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When I read the article Puppy Mill Whoodles: A Cautionary Tale by Anthony, I had a sick, “déjà vu” type of feeling. It was too late, however, we too had purchased a dog from Colleen at Diamond Doodles.
I had been thinking about a dog for several years but was waiting until my kids were old enough to be more responsible, helpful dog owners. I began looking on the internet, partly because I was unsure how to go about finding the right dog for us. Like Anthony, an important criteria for me was a non-shedding, hypo allergenic dog. Wheaton terriers were always my favorite and when I heard that breeding with a poodle would make him smarter and easier to train, it was an easy answer.
Colleen at Diamond Doodles sounded very lovely on the phone. My eagerness to have the “red collar” boy on the website clouded my judgment. I even justified her need to meet us in the “cowboy boot store” parking lot. I tried to believe that she was indeed trying to protect her family and her animals from any mean, hateful, puppy mill activists. I also tried to tell myself that the fact that she had over 20 dogs at any one time on her website did not suggest a problem. I was so excited about this puppy that I even WIRED her $1,100 without even seeing the puppy first!!!!!!
When we arrived outside of Joplin in the boot parking lot, Colleen and her husband from Diamond Doodles seemed nice enough. The puppies were indeed darling and the one I picked out was precious. We agreed that she would have him shipped to us in a couple weeks when he was “ready to leave his mother” at the ripe old age of 8 weeks. She told me that she does it “all the time” and as I found out, that was an understatement.
When the big day came, we arrived at the airport to receive our new bundle, we found out that the “shipper” was actually 3 huge trailers of puppies coming from somewhere in southeast Missouri, ready for this?……180 of them, 60 on each trailer. The barking level was shocking and disturbing. Our poor new puppy was shaking violently and had a sickening smell of doggy perfume and throw up.
We remained positive as we drove home with him on my lap.
After a night of intense loud crying and wailing and going outside numerous times, we got up at 4:00 a.m. and held him for a couple hours until daylight. I was concerned when he was unwilling to eat or drink and when we realized that he had very runny diarrhea, we realized he needed to visit our vet immediately. Our vet diagnosed him with “coccidia”, which he said it pretty common with dogs that come from breeders. It gets into the ground surrounding their facilities and it is nearly impossible for them to get rid of it. He was put on medicine and the vet said he would be fine.
We went for 3 more days with the runny diarrhea getting worse. At 8 weeks old, the diarrhea came out everywhere, the crate, the floor, you name it. During the middle of the night, he just cried and pooped. We bathed him and held him constantly. On the third day, we took him back to the vet and the found that he also had “giardia.” Our vet said that sometimes giardia is shed intermittently into the stool and is impossible to see at certain stages of its infestation, which was why they didn’t catch it during the first visit. I didn’t realize that giardia is also known as “Montezuma’s Revenge” which is what humans get when they drink filthy water in third world countries. To think of how sick our 4 pound puppy must have felt!!! My vet also pointed out that giardia is a totally different ballgame that coccidia, it is indicative of a breeder with unclean conditions.
I was obviously very upset and spoke with Colleen at Diamond Doodles several times. She acted as if she cared and offered a couple things that she knew we would NEVER accept, including exchanging him for a new puppy and taking him back to Joplin to “nurse him back to health.” What person in their right mind would ever send a tiny puppy back to a place where he had contracted not one, but two nasty parasites? When my vets bills got up to $500 in the first week, I asked Colleen to pay the bills. She actually asked me to send her copies of the bills for her vet’s review. She confirmed that she had received everything I sent. But that was as far as it went, she never replied to any emails ever again.
After about a month of pure hell and no sleep, our dog was beginning to gain weight and have normal stools. The nasty sick smell went away and he started to act like a normal puppy. I stopped crying every day and decided that eventually, this nightmare would be over.
I will say that my entire family LOVES our dog more than we can possibly imagine. He is sweet, fun, cute, loving, everything we could want! And like Anthony, I cannot really say that I regret buying him but I am very sad that there are people who are willing to treat animals poorly in order to make money. If I ever decide to get another dog, it will be from a family I trust with one litter or a rescue. I would discourage anyone from dealing with a place like Diamond Doodles. Trust your instinct, if it feels suspect, it probably is.
By: LAL (Name withheld by author request)
May 6, 2012
Resources: Soft-Coated Wheaton Terrier Club