Small Paws® Rescue Goes to School!

I recieved the following e-mail, from a wonderful lady, who knows first hand, the horrors of the Puppy Mills. She has adopted "Mira" who is a Puppy Mill Survivor. She takes Mira, into the schools, to educate children, about the mills. She gives her permission, to share her story with all of you now. You may write to Kay and Mira at

What Can I do to Help This Effort?


"Dear Robin,
Wanted to tell you that Mira and I did make the trip to talk to the teenagers today. About 20 in all, coming and going, petting Mira, listening to the story, looking at the photos, taking a copy of Gail's flyers (black and white copies, cause I wasn't really prepared, but I did have the originals to show them, Gail). You know what I almost forgot and one of the kids asked about it -- Mira's tattoo. One girl started crying and it wasn't a "Movie Star Act." She just walked away and then came back. Lots of people wanting Maltese up there since one of the counselors there has Isabelle, a Maltese Lady. So the puppymill story got out, left some flyers lying out and copies of Mira's photos along with some copies of puppymill flyers that I did get permission to use. So we took a baby step today, Mira and I.

Mira handled herself very well. She didn't shake or anything, just won everyone over with her quite, accepting demeanor. She is quite a charmer, you know! She seemed very happy to get back in this house though. I wonder if she thought she was moving --- again! When we hit the livingroom, she ran to her cushion and Miss Piggy, then to Puppy and Becce and back to me, doing the "paw thing" to me and kissing me in the face over and over. Almost seemed like she was saying, "Thank you for bringing me back home, mom!"

Kay, who just wanted to give you the "skinny" on our first field trip for Angel's Work! Kids Care! They have 2 abused kittens in the classroom building where we went today. Kids are volunteering to take 20 minute shifts in a tiny room (with a window for observers) just to be there quietly with the kittens and help the kittens develop some trust. One boy came over and said, "Do you know they both came out of their cage for me today?" You would have thought he won the lottery! I came away more convinced than ever that educating kids is one way to make at least a tiny bit of a difference for our furbabies! I like this job! The pay is great!

So, Robin, that is how we did on our first outing! But we have many more ahead of us, in the new year. Mira is made for this job, she is an Ambassador if ever there was one. I am so proud of this little miracle girl. If I hadn't named her "Mia Miracolo Angelica," I think I would have gone with "Moxy." She has so much spirit and spunk. The puppymillers never were able to rob her of that, they thought they had taken her "all," and sold her as a "cull" at the auction. Those "Sorry Excuses for Humanity," maybe she will live to see some of them go out of business. That is my prayer and our goal, Mira's and mine and all the others who hate the word, "puppymill," and the people who exploit these helpless animals. Off the soapbox for the night! Thanks again, and if you have a moment, a photo of Mira on Thanksgiving Day!

Subj: Mira attends Miss Ferguson's Third Grade Reading Class
Date: 4/7/00 2:58:11 PM Eastern Daylight Time

OHHHHHH, you should have seen her. Mira was a little apprehensive at first, I could tell, when we entered the school building. I picked her up in my arms and proceeded to the Office to "sign in."

Our first teaching opportunity happened right in the office. One lady went "bonkers" over Mira and told me all about her "Boston Terrier" (Are you listening, Becky?) that she got from a "good breeder" and when it developed eye problems, the breeder returned the lady's money so she could use it toward the cataract surgery. Since then the breeder has paid for blood work, and paid the difference for the eye surgery. She had seen the puppies and their parents. I explained hers was a "responsible breeder" because a "puppy miller" would not have bothered. I went on to tell as quickly as I could, about where Mira came from, what she had endured, and why we were there. Mira had those four office ladies in her little paws, immediately.

Then Nicole and one of her teachers met me and off we went to the "Reading Class!" Along the way I mentioned that Mira might be nervous. The teacher said they thought she might be, so they had moved back in order for her not to "feel crowded." That was so thoughtful, but it just hit me, in hindsight, how funny that was! Think of how Mira was "crowded" in her cage for almost 10 years where the millers didn't give a damn and now, young children were concerned about Mira's feelings.

Then I hit the class, 19 kids, two teachers and an aide, and it was sooooooo cool! Mira stood/sat on a student's desk right in the front row. I introduced Mira and myself, then I asked how many kids had dogs, most of them raised their hands, then, how many wanted to get a dog someday and that covered everyone! Good, so far! Then into the "Where do people get dogs?" thing, with the anticipated pet store answer first, then a long wait, then "Down by the Old Country Buffet, there is a store," (Yep, that is Pet Depot), then "a dog pound," and then I whipped out my ad from the SPCA, and then the newspaper ads, since they didn't think of it, just to cover other breeders and shelters (again!)

Next, because I didn't want to forget Mira's tattoo thing, like I almost did last time, I asked innocently, "How many of you have names?" Well, it took just a nanosecond, for them to all raise their hands. I looked at them, AMAZED, saying, "Are you serious? You mean you aren't just numbered, or marked, like 1,2,3?" No, they assured me they had names. Perfect! I launched into the fact that Mira never had a name, she was #79 from MOBAU and here were her tattoos to prove it. Actually, Godmother Gail, little Toby was with me at that moment, when I remembered what you said about Toby, finally having a name and having been loved. So, yes, Little Toby was there with Mira, again!

