Sunday, June 15, 2014

Peeved at Puppy Pushers

Smokey after eating strawberries right off the plant.

After my brother died, we took in his miniature Schnauzer, Smokey.  He was part of our family for longer than he had been my brother’s best friend.  So when Smokey passed, we decided to adopt another Schnauzer.  Although I usually adopt from animal shelters, I saw a sign for a puppy store and felt compelled to turn into the parking lot.

Now I’ve been to a lot of animal shelters and, yes, often they smell of dog doo-doo and strong cleaners.  But, when I opened this shop door, the heat and the stench just about floored me.  There was no hint of cleaners in this place, and the room was boiling despite it being winter.  I almost backed out the door.  I tried not to breathe as I continued inside, pressing a fist to my mouth.  The place was dark, suffocating and full of barking dogs.  Urine puddles dotted even the middle of the room.  Animal crates were stacked on top of each other around the outside of the room.

A very young, plump girl in shorts, flip flops and a tube top came out from the back, yaking on a cell phone.  She rushed over to a mop when she say me and started soaking up the urine.  I walked up and down the aisle, staring at all the sad, hot, panting puppies unable to lie down without squishing in their own messes.

Sprite at eight months after we got him.
(He doesn't like the sound of the camera
and rarely can I get his photo.)

I pulled up the collar of my coat to cover my mouth and nose, cringing at the urine odor burning my throat.  I wanted to flee the stench and awful sight.  I turned and spotted him—a gray matted-haired ball.  It was hard to tell he was a Schnauzer under that muddle.  He was big compared to the two other dogs in his cage.  The young gal finally got off her phone, and I wanted to ask where the shop owner was or at least if her mommy was around.

“What can you tell me about this one,” I asked instead.

“I’ll have to look it up.”  She headed to a desk up front.  Coming back with an index card in her hand, she told me he was a seven-month-old miniature Schnauzer.

Could have fooled me.  “Can I hold him?” I asked.  

“We have a lot of younger puppies,” she said, opening the cage.

All three dogs tried to escape. Not a surprise.

She grabbed the Schnauzer and roughly shoved the other two dogs back inside.  I took the sad, timid dog in my arms, my eyes watering at how bad he reeked.  I noticed something on the left side of his face and tried to look at it under the matted hair, but he continually flinched away.

“What’s wrong with him,” I asked.

“Nothing that I know of except that we’ve had him for a while.”

I asked if I could take him to my vet and she shrugged.  I left only my name, address and phone number and immediately drove to my vet’s office.  The poor little dog stunk up my whole truck.  I felt embarrassed walking in with such a filthy, ungroomed dog, but my concern for him and the other dogs over road my discomfort.

After a thorough exam, we discovered that the dog was more like nine months to a year old.  He had a very large, ugly tumor on the side of his face that needed to be removed immediately and the reason he wouldn’t let anyone touch his face was because he had been abused…abused to the point of having minor brain damage.


I adopted that dog that day with love, pain and concern in my heart and only disgust and anger for the business that pretended to have dogs’ best interests in mind.

I washed the poor little guy five times in a row and he still smelled.  I couldn’t seem to wash the stink of me either.

My husband is the dog name picker-outer in the family and weeks went by without a name.  I finally gave him a list of names off the internet and said, “I’m going to the store.  When I get back, I want a name.”  When I got home, the paper was on the fridge with the name Sprite circled.  My boys added the middle name of Sparkplug.

After two years, Sprite woke us up in the middle of the night, running while he was lying on his side and shaking violently.  Blood was coming from his mouth from biting his tongue.  Thinking his airway must be blocked, my husband pried Sprite’s mouth open only to have him lock down on two of my husband’s fingers.  It was Sprite’s first seizure and also our first experience with a dog having one.  Later the vet told us it was most likely due to the abuse.

Now after eight years, we have learned to deal with his seizures, multiple medications, and all his fears.  He’s gotten better over time but I think he will always be traumatized by confined spaces, other people, leashes, beeping sounds, squeaky toys, being held, and having his face touched.

I don’t know about you, but I’m disgusted by animal abuse.  It’s something that I will never understand—not physical abuse, cruelty, neglect, hording, or animal testing. I believe it is our responsibility to take care of the pet population by spaying and neutering, and I also believe in stiffer penalties for those who abuse animals and believe unnecessary testing on animals should be stopped.

“If a man aspires towards a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from injury to animals."
-- Albert Einstein

P.S.  The puppy store was closed down within a month of my visit.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
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