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This Puppy Mill Survivor Has Grown Into A Real Dog

When it comes to puppy mill survivors, there are scars you can see…and those you can’t. For darling Florence, a six-year old miniature schnauzer, the wounds may be invisible but their effects can break your heart.

For the first five years of her life, Flo was treated like a puppy-machine, producing litter after litter under deplorable conditions. Rarely touched — let alone petted — never exercised, and deprived of even the smallest gesture of human kindness, Florence arrived at NSALA desperately afraid. She shook, retreated into corners, and did everything she could to avoid human contact. Still, fearful as she was, Flo was never aggressive.

Since February 2013, she has lived with a patient, knowledgeable foster family whose insights and love have brought her out of her shell of loneliness.

“I think of Flo like Pinocchio,” says foster parent Marilyn, shown at left with Florence. “Watching her turn into a dog was like watching Pinocchio turn into a real boy. Florence has grown into being a real dog.”

The process has been slow, says Marilyn, but dramatic. At the beginning, a leash would send Florence into panicked spins. Now she gets excited — in a positive way — whenever the leash appears. Still, she has a few quirks on the subject. “She used to be very afraid of the outdoors,” says Marilyn, “and though she’s still occasionally hesitant, she loves walking and is intrigued by all the different smells on a walk. One odd thing though: she is quite particular about her position on a walk; she always wants to be on the person’s left.”

Quirks aside, Flo has proven herself brave and resilient. She has conquered her fear of cars, has grown to trust men, comes when she’s called, loves food, knows “stay,” and has finally realized that sleeping upstairs is a lot nicer than sleeping on the kitchen floor. Best of all, she absolutely loves — loves — other dogs.

“She plays like a puppy and has learned so much from our other dogs,” says Marilyn. “One thing for certain: Flo would thrive in a house — not an apartment — with other dogs and she’s a great watchdog and has gained enough confidence to interact with our guests.”

Though vastly closer to realizing her nature as a true dog, Flo still has some learning to do. At the moment, she doesn’t seek affection and tenses when being petted. She is also not housebroken…but “almost,” says Marilyn. And she continues to experience separation anxiety, which means she’d do best with someone who is home a lot.

“She is such a good-looking, healthy little dog,” says Marilyn, “and although she’s done very well, I believe she can improve even more. Why, she even takes treats from our hands now!”

If you think you’re the person to take Florence to the next level of “dogness,” please contact our Foster Care Manager, Alex Bab, at (516) 883-7900, ext. 352, or email alexanderb@animalleague.org.