TOOT TOOT TOOTSIE, HELLO!

Here’s TOOTSIE!

Also known as:

Little Bit, Mini Me and my favorite, Mop of the Woods.

There’s a new kid on the block, or at the farm I should say. Meet Tootsie, a 7 year old King Charles Cavalier who was rescued by Lucky Star Cavalier Rescue from an Amish Puppy Mill, after the owners had used her up. Her mouth and ears were horribly infected; she had twenty teeth extracted.  She also was fat as a tick, so you couldn’t say she was starving. She weighed 22 lbs (now she weighs 15 and is still a bit overweight).

And what, you might ask, is a Cavalier doing at Redstart Farm? Doesn’t every farm need a Cavalier? (What, you think we farmers don’t have laps?)  Seriously, there is logic to all this. Here’s a brief version of the back story:  If you have been following the blog for awhile, you know that after Lassie died I had my heart set on getting back up to 3 dogs–Willie, a little lap dog from a shelter or rescue, and another Border Collie. I had wanted the lap dog first, but then a litter of BCs came along that looked too good to pass up, so last summer we raised Hope, a Border Collie pup with great herding lines.

It’s a long story, as you know if you followed the bouncing ball last year, but it turned out that Hope and Willie brought out the worst in each other, and I decided it was in both of their best interests to place Hope in another home. It was a brutally hard decision for me to make, and I was roundly criticized by some for it, but I did what I believed to be right for both of the dogs, took some deep breaths, and went back to looking for the next dog. If you know Willie’s history (extremely uncomfortable, and at one time aggressive, to unfamiliar dogs) you know that picking the right dog for him was a challenge, and not as easy as it would have been with any other dog I’ve ever had. But early in the year, a dear friend and I found a little fluff-ball-oxytocin pump from a rescue who sounded perfect, and was about to come out to the farm when Willie was badly injured.

And so, the next dog was put on hold for many, long months while we worked through Willie’s injury in February, his surgery in May and his first 5 months of PT. Once Willie was able to have a bit of off-leash time I began looking again. One of the places I looked was at Cavalier rescue, because Willie has had some great experiences with them. One of my sitters has two females who come to the farm often, and Willie gets along beautifully with them. In addition, one of his best friends when he was younger was Brody, a sweet little male Cav, who used to love to wrestle play with Willie on the living room floor.

After consultations with two wonderful women in rescue, Nancy and Leslie, and two super rescue groups, Lucky Star Cavalier Rescue and Greater Chicago Cavalier Rescue, we all agreed that Tootsie might be a great match. She is a small female (least likely to make Willie nervous), quiet (good again), deferential to Willie (good again) and great around cats (and yet again). After a trial period Tootsie became a  permanent member of Redstart Farm and I can’t tell you how happy it makes me. She is great for us–she does need a lot of training, but she’s going to be a good, good little dog, and will fit in well. It also feels good to finally be able to bring a needy little dog to the farm. I’ll talk in a later post about how this adoption relates to my concerns about the problems that occur when breeding dogs for our sake rather than for theirs, but for now, it’s all about integrating Tootsie into the farm.

As you can imagine, Willie’s feelings about all this are paramount to me. I am happy to say that so far things are going well, given how little time has passed. She and Willie are not buddies, and I don’t know that they ever will be. But that’s okay; he can’t have a playmate now because he is still on a great many restrictions, so I couldn’t bring in a dog he wanted to play with. At first he was a bit uncomfortable about her in the house, but less so than he normally would be with a new dog in the house. Willie does well with unfamiliar dogs in the great outdoors (a huge change from his behavior 2-3 years ago) but he is nervous with new dogs inside the house. As expected, he was not 100% comfortable with her in the house at first, although he was still pretty darned polite. Mostly he made what I call “snake face,” hard flat eyes, flattened ears and a sour look that made it clear he wasn’t thrilled with the addition. But he was appropriate, and in very few days he appears to have accepted her presence. He still seems happy and relaxed and seems to think of her as part of the ‘new normal’ of life.

