On December 10th, 35 dogs were rescued from a puppy mill. Not long after being in our care, 3 pregnant mamas gave birth to 18 puppies bringing the total to 53 puppies and dogs! This was one of the largest dog seizures in Nova Scotia – ever.
Because of their emotional trauma and medical needs, we knew they would have a long road to recovery. Take Gilly for example.
It didn’t take much to scare Gilly. Something as simple as the beeping of a microwave could cause her to bolt. To teach her humans are kind and loving, one of our SPCA expert dog trainers took Gilly home to continue working with her. The other dogs were beginning to make positive progress but Gilly was still very slow to come along.
Until she met Jane Godley.
Jane, who is well experienced with border collies and dog training, began to foster Gilly. “I didn’t know I was going to keep her until she was at my place for a few weeks… Although I am terrible at fostering because they don’t leave,” laughed Jane. “I found her wanting to learn and interested in the games I was playing with her.”
Jane started with Susan Garrett’s Recallers games. “I was in the back yard playing disc with my older border collie and Gilly immediately picked it up,” explained Jane. “Agility is our main game and she is really good. She is a fast learner. My agility coach is so impressed. And boy, is she fast!”
“Just watching her change is the big thing,” related Jane. “Last night she really played in the backyard. For the first time I saw her having fun. It is moments like that, that I remember. Moments that she has bonded with me a little more.”
Gilly does experience some setbacks but overall Jane sees a big improvement. “Her confidence is growing,” said Jane. “Gilly has come along as far as she has because I reward her good behaviour. I know she will always be a puppy mill dog in certain situations but am excited for her to be a regular dog.”
While the adult dogs were in training and foster homes, the youngest puppies joined the SPCA WOOF Program. WOOF, which stands for Working On Our Future, pairs puppies with screened inmates. Under the direction of an expert SPCA trainer, the puppies learn skills and are well socialized. The inmates learn responsibility, patience and respect – skills that can help change the direction of their lives, too.
Bentley was one of those pups.
Bruno, Bentley’s fur papa, said that their family always had a love for the SPCA. Sadly, on April 2nd, 2019, their son Ben, a volunteer firefighter and big animal-lover, passed away from a motor vehicle accident. To honour Ben, they sold bracelets designed by Ben’s coworker and donated all the proceeds to the SPCA.
On Valentine’s Day, the day of love, the Baurin family met some of the pups. “At the time we did not think of adopting and we immediately fell in love with them all,” Bruno recalled. “We did not know he was the one but he knew we were the one.”
Bentley has officially settled into home life. “It’s like he’s been part of our lives forever,” said Bruno. “He has been a great addition to us and his big brother Archer, the two are inseparable. Every day is a memory. We bring Bentley to baseball games, swims at the lake and lots of fetching.” One of their favourite things about Bentley is the beautiful heart shape in his fur.
“Animals live in the present which is something we as a family strive every day ever since Ben’s passing,” explained Bruno. “Yes, we give them love but they give us unconditional love. We help them but they also help us. The love that Bentley has given us and Archer has helped us through our toughest times.”
All 53 puppies and dogs have found forever homes or foster families on their road to rehabilitation. Their story has changed from one of heartbreak into one of hope.