RSS Feed

All Her Children

Butterfly is going to be nine years old this fall, but I almost feel like she was born last November when we brought her home from the shelter, because she’s doing all of her puppy learning now.

The almost birthday girl

The almost birthday girl

            Butterfly lived at a puppy mill, for eight years, and when she first came home, she was still swollen from her last litter, and stunned. She picked up a yellow stuffed duck that Cricket had given up on, a duck that quacked, and carried it in her mouth. When she was tired, she would sit on the floor and lick the duck. She wasn’t chewing it, or de-stuffing it, the way Cricket would have done; she was taking care of it, and giving it a bath, a really ineffective bath that turned Ducky’s yellow fur grey within two days, but a bath none the less.

Butterfly carrying her Ducky

Butterfly carrying her Ducky

            For months, Butterfly walked around the apartment with one or the other of her stuffed toys in her mouth, carrying them with her for walks, setting them gently on the grass to rest while she took care of her business. There was Fishy, and Froggy, and Platypus, and, of course, Ducky.

Butterfly with some of her toys.

Butterfly with some of her toys.

            Somewhere along the way, Butterfly moved on to wanting to chew things. She didn’t want to chew and destroy her stuffed toys, so she left them in every corner of the apartment and focused her attention on rawhide chewies, and if she couldn’t get her paws on one of those, she would settle for the closest book, magazine, or notebook, currently in use.

Chewing with an audience

Chewing with an audience

            I’ve been watching Butterfly move through these stages of puppy development, at her own pace, in the ways that feel natural to her, and I feel inspired by it. I’ve been told, often, that you only get one shot at your childhood, and if you miss out, too bad. But Butterfly is showing me how untrue that is. If you missed important stages of development the first time around, all you need is a safe place and love, and you can get that learning done, at whatever age you happen to be, at whatever pace you can manage.

            Over time, I think, Butterfly has traded in her attachment to her stuffed toys for an attachment to Cricket, and me, and Mom. She licks my arm the way she used to lick Ducky, leaving a thick residue of saliva that I choose to think of as a protective coating.

The girls are conserving there energy, and using their mind control powers on me

The girls are conserving their energy, and using their mind control powers on me

She hasn’t completely given up on her Ducky, though. In times of stress, she still cuddles up with platypus, or carries Fishy in her mouth, or squeezes Ducky’s belly to make him quack.

And, every once in a while, I find Fishy waiting for me outside the bathroom door, or Froggy staring up at me from Butterfly’s bed next to the computer, and I know that she has left her friend to keep an eye on me, while she goes to find something to chew on. And I feel loved.

Butterfly, sleeping on fishy.

Butterfly, sleeping on fishy.

Advertisements

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

102 responses »

  1. Aw, once again Butterfly’s story has touched my heart. Precious!

    Reply
  2. That was a wonderful post, touching and straight from the heart. Thanks! I’m glad Butterfly found such a great furever family!

    Reply
  3. My dogs have never been “toy” dogs. In the early years I would look around pet shops in various parts of Adelaide to find and buy interesting toys that we could all play with only to have them ignored. Most of them now have been given away. The dogs give of themselves and they will sit outside a room door waiting for you to re-emerge, and like you said, we feel loved. You have a writer’s gift for expression and your posts are a joy to read.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much! I have a whole box of toys that my girls have discarded. I go to the toy aisle at the pet store and get all excited about the new options, and the girls just roll their eyes at me. Oh well.

      Reply
  4. I always think is sweet when dogs actually care for their stuffed toys. None of my five have any use for them beyond destuffing them and trying to hoard the squeakers. My youngest, Patience, might keep them if she didn’t have to compete with the others though, but she shreds things when she’s aroused/stressed…we’ve gone through many a crate blanket due to that behaviour.

    Reply
  5. Give your children a special hug today – these are the good old days…:)

    Reply
  6. If only there were more people like you who rescued more animal companions/family like Butterfly….

    Reply
  7. Thanks for such a heartwarming story! Love the pics too 🙂

    Reply
  8. Wonderful as always and I love your insight into Butterfly’s puppyhood and how a loving and protective environment has allowed her that needed development. Brava!

