Age: 8 – Feb. 12th I was my mom’s best Valentine
Breed: GKW (God Knows What, as mom says). My profile listed me as Shih Tzu mix so perhaps that mixed with Schnauzer? I have Schnauzer brows and jaw. I doesn’t matter what breed, I’m me!
Favorite food: All things I’m not supposed to have. My foster parents used to give me tacos! My mom likes Henry and me to be healthy and Henry has medical issues so he is on a strict raw diet with treats of the same protein. I’m fussy so I have a bit of tripe mixed in with mine. Mom will occasionally sneak me a piece of cheese or ‘accidentally’ drip a bit of ice-cream which, I feel obliged to help her clean up.
Favorite activity/toy/game: FETCH!!! With my orange/turquoise balls. Game? FETCH!!!
Disability/Special Need: Apparently, I have a grade 4 heart murmur although, I’m not on any medication for this condition yet. Also, I am extremely fearful and don’t do well socially (I came from a scary place called a Puppy Mill, a barn full of dogs, and we were not treated well).
Reese, will you start by sharing your rescue story with us and how your special needs affect your every day life?
I was guessed to be about eighteen months when the miller retired me from the mill. I stopped having babies and was no longer of use to them. Joyful Rescues was the organization that took me in and had me vetted and my teeth taken care of. I was missing several as a result of neglect and nervous cage chewing. The mill, in which I was held captive, was AWFUL. We were stacked in small cages one on top of the other. I still jerk my paws away when someone tries to touch them. They were very sensitive for a very long time because they never touched a solid surface. I stood on that wire for eighteen months. My back legs are shorter – perhaps my growth was stunted as a result of my confines. The other day, we were out for a walk and a man laughed at me and said I needed to grow longer legs. I don’t care, my legs work fine – I can fetch a ball perfectly. I’m very quick (when I want to be). In fact, I have to have ‘time outs’ from fetch. I have a heart murmur. You wouldn’t know it to look at me but when mom picks me up to steal a cuddle (I don’t give them voluntarily) she says I purr like the Rooster (our cat).
My family found me through Petfinder! My mom felt that Henry (my brother) could use a friend to keep him company on days when mom and dad both work. Henry’s a social guy! If it wasn’t for Petfinder, I don’t know where I would be. You see, Joyful Rescues is a fair distance from where I live now (a 10 hour return drive). Something about my profile resonated with my mom and she was determined to adopt me. It turned out that I was being fostered on the other side of NY State, which is next door to Ontario (I’m Canadian now). Henry had never been across the border and mom was nervous about taking him as he hadn’t had his first annual vaccinations yet. My foster dad said he would be happy to cross with me. And so, we all met up in Niagara Falls, Ontario where I was placed in the back seat with my new brother. It wasn’t love at first sight. I was still quite a mess and Henry took one look at me and felt my messed up vibes and kept to his side of the car. Good thing too! I puked all over my side of the car! I was so nervous and I didn’t know what was happening to me. I’m a good little traveler now.
Initially, I found hiding spots in my new home and would observe my new family’s routine from a safe distance. I decided I loved Henry almost immediately. It turns out I needed him more than he needed me. Henry took good care of me. The majority of my rehabilitation took more than two years; however, I’m still very nervous of other dogs and most people. My Puppy Mill ‘idiosyncrasies’ have come out, and I guard my food and treats and am a bit leash aggressive with other dogs. My mom says I have come ever such a long way, but I’m still ‘a work in progress.’
That puppy mill place sounds really terrible! I can’t imagine what that must have been like. But it definitely sounds like you’ve come a long way and have learned to adapt to your loving home and family. Speaking of your family, what kinds of things do your humans do to make life easier and more comfortable for you?