Of course, I’ve worked hard hard hard on counter conditioning him around her getting food and petting, and now he’ll even let her eat out of the same plate when they get snacks after our dinner. Resource guarding was one of my primary concerns with Willie, and that is going extremely well so far. She pushes in between us for petting and he puts up with that too, although he clearly doesn’t like it. Who could blame him? She’s the one who needs work here; she is super pushy and will be learning some manners soon. (Thus the name, Mini Me.)  A good sign I think: he is starting to sneak in sniffs when he can, as if pretending he just happened to find his nose in the area of her belly and groin. “Oh my, did my nose end up under your tail? I have no idea how that happened.”

She, on the other hand, pretends he isn’t there. She is an especially small Cav (her legs are ridiculously short) and he must look like a giant to her. I suspect they will become more and more comfortable together, and who knows, maybe they will learn to be buddies. It’s very very early …;

I’ll write updates about how things are going when I can. Weeks one and two have been all about:

1) House Training: She is a mill dog after all–but Leslie at Lucky Star made a GREAT start. I took her out every 10 min for the first 2 weeks. Seriously. She is still in shock that she gets a treat every times she pees. She’s doing great, but I am still on it all the time.

2) Teaching her to respond when I say Tootsie. That was her name when she was in foster care, but she had no idea what it meant when I said it. Around day 15 she literally had a Helen Keller moment when (I think) she realized that the noises I made meant something. I would give a lot to have had a video of her face when she made the connection.

3) Leash Manners: Not charging away at 20 mph when on a leash. I never trust her off leash now, so we worked hard on teaching her to stay close to me when the leash is on. It’s taken a lot more treats, but she’s making fantastic progress.

4) Barking: I was warned she barked in the morning at 5:30 until she was let out of her crate. Oh my, not good for me and Willie and our super sensitive ears. We’ve worked very  hard on this too (began by setting the alarm for 5 am, then slowly later etc etc.) She does NOT bark in her crate in the morning (the goal is no crate at all, but the house training issue with a mill dog takes priority) YEAH! But she does bark at other times when she wants out, sounding something like a huge, operatic mouse. We’re working on it and she’s making progress on that too.

Best of all? She is super friendly and is much less shy than most mill dogs. She loves people, men and women both. She has some health challenges; a minor heart murmur and subluxated knee (also minor), and of course there’s her heart to worry about given that she’s a Cav. I don’t know how long her life with us will last, she is already seven years old, but she’s found a home at Redstart Farm, and in my heart forever.

Here she is:

And on one of her first walks in the country, my goodness this exercise stuff can tire a girl out!

 

 

Comments

  1. Lacey H says

    Wonderful! Yes, I’ve had a couple of puppy mill fosters, and yes, they’ve been extra work – but so rewarding. Tootsie should be a great companion. Even the foster I was unable to housetrain – because he regarded the crate as the best “bathroom,” and anywhere indoors as better than the scary outdoors – did find an accepting home.

  2. Kerry says

    Aw. Congrats. I’ve been hoping you’d get a second dog which is just so odd given we don’t really know each other that I had to stop and think why. Turns out its partly wanting you to have the multi-dog household you deserve but a good part of it is selfish. I really just want to read about it. You write so compellingly about your dogs that they are some of my favorite dogs ever and I’ve just been wanting to meet some more. I can’t wait to hear about the trials and tribulations and joy of adopting a new dog.

    I adopted Huck, a 3 year old dog earlier this year who needed to get along with Ayla, my 15 year old dog. They didn’t need to be best friends, but it was critical they could get along, more so than normal given her age. He was probably the 1oth dog we met and the first we met that we both liked. Well, I liked and she didn’t seem to mind. Over the year, he has become exactly what she needed – not a best buddy, but stimulation and competition and someone to occasionally go over and smell. Even though her interactions with him are minimal, I know he has had an impact on her, well, presence, she’s just more “here” since he came. And he is definitely what I needed, it can be hard to have an aging or a sick dog, so it’s such a great break to focus on the fun of new training and he has just been a breath of fresh air. I didn’t know how much I needed that until he got here.

