Sunday, April 4, 2010

Isabella (Our Rescued Jack-Tese)

Sometime in November I was overcome with this sudden urge to rescue a Maltese puppy. I wanted a puppy because we had other dogs and thought it would be in their best interest to bring in a puppy rather than an adult. Also our 3 year old Maltese, Mato Ska Cikala (Little White Bear in Lakota) needed someone to play with. Our Golden Retriever, Sydney, and our Australian Shepherd, Sadie, were 9 & 10 years old respectively and getting to the point where they didn't want to play with Mato anymore and that just didn't seem fair to her. So I started my research where I always do...the Internet.

I found a most amazing place during this search. It's called Flawdogs and it's in Morse Mill, MO. It's run by Sally Givens and she and the people who work with her are truly angels on earth. She rescues these dogs and puppies from puppy mills and works to get them adopted to good homes. If they turn out to be "unadoptable" they stay at Flawdogs. Forever if necessary. Here's a link to Flawdogs website if you're interested in checking it out.  I'll probably write more about this place in another post but this one is supposed to be about Isabella.

I decided to take a rode trip to Flawdogs the day after Thanksgiving. I enjoy these infrequent opportunities to take a long car trip alone and just decompress. I had a Diet Coke, a full pack of cigarettes, country music on the radio, blankets and rawhide chews to donate to Flawdogs and the hope that I was about to find the perfect addition to our "Yeager Pack."

Once into Missouri and off the Interstate the scenery itself was worth the 4 hour drive. I've always been partial to the mountains and got just a teasing taste of mountains as I made my way over to Morse Mills. Sally had sent directions to me via email because she told me that my GPS WOULD NOT get me there. Of course, I had to try it anyway just because that's the way I am... but she was right. I followed her directions and simply made note of the point where my GPS and her directions diverged. When I turned into the driveway I could see right away that these flawed dogs had found their little slice of heaven. But more about that later.

I got out of the car and saw a lady that I knew immediately had to be Sally. She just looked like a "dog person."  I introduced myself and we headed inside to see the little "Maltese Girl" I had seen on her website. She had been there just a couple of days so she didn't yet have a name. I fell in love with her immediately. She was so pitiful it brought tears to my eyes. She was tiny, frightened, malnourished and her coat was thin and sparse. She skittered from one hiding place to another and when I picked her up she buried her head under my chin and I shed some more tears. I held her and talked to her for nearly an hour and then Sally threw a cog in the wheel and brought out "Schubert the Shih Tzu."

He was a beautiful, absolutely perfect little specimen of a small dog. (His "flaw" or the reason he wound up at Sally's was because he was TOO small so he was rejected) He was happy, healthy full of life and personality while he scampered around trying to aggravate the other dogs. But I kept going back to my little "Maltese Girl." Her flaws numbered at least 8 or 10. Schubert on the other hand was going to be one of those puppies that was so easily adopted. I picked up Maltese Girl and told Sally I had made my decision. This was Isabella. I had picked out the name on the drive over and it just fit. So Sally filled out the paperwork, I wrote my check, left the blankets and rawhide chews, picked up a sad, scared little Isabella and started the drive home.

Sally had told me that if I could safely hold the puppy on the drive home it would really help us start the bonding process but when I laid her down on the blankets in the passenger seat and covered her she snuggled down and went fast asleep and stayed that way all the way home. About 4 hours later we pulled in the driveway and the introductions began. Mato was not very excited about Isabella. She was actually a little frazzled.
 Sadie and Sydney were a little curious/nervous but decided quickly "it's all good", and my husband and daughter were elated. They fell in love with her just as quickly and thoroughly as I had.
My husband had to work the next day and when we all went to bed it became apparent that Mato (yes she sleeps with us) was not going to be able to leave the new puppy alone and settle down to sleep so Isabella, Sadie and I moved across the hall into the guest room for the night. I discovered she did much better with the lights on. She was afraid of the dark and has just recently gotten over her fear of that. We made it through the night and moved her bed into the Butler's Pantry off of the kitchen for the day and put a puppy gate up to keep Mato out so Isabella would have some peace and quiet to acclimate herself to the sounds of us and the household.  As you can see, Mato wanted to hover.

Our concerns started when she wouldn't eat her dry food sample that Sally had sent home with us and so I started a little mini-physical. Sally had been told when she rescued that litter of pups that they were 10 weeks old. She was probably more like 4-5 weeks old. The first thing I did was stick my finger in her mouth to feel her teeth. There weren't any that had pushed through the gums yet. The poor little booger was starving because she couldn't eat enough of the dry food to sustain her. Now you have to remember that she had only been at Flawdogs less than 2 full days when I adopted her. She had been given her shots, spayed and checked over but evidently the teeth thing had been missed by the vet.

My daughter and I took turns over the next three days feeding her soft food off of our fingers and then those teeth popped through and she started eating on her own. The first couple of weeks she didn't have a lot of strength or stamina and we were so excited when she played for the first time.  A few weeks later I had to rush her to the Vet (that's another post for another day) and while we were there he recommended an awesome food for her, Prescription Diet a/d, and we started her on it immediately. He said it was like rocket fuel for puppies and he wasn't kidding.  She started growing like dandelions in the spring. 

We also discovered as Isabella grew that she wasn't full-blooded Maltese as Sally had been told. It became obvious that her hair was a little wiry and not textured like a Maltese. Her tail was a little funky too. My daughter says it's a squirrel tail. I again headed to my favorite information resource...the internet...and after a few clicks there was no doubt in my mind that she's a "Jack-Tese." 1/2 Maltese and 1/2 Jack Russell Terrier. Regardless of what she is or is not I can't begin to explain what an amazing puppy Isabella has turned out to be. She's like this perfect little creation. She has used her potty pads since the first day (we were afraid to take her out in the cold to housebreak her because she was so frail), she's happy, loves everyone she meets, only barks when she plays, minds after being told something only once or twice, snuggles continually and loves us unconditionally. But the most amazing thing that Isabella has done is bring my husband and my daughter closer.  He adopted her when she was 10 and he was 53.  He had never had a child before and she has major trust issues with men and they had developed a loving although tentative relationship.  Their shared love of this puppy has changed all of that.  They are closer now than I ever imagined they might be at this point in both their lives.  Isn't it amazing how God works his magic?  I have shared my life with a lot of dogs and can honestly say this is the most perfect little dog I have ever encountered.

And Mato has even gotten to where she likes her. 

Well...most of the time anyway...but that's Mato.  She can be a hateful little ball of fluff when she chooses but we love her no less for it.

So we were blessed to find the perfect addition to the "Yeager Pack" and we are grateful for it many times everyday.
I will never again "buy" another dog. We have even decided to have Mato spayed because even though we would make sure any puppies she had would go to wonderful homes there's a chance that those people might turn to rescue as an option rather than "buying" a dog.

At the risk of making you feel that you've fallen into a retro filming of "The Price is Right" let me close this by saying, "please have your pets spayed or neutered" and Rescue or Adopt your next pet. 

Blessings to all.


  1. What a cute puppy! I adopted mine too. You can read more about her amazing story on my blog here;

    Carmella's story starts in July of 2008. You can access the earlier entries by looking at the archived posts.

  2. Thank you for sharing the story of how Isabella came to live with you. What a tear jerker.
    I too am a firm believer in rescuing rather than "buying"

  3. Hi Gayle, I finally got here . Love the story and love all folks who love dogs and other critters. I have never had any dogs or cats who were not rescued in one way or other. They are always such an incredible gift to our lives. Hugs to all of you !