Updated: Jan 23
This is the story of Lindsay's dog, Babo, an old senior yorkie that changed everything for her. Grab your tissues, this was a hard one for her to get through without crying.
Also, hear about the feature adoptable dog of the week, Milah from National Mill Dog Rescue. Look at all of their precious adoptable dogs at: www.nmdr.org Also, follow them on Instagram at @nationalmilldogrescue
Read the transcription below!
Welcome to episode 5 of Just Add Dogs, where we get to hear the stories of how rescue dogs were given a second and sometimes a 3rd or 4th chance to have their stories completely changed.
I have deeply loved and still deeply love each one of my dogs. From my first rescue, Cowboy to my newest rescue, Betty Muffin, I have a strong relationship with each one of them. I desperately miss all of them and they have each taught me and led me and changed my own story and made my life so much better in every possible way.
But Babo, my little 10 year old, 6 pound, toothless yorkie with a heart murmur was different. Though it was with Cowboy, Wally and Duchess that I first started to rescue dogs, it was Babo that filled me with a passion for dog rescue as I hadn’t known before. He helped awaken the part of me that had fallen asleep, the innate knowledge that I was born to help rescue and save homeless dogs. We had a bond that I had never known before.
This podcast right here is part of that bond with him that changed everything for me--my search to find something that I can do to make a difference.
And really, if I had never adopted him that day in April, I may not ever be sitting right here, right now.
So I want to tell you his story.
National Mill Dog Rescue had been a website that I frequented daily, and to be truthful, I visited it a few times a day. And still do to this day. I loved their story, the dogs they’d post on facebook, the rescues they filmed, and all the sweet dogs, dogs, dogs. I was inspired by their stories of transformation and rehabilitation. It was inspiring SEeing matted, terrified dogs that have never known kind human touch or grass under their paws, finally get a bed, a treat,a lap to lay in, and a forever home.
So, National Mill Dog Rescue rescues puppy mill dogs. And for those you don’t know already, I just want to touch on puppy mills and puppy mill dogs for a moment.
So what are they and what’s the big deal?
Basically, puppy mills are “large-scale commercial dog breeding operations where dogs live their entire lives in cages (meaning, they are never out of that cage) and are bred repeatedly, producing puppies to be sold through internet sales, online classified ads, flea markets and pet stores.” Then when a dog is no longer productive for them, typically at 5-7 years old, the standard procedure is to kill it. And not peacefully by a vet, surrounded by kind and loving faces.
I’ve never seen a puppy mill in person. I don’t know all the facts by heart.
But I do know the damage puppy mills leave behind--both physically, mentally and emotionally in the dogs that come out of them.
Because these dogs are my dogs.
Because they spend their entire lives in a cage, they are like my Charlie, still afraid to be pet and touched and still cowering when I reach for him, even after a year and a half.
Because they’ve never had kind human contact, they are like Tolliver and don’t know how to walk on a leash or how to go up and down stairs; they don’t know how to be held or carried and they bite out of fear.
They’ve never seen a car or a refrigerator or felt grass under their paws.
Because they have no vet care and horrible nutrition, limited water and are in-bred, like Babo, Tricky-Woo, Winnie, and Charlie they have no teeth and sometimes no jaw and heart problems and eye problems and rare diseases and feet that have been destroyed by wire cages.
Good and responsible breeders will happily meet you in person and show you where the puppy was born and raised--and where the mom lives too.
Puppy Mills are not responsible breeders. So if you want to buy a dog from a breeder, don’t buy a dog from a pet store or online or anywhere where you can’t visit the home of where those puppies and the parents of those puppies live.
National Mill Dog and other organizations can’t stop these breeders--only the law can do that and only some states have adopted laws to end them. But rescues can step in and give a second chance and loving homes to those dogs that would otherwise be killed.
I’ve adopted 6 mill dogs, but Babo was my first. I knew from being on their website that I wanted to adopt a mill dog. I wanted to be a part of the transformation, part of seeing how love can change lives.
So I’d been haunting their site for a while, reading each bio of every dog and wondering if this one or that one would be a good best friend and what it would be like to bring my pack from 3 to 4 dogs. It scared me a bit, but I felt a need inside of me.
One day, unbeknownst to anyone in my family, I packed up Wally, Cowboy and Duchess and we drove the three hours to the rescue. I remember the crunch of the gravel underneath the tires as I parked the car. I stretched my stiff legs as I stepped out into the cool, spring sunshine. The rescue sits outside of Colorado Springs in a vast plain, with only a few scattered houses and lots of vast ranches or wide open fields.
I walked inside and was greeted at the front door by a smiling lady holding a tiny dog. She led me to an outside kennel area where I could let Wally and Cowboy and Duchess out to run and wait while I went inside to meet the dogs.
Now I haven’t been inside many different rescues, physically speaking. Though I’ve adopted 13 dogs, I’ve only been inside 3 rescues. The rest of my dogs were driven or flown or I met halfway to pick up.
But to say this place was magical isn’t doing it justice.
The outside building isn’t anything to write home about. A one-story building in the shape of an L, a simple roof, a gravel parking lot and the sounds of dogs of all sizes barking inside. But inside is again, magic.
The waiting room was warm and inviting and everyone had a smile for me as they yelled over the barking of dogs. A woman sat in a rocking chair holding a tiny dog in a blanket and feeding him/her bits of chicken as he snuggled against her chest. . A dog stroller sat off in a corner and three dogs all dressed up in little sweaters barked from behind a gate in a side office all dressed up in little sweaters.
I’m not kidding. This was really happening.
I had found my people.
A husband and wife, both retired and volunteering a few days a week, took me around the kennels where I recognized the little faces that I had seen online--it was like meeting little furry celebrities.
As we went along I pointed out the dogs that I hoped to meet. They all had one thing in common: they were small and at least 9 years old. Seeing so many precious older dogs needing loving homes to live out the rest of their lives resonated in my heart and I knew that senior rescue was where my heart was at.
The gentlemen wrote their names down on a little index card. Angel. Buttercup, Johnson and four or five others. Once we had gone through the kennels, I went outside to where Wally, Cowboy and Duchess anxiously waited.
I couldn’t wait to meet them all.
One by one they came out. I picked up each of them and held each of them. Wally and Cowboy and Duchess sniffed them and followed them around. Duchess, who was blind, couldn’t see them, but sniffed her way all around the outside play area. Cowboy did his usual running around and whining and Wally was greeting everyone as if they were his best friend for life.
In the midst of the relative chaos, there was one little dog that stood out.
A little yorkie with huge ears and no teeth, who put his paws on my shins to be held, who sat with me in that rocking chair , who wanted me to hold him constantly
He had my heart.
He was 10 years old and had spent his entire life in a puppy mill in Missouri. He wasn’t neutered yet, so I wasn’t able to adopt him right then and there, but it was about a month after that day that I drove the three hours back to the rescue, filled out the adoption paperwork and brought him home.
I remember how tiny he was, his little purple collar, his adoring little eyes and his silly tongue that always stuck out the side of his mouth. I’d never seen anything so cute.
I was in love.
We called him Johnson at first;I couldn’t think of anything else, but within a few weeks he had a name that just emerged out of talking to him and singing to him and holding him and loving him.
We were inseparable.
I’d never been loved like that before--with no judgement, no strings attached, no expectations. He didn’t care what I’d done, he didn’t care what I looked like, he didn’t care that the books I’d written weren’t a success, he didn’t care that my hair was unkempt or when I didn’t exercise or ate too much or if I had a zit.
He just wanted to be with me all the time. He was excited when I came home or simply came into a room. He waited for me when I left. He was content to just sit and do nothing as long as he was in my lap or my arms or beside me.
Our bond deepend after he spent a few days in a Denver hospital a few hours away for trouble breathing.
I didn’t know it at the time--and it would actually take me a few years to realize and learn this. I live at high altitude--at 10.400 ft above sea level to be exact, high in the Rocky Mountains and it isn’t good for dogs with heart problems. I had no idea at the time and just knew that I didn’t care what condition he had--I was going to love him through anything and everything. So he spent a few days in Denver getting tested and given oxygen treatments and put on medicines to help him.
He spent another week in the hospital around Christmas time that year as well.
He would be on medicine for the rest of his life, but I didn’t care--I was willing to do anything; bring it on.
He went camping and backpacking with us and spent the night with me at multiple hotels as I traveled with my kids to hockey games across the state. He had multiple songs, and I can’t listen to Elton John’s Tiny Dancer without immediately thinking of him. I have a tattoo of him on my wrist, a stuffed animal of him, a small ceramic figure of him, and multiple drawings and paintings of him that my daughter made for me.
I only had him for just under two years when we went out to visit family in Oregon.
He passed away in the arms of our dogsitter the first night we were away.
Needless to say it was not only absolutely heartbreaking, but it was traumatizing to not have been there with him. I still feel all the guilt and pain from not being there with him.
The loss of him was deeper than I could imagine, but the two years I had with him was worth all the pain and tears and heartache. Those two years with Babo changed everything. I’ve adopted 5 additional dogs from National Mill Dog, and a few from other rescues.
He expanded my heart to let more in and he is the reason why I’m still adopting the old and the broken and the left-behind and the forgotten. And why I always will.
Babo, this is all for you.
Now, let’s see if we can find our feature dog a best friend like Babo. I’m featuring a dog from National Mill Dog Rescue. Meet Mila from National Mill Dog Rescue in Colorado Springs. Please remember, that she is available, now, at the recording of this podcast. He/she might already be adopted by the time you listen. That said, please visit the rescue’s website for more information on the other dogs waiting for their chance at forever. You’ll find information on Milah and National MIll Dog Rescue on show notes at www.justadddogspodcast.com.
You’ll hear more about National Mill Dog Rescue in episodes to come but here’s a little bit about them. Their mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome discarded breeding dogs and to educate the general public about the cruel realities of the commercial dog breeding industry.
Fun Facts about Milah: She is a 6 year old bulldog/boston terrier mix who is just so cute! I’d love to smoosh her little muzzle!
Enjoys sunshine and fresh air
Thinks being pet is the best
Walks on leash
Loves attention and to be pet
Challenges for Milah:
Will do best as an only dog, very choosy about her dog friends
Can be nervous in new situations but settles quickly
So having a mill dog rescue, these sweet souls, because of what they’ve gone through, are flight risks so always need to be on a leash when they’re out and about on the town. And though all dogs need patience and kindness, mill dogs need it that much more.
Go to nmdr.org for more information and to support this amazing dog rescue. You can also follow them on facebook where they often post their offloading of their rescue missions live and they are so much fun to watch. Or follow them on instagram at @nationalmilldogrescue
Now, in addition to subscribing to this podcast, follow us on facebook and instagram and go to www.justadddogspodcast.com to download my free resource guide called The Basic Guide to Adopting Your Next Best Friend. And if you have adopted your best friend, or maybe two or three or five, and would like to tell your story, please send me an email at email@example.com or a Direct Message on Instagram at @justadddogspodcast. Also, feel free to submit a rescue or a shelter that you love and adore to be featured on the show.
Thank you so much for tuning in and listening. Until next week, I’m your host, Lindsay.