    I’ve never adopted an adult dog before and it’s been a great experience. And he came housebroken – I know, I was lucky.

  3. jackie says

    She is gorgeous! I am so glad they are getting on OK. We are hoping to rehome another dog very soon with our own reactive dog, so success stories are a great encouragement.

  4. says

    Love this story! I have a 5 year old Cavalier myself and they are great dogs. It’s so sad that there are so many health issues in the breed. In addition the heart disease (MVD), Syringomyelia is another hugely common disease in Cavaliers (estimates put it at at least 70%) so I would definitely keep an eye out for that as well. They are super sweet and playful and funny and I wish you the best with your new addition!

  5. KathyF says

    Congratulations! I’ll be reading with interest how this goes, as one day I hope to introduce a new dog into our home, with our reactive dog, too. When will we get to see a video of Tootsie?

  6. Susan says

    I have an 8 year old Tricolor Cavalier and I love him. They are a great breed and I cannot imagine my life without one. I hope she brings you as much joy as my little man brings to our house.

  7. Krista says

    I’m so happy for you! And for Tootsie, for lucking out of a mill and into a great rescue and home. She is adorable (I have a thing for Cavs).

  8. says

    She’s such a cutie! All cavaliers I’ve know were wonderful, funny and loving. I sure hope that she and Willie get along, because with two adult dogs its never really easy.
    And yes, I also think the stolen “snifs” are a good sign, curiosity winning over.
    It’s a lot of work but

  9. Pike says

    How wonderful for all of you!! She looks adorable and I am so glad that she is a great fit for your existing pack.

    My little, almost toothless, Pom has been here for almost a year now and gets along splendidly with everybody, too. Early on, she attached herself to 16 year old Portie Sparky (who sadly died last month) but the healthier and fitter she got (no more heart murmur now), the more she followed Ronja the Beahound. And since Pixie is so small and very accommodating, Ronja didn’t really mind/notice that by now she no longer gets to sleep in her own bed and also shares the living room couch with the little fuzzball.

    Many happy bonding experiences with Tootsie & Co. :)

  10. says

    Oh, she looks super happy! Those curly ears must be very fun to handle (if she lets you)

    Congratulations! I really hope that she continues to be a good fit for you and for Willie!

  11. says

    I think this is some of the best news for our precious Cavaliers! I cannot even begin to express the joy I receive from my little ruby Lambeau! Just when we think we can never love again, in walks a Cavalier. So happy you have found Tootsie and excited for all that she is sure to teach you…because I know that you will in turn share those lessons with the rest of us. You have a very special place in my heart for your contributions to the dog world already, but now that you own a Cavalier my heart is bursting at the seams!

  12. julie says

    Trish,
    You always set the bar so high for all of us who want the best for our dogs. If only all families could understand the complexities of multiple dog homes the way you do. Thank you for sharing your stories. Enjoy! Lucky Tootsie!

  13. Beth with the Corgis says

    Oh, I LOVE her! Cavs are so sweet. It’s a shame about all the health issues because they are one of a tiny handful of breeds that, when it comes to personality and size, would be perfect for so many homes were it not for the serious health problems. There is a cav/cocker cross in our agility class and he’s just a sweet, people-pleasing tail-wagger. I had the pleasure of working with him last week when Jack decided he just didn’t feel like playing the game, thanks. After working with (and adoring) my, um, “independent” Corgis for years, it was a nice change to work a dog who wanted to do the right thing just because and didn’t have some idea that maybe he had a better idea that we might want to try out. Corgis are a blast, but they do tend to think that their own opinions are as worthy of consideration as your own— which makes them not the best dog for everyone!

