the story of sam wiggins.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


there are two defining moments in our marriage thus far.... moving to nyc and picking out a puppy sized sam wiggins. picking out a puppy is an experience most couples will never forget. ours was more life threatening.

fortunately i married a dog lover and it didn't take long for us to bring up the canine conversation. we were living in nashville, tn at the time and a labradoodle seemed like the perfect fit. like any responsible dog owner, we googled labradoodles nashville tn and quickly found a breeder in our area. we called the breeders, set up an appointment, and drove two hours outside of nashville to see the new litter.

we arrive at the farm to find a barb-wire fence, no house to be seen, and a climbable gate. to get to the grounds we literally had to leave the prius at the road and jump the fence. keep in mind, there was no address so we were 80% sure we were even at the right place. ed is the sane person in the relationship and suggests that trespassing on someone's property in the sticks of tennessee might not be the smartest. i assure you, these peeps have guns in their living room.

i thought otherwise.

i didn't drive two hours into the boonies and spend $300 at petco to not come back with a sam wiggins in my lap.

we jumped the damn fence.

so now we're walking in the middle of a dirt field on a path that leads us to civilization. keep in mind we had an appointment with these loonie bins and they never picked up the phone during this whole fiasco.

let me paint you a picture of the civilization we found..... pretty much worst nightmare living conditions and a little bit of texas chainsaw massacre. i could have filmed blair witch project up in there.

as we get closer, we see (and hear) dog after dog after dog in cages. sadly, i knew we were in the right place.

ed keeps calling the breeders on the phone while i yell out for anyone who might answer.

no answer.

this goes on for about 20 minutes as we weren't dumb enough to march into these people's trailer home. ed's still dialing and i'm still yelling.

so we decide to go into the trailer shack. i mean, we were determined to get a dog.

as we get closer, out of nowhere runs a doberman FULL SPEED showing teeth. i was walking in front and i remember ed saying from behind... "oh my god, i should be walking in front cuz he'll snap you in half." we froze.

i forgot to mention we picked up our own weapons along the hike. i had a huge-ass stick (so useful?) and ed had some piece of scrap of metal he found in the pile of dead bodies. KIDDING. kidding.

deranged doberman made circles around us and i yelled out "HELP!" he assumed we were harmless and walked into an open door in the trailer. we followed behind.

we find a 400lb woman squeezed behind a teeny computer desk and her skinny overall-wearing husband watching TV. guys, i am WARM at this point. i have words with these people.

ed backs me down. they claimed they didn't hear the phone, or my calls for help, because the TV was too loud.

we demanded to see the litter right away and recognized sam's sweet face from the photo we saw online. instead of snuggling with his siblings, sam nudged the fence and wiggled his way over to ed's feet.

he chose US.

i swear on sam wiggin's paw pads he had this look in his eyes that screamed "get me out of this place." as you can imagine, i had a very hard time leaving the rest of that litter behind as we knew we had run into a puppy mill with subpar living conditions.

the breeders were shut down several months later.

looking back, i know we should have rescued a dog as opposed to taking the breeder route. but i have no doubt we rescued sam wiggins.

53 comments:

Tiffany @ Savor Home said...

This story made me both sad and happy. Sam is so lucky to have you guys as parents!!

Diandra said...

This was a great story. In the end, you actually did rescue a dog. Lucky Sam, and lucky you.

Ashley said...

Heart-breaking and heart-stopping! Scary!

Smith And Ratliff said...

You did rescue a dog. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise! I love these sweet, precious dogs we get to share our lives with—what would we do without them?

in dreams said...

mr wiggins is a very lucky man. :)

Katie said...

Love this story. Your dog is adorable!

Rebeka said...

I'm so glad that you guys found each other. Sam is so precious. It was meant to be!!

Vanessa said...

This is exactly why I won't buy from a breeder. But you are so right, you rescued that dog. Thank God for Sam that you DID choose the breeder route! He's a vey icky little pup.

(PS- Soooo happy the story ended with the operation being shut down!)

Lauren Knight said...

Oh, so sad! Poor pups! So glad you got Sam out of there!

yours truly, melissa said...

Wow, that is sad. I have a deep dislike for people that mistreat animals! I completely agree with you, he was totally rescued.

He also happens to be pretty cute! And small! Must have not been a full sized poodle...

jen said...

glad to hear the operation got shut down! hearing about the horrors of puppy mills is what led us to get our dogs from a shelter instead of a breeder. BUT - you most definitely rescued Sam Wiggins!

Life etc... said...

