The Puppy Mill Effect

Marshall is a sweet, scared puppy mill escapee, and I share this because it so clearly illustrates just one of many lasting psychological challenges that these innocent creatures face when they step out into the real world.

This short video is heartbreaking and encouraging at once. Marshall is a sweet, scared puppy mill escapee, and I share this because it so clearly illustrates just one of many lasting psychological challenges that these innocent creatures face when they step out into the real world.

From his rescuer:  Marshall makes it over the threshold! Marshall spent ten years in a puppy mill and is now learning how to be a dog. His first week home with us he finally learned to come through the door. Puppy mills are known for slamming the dogs heads in the door to frighten them so much that even if they escape their cages they won’t challenge the door. Marshall had an enormous fear of thresholds. This was a huge first step for him. For more about Marshall visit:

I intend to follow Marshall’s progress and provide updates as he settles in and gains confidence. Stay tuned or subscribe for the rest of his story.

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45 thoughts on “The Puppy Mill Effect

  1. Slam their heads into doors? I cannot even begin to fathom the depths to which some humans can step. I do not it just breaks my heart to hear story after story of animal cruelty.

    Good boy Marshall and to whoever it was coaxing him in and giving him a whole new loving life.

  2. Thanks so much for featuring Marshall on this site. He’s a brave little soul to first have survived for as long as he did, escape his trip toward euthanasia, be rescued by a team of really caring people, and finally to our home. He’s got a long journey ahead of him, but it’s my hope that he will live the rest of his life joyously and happily here with us and help to bring attention to this terrible plight!

    Susan, Sharkey, Charm and Marshall (and Kittyhead, but don’t tell him I said so!)

    1. Bless you, Susan, for you tender and positive encouragement to help Marshall overcome his past neglect and abuse.

    2. Hurrah for Marshall for finding you, Susan!
      I, too, particularly like the example you set in the video of being upbeat without ‘throwing a party’, the latter not being best for some dogs.
      One of my dogs was terrified when I used the Big Happy voice – he didn’t notice the happy over the Big.
      So I learned to use quiet, gentle praise with him.

      1. Nancy, anything over-exuberant terrifies him! So even though there are times I just want to swoop him up and give him a big hug, I just give him a calm pet and a happy voice. You’re absolutely right about ‘throwing a party’ although as an owner of Jacks for the past 22 years, that’s what they do, whether there is really a party or not! LOL

      2. So agree. Daisy was the same way. No parties here for a long time, just quiet praise with a gentle voice. We are now able to celebrate with a bit more excitement, but I think Daisy still prefers quiet praise over exuberance.

    3. Susan – God bless you for working with a dog like Marshall! I also have a former puppy mill dog, named Daisy. She was a breeding dog in a puppy mill. The video of Marshall crossing the threshold brings back memories. It took Daisy a long to time to get over her fear of that one. Often she would follow my dog Aspen, so if she got scared or startled just as she was about to cross over, Aspen and I would have to go back out and try going through the doorway again. I had not heard about slamming doors on dog’s heads, but it makes sense why Daisy was so afraid of doorways. Just wanted to let you know that we’ve been together 3 years now and Daisy has really blossomed in this 3rd year. It’s been amazing. I hope you enjoy the journey and small successes as much I have!

    4. im doing a reasearch project on puppy mills i think they are terrible i never knew they slammed the dogs head into doors if i saw someone do that i would treat them the same as the dog that made me mad and sad to hear about poor marshall my prayers are with him!!!!!! <3

  3. I have seen this fear of entrances/entering into areas that are dark or darker than the areas where they are in numerous dogs that we have adopted and have been told that this is more typical than not. So… Using information from Temple Grandin’s book about how cattle fear entering areas that they cannot see clearly or other such areas, I decided to always light up the entryway room and other areas of transition (hallways, rooms) so that they can clearly see everything in the areas they are about to enter and have no longer seen this hesitation.

    I was not aware of puppy mills’ habit of deliberately and abusively teaching dogs to fear doorways. That is absolutely unacceptable. We must be relentless in trying to enact legislation to put a complete and total end to puppy mills and set significant punitive consequences to counteract such horrific treatment of our fellow creatures.

  4. One more thing: As long as there is money to be made by engaging in carelessly breeding animals or factory farming, there will be enough at stake for those who do this to lobby for to maintain the status quo or for even less restrictive rules. We need to make it less profitable so that there is less pressure on the government to allow this to continue. We who care about animals need to be a greater presence than those other folks.

    1. Completely agree Jude. I think the key is getting people to stop buying these pups. I wrote a blog post about how the term “blood diamonds” changed the diamond trade and how maybe we should start using a negative term to describe pet store puppies – “blood pups”. The negative connotation worked for the diamond trade, why not pet store puppies from puppy mills?

      1. That is a great idea! I am going to put a good deal of thought into this and see if my dog-loving friends will buy into it. Thanks!

          1. I was talking about your blood pups comment. Are you saying that that’s a bad idea?

          2. LOL! No. I was saying I like the idea of using the term. Sorry if I confused things. I was saying that I hoped using the term would start to change people’s minds about buying a puppy in a pet store. I would like to see pet stores that sell puppies go away.

          3. It’s amazing what a missing comma can do to a sentence: “No thank you.” vs. No, thank you (emphasis on the “you”). Glad that got cleared up so I can start the “bloody” campaign. Love the idea!

  5. One of my 3 Golden Retrievers, Honey, was rescued from a puppy mill in Missouri in May 2010. She has been with us since July 2. She has suffered the same trauma of coming through the door but we did not know why. =(
    The good news is that Honey now gets through the door very well! Having two other dogs to help her walk in helps too.
    There is a special place in hell for puppy mill operators.
    I am not a violent person but I could shoot them all point blank in the head and feel no remorse whatsoever.

  6. Now I know why the mini-schnauzer I fostered from a puppy mill would throw out his legs whenever I walked through a doorway carrying him. I figured that the millers had just banged his head against the walls and doors, but your reason makes more sense. He got a great home where he is incredibly spoiled.

  7. Sweet , brave little Marshall. May you know nothing but warm beds, full bowls and loving arms as long as you remain on this earth. People must be educated about puppy mills and what some animals have to endure to produce that wonderful little pup you purchase from a so-called “breeder”. There are caring, responsible breeders out there – do your homework before you buy. Even better, visit your local shelter and welcome a needy animal into your heart and home.

  8. Even knowing what I do about these poor dogs, it still breaks my heart every time I hear about another. Seeing a Jack that is hesitant or fearful of anything is sad. I had one for 12+ years. He feared NOTHING and was full of joy. Puppy mill operators will face their come-uppance some day, and I hope to witness at least some of it.
    Susan, now that he has “scooched” closer to you and asks for love, great strides are ahead. Even if he is never ‘quite’ like the others, he will learn to be loved and happy and finally at peace!

  9. Thank you all so very much for your encouragement and kindness. I so wish to be able to include Marshall when I play with the other two Jacks in the backyard, but that is just more input than he can, as yet, handle.

    It’s my opinion that puppy millers should be hung up like a pinata so that we may all take swings at them with an aluminum bat!

    Surprisingly enough my two VERY dominant Jacks have been nothing but gentle and kind with Marshall – even Sharkey the most opinionated Jack I know.

    For more info about Marshall he has a page on Sharkey’s website:

    And thank you for helping to bring attention to the puppy mill dogs that need help!


  10. Poor sweet boy. He’s one of the lucky ones though. I can’t imagine that they slam the door on the dogs’ heads. What on earth could be so important that they have to hurt innocent little creatures? It just disgusts me. You’re going to be ok, Marshall !

    1. What could be more important? Money, money, money. Sad, isn’t it? This is the world we live in. We value money over lives.

  11. Check out for info regarding targeting and other ways you can help dogs learn new skills.

    1. Debbie has helped me a lot with my puppy mill dog and has helped many others. A great resource for owners of puppy mill dogs!

  12. Jude is entirely right. Puppy mills are only one small piece of a society where profits are valued over qualify of life (for people and other animals). That makes dog rescue a revolutionary act!

    I look forward to see Mashall’s progress. If he’s already going through doorways after only a week, I bet he’ll end up having real fun and causing trouble in no time!

  13. That picture is so sad, but encouraging too. Marshall is one of the lucky ones: he got out alive.

    I have a Missouri puppy mill survivor too–Miss Daisy Mae, a pembroke corgi. She was imprisoned in a Missouri mill and kept constantly pregnant–till they had no use for her and were about to kill her.

    Thank doG for rescuers! Daisy had to be spayed of course, and she had a hernia in need of repair. She also is missing an ear. I had her severe dry eye surgically repaired. But it’s what happened to her sweet heart and loving soul that was the worst. She was totally afraid of any “open” space–she still goes out on a leash because she’d run instantly if startled. She has flat feet from the wire cage floor.

    Daisy has been very traumatized. I’ve had her about 18 months–she didn’t ever bark till 6 months ago–now she meets me at the door and does a kibble dance. She smiles and plays w/ the other 3 dogs sometimes.

    Her PTSD is severe, but every new little step is a joy to see. I love her very much. And she has taught me so very much about love, trust, heartache, and joy.

    1. Oh Melissa – Corgi’s are my other favorite dog. I’ve owned two, and they are forthright little souls just like Jacks without the agenda.

      Poor Marshall has the webbed feet from the wire cage as you can see in his photo.

      Daisy Mae (the name of my very first dog ever when I was a child) is so lucky to have you, and yes, thank goodness for those who rescue directly from the mills. As I venture into that part of rescue I hope I have what it takes to withstand the horrible things I will find.

      Keep me updated with DM’s progress!


    2. I can completely relate to your story and some of Daisy Mae’s issues. My Daisy still has remnants of PTSD too. I’ve only heard her bark a few times (usually it’s when I’m gone and her brother Jasper gets her going) and my vet told me that she had been pregnant so often she could have had a tummy tuck. It makes me sad to read yet another story of a puppy mill dog that has suffered through so much, but knowing there are loving people like you out there is what makes my day. Daisy Mae is indeed a lucky girl now!

      1. I’m glad to hear that another Daisy is out there getting loved on big time. I look at Daisy and wonder what all she’s been through–then I just give her lots of cuddles to let her know that it’s safe here and will always be. I hate it that she may have bad memories, and it often makes me cry to see her sweet face . . . and to read the stories of so many, many other dogs who suffer the same and worse treatment and/or who are desperate in kill shelters. I have 2 other rescue dogs, one I got off death row the night before his time would have been up. Thank God your Daisy has you . . . and the other rescue dogs out there have forever home and loving peeps. Some days I despair about humans, but then I read stories here and feel hopeful.

        1. Melissa – I think YOUR Daisy is a lucky girl! I used to wonder about what Daisy had been through too, especially when she cried/cries out in her sleep (haunts me to know she even cries out at all), but now I am just grateful that I have been able to give her a wonderful life and spoil her rotten. Her favorite thing? Belly rubs in the morning. It’s amazing to me to think 3 years ago she was terrified of my touch and now she looks for it!

          I wish your Daisy a happy life with a lot of joy! (P.S. My name is Melissa too!)

  14. My husband was watching over my shoulder and said incredulously, “so now you’re watching videos of dogs walking through doors”. When I explained it to him, he was outraged beyond words, as am I.

  15. I cried right away as Marshall came through the door. Sometimes the small steps are the biggest!

    My gsd rescue took awhile just to wag her tail. It was such a joyous occasion for me to finally get some emotion from her… she was so depressed. She never did wag her tail very often, but I soon found that her simply looking at me eye to eye was her version of saying “Thanks for the food, treats and warm bed. Now stop looking at me.”

    Also, even though it really confused her at first, she did finally accept my ‘happy dance’ before treat-time that I did to try to get her tail to wag. She would give me a quick left-right swish, eat her treat, and then whine and walk into a different room. Gotta pity a dog who doesn’t know she’s allowed to be happy, or perhaps just not know how to show it. (RIP, my Annie girl.) I’m sure Marshall will enjoy a little bit of a party when he finds out it’s not a bad thing!

    Best of luck and kudos for your patience, understanding, and most importantly… love. Looking forward to more Marshall stories!

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