So, back to Pet Store Dogs, and then "Did you ever wonder about the moms and dads of the fluffy little puppies in the store?" It seemed to go so well. Kids asked questions, "Where did you get Mira?" So, the "cull" auction and what a "cull" is. "What do you think would have happened to Mira is she wasn't rescued?" At that point I asked if they had any idea what frightens Mira the most. One boy thought "snakes" and another, "lightning," so you see these kids were thinking about their own fears. I told them about being outside and hearing shots and about the other night when we were watching "Walker, Texas Ranger," she had suddenly seemed so restless. Then I realized that she had been frightened because of the sound of gunshots on the TV program. Little Tara, in the front row said, "She must know about guns." Kids, don't you just love them? What insight!

Where did you get her? I told them "Missouri," and then the aide pulled down the map so we could see where that was and how we got Mira in Ashtabula, Ohio, etc. Thank God I could find Missouri, it was written in huge letters. Geography and Maps are not my strong point.

Katie, I held up your framed photo of the picture I sent to the group, and next to it, the photo of Mira, when you first rescued her that you forwarded me, Michelle, I told them, "You are allowed to buy one dog, and only one! Which of these do you think you would pick?" Kids, honest as they are, all picked the cutesy photo, of course. Adults might lie to look good, but not kids! (Or many of us would pick the saddest one because that dog needs the most help) Well, then I told them that it was the same dog! They were both "Mira Me!"

One boy asked how I know if a dog is happy. I told them to look at the Thanksgiving photo reprint that I gave each of them and they should tell me if that was a "Happy Face" or a "Sad Face!" They got that right, Mira had on a "Happy Face," for sure!

Tara asked me what Mira's number was again. She said, "I want to write that down," but I explained that I had written that on the back of Mira's photo for them. She liked that. I also gave them a copy of a poem about a homeless dog, and told them that their "Homework Assignment" for tonight would be to read the poem to someone else and to show them Mira's photo.

Teacher asked what we had to do to get Mira healthy, did a little bit about vaccines and treating parasites in dogs (YUK, and with us just getting over the Noodleosis Scare and NO, I didn't go there). Trying to think of what else --- Oh, I took along Joe's big orange tape measure and we measured Mira (have to admit, I practiced it ahead of time) and then we discussed the required size of her cage according to USDA regulations. The teacher had asked if puppy mills were "legal" and if so who regulated them. Thanks to Michelle's pointing me to Kim's info, I was on top of that one. But I do want to have Joe fashion me a cage/box so I can use it for the older kids. Wish I had one with me today. But we talked about the cage, passed the photo from Kim's site around to show them cages stacked on top of other cages. Asked if they could guess why Mira had looked so dirty, one little guy was "right on" with the answer about that, and then about why her feet are so wide, the "living on wire" thing. I explained that when the dogs are in these cages, they are almost never let out of them -- not to eat, not to go to the bathroom, not to walk in the grass, not to exercise, not to drink, not to have their puppies.

I do want to outline what I think would be a day in the life of a puppy mill dog for our next presentation, because I don't think I touched enough on the cage life, the filth, the waiting for food or water and not knowing what would happen next. This is just something I really didn't go into as much as I wish I had, but then we took up 3/4 of an hour with real dynamics going on. Kids make the air electric when they are excited and energized. It was a trip!

Oh, I know there are many other points, that the kids made, and then each of them came up, petted Mira, two by two, so as not to upset her. She never shivered, she sat proudly as if she knew how very important she was to this whole thing. And that she was, Mira truly was a Star!

Nicole and I wore our Angel's Work T-shirts and Nicole explained that we all got one for Christmas because Angel was a Maltese from a puppy mill, like Mira was.

You know about the "reverse sneezing" problem Mira has been having. I gave her the cough med and the benadryl last evening, then bathed her front half mostly (if you don't think that was a challenge, trying to bathe half a Maltese to remove the pink telltale cough med stain) but she never did the sneeze thing once while we were "on stage."

We signed back out at the office with the ladies again thanking us for their brief meeting with Mira.

We left the building! I put Mira down on the grass, Mira who was wearing her red collar and had her new red leash, as Gail said, "Red is for Love." I bent down and looked into little Mira's bright eyes and said, "Mira I am so proud of you, I love you!" Mira smiled!

Kay, who learned a lot today from "Miss Ferguson's Third Grade Reading Class"

So, Robin, just thought you would like to read this, and we are planning on visiting more classes this year, plus maybe going to the Mall. The good news is -- Pet Depot is CLOSED and in a new store, nearby is a PETCO which is going to open soon, featuring shelter dogs for adoption, much like Petsmart does. There are also two Rescue groups set up for Opening Week, Boxer and Dalmation, I believe! It is starting, Robin! It is starting! God, how wonderful, It is starting!

Kay, Puppy, Becce, and Mira Me
If the eyes had no tears, the soul would have no rainbow.
Native American Proverb