Tag Archives: puppy mill survivor

Two years ago…

I met Annie and we brought her home to be a part of our family.

At the time, it was clear that she was nervous, scared, withdrawn, suspicious and very reluctant to come with us.  I understood that she had been through more than any dog should, but I didn’t fully grasp the depth of her trauma.IMG_0837I knew in my heart that we were meant to be together, and I was willing to give her the time and patience that she would need to feel comfortable in our home, but after a few weeks with very little change, I began to suspect that she would never let herself bond with us.

But then she did!

Very slowly, she started coming towards me voluntarily.  She’d follow me, join me in another room, greet me at the door, plop her head on my laptop and nudge my elbow for an ear rub.  All such normal behaviors for a dog, but major signs from her that she was beginning to trust us.IMG_2462I learned so much from her about resilience and forgiveness. Her demons never fully left her, but she was able push them aside and allow herself to learn about a new way to live.

I learned so much about myself.  I never knew that I had the level of patience that was needed to make her feel comfortable. I never knew that I could feel so much empathy. I never knew that I could be so dedicated and committed to doing whatever necessary to help her heal.

And it was all so worth it!

She was a remarkable dog. So sweet, so loving, so gentle.img_2913 She loved to eat. She’d come running when she heard sounds in the kitchen. She made so many discoveries and never turned down a taste of whatever we gave her.img_2870 She loved to walk along the beside me. At the beach, we would walk up and down the water line while Maisie and then Winn ran around, played and splashed with other dogs and each other. I was never worried about her being off leash, she never left my side when we were out.IMG_0332She loved to sleep. She would nuzzle up in her crate along the bumper of her bed, rubbing her face and letting out little sighs.  That was the first bed she ever had, in her whole life, and she loved it so much. She fell asleep for the final time in that bed and it went with her.  It seemed right that she should have her beloved bed for eternity. img_2888Last year, I wrote a special post for Annie’s gotcha day. I was so happy that we had made it to the one year mark.  A couple of months ago I was fully confident that we would have at least another year with her.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t in the stars, but the time we had together was so amazing.  I treasured every day with her, and every milestone was celebrated.  I really feel that she gave me more than I gave her.  I’m a better person for having her in my life and our relationship will continue to shape my relationships with my other dogs. Annie was very, very special and I’m so honored that she chose to love me and trust me and that I was able to show her that life could be good.  She was so happy, even in her final moments.  She kissed me goodbye and I knew that she was content and that she left this world feeling safe and loved.

Happy Gotcha Day Annie! I wish you were still here but you will always be in my heart and be remembered on this day that changed our lives, January 31st.



This is the day that I have dreaded since that very first moment I gazed into your soulful eyes.

Your gray whiskers were the hint that you had already lived out the majority of your days.  At the time, I guessed that you were about 9 years old, a few months later I was able to confirm that you were 9 1/2, but I never thought twice about bringing you home and giving you the life that you deserved.

I wish we could have had more time.

I wish your previous life was not so difficult.

I wish I could have known you as a puppy.

I wish we could have marched in the Rescue Parade.

I wish you didn’t have to be afraid of so many things.

I wish I could have fixed you.

You taught be me so much about love, trust, resilience and forgiveness.

You were strong, stoic, gentle, affectionate and so, so sweet.

You inspired me to write your story.

You invited me in, and let me be your person.

You were everything I could’ve asked for.

You were like no other.

I will never forget you, I will always love you and you are forever in my heart.

Goodbye precious Annie, my sweet, sweet girl. IMG_2757


Annie the adventurer…who knew?

Every time Annie does something remotely “dog like”, I take note.

Behaviors that might seem completely normal and maybe even annoying in other dogs, are behaviors that she is learning.  She wouldn’t take a treat from my hand.  She wouldn’t come into the same room with me.  She wouldn’t go through new doorways.  She wouldn’t go upstairs.  She wouldn’t voluntarily leave her crate. She wouldn’t leave our yard to go to the car or for a walk. Slowly, as she got more comfortable with us and her new home, she started doing these things.  One day at time.  Sometimes she would regress, and we would start over, trying to make her comfortable.

She still won’t roll over for a belly rub. She still barks out of fear when someone other than my husband or I walks through the door, even if it’s someone she knows well.  She still hides behind me when we are out for a walk and someone is walking towards us.

