It's Sunday December 21, 2014
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Most every day, Helen Bland opens her front door and out bounds Betsy, her and husband David’s small white dog. The two stroll down the street as Betsy sniffs the scents and drinks from rainwater pools, like she’s done it her whole life.
She hasn’t. “Betsy comes from a puppy mill,” says Helen. “In 4 years, she had 4 litters of puppies. When she came to us, she didn’t even know what the outdoors was.” For going from factory pup to romping outdoor pooch – with all the panting, mud and puddles that goes with it – TownDock.net names Betsy Miss August.Walkabout bliss: Betsy indulging in one of her favorite past times – puddle lounging. This may lead to puddle lapping, wallowing or belly crawling.Betsy and Helen Bland fresh back from their morning walk
Betsy is a Jack Russell Shorty terrier. Compact and wiry with gleaming eyes and a springy, slightly bowlegged gait, she loves to get out of the house. While hanging out inside is okay, especially if it’s night and she’s sleeping, she’d rather be rambling the neighborhood. Tasting ditch water, wallowing in puddles, sniffing a cinder block or ambling down a dock top her list of favorite things to do.
She’s a shade connoisseur as well. On hot days, air conditioning can’t compete with the shady side of a dock box, especially unit E11 at Whitaker Creek marina. In a pinch, tree shadows do the job, too. She’ll settle for a walk under the pine trees on Skipper Drive, where she lives.It doesn’t take a big patch of shade to cool a little dog. Here, Betsy takes a breather on her way down the Whitaker Creek marina docks. The day was hot. The dock boxes closely spaced. Betsy was in no hurry to get back indoors….
It wasn’t always this way for Betsy, this life traipsing through the great outdoors. Betsy spent her first years at a Florida breeding kennel.
Helen describes the breeding operation as “a clean operation. Not like those horrible dirty puppy miles like you see on TV. But they get a dog like Betsy, who I’ve been told is an almost perfect specimen, and the breeders will get out as much as they can.” Some of the kennels puppies sold for $1,200. Betsy’s job was to produce – which she did, year after year. The first 2 years she had 2 litters of puppies – 9 total. Then the goods started coming slower. Her next litters – spaced 10 months apart – yielded 7 puppies. They were delivered by Caesarian.
After 4 years of averaging one puppy every 3 months, the kennel deemed Betsy’s breeding days over. Plus, there were medical conditions. “Her innards were spent,” say Helen.
She had to go.Despite her hard start in life, Betsy enjoys vigorous good health – and here – investigating a cinder block. She is 7 years old now. For a middle aged lady, she sure has kept up her good puppy looks..
Helen says, “My son heard about this and when he went to see her knew she was meant to be here with me.” The kennel spayed Betsy, gave her a final check up then sent her on her way. “She rode up from Florida on a Delta flight,” says Betsy. “Dr Sherry took out her stitches when she arrived.”
Then the real life change hit. Betsy, Helen learned, knew nothing about the outdoors. Or playing. Or even being loved. Helen says, “When she came to us, she knew nothing at all except making puppies.”
To socialize their new charge, Helen and David bought toys – balls, a stretchy toy, even a doggie bed. “David and I would get on the floor and David would roll the ball for her and …. nothing. Those things meant nothing at all for her.” They pondered hard on how to make a connection with their new dog, how to get through.
Then Betsy found nature. Helens say, “the minute we started taking her outside, we discovered it was her thing. She just wanted to be free with us. She just wanted to be a dog.” The toys, including the doggie bed, were disposed of. “She sleeps on our bed now,” says Betsy.Betsy is always up for a waterside ramble, especially in hot weather. Here, she tags along with Helen and buddies Justin Tedder and Mackenzie Campbell. They were heading to the dock…..…to try out some new swim toys. Betsy thought Mackenzies’s looked too awkward to climb in to and …..….Justin’s was in the water. Helen says Betsy, who lives in North Carolina’s Sailing Capital, is not a fan of the wet stuff. She declined Justin’s offer of a ride.
It’s been three years since Betsy left behind her career as serial mother. She’s taken to her outdoor freedom with vigor. So much so that, in order to keep her favorite activity from getting her too excited, Helen has to spell it out: W-A-L-K. Always off leash, she responds well to hand signals. When they encounter a car, Helen says, “I tell her to stop, hold out my hand, and she just stops. Waits for the car to pass.”Hand signals: as a vehicle approaches, Helen holds out her hand, policeman-style and….….Betsy halts. After traffic passes, she carries on.
Favorite jaunts include Skipper Drive, Whitaker Point Marina, and Village Hardware. Though the Blands own a Com-Pac sailboat, Betsy prefers to keep dirt, not a keel, under her paws.
Betsy is doing fine. The little white dog with the bouncy step and the hard scrabble start is thriving. Helen says, “She deserves an award for surviving a breeding kennel where they have no idea what love is.” She also deserves recognition for taking to the great outdoors with such vigor and glee.
For making the transition from puppy mill to lover of all things outdoor – including mud puddles, wet grass and shade – TownDock.net congratulates Betsy, Miss November 2014.Betsy’s BioCelebrity Pet Most Resembles: Nicole Kidman
Source of dog treats she loves to bury: Village Hardware
Doesn’t like: thunder and lightening
Words that need to be spelled out to her: W-A-L-K
In our Out: Out
Favorite puddle: Whittaker Point Rd right before the marina
Know a pet that is a standout? Send in some details and a photo to email@example.com. Tell why that pet deserves the coveted TownDock.net Pet of the Month Prize Package --- accolades, a pat on the head (snakes excluded) and a box of Milk Bones ( or snack suitable for the species).
We regret that we cannot offer a college scholarship to Pet Of The Month winners.
Animals caught near the HarborCam attempting to suck up to the judges will be disqualified.