Sunday, June 29, 2008

Meet Myla

Myla came to us a couple of years ago in 2006, she was rescued from a puppy mill and was one of several very damaged dogs that were freed by an angel disguised as a rescue volunteer. Physically, Myla's health was relatively good but emotionally this little lady was terribly damaged. She is one of the two most damaged dogs we have here. No surprise, the other dog was rescued from the same mill the year before.

She was terrified of people, hid behind furniture or in a crate with an open door. She always wanted to be alone, never near other people or dogs. We left her alone for the first several weeks, just letting her get used to the everyday sounds in the house, the commotion of other dogs and the voices of the people. No one (human or dog) could be in the room when she ate. She would not go near food or water if anyone was within viewing distance.

Myla fear peed & pooped when we put a harness and leash on her to take her to the vet for a checkup. She shook and shivered if we tried to hold her or touch her. She tried her best to escape, succeeding once or twice but we were there and managed to bring her back. She was afraid of us but more afraid of what was "out there" so she allowed us to gently approach with the familiar "Myla Up" phrase that she had learned. We picked her up and brought her back to the only safety she had ever known in 7 long years.

She spent her first three months of freedom trying to stay isolated from us - she was not going to let anyone in, no one was going to hurt her. She'd been there, done that. But one of the advantages of having a pack of dogs is that each new rescue will watch the others that are already here. Myla watched the interaction between dogs & human, dogs & other dogs. She saw the others came to us without fear, she watched them receive treats and belly rubs and ear scratches. One day, for just a moment, she took a chance. We were on the sofa when she gently jumped up beside me. I reached out to scratch her ears - she stayed for just a few seconds then jumped down and hid again. It was a start. . . . she had the courage to hope. It would be enough to hold us as we watched her internal struggles over the next year.

Myla wanted to believe she had finally found a place where dogs were treated kindly. Where respect & love went hand in hand - but she had been in a mill, adopted out, sent back to the mill, adopted out again and immediately escaped -caught and sent back once again to the horrid place where she was born. Her fear was so great when she first came here that we know her life at this mill was terrible. Others who have met the miller tell of the unbelievable cruelty they witnessed in short visits to rescue dogs. If this person could not control them self in front of a witness for a few hours - what must the dogs have endured during years of captivity at this person's hands?

(And yes, we tried to stop this person from breeding, they were reported time and again. No one ever took any action but age did what we could not. The miller is no longer in business and has no more dogs.)

Over the next year Myla took two steps forward and one step back. She would come into the living room on her own and lay in one of the doggie beds and watch us. Then she would hop up on the sofa for an ear scratch. She allowed another dog to be in the same room when she ate, I was allowed to stand outside the room and look at her as she ate. She stopped hiding in the gazebo when I called her to come inside and actually responded to her name.

And then another small miracle occurred - the Angel who helped rescue her came to visit. Myla had not seen her Angel in over a year but wonder of wonders - she recognized her. Myla allowed the first person outside of our home to touch her. She hung around us and close to her Angel. After our friend went home, Myla seemed to make a decision. She started interacting with the other dogs, she was less skittish, she discovered toys, for the first time ever she rolled in the grass. She decided it was great fun to bark at mealtime (that was another thing, Myla rarely barked.) She was less afraid of storms but still comes when it thunders - she just doesn't shake as much.

Her Angel came to visit again a month or so ago and Myla greeted her like a long lost friend. I think she wanted to show off her socialization skills. She absolutely loves to go to the groomer, jumping in excitement when she sees the once feared leash & halter come out. If it is possible for a dog to smile (and I think it is), Myla smiles all the time. She has overcome so many fears in the past 2 + years. She's a happy dog and a joy to watch as she continues learning about trust, freedom and what it means to live a life without fear.

