RedRover Responders were on the ground in Washington State September 17 through September 26 to help American Humane provide daily care and comfort for 250+ small-breed dogs seized from two horrific puppy mill operations.

RedRover sent 17 volunteers, who traveled from across California, Washington, Oregon, Texas and Pennsylvania, to assist during this crisis. Renee, a trained RedRover Responders volunteer who recently trained to be an American Humane volunteer as well, was there assisting American Humane this time.

Almost immediately upon arriving at the temporary shelter in Stevens County, Washington, Renee was drawn to a tiny black Pekingese puppy. This puppy was, in her words, “the cutest black ball of fluff with the biggest eyes I’ve ever seen on a dog.” Those eyes were all it took for her to fall in love. She named him Baby.

Baby  stayed at the front of the kennel, but would run to the back and avoid Renee’s hands when she reached for him. She tried assorted toys, but then realized the pup didn’t know how to play. Renee loved on him every chance she got, putting her gloved hand on the bottom of his kennel and moving it slowly. He would track her hand with his eyes. Finally, after four days, she could move her hand across the bottom of his kennel and he would pounce on it like a cat!

On that fourth day, she got Baby out for playtime. He wasn’t sure about all the open space, so she laid out on her stomach to make herself smaller. First, he went between her legs to see what she was doing, then he climbed on her back. He seemed to enjoy being up high and started running up her back, down her legs, and repeated that several times until he tired and lay down on her back.

Later, she noticed he would stand on his hind legs and watch her when she walked by. He was not happy when she would clean the kennel next to him and play with those dogs. He would get in his water bowl, stand on his hind legs, and jump up and down. He had learned to trust and love.

Now, Renee hopes that Baby and all the dogs rescued from this puppy mill find a family that will love them unconditionally, let them sleep in the bed with them, take them on car rides and spoil them rotten. While this deployment had its challenges, she finds the transformation – from seeing the dogs shaking at the back of their kennel on her first day to greeting her at the front of their kennel with kisses on her last day – to be the most rewarding. When she returns home to Texas, she will take with her new friends and a newfound love for a fluffy, black Pekingese puppy.

To anyone considering becoming a RedRover Responders volunteer, Renee says “DO IT! It’s the most exhausting but most rewarding thing you could do. You also gain life experience, memories, and lifelong friends.”

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