After spending the first seven years of her life caged and used as a puppy mill breeder, little Trudy the Italian Greyhound has now spent six months living the pampered pup life she always deserved. On July 4, 2014, her new owner, Marilyn Cole, traveled to the National Mill Dog Rescue headquarters in Colorado to celebrate Trudy’s Independence Day.
“They handed her to me, and I was just inconsolably crying,” recalls Cole, who had recently lost another mill rescue dog to congestive heart failure complicated by epilepsy.
“I knew the dog that I put so much time into had sent me this other one to take care of.”
Cole’s departed dog, Ms. Beeps, required years of rehabilitation and care to overcome the trauma she suffered as a puppy mill breeder. Cole says it took her three months to coax a terrified Beeper out from under the bed, and another six years for the frightened little Italian Greyhound to start behaving like a regular dog.
According to Cole, she wasn’t Ms. Beep’s owner, but simply the dog’s support system. The two were there for each other throughout each others’ health crisis. As Cole healed from her own surgery, she was busy trying to help Beeper heal from congestive heart failure, but in the end, Beeper’s time had come.
Cole says that when the doctor euthanized Beeper, she whispered something to her dog so low that even her husband didn’t hear.
“I asked her, ‘What am I going to do without you now?'”
The pain of Beeper’s loss was so great that Cole, a devoted dog rescuer and professional groomer, considered not adopting again.
“I had said, ‘I don’t want any more dogs, I don’t want to go through this again,'” she explains, but it wasn’t long before she felt compelled to take a peek at the National Mill Dog Rescue website’s listing of adoptable dogs.
“It was three in the morning, and I couldn’t sleep because, of course, Beeps always slept on the pillow next to me,” Cole explains.
“I went on the NMDR page, and I actually sat up in bed like I saw a ghost. She was the spitting image of Beeper.”
Cole was able to resist the temptation to wake her husband to show him Trudy’s picture, but when her initial excitement waned, she found herself conflicted over this dog she’d seen online. Unsure if she was ready to open her heart to another rescue dog, Cole waited several weeks before making a decision in June of 2014.
Once she came to the conclusion that she should adopt Trudy (who was then known as Porsche), Cole was unstoppable. She enlisted the help of fellow puppy mill rescue folks in a cross-country journey that was fraught with frustration and delays.
Traveling from Pennsylvania to Colorado was no easy task ahead of the fourth of July. After flying to Houston on the third to catch a connecting flight to Colorado Springs, Cole was told her flight was cancelled, and she was put on standby. When she asked the gate attendant what her chances were of arriving in Colorado on the fourth, the airline employee told Cole not to get her hopes up.
“I showed her Trudy’s picture and told her the whole story. I said, ‘July Fourth has to be her Independence Day. I need to get there by noon,’ and she looks at me and says, ‘I am going to do everything I can to get you on that plane.'”
Eventually Cole did make it on a plane, although she ended up heading to Denver instead of Colorado Springs. Her friends met her at the airport, and she was whisked away to meet her new dog.
“I’m on like no sleep, I was just like so stressed out,” Cole says. “It was like a dream.”
Adding to the dream-like state was the fanfare surrounding Trudy’s adoption. Friends, fellow rescuers, and photographers gathered at National Mill Dog Rescue to celebrate and witness Trudy’s Independence Day.
“It was such a big deal there because they thought no one would ever adopt this dog,” Cole explains. “She didn’t show well to potential adopters. She would bounce off the walls trying to escape.”
When she finally held Trudy in her arms, Cole felt an instant connection, which wasn’t lost on others present at National Mill Dog Rescue that day.
“People there told me, ‘She’s not the same dog with you here,'” says Cole, who was overcome by emotion when she met the dog she had traveled so far to see. She says the tears weren’t only for Trudy.
“That wasn’t just about her, it was also about thanking Beeps,” she remembers. “Beeper is a little angel like pulling the strings.”
When the celebration and photoshoots ended, Cole and Trudy retreated to a friend’s place before making the journey back to Pennsylvania. Trudy defied all expectations as she flew home in the cabin with her new human.
“Turns out she loved it. She slept the whole time and was so quiet.”
Since that peaceful plane ride in July, Trudy has been busy learning to live life as a cherished companion-animal instead of as a caged commercial breeder. She’s become a part of Cole’s family, adjusting well to life with Cole’s husband and several doggy siblings.
“It’s only been six months, and I have her coming when I call her,” says Cole. “I still can’t reach out and pet her, though, she’ll take off.”
While it’s true Trudy is still a little skittish, Cole says the little survivor is progressing faster than her predecessor Ms. Beeps did.
“The second time through, it’s so much easier, because Beeper taught me everything to do. She taught me patience.”
Read more about puppy mills and puppy mill survivors:
- The 12 Dogs of Christmas: Stan the Yorkie, One-Eyed Puppy Mill Survivor
- Harley the Chihuahua Helps Puppy Mill Dogs
- Our Monday Miracle Is One-Eyed Stan, a Puppy Mill Survivor
- There’s Horror But Also Hope in This List of 101 Worst Puppy Mills
- In Case You Need a Reminder: Puppy Mills Are the Worst
About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.