Photo by Brenda Reeves
It's in the news almost everyday: Authorities have closed down a puppy mill and arrested the owners. Furthermore, it's always the worst puppy mill they've ever seen.
Animal lovers breathe a sigh of relief at a happy ending. The unhappy ending is that not all puppy mill survivors go on to live a happy life.
They often suffer from hearing loss due to untreated ear infections. Many puppy mill survivors must have rotten teeth removed. The gums are infected and the teeth have excessive buildup on them. They may suffer from swollen, splayed and sore feet from so much time walking on wire.
These conditions are slight compared to the emotional damage that has been done to puppy mill victims. For obvious reasons, these dogs are not trusting of humans. The only way they've ever been handled is roughly by the scruff of the neck. They've never had any loving, playful interaction at all. They don't know how to love, trust, and play.
Anyone who adopts a puppy mill survivor should be prepared for the work that is ahead.
A new mill dog owner will have to earn the dogs trust which means a lot of patience. The dog may hide in a corner when first introduced to it's new home. Here are some tips on gaining the new family members trust:
- Feed the dog on schedule
- Offer treats as a token of gaining trust, also on schedule
- Don't force yourself on the dog
- Don't make quick, sudden movements toward the dog
- Gently pet or massage the dog while talking quietly
- Tell friends not to force themselves on the dog or look them directly in the eyes
Some puppy mill survivors have endured so much suffering that they may never fully trust anyone. However, they are still able to live a joyful life in a home with a scheduled environment where they are accepted for who they are. The owner will gain satisfaction knowing they have given this poor creature a clean bed, fresh food and water and unconditional love. That alone will be heaven to a puppy mill survivor.