    I hope things continue to go well between Tootsie and Willie. Sometimes the best relationships are those that start out coolly and build on mutual respect and trust earned over time. Here’s hoping that’s the case for the two of them.

    Best of luck with your sweet new girl. I followed the Border Collie puppy saga with a wide mix of emotions, and so I’m hoping for a very happy ending here.

  14. Kat says

    Congratulations! Tootsie is a very lucky dog and I hope she and Willy continue to tolerate each other until they wake up one day and realize that they like each other. I can sympathize with the challenge of finding just the right dog. My son wants his own dog for his 4-H project (and because he wants a dog of his own). Ranger has fabulous canine social skills and has always been very accepting of the strays that turn up in his yard so we thought finding a good fit wouldn’t be that difficult. Turns out we were very wrong. The dog the humans agreed on was not acceptable to Ranger. The whole story is here http://rangerandhiskat.blogspot.com/2011/10/canine-social-skills.html if anyone is interested. It breaks my heart that Woodward is still looking for a forever home but Ranger’s well being has to be paramount. Someday the right dog will come along.

  15. Shayla says

    I picked Tootsie up from the farm and started her transport! It warms my heart beyond description to see these photos and read her story. I have worked with Lucky Star for years & everyone on their team is amazing. Yet another happy ending!

  16. em says

    Congratulations!!

    I’m so happy to hear that you’ve found such a lovely lady. We recently added a slightly older and much smaller female dog to our household, too. I hope that it goes as well for your family as it did for ours. Sandy was a pushy, excitable, people pleaser too, and despite being generally very dog friendly and disinclined to resource-guard, Otis gave her the skunk eye a few times when she shoved herself between him and one of his humans.

    Fortunately, Sandy knew just how to smooth the waters-if he started looking annoyed, she’d lick his face and wag her tail contritely and we’d all laugh to watch his ears drop and his eyes soften. His expression was just so ‘Oh well…I guess she’s pretty cute…’ They have become excellent companions and playmates for one another. At approximately 70lbs, Sandy is not quite half the size of Otis, but they play wonderfully together and are firmly bonded to one another. I know it may not be necessary that Willie and Tootsie be best buddies, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they will come to care for one another.

  17. Sarah says

    Congratulations! So happy for you!

    I think Cavs are particularly inoffensive to most dogs. I have a Staffordshire Bull Terrier bitch, Tess, who was raised a singleton pup and has never been really comfortable with most other dogs unless she knows them well. But Cavaliers don’t concern her at all, she is relaxed and calm around them. Granted, we had a couple Cavs in her foundation & beginning agility classes, so she’s used to the breed. But she still surprises me with how willing she is to civilly greet Cavs she has never met before.

  18. Sarah says

    I’m so happy for you all! And selfishly looking forward to hearing from you about Tootsie (and Will and Sushi) in the future. Congratulations!

  19. says

    I’m so happy you are giving this lovely girl a home. I have a beautiful Cavalier boy in my life and I can tell you they are a joy. Everything you describe about her…I nod and agree…yep, that’s a Cavalier. Make sure she gets plenty of lap time.

  20. says

    Congratulations!! I am so happy to hear of another mill Cav finding a good home! Magnus is my puppy mill boy and I am always happy to know we’ve saved another of this wonderful breed! Magnus has become a great friend to my fearful girl, Maizey, so I hope Tootsie can be the same for Willy. Congrats to you all and thank you for opening your home and hearts to a Cavalier!

  21. Joh says

    Congratulations to Tootsie, that she found a great new home and congratulations to you Trish, that you found Tootsie.

    I wish you lots of lots of happy years together!

  22. says

    Aw, sweet Tootsie!! I absolutely love spaniels of all types. I just want to kiss that sweet little face! Congratulations to all of you!

