Friday, October 12, 2012

Project 13: Max's Rescue Story

Serena from Pretty Fluffy, started a wonderful cause, it's called Project 13! 13 things we can do to help shelter or rescue animals.
This is a cause especially close to our hearts as our little Max is a rescue. We adopted Max when he was just over 3 years old. He had been a puppy mill stud dog. His coat was terribly matted, his paws were sore from walking on wire for his entire 3 years. His first day out of the mill, he found himself at the vet, getting a huge umbilical hernia fixed (a big lump coming out of his stomach), 13 teeth removed because they had rotted, a big dose of antibiotics for the cuts and scraps and he was also neutered. Some of his ribs are fractured, and his front legs bow out like a bulldog (our vet has the theory that he was crushed at one point in his life).
Surprisingly he was still very friendly . . . to me! When it came to men (including Lee) he was very unsure. Once in the beginning Lee had raised his voice at the TV and Max just started peeing, he was so scared. That was the first moment we realized how 'damaged' he was.
To be fully honest I wasn't prepared for the challenges that came with adopting a rescue. Because he had lived in a crate since he was 8 weeks old he had never learnt to hold his pee. He would pee on everything and anything. He peed on the leg of the couch, the leg of each dining chair, the bed frame leg, the dining table legs, the coffee table, the console table everything. Slowly but surely we taught him to ask to go out, and I guess he felt he had sufficiently peed on everything in the house :). We still weren't able to leave stuff out of place, seriously you couldn't put a bag of groceries on the floor without him feeling the need to "claim" it, once Lee left his runners out and Max let him know that they weren't suppose to be there with a shoe full of pee, that might be why we're pretty good at putting our stuff away now! haha

Another thing we had noticed was that he had NO idea what toys were. We would buy him cute little dog toys and he wouldn't even touch them. He never ran (unless he was scared), and he never played. 

Another issue was eating, he wouldn't take food from us. We would have to walk away from him while he ate and he would very tentatively pick at his food. Clearly he has gotten over that issue:
And his last big issue was some SERIOUS separation anxiety! He would scream when left him, have diarrhea, pee, the whole nine yards.

Slowly but surely he got better, he stopped peeing in the house about 6 months after we got him, he stopped being scared at loud voices about a year after that (although he still hates it if Lee raises his arms into the air, seriously he jumps up and barks at him until he puts them back down). He's now obsessed with toys, and will steal food right out of your mouth if you're not looking. And very slowly his separation anxiety went away, once he realized that we'd always come back he stopping being upset!
Max brought out the best in both of us. I found patience I never knew I had. 7 years later he's a dream dog minus his all consuming hatred of big black dogs (I'll explain that in another post). And through all the challenges I would do it again in a heartbeat with out hesitation! It's almost selfish. I see him snuggled in front of the fire, or eating his birthday cupcake and I think of how far he's come and how lucky we all are to have found each other!
I realize that not everyone is able to adopt a rescue right now (we aren't in a position to do it again right now) but there are still  lots of things that you can do to help the cause. Here's 13 of mine:
  1. Donate old towels, and sheets to our local shelter. 
  2. Donate old toys to local rescue groups for other small dogs like the rescue group we adopted Max from: Little Paws Rescue.
  3. Donate time to take photos of shelter dogs. Sometimes the difference between getting adopted and getting euthanized is a good photo. 
  4. Buy a Puppy Mills Bite T-shirt from The Fleas Knees Tees.
  5. Instead of Christmas Cards, save that money, send out Christmas Emails and donate the money saved to a local shelter. 
  6. Promote Project 13! ;)
  7. Share profiles of adoptable animals on facebook. You never know when a photo will result in a forever home. 
  8. Take part in more adoption events at Petsmart and Bosley's. 
  9. Continue to donate to Little Paws Silent Auctions and fundraising events. 
  10. Never Ever shop at stores that sell puppies or Kittens! NEVER EVER! Not even to pick up a toy, not even to spend a penny.
  11. Consider fostering another dog. A few years ago we fostered the sweetest wire haired chihuahua named Chewy. We fell so madly in love with him it broke our hearts. We still talk about him at least once a week! We said we couldn't do it again, but time heals all wounds and we're thinking that for short term fosters we might be able to do it! 
  12. Consider fostering a Bird. Dogs aren't the only animals that need help! We adopted our Canary, Carson, from Greyhaven Bird rescue when he was just a little chickadee. Greyhaven receives many many birds that need foster homes. We could definitely do that!  
  13. Lastly, share Max's story! I will always consider Max a huge success story! He overcame so   much to become the amazing dog he is today and I know that when he passes I will have no regrets about his final years with us. 
Remember small acts done with great love can change the world!