Imagine my surprise Sunday morning, when I heard a commotion at the front door.  Maisie and Winn were crowded together with their tails were wagging and I could tell they either saw someone on the sidewalk or even on the porch that they knew.  Annie was in the middle of the living room barking her alarm bark.

I went to the door and my next door neighbor was there.  He didn’t ring the bell but when I opened the door, he said one of them was wandering outside in front of his house and he had just brought her back. Winn had recently brought in the paper and maybe I didn’t latch the door all of the way.  I was a little surprised, but thanked him for returning the rascal.  I figured it was Maisie.  As he turned to go down the stairs, he said “it was the dark one”.  The dark one!  I said, “Annie?”. “Yep”.

I couldn’t believe it!  I was cleaning the bathroom when I heard her barking, and that’s when I went around the corner and saw the other two with their wagging tails at the door.  Apparently he had returned Annie, she ran inside and then started barking which led the other two to check out whatever was happening.  I can not believe she actually left the house and went for a stroll.  That is something completely new!

I certainly don’t take it lightly that she got out, but there is a part of me that can’t help but smile because it’s one more little sign that lets me know that she is confident enough in her surroundings that she thought she would go say hello to the neighbor.

Back to the vet we go…

Last week we celebrated Annie’s 11th birthday, which is a big marker but was a bit tempered because right after dinner she started coughing.

I’ve written about her “old man noises” before.  She starts out with 2 or 3 gasps and then expels this horrific, loud noise. I was pretty sure it was her way of coughing because I’ve never heard her cough in a different way.  She has done this sporadically since we’ve had her, maybe once every 3 or 4 months but on her birthday she started and couldn’t seem to stop. After 5 or 6 episodes, she was tired and my nerves were rattled.

I couldn’t help but think that she had made it to her birthday and now she was taking a turn for the worse.  My heart was aching during her celebration but I know this day will be coming at some point, I’m just not ready yet.

She had a few more episodes and on Friday I took her to the vet.  After a thorough examination we sat there talking about what it could be and we both had the sense that it might be some sort of lung disease. Her lungs and heart sounded good when her doctor listened to her chest but we agreed that an x-ray was needed to try to find the answer. It couldn’t be done that day, her doctor wanted to have more people available to help her since Annie is so big so it had to wait until Monday.

Over the weekend, Annie did seem to be coughing less frequently and by Monday it had subsided but I was still bracing myself for bad news.  Poor Annie was trembling as soon as we sat down and when the tech came to take her back she did not want to leave me.  I walked her back as far as I could go and that seemed to help.

As I sat there waiting, I had rushes of so many different memories.  The first time we took her here was very traumatic.  She has changed so much and seems so happy with her life.  Whenever I get up from the couch or a chair, she is at my feet and I have to stretch over her.  We love our walks and she trots out to the car when I say “car ride”.  She loves food but she has curtailed her scavenger ways and hasn’t found anything to get into in quite a while, thank goodness.  She is still very nervous around strangers, especially men, and isn’t yet comfortable with my son but hopefully by the end of the summer they will reach an understanding.  It has been such a joy to have her with us and I am so honored that she has chosen to trust me to take care of her and keep her safe.

After what seemed like hours but was really only about 30 minutes I was able to join Annie in one of the exam rooms.  Her x-ray was done, we needed to wait while her doctor looked at all of the pictures.  Her doctor came through the door with a big smile which instantly put me at ease.  Everything looked great! No masses, no white spots and no foreign objects.  There was one tiny spot in her stomach and she went over it with an ultrasound and concluded it was a particle of a stick, stone or leaf that hadn’t digested, all probable since Annie frequently chews sticks when she is lounging in the grass. She looked at her lungs, heart, liver, spleen and trachea and all looked to be just fine.  The only concern was evidence of arthritis in her spine, something we both assumed but now was confirmed.  Her conclusion was “old man lung” which isn’t something that is treated. When lungs get old they get a little more sensitive. Heat and allergies could have triggered her coughing and it has been hot and she takes medication for allergies.

Since we’ve been home, she hasn’t coughed again.  Her energy level, appetite and breathing have all been normal.  She’s sleeping by my feet, moaning every now and then as she stretches and seems to be completely content.  Once again, she rang my alarm bell and ended up being just fine. She’s an aging dog, and with that comes a variety of health concerns but for now I am relieved.IMG_1508