The Tennessee Seven


It isn’t news when I read a Facebook update from the Westie Rescue group we support and learn of another batch of breeding mill “retirees” coming into the rescue fold. What is news is when the head of this group reports that she was “brought to her knees” upon examining the worst of the lot, Christopher Robin, and when the photos of his condition have warning captions: Graphic, Bloody, Disturbing. Don’t Look if Easily Sickened.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you are proven wrong. His condition was beyond anything those in rescue have seen or could have imagined.  There are breeders and then there are breeding mills. The canine equivalent of labor camps, much is being done to expose the truly horrifying condition under which cute little white puppies appear in your local pet store.

Christopher Robin’s condition was so disturbing that it was one of those tipping point moments and the floodgates opened with donations towards his care from all over the country and Europe. It was and is remarkable.  Miraculously, his condition is improving and the prognosis is a bright one.

But it IS the Tennessee Seven, right? There are six other Westies in the group and they have stories too. They had the usual assortment of breeding mill problems: eye infections, skin problems, worms, parasites, etc. But three were healthy enough to go in for treatment and spaying/neutering which is such good news.

And then Beloved Husband and I saw the Facebook update asking for help in transporting those three Westies up to Maryland from Tennessee where Maryland Westie Rescue would take over their fostering and eventual placement.


Here they are, the healthiest of the Tennessee 7: Lillian, Josephine, and Buck

Have I mentioned BH has his pilot’s license? And that he is a seriously good guy?

Here is my hero and those three Westies on their way up to Maryland this past Tuesday morning. Yup, BH dropped everything after checking the weather and flew down to Tennessee from Virginia to pick up the three little dogs.


Getting ready to pack up his precious cargo



Up, up, and away to your new lives, little ones.

Two out of three Westies are in Maryland now. You see, while all of this was going on, The Bossy One piped in that SHE wants one. It’s been several months now since Mary’s beloved cairn terrier, Hannah, left us and she is eager to bring a new pup into her life.


Here is my unexpected houseguest, Josephine, feeling the love from the big guy. She’ll be with us until May.

So I am pleased to introduce our newest Westie baby, Josephine. She is two years old. I don’t know how many times she’s been bred, but she shows signs of giving birth recently. Josie has never been in a house before having spent her entire life in a pen. She is scared of just about everything. The refrigerator kicking on startles her. I opened a drawer too quickly and she ran from the kitchen. She cringes when I go to pet her. All of this will work itself out. I’m sure by the time I deliver her to my sister in Colorado next month, she will be so much better. And I will need a Margarita (do you hear this, Mary?)


Her first morning with us trying to figure out just what is going on, I’m sure.

And the beat goes on at The Barn.

Should any of you want to learn more about the evils of breeding mills, read here. And never, ever buy a dog from a pet store.

Thanks for reading,





About Silver in the Barn

Life in a 1915 farmhouse in Central Virginia. And the odd thought or two.
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28 Responses to The Tennessee Seven

  1. Dianna says:

    Aw….. such a sweet part of a sad story. YAY for your hubby; he IS a hero! And I’m sure Josephine is feeling the love of a happy home already. Good for all of you!


  2. Diane Ahlberg says:

    So heart breaking – all for money
    I am amazed and disgusted what some people will do-
    On the good side in life there are those like you and Roger that make a difference. Think of the joy these Westies will bring into their new homes!


    • You’re absolutely right. Money is at the heart of it. And cute little Westies command a big price. What’s behind the scenes when you see those cute little white puppies in a pet store would break your heart. Thanks, Diane.


  3. Mary says:

    Is there any news on whether these puppy mill operators are being prosecuted?


    • No. I am not privy to what the plans are but I do know that plans are underway. Evidence is being gathered. First priority was to take care of the dogs. Then steps will be taken but I don’t know the details.


  4. Sue Mayo says:

    Do the boys like her? Does she like them?


  5. Betsy says:

    Barbara, You and Roger have such big hearts! These pups are so lucky to have y’all and the chance to have a loving home and family!! Hooray to Roger for going and getting them!


  6. Sandra says:

    An inspiring read, Barbara. Thank you for sharing this.


  7. What a cutie! Are you sure you’ll be able to giver her up to your sister in May? If animals have any concept of guardian angels, your little Josephine now knows she has encountered them Hugs to the big guy! (And to you…. as I assume there is a lot of training to do for little Josephine…)


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  9. The cruelty that people treat animals with always astounds me. You’re wonderful to do what you do. We recently adopted a 9 year old female dog that has been through a tortured life. Regardless, she is one of the sweetest creatures I’ve had the good fortune to encounter. I wish we had found her sooner.



    • Thank you, Caroline. No, we are not wonderful, just willing and able. And look at you, taking in your own dog. I would love to know more about her. How can you work that into your blog? Yes, there is something so great about older dogs who finally find a home….they are so grateful! I love that you’ve done that!


  10. ritaroberts says:

    Hi Barbara, These Westies are so cute.I adored mine named Tilly whom I lost some l0 years ago. There doesn’t seem to be this breed of dog in Crete where I now live. So we had a rescue puppy who must have been only days old as his eyes were not even open found on the mountain abandoned along with three sisters. I think when you have a rescue dog you seem to develop a stronger bond with them. However, sad to say he had a heart problem and was suffering. We lost him just three weeks ago only 9 years old. He was a cross between a King Charles and Springer Spaniel. Our friends run a rescue place for dogs and cats here. Sue and John there place is called Hectors House we see all the sort of things you describe such as animals neglected etc., Our friends restore their health and find them homes. Sorry for such a long comment. Talk soon.


    • Long comments are good! First of all, I’m so sorry about your rescue puppy passing away. Yes, I agree about the rescue dogs finding a special place in your heart. They are so vulnerable, aren’t they, to what we choose to do to them. I hope there is a special place in hell, purgatory, Dante’s Inferno, wherever for animal abusers. And Sue and John sound like just my cup of tea! How wonderful it must be to live in Crete!!!


  11. ritaroberts says:

    Hi again Barbara, I agree entirely with you abut animal abusers. They should be tied to a tree and left for days like so many of them are treated here. Supposedly to be guarding the property, but I say should they be chained to a tree NO of course not. Otherwise yes ! living in Crete is heaven..I will come back constantly to have a look at those lovely Westies and your other posts of course.


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    • The problem is further complicated by the whole puppy mill issue. Good breeders do a great job of weeding out potentially bad owners but the puppy mills sell to the pet stores and you know how that goes. Visa or American Express is about the only question they ask.


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  14. Eliza Waters says:

    God bless you and the work you do.


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