    Reply
    • I’ve known a lot of humans who could have used a good new home, later in life, to help them recover. I guess it would be too awkward to adopt a fifty year old human and let them live on our couch with some new stuffed toys?

      Reply
      • But wouldn’t it be nice for that 50 year old to have such an opportunity. Too bad we can’t see doing such as an opportunity. I am seeing a need to shift our attitude…

  9. Nice to hear more about Butterfly’s rescue/adoption. The two of you are coming up on one year together, right? 🙂

    Reply
  10. The reason some dogs want to attack a squeaking toy is they are predator. Butterfly is not a perdator :). My Midnight is very predator. While BabyGirl is not. This is not all bad as a high driven perdator dog makes great rescue dog. They are high driven and won ‘t give up.They also learn vey quick. Butterfly is very lucky to have you. Thank you so much for showing her what a true home is. I hope that someday our goverment will get enlighten on how bad and evil puppymills are and make them illegal.

    Reply
    • I think Butterfly would make a great babysitter, though she would be unlikely to feed a child something she would like to eat much more herself.

      If Butterfly could speak, and testify about her life in the puppymill, I think they would all be closed, permanently.

      Reply
  11. paigeandspaniels

    This brought tears to my eyes! She’s so lucky to have found you.

    Reply
  12. Heartwarming story – and beautifully told. I’m so happy Butterfly has found your family.

    Reply
  13. Very possibly the sweetest post ever….love to you and the doggies, Woof!

    Reply
  14. Beautiful post, Rachel. Your girls are so lucky to have found someone so patient and understanding. I have a similar story…

    My Labradoodle is a retired from a respectable breeder. She’d had five litters before she turned five years old. Her pups were expensive; she earned about $75K for the breeder! When we first got her, she (like Butterfly) was still swollen from her last set of babies. She’d just been spayed. Since she’d never left her previous home before and was shipped to us on a plane, she went into total shock and shut down. Wouldn’t eat, drink, pee or poop for a week and was totally freaked out, terrified. We had to use a big syringe to get liquid food into her for the first couple weeks.

    The vet said that when dogs get overly stressed and depressed like this they can will themselves to die. But she pulled through and is the most wonderful companion now. Like you, I’ve had to teach my dog how to be a dog, taking her on walks (she was never walked before), the joys of sniffing (my other two dogs taught her about that), and the bliss of relaxation. She still doesn’t “play,” but that’s okay. She’s eight now and I can’t imagine life without her. Breeding really does a number on young dogs; there are plenty of dogs needing adoption without breeding more, nd the intensity with which they love you for rescuing them has to be experienced to be believed!

    Reply
    • On the food front, I’ve been lucky, because I don’t think Butterfly has ever missed a meal. She did take a while to think of anything but kibble as food, though. but she freaks out at the sound of a bus, and I’m pretty sure her trip up from the puppy mill was in a bus. But life is good now. It took Butterfly a while to get used to retirement, but she’s definitely gotten the hang of it.

      Reply
  15. A wonderful post, Rachel! When a mis-used animal, in its own way, begins to understand that its world has changed into one of infinite love, it makes me proud for all of us who adopt rescues. What a sad world it would be if we could not see that glimmer of confidence replace the cringe of fear, that lick of loving acceptance replace the stoicism of emotional starvation.

    Reply
  16. Little Kaci didn’t have to undergo 8 years of stuff. She was, however, in a pen with big dogs on death row in a kill shelter. She has chip out of an ear and that probably came from there. She is so grateful to be in a good place. She’s almost never without a toy in her mouth and sometimes trips over a big one when walking with it in her mouth.

    Reply
    • Butterfly has some spacial relations issues as well, but she tends to bump into Cricket, or furniture. I wonder if we’re discovering some of the unique symptoms of doggy PTSD, or if Butterfly and Kaci are just soul sisters.

      Reply
  17. Reblogged this on Dog blogging… and commented:
    If you find great joy in stories of how love helps rescue dogs escape their pasts, you’ll enjoy this one. Rachel nailed it.

