Though SW Kennel Auctions, which conducted the dispersal of the Schindlers' dogs that weekend in October, refused to disclose any buyer information from the auction, it's safe to say the dogs are all right. Some of them, at least.

At least 200 of the approximately 800 dogs sold that day went to rescue groups, according to an unofficial RFT tally. These pups exchanged their wire-bottomed cages for the plush couches and welcoming laps of foster families and "forever homes."

Others were not as fortunate: Hundreds of dogs went to other breeders.

Jennifer Silverberg
Located a two-hour drive northwest of St. Louis, Mexico, Missouri, held one of the state’s largest dog-breeding operations. Until October 2010, the entrance to Herman and Bonnie Schindler’s property, seen from the county road at right, was home to nearly 1,000 dogs.
Kase Wickman
Located a two-hour drive northwest of St. Louis, Mexico, Missouri, held one of the state’s largest dog-breeding operations. Until October 2010, the entrance to Herman and Bonnie Schindler’s property, seen from the county road at right, was home to nearly 1,000 dogs.

One of the lucky dogs is Cowboy, an eight-year-old Cocker spaniel. His russet coat is flecked with gray; his muzzle is entirely white. And though he has difficulty climbing onto the couch, his veterinarian attributes that to age, not injury. Cowboy bears no signs that, until just a few months ago, he spent the majority of his life in a cage not much larger than his body. It's not obvious in any way that he's a puppy-mill dog.

It's much more obvious that he never wants to let his owner, 75-year-old Floyd Dunlap, out of his sight.

Dunlap, a retired police officer, attended a St. Louis Senior Dog Project adoption event looking for a Boxer or another large breed. He ended up falling in love with Cowboy.

"I looked at maybe a dozen dogs that day, and when he stuck his foot through the cage to shake hands, I thought, 'Yep, that's the one I'm looking for,'" Dunlap says. Cowboy sits silently on his lap, chin tilted up and big brown eyes fixed on Dunlap's aged face, patiently waiting for a pat on the head.

Whether Prop B — which Dunlap calls "that law" — survives the state legislature's intervention, whether the Schindlers' offspring continue their family's legacy of large-scale dog breeding, Dunlap and Cowboy seem content to live quietly together in south St. Louis. Just two retired guys keeping each other company.

Dunlap is uninterested in hearing more about the place his dog came from. He's more interested in buying doggy steps to help Cowboy get onto the couch or finding a dog-size cowboy hat for the dog he calls "the new sheriff in town."

"That part of his life is over with," he says of Cowboy's time with the Schindlers. "And those people are done."

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