Many of you have heard about the detriment of puppy mills, but how many of you can say you've seen what it does to a dog?
Before I moved to Florida, I knew puppy mills were bad, but really never fully understood the impact until my work with a local rescue put me around puppy mill dogs.
I can explain this best by telling a story of a dog named Pearl. My local rescue group rescued Pearl, a West Highland terrier, from a puppy mill after living seven years in a cage.
Pearl never got to see what a real dog life was like. Pearl ate, slept, peed, pooped, was forced to breed, and lived (if that is what you call it) within the confines of her cage. Pearl did not know what grass was and probably had little, if any, human contact. When Pearl came to live with her foster mommy Melody and her furry foster sister Jessie, she was one scared little pup.
Melody and Jessie were the perfect fosters for Pearl at the time; Melody was working from home so her schedule was flexible enough to help teach Pearl what a dog's life should be like.
Melody wanted her to have all the freedom that she was never allowed.
Melody would have to carry Pearl outside every couple of hours so she could go potty.
When Pearl was indoors, however, she preferred to be in her crate. The door was always open, but that was all she knew and it made her feel safe and comfortable while she got used to her new people and surroundings.
“She is a smart dog and learned pretty quickly how to follow Jessie outside to their fenced-in back yard,” Melody said.
But Melody would have to pick Pearl up and carry her down the couple of stairs from the deck to the yard, because the dog had no idea what they were or how to use them.
“Then came the day!" Melody recalled. "Jessie went outside. I was keeping the back door open, and Pearl promptly got up, followed Jessie outside, and went potty. I felt like a mommy whose child just took their first steps! I emailed everyone I could think of with the Rescue stating this wonderful news: ‘Pearl just went pee pee on her own!’ and was greeted in response by a very understanding audience who could appreciate my excitement.”
Pearl ended up going to a wonderful family that loves her so much. She now runs around with the other dogs in the house, and actually goes to the grass without encouragement. She even likes when her owners pet her, instead of shying away from them.
I know that everyone wants a cute little puppy, but please do your research before you buy. Many puppies sold in big pet stores are from a mom that lives in a cage just like Pearl did.