How to care for a puppy mill rescue dog (part 2)
Click here to read part 1.
I didn’t know it at the time, but, in being patient and consistent with him (bringing him outside for potty breaks no matter how many times he went in the house, not forcing any physical contact on him, and instead allowing him to come to me when he was ready), I was doing the right thing for him.
Living with a rescued puppy mill dog
Still, Simon never turned into a “normal” dog. He never learned to play with toys, maintained a startling indifference to other dogs for the rest of his life, and was never fully house-trained. Before he became incontinent due to old age, he would go outside about 80 percent of the time. This isn’t uncommon for mill dogs, and I dealt with it as best I could – with a fully stocked cabinet of cleaning supplies.
In retrospect, I think I did pretty well with Simon. There’s just one thing I would do differently: I would get another dog as a companion and a role model for him. The Best Friends studies done with the University of Pennsylvania found that having another dog around was the single most helpful thing in a puppy mill dog’s recovery. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that another dog can act as a social buffer, and help reduce the intensity of the emotional reaction to something frightening or stressful. At the Sanctuary, puppy mill rescue dogs are treated just like any other unsocialized dogs, and often paired up with more social dogs.
An experience eclipsed by no other
Though I may have shortchanged Simon in that area, forming a bond with the little dachshund was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. And I’m not alone. Dr. Frank notes that in a survey of nearly 800 people who had adopted puppy mill dogs, 91 percent said they were “extremely satisfied” with their adoption experience, and 95 percent would do it again, despite all the challenges and frustrations.
Adopting a puppy mill rescue dog isn’t for everyone. But for those who choose to open their hearts and home to one of these special dogs, it is an experience eclipsed by no other.
Best Friends is working to stop puppy mills. Learn more about the issue and what you can do.
Photos by Best Friends staff