and I will be ONE YEAR OLD!
Tomorrow will mark the anniversary of the day I was born into a puppy mill in rural Missouri. I come from a town of 392 people; in fact, Wheatland has more dogs than people!! When my human mom visited last summer, she took a picture of the town sign to prove this fact.
Last year at this exact moment my mother, Megan, was cold, alone and very uncomfortable. However, I am sure those feelings were all too familiar for her; mine was not her first litter. Megan was born on 4/03/04. It is impossible to know how many litters she was forced to bring into this world but her description in the dog auction catalog listed below, from the breeder’s “closing” sale last summer indicated that she was bred constantly, likely as often as physically possible:
“Such a nice little lady. BREEDS ON HER CYCLE LIKE CLOCKWORK. She pen breeds, whelps on her own and is a very good mom. Her pups are nice! Sell well have good personalities. She has whelped 19 pups for us.”
Because Megan was actually purchased by her final puppy mill owner from a prior puppy mill auction, nobody will ever know exactly how many litters she had, but it is reasonable to assume that she whelped 50-70 puppies. The math goes something like this: Dogs start breeding at 6 months and go into heat roughly twice a year; since Megan was considered to “breed like clockwork,” Megan likely was forced to give birth to about 10 litters before we bought her at auction last summer (we found out after the fact she was pregnant at the time, so she had one last litter in Fall 2009 of two boys and two girls).
Her last prior to Zoey’s produced 4 healthy puppies, one female and three males. Since dogs tend to have fewer puppies as they grow older, Megan had likely previously birthed substantially larger litters. Megan’s prodigious ability to procreate made her the epitome of a good puppy mill dog for a breeder. But there is only so many litters a dog can produce, which is a literal death sentence in the eyes of breeders, since they only see animals as profit centers to be used, abused and discarded when they’ve outlived that usefulness. Who knows what future might have befallen Megan if we hadn’t purchased her at auction last summer? If she had been bought by another breeder, she might not be alive today.
This was the weather the first week of Zoey’s life:
“A cold front mixed with Gulf moisture created ice and freezing rain. High winds caused additional damage in Southern Missouri. There were 8 fatalities associated with this storm. Up to 8,000 customers were without power for up to 3 weeks.”
I wonder how many of Zoey’s brothers and sisters survived such difficult conditions, particularly since they were likely forced to do so in a suboptimal home. For those who have followed this blog from the beginning, you know about what happened to Zoey just two days after we brought her home from the store; her absolute will to live and fighting spirit came from somewhere — perhaps it was forged during those difficult first few weeks.
This is Megan. What a sweet, beautiful dog. All of her hardships and travails have not altered her disposition. She is a gem.
There is a happy ending to this story. Megan will soon have a new home where she will spend the rest of her days, happy, loved, and free from the burden of having to breed ever again. At some point in the next few weeks, she will be with my parents. I cannot thank them enough for providing Megan the future she deserves.
And happily, Zoey and Megan were able to meet again last summer in Missouri. There was an obvious physical connection between; they immediately sniffed of one another and were completely comfortable in the other’s company, even though they were virtual strangers. At that point, Zoey never sat still, but she did so around her mom. She just knew. In my mind, this was a case of nature AND nurture. That moment, where I was able to hold Zoey, Megan and Zoey’s dad in my lap is one I will never forget. I am so happy Zoey and I were able to experience it. And I am even happier that all of these dogs will have their own happy endings. They certainly deserve them.
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