April 28, 2011
He's Got Talent: Micah Staub Has a Way with Puppy Mill Dogs
Boy finds fulfillment working with rescued dogs who love him just the way he is
by Arna Cohen
Micah Staub knows how it feels to be different: The tall, strapping 12-year-old’s learning disabilities have made him the frequent subject of teasing throughout his life. But rather than becoming bitter, Micah has opened his heart to others who are different—a bulldog pup with spina bifida, a blind pug, and frightened puppy mill dogs who have never known human affection.
The easygoing Paris, Ill., boy is one of six children of Candice Staub and her veterinarian husband, Mike. He has grown up surrounded by the family’s pet cats and dogs, as well as foster animals from various rescue groups. Great Danes and pit bulls share space with pugs and poodles, while out back are a passel of potbellied pigs and horses saved from slaughter.
Micah has always deftly handled the rescued dogs, a talent that Candice chalks up to simply not being afraid of them. “The bullying behavior that you see in dogs when they’re frightened just didn’t register with Micah,” she says. “He would just sit down and scoop [them] up, and the dogs were like ‘Oh, OK.’ ”
The youngster is drawn to the dogs, perhaps because they don’t judge, says his mother. “He still doesn’t have a lot of friends,” she says. “... He’d come home [from school] and be upset.” But at home “there’s constantly a pack of rescue dogs. There’s always somebody happy to see him and say ‘I want to be your friend.’ ”
Last December, the Staubs fostered nearly 30 of 122 dogs removed from a Bloomfield, Ind., puppy mill by The HSUS Maddie’s Fund Puppy Mill Task Force. Newborn puppies started making their appearance shortly afterwards, boosting the number even higher. “It was all hands on deck,” says Candice. Micah took on the role of “official dog walker,” spending his free time each day walking neglected animals who had never before touched grass.
The HSUS honored Micah’s dedication by naming him an honorary member of the task force and outfitting him with a T-shirt, backpack, leashes, and a letter of recognition. His pride in the gifts was a boon for a boy who “gets so few things that he can be proud of,” says his mother.
Micah doesn’t do any of this for the ego boost, though; he does it for the dogs. Their treatment at the hands of puppy millers “hurt my heart and my feelings,” he wrote in an email to The HSUS. He sees the difference his love and attention have made. “I just like making them happy and [helping them have] fun,” he says.