Editor’s note: Although I adopted all three of my dogs through Golden Huggs Rescue, Cindy was not the foster for any of them – I had never met Cindy before the interview. And, while this post has been percolating, National Mutt Day (July 31, 2017) came and went. This post is dedicated to all those volunteers who work in animal rescue.
Shelburne, Vermont. With Cindy Thrasher, a volunteer foster “mom” for Golden Huggs Rescue. Cindy, who lives in Columbia, Kentucky, was recently in Vermont to support the GHR fundraiser held at Collette’s Furniture in Shelburne, and to visit with friends.
How long have you been with GHR?
I’ve been involved with GHR since 2009, but I was with Border Collie Rescue before that. So 11 years total in rescue.
What got you started?
A friend of mine at work had Border Collies, and she was involved with Border Collie rescue. I went to a shelter to assess a Border Collie for her, and I picked it up. Once I started doing it, I really felt it was my calling. I didn’t know anything about rescue; I didn’t even know it existed. I knew that we had tons of animals in need. Since then, I fostered over 600 dogs and puppies.
What are some of your favorite stories from your rescue work?
Most of the dogs we get are strays, so they come with a lot of stories we don’t know. Sometimes we can tell physically or by behavior what’s happened to them. Some that are special are if they’re a senior and they get adopted, and they get a second chance at life.
Black dogs – since I’ve been with GHR, they’ve been pretty liberal with me about having black dogs on our site, even though they’re not golden retrievers or golden mixes – because of “black dog syndrome”, where big black dogs are the last to get pulled out of shelters and they’re the first to be euthanized. We see many more Labrador Retrievers where I live than Golden Retreivers because they use them for fowl hunting. We have tons and tons of pure-bred Labs and tons and tons of Lab mixes, and they tend not to get out. I try my best to keep at least one black in foster care at all times. They’ve [GHR] been very liberal with me allowing me to do that.
Everybody’s a great dog – eveerydog is perfect – for the right home. That’s why it’s so important for out adoption process, the way it works. Because we’ve had very few of mine that have had to be moved around after, and usually it’s the humans’ fault. Not the dog’s fault. It’s important for them to have their forever life.
Do you have any dogs of your own?
I have three that are permanent fosters that were deemed unplacable for behavioral reasons, and I have two Border Collies, and several mixed breeds at my house.
I keep about 18-25 dogs at a time. I try to move them on. I’ve had fosters for over a year because no one wanted them, but I always tell my board members that the right person comes for the right dog at the right time. I takes awhile sometimes.
I had one last year, she was wicked female alpha aggressive, so she wanted to attack all the females. You can’t place a dog like that everywhere – that’s not a dog park dog, a dog you can walk around the neighborhood. She lives in Massachusetts now. She’s stunning. Brilliantly smart. She’s an only dog in a fenced yard, and they love her. She’s living a great life.
I commit to each one, whenever their life to be realized, realizes. I’m the only one they have. Many times, they’re moments before the euthanization. I was lucky to go to Maine and visit a couple who have adopted three dogs from me, two I had in foster for over a year. One I got from a shelter I stopped at on my way to somewhere else. It was 4:30 on a Friday. The vet was coming at 5 to euthanize everything there. There were 30 dogs there. I had to look at those dogs and know that they were going down. This one sticks out to me more than any because it so explains the plight of these animals. There were three little puppies in the crate next to her. I was getting the puppies because they were fluffy puppies and I knew we could place them. She’s a red cattle dog mix, solid red, and she was reaching through the kennel, screaming at me. Like she knew what was going to happen. I’ve never heard anything like it, before or since. She’s never made that noise again. She was literally screaming to me to get her. I couldn’t leave her. I had to walk away from 20-some others, but I couldn’t leave her. I had her for 13 months in foster. She’s not what people look for from us, but she’s got a great life now. She lives right on the ocean.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I just want to say our culture’s different down there. Human life isn’t valued much, and animal life isn’t valued at all. Animals are considered disposable. While there may be reputable breeders, most of the ones are from back yard breeders. They’re just doing it for the money. They don’t keep their dogs healthy. They adopt out dogs that are not spayed or neutered. That just becomes more puppies that don’t have homes.
I would encourage anyone up here, if they have any influence at all, to push for Federal legislation for pet protection. KY ranks 50th in the nation for animal cruelty and neglect for 10 years in a row…
It’s a struggle. I encourage people to adopt rescue dogs because they are perfect. They may not be purebreds, but they are pure of heart.
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