Jan 20 2012

The Amazing Transformation of Izzy

The day Izzy was rescued

The day Izzy was rescued

Commitment…  Patience…  Unconditional love…  Acceptance…  Powerful words with serious meanings.   But, all must become a basic way of life for anyone who is considering adopting a puppy mill rescue.  Some puppy mill rescues may eventually become fairly “normal” dogs, but others’ spirits have been so battered and broken that they will never truly recover, leaving them with permanent physical and/or psychological scars that will affect them for the rest of their lives.  Some will come with medical issues due to lack of proper nutrition, veterinary care and sanitary housing, while others will be plagued with psychological issues, most commonly an intense fear; both of people and of new situations.  And, due to their endless confinement, all will have a lack of understanding of the appropriate protocol for elimination.  Many will get better, but far more will not.  At least not completely.  But, now, thanks to the rescue efforts of Wayside Waifs, many puppy mill rescues are being given a second chance at life in a home where they will know love unlike anything they could ever imagine. 

 It was November 3, 2009 when 21 frightened and horribly neglected dogs were rescued by Wayside Waifs from their previous lives of pain and misery at a puppy mill in Camden County, MO.   As I watched them being impounded that day, I found that my heart was especially touched by two emaciated poodles; one gray and one cream colored.  It brought tears to my eyes to see their dirty matted fur, their incredibly long toenails, their filthy, rotten teeth, the wounds on their bodies from having to fight for their food, their swollen and stretched out mammary glands, and their wasted and worn out bodied from years of over-breeding.   And, more heart-wrenching still was seeing the dreadful fear in their eyes as they stood trembling at the uncertainty of their fate.  No matter how gentle the touch or how softly and kindly the words “It’s going to be OK” were spoken to them, they still could not comprehend that they were safe and that they were now beginning their journey to a life that would be filled with goodness.  In their frightened little minds, the past had proven to them that only bad things ever happened, so how could this scary new world be anything but a continuation of their previous life in hell?  Fortunately for them, time was on their side, and each would be allowed to adjust to their new-found freedom at his or her own rate.  Over the next couple of weeks I would often visit with my two little favorites; the gray and cream colored poodles, along with several others too.  I would spend some time just being with them every day, trying to help with their socialization, always telling myself that they would all be going to wonderful, loving homes, and that I would have to let them go, because the two dogs I already had at home were enough. Eventually, each of the rescues began their migration from the holding side of the building over to the adoption side, and one by one they started leaving Wayside, to a new and better way of life. 

It was one day in late November when I went to visit with one of the poodles that I found she had a new “roommate”, because her previous little buddy had recently been adopted.  Who was this pitiful looking schnoodle, and how in the world did I miss seeing her before now!!!?  “Darma”, as she was named by the staff, was cowering in the corner, pressing hard against the wall, trying to get as far away from me as she possibly could.  I reached out to let her sniff my hand, but coming from a place where no human contact had likely ever been kind, she had no intention whatsoever of coming anywhere near me.  But, Whispers, the cream-colored poodle, would now readily approach me, so I just continued to visit and snuggle with her, allowing Darma to skeptically look on from the security of her corner.  She looked so sad and lonely huddled there in the corner, but in all honesty, it was the sorrowful, pleading look in her eyes which, in the end, totally captivated me.  Regardless of everything I had told myself about not needing another dog, I really knew from the very first moment I saw her that she would eventually be coming home with me.  And, thanks to Wayside, I have come to discover a reciprocal love from an adorable puppy mill rescue who has come to mean the world to me.

