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Monday, May 5, 2014

The Last Rescue From The Hovawart Puppy Mill

Tilde was one of the last Hovawarts rescued from the Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill. Here is her story, and that of her parents, Cherry and Aapo.

It is a sad story, which is why I kept it to myself and a couple of close friends for almost a year, but after adopting Tilde I felt obliged to write it, in honor of her parents Cherry and Aapo.
 
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Cherry as a puppy, on her way from Holland to Denmark
Back in 2006, two puppies were on their way to Denmark. Aapo vom Moseleck, from Germany, and Cherry van de Rovihof, from Holland.

Under the false pretense of giving them a loving home and making them part of their "kennel", they were bought by the people from the Danish Hovawart puppy mill. Their real intent was a complete different one: to add them to their breeding-stock.

Aapo and Cherry joined the other 55 dogs already in the puppy mill, and would soon turn out to be one of the favorite breeding couples of the mill. In the next 5 years Aapo and Cherry were churning out puppies, until that day finally came in January 2013 the mill was raided by the police to remove most of the dogs, and soon after, by two rescue attempts of Danish celebrities, all the remaining dogs were saved as well. Although, that is what the puppy mill wanted us to believe.

Aapo in the shelter, after his rescue
Aapo was out with some of the first dogs. With an age of almost 6 years, he was one of the oldest. His freedom was short-lived. In an attempt to socialize him, Aapo went to a foster family, but it became clear to the shelter, he could never be an adoptable family dog again after all those years of living in the darkness, and Aapo was later euthanized.

The news of the puppy mill reached Cherry's breeder, and with help of the shelter and Cherry's chip number, she tried to verify if Cherry was among the rescues.

Cherry was not among them, and most likely, she had already died inside the puppy mill, like so many dogs before her.

Rumors flourished, the puppy mill had kept some dogs hidden, and in an attempt to flush them out, me and my friend Jan Wolfe took on false identities, pretended to be puppy buyers, and tried to contact the puppy mill.

At first they were reluctant, but slowly, as news started to fade and papers started to write about other stories, they became more bold. At February 17, 2013, both Jan and me got the first photo's of our "future puppy".

Tilde, or one of her siblings
On one of the photo's, one of the people of the puppy mill is holding up two of the puppies in his hand, their eyes still closed, and with himself unrecognizable.

The photo showed two of Tilde's litter-mates, and maybe, one might even have been Tilde herself.

The parents were Cherry and Aapo. We also received photo's from the mother with the rest of her puppies. With the help of Cherry's breeder and some Hovawart people from Holland we could verify it truly was Cherry - later verified by her chip number.

We found her. She was still alive and was kept hidden during the raids of the puppy mill because she was pregnant. It was proof the mill was far from being closed down, and they were selling again.

Cherry, with Tilde and her siblings, after their rescue
Although the photo's seemed to show little detail, the people from the shelter involved in the earlier rescues could recognize the location where Cherry and her pups were kept. After a few days, they knocked on the puppy mill's door together with the police once more, seized Cherry and her pups, and found a Golden mom with her pups as well.

Cherry was weakened and malnourished, but her future, and that of her pups, now looked bright we all hoped.

It was not meant to be. When Cherry was finished weaning her pups, her body simply decided to shut down. She had given her very last to her pups, so they could have a good start in life. She sacrificed herself, so Tilde and her brothers and sisters could live.

Sadly, both Aapo and Cherry were now deceased. Though it is a comforting thought, they spend the last time they had on this earth in freedom while being loved.

Tilde, 3 months, returned to the shelter after being abducted
Tilde and her siblings continued to thrive in the shelter, who were socializing the puppies and make them ready for adoption as soon as they would be 3 months old. They were all growing up into being healthy and happy puppies.

The news came as a shock, when 3 months old Tilde was abducted from the shelter. A group had broken into the shelter, looking for a dog that was seized by the police for violating the Danish Dog Act, couldn't find it, and took Tilde instead.

