You may have met my little brother, Chief, by now (his story is here: Daddy These Aren't Our Sheets ). I'm Storm, his big sister-- I'll be nine years old this year, Chief will be five. We weren't born to the same biological parents, but Daddy loves us so much, we know we're brother and sister. I get really worried when Chief has his seizures, or isn't feeling well, so if Daddy isn't in the room when Chief gets sick or starts his convulsions, I run and get him to help Chief.
Having a little brother with health problems can be so annoying sometimes, but I do love him (just don't tell him that I admitted that!), and he's been really healthy the last few months with no seizures. The only thing is, when Chief is sick, it reminds me of the puppy mill I was born at, and how sick I was when Daddy adopted me.
You see, I'm an australian kelpie, which isn't a real common breed in this country. We come in several different colors, blue merle, red merle, black, but the most common color is black and tan. I'm a black and (reddish) tan. The people that were running the puppy mill were trying to breed only the "prettier" colors, and didn't want black and tans like me. There were two other pups, a brother and a sister, from my litter that were also black and tans. Well, the breeders didn't want us, and they didn't want to sell us because they were concerned that someone would mistake us as rottweiler mixed mutts, so they were going to "put us down." That's just a nicer way of saying that they were going to kill us, just because we weren't the "pretty" colors.
Thankfully, the local humane society found out about this somehow, and got something called a court ordered injunction against the breeders, preventing them from killing us-- basically, it meant that if the breeders did kill us, that they could go to jail. Unfortunately, the breeders decided to work around this! They "fixed us" themselves… this meant that they, the breeders, decided that since one of them had been a veterinarian's assistant at one time, they decided they were capable of neutering my brother, and spaying my sister and me themselves-- neutering and spaying means that an animal doctor does a surgical procedure that makes it so that we can't have puppies, but these people were NOT veterinarians!
Well, all three of us got really, really sick. We all had what the doctor that finally took care of us called "staph infections." After the procedure, we were still at the puppy mill for about a week. The three of us were put into a cramped kennel that was intended for one dog about the size that each of us already were. We were sick and dying, my sister didn't make it. She was dead for at least two days before the puppy mill was finally raided by the police. The officers, as brave as they were, were literally sickened when they got to the small 8X10 shed that all of the dogs (over 100) were kept in. When they finally got to the little kennel that held us, the man that picked up our crate was angry. He rushed us to a special truck and immediately gave my brother and me an IV to rehydrate us and pump in some antibiotics and as he held my sister, I saw tears streaming down his face. I wanted to tell him it wasn't his fault, I wanted to jump down off that truck and go bite those awful people that had done this to my big sister (she was born first), but I was too weak to do anything more than whimper, my brother was a little stronger than me, and he pushed himself forward enough to lay his head against the policeman.
I don't remember much of the next few days, I know that we were taken to a real veterinarian who gave us lots of shots and with her assistants, did everything they could to help us. It took a few days before my brother could stand up without help, and a few more days before I could. The people at the shelter were really nice, they gently bathed us, fed us, gave us medicine, and kept us in a kennel that was gigantic compared to the one we were in before. As we got healthier, we were moved to a regular kennel, and then because the shelter was really crowded from all the dogs taken from the puppy mill, we went to a foster home together. We still had to take medicine, because our infections weren't entirely gone, but my brother got better a little quicker than I did.
After a couple months, my brother was healthy enough to be adopted out, so they packed us up and took us to a park in St Louis, all the way at the other end of the state. They didn't think that anyone would want to adopt me yet, because I was still taking antibiotics, but they wanted to keep me and my brother together for as long as they could, since we were so close. When we got to the park, there were dogs from shelters from all over the Midwest-- from Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, even some from Arkansas! There were so many dogs, I didn't think we had a chance of getting a new home. People came and went, but nobody wanted us on the first day at the park. The second day was a little different though. This is when we met Daddy's wife. She looked us over, and asked if she could show my brother to her husband who was sitting at a picnic table just up the hill. She took my brother up the hill. Daddy really liked my brother at first, but thought that he was just too hyper to be a good pick for them. So Mommy brought my brother back and asked if she could take me up to see him. When I got up the hill, I really just wanted to take a nap. I climbed up in Daddy's lap and nuzzled against him, before I knew it, I had been asleep in his lap for almost half an hour. While I was asleep, one of the workers from our shelter had come up to the table to tell Mommy and Daddy that my brother had been adopted, and to explain that if they wanted to take me home, that I still needed special medical care. The man from the shelter also told them about what had happened to us at the puppy mill… Daddy says that's when he decided that I was going home with them.
I've been a "Daddy's girl" since that first day in the park, so when Mommy and Daddy divorced, there never was any question about me leaving with Daddy and Chief. I have had a great life since that day in the park, but sometimes I still have nightmares about the puppy mill-- don't believe the myth that dogs don't have long memories, I remember that torture vividly. I cry in my sleep when I have that nightmare in my head, but I always wake up to Daddy and Chief or Nanna comforting me, and when they tell me that everything is alright, I know that it is because they love me, and I love them too.