*if you decide to do your own 13 list feel free to link up to Pretty Fluffy's Link Party

31 comments:

  1. Great article, could not agree with it more.
    We adopted a catfrom a rescue centre in April of this year, and we could not have picked a perfect partner for our family, he has slotted right in. He is more like a dog in many ways, like walking the mile to school everyday with us and chasing dogs away and he is brilliant with our children who cuddle and mother him the whole time - he puts up with so much, but in return he has a fire to sit in front off, food on tap, any lap or bed or sofa to sit on he wants to, so a fair trade off! We love him and cannot imagine life without him now.

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  2. I am so glad that you wrote this! We only adopt and rescue. We got a coonhound from the shelter, and you could see all of her ribs and her butt bones. She was the friendliest girl in the world. She had never been on a couch, maybe never in a house. We've put 15 pounds on her and now she's a healthy weight. She's the sweetest, most loving dog in the world. But yes, she peed on everything in our house too :)

    Thank you for raising awareness!

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  3. Thanks for sharing. I love these ideas on how to help. My fiancé and I adopted our sweet dog penny from a shelter when she was still a puppy. She had the same problems with peeing when she got scared for about a year. She still does not do well around strangers but she is the most loving dog toward both of us and our families. Snuggling is her favorite thing to do!! agree that adopting a rescue animal isn't always easy but it is definitely worth it!!

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  4. Such a great story! I had no idea Max was a rescue and former puppy mill dog... Although our 2 chihuahuas aren't rescues (they came from a family we've become good friends with, not a store or breeder) our 2 cats are and I truly believe in adopting or rescuing when possible. Someday, I'd love to have a few acres of land and rescue "last chance" dogs from the local shelters but since we don't have the room now, these ideas on other ways to help are great! Thanks!

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  5. Aww. .that was a touching story. I enjoyed reading it. It just goes to prove that love can conquer all.

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  6. I know you have mentioned some of Max's health concerns but I've always wondered about the backstory. Poor pup (and SO lucky to have found you guys). Honestly, I could cry when I think about all of the poor dogs in puppy mills, especially the ones who are made to reproduce over and over and over again. I am so glad he got out and I hope that this post inspires some of your readers to become more involved in this cause. You are spot on about NEVER buying a pet from a pet store - super important (if tempting when walking by).

    All 4 of our pets (2 cats, 2 dogs) are rescues and I try not to get too preachy about it, but they really are wonderful dogs and it is beyond satisfying, as you know, to earn the trust of your dog and watch it realize that your house is its home. Thanks for spreading the word! I may need to do a Project 13 post on my blog!

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  7. If he still has a little anxiety, try the Thundershirt. We use it with my Yorkie and it's MAGICAL... it's like wrapping a baby in a cocoon.

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  8. Lucky little Max! We have 12 adopted shelter dogs. It's lots and lots of work, but so worth it!

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  9. God Bless you and Lee for adopting lil Max. What a sad life he had before you guys got him.... and you being so patient with him.

    xo

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  10. Love this! We have one rescue! Elie and Chris have two, and my parents have two as well.

