Meet Gretel: A Literal Rags to Riches Story

The photo to the right was taken just days after Doggy Daddy and I adopted Gretel in 2010.

As it is with most rescue dogs, her exact age was unknown.

The rescue we adopted her from was told she was about 8 months old at the time of surrender but, upon her first vet examination, it was estimated that she was closer to 10 months of age.

We were very honored to give this special girl a loving home where she would be showered with attention and given the opportunity to become one of the most adventurous Dachshunds alive.

I like to call her my “unicorn” because finding a purebred, chocolate dapple (which was way more rare to find in 2010), young, miniature Dachshund was rare.

The fact that we were chosen to be her family out of literally a hundred adoption applications is a further miracle.

UPDATED: December 19, 2022 (compiled and edited from 3 different, previous articles).

About the Rescue Gretel was Adopted From

Gretel came to us from Motley Zoo Animal Rescue in Redmond, WA.

While they have been around 15 years at the time of this update, when we adopted Gretel they were a young, fresh organization revolutionizing the rescue scene.

They go beyond everything a traditional rescue does.

Besides saving the lives of animals in need and fixing them up, they also provide the training and instruction the pets will need to become the best pet for you.

Motley Zoo strives to be the revolution of rescue, rehabilitation and education!

Motley Zoo is not a brick and mortar rescue and they rely solely on foster volunteers.

They primarily exist to support the shelters but their animals come from all different situations, including owner surrenders.

Motley Zoo carefully reviewed over 100 applications for Gretel and ultimately selected us as her new home.

After she came to our home, they continued to work with us on getting her adjusted to her new family  – answering any and every question I had and providing training tips that had worked for her while she was with them.

I’ve continued to stay in touch with Motley Zoo to let them how Gretel is doing and celebrate her successes.

Gretel’s History Before the Rescue

There are two parts to how Gretel ended up at the rescue – the family who surrendered her and where she came from before that.

For privacy reasons, a dog’s history before they were surrendered to a rescue are rarely revealed.

Through unfortunate circumstances, we were able to learn a little history about Gretel.

The original blog post I wrote about Gretel’s history was titled “Gretel, Hookers, and Blow” because her past was shady and potentially involved a back-alley deal under the cover of darkness.

Being surrendered to the rescue

When I talked with Motley Zoo Rescue about Gretel’s history they said she was surrendered to them because Gretel was “more than they signed up for”.

Motley Zoo tried to provide that family with advice and training so they could work with Gretel and keep her in their home.

Later, because of how Gretel’s true past was revealed, the people who surrendered her to Motley Zoo Animal Rescue found us.

I just want to say that, although it’s typical for people to vilify those to choose to surrender their pets, I have the utmost sympathy for their situaiton and the heartbreaking choice they had to make.

I won’t go into details to protect their privacy, and because the conversation I had with the family was a long time ago so I might remember details incorrectly, but it’s safe to say they thought Gretel was sick and she had severe behavioral issues (anxiety and aggression).

The couple eventually decided to surrender Gretel to Motley Zoo Animal Rescue saying that the situation they took her from was “sketchy” and they didn’t want to take her back there.

They were doing what was best for Gretel and to protect their family.

I’m over-the-moon that they made the decision they did because my life completely changed when we adopted Gretel (more on that later).

Gretel was a victim of a dog flipper before that

The family that surrendered Gretel to Motley Zoo described situation they took her from as “sketchy”. Later, I found out what that meant.

When we adopted Gretel, she came with various vet papers.

One set of papers said she had already been spayed and had all her vaccinations. That set was also labeled as “possibly fake”.

We got a second set of papers documenting another vaccination and spay so we didn’t pay much attention to that first set.

Little did we know, Gretel’s past was shadier than we had even imagined.

A few months after adopting her, I received an email titled “Gretel’s Past” from Motley Zoo with a link to an article.

Apparently, the lady that the family bought Gretel from got busted for falsifying veterinary records, forging a veterinarian’s signature, and trafficking, or “flipping”, dogs.

For clarity, I will just refer to that lady as the “dog flipper lady” going forward.

An inkling by someone who bought a dog from the dog flipper lady (it was unknown this is what she was at the time) led the local news to investigate the issue.

It turns out that the dog flipper lady had sold 21 dogs, of varying breeds, with phony paperwork stating the animals were examined at a local veterinary clinic but they weren’t.

Gretel’s “falsified” papers claimed that she had all her shots and was spayed – none of which was true!

Several dogs that were bought from this woman turned out to have medical problems.

Everyone was told a misleading, false story behind the dog they were buying.

The dog flipper lady had been operating under a fake name but a slip-up led the local news to the real woman.

Apparently, at one point before she was a professional dog flipper, the woman had taken in too many dogs for her small apartment and sold one.

That was the day she realized that flipping dogs could bring her some serious cash.

It was revealed that this woman swapped dogs for cash in a grimy Seattle alley for cash.

The woman claimed that no dogs were stolen but admitted she bought all the dogs cheap online and groomed them for sale.

At first, the dog flipper lady denied the allegations of forging the veterinarian’s signature on papers but then admitted she did recognize them.

She said she made the papers up because most people wouldn’t buy one of her dogs unless she provided a vaccination record.

She said in order to sell the dogs she “would often bend the truth”.

How did the dog flipper obtain Gretel?

