Tale of Two Sisters
by Kathy Rust
This is a tale of two sisters, Amber and Sadie. In the summer of 1986, I had been working for a man who showed American Cockers. Due to health reasons, he was forced to sell his kennel and the new owners turned it into a pet shop. On my last day, a litter of nine v's arrived. Six girls, three boys. My husband and I fell in love and purchased one, Amber. Two other girls remained living at the kennel, brood bitches that produced over 70 puppies between the two of them. No consideration for health or genetics was ever considered. Two other girls were sold to a broker in Missouri. I assume they ended up in a puppy mill. I had no idea where the last girl or the three boys went. Over the years I fielded many phone calls from people who bought puppies from the two girls at the kennel and I helped as much as I could with education and information. Amber was our first v and is still with us at 12 1/2 years. She earned a CD and her CGC and has been living the vizsla dream life. Under the covers at night, going through drive through at Dairy Queen, keeping the pasture free of gophers and being the alpha female to all future v's. Even though Amber has one of the cleanest fronts I've ever seen, beautiful dark eyes, great coat color, OFA'd good and has had no health problems, she was spayed. I was new to the breed and had no idea about breeding. After a few years, I researched her pedigree thoroughly and realized that even though her parent were "no names" she had a lot of wonderful dogs in her pedigree.
About three years ago, I received a call from a man who had heard through the veterinarian grapevine that I took unwanted v's. After talking with him, I realized that he lived just a few blocks from my work and I made arrangements to visit. When I arrived at the house, I saw a sweet gray faced lady chained to the garage door. My heart sunk. Why were they getting rid of the old girl? The man said that it had become too inconvenient to clean up the yard and they now had a toddler and didn't want him stepping in doo-doo. When the man went to take her off the chain, she hit the ground. I cringed. The wife came out of the house and told me quite a bit about her. She was only allowed in the kitchen on the tile. No bedding not even a rug. No toys. Her name was Sadie and she had developed spay incontinence and they did not want to spend any money on treatment. So she was allowed no bedding. She had recently developed a thyroid condition but were only giving her half the recommended dosage because she wasn't worth the money it cost. I asked if they had registration papers and they gave them to me. I was shocked to see that she was our Amber's littermate sister. Brian, my husband, and I looked at each other and took Sadie as quickly as we could. As I had a litter of puppies at home at the time, I asked my parents if they could foster Sadie until a permanant placement could be found. Sadie went into shock. My parents had wall to wall carpeting and she was afraid to walk in their home. She would not eat and we decided on the third day that maybe it would be better to just hold her, love her and say goodbye peacefully. I had made the appointment and when I stopped to get her, Dad said that Sadie had decided that life was worth living. She had started playing with a tennis ball that afternoon and after a rousing game of fetch with my dad she ate an entire bowl of food. They kept her and starting her a regular dosage of thyroid medication and treated her spay incontinence. She became a normal v. Butt wiggling, happy go lucky. She was loving life.
I was able to have her previous vet records turned over to us. It was filled with horror upon horror. At sixteen weeks, she developed parvo. She had never been vaccinated. Her owner would not treat her and said either she would make on her own or she wouldn't. She obviously survived. At age 18 months, she was bred by the lab next door and the had they puppies aborted. She developed a closed pyometra and almost died again. The neighbor paid for the spay because he felt sorry for her. At age five, her owner shot her while hunting because she chased a rabbit. Once again, someone came to her rescue. His hunting partner rushed her to vet and paid for the surgery to remove the shot. She survived again. About a year and half ago, Sadie developed SARDS ( Suddenly Acquired Retinal Degeneration). She went totally blind in a period of 24 hours. She adjusted and her blindness never stopped her. We had always said we would never let her suffer. Being blind never slowed her down. I had never seen a dog with such a will to continue. She was amazing. Finally, on Sunday night at 11:45pm we said goodbye to Sadie. She had a stroke followed by series of small seizures. She was now suffering. We held her and said goodbye.
Last summer, I found out how that litter of puppies came to be at the pet store. Sadie and Amber's breeder saw our website and saw Amber's pedigree. He wrote and said that he owned a dog named Penny Belle Jayne, Amber's mother. Penny had just died that summer at 17 years of age. When Penny had the litter of puppies in 1986, the breeder had been involved in a farm tractor accident that almost took his life. They had six week old puppies at home. The family was spending 24 hours a day at the intensive care unit praying for their father and husband. The wife signed the registration papers and a neighbor trying to do the best thing brought the puppies to the pet shop. This helps to explain where some of the first puppy mill v's came from. I could not pass judgement on them. There was no rescue or support group then. How lucky we are today to be able to help one another with our v's in a time of need.