  23. Karen says

    Wonderful news! Everyone needs a lap dog. I start every single day with a cup of coffee and lap full of Chihuahuas! She is beautiful!

  24. trisha says

    Thanks so much everyone, I’ll keep you all posted about the process as the story unfolds. Tootsie is super sweet, people loving, attention seeking, frail (I think she’s older than 7 yrs, but Im just guessing) and somewhat institutionalized. She mostly wants to be inside in a crate or on your lap. We’re working on “it’s okay to walk n wet grass, just long enough to pee!” Her and Willie will be a process, and I expect there will be ups and downs. I do still believe that it is critical to be honest about the joys and the challenges of caring about our dogs so much. Kat, I hear you and sympathize. I think it’s hard for some to understand how challenging it can be with a truly difficult dog to create harmony and happiness once you introduce a new dog. I was in heaven for so many years with all of my dogs, who got along beautifully. Because I do what I do, I knew how lucky I was and literally went home every day and said “Thank you all for getting along so well!” Willie got along great with the dogs who were established in the house when he came in as a puppy, but now things are different and require a lot more attention. I’ll keep you posted.

  25. Joanna says

    What a heart-warming story! Congratulations, and I hope things continue to progress smoothly.

  26. orietta siri says

    Congratulations! I sincerely hope that everything will go smoothly for your pack.. Mini Me looks vital and very sweet and I hope Willie will enjoy her presence too, you both deserve some good feelings after some very hard months. All the best!

  27. says

    Kelly probably need not worry about Tootsie having Syringomyalia, as it usually shows up in the first three years. My little Cav was diagnosed a year ago at the age of 15 months with Cranial Occipital Malformation Syndrome, with Syringomyalia. The Neurologist said that on a scale of 10, ten being the worst, he was a 9. Since the problem is one of the scull being too small for the brain, the brain stem has a kink in it, so the spinal fluids can’t flow down the spine and pool in the cord, causing pain, tingling etc. They also have a pounding headache most of the time. My little Jack had a portion of his scull removed (the occipital bone) the week before Thanksgiving. Today he is a happy, active, sweet little Cav. But, he will be on Neurontin for the rest of his life. If Tootsie doesn’t yip when she jumps up on something or when playing, or when picked up, she probably is perfectly fine, and a lucky girl. Jack came through all that pain with no damage to his temperament, which is a real tribute to the breed’s temperament. Tootsie’s temperament survived life in a puppy mill; another tribute to their temperament.

  28. Marie says

    Thrilled to read to the story about Tootsie so far. I wish you many years of happiness with her. Thanks for being so dedicated to our little royals. From one Cavalier owner to another. All the best.

  29. Mary says

    A new family member – how exciting! The Cav’s I’ve worked with at our animal hospital as a general rule love people and are non-reactive to dogs. It sure is nice to have a temperamentally sound dog – makes up for the plentiful health issues! Much happiness to you and Jim and Willy with your new addition (and Sushi, too).

  30. LynnSusan says

    Awww—-what a sweetie! Congratulations on the Tootsie Pop! Who wouldn’t be a sucker for that face!
    Trisha so happy Tootsie has you as her lap!

  31. Keli says

    Aw that is so great! If I was to come back as a dog, I would sure hope it was to your house!!! You’re the best!

  32. JJ says

    What a sweet, fun looking dog. I hope you have many years of health and joy with her. She is one lucky dog!

  33. em says

    A thought on physical strength and stamina: both my dogs apparently came from less than healthy-active backgrounds. Otis was in a state of serious neglect. Not only was he well down the road to starving to death, but he was utterly unfamiliar with many aspects of both the home and outside world. He’d tire badly after a twenty minute walk and had an abject horror of puddles. Within a relatively few weeks, no one would ever have known it, though. An obvious youngster, (not full grown) he bounced back and built confidence very quickly.

