Tuesday, April 7, 2015

And They Call It Puppy Love, Part I

When our wonderful dog died last July, my husband, teenage daughter and I agreed about two things. One, we would absolutely get another dog. And two, we needed to wait a while. Boogalie (that's Cajun for "little swamp monster") was such a big personality and such a big part of our lives for so long. He made it to 18 1/2; our vet was pretty sure that he was the oldest dog in our town.

By the holidays, we started thinking about a new puppy. We wanted another miniature dachshund, and began to research breeders. We found one in Western Mass that sounded ideal. They had an elaborate website with adorable pictures of new puppies, pages about puppy care, glowing testimonials, and a 5-page application for us to fill out. We put down a deposit and reserved a pup from a litter expected in January.

A couple of weeks later, there was a news story on every network in the greater Boston area. A puppy mill had been raided and 72 (72!) miniature dachshunds had been rescued from terrible conditions. They were malnourished, crowded into crates and cages, and some were being kept outside despite below-freezing temperatures.

And, yes, it was the "breeder" we were working with.

We were crushed. Not just because the puppy we were looking forward to was probably not in our future. It was more that we had been taken in by a business that presented itself so well online but was actually a terrible place.

You would think that because my agency creates websites for clients, I would be less gullible. But, first of all, their website was really good. And second, I guess we believe what we want to believe. 

We got in touch with the MSPCA and learned that one of the rescued females was indeed pregnant. Once the litter was born, we could come in and apply to adopt one. Meanwhile, virtually all of the adults and puppies found homes. 

Right around Super Bowl Sunday, we received an email that the puppies had been born (the foster family, Patriots fans, had named them Brady, Butler and Billie, short for Bill Belichick). Billie, the female, was ours. We were thrilled! When she was seven weeks old, we went out to visit her. By then, we weren't just thrilled; we were in love. She was a black and tan dapple and she had one blue eye and one brown.

The day before we were scheduled to pick her up, we received another email. The vets had found that Billie had a congenital spine defect. She would never have complete control of her hind legs. She might need significant medical care, and she absolutely wouldn't be able to live in a house with stairs.

Our house was built in 1830. It's crooked. It has stairs. Just from our patio through our kitchen to our family room, poor little Billie would have had to negotiate 6 level changes — nothing to you and me, but significant for a mini dachshund and, sadly, impossible for Billie. 

As much as it broke our hearts, we had to pass on her and allow the MSPCA to find a more suitable home.

The happy news is that after a story about Billie ran on the local news, the MSPCA was inundated with inquiries. She's now with a family that has experience with disabled dogs. One of her new "moms" actually practices veterinary acupuncture. And, yes, they live in a single-level home.

Billie was where she should be and we were happy for her. 

But where, we wondered, was our puppy? 

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of Lovin' the Alien at www.lovinthealien.com.  

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