Spring 2009 Newsletter

This Thing Called Love

By Cathy Atkinson

Crystal is one of many successful foster stories of New Mexico Animal Friends (NMAF). Yet she stands out as one of the favorites because of how she blossomed so beautifully after arriving with tremendous psychological damage. NMAF rescued her from a puppy mill in eastern New Mexico. She was a breeder-dog and treated solely as a producing machine. Breeder females have the worst of it in the puppy mills. They are kept in squalor and confinement for more years than males, have their pups taken from them before weaning, and often get bred again too soon not allowing for recovery to their systems. They weaken and 'age' much quicker because of their extreme and continuous stress.

When NMAF rescued Crystal, she had an extremely dry and dull coat, she barely moved, and the lack of zip in her step was heart-breaking. She was not socialized and unfamiliar with a kind human touch. She was beyond sad. Crystal was on the brink of giving it all up. She was in quick and desperate need for care and lots of attention--a complete unknown to her for her entire life. Her horrific living conditions made it impossible for her to breathe fresh outside air, stretch out her legs for a run, take a relaxing nap in sunshine, or feel the simple pleasure of grass underneath her little paws. But even worse, she was empty inside and not aware of this thing called love. "Jailed" in a wire crate, not able to stand, sit or lie down on anything but its hard-wire base, what utter despair she must have felt.

Crystal was placed with a NMAF foster family. She slowly and wondrously became an adorable and adoptable pet. If you've never met a puppy-mill dog-and only read about them-the first thing that will astound you is not the terrible physical condition of these dogs. What will bring you to tears is the psychological damage to a heart that was never allowed to "feel." They respond in extreme fear to ordinary things such as a phone ringing, a sneeze, a car passing or a couch! NMAF foster families continue to amaze us with their generous, patient and loving hearts. Thank goodness for fosters who gingerly bring out their deeply buried personalities and open up their world. Thank goodness Crystal is now experiencing this thing called love.

Please call NMAF's Foster Coordinator, Elaine Price @ 505-232-4719 if you would like to open your heart and home to a troubled, unloved dog by fostering.

Cathy Atkinson is a Board Member of New Mexico Animal Friends and a long-time volunteer of Animal Humane of New Mexico. She writes dog descriptions for PetFinder, for Animal Humane, and NMAF, and is a Mom to a senior, female Miniature Schnauzer who was also a puppy-mill mama.

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