So, I read as much as I could about adopting a puppy mill rescue, and after purchasing a couple of baby gates and placing a dog crate with the door left open in every room of the house, (so she would always have a safe haven close by), I thought I was well-prepared to bring home the newest member of my family.  I quickly learned, however, that nothing I had read had fully prepared me for life with a puppy mill rescue.  On the day of her adoption I went to her kennel, slowly opened the door, and gently lifted her out, at which point she immediately began to fight to get away from me.  So, I clutched her tightly to my chest, and just sat down on the floor with her and spoke to her in a calm, soothing voice, and once she relaxed and ceased to tremble I felt we were ready to go home.  I placed her in a travel crate, knowing that the car ride home would be particularly frightening for her, and that confinement while in the car would be the best option.  Nearly everything she would encounter now would be completely new to her, and for her, every one of those things would be absolutely terrifying.  It was heartbreaking to see the almost constant fear that she was suffering, but I was certain that, over time, she would eventually overcome those fears.  There would be progress.  It would be slow, but there would be progress.  Dedication…  Commitment…  Patience…  Unconditional love…  Acceptance: Progress… 

I immediately found that she didn’t actually need a crate in every room.  The only crate she ever would flee to was the one that she sleeps in every night.  Every “first” for her was incredibly difficult, and many of her fears of those “firsts” remained fears throughout the “seconds”, “thirds”, “fourths” and beyond.  The first time I put a leash on her she flopped around like a fish out of water, but it didn’t take her very long to adjust, and now she walks on leash really well.  Progress…

Her reaction to every new experience was to bolt, not really knowing where she was bolting to, or if the path that she was choosing was safe to take or not.  Everything she experienced initially sent her scurrying; the vacuum, television, doorbell, dishwasher…  She no longer runs to hide from any of those things, although she does still prefer to keep her distance from the vacuum.  Progress…  Rain, snow, walking on the grass, or just being outside, were all horribly frightening to her at first, but now she loves to go out in the back yard, as long as I go out there with her.  Progress…  Once-in-awhile she still will have an accident in the house, but that is rare, so in that regard she is getting better.  Progress…  She has even learned what “go potty” means, and knows to eliminate at that prompting.  But, if I take her outside and she doesn’t actually need to go at the time, she will still squat when I say “go potty” and then come running over to me to receive her snuggles and praise.  She’s no dummy!  And, as terrifying as the first few baths were for her, she really doesn’t mind bathing now at all.  I found that giving her treats while bathing her provided her with something she desired to such an extent that she would willingly tolerate a bath, if she had to, in order to receive those treats.  Now, every time I even just pull back the shower curtain, she comes running into the bathroom and puts her paws up on the side of the tub – just in case it happens to be her bath/treat time.  Progress… 

Izzy today

Izzy today

I am fortunate in that I can take Darma (now *Izzy) to work with me every day.  Her comfort zone is under my desk, and although that is where she stays all day, except for when we go out for a walk, I still feel it is better for her than being at home, alone in her crate all day.  *So, how did Darma come to be known as Izzy?  When Izzy first came home with me, she still had her puppy mill look – a skinny, frightened pooch with dirty matted fur.  So, I thought that this “not quite beautiful on the outside yet” little girl needed a beautiful name, so I named her Isabella.  So, I groom, and I try to get her to the “beautiful” look, but after every bathing and grooming she immediately shakes her body and rolls around on the ground, only to rise up looking terribly scruffy and completely unkempt.  So, I decided that shortening her name to Izzy was more fitting to her crazy and cute, yet messy and disheveled look.

Nothing makes me happier now than to see her running at full speed around the back yard, sometimes chasing after my other schnoodle, and sometimes just running for the sheer pleasure of being able to run free.  Progress…  She is my constant companion, and in the comfort of her home, her eyes are bright, her stubby little tail is constantly wagging and she runs and plays like any “normal” dog.  Progress…  But still, whenever she encounters other people, or faces new situations, she reverts back to being that scared and distant recluse that made her way into my heart back on that cold November day. 

