Written by Becky Monroe
Evan, one of the luckier mill survivors, was rescued at just 3 months old! His foster mom was looking for a dog for her own mom. She wanted to help a puppy mill survivor because she had worked with so many before and wanted to give that second chance to another one.
Missy began scouring rescues in southern IL who took in dogs from puppy mills. She saw a picture on-line of Evan, a Schnauzer/Poodle mix, and his description read, “Very shy.”
His story was that he and his sister came from a puppy mill bust in Missouri.
Missy had worked with numerous puppy mill survivors, so she felt confident she could help Evan. There was something about his face and the way he was hiding it as well as his sullen body language. She couldn’t get him out of her head.
She felt called to help him and knew her pack of 6 well-adjusted pups would help welcome Evan to the family and teach him all the dog things he likely did not know.
Missy made the 12 hour round trip to meet Evan. He was a pot-bellied little guy. The rescuer told Missy that Evan had a rough night because his sister was adopted the night before and he missed having her nearby.
On the long ride home, Evan sat on a blanket in the front seat hiding his head from Missy most of the time. It was sadly apparent that Evan was very afraid of people and didn’t have much faith in the human race.
They stopped on the way home to get gas and Missy put a collar and leash on Evan and brought him to the grass to go potty. Everything was so unfamiliar to him — even the grass made him uncomfortable. He army crawled all over the place trying to get away.
When Missy picked him up, he pooped all over. Missy said she felt absolutely terrible for him and knew his road to recovery would be long.
How horribly tragic that at just 3 months old, he was already so terrified of everything.
When Evan arrived at his new home with Missy and was let out with the other dogs in the securely fenced yard, Evan army crawled to the far back corner to hide. Poor Evan just had no clue how to be a puppy.
Gabe, a Maltese, who was one of Missy’s sweetest, most angelic dogs, became Evan’s mentor and helped Evan conquer so many of his fears. The two became so inseparable that whenever Gabe was called to come, Evan came, too. And whenever Evan would come on command, Missy would say, “Yay!” At one point, Evan started to think his name was ‘Yay’!
Gabe slowly taught Evan that humans were actually okay and that he could trust them.
Missy explained, “We had to be extremely patient, structured and positive with him. We did not want to foster his insecurity, but also had to have compassion for him. It was a fine line.”
Today, at 11 years old, Evan continues to happily live with Missy’s mom. He is still nervous around new people — especially men. Whenever someone new comes to the house, Evan will hide. After they are there for a while, he will warm up and want attention, jumping on laps and needing to be pet. They just tell people to ignore him the first few minutes and wait for him to come to them. Sure seems like Evan has earned his right to have life on his terms these days.
Missy said that her time fostering Evan really taught her the importance of extreme patience. It also made her aware of not feeling sorry for him or leaning in to his insecurities.
What would Evan tell others? “QUIT purchasing dogs from puppy mills! You have no idea the trauma the breeding dogs through.”
Missy said that Evan taught her how quickly these dogs can be mentally affected by their environment. He was just a baby and yet was already so afraid.
(There has been some research done suggesting that the puppies of dogs in mass breeding facilities can inherit their mamas’ learned fears and other emotions from being exposed to such horrendous conditions. This translates to puppies sold in pet stores and on-line who at such young ages already have such strong emotional and behavioral issues.)
Evan has some special accomplishments. He can howl along to the Happy Birthday song when people sing it. She says it is super cute to watch. Evan is so sweet and tolerant that Missy used him to practice all her veterinary technician holds while she was going through school. Evan loves little kids and can fly on an airplane without making a sound.
Missy is so proud of the dog Evan became. “He is THE sweetest, a total angel,” she says and even though he is officially her mom’s dog now, he will forever be Missy’s soulmate dog.
Just a reminder that September 30th is National Puppy Mill Survivor Day and Bailing Out Benji would like everyone to post photos of their survivors on social media and share their stories using these hashtags:
Tails and Truths would like to continue to showcase mill survivor transformations as a way to put faces to the thousands of dogs still prisoners in breeding facilities. If you would like to share your mill dog’s story, please email me at email@example.com
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