Daisy knew something was happening and she was frightened.  They took her from her cage at the puppy mill and she was scared.  They were nice people, but she could not really tell as that was beyond her experience.  All she knew about life she had learned in the puppy mill and it was the same every day – sitting in a cage, ignored most of the time and waiting for her meagre ration of food and water that was warm and murky in the summer and cold and murky in the winter.  Not much of an existence, but that was all she knew.  Her beautiful coat was stained and matted, but to her that was normal.

The people she knew to that point controlled her, they owned her and she was part of their inventory and kept in a cage – a number not a name.  She was a “breeder” and had babies at least once, but not – I venture to say – a marriage made in heaven!
 

The best and worst aspects of her life were roughly the same.  Her squalid life of imprisonment in deplorable conditions was the worst and equally the best as it represented the only security she knew. 

One day she was liberated and (from her perspective) her security was taken from her and she was driven away by the people with the soft, reassuring voices and touch.  She did not know what they were doing or what nice opportunities lay ahead, only that she had been removed from what she was familiar with and it was very scary. 

The next few months prepared her for us – her forever home.  She started to see and experience an alternative life that was at the same time confusing and comforting.  Marlene, her Foster Mother, gave her love, gave her a name and helped her through the early transition to a better life.

By the time we welcomed Daisy, just over a year ago, she seemed to have adapted in many ways, but seemed more an observer, with her steely stare, than a participant.  Was it real? Was this good life really hers?  Was it just a dream and she would forever fear waking up back at the puppy mill?  She still dreams with little sounds and it is sad to think what she may be dreaming about.

 Daisy spent a great deal of her first few months with us in her crate, almost identical to the crate she had at Marlene’s.  It was her refuge and her home.   The door was left open and it was perfect to peer out from to see what was going on, and she was certainly interested.  Daisy was warm and responsive from the outset, but invariably waited for us to initiate the action and lead her wherever she should be (she complied with our wishes) including her outside walks and lawn visits and even taking her to her food bowls.

We wanted to help a rescue dog and recognize now that we saw the challenge in a very simplistic way.  We now know how complex a transition it is for an adult dog who had experienced life only through the mesh of her puppy mill cage.  The real Daisy is a warm, very sociable and VERY playful dog (ask her friends at the park!) but we could not have guessed at the outset.  She was always affectionate and lovable, but so withdrawn and nervous about many things.  Some of them were very odd like going through doorways and her fascination with her reflection in glass doors and floor level mirrors. 

There are some dog behaviours that we considered normal, natural and automatic responses of all dogs.  The main ones relate to excitement about going for walks, greeting us when we come home and territorial type things like responding to knocks on the door, mail being delivered etc.  Daisy now responds in the normal, exuberant doggy way, but it took close to a year to reach that stage.  Also being comfortable in her surroundings and not just staying in one spot.  Now she takes ownership of her special room in the basement, her special places in the living room and, to some extent, every other room in the house. 

Daisy now runs upstairs and downstairs, following the action wherever it may be and without any hesitation.  She is now the main initiator of her own actions although quite a few may focus on food, particularly kitchen visits and watching us eat – sitting nicely and often making funny grunting sounds in anticipation.

It probably took the full year for Daisy to become comfortable in HER house, but regardless of her new confidence and behaviours, she has never totally abandoned her secure crate now in her own basement room – her teenager apartment! 

Daisy is now the most wonderful dog, but it can be a long process when there is so much to recover from.  The main thing is to be patient, be encouraging, but don’t try to force the pace.  Your rescue dog, suddenly one day will reach the confidence peak necessary to embark on a new adventure, to embrace a new behaviour and it will be reality from that point on. 

For example, Daisy would not go down the steps to the basement for about six months.  Then one day, for no particular reason we could see, she decided the time was right and scampered down and has been scampering up and down ever since.  

Daisy took her time to achieve many milestones, but when they were achieved, they became part of her - an enhancement of an already super dog.  All critical steps in the transformation of Daisy from prisoner to princess to precious friend – a success story that only gets better. Thank you for your interest.  I look forward to any thoughts or comments you may have and thank you, in advance, for considering a rescue dog when the time is appropriat

Ian Welsh