    But even Sandy, who came from a home that I would not characterize as neglectful or abusive, was accustomed at at least 6-7 years of age to a very, very minimal amount of exercise. She wasn’t startled by everyday sights and noises as Otis had been, but as a frustrated working breed (shepherd/rottie mix) she was alternately frantically hyperstimulated and terribly sore and exhausted from overdoing things. We tried to slow things down and keep her calmer, watched her carefully to make sure that she wasn’t injured, just muscle-sore, and within two weeks, her physical strength and stamina had improved exponentially. She never appears sore or stiff any longer, except in really, really extreme circumstances (hours of running and leaping and clambering up and down steep slopes).

    We’re a moderately active family, but not seriously athletic (we walk a great deal, but we don’t run)- even though her default speed is ‘dash’(Otis lopes in more or less straight lines, she zips back and forth around us), I was surprised by how little exercise was too much for her, in the beginning. Her energy was high, she just had no physical fitness level to speak of. Now our older lady could run the legs off a racehorse.

    Anyhow, my point was that we worried about both Otis and Sandy at first. We were afraid that Otis might never be physically robust and that Sandy might be older/more frail than she appeared, but we were lucky on both counts-I’m keeping my already crossed fingers even more crossed that Tootsie is simply feeling the effects of long confinement and that her apparent frailty is actually related to fitness, rather than any chronic health or wellness issues.

  34. Cindy says

    You can’t imagine how nice is was for me to read that you found a better home for a dog- I did the same thing with a female gsd that I had my heart set on. But for some reason we never bonded, she wasn’t a good match for our other gsd and she just wasn’t happy in our home. I found a fabulous family with a male gsd her same age that she absolutely adored and she couldn’t be happier. Much happier than if we tried to make her fit. Believe me I took a lot of heat and it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made but also one of the best. I’m so happy for Tootsie, she just won the lottery!

  35. Dianna says

    What an adorable Cavalier! She’s beautiful. Breaking the chain of puppy mills is my passion. I’m still working on finding others in the Tennessee area who share my interest. Thank you for rescuing this precious little dog. How lucky Mini-me is to be with you! I know that Cavaliers are one of the most popular of breeds in puppy mills. I have seen some dreadful pics of their rescues. Give Willie an extra hug for me today. It’s beautiful this morning in Tennessee with all the colors bursting forth!

  36. Beth with the Corgis says

    em, I agree about fitness levels. When we brought Maddie here, she was living a very good life as a retired show dog, in a home where show dogs are kept inside as part of the family and have regular walks and outings.

    However, our neighborhood is very hilly, and some of the hills are quite long and steep. She was in pretty good shape when she got here, but I noticed right away that our Jack had a much more muscled hind-end and sure enough, a few minutes of tackling the hills left her panting (incidentally, my husband and I have the same reaction every spring when we can get off the sidewalks again and into the hills; even though we’ve been walking all winter, we haven’t done hills and it wears us out until we regain the right kind of conditioning).

    Long story short, we had to keep the walks relatively short for a couple weeks til she acclimated to the new terrain.

    Similarly, if Tootsie is not used to the extra excitement (and resulting energy level) of exercising in the countryside, she might seem to be in worse physical condition than she actually is, til she adjusts.

  37. Beth with the Corgis says

    By the way, I say “hills” because it’s the local vernacular for it; in reality I live two-thirds of the way up the side of a mountain in the Pennsylvania part of the Appalachians.

  38. says

    Nothing sweeter than a Cavalier! and my BC, who is a stickler for polite greetings, get along just fine with them, and in return, even the shyest Cav. feel comfortable because of her gentle greeting. Please post about your progress regarding the barking–the ones I care for do like the sound of their voices!!

  39. Essmac says

    Awwwww, Tootsie is beautiful. And from the enormous smile on her face , she knows just how lucky she is! Here’s hoping that she and Mr. Willie become devoted companions for each other.

