- Someone home as least part of day
- Quiet, adult only home
- Resident dog of similar size and temperament
- Safe and secured fenced yard
At the end of September we rescued sweet Stella off the auction block and out of the puppy mill industry. Stella recently turned 7 years old in our care (DOB 11/26/2013) and is finally getting a chance at the life she always deserved. Sadly, like most all puppy mill dogs she carries with her the baggage and trauma from a life spent in puppy mill hell. Stella has never been in a home environment or around people prior to being rescued just 10 short weeks ago, so she will need a family committed to helping her gently transition into this new lifestyle and continue her ongoing and long term rehabilitation.
Prior to being rescued, Stella lived in confinement and had no opportunity for exercise or activity of any kind. Now that she has freedom and space, she has "shaped up" nicely, weighing her ideal weight of 21 pounds and gaining muscle tone. Per her intake vetting, she arrived with "loose knees" which are sometimes a congenital issue in Cavaliers (luxating patellas), but also sometimes something puppy mill dogs have due to confinement and no opportunity for strengthening and stability. By the time of her recheck, one of her knees had already "tightened up" some and only time will tell if they continue to do so now that she is getting strong and active. They do not give her any apparent pain, discomfort, or mobility issues. To keep it that way, it is important that she remains at her ideal weight, should limit any jumping, slippery floors, and should remain on her daily joint supplement chew for life.
She arrived into our care with terrible ear infections and a skin infection which were treated and she is now clear of. She underwent her spay surgery and much needed dental while in our care and had routine procedures and normal recovery. All of her labwork including her fecal test, heartworm and tick borne illness test, urinalysis, and bloodwork was all normal and negative. Her eyes are clear and congenitally sound and no audible heart murmur was detected at her last vet appointment. Stella is now up to date on vaccinations, spayed, had a recent dental, is microchipped, and on monthly preventatives. She is not on any medications other than her daily joint supplement, and does not require any additional vetting outside of regular wellness check at this time.
Since this is the first time Stella has ever been in a home environment, potty training is brand new and will take time and continued training. She lived in a commercial breeding facility and had never seen or touched grass before and so like most puppy mill dogs prefers to do her potty business on the deck, porch, or other hand surface. Since she has an aversion to grass, we will be seeking a yard in her furever home that has another surface that she will be welcome to potty on. You should not expect her to "alert" you that she needs to go potty, so her family must take the initiative to take her out and give her frequent opportunities to be successful - first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and every few hours in between including right after meals. In the mornings, she is carried from the bed to outside or else sometimes she is not able to make it downstairs and outside without having an accident. Please know that potty training a puppy mill dog takes time, patience, and a lot of positive reinforcement, and accomodations, and know that accidents are to be expected. Stella has made great progress and will continue to do so with the right training.
Like most Cavaliers sweet Stella gets excited for meal time and joins everyone in the kitchen while it is being prepared. She does need to be fed separately from the other dogs or closely supervised if in the same area as she will try to visit other dog's bowls. She also shows some resource guarding over her own bowl and will growl if another dog gets close to it and so for those reasons needs to be separated and/or supervised and all bowls should be picked up immediately after finishing eating. She is not overly food motivated but will now take a treat from your hand once she has reached a level of trust with you. Stella's strictly portioned meals, limited treats, and daily activity should be continued to ensure she maintains her ideal and healthy weight (especially important for her joint health).
Stella's foster family describe her as cautious, curious, and sweet. Everything is brand new to her and so she approaches everything with a great deal of caution and uncertainty. Too much activity, loud or sudden movements, or too much attention on her make her nervous and afraid. She is learning how to interact with humans but her family must take this very slowly and have very realistic expectations for her. Great caution needs to be taken in how she is approached, touched, and handled. She has learned to tolerate gentle petting although is not comfortable with a hand going over her head. Being picked up and being held is too much for her at this time and causes her to freeze like a statue in fear. At this point in her rehabilitation, her family should be focusing on positively reinforcing and rewarding her for being in close proximity to people, tolerating a gentle pet where she can see their hand, and working on direct attention with eye contact and a sweet voice directed towards her rather than physical attention and touching. This all comes with time once she feels safe and is more trusting of people. After 2 months in her foster home, Stella is now beginning to seek out love and affection from her foster mom and even enjoying some lap time.
