May 7, 2009
Better Days for a Puppy Mill Mama
Not every mother has a happy Mother's Day.
Sadly, there are dog moms all across the country who don't live happy lives. These moms are trapped in cages for years and years in puppy mills, mass-breeding facilities that raise dogs in shockingly poor conditions with little hope of ever becoming part of a family.
But some lucky ones, like Daisy, have stories with a happy ending.
This Mother's Day weekend, we're honoring these moms with the goal of creating better futures for all dogs like Daisy, especially those who are still stuck in their cages.
by Catherine Hess
My dog was a "puppy mill mama" whose owner essentially threw her away when she got old. I spotted her at an adoption fair and was taken with her gentleness and soulful brown eyes.
Daisy was a depressed little beagle when she came home with me. The loneliness of living in a rabbit hutch for eight years and the stress of endless litters of puppies had crushed her personality, and at first she felt safest in her crate, snoozing the day away.
She seems not to know how to play; a stick or a ball tossed in front of her generates no interest, and squeaky toys terrify her.
The poor girl didn't know how to climb stairs, was very overweight and had a mouth full of rotten teeth. She was hand shy and very foot shy, making me wonder how much of her interactions with people had consisted of whacks and kicks.
Turning a life around
Daisy's story gets better the farther she gets from the puppy mill.
Gradually, she takes more interest in life. It helps that she comes to work with me and spends time with people who like dogs. Walks—also known as sniffing expeditions—peeled weight off, and little treats helped her learn skills like jumping into the car and coming when called.
Once in a while, she'll even clamber up to sit in my lap.
Now Daisy loves mornings. She races downstairs with ears a-flopping for her first trip outside, where she frolics around before getting down to business. Bedtime is even better. She knows she'll get a special delicacy when she gets in her crate, so she gallops upstairs and dances around in circles.
Nobody can undo her beginning as a puppy machine, but Daisy's spirit is making a comeback. Doesn't every puppy mill mama deserve as much happiness as she does?
Catherine Hess is a web producer at The Humane Society of the United States.