Puppy Mill Survivor ~ My Deaf & Blind Double Dapple Dachshund
Love Never Fails
This lens is dedicated to Alice, a puppy mill survivor, who lived for 7 years as no one's pet.
This lens reflects the rescued life of a deaf and blind puppy mill survivor and her baby steps toward recovery. My experiences from watching the birth of her mind and rebirth of her life have enlightened me to the other side of rescue- REHABILITATION. What seems like progress and set backs to me are merely baby steps forward for Alice as she experiences the world outside of a small cage. It is possible to bridge the gap between an infantile mind and adult body.
But can I completely undo her thinking that not all humans are objects of fear?
The disturbing images of Alice's inhumane living conditions (as seen on youtube video) initially tugged at my heartstrings. That scene is what we all see in the beginning. But the emotional scarring is devastating beyond what we will really ever know. Coupled with being deaf and blind, Alice was just, in reality, a possible incubator.
Alice is 44 sec in
Where Alice used to live
I Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts,always hopes, always perseveres. LOVE NEVER FAILS
Alice: Made From Scratch - Life Outside of Wire Walls Begins
It seems so hard to fathom 7 years of enduring any torture, but to a victim, years do not define time as well as days, hours, or minutes do. Although a minute seems easier to endure something traumatic, eventually, it becomes a norm and a sort of learned helplessness sets in faster. Trust is replaced with mistrust then predictability disappears. Nurturing is replaced with neglect, Feeding time becomes feeding frenzy-on a first come first serve basis. Echoes of depressed whines and barks share the same "learned helplessness." The scent of feces and urine that marks the concrete becomes a normal environmental cue that "YOU ARE STILL HERE!" But perhaps the saddest part is that all of this happens at the hands of "those" humans, which makes all other humans an object of fear.
My relationship with Alice was kind of like a mission in the beginning. I had intended to get her ready for a possible adopter. I knew she would take work and I was prepared to work with her, but when I say she was motionless most of the time around me, I mean ABSOLUTELY NO MOTION. While still sniffing out her canine cohorts, she did so with caution. They were curious about Alice and liked piling into the small cage with her like Dachshunds do. One day she was in the cage alone and 2 of my former backyard breeder Mamas edged in on each side of her. Bella started to groom Alice and she finally just relaxed. Below is the first video.
Alice relaxed if she does not stray from her routine and what's familiar. Her eating schedule is twice a day. Getting about the house is aided by keeping furniture and such in the same place because she walks in circles sometimes. If we need to pick her up, we will pat the floor or crate pillow first and say "pick up, Alice" even though she is deaf. She knows someone is there, but 7 times out of 10 will cower to the back of her crate if she is not ready to let you take her out.
She is afraid of new voices in the house and will become anxious if there is excitement in the form of yelling or screaming, such as during a football game or kids playing loudly. All of the dogs barking at once used to be frightening, but she is ok with it unless it goes on and on. Going outside is terrifying if there is a hot rod revving up. Thunderstorms are TERRIFYING to the point that we decided to give her a sedative if necessary.
I don't know how she tolerated such squaller for all of those years because she hates a dirty bed and area. She goes to extremes trying to cover the mess. If she hears a frightening noise, she will use her bedding, but tries to cover it up to the point of sometimes having a sore on her nose. This is usually when she hears this when we are not home. All of these "homing" urges are being displayed for the first time since she was always kept in a filthy place to my knowledge. She is picky and fussy if there is a dirty area. I know this because she will walk in circles until the mess is GONE! Once I start hearing foot steps on the mat I clean it up fast. This lowers her anxiety.
Will The Real Alice Please Stand Up?
Even though Alice will be 8 years old this year (May 2012), she is just now learning to trust. She snuggles with me and her pack with ease now. She lays on a tiny pillow beside us at night. I usually rub a little baby lotion with chamomile and lavender on her pillow and it it is like giving catnip to a kitty! She grunts and scratches. She sticks her hind end in the air and if you scratch her tailbone, you get an added bonus of flips and snorts. While this is cute to see and certainly a blessing, it has not always been a reality for Alice. She has come a long way in trusting me to pet and scratch her as her demeanor was once PARALYZED WITH FEAR which graduated to running away. She will raise that little leg up for her thigh to be tickled, then the awful vision of her laying on her side, possibly nursing a litter of pups, pops in my head and I just wonder WHY on Earth anyone would breed her. She was no one's pet. I know this because she smelled so bad when I got her that no one would let a pet snuggle up to them them with that smell. She is my pet now. She dreams with her pack at night.
