“I can fix him.”

That was the first thing I said when I took on the job of being foster mom to Weston, a 10 month old frug (french bulldog pug mix) we had just rescued from a pug puppy mill out in Tonopah, Arizona. And I believed I could fix him, and I did, well as much as you can.

The Rescue
On Sunday, August 16th I received an email from APARN’s founder and President Terri Wood that said “I need help.” I continued to read on and reviewed an email from an individual asking APARN to come in and rescue about 22 young pugs from a breeder in Tonopah, AZ whose air conditioning broke and who was also getting out of the business of breeding all together. Naturally I immediately replied that my husband and I would help with whatever was needed. From that point on the plans were set into motion to obtain 11 of these pugs that very day.

The 10 pugs and 1 french bull dog were picked up at a halfway point between Tonopah and Phoenix. APARN never had direct contact with the breeder, no personal information regarding the breeder, all that was known is that they were located in the Tonopah area.

These 11 dogs were in an extreme state of neglect. Malnourished, parasites, eye issues and skin issues. Infested with ticks. Sickly. Filthy. Terrified.

That is when I first met my foster Weston. He came in on that Sunday. His appearance literally broke my heart. The sadness in his eyes was unbearable. He was a mess. He was filthy, bloody, scabby, many many bloody bald spots and he smelled horrible. He appeared to be blind in he left eye due to CSK. Many of the other dogs were in similar condition to Weston, some much worse. And they were all young, younger than we would normally see in rescue.

The hardest part of the rescue and intake of these dogs was their fear. Most of them were terrified. I shudder to think of what could have caused them to be so terrified of people. Of just about anything.

All of the dogs were examined, chipped and given a safe comfortable place with good food and plenty of water until their new foster parents came for them.

I picked up Weston from Noe’s Ark about 4 days after his intake. He was sent home with a bag of meds and shook terribly as he was brought to the car. He shook in the back seat the whole time and pooped within the first 5 minutes of a 35-minute car ride. Ew.

The Puppy Mill Foster Frug
The first thing we did when Weston arrived at our house was to give him a bath with his medicated shampoo. It immediately made a difference in the healing of his skin and coat. Baths with the medicated shampoo would be a regular routine in restoring the health of his skin and coat. Weston was also extremely malnourished and of weak health. He would have to wait 6 weeks until he was well enough to be neutered.

Our first night with Weston went surprisingly well. He got a bath, a good meal, lots of water and took to relaxing and sleeping in his crate. We said to ourselves, this puppy mill foster is not going to be as difficult as we had thought. We ended up being a little wrong about that.

Wildebeast. I started calling Weston this on day 2. He was practically feral. As in wild. When we would take him outside to go potty he would urinate on a rock or a tree and try to lick up. He also had a bad habit of trying to eat his own feces as well as the feces of the other pugs in our family of pugs. It took us months to break him of this habit but we were finally able to with persistence, love and patience. I am sure having good food to eat two times a day and plenty of water helped. I imagine these poor dogs were forced to resort to this due to lack of food and water at the puppy mill. Weston was skin and bones when he was first rescued.

Weston would also urinate on the other pugs and would from time to time show strong aggression towards them. Sometimes he would just snap and try to bite the other pugs in the neck. It was also obvious at just about 10 months old, Weston had been used as a stud, a lot. It was all he seemed to know how to do. While he did not really bother the other pugs, he was always trying to mate on my leg or my arm. Fortunately, the aggression and the need to try to mate his foster mom went away after he was neutered. I only had to suffer through that with him for six weeks.

After about 3 months of medicated baths, other various medications and antibiotics Weston’s health and coat improved dramatically. The open sores where gone, most of the scabs had healed up, fallen off, and new fur had grown in. His coat was shiny and full. With consistent face and body wrinkle cleaning and a good grain free diet Weston was becoming a beautiful healthy young frug.

Foster Failing
Weston was kept off of the adoption circuit due to his health issues. It was over 3 months before he was healthy but his health was only maintained through 2-3 hours of maintenance a day. Eye ointments for life, 2 baths a week indefinitely, face and body wrinkle cleaning twice a day, fish grain-free diet w/salmon oil added in each meal, and a Benadryl almost once a day for the skin allergies. This frug was not easy to maintain. He was not a perfect frug. He had also developed a bad barking habit that we are working on breaking but so many sounds and sights make him feel the need to bark, and bark, and bark….Finding a matching family for him was a big challenge because of his cost of maintenance and remaining issues.

Many of the T22 foster pugs/frugs became emotionally bonded with their foster parents or the dogs they lived with. Weston attached to me. He followed me everywhere, was everywhere I was. He felt safe in our house. When I took him in as a foster I swore to myself I would NOT foster fail and adopt him. Well, I did. I foster failed, but after the journey he and I have been on together, I could not send him off, I did not think he would understand as my other fosters did, he had found his place, he did not want to leave our home, our family.

On January 9th, 2016, when Lemmy, front man of Motorhead, was laid to rest, Lemmy the frug joined our family. We renamed Weston to Lemmy in honor of the musician that had passed.

Lemmy has made tremendous progress during the last several months but still has a long way to go. He still barks, a lot. But with love and patience we continue to work on breaking his bad little habits. He is smart, he has developed a good vocabulary and he has become a very laid back sweet frug.

Puppy Mills
In November of 2015 Sherriff Joe Arpaio’s MASH Unit busted a pug/frug puppy mill in Tonopah, Arizona. It was confirmed that this was the puppy mill the T22 had come from. 13o dogs were seized. Mostly pugs and frugs and a few french bull dogs. This seize made national news. Everyone wanted a puppy mill pug. It was becoming the hip thing to do to get a puppy mill pug. Everyone just had to have one, people were crazy over them.

Well let me tell you, a puppy mill pug is not going to be that happy go lucky velcro pug that snuggles with you. Nope. It is going to be feral, for months, could always be really really shy. You are going to need to have a lot of time and patience to help nurse it back to health. You are going to need a large budget to provide the ongoing care it will need. Many will be sickly for most of their lives if not their entire life. These dogs are not a fashion accessory, they are a family commitment, you are adding a new family member to your family that has had a traumatic past. You need to be sure you are able to make a lifetime commitment to a dog that is far from perfect.

Adopting a dog that has been rescued from a puppy mill is not for everyone. But for those who are up to the journey, it is well worth it. Especially when you can look back at the pictures of when they are first rescued and compare them to today. There is no better feeling in the world to know that you helped that special dog gets well, that you showed that special dog how to love and trust again, and that special dog will love you for it forever, unconditionally.

We love our puppy mill frug and cherish the experience we have gained from welcoming him into our family.

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