Oftentimes, when she is sitting on my lap, I will look into her soulful and hurt-filled eyes, and wonder of the fear that is behind them, and the painful memories that time can never erase.  It infuriates me that she, and so many like her, have been forced to endure a life filled with horrible torture and unspeakable pain, all so that some selfish, greedy breeders can make a buck.  Yes, hundreds have been saved, but sadly, thousands remain imprisoned, daily suffering a fate that is far worse than death.  We can’t give up on them.  Wayside Waifs will not give up on them.  One by one by one we will do our best to offer these survivors the life that they deserve.  And, to all of the other Izzys out there – We will not forget you.  We will not abandon you.  We will not stop fighting for justice for you.  We will not.  WE. WILL. NOT.  Progress…


Written by Karen Brown
Lead Development Associate at Wayside Waifs

Jan 6 2012

Can You Adopt Two? Dynamic Duo’s at Wayside Waifs


You walk right up to us on the adoption floor at Wayside.  Two dogs sitting together in a small kennel.   Different ages, different breeds and very different personalities.   Only one kennel card, though; and it mentions that we must go to a home together because we are bonded.  How does this happen, you ask?                                                                                                                  

Right now, Wayside has four bonded pairs of dogs that need homes that can take two.  We are called “dynamic duos”.  We have grown up together and love each other more than anything in the world.  Duos come to Wayside in a number of different ways, but one very common way is through owner surrender.   Sometimes owners reach an age where they could no longer care for two dogs, so they surrender us with the promise that we will find a new home together. They made the two of us part of their family somewhere along life’s journey. Maybe they rescued one of us from a pound, and then later they found our sibling abandoned alongside the road in the middle of nowhere. Their hearts went out to both of us, and that’s how we became a family. It’s as simple as that. Hey, sometimes we fought a little as we grew up, but most of the time we played, loved and came to depend upon each other, just like families do.   We aren’t so very different from you humans. 

When surrendering us to Wayside, our owners made sure Wayside knew we needed to go to our new home together. Maybe our family surrendered us because they had to move into assisted living that doesn’t accept even one dog, let alone two. Sometimes our owners just can’t get around well enough any longer to give us the walks and play time that we want and need so much. Aging can be so hard. Oh, no doubt our owners asked (perhaps even begged) for friends or family to take us in.  Sad looks and mumbled “we’re sorry, we just can’t” were probably the responses to the request.  That must have been hard.  A wave of panic surely set in.  What will happen to my beloved dogs? 

Oh, it wasn’t because we wouldn’t be good dogs in a new home that forced people to say no to us.  Actually, we’ll be wonderful dogs for most adopters. It’s just that usually people already have at least one dog or cat, and adding two new dogs into that mix can just be too much.  We completely understand, but it sure doesn’t make it any easier on us.  Wayside’s promise provides at least some peace of mind to our families. While a shelter isn’t exactly ideal, oftentimes it is the only option left.  It may be tough going for us while at the shelter; but, we do gain a temporary family of volunteers and staff and such safety and love here while we wait. 

We will never understand exactly what happened before coming to Wayside. Our owners seemed sad and anxious in the days leading up to surrendering us. We sensed something was different, but we couldn’t possibly imagine what was to come. One day we all go for a car ride and a short while later we enter Wayside with all of the other homeless dogs. Our families simply disappear from our lives. Usually our moms and dads are so sad that they don’t really know how to say goodbye.  Oftentimes they have to make the same huge transition in life that we have to make, and it is never easy on anyone – human or dog. Our families want only what is best for us, and they are sad and miss us as much as we miss them.   Many times our previous owners watch us on the website and want to hear how we are doing while we wait for our new homes.  

Typically duos are sweet, loving, calm, easy going and totally wonderful dogs.  Volunteers fall in love with us very easily and begin to worry about our plight. We probably are seniors ourselves, so we break hearts every single day at the shelter.  It is difficult to see any homeless dog in need of a family, but seeing senior dogs sad or depressed, scared and alone, well, we notice lots of tears in everyone’s eyes when they look at us. 