    Reply
  18. I am deeply touched by your account of Butterfly’s development and growing happiness under your care. newman, barnaby and I are all very lucky never to have experienced such exploitation; it harrows us to hear of what many dogs must endure. Bless you all!

    Reply
  19. This will be a very special birthday since it marks a new beginning. Beautiful story.

    Reply
  20. Hi Rachel! You’ve portrayed such wonderful insight into the changes in Butterfly since she was rescued from the puppy mill and came to live with you. I very much enjoyed reading your account (and the pictures which enhance it so poignantly). My rescue dog, Malcom, didn’t play with his toys for almost 2 weeks after I got him and when he did begin to play with his stuffed chipmunk (“Squeak”), I was struck by how gentle he was with it. It wasn’t until I read your blog that I started to understand that he may have been going through puppy developmental stages that he had missed earlier in life. Thanks for the post!

    Reply
    • It would be so interesting to be able to collect this kind of information from all of the rescue parents. When we adopted Butterfly, the shelter had a pre-printed sheet about puppy mill dogs and the problems they would have, but I would much rather have heard from other people who had brought these dogs into their homes.

      Reply
  21. Butterfly’s is indeed a very touching story. Both heart-wrenching and, ultimately, heartwarming. Thanks…

    Reply
  22. This is my favorite post of yours yet, Rachel. Please give Butterfly a big hug for me. She is so lucky to have found you.

    Reply
  23. Lovely photos of Butterfly and a heart warming story of her life with you and Cricket.
    Given lots of love means so much to our pets especially those who have had a bad start in life.

    Reply
  24. I’m so much “built at the water” and was crying when I read your post. But it’s okay. Butterfly has a good home now and she was lucky. Thankfully small dogs live a bit longer and I hope she’ll have many happy years with you.

    Reply
  25. What a lovely post Rachel. It really touched me and many of the followers of your blog. I believe that everything in life happens for a reason and Butterfly coming into your life was meant to be. Butterfly is so fortunate to have been adopted by you but you are also fortunate to be sharing in Butterfly’s beautiful journey of discovery and trust.

    Reply
  26. Anyone willing to open their Heart & Home to a animal in need has my utmost respect. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Reply
  27. AWWWWW! Brought tears to my eyes! How wonderful you are to give her such a wonderful, loving life!

    Reply
  28. Thank goodness she found you. She can grow up and old with grace and love. I truly dislike puppy mills.
    Mine wouldn’t play with toys. She had passed the puppy stage when we got her from local pound. But she has finally learned to play a bit.

    Reply
  29. What an endearing story and no wonder butterfly loves you so much: you gave her a home and start al over again. Good for you, hugs form Ohio and from Charley dog.

    Reply
  30. Your little ones are very lucky!

    Reply
  31. What a sweet post about adorable little Butterfly. She is just so loving and attentive. Hugs and nose kisses

    Reply
  32. Yes, LOVED is the perfect word…She is such a sweetheart!!!!

    Reply
  33. That is a lovely story and how lucky is Butterfly to have had that chance!

    Reply
  34. I love that the stuffed animals just get baths while the paper stuff gets shredded. And that you feel loved when she coats you in saliva. We are fools for our animals, aren’t we?

    Reply
  35. Wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing! I think I remember reading in an earlier post that Butterfly was saved from a puppy mill and that she was a breeding dog? How many litters did she have before she was saved?

    Also, thank you for saving a puppy mill breeder. Butterfly deserves to have a good life, the poor thing. And it sounds like, with you, she’s thriving!

    Reply
    • Cricket has taught Butterfly how to steal food and bark for attention and beg fro walks every five minutes, so, yeah, life is pretty good here. We don’t know how many litters she had overall, but they had her for eight years, so the numbers have to be huge.

      Reply
  36. Thanks for the like on my posts!!
    [Do I see another follow coming my way?? 😛 ]
    Lovely post, Rachel!!

    Reply
  37. Wooohoooooo Butterfly! So happy you found a loving home!

    Reply
  38. Love this story Rachel. Lovingly told and lovingly lived. Nice work.

