After spending some time with Lady, I became very curious about her past life in the puppy mill. The shelter here had given me some pictures of her when they first got her from Missouri.
This is a great shot of her face–She is a Blue Merle Sheltie, but look how there is almost a line right down her snout, and one side has the merle coloring with a blue eye, and the other side has sable coloring with a brown eye!
Considering the condition of her fur and skin, they decided to shave her. You can’t tell as much from these pictures, but the white fur on her paws, bib, and tummy was actually stained a tan color from all the years of laying in waste. I can’t even imagine what she must have smelled like! From the pictures, she looks mostly black, but now that she’s had several baths and her fur is starting to grow back in, I’m seeing a lot more of the Blue Merle coloring. She’s definitely going to be a pretty girl! (Of course, what Sheltie isn’t gorgeous?)
I later got in touch with the folks at Second Chance Sheltie Rescue in St. Louis, who rescued Lady along with seven other Shelties last November. I wanted to know as much as possible about her former life in order to understand her a little better. I received a very nice letter back from Dwain Springer, the President of the organization, who explained that Lady came from a smaller, farm-based puppy mill that only had about 30 dogs in their breeding program, including the eight Shelties. The breeder was going out of business, which is how they were able to get the dogs. He said that these dogs were actually in much better shape than many puppy mill rescues. While they weren’t exactly socialized, at least they weren’t quite so afraid of humans. Lady was one of the shyest of the bunch. He said it was evident she had been there a very long time.
I also had the wonderful pleasure of emailing with Janice Mitchell, another “top dog” at Second Chance. Janice’s input is significant, in that she is the author of “The Diary of Lucy Blue: A Puppy Mill Survivor’s Story”. Lucy’s story is a touching example of how even an abused mill dog can turn around and become a loving pet, given enough time and patience. Lucy even went on to become a Certified Therapy Dog, and has won her Rally Novice title–not bad for a little dog who never had any training until adulthood! Janice and Lucy have been an inspiration to me as I figure out this whole thing! Lucy Blue is now 14 years old and in declining health, but she is getting wonderful care from Janice. (Incidentally, if you purchase a copy of the book at the link above, the proceeds go to Second Chance Sheltie Rescue.)
Janice was also kind enough to go through her files and send me the following pictures from the day Lady was rescued.
It just amazes me to think that as shy as she is, Lady is actually considered “outgoing” for a mill dog! That gives me hope that if a dog like Lucy Blue–who started out in much worse shape–can come around, so can Lady!