Misadventures of a Puppy Mill Dog

Your Gilbert dog sitters care for all kinds of dogs: little dogs, big dogs, fluffy dogs, fancy dogs, and rescue dogs. Today I want to share a story with you about one *particular* dog that has stolen this dog sitter in Gilbert’s heart!

Sammers, or Sam for short, had a very hard start to his life.  This sweet Basset Hound boy lived in a puppy mill as a stud. While I don’t know the exact details of his days, chances are they involved the life of most puppy mill dogs: cramped cages with little room to move, no chance to play, be loved or touched in a caring, nurturing way, no toys, no medical care despite the fact that they are what make money for the “breeder” (and I use the term in it’s most loose sense!), as little food as possible to keep them going, and a life being forced to stud into exhaustion with little care for the dog’s emotional or physical well-being. Once they’re done breeding, they are shoved back into their cramped quarters. A puppy mill dog, IF fortunate enough to be rescued, faces a long, difficult battle with all kinds of emotional fears.

Sammers was one of the lucky ones who was rescued by a group in Calgary that transports them in segments to the shelter to be found fosters. Sammers, and 4 other lucky Bassets, were rescued and being transported to Helena, MT on their way to Calgary when he some how jumped out of the back seat at a gas stop and took off. Many people worked to catch him, but he managed to evade them for 9 days. As if that wasn’t bad enough, during his escape, poor Sammers was hit by a train! 🙁 He lost his tail and about 1/3 of his right front paw. Even with 3 legs and hurt badly he was still able to avoid being caught.  (Imagine the fear when he’d rather run from people then see them as someone to get help from). It was learned that he was living off a dead deer behind a Walmart.

Once he was finally caught and taken to the Vet, they were able to look after his severe injuries.  After a few weeks in Helena recovering a bit, he was ready to be transported to Calgary to his fosters.  In fact, his current owners, or more accurately, guardians, weren’t even supposed to foster Sammers; he was to go to another family.  However, the intended fosters were planning a 2 week trip over Christmas, and his temporary foster decided that they would take him in.  Well the fosters decided almost instantly, that they were keeping him.  When they picked him up at another volunteers house, Sammers was bandaged “from head to toe.”

 His now guardians, describe their initial experience this way:”Sammers was such a quiet boy and scared all the time.  The only way we could pick him up was to gradually block off the kitchen so he couldn’t go anywhere… essentially cornering him.  Rebecca was the first to break through with him.  She was able to pick him up without him running away, but that was nearly a year after we got him.  We changed his bandages twice daily for 8 months until he was totally healed and during that time, he never made a noise.  Not so much as a bark, growl, whimper… nothing.  Then one day, we were sitting in our office and he was hanging out in the room with us… we hear this muffled “grunt.”  We looked at each other like, “Was that Sam?”  Then about 15 minutes later, heard it again.  It was definitely Sam! There was a smoked bone next to our feet under the desk and he was wanting to check it out.  We pushed the bone to him and it was the first time we saw him act like a dog… chewing something!  Awesome!”

When Critter Caretakers first started working with Sammers, he was fairly afraid of us and would run in the other direction when we saw him, often going to hide in another room. The fear issues that these poor puppy mill dogs have to overcome is often a life-long process and one that is typically not generalized to other people. We patiently talked to him, whispered to him, loved him and gently pet him to win his trust.  Due to the fact that Sam only has 3 legs, he has to be picked up onto the bed (he sleeps with his owners) and this was a process of gaining his trust so he’d allow us to do that. Sammers is a big, heavy sack of potatoes when you pick him up. 🙂

One of many kisses Sammers gets now from his favorite Gilbert Pet Sitters!

One of many kisses Sammers gets now from his favorite Gilbert Pet Sitters!

Sammers feeling safe and comfortable with us on one of our overnights.

Sammers feeling safe and comfortable with us on one of our overnights.








Now when we come over, Sammers runs right up to us. He doesn’t hide and quite frequently he comes nosing over looking for some of that love and gentle pets we won him over with. He’s given lots of kisses when we sit for him. Winning his trust was a great accomplishment and he is now the very lucky brother to a pack of 6 other dogs, several who dote on him. He is acting more and more like a normal dog, chewing on toys, woofing for his dinner (Oh how he LOVES his dinner!), and sitting close to his beloved people all the time now.  He is learning that people are ok and not scary. And truthfully nothing makes us happier than seeing Sammers smile when he runs freely across his big backyard. I’m not kidding…this dog smiles! You can tell he really loves his life now.

"The Sammers Smile" - We just love him!

“The Sammers Smile” – We just love him!

I share this story with you because there are SO many pet stores that get their dogs from these types of places – puppy mills that sell dogs without regard to the care of the dogs breeding for them. If you are looking for a new puppy or dog for your home, your dog sitters in Gilbert recommend the many wonderful loving pets who want to be yours that can be found in local rescues. One place I really like to refer clients to is The Rescue Pawtique in Superstition Springs Mall – this wonderful place pulls dogs about to be euthanized in County Shelter, fosters them back to health (emotional and physical) and then adopts them out for probably half or  more of what a traditional pet store does. If you wish to adopt a new dog, please adopt – don’t shop. It perpetuates the endless cycle of puppy mills. One more Sammers, is one too many.

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