Love Conquers All SITE BEING UPDATED Alice's Squidoo Page
The disturbing images of Alice's inhumane living conditions (as seen on youtube video) initially tugged at my heart strings. That scene is what we all see in the beginning. But the emotional scarring is devastating beyond what we will really ever know. Coupled with being deaf and blind, Alice was just, in reality, a possible incubator.
Dachshund Rescue of Houston Alice is 44 sec in
HSPCA Rescue of 200 dogs in Waller County Where Alice used to live
While most of my life is stabilized by solid rules and routines, there is a small compartment of it that thrives on the unpredictable. Spur of the moment decisions, and last minute completions do drive me to the finish line, while everyone else is having a MEGA-meltdown!
The day I picked up Alice, my 8th foster doxie - and 4th foster FLUNK, I FULLY understood the importance of rules & routines. My 7 pound Baby Alice is a survivor of the puppy mill environment. Not just a small backyard breeder's rusty wire cage environment, but a:
[large, noisy-rusty-cage-slamming, complete with the air of feces and urine coming from layers of a fecal-urine spread on the cold concrete floor, enhanced by the music of extremely-oppressed-yelping-canines, with the added bonus of picked-up-by-the-scruff or any loose meat on the back side] ENVIRONMENT.
Diagram that sentence!
Now after you wipe the tears from your eyes, if you have even half a heart, imagine that environment for not 1...2...3 or even 4 years, but 7! According to the vaccination certificate from the HSPCA, her age was estimated at 7. Grab another Kleenex, because you still have to throw in DEAF & BLIND.
Meet my Alice! A double-dapple dachshund who has taught me more than I ever knew about unconditional love, other than my Savior, Jesus Christ.
I remember picking up Alice from the vet for a weekend pass. At the time, I was only going to foster her for that weekend. She had just been rescued from the puppy mill environment and needed any amount of exposure to a good family life.
PARALYZED WITH FEAR described her fully. I will never forget the look on the vet tech's face when she handed her over and said to me, "God bless you, sweetie!" She displayed the most compassionate expression just short of tears. My thought was, "It's only a weekend visit."
She didn't move a muscle the entire ride home. I had wrapped her in a little blanket and put her on my lap while I drove home... naughty law breaker, I know! I sang to her, even though she was deaf. The aroma from "Puppy Mill Place" was reaching my nostrils, and I thought about how much stronger a dog's sense of smell was and what this smell meant to her.
When I got home, I took her to the yard to see if she had to potty. Meanwhile, my son Daniel brought a "safe" foster dog, Daisy, (rescued from a dog hoarder) out to greet Alice. Alice got a little excited and did some dog things like sniffin'.
I sat with her the first evening in a corner I had set up for her. I couldn't help but feel sorry for her. While she would reciprocate sniffs to the dogs, she was frozen around people. She never scurried off afraid (she is blind and deaf). She refused to eat while we were around. A doll-on-a-stand is what she reminded me of. No blinking, no movement, and no response to the environment. Given the last 7 years of her life, she may have had no desire to seek anything a human had to offer. What was she thinking? What did time feel like for a dog with minimal hearing and almost no sight? And how does one human undo what another human has done on such a grandiose level?
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
LOVE NEVER FAILS..
I will say that the Lord God-Almighty Himself had his hand on Alice for her entire life. I can't explain, defend or agree with what happened to her. However, I have learned so much about the Love of my Lord through this girl right here... My Alice.
Alice in the Beginning
It seems so hard to fathom 7 years of enduring any torture, but to a victim, years do not define time as well as days, hours, or minutes do. Although a minute seems easier to endure something traumatic, eventually, it becomes a norm and a sort of learned helplessness sets in faster. Trust is replaced with mistrust and predictability disappears. Nurturing is replaced with neglect, Feeding time becomes feeding frenzy-on a first come first serve basis. Every sound is overpowered by the echoes of depressed whines and barks of the same "learned helplessness" that was present upon any pup's arrival. The scent of feces and urine that marks the concrete becomes a normal environmental cue that "YOU ARE STILL HERE!" But perhaps the saddest part is that all of this happens at the hands of "those" humans, which makes all other humans an object of fear.
Bella, my little Busy Bee, sort of took on a mothering role to Alice. Alice was seemed so disconnected from her environment until Bella would come around and lick her, like mammas do when cleaning their pups. She licked everything, her ears, eyes, neck.... just a beautiful sight to witness what Alice may have only had when she was a new pup. Over the next few days Alice became receptive to Daisy Mae's grooming her. Since Alice had never been exposed to a positive social environment with animals or people, she remained jumpy and tried to escape to a corner after some time.
In the beginning, when I would pick her up, she was unresponsive to me. After almost 2 weeks, Alice graduated from paralyzed with fear to trying to escape from me. I did allow her to "escape" because I just needed her to find place in my house that would give her some security. Even though she was running "from" me, she was running "to" somewhere else. She was at Ground Zero on every level of the social facet.
I tried to keep Alice's life as routine and predictable as possible. After Alice graduated from "paralyzed with fear" to at least making a decision to move to another place, I put her on a routine, which was the same for all my babies:
wake ups ~ potties ~ feedings ~ snacks ~ night nights
The more predictable Alice's positive environment was to her, the easier it was for her to relax. Alice had lived in an environment that was predictably negative, so making a new connection to an environment that was now predictably positive was important.
The first mile stone for Alice was eating with me in the same room. A little time passed with her taking a snack from my hand. Next, a snack from the floor in front of her when snack kibbles were scattered. It was clear that Alice could be trained by her sense of smell, so I started playing hide-and-seek games with her food kibble. In the beginning she would only seek a snack that was in close proximity to her body. While she would stretch out as far as she could without moving her feet, she would not take the most pungent snack unless it was within "stretching" range. She would just give up if the snack did not move closer.
Since food was very rewarding to my baby, it was decided that it would have to be the stimulus for other training. I had taken Alice to the vet because she had started to urinate more often, and usually when there was a loud noise. It was determined that she had a urinary tract infection in addition to anxiety that resulted from loud scary noises. It was on this visit that the vet did some vision tests and stated that she has no vision except for basic shades of lighting. Simple hearing test was based on reactions to noise. But Alice had never been around normal safe social noises, so everything was scary and made her run! The Vet said she was probably feeling vibrations as her hearing. It was hard to evaluate much more at this time. The Vet said to pair uncomfortable situations (like outside with noise) and food together to make a positive connection. She never did stop shaking at the passing cars, but she gained a pound in the next month. She has since lost it though (-:
|Alice All Grown Up
Although Alice has lived with me only 3 1/2 years, I feel like she has been in my heart always. To me, caring for an abused special needs baby is not easy, until there is understanding and acceptance. I UNDERSTAND that Alice is BLIND and DEAF. I accept that she will never SEE my face or clearly HEAR my voice. So that leaves taste, smell and touch to gain her trust. She has grown from "frozen-with-fear-followed-by-uncontrollable-defecation" when I touch her to "spinning-in-circles-while-wagging-her-tail-vigorously." Needless to say, I used food to gain trust access to her, since touch proved to be stressful. My other rescue babies used touch. Together we worked to help Alice settle in. I am forever thankful that Alice and I met. She was rescued on my birthday from a huge puppy mill bust: May 18, 2011. I consider this a day of birth for both of us.