Home Sounds Like Your Heart Beat - Finding HOME!
Alice is one of the lucky ones rescued from a puppy mill. She had a lot of strikes against her because she was sight and hearing impaired, 7 years old and VERY UNSOCIALIZED. It has been almost a year since I got Alice. She has minimal hearing and can respond to her name when called. She will run with the dogs a bit, then find a place of her own. She eats from my hand at the snack rug, and she is a Snack Vixen! She has started to become interested in chewing on cloth toys. She has 8 teeth, so her tongue falls out of her mouth and she looks so funny. She has taken a part of my heart and stamped it with a pawprint! As Alice presses her little head against my chest when I hold her, she "hears" the sound of HOME.
Bridging the gap between mind and body
Some Photos of AliceClick thumbnail to view full-size
Bridging the Age Gap Between Mind and Body
Since Alice has been in my care, I have seen her go through so many stages. Her response to my approaching her for "pick up" has morphed from paralyzed-with-fear to running from me to running in circles and wagging her tail when she knows I am near. Establishing trust has been difficult because her fear factor was intensely high.
I had her senior blood work done last winter and even though her body is is great condition, except for her teeth (she has about 8), her mental state is still at a young puppy's who is very frightened. She is learning potty training, eating schedules, snack schedules, snuggle-or-holding schedules and bedtime schedule. She is a fast learner, and thrives in her routine. Bridging the age gap between mind and body seems to be the task. The closer the two of those are in age, the more settled she will become.
Below is another video of Bella grooming Alice after a nap one day. Even though dogs will groom other dogs, All 7 of my other dogs like to groom Alice. It seems to relax her until Bella pins her down to get that ear just a little cleaner!
Potty Training The Puppy Mill Dog
Pee in the..."What is that?"
In my opinion, a Dachshund is only as potty trained as the amount of time you leave the dog alone. Even the most potty trained Dachshunds will have an accident if you don't give them the opportunity to relieve themselves often. But, I can only speak for myself and my 7 stubborn doxies! Crate training, puppy pad (scent) training, or taking-the-dog-out-for-relief-often training will work for most dogs and remain a success. The earlier the dog is trained in his/her life, the better chance at success. Right?
My Alice was 7 years old when I got her. She was not potty trained. She had lived in her own urine and feces day after day. She had no potty schedule. Potty training for me did not have a normal beginning. Because Alice was deaf and blind, she had a confined area that she would potty in. Trying to get her to like the outside was a new task. She hated outside. She was seven years old NOT seven months, so teaching an old dog a new "trick" was going to take work.
I had a schedule that was perfect for me and my dogs that had all 5 of their senses.
Wake up at 5:30 - Breakfast - Potty - Morning Nap OR Go to Work! - Potty during day - Dinner - Potty - Belly Rubs - Potty - Bedtime.
Alice had her schedule: Wake up at 5:30 - Potty Count Down BEGINS: 10...9...8.......2...1 second--> SPLASH AND SPLAT! I had to beat the clock to get her out of her crate, to the door, through the door, to the grass (which she hated) far away from things she could bump into as she circled to tee tee and poo poo! She would follow me around the yard and back to the door, to the snack rug and got a treat. Then off to behind the couch until we go out again.
Over time, this routine helped her to walk about the yard with me and find her way to the door. I also needed her to be still before I picked her up, so I would place my hand in front of her to make her stop. Then I picked her up. Eventually she stopped circling on her own This helped her to predict being picked up, which was one of the reasons we had a count down for potty time- fear of being handled. I also would not let her in the door until she stopped circling. At least we were communicating with each other our expectations.
Grass or NO Grass!
The Texas Drought of 2011 hit Houston hard so that dying lawns were a common sight due to water conservation. Alice had allergies to dried grass so bad that her 3rd protruding eyelids were constantly inflamed. She was eventually going to potty somewhere, but I needed her to go in a place that I thought was ok.
Epic Fail #1 The Training Drops
Training Drops are supposed to encourage the dog to potty in a certain spot, then hopefully potty without the drops. I arranged her crate so that her potty area was to the side out of her circling area to avoid trampling poop. I discovered that she did not like the scent of training drops. She avoided the pad it was on and would use her bedding instead, which by the way triggered anxiety. Trying to cover the "potty" aggravated her to the point of friction sores on her nose.