  40. Nicola says

    Congratulations on the new member of your family – I hope Tootsie & Will become friends, but as long as they tolerate each other, they’ll do fine. My kelpie x and my border collie had some run ins (not serious) when younger, now they seem fine, though they never play. They do enjoy barking at the motorbikes together though – much to my disgust. Training never really ends, does it. Good luck with Tootsie’s health – she is lucky to have you.

  41. says

    aw darn -someone told me once if we thought a Lab would be too big, that a cav would be a great choice. but humph-i didn’t realize they had such overwhelming health problems. sad

  42. Jennifer says

    Conrgats on the new addition! This makes my heart sing, and what a wonderful home for Tootsie to end up in.

  43. says

    Congratulations, Patricia! She is adorable. Cavs are great little dogs, and just in your one photo, Willie looks quite relaxed with her there. Here’s to a healthy, happy friendship for them, and many wonderful years for you all.

  44. Donna in VA says

    That is great news! I hope her health problems diminish as she loses weight and her fitness level improves.
    We brought home a shelter cat 9 days ago and it has been quite a learning experience. The cat loved all dogs at the shelter, but she is not sure about my Sheltie. They have been mostly separated but he has had some time in her “office” where she lives temporarily while being acclimated. Although he has walked around and sniffed intensely, he seemed totally shocked when she came out from behind the boxes on the desk that she has claimed as her “safe” corner. Thank goodness for all that time spent learning dog body language because it allowed me to interpret his action as just surprise, not aggression. The cat is great, she is not afraid of him at all. Max just has no clue how to make friends with her.

  45. Annie R says

    Congrats — the spaniel face is so irresistible! I have recently adopted a Brittany mix (probably part Austr. Shep) and just melt when I see his round head and eyes. He also is so red he’s actually orange, which is cute. Brittany’s are more like setters than spaniels, but have the spaniel face, and they’re a great size, 30-40 lbs.

    I also have had a series of older adopts the last few years, in pairs, and find they tend to be very companionable if not the best of friends. There’s something good for most dogs in having their own kind around, even if they don’t have identical styles and/or needs.

    My new boy came from a hoarding/overwhelmed-attempt-at-a-rescue down in CA (I’m in Oregon) and was SO scared of everything at first. But he must have been in a home at some point as he settled in really fast and began to improve in the first few days. He now HATES the crate because he wants to be out with us, and he’s done very well learning the dog door so it’s mostly OK, though he’s chewed a few things when he got anxious.

    There are so many parallels here — he has a partially dislocated shoulder so will never be an endurance walker but gets around quite well and can cover ground quickly for a short distance. It’s so fun to see them come to life as they realize that they are safe and loved; he loves to snuggle, and I really wanted that after a series of independent herding-breed types. He and my Husky/Sheltie mix lean against each other trying to be the closest to me and never snark at each other at all; but then she goes off to her bed and he gets up to my lap (40 lbs! doesn’t quite fit) and I get to love on him.

    Giving a dog a real home is so satisfying, and although my guy is 7-ish also, I’ve adopted a couple of 12 year olds in the past (one of whom also lost almost every tooth in his head with the initial dental work) so he seems like he’s right in his prime. I am just fine with having a dog for 3-8 years as long as they are healthy through most of it, and both 12 yr olds were in GREAT shape, and Sandy, the one I still have, is 13+ and still going strong — not a bit of arthritis, amazingly, and just sweet as can be, the way your Lassie was.

    I bet little Tootsie will be just fine with Willie once he realizes he still gets his special walks and play sessions (PT). I am teaching my boy tricks and saving my pennies so as to take him to PT and see if it will help him. So glad you are in the place where it feels like Will’s in good enough shape to let your hopes and plans move forward!

  46. says

    Congratulations on the newest member of your family! Tootsie sounds and looks absolutely adorable. It will be fun to hear about the antics that she and Willie are sure to have.

