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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 28 July 2002 Issue

By Judith Marie Gansen
(To enlarge photos - click on the photos or links)

Mookiee and Kneesaa--Our Dogs From The Puppypimps (Please See My Companion Article From June 14, 2002--The Unconscienable Antics of the American Kennel Club and Why the Term "Puppymill" Needs a New Name-My Opinion)

(Photo-left - Princess Kneesaa and Mookiee - Photo-below right - Mookiee: Who ate my spaghetti?)

In December, 1984 my husband and I purchased two puppies from a pet store ignorant that they came from a "puppymill."  We named them after the fluffy Ewoks from my favorite movie, Return of the Jedi.  Mookiee was a purebred Lhasa Apso and Kneesaa was a female Lhasa-Poodle.   We paid about $300 for Kneesaa and $600 for Mookiee along with purchasing all the items we would need for them there.  We did not have a lot of money but were certain they would be healthy dogs since Mookiee was an AKC certified puppy (with the AKC stamp of approval) and Kneesaa, while a mixed breed, came from the same kennel in the Midwest.  The AKC wouldn't sanction a puppy from a disreputable breeder, would it?  They were the cutest little balls of fluff --Mookiee was tri-colored black, brown and white (later lost alot of color) and grew to be 20 pounds and Kneesaa was all white and grew to 10 pounds.  Every day they had wrestling matches and would fall asleep with one's head on the other.

(Photo-Left - Mookiee and Kneesaa peek over puppy barricadeVery quickly they both developed health issues--worms, fleas, etc.  Our vet said the one type of worm was almost impossible for puppies that young to get.  I had to be persistent with the AKC to get Mookiee's AKC papers.  Both dogs developed allergies and skin problems.  We later added a Lab mix, Tiara (from the pound), and we purchased an AKC Yorkshire Terrier from a "reputable" breeder who we named Fiesta.  Some time later while commuting to work I found a Cocker-mix puppy running along a major interstate and rescued her but couldn't part with her so we named her Tasha.  We have always loved dogs and wanted to provide homes for as many as we could afford and so we became a five-dog family.  We would not have adopted so many if we knew what the future would bring.

(Photo-Right - Mookiee standingMookiee became terribly aggressive constantly biting everyone in spite of my attempts to train him so our vet suggested castration which we did when he was 6 months old.  When that didn't help we tried medications and food changes with little success.  I was bitten many times especially if I tried to trim his nails or had to give him medication for an ear infection which was often.  He wasn't vicious, just super aggressive and if you hurt him he would hurt you back.  We were cautious in allowing him around other people and kept him from most children.  I tried obedience school, more medications and every type of training method I could find--nothing worked.

Kneesaa projectile vomited for the first 1 1/2 years of her life--that means the vomit came out like a projectile and shot out of her mouth, traveling some distance at times.  In the beginning we were told she was just hyper and nervous.  My husband and I took turns cleaning up the vomit--EVERY day.  I spent a fortune on carpet cleaners but of course this happened everywhere--on our bed, on the drapes, on us, etc.  Our vet said to try food changes and more drugs but finally an x-ray showed a congenital (born with) defect in her stomach.  The opening was not large enough for food to pass.  I took her to a university where expensive surgery was done--I was desperate so thank God they took charge cards.  She improved substantially after that but never totally stopped vomiting.  She constantly ate her own feces.  I tried remedies for that and nothing worked.  When I received no help from the pet store ( I had called again and gotten the brush off once more so I wrote to them and sent a copy to the AKC).  I threatened the store with legal action and at least recovered the $300 we paid for Kneesaa which helped to cover some of the high cost of vet bills which had long ago exceeded our budget.  I turned to charge cards when we ran out of money as my husband was downsized out of a job several years after we got them and this was right after we bought our first house and a car so all this could not have happened at a worse time.

People would remark they couldn't believe what we were going through with both of the dogs.  Wasn't having a dog supposed to be a mostly joyful experience?  Only our great love and dedication to these animals saw us through those trying times.  Many times I cried out of desperation as I held them in my arms.  It was bad enough what we went through but their suffering upset me the most.  They would both lick my face and wonder why those tears were flowing.  Mookiee was especially sensitive to my mood and would come and look up at me as if to say "Why are we going through this Mom?  Why are we having all these problems? Why do I hurt?"  People can say what they want to regarding the fact we are childless and dogs are our "surrogate children" --believe it or not we love children and we do know the difference between the two legged and four legged variety!  Love shouldn't have to be put into categories and both children and dogs feel pain and fear like we do.  They also can't speak for themselves.