I often joke that I really don't like Pomeranians because they shed but I will happily brush her and vacuum the fur for as long as she lives. The gift that Myla has given us is the sure knowledge that love conquers all and that forgiveness sets one free. (Oh yeah and that the very best gifts come disguised as a Pomeranian!)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mason Knows

When Mason came to us as a foster in July of 2005, he was a very scared little dog, unable to go up and down steps or walk through a door. Once in the house, he hid under the bed in fear. Before coming into rescue he was matted, and covered with fleas and ticks. The kennel owner shaved him and "dipped" him in a concoction that had my vet shaking her head. Mason's little body had bite marks all over it from fleas, ticks and other crawly things. His teeth were a mess and over the last two years, at every dental, he has lost teeth, a total of 25 so far. He also arrived with two severe ear infections that produced smelly, black gunk until he started taking antibiotics and having his ears cleaned regularly.

Mason traveled from Oklahoma to Texas to Ohio. When we brought him home from the airport, he was shaking so hard I was afraid I'd drop him. Once we arrived home, we took him into the fenced yard so he could stretch, run and do his business (and then we spent the next 2 /2 hrs trying to catch him.)

The photo below is of Mason the day before he flew to Ohio. Skinny, homely, afraid of his own shadow and terrified of humans. He grabbed my heart and has owned it from the moment I saw this photo.

Mason was with us for about a month when I wrote the update below. He is an amazing dog, he was terrified when he arrived, he had no reason to trust people and yet. . . .

What Mason Knows. . . .

Mason understands he will be fed twice a day, every day
Mason understands to go to his spot and wait just a few seconds
Mason knows he does not need to eat his fur sibling's food
Mason knows he does not need to hoard his food, there will be more

Mason knows that he has his own food dish
Mason knows he will not be hungry again
Mason knows how to go up and down steps
Mason knows how to go through a door with a human

Mason knows that I love him
Mason knows that he loves me

Mason knows there are fresh bowls of water all around the house and deck
Mason knows he will never be thirsty again
Mason knows what a toy is
Mason knows what it is to play with other dogs

Mason knows that a human can say the word no and not hurt him
Mason knows that all men and women are not mean
Mason knows what kindness is
Mason knows the word gentle

Mason knows what it means not to be itchy and scratchy
Mason knows what it feels like to not have pain in his ears
Mason knows what it feels like to be clean
Mason knows he has a beautiful tail

Mason now knows that his dad loves him
Mason now knows that he loves his dad

Mason knows what pup corn is
Mason knows what a carrot is

Mason knows how to ask for a treat
Mason knows how to smile

Mason knows he can bark when he is happy or mad or excited or when he wants something
Mason knows we will figure out what he is trying to tell us
Mason knows how to ask for his ears to be rubbed
Mason knows that he can not do anything that will cause a voice to be raised

Mason knows that he can be friends with other dogs
Mason knows that he does not have to fight with other dogs to survive

Mason knows what grass and flowers are
Mason knows about chasing chipmunks and squirrels and his fur siblings
Mason knows what it is to run and play in his very own yard

Mason knows what a gazebo is
Mason knows the pleasure of lounging on the love seat with his fur sister
Mason knows about being lazy and he knows about barking when people come to the door
Mason knows this is his home

Each little step this precious angel has taken has been leading him to the big step:
Mason knows what it means to be free . . .

and to be loved . . . .

and he knows what it is to love

My precious little guy knows . . .

Introducing The Spoiled Royals

They started as the dogs no one wanted . . . . one was covered with Velcro and dumped in the middle of a cold January night in an outside cage at a vet's office. Two others found themselves with no one to love them when their owners passed away. One was locked in a basement for 5 months the other pulled from a shelter hours before being put to sleep. Several survived years living in a puppy mill - one by one they started their new life in our home and secured a place in our hearts.

This blog will share the adventures and perceptions of a pack of dogs affectionately known as "The Spoiled Royals". Wherever they go, they inspire smiles, laughter and joy. They are a forgiving bunch, quick to offer a doggie kiss, a head butt or ask for a belly rub. Stop in every so often to meet the pack and see what they have been up to. . . .