Shih tzu rescued from puppy mill

Rescued from a dog mill, a shih tzu who is blind and has some fear issues is adopted and is now thriving.
By Sandy Miller

Taffy’s story is the latest in an ongoing series about the progress of rescued animals featured in previous Best Friends stories.

She’s 10 years old, blind, and she’s missing more than a few teeth. But to Laura and Danny Carroll, she is the perfect addition to their family.

Blind shih tzu rescued from California puppy mill

Taffy, formerly known to Best Friends members as Edna, was rescued from a California puppy mill last May. She was one of a half-dozen physically and emotionally challenged dogs from the rescue who came to Best Friends for the extra care and attention they’d need to help find them forever homes.

A family for a special little dog

But the little shih tzu didn’t stay at Best Friends for long, thanks to Laura and Danny, who live in Kanab, Utah, just 10 miles down the road from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

In small towns like Kanab – population 4,000 – news travels fast. When Laura and Danny told the folks at the local pet-supply store they were looking for a "small, young dog" to add to their family, it wasn’t long before Best Friends adoption coordinator Kristi Littrell heard about it. Kristi gave Laura and Danny a call.

"She said she had a few small dogs available for adoption and asked if we’d be interested in seeing them," Laura says. "We set a day and time and drove out to Best Friends." Kristi took Laura and Danny to meet Edna and a few of her roommates.

Now, Edna was small all right, but she wasn’t exactly young.

"The last thing that I thought I wanted was an older dog," Laura says. "My husband has had pets all his life and had recently lost his cat buddy of 11 years. I had never had a pet of my own, although I grew up in the country." But, any hesitation Laura had about adopting an older dog disappeared as soon as she held Edna in her arms.

"She sighed and just completely relaxed – a little like putty in my hands," Laura says. "From that moment on, her name was Taffy and she was mine." Laura says the name "Edna" made her and Danny "think of rocking chairs on front porches."

Laura and Danny brought Taffy home last June, and what a difference some love and one-on-one attention can make in a dog who had spent most of her life confined to a small cage in a puppy mill. Her once-dull coat has grown back in soft and shiny, and the fact that she can only see shadows out of one eye doesn’t seem to hinder her at all.

Helping dog mill pup overcome fears

But like many puppy mill dogs, she still has a few fears to overcome. The sound of a water hose terrifies her, probably because her cage at the puppy mill was sprayed down with her inside it. And she’s a bit fearful of new situations and places. But thanks to Laura and Danny, Taffy is now living the good life. Her days are filled with early morning walks and all the belly rubs a dog could ask for. She accompanies Laura and Danny on scenic drives and even has her own overnight bag.

"She is loving and cuddly and independent and sometimes full of herself," Laura says. "It is so much fun to watch her be the puppy she probably never had the chance to be. She is loved and loves back. She is happy and provides happiness."

Why adopt a rescued dog?

Would Laura recommend that other people adopt a rescued dog?

"Absoposilutely," she says. "But if you’re going to adopt any pet, do it because you are truly drawn to one, not just because it’s the thing to do. Also, go into the facility with an open mind. Taffy was the very last type of pet I thought I’d be interested in. She was 10 years old, blind, had bad hair and was not very active. Just goes to show you that what we think we want is not necessarily what we need."

Photos by Gary Kalpakoff

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