Beagle rescued from a puppy mill

Mabel the Virginia puppy mill beagle is one tough cookie. She is undoubtedly a survivor. Here's her story ...

Rescued senior puppy mill dog

Forced to become nothing more than a breeding machine throughout her life (we think she’s about 10 or 11 years old), Mabel now has mammary tumors, no eyesight, few teeth and she’s been debarked.

Yet she’s persevered long enough to be rescued with the whole lot of Virginia puppy mill dogs by Best Friends and wound up in the lap of luxury – the lap of foster mom, Lynne Przychodzki.

Rehabilitating a dog with a tough past

Lynne has played mom to Mabel for nearly a month now. Each day, Lynne sees new signs of life and happiness in the senior dog, even when enduring each of her seemingly endless number of visits to the vet.

"I’m amazed at her temperament and willingness to learn and how receptive she is to people," Lynne says. "Her tail is always wagging. Mabel really seems to be enjoying learning how to live a new life."

Among Mabel’s great discoveries: dog food. When Lynne feeds her other dogs (all with special needs), Mabel knows to associate the sound of the stainless steel bowls clanking against the feeders as food time. She stands in the doorway, tail wagging and head cocked. When the sound of the pellets hit the bowl, Mabel sniffs her way to her dish where she savors the delicacies of kibble.

"I have to add a little hot water to the mix to soften the food since she her teeth are so bad," Lynne says. "But you’d think I was putting down a four-star gourmet meal the way she takes to the food. I can only wonder what kind of food she was used to before this."

Mabel has also discovered the joy of play, becoming fast friends with Lilly, one of Lynne’s other dogs. When Lilly comes around Mabel wriggles with such ecstasy, she occasionally falls over. Lilly is teaching her manners and all kinds of fun dog games like "Paw Me," "Roll Over and Wrestle," and "Chase."

Dog is learning to love

But the greatest lesson Mabel has learned is love. When Lynne first brought her home, she would show no affect to Lynne’s stroking and cuddling.

As Lynne persisted, Mabel slowly allowed herself to feel. Now she looks forward to "lap time" with Lynne and shows her appreciation by even more wriggling. She also knows how to show gratitude with nuzzles.

"She put her head in my hand and nuzzle in my palm," Lynne says. "I think she’s learning how to give kisses."

Perhaps the most gratifying experience for Lynne: Mabel now demands affection. Lynne carries a bell with her so Mabel will know she’s within the area. When she hears the tinkle, she’ll run until she finds Lynne and jumps up to rest her paws on her legs – Mabel’s signal she wants to be held.

"How can anyone not love this dog?" Lynne asks.

Mabel is finally enjoying the good life, but she’s not out of the woods in terms of her health. She will undergo surgery to have her mammary tumors and eye tumor removed. Four to six weeks later, Mabel will have her right eye removed to relieve the pressure induced by the glaucoma. (Normal eye pressure gauge is 15-25; Mabel’s is 51.)

For each procedure, Lynne will be there every step of the way. And, she says, "I’ll be Mabel’s foster mom until she finds the perfect fit in a forever home."

Photos by Clay Myers

Read a story about a Chihuahua rescued from a puppy mill.