Oh so sad that those sorts of puppy farms exist. But you definitely did the right thing rescuing at least one of them! :)

Life Etc

Kayla Poole said...

Oh that is so sad. Puppy mills depress me greatly. But hooray for happy endings and not getting eaten by the Doberman or beaten by the trailer dwellers.

Kayla Poole said...

Oh that is so sad. Puppy mills depress me greatly. But hooray for happy endings and not getting eaten by the Doberman or beaten by the trailer dwellers.

Maggy said...

Unreal! I had a similar experience picking up a cat with a friend, it was downright depressing. I am so glad you did get Sam Wiggins and in a way you definitely did rescue him. I can't believe you haven't told this story before!

rubysongbird said...

This story makes me so sad! I'm glad they got shut down and I hope they didn't open another puppy mill. Glad you were able to save little Sam Wiggins.

Gita said...

Uh, I really hate people like that. How can you do such things to any living creature. I'm happy that Sam Wiggins is in good hands now :).

xx
http://gita-oddsandends.blogspot.com/

Susan said...

Oh wow...what a crazy adventure! Very touching though...and we also "rescued" Billy from a bad breeder situation. It's hard to imagine our lives without our furry babies, isn't it?!

Sophie said...

omg! that is insane. it sounds like an absolutely hideous place! i don't think i could have even made it that far with the slightest hint of a texas chainsaw massacre feel! i would just die! so so impressed you guys were so brave! you definitely saved little sam wiggins! so glad that awful hell sounding "breeder" is now shut down!

Katie said...

oh this breaks my heart! glad you got your pup out of there.

I didn't know much about breeders or puppy mills or rescue dogs when we decided to get a dog. thankfully we found a good breeder (in AR), but next time I think it's gonna hafta be a rescue.

Shoko said...

Oh my goodness. You rescued him for sure! He is the sweetest - you are all lucky to have each other :)

sumslay said...

Eeeek! Glad ya'll made it out okay and got little Sam Wiggins! I agree that you did "rescue" him, but to be fair, puppy mills exist because there's such a high demand for designer dogs. To each their own though - besides, once a dog is born, they all need a home! So glad you got him out of there!

Ashley Blossom said...

This only makes me fall more in love with your freaking adorable puppy. I love him!

Brooklyn said...

First of all, I have to say your storytelling made me laugh probably because I know this scene all too well as we do live in Alabama, ha! I'm so happy you guys found/rescued Mr Wiggins and that puppy mill was shut down. Gosh that big lady and overall man make me mad and I don't even know them. Sam is one lucky pooch!

chic81.com said...

You most definitely did rescue this cute little pup and don't let anyone tell you otherwise! I hate to hear stories about mistreated animals or animals living in subpar conditions, but I hope that all the dogs from this puppy mill went to shelters where they were adopted to loving families. What a sweet story.

Shannon said...

Omg Rebecca, I am crying! That was such a beautiful post, I'm a dog lover too and rescued my dog Molly from a shelter, but I can tell you the shelter I got her from was the Taj Mahal compared to this place! Oh god, I would have wanted to take every single dog there. Sam Wiggins is so lucky to have you guys, I love knowing this story about him.

Shannon
www.11thandshannon.com

Lottie said...

Poor Sam Wiggins, that is until he was rescued by you guys. But at least Sam can say he was from the hood ;)

rebecca said...

lottie-
sam is gangsta.

Kate said...

Every dog needs a home, and Sam's lucky you found him when he needed you! Thank goodness those people were stopped. If this story has convinced even one person to rescue instead of buy, that's one more dog you've saved!

Melissa said...

How terrifying! But what a lucky pup (and lucky owners).

Love your moving to NYC story too. So adventurous!

Lonely Wife Project said...

I appreciate you sharing your story. We got our first dog from a breeder and she was sick and died a week after her 1st birthday. I was devastated. I'm still ashamed to admit I went the backyard breeder route, but it did make me realize how effed up puppy mills are. Our 3 pups now are rescues (including our Great Dane). I'm glad you got Sam Wiggins out of there and the shit hole was shut down.

Lena at A Crimson Kiss said...

I can't imagine Sam being so mistreated, but without question he was your rescue!

Whitney said...

I am convinced that our dog chose us, too. I'm so glad you saved Sam Wiggins!

Victoria said...

So, how did you two come up with the name? I seriously love it -but I have never heard of it before. Your "adoption" story is absolutely hilarious. You are braver than I would have been! A friend and I just had a similar experience....The lady that came out of her house was, well a total biker type rough character. My friend had already been out there before but I seriously think I went into shock aftervtalking with her.

Anonymous said...