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  11. Thank God you adopted him. What a sweet little pup he is!
    My daughter and her husband found a dog of this same breed who had been badly abused.. no teeth, heart worm, broken bones, and had been blinded.
    Why oh why do people hurt the smallest and most harmless of creatures.
    They nursed her back to health and she lived a long life.
    The love they give is well worth it.

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  12. THANK YOU!! As someone who "works in the trenches" of rescue thank you for telling your story of the rewards and truths of adopting a rescue. I would also suggest that if you want to adopt with fewer surprises to adopt from a rescue -- there are breed rescues for most breeds. Most breed rescues have their dogs in foster homes where they get a head start on housetraining, manners, etc. Rescues do operate a little differently than most shelters, in that most require an application, reference check and home visits. But it can be a great options for many people. Give Max a hug! cdsmith322 at aol dot com

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  13. Love this post! What a great story. My husband and I adopted our dog, Laverne, 2 years ago. She was 10 years old, had multiple health issues, and we had no idea what we were getting into, but she's such a good, sweet dog and I don't regret a minute of it. I hope people will consider older dogs when they think of adopting, they need loving homes too!

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  14. I love little Max! I had yorkies growing up and I hope to have one again some day. Right now my husband and I are in the process of adopting a kitten or young cat from a shelter! I can't wait til she comes home! And I'm praying my 10 year old cat will like her!!!

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  15. Hi Ashli! Poor little Max -- I am reading this and it feels like you're telling my dog's story exactly! Our rescue is a Bichon, and he's a total babydoll now, but it was definitely a lot of work to gain his trust and break all of the peeing habits (and there were a LOT of them!). To anyone out there working with a rescue: we found a doggy pheremone called Comfort Zone that seems to really help with anxiety-induced behaviors (I know it sounds weird, but hey, if it keeps him from peeing everywhere, it's worth a shot! We are working on weaning him off of it now.)

    Good for you guys for spreading the word & saving fluffy little lives!!

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  16. I had no idea that Max was a rescue!!! My goodness, you have done so well with him. I applaud you and anyone else that rescues a dog. Max was seriously saved.

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  17. I just love this story and I love little max, we have a male yorkie rescue and everything you have said describes him to a T, i'd say the potty training was definitely the hardest part at first and the separation anxiety, but he's the sweetest dog you've ever met!

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  18. thanks for sharing your story about Max. We adopted our Max from a friend of a friend who couldn't keep him but for sure our next dog (when the time comes!) will be from a shelter. I wish I could do more since I love dogs but I can't.

    I always try to post on FB on a local charity that helps take care of dog (and other animals) medical costs who are in open access shelters. if you would like to visit the site its; http://trioanimalfoundation.org/ very touching stories when you read what she has done to save so many animals!! Take a look at the page! Because of FAcebook, she has found a ton of followers when she posted a story about Hudson. Look up his story it's sad but has a happy ending!!

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  19. A beautiful story which has brought tears to my eyes.
    My niece and her family have recently taken on a four year old rescue dog who has several issues, mainly the separation anxiety thing. He follows them around constantly for fear of being dumped again. It will take time and love but already they love him to bits and can't imagine life now without him.
    xx

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  20. I had no CLUE that Max had a less than idyllic life before you guys found him! I must confess that I burst into tears when I read about how he reacted to a loud voice -- it just broke my heart to see how traumatized he must have been. This is the single most inspiring and touching post you have ever written, and even though i'm not a dog person, i feel like tramping out and rescuing a pup or 2 right now!
    and I had to burst into a a few more when you said, small acts done with great love can change the world! Here's to all you brave people with so much love to spare.

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  21. You have made me cry with happiness at such a beautiful, touching post Ashli! The story of you and Max just shows how much love and goodness comes from helping animals in need. That one gesture you made in adopting him has changed his world forever. It means so much to me that you have devoted your time to sharing The 13 Project - every small act of kindness will help so many animals just like Max. You're too wonderful. Thank you xxx

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  23. Oh my word. You have me crying. I can't stand to think of the animals suffering. My girls are my babies and I'd protect them from anything. I can't even handle going inside the SPCA when I donate blankets and towels because it makes me so sad. I will focus more on donating to animal shelters this year. That's a promise.