Epic Fail #2 My Division of Potty/Living Area
Because dogs do not like to potty where they sleep, crate training is a great success to establish potty training. So I researched a few ideas about this and made Alice's bedding area small and potty area small. This was to discourage circling and trampling (no room) and going potty in her bed. Well, I accomplished this: She did not circle and trample in it and she did not potty in her bed. SHE KICKED 1/2 OF IT THROUGH THE FENCE AND A GOOD 12 INCHES UP! IT WAS HUNG IN THE WIRES AND STUCK LIKE 3-D ART ON THE WALL. THE OTHER HALF WAS EMBEDDED BETWEEN HER TOES. She acquired a new nickname- "Alice with Malice." As a matter of fact, if I smell anything like potty, I pause in my tracks and ask myself, "Do I really want to go in there NOW?"
It was almost late summer when I figured what seemed to help. I noticed that Alice would always poop and pee in the same spot, but it was in an inconvenient place for her- in the middle of the walk area. I also noticed that she would circle the mat when she was about to potty, so I listened for the foot steps. As long as I could predict when she would potty, I would clean it up and she would stop circling, NO POOP was on walls, bedding, or embedded in her feet. Keeping this in mind, I rearranged her cage area hoping "to move" this spot to the side of her cage. Nope! She used the center of her walk area. I moved her cage area 2 more times and center of walk area it was! But WHY? I don't know. Finally I had a run built for her that included a wire fence around a 2x6 foot area with her wire cage at one end. To this day, she goes potty close to the center. And I clean it up fast or it hits the wall.
I still have to watch her in the rest of the house. She won't use the flooring outside of her cage, usually, unless she did not go in her cage area. For years, her cage was her "outside" and "inside." She has learned about the NEW inside: her home, which is the rest of MY house! As long as she has gone potty in her cage, she WILL NOT potty in the house. She will go back to her caged area if she feels she has had enough of the rest of the house. I leave it open for her. One thing is for certain... the potty mess needs to be removed fast. If I don't remove it, then she will.
Becoming a Grown Up!
So many changes have happened in Alice's life. She has blossomed into a kind of normalcy. I can't really take the credit for this transformation, but I can tell you that an environment without LOVE (not tolerance), patience, routines, constant interaction (humans and animals), and SNACKS will hinder healing!
Alice has learned to bark for attention. She will kick up a fuss behind the gate when she is trying to communicate. She is notorious for waking her sisters up at night to play. I sometimes have to put her in bed with me to keep her quiet. She will lay down and go back to sleep while the rest of her pack grumbles at her for disturbing their peace.
She has a personality that is emerging into one that is friendly. Feeding time causes her to run in circles wagging her tail. She will approach the hand that feeds her. She is a vixen at the snack rug. She is plays "get the kibble" with her sisters. She loves to chew on raw hides. I have to take them from her when they get soggy. She will try to run with that soggy mess to keep me from taking it, but relents. But all is forgiven when she gets her thigh tickled! That is almost a given when she in on anyone's lap
Alice just celebrated her 9th birthday on May 18. She is in great health, She is so energetic and vibrant. It is a very difficult to fathom where she came from. It is sometimes forgotten that she was imprisoned for most of her life. Unless I tell people that she was rescued from a puppy mill, they assume that she is just blind and deaf...
Please consider adopting from a rescue group instead of a backyard breeder or pet store. Often times, rescue groups have pulled these dogs from the deplorable conditions that the pet store pets came from and fully vetted them. This includes dentals, heartworm or parasite treatments and vaccines.
- Dachshund Rescue of Houston
There are many ways to help the countless dogs who are rescued. Becoming a foster parent is a way to provide an environment for the dog who needs an extra touch of care and trust until the forever home is available to him or her.
- THE WEENER BLAWG - All of My Rescue Babies! Click here
Right now this site is under construction. The ONLY reason I have this site up before it is finished is because I want to share my little weeners with my distant family. The links on this page are to my little sausages and those pages are TOO under c
Providing Pet Insurance to Breeders.
I have adopted 4 dachshunds in the past year. I chose to put them on pet insurance as a dachshund will do MOST anything on a dare! I use Trupanion and it has been great. I recently read an article from Trupanion about providing pet insurance to Breeders. Read article here if clarity for this debate is necessary.
Given the exposure of puppy mills and backyard breeders more recently, what are your thoughts about a major pet insurance provider giving reputable breeders an option to insure their breeding pet?
I support providing insurance to breeders.
I used a clicker with Alice to help with predictability of being picked up. She is deaf and blind.
My other pets have used these pads with great success.