Meet the Survivors: Tippy

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Written by Becky Monroe

I took a bit of liberty with this blog because while Tippy’s owner, Susan, sent in his information, I happened to have been there the very moment Tippy was saved at a puppy mill auction back in 2009.

I had asked Susan to attend with me and she convinced her husband, Bill, to tag along. Bill might not have called himself an animal advocate, but between being married to Susan, the ultimate animal rescuer, and the fact he had a huge heart for animals – I would definitely say that Bill would do anything to help an animal in need.

Knowing that I and Susan would likely be emotional at the auction, Bill made this point of making light of it all. He kept teasing me and making jokes to lighten the mood.

So, that day Bill, Susan and I walked around the auction grounds individually. Each of us making notes of the dogs we might bid on. Neither Susan or Bill had any intention of getting a dog for their home, but they were considering helping to get other dogs out for rescues and local shelters. 

Once we re-grouped, before the auction started, Bill had fallen in love with this poorly bred Long Hair Chihuahua named Tippy. He was just this frail little dog – nothing particular about him.

But, Bill’s heart opened up the minute he met him. There was no way the Taney family was going home without Tippy. Interestingly, most dogs at the auction never had names – only cattle numbers, but Tippy did and he proudly still calls himself that today.

Tippy was 3 at the auction and will be turning 17 later this year. When he arrived at his new home, he joined quite the pack of hounds: Beagles and Bassets. To this day, Susan feels like Tippy thinks he is a hound. He loves hunting rabbits and ground squirrels just like his hound siblings. He was always right behind them in the chase.

Like most mill survivors, Tippy had emotional and behavioral issues. Susan had done a lot of work with laboratory Beagles used in research and experiments, so she was familiar with what Tippy was going through as he became a cherished house pet and not a breeding commodity. 

Tippy never wanted to be picked up which was hard for Bill and Susan. Here they finally had this pocket size pup, but he had no desire in being carried around.

It takes time for Tippy to trust people. Even after a lot of time, he still might not trust completely and there could be some trigger that would just set him off.

House training was never something Tippy got the hang of, so belly bands became his best friend.

Tippy also suffers from alopecia (hair loss) and often wears cute t-shirts and sweaters to hide his nakedness. While Tippy might not have true accomplishments, he formed an amazing bond with his Basset sister, Ellie. Susan explained that she has had multiple dog households for decades and has never seen a bond like the one Ellie and Tippy had. “It was just incredible,” she said.

Sadly, just recently, Ellie crossed rainbow bridge and now Tippy lives life as an only dog. An only spoiled dog. 

For me, Tippy represents the bond Susan and I formed after taking her to her first dog auction. She had been in animal welfare and did many humane law enforcement cases. She was even familiar with puppy mills, but never a dog auction.

After the one where she rescued Tippy, her and I attended one more in Wisconsin, which would, thankfully, be the last legal one in the state.

I will forever believe that dog auctions change you. Something about them reaches deep into your core and alters how you see the rest of the world. I am grateful I got to share those life-changing moments with Susan and Bill and that Tippy was fortunate to find his freedom with them and live the life he always deserved. 

**Just a reminder – if you would like to share your Mill Survivor’s story with our supporters, I would love to publish it on Tails and Truths! Just email me at**