Cleo’s Story – Never buy a puppy from a pet store

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Never buy a puppy from a pet store!

My partner and I decided that we wanted to bring a dog into our lives.  We both had nice experiences with dachshunds, and so we decided to start our search.  We were not that educated about puppy mills and pet stores and all the great reasons to never buy a puppy from a pet store.

The Search Began

I looked for smallish dachshund breeders online but was unsuccessful finding any with puppies.  It’s funny because looking back after starting the world’s most popular dachshund website :-), I’m surprised that I had a problem finding a breeder because now I know so many.  Anyway, we found a large puppy store out on Long Island and drove out of the city to just take a look.  We really didn’t have any intention of buying a pup.

The Puppy Store

When we arrived at the puppy store, we were a little overwhelmed. It was massive.  Not your typical pet store.  There were at least a hundred puppies there in all varieties.  They looked very healthy for the most part, though there were clearly some older dogs that were a bit frazzled, like an 18-month-old dachshund that was manic.

Anyway, we cruised the different cages, and we found the most adorable dachshund puppy, who we would later bring home and name, Max.  It was an immediate love connection.  But, we had previously discussed getting a female. What to do.  We would get two.

Kennel Off-Site

There weren’t very many females on site, so we asked the manager if they would be getting any more females.  The manager said that this was no problem, that they had lots of females at the “kennel” nearby.  This in retrospect was a very bad sign.  They had at least 100 pups on site. But they had another nearby location where the “kennel” was. How massive was this operation?

8 Adorable Puppies

So, we wait in a little room with a couch, and they bring in about eight adorable little dachshund puppy females.  They’re jumping around the floor and raising a ruckus and having a blast.  Meanwhile, I can’t decide which I like best.  There is a freakishly manic one that I write off immediately.  But there is an adorable cream one that is the perfect temperament.  As I’m playing with the pups while seated on the couch leaning down to the floor, I notice the tiniest pup jump up from the floor onto the couch, and then up from the seat of the couch and onto the back of the couch.  I raise up and site back on the other end, and she walks down the edge of the top of the couch and gets to my back, where she promptly jumps up onto my shoulder and positions herself behind my neck on the side farthest from the other puppies.

I realized I had no decision at all.  She chose me.

So we pack everything up, get all the information about how the dogs were all wormed and vaccinated already, etc. etc. . . Blah blah blah something about CKC registration being just the same as AKC and we’d get our papers in the mail, etc. etc.


Well, we get home, and the female (now Cleo) is petrified. We finally coaxed her out into her new home, and she seems happy.  We all go to sleep.

We wake up the next day to a total disaster in the crate.  Cleo had terrible diarrhea, chock full of white worms and red blood.  We freak out.  Once we clean up the mess, we inspect Cleo further.  It turns out what appeared to be a tiny but healthy looking pup to a novice, was actually a malnourished, starving but extremely bloated puppy full of intestinal parasites.  But wait, I thought she was wormed and had all her vaccines already?  Hmm.

Rushed To The Vet

We rush her to the vet.  We are told that she is in terrible condition.  She’s supposed to be ten weeks old and weighs only 2.5 lbs.  We thought she was just really tiny.  The vet suspects that she is only seven weeks old or so.  We notice a scar on top of her head looking quite a bit like a tooth mark.  They give her an IV and high nutrient paste to offset her malnutrition.  They keep her overnight, and we take her home the next day.  They ran tests. She had worms, giardia, coccidia and several more I can’t remember.  She wouldn’t eat.  We thought she would die.


After literally hand-feeding her high nutrient mush for several days, she started to recover.  Eventually, she started exploring the house, but she would not walk across a room.  Instead, she would cower along the edges of the wall, as if she was afraid to have so many sides exposed.  She always kept her tail between her legs.

When she was old enough to go outside and had gotten all her shots, we started housetraining.  It turned out she was PETRIFIED outside.  She was paralyzed with fear.  She could not move.  She would shake uncontrollably like epileptic convulsions while on the street.  We started to freak out more.  By this time, we realized that Cleo was a physical and psychological mess.  We also realized that this puppy store was, in fact, a puppy mill outlet and that she was lucky to have chosen us because she would not have lasted long at that place.  She was the smallest dog in the place and was obviously the lowest on the pecking order.  She obviously had not gotten any care whatsoever.  We knew nothing about dogs, but now it would be obvious to us if we saw a pup in that condition.

Better Ending Than Most

Long story short, Cleo survived and thrived.  But it took many years of attention and love and training to get her to live a normal puppy life.  Her tail is still permanently depressed but sometimes it lifts a little higher than horizontal, and we know she is happy.  She no longer cowers along the walls, and while she is still very suspect and sometimes timid, she is also quite a bossy personality.  She can now go outside without panicking, though she still sometimes shakes uncontrollably.

Never buy a puppy from a pet store.  Don’t support large-scale, commercial dog breeding.  Research your purchase from a reputable, small breeder or better yet, rescue a dog like Cleo and give her another chance.  She’ll make you very happy.