YAY! Puppy mills suck. You did rescue Sam and I'm so glad you have a heart for rescuing dogs! :)

benson said...

Our airedale terrier was from a neighborhood pet store that stated their dogs were from local reputable breeders. When Zoe was 9 months old she was diagnosed with severe hip dysplasia and upon further research we found out that the "honest" pet store bought from puppy mills (and the calls and letters began to rat out the place after her diagnosis). Some dog owners might have given her up but we invested thou$ands in corrective surgery for both hips and she lived a very happy 12 years of life--we felt like we rescued her from what could have been.
Live and learn and the amount of research, references, and phone calls regarding our goldendoodle Lola was crazytown but worth it for our peace of mind and her state of health. Here's to the rescues no matter how they've made it into our home and hearts!

The Bebebirds said...

Oh gosh, you totally had me laughing with this story. I'm from Texas and have experienced the scary-as-heck trailer dwellers. SO happy you found/rescued Sam wiggins!

Brooke

Jesse said...

this reads like a choose your own adventure. except you are the ultimate bad ass and the ending is the best adventure (with the happiest ending!) i ever read:)

Monica L. Shulman said...

I have the goosebumps. I can't imagine a world without Mr. Wiggins and I have not even met him yet. You absolutely rescued him and I'm so glad you guys found each other. I love your writing. x

Winny Vettorato van Zuylen said...

Sam has such a sweet face. It's like he's so thankful that you came and rescued him!

Gloria said...

Wow, what a crazy story!! People who run puppy mills are just deplorable - glad something happy came out of such a horrible situation!

Tracey Ayton Photography said...

Oh this story brings tears to my eyes, both happy and sad ones. I send my love to all of those dogs, where ever they may be now but especially Sam Wiggins :-)

Ana said...

I am so glad you guys rescued that adorable furball :) I think pets are kind of underrated considering how many times they 'rescue' us - I know my dog can instantly put a smile on my face and that's exactly what this pic and story have done too :)

standardofelegance said...

Crazy story! I am a native Nashvillian but I didn't know you had also lived here! I definitely know what you're talking about with the sketchy, off-the-beaten-path homes/farms/shacks. I would have been scared out of my mind. You never know what you'll run into outside of Nashville

Laicie said...

Aww Sam!! What a sad story. Glad you rescued the little guy.

Gaby [The Vault Files] said...

Oh my Goodness I can't believe this story! He's so lucky, but I feel so sad for the other ones..I hope they were as lucky as your Sam, poor things!

katilda said...

i want that dog!! i made a 2-year goal of a) owning a place where i can have a puppy, and b) getting a puppy. i've never owned a dog before and it's just something i want to do! i am torn between a small fluffy-type dog (think west highland terrier) or a more rambunctious type, like a red hound.

I'm Sydney. said...

So sweet :)

Mat said...

oh man what a story, that's just insane. i'm quite surprised you took it that far and got to the place, that took some guts. thankfully it turned out very well in the end and you now have the cutest dog going. hopefully the other's made it too

MissPiggy said...

Wow, that's a sad sad story...and you're right - Sam Wiggins was rescued! You did a good thing (and I'm glad to hear these horrible people had their puppy farm shut down). Hurmph.

Anonymous said...

How terribly sad that even a penny of your money went to those terrible people and to supporting their "business" that essentially tortured dogs. Sick. Please don't be fooled into thinking you "did a good thing." You supported a hideous system.

Please go to shelters, people. You can get any kind of dog you want from a shelter - pure breeds, puppies, etc. There are even specific rescue organizations for different breeds. It's amazing (and pathetic) what ends up at shelters.

Rachel said...

Like Anonymous above me, I too cannot praise anything about this story. The minute I read "responsible dog owner" I immediately believed this would be a story about miraculously finding a labradoodle in a shelter, or somehow finding the exact breed of your dreams by some other rescue means, because absolutely no "responsible" dog owner would support a puppy mill. I cannot believe so many people are trying to make you feel better about doing that.
Another thing that disgusts me about this story, that again I'm shocked no one has pointed out, is your derogatory condescension surrounding your use of the word trailer"

Rachel said...

I understand that these people lived in a trailer saying "trailer home" and "trailer shack" comes off as incredibly condescending. The story of how these people treated animals was horrible enough that you did not have to insert snide remarks about their living situation and "backwoods inferiority" to get your point across. Be grateful you've never had to experience trailer living (as I assume from your condescension you haven't) and please don't conflate socioeconomic class with ethics, morals, and fair treatment, as it only makes you look snotty, unkind, and ignorant to the realities of those less fortunate than yourself.

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