A rescue dog named Bill was the inspiration for Happy Tails Books. In 2008, two-year-old Bill was released from a puppy mill after spending the first two years of his life sitting in a cage. When MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue took him into their care, he simply cowered in the back of his crate.
Bill was adopted out but then quickly returned due to his poor psychological state. The family wanted a dog to play ball with, but all Bill could do was stare lifelessly off into space. It may seem callous, but they knew they hadn’t the patience or desire to embark on the long road to rehab, and ultimately they did the right thing by returning him to the rescue group.
As if things weren’t bad enough for Bill, tragedy struck again when he and another female Boston Terrier broke free from their foster home’s yard. The female, a socialite, was recovered within minutes. Bill, on the other hand, confused and afraid, went into hiding. He hid so well that he eluded an intensive community search brigade and somehow survived for three weeks alone in a woodlands area where coyotes have dens. When he was finally spotted by a woman walking on a trail, he weighed 13 pounds down from 23, and he was only a quarter-mile from where he first escaped! She had thought he was dead, as he was splayed out next to a carcass. She even thought to poke him with a stick to see if he was alive! Animal control came and transported Bill on a doggie stretcher to their vehicle and then to the local shelter, where his life again hung in the balance. He had a gash on his leg that was so deep the muscle was exposed, and he still just stared off into space.
Fortunately, Bill’s microchip reunited him with his foster family. The shelter and the family jointly decided he deserved a chance, so Bill began the long road to rehab with a deadness in his eyes. He barely moved or even looked around. The gash on his front leg required bi-weekly visits to the vet for bandage changes and laser treatments to help stimulate healing, but this physical injury was nothing compared to the tremendous psychological trauma poor Bill had been exposed to his entire life. He was so scared that for the first few months back in foster care, he had to be carried outside to potty. As the pattern continued, it seemed Bill would never find happiness, but then, after four months, a glimmer of hope appeared…
With the help of other dogs at the dog park and a fantastic trainer, Bill began to come around. He transitioned from waiting to leave at the dog park gate to becoming the star quarterback (kind of like that movie “Rudy”–he’s small but fierce!). With positive reinforcement training, daily “drags” turned into races, and potty-time became an exciting moment to dance about.
These days the first thing people notice about Bill is how his right hind leg flies out sideways as he sprints to greet them with a big smile on his face. This has nothing to do with his injuries, he’s just trying to run and wag his stubby little corkscrew tail at the same time. Bill’s always trying to do two things at once to make up for his lost years, like bark and yawn at the same time when the car arrives at his favorite trailheads. He runs up rocks like a mountain goat and rolls down hills like a ninja, all the while making sure that his mommy is close by to share in the fun.
The light in this world burns brighter now that it has returned to Bill’s eyes. This gentle, loving lost soul has been found, and he has since touched the hearts of everyone who meets him.
Bill’s foster (and now forever) mom, Kyla Duffy, founded Happy Tails Books as an effort to educate people about the joy of dog rescue and the horror of puppy mill breeding. She asks that you please help put an end to animal cruelty and shelter overpopulation by choosing adoption over pet store purchases and understanding the breed before adding a dog to your family to ensure a good fit.
In addition to being the inspiration for Happy Tails Books, Bill also inspired the creation of Don’t Kill Bill: A Dog Lover’s Night Out, a theater production all about rescued dogs.
Kyla Duffy, Founder and Co-Editor
Kyla Duffy fell in love with dogs after becoming an emergency foster parent for a Boston Terrier with kennel cough. She lives in Boulder, CO with her husband, Bill and Hillary (rescued Boston Terriers), and a perpetual stream of foster dogs. She enjoys rehabilitating the tough cases and helps them build up muscle and confidence on long hikes through the beautiful Colorado Front Range.
Kyla is a performer, teacher, entrepreneur, and athlete, who retired from professional snowboarding in 2001 to pursue more “leisurely” activities such as high-flying trapeze. She holds a BS in Marketing, a BA in Spanish Translation, and an MPS in Organizational Leadership. After years of business ownership experience, she founded Happy Tails Books to raise awareness and funding for dog rescue efforts and then founded Up For Pups, a 501(c)3 humane education organization that focuses on supporting rescue organizations through initiatives such as their Road to Rescue: Dog Rescue Best Practices Manual. She enjoys the creative and philanthropic nature of Happy Tails Books and Up For Pups and is always excited to share the passionate stories written by dog-lovers whose animals have clearly changed their lives.
Lowrey Mumford, Co-Editor
A lifelong pet parent, Lowrey (pictured here with her parents’ dog, Clyde, from the Dumfries and Galloway Canine Rescue Centre in Scotland) currently cares for a Siamese fighting fish and two dogs, Twiglet and Razzle. Twiglet found his “forever home” with Lowrey and Matt after he’d been in three homes in 10 months and had an extended stay at Denver Dumb Friends League shelter. In ill health and considered a tough case, Twiglet now has a clean bill of health, was house-trained in two days, and learned everything else after only one mistake. He’s even passed the test to receive his Canine Good Citizen certificate. This “problem child” just needed some exercise, love, and guidance to help him blossom.
Lowrey is passionate about writing (imagine!). She has worked as a journalist both for print and television and also served as a writer/editor for websites and books. She has contributed to magazines in the past, too. She is also an avid letter-writer, photographer, and lapsed poet.