Stella has never had "things" before and so like puppy mill dogs is learning how to have a healthy relationship with possessions. She has discovered toys in foster care but like she reacts with her food bowl, she will growl if another dog is near them. It is important that bowls and toys are not left out and that toy time is closely supervised time where she is provided opportunities to learn how to play appropriately with them, being rewarded for doing so, and then toys put away so that there is no opportunity for any guarding behavior. Since everything is brand new to Stella, it is not fair to expect Stella to understand boundaries likes most dogs do. For example, she doesn't know that it is not appropriate to get on tables and will sometimes walk across the couch to get onto the end table. Her family must show her patience and grace and gently help her to come to learn what is appropriate and not. She has also been exploring things with her mouth, so her family must be able to maintain a very puppy proofed home for her safety. Her access to rooms with any items that she can reach that she could possibly ingest should be closed off, otherwise, all things needs to be off the floor and kept out of reach.
Stella spends the majority of her time in the family living room which has become her "safe spot" of sorts. She really is not comfortable doing much exploring or venturing and sticks to where she feels safe and comfortable. She is also weary of going outside and while the door to the fenced yard is open much of the time she never willingly goes out on her own. It is imperative that her furever home have a very safe and secured fenced yard for pottying purposes. Being on a leash is a very advanced skill for timid puppy mill dogs and for Stella's rehabilitation and safety, she should not be asked or expected to be on it at this time. She is very afraid of it and will pancake to the ground and freeze - this only further traumatizes her and does not aid her. When she is further along in her rehabilitation, a leash can be very slowly, gently, and positively introduced while in the safe confines of a secured fenced yard.
While Stella spends much of the day at home with her foster family, during the short periods of time when no humans are home, Stella stays in a comfy crate for her safety. Because she has been known to "scavenge" for items to chew, the crate ensures she cannot get into anything dangerous. Another option would also be a very puppy proofed room or area of the home that could be gated off. At night, she sleeps in the big bed which is great therapy for her and great for her rehabilitation. Stella is an early riser and is ready to seize the day! We would like to find her a family with someone who could be home with her at least part of the day to limit her time spent alone and confined, for potty training purposes, and to work on her rehabilitation.
Stella shares her foster home with 3 other Cavaliers and a lab who she gets along with well. She watches them play and you can tell she very much wants to get involved but is too intimidated. If the other dogs are overly active, loud or rambunctious she gets nervous and overwhelmed so we feel she would do best with another more quiet, calm adult Cavalier or other dog of similar size and temperament. She may not engage or interact with the other dogs much, but having another well adjusted, well socialized and confident resident dog in the home really helps with her rehabilitation. She is able to watch and follow the lead of the resident dog, and when her furry foster siblings are getting love and attention Stella will bravely come forward in wanting some too. While we feel she would thrive best in a home with another dog, it is important to remember that she does have the resource guarding tendencies mentioned above and so this will require some management of the dogs (toys put away, supervised play time, separate feeding, etc). She has been around a dog friendly cat and shows little interest.
Loud noises, sudden or quick movements, or alot activity or people make Stella nervous and fearful so she would be happiest and thrive best in a quiet, adult only home where there are few people in and out. She has found her voice in foster care and will bark at other animals on the TV, if another dog is barking, or if she is alerted to something or someone outside. When Stella is feeling her oats, she will take off around the living room with the zoomies and it is a delight to see her let loose- she seems to be the spunkiest in the evening when she catches her second wind!
Stairs are brand new to Stella and she has mastered going down them but is very hesitant to go up. She will very carefully climb the few outdoor steps from the yard back to the house, but is very intimidated by a flight of steps, especially if they are hardwood/slippery. We really prefer that her forever home have limited steps or that the steps are carpeted or have carpet treads down due to her knees and her lack of confidence climbing them. Be aware that there may need to be some carrying up or down. Jumping on and off furniture is discouraged and so working with her on pet steps or a ramp so she can safely access the couch is recommended. She rides well in the car in a boosted car seat where she can see out the window which limits stress and motion sickness. While she is not able to be out and about on a leash at this time, frequent car rides are recommended to help safely expose her to things outside of the home, so we will be asking her family to purchase her a boosted car seat.
It is extremely rewarding to give a home and family to a puppy mill dog and to help them continue to bloom and become their best selves. It does take a lot of time, patience, and accomodations and Stella does have specific requirements she needs in her home to ensure the environment is safe for her and conducive to her needs - she needs a quiet, adult only home with a safe and secured fenced yard (preferably with a non-grass area for pottying) and limited steps or stairs that are carpeted or willing to put step treads down. She would learn best from another resident dog and having someone home with her much of the day to work with her. She needs a family who is willing to accept and love her with where she is at in her rehabilitation and have realistic expectations for her, but also know how to support and encourage her growth which is made in baby steps and not giant leaps. If you feel you are the perfect match for sweet, beautiful deserving Stella, please complete an adoption application found on our website (TheCavalierRescue.org), and then email us at CavalierRescueAL@gmail.com to express your interest. Stella is being fostered in Jefferson City, Missouri, and her requested adoption donation is $400.