It makes me wonder who raised Gretel from a puppy and what kind of living conditions she was brought up in.

Was she brought up in a puppy mill? Was she sold on Craigslist by people who were relocating and trying to find a home for their puppy?

It’s my understanding that the dog flipper lady told a story of how her parents were Dachshund breeders in a remote area of Washington State.

They were unable to sell this last puppy so they sent her to the city to be sold (by the dog flipper lady).

But it’s been proven she was a liar so I seriously doubt that was the truth.

Really, I have to no idea where the dog flipper got Gretel from or how many homes she had before arriving there.

I envision the sale of Gretel to and by the dog flipper lady going something like this:

A woman and a man meet in a dark, dank alley. The alley smells like trash and steam from the sewers below is rising from the manholes.

Hookers are loitering and drug addicts are slumped in the corner as headlight scream past the alley opening.

The man pulls a scared, shaking, dirty puppy from a cardboard box and shoves it into the woman’s arms.

He sneers as he snatches the money from her and turns and runs away into the night.

Then the lady takes the dog home, spiffs her up, falsifies the papers, and sells her to an unwitting couple.

No wonder Gretel was anxious when they bought her. Poor little girl.

I did hire an animal communicator once that said Gretel’s first home was very loving and she loved her person.

The communicator said something went really wrong – possibly an accident of some sort – and Gretel was abruptly send away.

Who knows if that is true either but, regardless, it’s clear that Gretel’s early life was traumatizing.

Did the dog flipper lady get arrested?

Unfortunately, at least in our state, most of what the dog flipper lady did was not illegal.

It’s not illegal to buy or otherwise obtain a dog and resell it.

However, forging a veterinarian’s signature is against the law so there were some consequences of that, although not as harsh as one might expect.

Initially, the woman denied any wrongdoing but has not had a change of heart and got honest about what she had been doing.

One of the commenters on the article Motley Zoo had sent me about the dog flipper lady getting busted compared what this lady had done to running a puppy mill.

To my surprise, the dog flipper lady replied to that comment defending herself!

She admitted that she did lie but that the conditions these puppies experienced never, at any moment, resembled the cruelty and neglect of a puppy mill.

I felt compelled comment on the article saying that I ended up with one of these dogs and sharing our story.

I explained that Gretel was clearly traumatized and not socialized as a puppy.

I said I put a lot of work into her over the last 6 months but you can tell she is still wrought with anxiety.

I wanted people to know how sad I was about all of this.

To my surprise, and delight, the woman who had originally bought Gretel from the dog flipper lady submitted a comment in response to mine!

She recognized Gretel’s story and explained they were heartbroken when they found out they had been deceived.

That coupled with Gretel’s anxiety and aggression towards her husband and sometimes kid was too much to handle.

She explained that is why she made the hard choice to surrender her to Motley Zoo Animal Rescue.

Even more amazing than that, the dog flipper lady replied to that string of comments!

This, in part, was her response:

“ Wow that’s pretty horrible. I called her [the woman the dog flipper lady sold Gretel to] earlier and apologized with all my heart.

I was told that Dachshund had just been spayed when I bought it but after all I did not have proof that she was spayed so I had no business saying she was.

I do remember them… they later called and wanted to give the dog back but that was the weekend of my car accident and I was in the hospital. I never ended up calling them back I hadn’t heard from them again after that, I assumed they decided to keep it after all but I never followed up.

That makes me want to cry. This is worse than I thought and more and more I’m seeing all the trouble I really did cause. And I think of the damage done to the dogs emotions – I feel guilty about that as well.

I am so sorry to everyone involved. I also think in cases like these, the dog suffered emotional damage because it was moved around so much.

That’s never good for a dog [and] that makes me feel terrible of course.”

She went on to admit that she “wasn’t honest with them about where [she] got the dog because [she] bought her from a woman whose new husband was apparently ‘allergic’ to her.

Note: remember her story that Gretel came from her parents who were breeders… yeah

I did not want the people I bought the dog from to know I was reselling them. That’s why sometimes I pretended to be the original owner of the dog.”

Later, after more public outcry, the dog flipper lady said, “I want to apologize to anyone who feels like they were lied to” and that she planned to call and apologize to the dog owners, and even help pay for the subsequent vet bills if necessary.

Gretel’s Life After Rescue

I don’t mean to brag but Gretel hit the jackpot when we were chosen as her home.

There are very few ways in which her life could be better or she could be better taken care of.

We are very, very fortuate to have found her too.

Gretel immediately became an adventurer after we rescued her.

The day after, we took her on her first hike and, although she was a little unsure at first, she quickly followed Chester’s lead and was go, go, go after that.

That day, overjoyed to learn that she loved hiking too, I decided to start this blog.

Since that fateful day, my life has completely changed. I was able to turn blogging into a career.

Now I am a work from home dog Mom whose days revolve around the happiness and wellbeing of my Dachshunds.

Almost 1.5 million people read my blog articles each year and, because of this, I feel like I’ve been able to improve the health and happiness of Dachshunds around the US…. and even the world (we also have international readers).

About the Author

Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.


  1. Andy – Thanks for checking out the blog. She does have a lot to learn but she is picking it all up quickly. She has already been on two hikes in the two weeks that we have had her. Today she was hiking so fast I was breathless just trying to keep up with her. She is quite the athlete.

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