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     I read an article about a group of Beagles rescued from a testing lab in Spain, and found this video on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLZMxRP_F5w

     My wife and I belong to a rescue group for Miniature Pinschers called IMPS. Our first foster was a beautiful little female from a puppy mill, her name is Maya.

    Being a breeder dog usually means that at about six months she began birthing litters as fast as possible. She was certainly kept isolated in a small pen with decent food – they had to keep her healthy enough to have puppies – but with almost no socialization.

     Twice a year she would bear a litter, her only close contact with other dogs or people since the litter she was born in. As soon as her puppies were old enough, they were taken away and sent to market. She would go several more months with no contact until she was bred, and the cycle was repeated. We don’t know how many years Maya lived like this.

     I mention Maya now because she was a “foster failure,” we ended up adopting her and been with us for six years now.

     The beagle rescue video above mentions one of the rescued dogs named Libby, and the update on her status mentions that she “is already learning how to be a real dog!” The need for some rescued animals to learn how to be a dog is absolutely true, and it took Maya a lot longer than it took Libby.

     The night we brought Maya home, we had to keep her separated from our dogs (we only had three at the time, Maya made four) until we were sure she hadn’t picked up anything at the shelter. I carried Maya outside to potty and she freaked out. She went rigid in my arms, something had startled her. As I turned to see what it was, I noticed that Maya’s head turned, always facing into the wind. The wind! She had never felt the wind in her face and didn’t know what it was or how to react.

     Maya was very sweet, but totally unsocialized. She wasn’t potty trained, didn’t play, didn’t know how to love or be loved, was easily startled and would bark incessantly. Maya was unadoptable, so we kept her – which was fine. After a very brief time with her, I doubt we could have given her up anyway. It has been a six year adventure, and worth every second.

     Maya still doesn’t behave like our other dogs, but there have been special moments. After about three years with us, and about twenty permanent or temporary playmates, Maya made a leap forward in her doghood. I was throwing balls in the back yard, letting the other beasts chase the balls and each other, when one of the balls went by Maya and she grabbed it. I was startled, but Maya was shocked. She had no idea what to do with it and just looked around for help. It was the first time she had ever tried to play with a toy. A major step in learning how to be a dog.

     Maya still doesn’t play like the other dogs, she tries but just never learned how. She barks at bogeymen, bad guys that only she can see, and still doesn’t know how to show affection like her housemates – but she’s loved and happy, and makes us happy.

     I know exactly what it means for Libby the beagle to learn how to be a dog, and I’m so happy for her.

     If you ever want a pet, rescue animals have more to offer than you can possibly know, even though part of that may be a little more need for love and patience. But, it’s worth it.

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