For the first nine years of his life, Freddie the chihuahua only knew life within the four walls of his wire cage.
The poor dog has been locked away all his life and used for breeding, so he never knew what it was like to have a family who truly loves him. Freddie fathered hundreds of puppies—all of which he never met—until he got too old to breed anymore.
That’s when his cruel owner decided to get rid of him.
Luckily, the National Mill Dog Rescue (NMDR) came just in time. In May 2018, Freddie and 34 other dogs from a puppy mill in the Midwest—an area where many large-scale breeding operations are located—were rescued by the group.
Freddie was found in bad condition. He was malnourished, and he had no teeth. Luckily, he didn’t have any life-threatening health issues.
Since Freddie lived in a puppy mill his whole life, he was very timid at first. But he eventually warmed up to his rescuers and started welcoming their cuddles and kisses.
Theresa Strader, the founder of NMDR, spoke with The Dodo about Freddie.
“Life in a cage takes a heavy toll on dogs, both physically and emotionally. Many of our dogs require extensive rehabilitation before they are ready to become family members, [but] Freddie certainly has a resilient spirit. He is a spunky little guy,” she said.
It was a bittersweet moment when Strader gave Freddie his first-ever bed.
She walked over to the dog’s pen and petted him. At first, the chihuahua cowered, seemingly afraid of being touched, until he realized she was there to do no harm.
Strader placed the bed onto the floor inside the pen, and Freddie sniffed at it, curious as to what this thing was. One could tell that he had never seen a dog bed before.
“It’s heartbreaking to realize they have been denied the very basics until now,” she said.
Seeing how confused he was, Strader opened the pen and walked in to show the dog how to use the bed. She first picked Freddie up and cuddled him. Once she felt that he was relaxed, she carefully laid him on the bed.
Freddie felt how soft it was and sniffed around once again, then sat at different parts of the bed to see what the most comfortable position would be.
He was too excited to sleep for a while, but he eventually relaxed and napped on the bed. It was probably the best sleep he had ever had.
“Freddie loved his bed immediately,” Strader recalled. “Other dogs can be more cautious and have no idea what a soft bed is for, but they learn very quickly. Freddie snuggled in from the beginning, like he knew that this was just one of many perks he will experience [now].”
Luckily, Strader caught the heartwarming moment when Freddie first learned to use a bed. The shelter shared it on Facebook, where it instantly went viral.
Over the next few days, Freddie evolved from being a shy dog to an incredibly happy one. He got along well with the volunteers and even became friends with another rescued chihuahua, Lark.
And just a week after he arrived at the shelter, a couple applied to adopt him. After a few assessments, the staff agreed that they would be Freddie’s new—and first-ever—fur parents!
At his new home, Freddie also gained a dog sibling, Cinnamon the Whippet.
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