Monday, 4 March 2013


This is Callie's  "Mom, pay attention to me!"  pose.
I've been wanting to write about this for a long while now, but I have found it difficult, because telling the story involves an issue I find really painful.  I am referring to the neglect and abuse puppy mill dogs are subjected to.  Three years ago I adopted a dog that was rescued from a puppy mill.  Her name is Callie. 
This is Callie in the foreground and Misty in the background.   Both dogs were rescued from a puppy mill breeder and went to foster homes.  This was their first picture after they were cleaned up and groomed.  Not looking very happy, and probably really scared too.  Neither one was used to human contact.  Both have been adopted into forever homes .  Callie’s home is with me.  I am proud to be her mom.

Callie is a smart, feisty and pampered Bichon Frise.  I adopted her from the Delaware Valley Bichon Rescue, an all-volunteer organization which does an incredible job finding homes for neglected Bichons. At the time of her rescue, Callie was approximately five years old, she was being used as a breeder dog, and she had spent all her life up to that point living in a crate. The rescue took Callie to the vet where she was spayed. She also required 13 tooth extractions. Lots of pregnancies, poor nutrition and a lack of proper medical care took a toll on her teeth. Even though Callie is on a well balanced diet today, and even though she takes vitamin supplements, she still has issues with her teeth, and I have taken her to have subsequent extractions.  Other than that, her health has been fine, thank goodness.  Callie was fostered in the state of Delaware by a wonderful husband and wife team named Conni and Jesse. They are active volunteers with the Delaware Valley Bichon Rescue, and they have fostered many dogs, some of which have been puppy mill rescues. Conni and Jesse have a special knack for bringing these dogs back to life. Everyday, Jesse would drive Callie and another puppy mill dog to PetSmart. He would put the dogs into a cart and wheel them around the isles in order to get them accustomed to people and to new noises. Callie loved (and still does love) going for car rides. When I adopted her, I too started taking her to PetSmart.  It was just as Jesse described it:  she liked the car, but she was afraid of people and of the the experience in the store.  I first met Callie at Conni and Jesse's house.  That's when I was introduced to all the other lovely dogs who lived there. Maggie, Spike and Jake were the three little bichons that were Conni and Jesse's kids.  Callie and two more puppy mill rescues were there waiting for forever homes.  I approached Callie and the other rescues and petted them.  I was surprised at how tight their muscles felt. Muscles hard as rocks.  All three dogs were on alert, they were shaking and they were so tense that they would not relax a single muscle.  
Callie's first picture in her new home.  She is lounging in her dogie bed.  A toy she loves playing with is that little green squeaky tennis ball.  She actually has a number of them hidden in various places throughout the house. 
I brought Callie home that first day I met her.  It took about a month for her to relax and learn to trust me, but it took her a lot longer than that to learn how to be a happy pet.  She had to learn how to go up and down stairs.  It was hard to see her struggle with that, but she finally got it.  Going outside was also a struggle.  At first, she wouldn't even let me put a leash on her.  Today, she absolutely adores going for walkies.  She still adores car rides.  She appreciates going to PetSmart, because she knows that’s where greenies  come from, and for those who don't know, greenies are a healthy chewy treat dogs go wild over.  Good for their teeth.  I am so glad that I was able to give her a better life.  I know that she loves me and I love her also.  Very much.  Linus, my other dog, is crazy about her also.  He looks out for her.  She likes to play hard to get with him during the day, when she is busy with other things, like waiting for the mail carrier.  Every evening however she curls up next to Linus on the sofa.  Callie and Linus are great company for my mother, who is somewhat frail.  The three of them hang out together during the day.  I don’t really know what they do, because I am at work, but I know they have a good time and I just know it involves treats, although I can't prove it.  Callie has learned to sprint downstairs every time the refrigerator door opens. Would she have learned to do that if there were no treats involved?

Callie and her best friend, Linus.

Callie deep in thought.  No doubt reflecting upon something of extreme importance.

Callie at her first ever costume contest.  She went as a Hawaiian  princess.  She came in second place.  
Every year the Delaware Valley Bichon Rescue hosts a "Bichon Bash" picnic at the home our fantastic president Dr. Susan Dare, and every year there is a theme cake.  The cake in this picture showed the puppy mill rescues, one of which was Callie. Her picture is up in the corner, posing with the Phillie Phanatic.  The picnic is great fun, and is also a fund raiser for the rescue.  All bichons can attend free of charge, and if they wish they can participate in a costume contest.  
Callie checking out the scenery from her patio.  Notice she is wearing pink ribbons. 
Callie does not like pink ribbons.  

Why did that groomer put pink ribbons on my ears?

Callie and Linus on the cover of "Life" magazine.

Another year, another costume contest at the "Bichon Bash."  Callie went as the "Black Swan."  She came in third place, but by the time this picture was taken, she had shaken off most of her headpiece and had done her best to discard her tutu.  
A dapper costume contest participant is eager to discover exactly what aromatic delights emanate from the posterior of the first place winner.  Arnie, a dog of many disguises, won first place by coming as a gladiator.  
Arnie, gladiator bello victorem!

Callie at the bichon bash, drying out after a dip in the pool.  Perhaps the dip was refreshing, but it was quite unplanned.  Callie has never gone near a pool since then.

Going to watch the Oscars, February 2013.  Wearing a simple grey frock with stripes at the bust line.  Designed by Callie's favorite couturier, PetSmart! 
So that's the story of my little love, Callie.  I am glad she is with me.  Thank you Delaware Valley Bichon Rescue, thank you Jesse and Conni, and thank you Dr. Susan Dare for all you do.  To find out more about our rescue, to see the dogs available for adoption, to purchase a Bichon related gift item, or to make a tax deductible contribution, please check this link:  DELAWARE VALLEY BICHON RESCUE.