Several years ago, I really don’t know exactly when, (possibly in late 2013 or early 2014), I started following a little dog named Harley and his best buddy Teddy on facebook as they went on rescue missions together in a van throughout the Midwest saving hundreds of “used up” puppy mill dogs who had been surrendered to them by breeders. I would watch every video and pictures that they posted from leaving Colorado, traveling through other states, picking up several dogs at each stop along the way until they completely filled the rescue van, and then the grand welcome back to CO where numerous other volunteers were on hand to help each new “freedom rider” get vetted, and hopefully eventually adopted. When they had to overnight in a hotel, it was extremely touching when they would post a video unloading some of the frightened dogs as they arrived at the hotel. Most if not all of them having never walked on grass or knew the kind touch or love from a human, wondering where they were going and what was going to happen to them. It was always so sweet to see Harley right there comforting and welcoming the “new pups” to freedom and life outside the cage. It was obvious that Harley really seemed to understand what was happening and was trying to communicate with each of them that everything was going to be ok.
You see, at this particular time I had already adopted 4 Yorkshire Terriers of which 2 were most definitely puppy mill survivors, one badly neglected rescue stray, and another from a specific breed rescue. Two of these dogs had textbook long-term mill dog issues which in following Harley’s updates really helped me to understand and better care for my dogs. In fact, when reading most of Harley’s posts, it was as if I could have written them myself about one or several of my dogs. It seemed Harley, his siblings, new furiends and my dogs were living through many of the same life experiences at the same time, and his posts were invaluable to me in being the best pet parent I could be.
As time went on, and “Harley and Teddy to the Rescue” took off, and I was inspired to become one of their biggest cheerleaders and supported them whenever and however I could in contests like the Modern Dog magazine cover picture, AHA Hero Dog awards, and others. I found myself totally fascinated and even more in love with this little angel on earth who after having spent 10 miserable years in a puppy mill, tossed in a bucket to die, was determined to make a difference for other mill dogs. Through his love and support of others and I immediately felt compelled to support his mission. I looked to him and his parents as “RockStars” who were literally speaking for the invisible voiceless mill dogs nationwide and was desperately hoping to meet them in person someday. Well… that day arrived in December 2015 when Harley (along with his parents, Rudi and Dan) hosted a meet and greet at the dog park in Vero Beach, FL – this was shortly after he had won the American Humane Hero Dog Award. Meeting them all and actually holding (and talking to) Harley was indeed a precious lifetime memory for me, my husband, and my two mill dog survivors who also traveled with us for this big event.
Since then, Harley’s Dream was formed in his honor to continue his mission of ending puppy mills, and I, of course, was proud to sign up as a Harley’s Hero. I have gained great determination and inspiration from Harley to spread awareness about puppy mills to effect change in my community by educating the public via “action through education”. I support Harley’s Dream at every opportunity, whether it is a community parade, pet store tabling event, local festivals /markets, guest speaker in a classroom, voting in contests, attending and speaking at public hearings, decorating dog park bulletin boards, never leaving the house without those magical awareness cards, and of course being a “walking billboard” proudly wearing his signature educational wardrobe (especially at busy events) as they make great conversation starters.
I will continue supporting Harley’s Dream until the last cage is opened. I advise against buying pets in stores, flea markets, sight unseen on the internet or newspapers etc. as these are where puppy mill puppies (often already sick, incubating an illness, or having genetic defects) are sold for huge profits while their parents are suffering horribly in the mills only to be destroyed when no longer “useful” for profit. This deplorable cash crop industry perpetuates our nations pet overpopulation problem and must be stopped!
I agree with Harley and Teddy that we can accomplish this through education, awareness, and advocacy. The majority of people I meet do not really understand what a puppy mill is, (and that 99% of puppies in pet stores and online come from puppy mills). When I explain that the math is simple: supply versus demand, they totally get it! Wouldn’t it be great if shelters nation – worldwide, didn’t have to euthanize millions of healthy, innocent animals every day?
This “Little Dog with a Big Dream” continues to be the voice to inspire people all over the world to educate others of the importance of ending the cruel commercial dog breeding industry, also known as puppy mills, and this is why I wholeheartedly support Harley’s Dream.
Learn how you can become a Harley’s Hero: www.harleysdream.org/harleys-heroes