This week’s post is for my niece and nephew who, when they first heard Kira’s story, both asked the same question: “Why? Why were bad people mean to Kira and why would they make her stay in a cage?” I don’t know why. Thank you to Nico and Tay for reminding me that all stories have heroes and villains and that the very BEST ones have princesses and happily ever afters (and beautiful, brave dogs).
Once upon a time there lived a beautiful collie princess named Kira. She was born to a devoted, loving mother and tenderly cared for during her first tiny days. She nestled into her momma’s fluffy coat and cuddled next to her brothers and sisters and drank her fill of warm, sweet milk. In those first weeks Kira was like any other happy puppy, her days filled with playing and love. But as she got older Kira’s life changed. She had a beautiful, thick, full coat and that was probably the cause of her grave misfortune. She was beautiful. She would make beautiful puppies. Those puppies would be worth a lot of money to someone. And so it was that Princess Kira the collie puppy never got a real home like the other collies in her litter.
Instead she lived in a small enclosure. She was surrounded, night and day, by the barking and whining of the other dogs imprisoned like her in their small cages. Many days she felt hungry and dirty and sick. She itched constantly from the fleas and ticks that made their home in her luxurious coat. She was lonely and afraid…
The last love Kira had known was the tender love of her mother. As soon as she was old enough, she began to have puppies of her own. Kira was a good mother. I know this by the way she carefully cares for her stuffed ducks. She tucks them close to her chest to sleep or holds them in her paws. She noses the blanket over them to cover them up when she leaves her crate. She nibbles them with her front teeth to be sure they don’t have fleas. She licks them all over and arranges their wings and feet. She frequently gathers all 3 duck toys together and lays beside them. I have no doubt that Kira loved and cared for her puppies with a deep devotion.
I have wondered many times if she misses her puppies or the other collies she lived with all those years. There was so little else in her life that she must have been very close to the dogs she spent literally every moment with. Her sister, Skye, was the other collie rescued with her and between the two of them they produced dozens and dozens of puppies for the breeder to sell. When the dogs were rescued from the puppy mill both collies had just weaned litters. No puppies were found on site, so all had been sold.
Imagine my feelings when I got an email this week saying that a collie puppy purchased from the
owner of Kira’s puppy mill had been surrendered to shelter in WV. Her name is Valentine. She was born on February 14, 2014 to either Kira or Skye and was sold within the week or so before the puppy mill was shut down. I volunteered to go pick her up at the shelter and to help transport her to a foster home with Almost Home Dog Rescue of Ohio. (Kira’s rescue)
Valentine has lived a life so different from her mother. She, like thousands of other mill puppies, escaped the life of cruelty and squalor into which she was born and went home with a family who never asked or knew where their cute little puppy had been raised. The breeder would have provided to Valentine the care that her mother never received – the puppy would have been bathed, wormed, vaccinated, and treated for fleas. She would have fetched a handsome price for the breeder. And Kira and Skye would be left behind, receiving minimal care and kept just healthy enough to continuing making babies.
This past Friday I drove to West Virginia, picked up Valentine, and brought her home to spend the night with us, and to meet Kira, before traveling on to her foster home. I wondered how Kira would react. I wondered if she would recognize Valentine as a puppy she knew? Or even her own baby? I don’t know if Kira recognized her, but she loved her! Valentine made Kira very happy and they had a wonderful evening together. I will let the pictures speak for themselves….
In Valentine, I see a glimpse of what Kira may have been had her life followed a different path. Valentine has always lived with a family, always been an indoor dog. Her family surrendered her to the shelter due to financial hardship. She is clean, sweet, friendly, curious, loving, and socialized. Valentine has no fear of people, houses, loud noises, unfamiliar places, or anything else. She has every bit of Kira’s sweet, gentle nature, but none of her fears. It hurts my heart to know that Kira raised puppies who are healthy and strong, while she herself struggles every day to face so many simple things.
Somewhere out there are dozens of Kira’s puppies. I hope that they all found happy homes and families who love them. I am sad that each of those puppies brought in the money that funded the continued abuse of their mothers. I am heartbroken that by being such a beautiful, devoted mother, Kira was ensuring that she would never leave her life of suffering. She literally gave her life for her puppies. Every litter she diligently cared for made it possible for the puppy mill to continue operating and guaranteed her continued confinement, neglect and abuse. I am deeply, profoundly grateful that someone cared enough to step in and do something about the puppy mill in their neighborhood. Because of that person and many others, this Christmas Kira is home.
….And Princess Kira went through many dark and terrible days and she was very, very afraid. And then one day she was whisked away by strangers. She was put in new cages and in moving cars and given shots and baths and she was very, very, VERY afraid. She met many new people and lived, for the first time in a house, with a dog and people she didn’t know and she was afraid… but she noticed that she wasn’t itchy or hungry, and that these people were gentle and kind to her.
The day finally came when the people told Princess Kira that she had something called ‘a home.’ She huddled on the floor of yet another moving car with strangers and an odd black dog, who kept peeking over the seat at her. She was so afraid in her new home that she tried not to move at all for a while so that no one would see her. She spent her days laying very still inside her crate and coming out only at night, in the dark, to drink.
But Princess Kira listened to her new mom talk to her, and read her stories every night, and tell her that she didn’t have to be afraid. Kira’s new mom told her that she was a collie and that meant that she was both very beautiful and, in her heart, very courageous. Her new mom promised her every night that no one would ever hurt her again, that she would never be hungry, or cold, or sick, or lonely, and that this would be her ‘home’ for the rest of her life. Princess Kira laid for many weeks in her very own soft, safe bed and tried to understand what it meant to have a home and have someone to take care of you and protect you.
Sometimes the odd black dog stood in front of her crate and looked in at her. Sometimes he tried to lay down with her under the steps. But the odd black dog spent most of his time with their mom and Kira wondered what that was like. One day a funny looking little dog came to live at the house and Princess Kira was very pleased and excited. The little dog also followed mom everywhere. So one day, after a very long time of reminding herself that she was a courageous collie, Princess Kira was very brave and climbed up on the couch with her new family. Her mom smiled, and cried a little bit, and the odd black dog and the funny little dog laid next to her. And THAT day was the beginning of a brand NEW story for Princess Kira…. and in the new story they all lived happily ever after.
NEXT POST: Kira’s First Christmas Tree