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  24. We have a puppy mill rescue named Max as well and he had many of the same issues. Mal-formed skeletal issues, cage syndrome, no idea what toys are, etc, but he is the sweetest most loving little guy in the whole world. He is one of our 4 dogs (3 rescues) and we also foster for our local rescue. My husband calls me the crazy dog lady but I know I have found my calling and I love them all. Thank you for sharing your story, hopefully it will encourage your readers to adopt not shop and consider fostering or volunteering.

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  25. Thank you for sharing! I've been curious about Max's story because he's so cute, but also because I remember you mentioning at one point that he has very few teeth. He looks like such a sweetie and he's so lucky to have you and Lee.
    I love my own rescue pup, Wicket, who came from a hoarding situation. The joy he brings into my life every day is so great- I only hope I have done the same for him! :)

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  26. I love this post! Chris and I will only ever adopt or rescue. There are too many precious puppies and dogs that need good homes. Rescues often turn out to be the best dogs, and sometimes end up being the healthiest. Koda's heart is on the wrong side of his body (vet realized this when he could find his heartbeat) and Koda has been super healthy and such a great dog. Gracie is just as healthy and super smart. Chris and I really want a pure bred German Shepherd but even though we want a pure bred we will definitely find one to adopt. There are some great pure bred shelters as well and I think people often forget that and go right to a breeder if they want a "pure" dog. This german shepherd rescue even trains all of their dogs with their local K-9 unit. Adopting is definitely the way to go! and Max is just adorable! XOXO

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  27. Awe- he is so cute! We have a rescue dog too. We are so lucky to have found her as she is such a great addition to our family. She too was trepadacious with us in the beginning and still is very very submissive, like she thinks we will hit her if we are mad at her. Poor baby. She was only 7 months old when we brought her home, and is now 3 1/2. I don't know if she will ever get over that. She is wonderful with our boys though and very protective of our home.

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  28. This post made me tear up! I have had dogs over the years but they've always been from a breeder. I always liked the idea of having a puppy but hearing Max's story is so inspiring! Certainly something to think about.

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  29. Your story on Max made me cry. We have 5 dogs and all of them are rescues. I wouldn't want any other dog. They love us unconditionally and I know that we saved them (or shall I say they saved us)!

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  30. Thank you for sharing, this is a cause that is near and dear to my heart as well. We currently have four rescued animals, two dogs and two cats. We got both cats when they were kittens so they really haven't been traumatized in any way, but both dogs were a little over a year old when we adopted them. Sulley is our little chihuahua mix and he was so timid and frightened when we brought him home. It was pretty clear he had been mistreated at some point in his life but in the two years we've had him he has really come out of his shell and he's really just the sweetest little dog. Mira is my big guard dog and I've only had her for about 6 months. She was rescued from death row at a shelter and is probably one of the sweetest smartest dogs I have ever met. All shelter animals deserve a second chance and I'm so happy I could give that to mine.

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  31. Max is blessed to have her forever-home with you. We rescued our now 8 year old English Lab, Lexi, from a life in a puppy mill. She, and the other breeding dogs, was kept in a chicken coup and fed from a cattle trough. She had never been on a grass lawn. Never played with a toy. Never climbed stairs. We got her when she was probably 4 from a wonderful organization called Rudy's Rescue. It took almost 2 years for her to leave her trauma behind and act like a real dog, but it was worth the time and patience. She is our big "doll baby" and we spoil her like crazy. Just recently we got a "mini Lexi". A now 16 week old yellow lab puppy named Sadie. She and Lexi get along great and we're in love with them both!

    Thanks for telling Max's story.

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