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When my dachshund Esme died earlier this year I was completely devastated.  So was my other dachshund Maxi.  He became morose and disinterested in everything, and so I decided to get him a new friend ... A neighbour told me about the Aylmer SPCA and I looked on their website-lo, they had a small female dachshund for adoption.

So we went to Aylmer and met Lucie (she was called Ivy then). She was a small rat-like dog-weighing about 8 pounds, she had a row of knobs sticking out of her back-that was her spine, and her ribs protruded sharply from her chest, she was a painful sight.  Her ears were bald and frayed at the edges and her coat was thin and sparse. And she smelled really bad.  She had been used as a breeder in a puppy mill for over 2 years.  (She had a heavy yeast infection in her ears and her teeth needed cleaning.  The ear infection cleared up after a week of treatment and her teeth will be cleaned in October.)

But she was a very sweet girl who had had a rotten life up to this point, and we adopted her on June 9th of this year.  When we took her home she circled endlessly around the living room, and when we approached her she bolted away, and if we caught up with her she flattened herself onto the ground and trembled violently. She was terrified of us.  What was worse was the only idea she had was to escape from our house and run as far away from us as she could.  This she did successfully 4 times.  We barricaded the front porch and back deck and finally succeeded in keeping her at home.   Then she started to hide away in the house, and we assumed she had got out again, but she had tucked herself away in a cupboard or down in the basement and remained silent and motionless for hours until we found her.

Lucie was totally mute-she never made a sound. It was so strange-dachshunds are notorious barkers.  So time passed and we all got to know each other.  At first she didn't listen when we called her and she ran away if we tried to pick her up.  But then gradually she turned and looked at us when we called her name and she didn't run away but just flattened herself on the floor when we approached her.

We were still terrified that she would run away, but one day I went down my front path and she managed to slip past the gate and run past me.  In a panic I called "Lucie", and she turned round and came back up the path to me.  I told my husband this, and we let her out again and she followed him back when he called her.  What a triumph!  Now she never runs out if the gate or front door is left open.  She prefers to stay home.  And she knows which is her house, and which car is ours in the parking lot.

We have a fenced dog park nearby and we took her there to play.  She just loved the big dogs and followed them around as they wrestled with each other.  And then-guess what.  She barked at them!!!  And the next evening she did the same again.  We were overjoyed that she had recovered her voice.

It is as if she is now living the puppyhood she was denied when she was locked in a cage and bred every time she came into heat.  She received no love and care, she experienced fear and rough treatment and she didn't play.  Now she is developing into a more normal dog-she tears up paper and chews the carpet in the car.  She sometimes picks up a stick and once she came running back with a ball in her mouth.  She used to run around with her tail between her legs, now when she tries to play with our other dog her tail thumps vigorously from side to side.  These may seem like trivial things but for us they were milestones.

She now runs along in the park off the lead and jumps into the car when we open the door for her.  She loves to roll on her back in the grass and she is much more curious and confident than she ever was before.  And when she finds herself in a scary situation she looks up and shows she wants us to pick her up.  So she is developing some trust in us.

When we first brought Lucie home we feared we had made a big mistake, but with lots of love and patience she is developing into a wonderful little dog.  She now weighs 10 pounds, and looks so much better-and she feels better too.  When we first brought her home we never dreamed we would get to this stage in just three months. 

Is she perfect?  No, she isn't.  But she will gain more confidence and trust as time goes by.  You cannot eradicate the effects of two years of abominable treatment overnight.  Meanwhile the most frequent comment we hear from strangers is "how adorable she is" and we couldn't agree more.

Margaret R.


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