    Our little terrier mix, Tess, came to us with no skills in housebreaking. She was found on the streets of Philadelphia. She had not had one vaccination (I had her titered to find out) and we suspect she had 2 or 3 litters before she got loose. She was between 1 and 3 yrs old when we adopted her. Housebreaking was a challenge, but after lots of work (& cheese) we were able to teach her to “go do her thing” on command and I would say she is now (2 years later) almost 100% house trained. She definitely understands that going outdoors gets her goodies, but if the weather is bad outside she would much rather skip the cheese and have a dry potty in the house (the upstairs office, is her favorite spot). Now, when the weather is less than desirable, she wears a diaper to keep her from having accidents. She always keeps her diaper dry and will ask to go out while wearing her diaper, if it is an emergency, something she never does when she is not wearing a diaper (interesting…). I classically conditioned a happy response to the diaper, so she loves when I pull it out and put it on her. She gets so excited she jumps and spins in the air. I really should video tape her when she does it.

    I can’t wait to hear how things progress with little Tootsie. Enjoy your lap dog and give Willie a belly rub for me.

    Liz

  47. Kat says

    Tootsie’s happy grin is a real inspiration. Ranger now has his very own little sister a year old “Gorgiherd” half-German Shepherd Dog and half-Corgi. She’s lived here five nights now and we’re hoping in time we’ll be able to sleep again. She comes with her very own set of issues including leash reactivity and fear responses to anything new as well as separation anxiety. Even in this short period of time we’re seeing improvement but I suspect nights are going to be a challenge for awhile yet. If you’re interested in seeing how this odd cross looks here are some photos. http://www.flickr.com/photos/33350160@N02/sets/72157627938760349/

  48. Sammie says

    I have a former puppy mill Cavalier, too — Katie. She spent 7 years pushing out puppies in a Missouri puppy mill. She is incredibly timid, fearful, and does not like to be touched on her hindquarters. She’s also largely deaf — likely the result of untreated ear infections. She is still the sweetest and most adorable little girl I have ever met. Very docile and quiet. Potty training has been an issue with her, too, but considering she went where and when she wanted for seven years, she’s doing a remarkable job. She did NOT want to be crated when I got her — understandable given her prior living situation. So instead I hook up a leash to her collar and she sleeps on the corner of my bed. When she jumps down she can’t go far and she’s learning to bark to wake me up. Baby steps! I’m so glad to hear that your pup is more socialized and happy. Getting such a damaged dog is challenging but oh so rewarding! Blessings to you and your new fur baby. I wish you many years of happiness together.

  49. Vicki says

    Just saw this post and as a fellow Cavalier owner, I am SOOOO happy to see you have adopted a Cav. What a great addition to your farm. I know you won’t be sorry. Lucky Tootsie!

  50. says

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  51. says

    I also adopted a Cavalier name Chelsea and she looks just like yours. I adopted her from a breeder and she just had 7 pups. The breeder wanted to know if I would rather have a puppy instead. I said no, because I wanted to give her a life without having puppies to care for all the time. She is so sweet and a delight to have in my home. I also have 4 other dogs too and they all welcome Chelsea home. She was happy to be able to go out into a dog yard and play with the dogs that come here for day care. She is good around younger dogs too:) She loves to see the people who bring their dogs here and gets to dance for them too:) I am so glad that I did adopt her, she is the best gift I have in my life beside my family:)
    Thank you for sharing your story with us about Tootsie and enjoy her!

  52. Molly says

    Well, I’m way behind the times, but just reading about Tootsie now. Congratulations to you and Tootsie both. And thank you SO MUCH for rescuing an older Cavalier. So many people are afraid of the health problems and shy away from adopting them. The older ones are so sweet, and the mill dogs just eat it up when they finally get the life they deserve. I also have a Cavalier named Tootsie who was rescued from a commercial breeder. Anyway, great job–and we’ll definitely be following her story.

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