Just over two years ago, I met my best friend Lexington after I picked her up from Freetown Animal Sanctuary in Tennessee. It wasn't love at first sight. Lexie was terrified of me, and I felt as though I'd just invited a wild animal to shack up with me in my one bedroom apartment.
Lexie had no idea what it meant to be a dog. She was afraid of the grass, she was afraid of leaving her crate, she showed absolutely no sign of affection for me whatsoever. And the tide didn't turn overnight. For weeks, I slept on the couch in the living room (for fear of overwhelming her by bringing her into a different room), sat with her as she trembled from standing on the grass outside, and took her on short field trips on the weekends. Riding in the car traumatized her, and half-hour outings to the dog park or Petsmart were always followed by lengthy naps on her favorite chair. She was afraid to leave, she was afraid of her new home, she was afraid of everything.
Although little exact information is known about Lexie's past, I do know that she was previously caged by a backyard breeder and lived on farmland that didn't have any human inhabitants. My eleven-pound maltese - who now sleeps under the covers, has a favorite stuffed animal, and won't go outside if there's the slightest evidence of rain (even when wearing her hooded coat) - was left to fend for herself in an outdoor cage. She was forced to have puppies who were then taken from her and sold, and it seems as though she never received any human contact.
I'm happy to report though that Lexie is now thriving! She comes to the business that I own where I work with children and happily greets each one daily. She loves riding in the car, she loves trips to the store and sitting in the front of the cart, she loves attending our church that welcomes her, she loves playing outside with other dogs, and most of all, she seems to be very attached to and loves me... but I know that it's not half as much as I love her!
Lexie and I want you to think about her if you're tempted to buy a dog from a breeder or pet store - where we hope you will never shop. The "doggy in the window" might be adorable, but the only way to stop puppy mills (the inhumane caging and forced breeding of dogs who suffer and likely get sick and die having been tortured their entire lives), is to stop making their businesses profitable. If you must get a dog from a breeder, it's very important to visit the mother dog's home and meet her family. If there are many dogs and cages or it's not a family home setting, please find a different breeder! Better yet, if you want a purebred dog, please try to find "a Lexie." She's waiting for you to show her what it's like to have a home!
Lexie is still afraid of water and thunder and she's still wary of new people, but she's the sweetest dog I've ever known. Her behavior is impeccable and she responds to commands even better than some dogs I know who were trained since puppyhood. Rescue dogs come in all different shapes and sizes, and we hope that you'll have your own fairytale ending to share soon too!
Adopt, don't shop!
Love, Catherine & Lexie