I have my ‘time outs’ from Fetch so I don’t over work my heart. Also, Henry and mom created a children’s book to teach people how to say ‘hello’ respectfully. In the book, Henry shares examples of situations when children meet dogs and the kinds of interactions that may be scary for dogs. Also, there is information about ‘Yellow Ribbon Dogs,’ like me! Yellow ribbons indicate that dogs need extra space – for many reasons. When we are out, mom and dad will ask people not to just reach out and touch me. Yes, I am so stinkin’ cute but DO NOT TOUCH ME! Thank you. I do join social events where mom and dad can control the amount of exposure I receive. For example, I go to Henry’s agility class to cheer him on and after more than a year, I am fairly comfortable with his classmates. Also, mom works on training with me privately so I don’t have the social pressures to deal with as well as concentrating on what I need to learn. I’m way better at the weave poles than Henry!
(Link to purchase Henry’s book at the end of the interview.)
Reese, I think you and I are kindred spirits. I have a favorite toy that I have to have “time outs” from as well… STICK!!! If it’s out, I won’t leave Mom and Dad alone for even a second. Maybe we could play Fetch the Stick together sometime!! Anyway, are there any other ways that you need extra assistance?
I’m not so confident with stairs. Going down them is a breeze but I struggle with the up! My tiny little back end might be throwing me off. That’s okay, I either get a lift up, or if my ball finds its way down stairs, I just wait for someone to retrieve it for me. I like this ‘diva’ thing.
At only 12lbs, I get carried if I run out of steam on hot summer days. Also, if we go somewhere on holiday and end up in a social situation, I will be picked up if I show signs of fear. I am getting much better and will try to keep it together for as long as I can. I want to flirt and be made a fuss of. Really, I do! I’m just not quite there yet.
In the future I may require medication for my heart.
You and I have the opposite problem with stairs. I love going up the stairs, but I’m not so great at getting down. Also, I’m not the best jumper, so I have learned to compensate for that by learning to be an excellent climber! Are there any ways that you have had to compensate for your disability?
No. Likely, when I get older I will have a stroller so I can walk a little and ride while I catch my breath. I’m a long way from that now though.
Hey, getting pushed around in a stroller sounds like it might be kind of fun. More diva treatment never hurt anyone!
So, my mom says that I have CH, but I don’t see how I’m any different from the other kitties in my home. Do you seem to know that you are “different,” or are you ever emotionally affected by your condition?
I know I’m ‘special’ and will often use that to my advantage. Sometimes mom and dad will call me out and tell me not to be so dramatic. I guess they know me very well. No crying wolf for this little pup!
My mom and dad tell me the same thing sometimes. I guess we can all be a little dramatic sometimes! MOL!
Now this next question is one for your mom, Sarah: My mom says that I have been a huge blessing in her life, and I’m sure you feel the same way about Reese. Can you share with us about the impact that Reese has had on your life?
Reese is the perfect example of living in the moment and taking life day by day, one step at a time and striving for improvement. Reese does not dwell on the past and is now a very happy and very cheeky little madam. She has the cutest little smile, which she wears often. Reese loves life. And, FETCH!!!
What words of wisdom would you pass on to anyone who is considering adopting a special needs pet?
Adopting a ‘special needs’ pet is not for everyone. I respect people who know their limitations and what they are capable of offering. I will always advocate for rescue, as there are too many animals in shelters waiting for homes. All companions deserve to be cared for with basic requirements: exercise, training/positive reinforcement, medical care, and of course, a ton of affection.
For those considering adopting a pet with special needs, I will say this: There is absolutely nothing in the world more satisfying and heartwarming than working with an animal that needs a little help (rehabilitation) and knowing that you made a difference in their life. To see the transformation is such an amazing gift. It truly is an honor.
Anything else that you would like to add?
I was recently invited to participate in Puppy Mill Awareness week and have posted on our blog, our experience with Reese as well as our thoughts about how we can work together to have the Mills closed down. Please visit us on any of the links provided.
Reese and Mom Sarah, thank you girls so very much for joining us today and for sharing Reese’s story with us. Reese is an inspiration to us all – such a brave little girl. We look forward to following her journey and watching her blossom even more!
Purchase your very own copy of Henry says, “Hello”
Also, Reese’s brother Henry is competing in a photo competition for Modern Dog Magazine. Reese and I would love it if you would go on over and vote for him!