Monday, April 21, 2014

An Interview with Jack-Jack, the Blind Puppy Mill Survivor!

Last week, I blogged about Dillon the Blind Cat and his inspiring rescue story!  This week, I'm going to continue with the special-needs pet trend and feature another Instagram sweetheart:  Jack-Jack, a rescue Pomeranian who had a very rough start to life in a puppy mill.  This sweet boy was saved from the puppy mill he was in by a shelter, and he eventually found his forever home with Katie (who was nice enough to speak with me for this interview).  Because of the horrible conditions he had lived in, Jack-Jack ended up having several health issues - seven years later, he is completely blind as well as a cancer survivor!  Handsome Jack is now a bit of a "celebrity" dog; he inspires many people to fight against puppy mills and adopt puppy-mill survivors or special-needs dogs.  He currently lives a happy life with his mom, a few cats, and two Pomeranian siblings in Chicago, where, thanks to advocates like Katie, the sale of puppy mill dogs to pet stores was recently banned!  Read on to learn more about Jack-Jack's rescue story!  (All photos are from Jack's Facebook page)

Jack-Jack wishes you a happy belated Easter!

How did you get involved with animal rescue? 
I got involved with the rescue Jack is from through a friend who was adopting through them.  I drove the 3 hours to the rescue coordinator's, Jo's, house with her to pick up her dog.  I hit it off with the rescue coordinator, and she asked me if I would foster.  A few days later she told me she had a dog named Pedro from a puppy mill that really needed a foster home.  I agreed, and picked him up the next day.  Jack was that dog named Pedro.  I knew he had a spot on his right eye, and my Mom re-named him Jack (after 'one eyed Jack'). Jack had never really been outside or experienced life outside of a tiny cage in a puppy mill.  I bonded with him immediately.  He sat on my couch and just stared at everything going on.  Three days later Jo called and said she had a possible application on him, but had seen the instant bond we had and I had first rights on him.  It also happened to be my 24th birthday.  Without hesitation I said 'He's mine!'  He was the first- and last- dog I fostered.  I knew I wouldn't be able to continue fostering unless I ultimately wanted to keep the dog.  Instead I work on fund raising for a few different organizations.  I also own a pet supply store in Chicago called Parker's, and we hold adoption events and foster cats for a local cat rescue.  We also do a lot of fundraising for a local pet food pantry and recently donated almost 5k lbs of food to them.

What made you decide to adopt Jack-Jack rather than purchasing a dog from a breeder?
I decided to rescue after I got my first Pom, Parker.  I did all of the things you're supposed to do to find a reputable breeder- went through the breed's parent club, spoke extensively to the breeder... There were definitely some red flags, but they were easy to ignore when she was sending me super cute pictures of my tiny puppy!  Parker has had extensive health problems since he was a puppy.  When I emailed her to ask if he had been having constant bouts of diarrhea with her and to tell her I was working with the great vets at Purdue to figure out what was wrong with him, she never emailed me back.  I never heard from her after that!
(Note: Poor Parker :( This is a sad but true consequence that can happen when purchasing a dog from breeders.  Many breeders can seem very trustworthy, while they are actually just trying to get you to buy a dog from them.  If you want to go through a breeder for a puppy, make sure you physically see the living conditions in which the dogs are kept, and ask if you can meet the puppy's parents as well.  A reputable breeder should let you do this with no problems.)

Jack-Jack with his siblings Parker (left), Bebe (right), and a stuffed Pom friend!

 What is Jack's personality like?  How does he seem to have adjusted to life outside of a puppy mill?
Jack has an amazing personality.  He is absolutely bombproof- you can do anything to him and he would never think of getting upset.  You can take him anywhere and he's well behaved.  His medical team at Purdue LOVES when he comes because he's such a good patient.  He "works" at my store every day greeting customers and stealing treats and chews.  He's really a dream and absolutely the dog of a lifetime.  Jack is my heart dog, no doubt.  He survived distemper at a puppy mill, he survived a puppy mill, then started going blind, survived cancer... And he still has an amazing attitude. 

There definitely were challenges with both him and Bebe coming from a puppy mill.  He was actually the easier of my 2 mill rescues.  Jack pretty much lived on my couch for 6 months.  He just watched everything going on, took it all in.  I even fed him on the couch!  I learned early on with him to just let him do what he's comfortable with.  Eventually he decided that the world wasn't a scary place, and he should come off of the couch!

One of the amazing things about Jack is how well he adapted to going blind.  He has Progressive Retinal Atrophy.  My mom first noticed his sight issues a year or so into me owning him.  Since then his retinas are completely degenerated.  He copes so well with being blind even this ophthalmologists at Purdue don't understand how he does so well!  Every once in a while he bumps into things, and he does have a higher gait when he's in an unfamiliar place.  He still goes up and down stairs, though!  Unless you tell someone it's VERY difficult to tell he's blind.  He still goes to daycare once a week, too.  He wears a soft cone in unfamiliar places so that he doesn't hit his head, but he rarely even does that.  It's pretty amazing.

Yet another inspiring story about how special-needs pets can endure and thrive when given a wonderful home!  Katie and Jack's story definitely makes me want to get out there and rescue a puppy-mill survivor.  Puppy mill dogs have often never even set foot on grass before - they have been kept in a small cage for the entirety of their life.  These tossed-aside, neglected animals all deserve a second chance at having a happy life, and it seems like rescuing one and seeing it adjust and improve day by day would be extremely rewarding.  A huge thanks to Katie and Jack for sharing their story!  If you'd like to read more about Jack-Jack and the journey he has had since living in a puppy mill, I encourage you to check out his website, Instagram, or Facebook page.

If you'd like to be included on the blog or have a success story to share, please feel free to contact me!  Thanks for reading! <3



  1. He is so adorable!! What a great story. I love hearing inspiring stories about special-needs animals and how they have triumphed over their disabilities. So wonderful. Thanks for sharing, Chelsea.

    1. I agree; these are my favorite kinds of adoption success stories! Thanks for reading :)