“This is criminal,” Theresa Strader, founder and executive director of National Mill Dog Rescue said, as she lifted Harmony’s lip to show a mouth with protruding teeth and infected gums. “She’s never known a stitch of kindness or care.”
Cradled in Theresa’s arms following her rescue from a puppy mill in the Midwest, Harmony stared straight ahead, broken in spirit and in body, having spent 11 years as a breeding dog, confined to a wire cage.
Like so many others, she never had a name, veterinary care, or a kind touch from a human until Theresa and the team from National Mill Dog Rescue saved her last Fall. She's a Sheltie dog, though you wouldn't have recognized her with most of her fur missing. On top of everything else, this poor dog was thought to be in heart failure. It wasn’t clear how long she would be able to enjoy her new-found freedom.
Harmony captured everyone’s hearts at NMDR, and in order to help her emotionally recover faster, she was quickly placed in foster care. Then, when the veterinary cardiologist said her heart was strong enough, she underwent dental surgery to remove 30 terrible teeth, thus remedying years of neglect. Harmony’s medical bills were thousands of dollars, but there was never a question about her receiving all the top-notch care she needed.
“Harmony is a study in the resilience and forgiveness that we see over and over in the dogs we rescue,” Theresa said. “She’s also a reminder of all of the dogs that are still waiting to take the ‘freedom ride’ with us and to become cherished family members.
“The average age of a mill dog is 7 years,” she added, “and, while some younger dogs are released to us, our focus is on the seniors that have suffered so long and are most likely to have complex health issues. The support we receive from The Grey Muzzle Organization is crucial to our ability to help these dogs.”
Harmony is truly an inspiration. Even though she was merely a commodity for the first part of her life, she is now a symbol of hope for new beginnings. And here is the best news: As of mid-January, this stoic survivor is in her forever home, with loving “parents” and two other doggy siblings that are helping her transition to a wonderful new life.
You can help more dogs like Harmony get the second chances they deserve.