Puppy mill dog when first rescued

Rosie's Story - A Puppy Mill Mama

A little over a year after rescuing Tucker, a puppy mill survivor, we decided it was time to welcome another puppy mill dog into our home. If you know me, I hate odd numbers! (we had 3 at the time) 😉 We were scheduled to transport dogs for Adopt A Pet, INC on June 8, 2023. We knew we were picking up older puppies that a commercial breeder in Lancaster, PA, no longer needed and planned to kill. (The Amish!)
Among the dogs was a female Bichon - 7 years old.

As we arrived on the outskirts of Lancaster, we waited with other transports for the dogs to arrive. When they pulled up, I saw three little dogs in one of the rescuers’ trucks and wondered which one was ours. She said, "I know you are taking one, do you want to choose?" I said no, thinking that the dog meant to be with us would be the one. She picked up the little Bichon, and tears instantly fell from my eyes. She was a scared little dog in terrible condition: urine-soaked, long curled nails, and a blank stare, not knowing what was happening. As Mike took her into his arms, the smell was unbearable, but through my tears, I told her, "It's okay, you're safe now, and we are going to love you forever."

Mike loaded the rest of the pups into the truck, and we trekked back to NJ. During the drive, we named our little Bichon Rosie, proper name White Rose of Budderstown. Once we arrived at Adopt A Pet, all the dogs were immediately given baths, marking the start of their new lives. When we were getting Rosie ready to wash, we removed her collar, which had the word "GoldenRod" written on it by the Amish. I'll never forget it. Off in the garbage it went. I never want to hear that word again. While in the bath, the dirt, urine, and feces fell off, revealing her true white thick coat. After drying her and getting her nails trimmed up, we headed home to her new life and fur-siblings. 

At home, we brought her inside in a crate. Our crew was so happy to see her. We set Rosie’s crate up in the living room, where we spend most of our time. She was completely shut down and extremely scared of everything—except the other animals (cats and dogs). The sight of our hands put her in a panic. Our hearts broke for her. We kept her on a leash (which she HATED) when taking her outside, but she just sat there, not wanting to move. We had never experienced a dog like this. She was abused, never handled, only used as a money-maker for breeding, and extremely fearful. We wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. Tucker was different when we got him—still very scared but in a foster home for a month before we got him (the best foster home, might I add!).

As the days went on, she began watching the other dogs and slowly started opening up to them. She went in for her spay and dental three weeks after we got her. When I picked her up, she did well but only had 16 teeth, and after the dental, just three!

About a month after her spay, we took her for her first grooming appointment. Since she was so close to Tucker, we brought them in together—even bathed them together. Our groomer, who took them in after the last appointment of the day so it was just us, made a HUGE difference. After her first real groom, I cried. She was beautiful! Shaving off all that thick fur made her feel so much better. Since then, she and Tucker get groomed every 6-7 weeks, and she becomes more at ease with each grooming.  This is Rosie after her first groom: 
As the months passed, we saw her slowly come out of her shell. We celebrated every little victory and cried over any setbacks. In October, we took the dogs on vacation to Maine. I was extremely nervous, but the trip went great! Considering she had only been with us for four months, she handled the 10-hour trip, staying in a new place, and being in another location during the day remarkably well. The other dogs played a HUGE role in this. It wasn't all easy—I had to climb into the back of the truck to get her since she was still scared to be picked up. But once in my arms, everything was okay.

Now it's Christmas, and since June, she goes outside with the other dogs, runs around excitedly, and even chases squirrels out of the yard, thanks to Evie. She found her voice!  Puts her front paws on our legs when we are in the kitchen making something to eat.  Looking up at us with those little brown eyes hoping to get a little snack. She sleeps on the bed with us at night and next to Tucker during the day. She’s excited to see us when we come home. Although she still gets nervous about being picked up, she has learned to go to her spot, making it easier for us to pick her up. Over the months, we have seen her bloom into a happy little girl. 

Most recently, she has started waking me up in the morning by scratching my back, wanting me to pet her. It makes her waking me up at 5:30 am all worth it. She likes me to pretend to chase her. Compared to last summer, she is a completely different dog. She loves being outside, running around with Ty, Evie, and Tucker. She’s like a little bullet! She has gained confidence and isn’t afraid to tell us what she wants. When she’s excited, she barks and wiggles her butt. She looks for her snacks and knows exactly when she’s supposed to get them. I never thought we would get to this point, but we did. She is still somewhat fearful of hands but enjoys being petted when on the bed. We are making strides, and I know we’ll get there. PATIENCE is key when having a puppy mill dog.

To our sweet, sassy, and fun girl Rose Bud, Happy Gotcha Day—a true start to a brand new life. There were times when we didn’t know what we had gotten ourselves into, but watching you grow and break out of your shell is the best part of having a puppy mill dog. Lots of ups and downs, but it is 110% worth it! I can’t wait to see all the changes you make this summer and the barriers you break down. We truly couldn’t imagine our pack without you. Was it hard? YES. Would we adopt a puppy mill dog again? ABSOLUTELY! They are not turnkey dogs, but with LOVE, TIME, and PATIENCE, they will be your forever friend. Having resident dogs in the house makes it easier for a puppy mill dog to come out of their shell and learn how to actually be a dog. 

One last thing: for anyone who thinks buying a dog from a pet store, online breeder, or the nice Amish family in the country isn’t bad, talk to us. We’ll tell you why it is bad and why you are part of the problem. These dogs are used and abused to make puppies. When they are no longer needed, they are discarded like trash, killed, and thrown into the fields as compost. Puppies are treated the same way after 14-16 weeks if they don’t sell or have something wrong with them, like a hernia or cherry eye (easy fixes). Yes, you read that right. So, please think twice about buying dogs from the places I listed above. Remember Rosie’s story, and think of all the dogs in the U.S. that are locked in cages with little access to food or water, never taken out to feel grass under their feet, and living in urine-soaked, feces-packed cages for their entire lives. They don’t know that love or human touch can be a good thing. How could anyone do this to them? GREED! PURE GREED. You don’t need to be a true animal lover to know this is wrong. We are their voice. Please, always speak up for them. We need to shut these commercial mills down. I pray every night that one day it will happen.
Thank you for reading Rosie's story.  Please feel free to share it. 
Peace, Love & Paws,
Kim, Mike & the entire Budderstown Crew
For more info on puppy mills, please visit:
If you are in the NJ/PA area please consider joining us at Puppy Mill Awareness Day in Lancaster, PA on 9/21.  If you can't join, be a sponsor!
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