By: Lucinda Treat
Copyright of Lucinda Treat
Lucinda is a volunteer with Havanese Rescue, Inc., HALO and Havanese AND Friends.
She is also the Manager of the FB Page: Loving Havanese in Florida
A PUBLICATION of Buyhavanese.com
It was a cold day in Missouri, the late winter wind furiously blowing.
That didn’t stop the mission - to pull from the auction whatever dogs might be saved.
A few “target” dogs had been identified, one of which was an 8.5 year old Havanese. She had been bred and bred – 14 litters in all. Her miller was selling her --- too old for him to keep but not too old for some other breeder to pick up at auction with the intent of breeding her until she could produce no longer. And there was chance she was pregnant again --- the early signs were there.
As it turned out, she was saved that day. The bidder was a rescuer and this beautiful little girl’s eyes begged for a chance at life. She had never been held, had been kept with other dogs in a feces-soiled cage, her entire life. She didn’t know how to play, didn’t know how to hope.
She was swooped up by the rescuer, and she was terrified. Held for the first time in her life, her eyes literally nearly popped out of her head in terror.
A pretty girl --- black and white with the sweetest face --- she was transported to Florida and after a vet check was taken to her foster home in Florida. There she would begin to unlearn the lessons we devoutly wish no dogs had to learn, and then replace those lessons with ones of love, of trust, of security.
Her foster mama named her Freedom. Free or Free Free for short.
She was, from the beginning, just the sweetest old soul. As it turned out, she wasn’t pregnant, but rather going through a false pregnancy. Hormones ablaze, rather than play with the toys the home’s 3 Havanese had, she would snatch the little duckies and lambies and place them under her to nurse. It’s all she knew --- how to care for her babies until they were snatched from her way too early --- usually at 5 to 6 weeks.
Free was around the other dogs all the time, but she had her own apartment --- a big xpen in a sunny spot in the kitchen. The door to the xpen was always open, but it took six weeks for her to venture out on her own. The other dogs allowed her that --- didn’t intrude. From the beginning, while she cowered when her foster mom tried to pick her up, she allowed her foster mom into the xpen and just loved having her belly rubbed.
The day when Free Free dropped the horrible fear for the first time is such an enduring memory. She had gotten so courageous --- was able to leave the xpen and come into the TV room where the foster family and dogs would hang out after dinner. Her foster mom was lying on the floor, looking into Free’s eyes and savoring a tummy rub. The veil just dropped. Instead one could see the flooding of trust, affection replacing the distrust and fear. I promise this is the case.
It took four months of daily effort on the family's part and on Free's (she worked so hard) to help Free get to the point where she was able to move to her forever home. And it took those same four months to find the angel, Free’s angel, to whose home she would go. But it happen --- it came together in the most incredible and wonderful way.
Today Free is living a beautiful life.
She is cherished for her idiosyncrasies
(there are still old demons that haunt her)
and for her accomplishments.
She is able to explore her forever family’s yard,
on her little legs that don't extend fully
due to all those years in confinement.
She is totally treat-insistent in the
funniest of ways.
She adores her new family’s grandchildren.
She travels with her family from her
summer home in Canada to the
winter respite in Florida every year.
Free became a symbol of atrocity and rescue for many people, loved from afar and cheered for every incremental step she has taken.
What is the bottom line lesson?
Time, patience and love will prevail.
As a friend often tells me: "Love the fear out of them."
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