Sep 5, 2009

Puppy Mill Dog Comes Home

I've alluded to having another dog with me, so here is her story.
Timing is everything. Eight days after my Mia died, I was feeling down about losing her when I got a call from an independent rescuer. She periodically goes into Riverside County, San Bernardino and Hesperia -- an area called Inland Southern California -- to rescue dogs, mostly breeders, from puppy mills. These mills are rustic and have mostly on-the-ground confines where litter upon litter are bred in the back of rural properties.
The gal told me she and a friend were told about a man who was being evicted from his Riverside property. He was unloading some female breeders. But he also had a puppy Chihuahua who was "too big" (the breeder's words). He was going to keep her and breed her with a smaller male, but because he was being forced to relocate, he was unloading her too. The rescuer said they had foster homes for the mother dogs but not for the puppy and did I know anyone who could take her. I didn't hesitate and said I would.

I didn't know how old she was, what kind of Chihuahua, medical issues, nothing. The next day, they brought her to me. She was like a miniature Mia, although I am trying not to compare them. She was shy but not really scared and she weighed only a pound. The breeder, the rescuer said, raises dogs to weigh as adults between 2-1/2 and 3-1/2 pounds. That's precisely why dogs like Mia are born with medical issues, because of overbreeding and trying to get them tiny.
I named her Sissy and she has been with me, here to stay, since June 13. She had a bit of an upper respiratory infection when she arrived so I eased her into a raw food diet and also put her on probiotics and colostrum (she loves the colostrum and laps it up, watered down, twice a day).
I was told Sissy was 9 weeks old, but her motor skills weren't developed and she acted more like a 6-week-old puppy, possibly because of being confined with basically no contact with people and outside stimulation and socialization (she has long since made up for lost time).

Today, now 5 months old, Sissy is a little tiger with one goal in life: to play, play, play. Within a week of arriving here, she was playing with toys. She was so tiny, they were as big as her. She was weighed two weeks ago at 4 pounds but she feels even heavier now and is probably at 4-1/2.
Before Sissy arrived, I had adopted out Joey, a shih-tzu foster boy. For a week, I was back down to just my two dogs, Rosy and Hollywood, each 9-1/2 years old. Then, Sissy arrived 

unexpectedly. And a week later, I got a call that Joey was being returned for "acting out." He's 8 years old, adores me, and I adore him, and so I'm keeping him two. Which brings me back up to

 four. But that's okay. Now, instead of three big

 dogs and one little one, I have two big and two small -- very manageable.
(Pictured, right, Joey and Mia a few weeks before Mia passed.)

Sissy already knows how to sit and stay. And, because she would lick Hollywood and Rosy's faces until the end of time, she knows the command "leave it." For some reason, she can't get used to having big dogs around and thinks they're the coolest thing. Every time they walk into a room, it's like she's never seen them before. And each evening and morning when Hollywood is napping, she sneaks up, crawling on her belly, to lick his snout. When he wakes up, she wriggles like it's Christmas morning and he's her present. She adores them both and they're extremely tolerant of her. Rosy has actually started playing some with Sissy. She's maturing and is becoming less of a jumping bean  (although she is still very much a crazy-bouncy puppy).

Sissy attended Mia's placement at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, where she was doted on by Best Friends employees (Sissy's pictured here with animal consultant Sherry Woodard).
In late mid July, Sissy and Joey went to San Diego with me (Rosy and Woody were boarded at their favorite place) and we stayed at my sister Cordelia's for a couple of nights. Sissy raced around the house  like she'd always lived there. Their dog Frankie ignored her, but she started chasing their Burmese rescued cat. I was really proud of her when she did her business outside (except for one small accident).
But, we're still working on the house training. While paper-training is great, you then have to move from paper to outdoors. But Sissy is getting there, slowly but surely.

She and Joey play and wrestle constantly throughout the day, and I'm so glad they have each other (and Rosy and Woody are too, because when she was a little younger and chewed nonstop; after Joey was returned, she started chewing on his legs, and he was fine with it).
I still miss Mia more than I can say, and I think about her every day. But having Sissy, Joey, Rosy and Hollywood with me has been a delight. Sissy is growing up, right before my eyes, and she couldn't be a happier dog.
I'll continue posting here about the natural care I provide for my dogs. Rosy has melanoma -- diagnosed a year and a half ago -- but she isn't showing any symptoms (other than the lab work that came back positive after a fast-growing black mole was removed). She's on a regimen of supplements and I'll talk more, later, about what I'm doing for her too. So please stay tuned!


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  2. I'm terribly sorry for your loss of Mia. And I apologize for my post on an older article. I didn't realize the date when i replied from my handheld. Thank you for caring for these amazing animals, the chihuahua. :-) After Bazil goes we still have a 7yr old Bella (who seems healthy) but I couldn't get another one- he is/was too awesome and smart and I couldn't take how fragile they are. I really thought he might make it to 18 or something but it looks like he might not make 11. :-( after reading your post I'm going to try and ask my dr for a prescription for baby oxygen & mask. The tent at the vets is bright and scary with giant dogs in the vicinity and he would do much better at home when he needs O2. I hope I can get some so far the vets have been refusing to source it for me because o2 tents are supposedly unsafe for home use....

    Again my heart goes out to you and all these cool little creatures.

  3. This is him being silly a few years ago: