Breed: Australian Shepherd & Great Pyrenees Mix

Freckles was a pet store rescue. "There's no such thing," you may be thinking; but was your dog bleeding all over when you got them? Did part of their tail literally fall off? I stand by my statement.

My best friend Cheyanne and I made the terrible mistake of visiting a puppy store “just to pet them” when we were feeling down one day. There was one sad puppy who was obviously far too large for her tiny crate, with a tail that sprayed blood every time it wagged. She was a clearance pup, marked down from $1,600 for being 4 months old. Also, she was a crossbreed of Great Pyrenees and Australian Shepherd. (Whether that was an attempt at yet another “designer breed” or just the result of an “oops” mating is anyone’s guess.)

She had fuzzy ears, expressive eyes, clever, playful paws, and a spattering of sundrop freckles across her white muzzle. Cheyanne wanted her instantly, then even more when she saw her tail. We indignantly informed the workers their puppy was BLEEDING, and they said uncomfortably, “Yeah, we know. We’re working on it.” We told “Freckles” we would be back in a week, and if she was there then… Surely she wouldn’t still be there?

She was. Discounted even further, still bleeding – except worse than before – this time paired with a smaller “designer” puppy who WOULDN’T STOP GNAWING HER TAIL. The last inch of her tail was bald, bloody, and sprinkling blood like a fountain with each wag. I couldn’t take it. I bought Freckles via a payment plan, and Cheyanne made most of the payments. She became her dog, but mine also as Cheyanne had just moved in with me as my roommate. My big Collie Gus went through phases of delight, disgust, and adoration after we brought her home.

Freckles had plenty of issues. We took her to the vet, put her on antibiotics, and treated and bandaged her tail as best we could. About an inch of it still dried up and fell off. To this day, you can see the blackened, dead stump at the end when her long tail hair parts a certain way. Her muscles were severely undeveloped from being kept in a tiny crate for the first nearly 5 months of her life. She didn’t know how doors worked, was terrified of men and certain women (still is somewhat), hid when we first brought out a broom to sweep the floor, and was very fear-reactive in general. But she’s come so far.

My advice? Don’t visit pet stores that sell puppies, friends. I now know they’re generally unethical places that skimp on proper care to save a buck, and you definitely don’t want to give them your money. Because you just might meet a poor, pathetic, precious puppy that will steal your heart. And you just might make the ill-advised decision to walk out with an incredible mess of a dog who will change your life. 

- Emily Sowulewski