Last year I posted a beautiful letter that was sent to Montreal Dog Blog by our friend Suzannah Vanson. Here is a wonderful update on her furbabies. Sadly, her letter also mentions one of Quebec’s shames: commercial breeders. Conscious people like Suzannah know about our province’s problem of animal over population, animal abandonment, and the high number of animals killed in pounds and certain shelters. There is not enough people adopting. In Quebec, there is not enough people looking for a solution to end the suffering of so many animals. If you are a proud parent of an adopted companion animal, please share your story with others. Be sure to always promote animal adoption. Educate others and make a difference in our society. It depends on us to change things in our province…will you help?
On the 4th of April 2013, a rescue took in a group of shelties who were surrendered from a “commercial breeder”. The dogs, scared, filthy, were immediately vet checked, and washed. There was one that was particularly small and very petit, weighing just over seven pounds. She was absolutely paralyzed with fear.
This is common in shelties, they are in fact one of the more shy and fearful breeds in new situations. There was something very different with this little one; it was not a normal shyness……I took her home as her foster and it became very clear to me that adopting her out to a new home would be very difficult. She was a stunning little dog and applications came in for her, but not with the understanding that she was emotionally a much damaged dog. No aggression, but complete fear. One applicant assured me she would be competing in agility within the year…..it was after this I decided to adopt her myself, and give her the care she so deserved. I understood her, and I accepted that she would always have issues and always need a lot of care. So started our lives with Ellie.
Ellie started her life in a cage, and to this day, a cage is still her place of safety. The out doors for her are torture. The only reason she is finally toilet trained is because she has learned if she goes, she will be aloud to go back into the house……where she feels safe. The sounds, the wind, any thing paralyzes her little body. Her face gets an absolutely tortured look, she simply cannot cope. I get on my knee’s and take her out of the crate, I carry her down the stairs, and feel her quivering body against mine. I know she so wishes she never had to leave the safety of the bedroom……She will come out of the crate now on her own…but not when she knows its time to go out…
The bedroom is her castle. Over the months, her area became wider, with the help of her rambunctious happy go lucky dog brother Elijah. 6 inches around the crate became 12 and then inches became a few feet……..it was nine months before she took the real first steps on her own out side the bedroom. She found a safe spot under my desk, and around ten months post adoption, all of a sudden I realized the tide was slowly changing……she was now starting to seek me out for comfort, for care when she was afraid, versus hiding, alone…..in a corner. I am glad she can find safety in my arms.
Over time I put up a baby gate and this forced her to stay on the living room level of the house. To this day, she looks at the gate wondering when it will be open so she can go back upstairs. To get down stairs, she is walked on a leash now, her body hugging my legs. She does not leave the upper level on her own, but this little walk for her is a huge task of accomplishment. Running back up the stairs, when the gate opens….she mastered very quickly .
Reading this one may wonder, what kind of life does she have? Ellie has Ellie’s life. It’s the best life she has ever had. She has kindness; she has fresh food and water. She has a warm bed, and she gets attention and love whether she seeks it or not. She plays with Elijah, she steals all the stuff toys and hoards them in her crate, along with any thing else she can find. She comes on the bed at night and can become down right silly, spinning with joy, and then almost catching herself as if to say “what am I doing “…….She doesn’t possess a mean bone in her little body, which I may add has become a little chunkier over the year She is in her own little world a very happy little dog now. Others may not see this, as they see what she is not, but I see what she is now, where she is…..and she is at home.
In the month of March, another load of dogs came in, and among them was a little white dog that caught my eye. I took her home to foster. Ellie was struck with her from day one. She came right away to see her, smelling her, pawing her. Little Lilah was so scared, quivering, she smelled, and looked miserable. But Ellie sensed something……its like knowing you have met some one from the same town you grew up in. The shared something that they only could understand. It was a reaction I had never seen her give any other dog that came into this home.
Lilah is more resilient. While very scared, you can see she is a little toughie, and she makes sure every one knows not to pick on her. Five pounds of growl and might around other dogs that are bigger and strange noise …..But you go to pick her up and she looses her bladder out of fear. She is already starting to settle. She has progressed further in three weeks than Ellie has in one year, but it’s not a competition….and each of them will reach their destiny in their own times. Since Lilah has arrived, she has actually helped little Ellie along, they find comfort in each other, bravely standing together behind Elijah when they are frightened.
Ellie and Lilah came from a commercial breeder. It’s legal. Our government accepts these facilities, but at what cost? Ellie is an animal that will forever be damaged emotionally by what she has been through. For what? So that some one could buy a dog in a pet store or on line which has become a bigger and bigger problem, often over priced, with poor genetic histories and in breeding. The standards are food, water, shelter, some de-worming and vaccinations…….but what about love? What about kindness, green grass, sunshine, walking on a leash, having a bath, playing with a ball, sitting on a lap getting cuddled? What about care for their rotting teeth or other medical issues?
No one on this earth can take care of large numbers of dogs and say they are properly cared for let alone say that they are properly socialized. While new standards are to come into force, what will they actually do? So you have to get a permit……who is going to check on all these places? Sure it’s a start, but as long as commercial breeding is aloud, and as long as we as people get rid of our animals as easily as we take out the trash, we will continue to have a problem with far to many animals needing a home and looking for a second chance in life.
Many dogs leaving these places are more resilient mentally such as little Lilah, and after a short time they do recover and they make wonderful pets to adopt, but some like Ellie never recover. With the right home, they can live out their days in peace, being cared for in the way that they need, but they will be forever haunted and damaged by what they have lived, and what they were denied as what I consider basic rights and obligations of any one caring for a dog.
Maybe one day, there will no longer be any more Ellie’s, but for today, there still is. Ellie, you are now one year free, and we are blessed to have you.