    Reply
  39. What a wonderful post and makes so look at things in a different way. So glad they found you .
    Hugs Sheila

    Reply
  40. Quick note to tell you how much I enjoyed Butterfly’s story…Thank you for sharing it

    Reply
  41. Rope toys are our little girl’s favourite. She has a collection. 🙂

    Reply
  42. ” all you need is a safe place and love, and you can get that learning done, at whatever age you happen to be, at whatever pace you can manage.”

    This is so lovely. It seems like her attachment to her puppies – the caregiving behavior-helped her to grow into the experience of being cared for she lacked.

    Reply
  43. Butterfly as a name for a pup (we call critter underpeoples fuzzbutts ), did you do this because of the song “Dog and butterfly”? If so may I cut in at the next ball and have a dance of words with you. There is a sweetest time in my life where I am in limbo, perhaps forever, never to understand innocence again. Would you explain, dear, wjy butteryfly? You may have accidently been a part of illuminating thru mad glass what I am seeking, which I cannot readily name. To love a pet again. That is it.

    Reply
    • Butterfly is my transformation puppy. She was in a puppy mill for the first eight years of her life, until she was rescued. When I first met her, she was afraid of walking on solid ground, and afraid of eye contact. But I could see the Butterfly in the cocoon, and when she was finally able to run her ears flew out like wings. But now I’ll have to try “fuzzbutt” out on her too.

      Reply
  44. Butterfly is so cute! I have a yorkie who is 8 and she still acts like a puppy sometimes. I love her.

    Reply
  45. I detest puppy mills and even some hobby breeders who think it’s alright to breed their dogs every heat cycle. As a hobby breeder for ten years, my Moms did not have a litter before they were two, and then only every year until they were five years old, except for Mercedes, who had her last at 6, and never let’s me forget it.

    That means all four girls in their lifetimes enjoyed their two or three litters, with their fat little puppies hanging around until they were twelve to sixteen weeks old. They taught their puppies many useful things( like how to manipulate their people), and every family that bought a puppy knew they were to bring him back to me if they couldn’t keep him. I only had one returned. For some reason Blu ended up sort of loopy, so I found someone who was sort of loopy herself, and they get along famously!

    My pups got the most expensive food on the market, were taught basic commands, and received the best vet care. Every one was special to me and I would have been more sad to see them go if I wasn’t filled with happiness at the joy in the faces of the people adopting them. I never retired my Moms to other homes…their homes are here with me for their lifetime, and they all four are incredibly spoiled, contented, dogs, spending their post litter says chasing squirrels and sun bathing. We are a family. They never earned me any money because I spent it all on them, but I wouldn’t give back a days of the experience, which taught me so much about raising kids,being responsible, and loving.

    Not every puppy born is the result of greed and avarice, or even clueless stupidity. That said, I love people who rescue, and there are a lot of animal practices, like factory farming, that should be criminalized just like puppy mills. But I feel good about the dachshunds I brought into the world….just think, if no one ever bred a dachshund again…or a Sheltie or Shepard or Poodle…the breed would die out in 18 years. Just like other extinct animals.

    Reply
    • My Cricket came from a home breeder and had a very good beginning there. Her breeder cried when we took her away, because Cricket was the last girl puppy and the runt of the litter and had clearly been babied because of it. We brought her home with a squeaky purple dinosaur from her crate and a blanket that smelled like her brothers. I think, when you see how well it can be done, with love and care and training, it makes puppy mills look even worse.

      Reply
      • Boy, you are right about that. Sometimes I think if we lose this world it will be because we will have failed to love it. We have only loved ourselves, and exploited everything else. And why is that? Because somewhere in time we got the idea we were put on this earth as masters, not gardeners.

  46. Hi Rachel you write a mean blog if i may say so and of course I discovered it after I received a notification from WordPress saying how much you liked my little blog. That was so kind of you.

    I do hope that you visit everyday and of course that all of your readers take a moment to have a read, so long as they don’t take too much time away from your blog of course, we don’t want a Cat muscling in do we? Tee hee!

    Purrs,

    The Cat

    Reply
  47. I think dog are wonderful. And women with glasses and pups who write are sexy mod with it!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: