Tails: The Best Gotcha Day Ever…

Today marks Alice’s one year anniversary of her “Gotcha Day” with us.  We have 4 dogs at the moment and while each one of them holds a dear place in my heart, there is just something about Alice.

She could not have been dropped into our laps at a worse time.  I remember getting the message from Jessica, “Is there anyway you could foster this Shih Tzu we are bringing up from auction?”  I knew my husband would freak out.  We were leaving in a few weeks for a trip to Florida, but when Jess sent me her photo: this horrible, sad Tzu with her tongue hanging out and looking just like our Penelope – I couldn’t possibly say no.

The picture Jess sent me from the auction.

So, I said what so many of us say, “Yes, but only for a few weeks.”

I promised Bill that the dog would be gone by the time we left for our trip.

I remember picking her up at Jennifer’s house.  She had just come from her spay surgery.  She was sitting in a laundry basket half awake.  All I saw was her tongue.  I had never experienced a “tongue dog” before.  It really takes some getting used to.

My daughter, Abby, was with me on the pick-up and she was taken back by the dog and the tongue and her pathetic little state of being.  My heart was smiling because I was doing what I love most in the world – taking in a helpless dog who just needed love and a second chance.

Alice’s ride to our house.

Alice came from a puppy mill.  She spent 5 horrifying years there and everything about her showed the scars of the horror.

Alice at the rescue vet. #89 was her puppy mill auction number.

We took her home and found her a safe place in the family room.  Crated her for the night and never heard a peep.

However, the next day proved more challenging.  Alice was afraid of absolutely everything.  I had experienced this before with Thorp, but Alice was even more untrusting.  She would hide behind the wash machine for hours on end.  She would disappear on the lower bookshelves.  She trembled constantly.  But, of course, each of these moments only melted by heart more.

Alice hiding in the bookshelves

The days with Alice were hard and sad.  She was such a blatant reminder of how much I hate puppy mills.  Not to mention, I was constantly trying to wet her little tongue because it looked so dry.

Time went fast and before I knew it, we had to leave for Florida.  There was no way I could part with Alice and make her go to a new home just as we she was starting to get a little settled in ours.  So, I asked my pet sitter if she could handle one more – of course, she could.

We went to Florida and while we were there I had a terrible freak accident on the beach!  I stepped on very large, very sharp shell and needed emergency surgery.  Our trip was extended an entire week.  Alice would have to wait longer for me to get back.

When I did get back, I wasn’t able to put any weight on my foot and could only walk a little with the help of crutches.  Poor Alice was terrified of the crutches and no one else in my family had the endless patience to deal with her.  It was messy in our house for a few weeks.  (some of you can imagine…) But, because of the tension of the situation, I think I healed quicker.  I tried harder to get around because I knew Alice needed me.

A few weeks later, I was off crutches and we were headed back down to Florida for a long Thanksgiving holiday.  See we already had bought a home there and it was our plan all along to move down the fall of 2017.    We had been cleaning out our IL house and “thinning our herd” not even once considering adding to it.  But, here we were towing 4 dogs to Florida.

Alice was still frightened of everything, but she traveled so well.  She absolutely loved the beach and the sunshine and slowly, our crazy life was becoming hers, too.

Alice on Sanibel beach

I remember adoption applications coming in for her.  I would read them, my heart would race, my stomach would get that pit inside and I would think of a million reasons why that person or family was not a good fit.  In truth, Alice was not nearly ready.  I am always worried about mill dogs getting loose and running away – so scared they don’t come back and so impossible to find.  Alice was definitely one of those dogs.

Christmas came and my birthday right after New Year’s and Alice was still living with us.  Neither my husband or my daughter offered to give her as a gift to me like our Jack had been and no one ever came out and said,”Adopt her,” but I did.   I sent in the adoption paperwork and fee and she was finally mine.

I don’t think any of us can imagine life without her.  We certainly had NO intention of adding to our family, but she dropped in practically unannounced and she just fit.

Family, friends, and total strangers all love Alice.  Her tongue precedes her and people are fascinated by her.  I took her on a girls trip to Florida and we had the best service in the airport.  Even the TSA went out of their way to accommodate us!!  Stores always allow her in and nearly every one of them offers her water!

Penelope and Thorp have always been my reminders of puppy mills.  They have always fueled my desire to see puppy mills go away.  Alice does that, too, but because of her tongue, she instantly initiates the conversation with strangers.  She is the poster child for all that is wrong with mass breeding.  People who never understood the horrors of puppy mills take one look at her and understand my fight.

My vet believes that Alice’s tongue is a result of blunt trauma to her skull that left her face crooked and partially paralyzed.  I hate thinking of her being treated so cruelly.  Alice also suffers from severe dry eye and because it went untreated for 5 years, her eyesight in her left eye will probably be a total loss.  She is on drops multiple times a day, but we aren’t sure they will save both eyes.

Alice is willful, playful, quirky, and so appreciative of love.  She filled a hole in my heart I didn’t know I had.

I am so grateful that she was plopped into our lives when we least expected it.  I have fostered numerous dogs and have been able to let them go, but Alice was the one who had to stay.

Christmas pic on Sanibel.

If you ever have even the smallest glimmer of wanting to foster – DO IT!  You don’t just change a dog’s life, you change your own.

Happy Gotcha Day, Alice!!  We love you more than you could ever know.

Those eyes… that tongue.

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