves.
   We aren’t a family who abandons or returns dogs. Snocone was a mess, but as she lay quietly in my husband’s arms, her eyes lit up with contentment, I knew we were going to work through this. The five-pound bundle of matted fur and bones was ready to trust, maybe even love us. People had not given her any reason to offer her loyalty and kindness, but here she sat, ready to give us a go. The least we could do was accept her offer.
   So we did. First on the agenda was going to be housetraining.

Next installment: Snocone learns to go, then “go” outside.


redhorse said...

I'm so glad she found her voice and learned to bark with the pack.

shadowlake2005 said...

Barking is a big deal and a real sign of her growing sense of security and normalcy. I had a mill dog for thirteen years who never, in all that time, ever barked except sometimes in her sleep.

Greenie said...

Yay Snocone... (wipes a tear)

Anonymous said...

I continue to admire your way with words. Thanks for sharing your story.

Whywudyabreedit said...

Sounds like you have put some plasticity back into her little under developed brain. Poor little thing locked up in a cage all that time. Very good of you to rise to that challenge, sounds like your dedication is paying off nicely.

Jenn said...


Yeah, sometimes a bad habit is a good thing. Who'd'a thunk it?

Looking forward to this series.

zebradreams07 said...

Tally. Tallytallytallytallytally!

zebradreams07 said...

Tally. Tallytallytallytallytally!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I just don't get it. At a non-human(e) level, isn't a mill-dog inventory? Don't you want to take good care of your inventory so that they will (in this case) reproduce well and make you more money? I have the same confusion about horse brokers and trainers who abuse or starve horses.....it just doesn't make sense to me. Inhumaness aside.

Anonymous said...

It's called maximum out-put with minimal in-put. If you're trying to make money you don't want to spend it on things like vet care, large kennels, good food and why waste time with cleaning and attention if you're just going to cull the ones that quit producing anyway. It's like battery cages and factory farming for dogs. Puppy mills are beyond evil...

mugwump said...

Anon: Snocone could have easily produced 14 litters of anywhere between 2 and 8 puppies each during her life as a mill dog.
The mill owner gets between $300 and $500 for each puppy from the broker who then sells to pet stores or on line, for $1000 to $5000 for the most popular breeds.
This hugely profitable, but not if the dogs or puppies are cared for or if attention is paid to genetics.
This is why so many of the puppies are sick.

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