The Story of Gizmo
The Puppy Mill Survivor

G and the Mill

The story starts with Taz, a tiny 8lb shih tzu / poodle cross who came to live with her humans about two years ago. Already in residence was a very old and very wise golden retriever named Misiu and despite the size difference they bonded immediately. Taz brought laughter to an old dog’s final days and Misiu brought comfort and warmth during the transition from canine mom to human family.

It was as the snow melted that Misiu passed quietly and peacefully with his humans and his beloved Princess Taz by his side. As he slid into his forever sleep Taz's normally perky tail and inquisitive ears dropped while her enormous eyes filled with grief as the light was gone. Taz moved away from her humans to sit alone and shiver in the cold quiet morning with only the sound of crying in a world still brown and dead from winter's harsh winds.

Summer was quickly coming to a close and Taz was spending a warm day at the beach when she saw another pup and came alive. Her people knew Taz needed a companion and the search began.

Gizmo was found on the petfinder website and the process of adoption began as the nights turned chilly and the rains came. Taz became apathetic as the days shortened and she spent all her time lying listlessly in her dog bed staring out the window at the leafless trees. She showed no interest in food and her family worried that getting Gizmo couldn't come soon enough, but there were complications with the adoption process, so the family started looking at other rescues and found Pomeranian and Small Breed Rescue (PSBR).

Many dog rescues were researched, but PSBR in the Niagara-Hamilton area stood out for their well educated volunteers and organization. After a life changing phone conversation it was decided that the family would also foster a voiceless fur-baby without giving up on Gizmo.

Getting Gizmo became a mission and after many weeks of insistent phone calls and tenacious emails the date was finally set to make the three hour drive. The adventure started on an uncharacteristically beautiful day with bright sunshine and air warm enough to roll down the window. Taz and her mom were charged with excitement having no idea what awaited them at the other end.

The Horror

This was supposed to be a rescue. This was supposed to be a sanctuary for those fur-babies lost and homeless. It was a nightmare. Gizmo sat in a plastic kennel on the very top of three other kennels waiting quietly. He didn't bark. He didn't whine. He didn't move. The kennel was filthy and flea infested. The strong aroma of ammonia and feces filled the air. As Gizmo stared back at his soon-to-be mama his tail wagged slightly.

The foster mother grabbed Gizmo by the neck and pulled him forcibly from the crate and dropped him on the ground. Gizmo immediately scurried into another open kennel and pushed himself deep into the back corner. Taz, who had been walking around, was quickly picked up by her mom who noticed that Taz had fleas crawling all over her... it was time to go.

As the foster mother bent to retrieve Gizmo, Taz’s mama said “stop” and while standing six feet away she called, in her soft sad voice, "come on Bebe... it's time to go home." Gizmo peered around and scampered awkwardly past her foster mom to sit at his new mama's feet and look up with crusty eyes filled with love. Taz gave her mom a lick and was confused by the salty tears, because the last time mama cried was when Misiu crossed the rainbow bridge.

After exchanging money and piling everyone into the car for the three hour ride home the tears fell softly as the rain ran in rivers across the windshield. Gizmo's eyes were crusted and his nose was runny. He sneezed and coughed and shook his head in irritation. His skin was red and sore with hair loss all over. Mange? Scabies? Fleas? Who knew, but he wasn't going back.


The crate door will never close again and Gizmo was startled when his new mama with her soft voice and gentle hands furiously flung the door into the garbage. Gizmo found his own way out of the crate and into a warm, bright, clean new world. Princess Taz wasn't sure about the new comer, but she was curious. After the first whiff Taz backed away and stayed away. Perhaps this was not a match made in heaven? Gizmo did have a terrible odour and Taz is a princess, but with a heart of gold.

Gizmo had a long list of medical problems including an upper respiratory infection from close confinement, ear infections that cause dizziness, skin problems and hair loss from urine, feces, fleas and stress. He has a lack of muscle and coordination as he was never allowed to run and play. The left side of Gizmo's ribcage is deformed from poorly healed fractured ribs and he still has trouble breathing. Teeth are broken and many must be extracted due to poor diet. His beautiful chocolate brown coat may never grow back, but the amazing thing about Gizmo is his spirit.

After weeks of antibiotics, Gizmo plays. He runs gets short of breath, sneezes and usually falls, but he's full of life. He has long term problems with weak teeth, bones and skin. He will always have trouble breathing due to lung and chest wall damage. Sadly, Gizmo can't do all the things a year old puppy should be able to do, but he is finally has the chance to try.

Gizmo is a 7.5 pound pure bred shih tzu who came from a puppy mill. He is over a year old and was being kept for breeding stock when the lady who ran the mill had health problems and sold off her dogs. Gizmo was taken to a new prison disguised as a rescue who charged enormous amounts of money to "save" a dog without providing any medical care.

Gizmo is not used to being handled, so he panics when you pick him up, but once in your lap he's the happiest little guy. He and Taz finally became friends... even if he does smell a little due to his skin problems. Taz helped Gizmo come out of his shell and build confidence. Gizmo hasn't crawled into his crate in weeks and when he does decide to have a nap the door doesn’t exist. He still doesn't bark, but that’s due to damage to his throat. He never growls and has never shown an ounce of aggression. He runs to his mama and puts his front paw on her leg and begs to be picked up and put over her shoulder for a cuddle. It's strange that his back legs jut out at odd angels and his head seems too small for his body, but his tail never stops wagging.

Taz is reminded of a larger version of a kind and gentle soul who passed through her life during the last snow. She may still stare out the window, but she isn't alone anymore. Taz is alive and tends to look after her special companion and her family has gone from calling her Princess Taz to Nurse Taz. As the wee ones curl up together on a heated dog bed in the dead of winter it doesn't seem so cold and lonely.

Stop puppy mills. Read Beautiful Joe. Help a heartbeat find a voice. Write your local MP to stop animal abuse.

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