Rescue Squad Leader

animal rescue, dogs, Interview, Uncategorized
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Cindy Thrasher, Golden Huggs Rescue (GHR) Foster Extraordinaire, at the GHR Yard Sale, July 22, 2017

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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My Charlie Brown, center, with Golden Huggs Rescue volunteers at their fund raiser yard sale held last month at Collette’s Furniture in Shelburne, Vermont.  Thank you – your work makes a difference in the lives of so many dogs and their people!

If you have a comment or a story to share, please use the form, below.

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Merry Maker

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Merriam meets the gang from the next office

Merriam meets the gang from the next office.

Waitsfield, Vermont. With Linda and Bill Barnes and Merriam the puppy in the Festival Gallery, where Linda volunteers. This is an adoption update from my October 29, 2015 post, Special Edition(s). 

Merriam, aka Merry

Merriam, aka Merry

I went over to see the puppies at Dirty Paws Pet Spa, and I called Bill. I fell in love with a puppy. And we took the puppy. We couldn’t take her that day because it was Bill’s dad’s memorial service. We had to wait until Monday. We knew immediately that she was for us.

She terrorizes the cats – she thinks they’re supposed to play. The kitties don’t play. They growl. Then they hiss. And they bat her in the nose. They don’t have front claws so they don’t hurt her.

She knows when she’d done something she shouldn’t have because then she’s under the bed.

Starting Something

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Rusty, at his forever home in Waitsfield, Vermont

Waitsfield, Vermont.  With Brigitte Ritchie, co-founder of Golden Huggs Rescue.

Rusty is from Louisiana. When I adopted him I had just been diagnosed with cancer. Adopting a Golden was on my bucket list.  I found him on-line in a Lousiana rescue. They told me that he had been hit by a car – he was a neighborhood doggie – and he had heartworm. The shelter called the rescue to tell them they had two goldens, but when they got there, they were told that there was another one in the back, but he’s a total mess. The gentleman that runs the rescue, well, he took one look at the dog – named Rhett at the time – and he took Rhett in his car straight to the vet. They took his leg off and started to treat him. When I got him, he was only about a year old. He was driven up. No transport company, no rules or regulations. That was about twelve years ago. I was startled with the realization about all those kill shelters: They gas them, about 35 at a time, then put them in trash bags at the curb for the city garbage trucks to pick up.

So that led to me going down there, meeting people, and saying there’s a supply-demand thing. There are people that can help, and Pet Finder, and all that.

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Sadie

Sadie’s from Tennessee. I rescued her when she was about five. The people that had her were moving and couldn’t take her. She came all trained. She’s an alpha female. I can’t have any more female dogs with her around.

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Bodie

Bodie, the little one, who’s not little at all anymore, came because my son complained that he wanted a puppy for once. I had adopted out a lot of puppies. Bodie was only five weeks. He’s the comedian of the group.

Rusty just keeps going. I just can’t believe it.

We have quite a few dogs in the Valley now. We wanted to start a rescue – there are four of us – where you answer phone calls, help people, and don’t disappear when the dog gets here. We remain a resource. I don’t have a facility so I can’t take owner turn-ins, but I have rescuers locally that will. The groups help each other – it’s a nice community around here.

To learn more about Golden Huggs and view dogs currently available for adoption, please visit the Golden Huggs website.

If you have a story to share, please contact wagmorevt!

Happy Gotcha Day!

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Lucy, now 3, at home.

Lucy, now 3, at home.

Fayston, Vermont. We celebrate Lucy’s “Gotcha Day” on December 19th.  A “Gotcha Day” is more significant to rescue families than a birthday because it’s the day the dog joined it’s forever home. I’ve written stories about how Linus and Charlie Brown came to join our family, but never told Lucy’s story.  In honor of her Gotcha Day, here’s Lucy’s tale.

Lucy was a Christmas puppy. I didn’t plan it that way. I didn’t even want a puppy.

Then I saw her picture.

It was the beginning of October when I said goodbye to my sweet Chesapeake Bay Retriever Kona. I wanted another dog – I will always have a dog – and contacted a CBR breeder. Her next litter was about a year away, she informed me.  Would I like to be included on The List?