We are put in a kennel at Wayside built for just one dog but needing now to house two since we belong together. We begin our wait, and our wait can be very long indeed, especially if we are larger sized dogs. Since there are two, adopters who visit Wayside usually pass us by on the adoption floor. Sure, everyone feels bad about us and wishes there was something they could do; but, people always hope that someone else will be the one to step up and help us. Perhaps the next person to walk by might take us home. So, they move on, looking at all the other dogs that need a home. There are always plenty of homeless dogs that need love. We understand.  Adopting a duo sadly just isn’t for everyone. 

There are a few of you, though, a few of you who are reading and thinking about this now, and we hope that you might be able to say yes to us. You are the special few that are blessed that you are able to take two dogs into your home and hearts. Maybe you have a nice, big yard, and a home that is too big for just you. Your life might need what two fun, loving and sweet natured dogs can bring to it. You just haven’t given it much thought – this idea of taking two is new to you.   You weren’t even aware that some of us are in need of a home that must be able to take a pair. 

If you are already considering getting one dog, probably one of the best reasons in the world to at least consider adopting a dynamic duo is that we will keep each other company while you are away at work.  People have busy lives and need to be away from home a lot.  Since we are already a bonded pair, we can transition more easily into a home together. Lots of adopters come to Wayside every day looking for a friend for their existing dog for this very reason. They want their pal to have a pal. Hey, you won’t feel bad when you have to head out the door and go to work each morning if you adopt us. You won’t feel guilt.  You can just give us a kiss goodbye and ask us to take care of the place for you. No problem at all, you can count on us! We promise to protect our new home, and we won’t let anything bad happen while you are gone. We’ll curl up on the floor together, we’ll hold each other tight, and we’ll know you are coming back later. We won’t be lonely, not even for a minute! 

There are many other great reasons for adopting a bonded pair of dogs. Here’s a short list of reasons we think you might want to have a dynamic duo in your life!

  • We are already in love with each other, and we are best friends forever!
  • We can take care of each other and keep each other company while you are at work or shopping
  • Dogs are instinctively pack animals and feel happier and more balanced with a dog pal in the home
  • You won’t have to worry about us developing separation anxiety from being home alone
  • We already know how to share our toys, our treats, our beds, our lives – we get along beautifully together!
  • You get twice as much to love – and twice the love back in return!
  • If you already wanted two, getting two that already know how to live together makes it so much easier
  • You get twice as much fun in your life with two of us in it
  • We can play and entertain each other leaving you some quality time to relax after work
  • We will make you smile every day when you see how much we love and care about each other
  • You get a special adoption price when you adopt two dogs together
  • We both have different and unique personalities, so you have twice as much to get to know and appreciate
  • We have usually lived in a home environment, so we are typically housebroken, well mannered, calmer and relaxed, and usually able to be left alone in the house for longer periods of time

Adopters who have taken home a dynamic duo have contacted Wayside to share the joy they feel after rescuing a twosome. They tell us that it was an incredibly rewarding experience to know that they helped not one but two dogs find a forever home. Since two dogs are usually so much harder to adopt out, they feel a greater satisfaction from doing something for animals that not everyone in this world can do. Duo dog adopters are very special people, but they always say that they get so much more back than they have given. They say that their new dogs are the special ones and have brought such happiness to their lives. They express a sense of gratitude for having been given the opportunity to help two dogs find their forever. 

Yes, being a duo in a shelter can be very hard. We are thankful for the chance to find another home together, and we are grateful that we are loved and cared for and that all our new friends want what is best for us. We are very resilient and forgiving creatures. So many duos have left Wayside and found such wonderful families and new homes. We know that is what we are waiting for now, and while the wait can be long and difficult sometimes, we know that in the end it will all be worth it. You will come for us and give us a wonderful and brand new life. We will be forever grateful for your gift to us.  Please give us a chance to be your special new friends.


Love from Wayside’s Dynamic Duos

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