Luckily, as soon as they found out the shelter didn't had their dog, they gave up using Tilde as ransom and returned her to the shelter unharmed.

After that it didn't take long before Tilde finally got adopted, and with her, all the surviving rescues from the puppy mill now had found loving homes.

Tilde back in the shelter for the 3rd time
Tilde was "spotted" visiting a Hovawart dog show with her family, but other than that, I didn't hear any more of her until recently, when she re-appeared on the shelter's website. Tilde was up for adoption again.

For the third time in her short life, Tilde was back in the shelter. Illness in her family made, they couldn't take care of her anymore. I am so sorry for what happened to this family, and wish them all the best. I applaud them too, for making this undoubtedly hard decision, in Tilde's best interest.

And you know the rest about how we adopted her. We'll be writing the next chapters in Tilde's life, and I hope, they may be a lot less eventful than so far.

***

This story is in honor of Tilde's parents, Cherry and Aapo. For them and for all those unsung parents living in puppy mills. Faceless, nameless, and minimized to mere suppliers of a demand for puppies, they live.

I hope that next to what all of you already do at the moment in helping the fight against puppy mills - and I know all my readers do - you'll feel inspired to tell their story too. To anybody, you might know who thinks about buying a puppy. Tell them the story of Cherry and Aapo. Once, a long time ago, small puppies themselves, with a name and a future. How different it turned out.
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8 comments

  1. Thank you for this post. It is so horrible some people do. I´m very happy, that Tilda has found a wonderful home at your family. She ist such a nice dog and has the rigth to become a good home. I´m very sad because her parents had so a horrible life, but there are many other dogs surely.

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    1. Unforunately yes, at least 55 in this mill. Many years back, around 2000, I even have record they had a 100 dogs. So far Cherry and Aapo are the only ones I was able to give a name, and track some of their history down. I also know of Bamira, but are not sure what happened to her. I'll try to track more of them, that is for sure.

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  2. Have you ever thought of putting the puppy mill story together and getting it published? It's a terribly sad story, but I think people could learn so much from it.

    Do you know what happened to the Golden?

    Hugs to Tilde.

    Monty and Harlow

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    1. Yes, that might be a very good idea, indeed.
      The golden and her pups were adopted!

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  3. Jeg har en af de hvalpe som blev hente i første omgang. Da vi hørt at der var hentet så mange hunde der havde brug for et godt hjem valgte vi at køre til Roskilde internat og se på en af de voksne hunde. Vi har før taget voksne hunde som mangle et hjem til os. bla. 2 hunde som havde været gadehunde i Grækenland.Da vi kom til Roskilde så vi nogle af de voksne hunde og det var bestemt ikke sjovt at se disse hunde vi så var meget triste og nærmest bange for at komme i nærheden af mennesker. Som de sagde i Roskilde kunne de ikke vide,om der var nogle af de voksne hunde, som kunne blive familie hunde. Det var for tidligt at sige da de jo først skulle falde til ro i alt det nye mm. Vi blev så enig med Roskilde at vi tog en af de ældste hvalpe som de havde det blev så Stella/ Bella. som var omkring 5 mdr gammel og hun havde aldrig set andet en den mørke stald hvor hun gik i sin og de andres afføring.Hun vejede 8,5 kg da vi hentede hende 10 dage efter vejede hun 16kg så det siger jo lidt om hvor udsulgtet hun havde været.Bella var utrolig svær af få renlig hun satte sig bare !!! Og det var jo helt sikkert på grund af hendes liv de første mdr.Bella er i dag en laller glad unghund og vi er rigtig glade for hende.

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    1. Thank you so much for adopting Bella (Stella), and I am so glad to hear she is doing excellent !

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  4. Heart breaking. Thank goodness Tilde's story has a happy ending at home with you.

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    Replies
    1. We hope to write many more, happy, chapters!

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