“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the
ground outside your Father’s care.”
I discovered the atrocity of puppy mills in 2007. Shortly afterward, I found a group working to shut down Colorado pet stores that sold puppies. This group was working with National Mill Dog Rescue in Peyton, and some of their dogs were to be delivered to Denver Dumb Friends Rescue. At the time I was volunteering at DDFL and greeted the van as it pulled into the DDFL garage on a cloudy Sunday afternoon.
I’d always wanted a Yorkshire terrier, and so I looked diligently inside the crates. Finally, I found three trembling huddled masses of auburn hair. I picked one up from the crate and held her on my right shoulder. She was a bag of bones, matted hair, alopecia head, missing most of her teeth. Struck by fear, she was petrified stone. I looked into her auburn eyes; she was ... perfect.
Harps played, angels sang ... and mommy and Penny fell in love. Soulmates.
On the night I took Penny home, I placed a dog bed next to my side of the bed. Penny hadn’t had a bath yet due to her spay stitches, so I hesitated to place her in our bed with our other dog Molly. However, I looked down at Penny; she looked up at me and clearly spoke, “I need to be with you.” Well, bath be darned … she came up on the bed and claimed her spot next to Molly.
I have a photo of our first meeting at DDFL that I look at quite frequently. Next to that photo is one after several months of eating nutritious food, warm bed, loving arms. Same dog … yet different in every respect. Ultimately, she worshipped the ground that I walked on, and I reciprocated in kind.
Penny asked innumerable times to retell the story of our first meeting, and I’d nestle her on my right shoulder—her special spot -- and I’d whisper, “Harps played, angels sang ...”
Six and one-half years later, Penny developed liver cancer, and I searched the web for a cure, but there was none to be found. I’ve had cancer myself, as well as hip replacement surgery—twice, in fact--but the day I saw her spirit leave her auburn eyes and pass was the hardest day of my life.
We now have two Chihuahua puppy mill dogs, Trixie and Nellie, that I love beyond reason. But the first rescue dog … well, it is like the first love of one’s life. The most memorable love … and the hardest to forget.
These photos of Penny—before and after—are why we rescue dogs.