Life in a Cage

As many of you know, our newest “shadow” around the house, Ms. Elsa was a product of a puppy mill breeding operation. What you may not know are some of the details about puppy mill breeding operations, short of ‘they’re bad.’

img_3939Here in her own words here is Elsa, telling some details of her story.

Hello everyone. This is Elsa. Over the weekend my new mom was going through all the papers associated with my recent adoption and it really sank in just what we puppy mill pups had to endure so she encouraged me to tell that story in my own words.

There were 9 of us who were seized and turned over to a northern Colorado shelter back in late June after the death of our owner. One dog (who was probably my dad) was euthanized due to his severe aggression and determined to not able to be rehabilitated in any setting. Another dog had to be euthanized because she was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease. Me, my sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles lived in wire cages on a 3+ acre property on the Plains outside of Greeley, Colorado and were all filthy, matted, covered in feces and never touched by humans. The only time my cage was opened was when “he” was released in my cage to mate.

During intake with the first rescue shelter, I wouldn’t look up at the nice people who wanted to take a photo of me. I wasn’t able to make any direct eye contact and still have trouble doing that at times. I’m shy but friendly toward people and pets and still trying to figure out what being a dog is all about. So far, while on the one hand it’s scary territory, on the other, it’s completely pawsome!

Once the rescue took me in they evaluated my health which seemed mostly normal. But first things first…I was spayed and gastropexied. For those of you unfamiliar with that last term, gastropexy is a surgical procedure whereby the stomach is sutured to the diaphragm to prevent bloat, a common condition Standard Poodles are prone to suffering from as are all deep-chested breeds.

I was lucky to be placed with a loving foster family who owned another Standard Poodle to help guide my socialization for a number of weeks before I got to go home to the Ranch.

To have my own bed…inside even…well…gosh, how did I get so lucky? It used to be that I felt by having a dirty feces covered ratty old rug was something else. It was something else alright, just not what should be considered appropriate for living creatures. Although perhaps a little underweight but otherwise thought to be healthy, I now get two squares a day of premium food, fresh water twice a day, hooves to chew on along with an array of elk antlers (which can I just say, I LOVE?). I mean, I think I won the lottery on the Ranch. My brand new hot pink collar and matching leash along with a micro-chip will help keep me safe. Plus I’ll be stylin’ with my new bandana just like my big brother. Mom already has a set of snow boots for when the weather turns but not sure about that means.

My mom has been loving and patient with me. She speaks softly, massages my ears to help me relax, tries to use food as a motivator (though I’m still afraid to take any treats directly from her hand still) and praises me whenever I pee, poop, and exhibit good leash manners. She lets me climb up on the sofa and relax next to her and never forces me to do something if I freeze, instead always encouraging me. I started to wag my tail a little bit when I see her come into a room and that has made her super happy. She thinks I’m pretty special and even if my brother is a little less than a fan, I think I’m starting to win him over too. He at least let’s me sleep right next to him. The uprights will need to get more furniture for themselves though.


Have you ever rescued a puppy mill dog? What was your strategy for integrating a rescued fur-iend into your family?

Live, love, bark! <3


67 thoughts on “Life in a Cage

  1. What a story of overcoming this is. And if I could wish ill on anyone, these puppy mill owners would be short list.

    To Elsa, the beautiful girl. She has come a long way thanks to her wonderful forever family.

    1. It’s doubtful she’d have made as much progress without the ‘pawsome’ tutelage of her knuckleheaded brother. He showed her how to be a dog and continues to show her the ropes even now, 3 years later.

  2. Ok, getting caught up on your Elsa now. She is one lucky dog, that is for sure now that she has been rescued from hell and living in heaven. She seems to be making rapid progress which I am sure is due to your love, commitment, and passion. I mentioned that Kloe was a puppy mill rescue her conditions were very good. She came through the same rescue group that Kali came through but Kloe was born in CA from “backyard breeders”. They were mostly responsible but defiantly in it for the money.

    The rescue group has begun buying these types of pups to get them out of the system. Kloe would most likely have been purchased by another breeder perpetuating the situation. So again she was in a pretty good situation living with her two sisters and birth mom and dad until we adopted her at 9 weeks.

    Good luck with Elsa. What a beauty. If she is anything like Kloe she’ll keep Sam young at heart whether he wants to or not.

    Take care,

    1. Thanks, Michael. She is a sweetie, just needs to learn to trust. She and her 8 fellow dogs were in horrible mill conditions. She has a lovely disposition which will probably help her once she realizes life can be good with humans. Sam is being very patient.

        1. As usual Sam is the hard worker in this story. His patience sweet nature taught Elsa how to be a dog.

  3. Monika, no puppy mills dogs here. However, I’ve mentioned Rufus our Old English Sheepdog before and he never fully recovered from his issues and was constantly stealing food and would swallow it bag and all. He was also very stressed, especially in storms and he’d run round and round in circles. He didn’t really like Geoff either and could get a bit agro.
    In some ways, he was a lovely dog but he was a lot of work.

    1. Those irresponsible breeders have no idea of the damage they do to these poor creatures. Apart from behavioral issues, there are all sorts of genetic physical problems that result from wily-nily breeding all in the name of making a buck (sadly, a condition that seems nearly terminal in the US). Elsa developed some health issues over the weekend that will require lifelong treatment. I hope and pray she will be able to enjoy her new life with the treatment. ღ

  4. Deerest Elsa what a turribull start inn Life you an yur furamillee had!! Mee was so sad readin yur story an LadyMum was inn tearss!!!
    Mee Aunty Nylablue Sweet Feet (who came befur mee) was a breedin kat( Bluepoint Birman/Siamese) frum a puppy mill an then rescued butt still sued fur breedin. Shee was so-o sick when LadyMum rescued her….shee lived all most 9 yearss with LadyMum.
    An thee kittygurl befur her Mingflower thee Merciless (Bluepoint Siamese) was thee product of a puppy/kitty mill that LadyMum got closed down!!! an shee got Mingflower who lived with her for 18 yeerss!!!
    All tho katss, LadyMum sayss doggies an katss suffer turribull inn these places….
    Fank you fur rescuing Elsa <3
    ~~~head rubsss~~~ Siddhartha Henry~~~

    1. Thanks, Prince Siddhartha Henry. Ms. Elsa had a rough start but we are determined to make the rest of her life significantly better. Kudos to your LadyMum for her advocacy. We are making it our mission to get these horrid places shut down. Together we all can make a difference! ღ

  5. Hi Elsa, Miley here. So glad you found Sam and humans who love you unconditionally. So lucky! 🙂 I too am a “rescue” and am still fighting demons from my past. My Gam and Pop are patient though and are kind, loving humans. I have taken over Gam’s favorite chair and sleep up next to her every night, ALL night. I have the run of the house and guard the back fence with vengence! Can’t wait to meet you in person! Welcome!

  6. Oh Elsa…i am so sad that you were so mistreated..i am so glad you now have a lot of love to look forward to..our Forrest was a puppy farm pup..a life of anxiety and such a sweet soul..we miss him dearly but still wonder at how we could never help him over some of his issues..but being pulled from his mum too young and whatever other things he experienced prior to us buying him from a pet shop..yes we had no clue 14 years ago…the damage was done..but he lived happily here was loved and loved us in return…puppy farms mills whatever you choose to call them are a disease on our society…xxcxxx

  7. Beautiful post – it made me tear up. You’re doing a great job! No puppy mill rescues here but all my pets are rescue. The worst case we rescued was a starved Great Dane who had lost some of its hair and the ends of its ears had been fly blown. She had a good life with us.

  8. Wow…just wow. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I do not understand how any human could treat a dog the way they are treated in puppy mills. What does it take to shut them all down??

  9. What a great, happy ending to a story! She is such a lucky girl, to have a new brother and a great family with a comfy couch to sleep on 🙂 Our first dog, Charlie, came from a pet store ( 8 years ago) before we really considered where those cute puppies actually come from and had some health problems, like seizures, we have been taking care off. Thank you again for exposing how ugly and cruel puppy mills are. Adopting is a way to go, and if you must, responsible breeders do exist, you just have to research.

  10. It breaks my heart and boggles my mind to think of how humans can mistreat animals. Elsa, you and Sam and all the other animals on Earth are the kindest and gentlest souls. I’m happy that you are in a loving home and that your mom is on a mission to expose the ugly truth about puppy mills. We dream of a world where one day all dogs will live happy lives surrounded by love from beginning to end.

    1. We’ve never had rescues from a puppy mill. Ours were all strays. With Buster [] it was his mother, though, who wandered by and shortly after gave birth to 10!! little ones. Sally came by when she was already 3 – 4 years old. She was skin and bones and had fleas and worms. But she stayed and we got her fixed – in more than one sense. We believer that in her previous life she had been abused, probably/likely by a male person, since she was very shy and totally afraid of men. It took a long time before she trusted me. And then there was Topolino, who appeared as a very young puppy. We suspect that he was left at a nearby picnic area and made it to our property. We natuerally adopted him, but, sadly, he didn’t last very long. He was still very young when he tried to be friendly and play with a rattler. 🙁 Our vet did his best but couldn’t save him. ASnd then tyere was Chiquita, who also wandered by – kind of. Here’s her story of how she came to us [] and how we found her previous owner []. Well, by now all of our dogs have crossed the rainbow bridge and we have cats only. 4 of our 5 are strays, too.

  11. Hey Elsa – I’m Ray! I cannot remember too much about my past… successfully blocked it out I guess, but I remember being afraid of all humans and other dogs, and I had never been in a home before I came here. Like you, I have lots of comfy places to sleep; food twice a day; snacks in between, and loads of TLC. Like you…. I am a very lucky dog! Woof! Ray.

  12. Hello Elsa, lovely to meet you.Benji is my adopted dog and after his rescue he took a little while to settle in and get used to everything and everyone, but he is great now and enjoys life -as will you. Not perhaps the best start for you, but with Sam and the Mama, the dark days of the past will fade from memory and you will look forward to a bright, and happy future. Oh and be patient with Sam, he will learn how to be a Big Brother in time :o)

  13. oooh Elsa. I am so glad that your mom found you and got you into your forever home. Puppy mills are horrid little places for sure. My mom says that she has ‘rescued’ other babies in the past in her life from these mills. In some ways, we think Houdini was in one. All it was about was making money and not the love of the anipal. That is so very wrong in so many different ways. We love you missy and know you will do just fine with Sam and his family. XOXO – Bacon

  14. Good morning Elsa, nice to meet you. I’m so happy you’re at a great home now.
    We adopted a puppy (Basset Hound) years ago that might have been from a puppy mill. Daisy was sold at a pet shop and at 6 months had been to four other homes because no one had the patience to train her. We tried to get her used to do fun little rides in the car but she shivered constantly when we took her for a ride. She probably thought she was going to a new place. She had health problems but she lived a happy life of fourteen years with two other Basset sisters. We loved them so much. ❤️ 💙

      1. This was a long time ago and so we knew the original purchasers and were very disappointed with their carelessness. She in fact was purchased at a Denver pet shop. She was a purebred so we were able to register her with AKC and then get her Ancestry. She was very inbred. Her ears were biggest health problem. We could not go more than a couple days without cleaning her ears. She was a Daddy’s girl though.

        1. That happens most of the time with Bassets. We have a pair of rescued ones in our hood and they are always having ear problems. Poor breeding causes all sorts of health problems, more than people realize.

          1. Our other two bassets never had problem ears but they were well bred. Bassets needs room to roam. They are hound dogs after all. We have an empty pasture around us so they were in seventh heaven. They rarely caught rabbits but loved the chase. We also have a large fenced in yard.

  15. people who run puppy mills should go through the same life like the dogs and cats they abuse. we have such a darned hag in the neighborhood too who had only the $$ in her eyes… after people sued her, the dogs she had disappeared over night…. I don’t want to ponder what happened to this poor animals :o(

      1. indeed. because of her we had sleepless nights and always when I passed her house I thought Easy could sit in this former pigeon cage too if the wrong person had bought him….:o(((

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