(Photo-Left - Kneesaa and Mookiee sitting togetherTheir future bad health involved recurring ear and tonsil problems, allergic flea dermatitis, anal gland and skin infections, arthritis, conjunctivitis, etc. -- both dogs developed the exact same type of  twisted front leg (most likely bred from one of the same parents with the same problem, they may have been half sister and brother).  These health problems were the legacy left us by the puppymill breeders.  When we became educated about puppymills and what was done to these innocent dogs we became more determined than ever that our dogs would not end up as "throw away" dogs at the pound or put down.  Someone had to undo what these animal pimps were responsible for and give these animals some justice and the best life possible.  I continued to write letters to anyone I could think of and even contacted a state legislator to have a puppymill law passed but it never went anywhere.  The store manager threatened me on the phone that I was writing "slanderous" things (called the truth actually).  I wanted to pursue this but with all we were going through how could we afford an attorney too?

(Photo-Right - Kneesaa laying downLittle Kneesaa was always so terrified of people.  I was told by our vet that puppy mill dogs are often never handled as puppies--often kept in tiny cages crowded and filthy and so not properly socialized to humans.  If I didn't show her attention all the time she would even tremble when I touched her even though all we gave her was lots of love and gentle training.  I agonized over the quality of her life especially--if she was that terrified of people was it more humane to end her life?  Should we keep her on drugs all the time?  I started a dog library so I would always have answers nearby for the constant and endless problems that came up.  I made a medical file for each the dogs because I was going to the vet so often and so that way I wouldn't forget who had been on what food or what medication was tried.  It was quite consistent that Mookiee and Kneesaa were the ones with the health issues--our mixed breed "street dogs" were always the healthy ones. 

(Photo-Left - Kneesaa in Snoopy bedMany times I cursed these breeders.  Breeders who bred too often.  Breeders who didn't care if they passed on defective genes that caused illness, disease and personality problems.  I learned that many of these puppy mills came from the midwest.  Mookiee and Kneesaa came from Iowa which means they were shipped to the pet store under unpleasant conditions as well--crammed into crates and crated for hours, very scared--not knowing what was happening to them.  Then they were put into the pet store cages with no blanket or soft bed--just the harsh metal wire bottom which made it easier and quicker to clean the trays.

(Photo-Right - Mookiee in Snoopy bed)Mookiee developed a rare form of bladder stone and had to have several expensive surgeries.  He had been dribbling urine everywhere and after the first surgery a stone was found later that had retrograded into the bladder--it was missed on x-ray the first time and so we had to have yet another surgery.  His urine had to be monitored all the time after that to prevent more stones from forming.  In a male dog a stone can be lethal if it causes a blockage.  Our vet checked with a specialist in California and we then fed a supplement every day to ward off future stones.  I took more urine samples than I care to remember to check his PH and specific gravity at the vet's.  I began to feel as though I was running a dog hospital.

It was indeed fortunate that Kneesaa and Mookiee found their way into our home.  We were able to give them good care.  I often wonder what their lives would have been like if they had ended up in a home with children where the caregivers would not have been able to give them the time and care they needed or couldn't afford to take them to a vet.  Would Mookiee have bitten a child badly and been put down?  Would Kneesaa have become more ill due to being so stressed all the time?   Most likely both would have ended up in the pound or abused by someone frustrated in trying to deal with them.  Over their lifetimes we spent a huge amount of money in trying to help them.  When most people add a dog to their home they expect routine vet bills but no one can be ready for what we went through.

We lost our beloved Kneesaa to a rare lung problem when she was 11--she was in a terminal state with no cure available.  Mookiee lived alittle longer but developed  Cushings Disease (also terminal--caused by an inoperable tumor).  He suffered so much with the disease in spite of our vet's attempts at helping him--tearing at his fur as he was super nervous and not wanting to be touched or held because his skin hurt.  His aggression was out of control because of this and so we made that difficult decision as we had to do with Kneesaa--their quality of life was gone and their suffering was every day.  Both dogs would have lived longer if they had not been mill dogs.  Our vet said that our wonderful care prolonged their lives.

I don't need to tell "dog people" how wonderful dogs are.  Where else do you get complete loyalty, devotion and love from a creature who doesn't care what you look like or how much money you have?  My heart will always be filled with anger against the puppy pimps whose greed caused us to suffer so much.  Bringing a little life into this world--any life--carries with it the responsibility that goes with that little life.  The greed of the puppy pimps created hardship and suffering in the lives of two little dogs who deserved a better quality of life.  Mookiee and Kneesaa are in a better place now-away from the injustice and crimes humans often commit against animals for profit and greed.  They are with God and will always remain in our hearts.  With God's help we shall legally and finally shut down those responsible who profit from the misery of others.

Remember:  If you see a purebred dog in a petstore it is most always a puppymill dog.  More reputable breeders do not sell to pet stores--they want to see where their puppies are going.  Join us in stopping these atrocities against Man's Best Friend!   United we can eradicate these places that breed misery and suffering!

Staff:  Animals in Print  (free online animal publication)

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P.S.  I welcome your comments, criticisms or questions.  Please mention in the title of the email that you are writing about my column so I don't assume it is "spam."  Thanks very much!

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