If you have been to our new location on our farm or follow our social media pages, you may have seen some posts about our sweet old farm dog, Elsa. Elsa has decided our new market space was built for her and she loves to ride in the golf cart down to the building where she walks in and sits right inside the front door, patiently waiting to greet our customers. She loves to get belly rubs and attention from anyone that walks into the space. Since she has become such a feature in our new space, we thought we would share the story of how we rescued Elsa and 3 of her litter mates several years ago. In July of 2010, I was spending the night at the farm so I could spend the next day with Rog and Vic for my birthday. The night before my birthday, our dear friend Sherry stopped over to see us (she boarded her horse with us at the time)….but she wasn’t alone. She came to the back door and in her arms was this adorable ball of fluff. Sherry told us that she had stopped at the feed store for horse supplies and next to the store was a man sitting in his front yard selling sweet corn out of his truck. She stopped to buy some corn and he happened to have a St Bernard puppy with him. Sherry started talking to the man and asked where he got this adorable little puppy. He said he got him from a friend and that they had more they were giving away. He then said he would take her to the location if she wanted one. Without hesitating, Sherry followed the man down a country road to a home in the middle of nowhere. (She now says following a stranger down a country road to an unknown location may not have been the best idea.) Sherry said when she got to the home, she was disturbed with what she saw. There were two children in the home that were dirty and the inside of the home was filthy. The woman inside the home was in a long dirty white shirt and appeared to be inebriated. They told Sherry she could have all the puppies if she wanted, but Sherry was getting uncomfortable so she took one puppy and left. So….she then came out to see us and told us the story about how she acquired this adorable puppy. She told us what she saw and she was upset that she left the rest behind. We talked to her for awhile and she left with her new puppy.
The next morning was my birthday and Vic and I planned on having a day of fun together. Rog was still working at the time so he left that morning for work and may or may not have said something like “whatever you do, do not bring puppies home today.” So, while we pondered what we wanted to do that day, we kept talking about these puppies that sounded like they were in a bad situation and what we should do. Then Sherry came over to see her horse and asked what we were up to for my birthday and it was all over. I said that I really wanted to go get the puppies and that we could find amazing homes for them…and Vic and Sherry agreed. Sherry said she would come with us so we hopped in Vic’s truck and made the 40 minute drive to where the puppies were (sorry Rog). As we pulled up to the home in the middle of nowhere, Vic and I were quickly aware of the condition of the home. It was very neglected and gave us a very uneasy feeling. Then, we noticed a large male St Bernard in the back yard which was nothing but dirt. This dog had no shelter or water and it was well over 90 degrees outside. He was thin and tied up to a post with nothing but the dirt under his feet surrounding him. Sherry and I decided to go knock on the back door and as we got out of the truck Vic said “I’m going to turn the truck around so we can leave quick but do NOT go inside that house.” Sherry and I said “ok” then got out of the truck and knocked on the back door. A teenage boy came to the back door and when he opened it, Sherry told him we were there to pick up the rest of the puppies if they were still available. The boy said ok and opened the door to let us in the house. As we were walking in, I turned and gave Vic a wave in case it was the last time we ever saw her and she replied with a look of total horror and frantically shook her head no.
Sherry and I walked up some stairs and entered the main floor of the home. I have been in some dirty homes before but this was something I had never seen before. The condition and smell of the home was something I will never forget and seeing the two children inside is something I think about often. The woman was still in the dirty white shirt that she had been in the day before when Sherry was there and now she was attempting to sweep the floor. The day before, Sherry said the children, a boy and a girl, had long dirty matted hair but when we saw them the next day, their heads had been shaved almost as if the woman knew someone may come back and she didn’t want anyone to see how dirty they were. The 4 puppies were huddled together in a pile under the kitchen table, away from their mother who was locked in a different room as we were told she could be aggressive. We were told we could have the puppies and their father but we didn’t know if the father was aggressive too so we picked up the lethargic puppies and got out of there as fast as we could. We ran to the truck with the puppies and Vic sped down the driveway and headed towards home. The puppies were filthy, covered in fleas and barely moving so we worried that they may not make it home. Luckily, they made it home and we fed them right away. We created a pen outside in the shade where we bathed them several times to kill the fleas and clean them up. While we were cleaning them, Rog called on his way home from work and asked what we did for my birthday. I replied that I couldn’t tell him where we went and he asked where we were. I told him we were back at home and he asked if the puppies were with us. I replied again that I couldn’t tell him that either. I’m pretty sure he knew when he left the house that morning that we would be going to get the puppies but he didn’t say a word. When he got home and saw the little balls of fluff in the back yard that was all it took.
We found out the puppies were about 5 weeks old and we heard down the road that the home we acquired them from was a known drug house. We did end up calling protective services for a well-being check on the children but we never heard what happened. We also called the animal shelter in the area where we got the puppies and they were able to pick up the male St Bernard. He was heartworm positive but he was treated and adopted out to a loving home.
As the puppies began to feel better, their personalities began to shine. We set up a play pen in the yard for them and Rog bought bags of ice to put in their water bowls, which we found out the puppies loved to sit in. We were able to find 3 of the puppies amazing homes and the 4th puppy, the only female, never left the farm. Little did we know, Elsa would stay and become the most amazing farm dog…..and Rog’s baby. Rog and Elsa take golf cart rides together every day and Elsa LOVES to help with chores every morning. She enjoys laying on the covered porch where she can watch the property and alert us when she feels something is off. Elsa is 12 years old now and is the last remaining pup of the litter but she still does her jobs every morning patrolling the property and helping with chores. She has been the most amazing addition to our farm and if we had it our way, she would live forever.