The house was so empty. By November, the emptiness became unbearable when my then high-school-aged son went away on a trip. Kona had lived a good, long life, and was my constant companion. But, her many medical issues were a source of stress for me. I started searching the web for a young, healthy, energetic dog. One that didn’t need to be housebroken and that had too much energy for its owner – one that could hike for miles, then go for a swim, then still wasn’t done playing. On the Golden Huggs website, I saw a young Golden Retriever that seemed perfect. I applied immediately without telling my family.

I quickly received a phone call with the news that the dog I requested was already adopted, but “would you like a puppy?” asked Golden Huggs’ Brigitte Ritchie. I had never met Brigitte, and I was surprised by the question. I replied without hesitation “no, not really,” as I explained Kona. Brigitte didn’t exactly take no for an answer. She described a litter that would soon be up for adoption but told me that she wouldn’t show me a picture yet. That wouldn’t be fair, she explained. Think about it, she advised.

It wasn’t long before my family figured out what I was up to, and, over the phone, I asked my son (who was miles away in Colorado) what kind of dog he wanted, theoretically. He requested “fluffy.”  I passed that information on to Brigitte.

Then I saw that first photo.

Lucy on her Gotcha Day, December 19, 2012

Lucy on her Gotcha Day, December 19, 2012

We had the winter’s first real snowfall on the day before we brought Lucy home. During the 45 minute trip from her foster family, ten-week-old Lucy cried and cried. Then, as soon as we let her out of the car, she happily bounded in the snow for a very long time. Exhausted – finally – she fell asleep in my son’s arms.

Want to share your tale on wagmorevt? Contact me!

Dogs ran over the Cat

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And they're off! Halloween Canicross, 2015

And they’re off! Spirited Canicross, 2015

October 31, 2015, Williston, Vermont. I feel fortunate to have made many new friends at the Canicross! This benefit event was held on a cold but wind-free morning at Catamount Outdoor and Recreation Center. I had cortisone injections the day before, otherwise I would have much rather joined in the fun. Thank you all for participating!

Special Edition(s)

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Note: When a litter of adoptable, adorable, healthy puppies is maybe 50 yards away from my office desk, I am compelled to break my own rule of not featuring dogs up for adoption. I was armed only with my cell phone for photos, and these puppies are wiggly and snuggly – you’ll just have to see them for yourself. Oh, that new puppy smell!

With Cheri Bovee at Dirty Paws Pet Spa.

Waitsfield, Vermont. I drove to upstate New York, about 2 1/2 hours. It was very, very rural. They had kept her [the puppies’ mother] chained to the axle of a pickup truck, but it was supposed to rain so they put her in the pickup truck. When we arrived it was 92 degrees, and she was in that truck. No windows open.

The litter has four females and one male. They are nine weeks, they’ve had their first set of shots, they’ve been wormed three times. They’ve seen Dr. Hadden from the day after they were born.

Re-homing fee to adopt a puppy is $250 each. The mother has been adopted out already. My goal is to give every dog a home of their own, with their own boy or girl – a place of their own.

Visit the lab-mix puppies at Dirty Paws Pet Spa, 5081 Main Street, Waitsfield, Vermont. Telephone: 802-496-7297.

Lab Partners

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Luna and Huck

Luna and Huck

Waitsfield, Vermont. With Lisa Davis, Luna (black lab), and Huck (yellow lab).

RS_Lisadavis_Huck_IMG_2066Huck Reinhold, who’s named after the mountain climber, is my husband’s dog. [My husband Josh and I] were introduced after we both had lost our labs. And shortly later I adopted Luna. Then a friend had bred his two pets and wanted to give Josh a dog. We consider Huck a rescue because we don’t know where he might have ended up if Josh hadn’t taken him for free.

Luna is from Lab Rescue. I got her when she was 18 months to 2 years old. Her name is Luna Juno because the movie “Juno” was out at the time.

She picked me. I went in to pick up a foster dog, and Luna had just come into Lab Rescue. She jumped up on the counter and introduced herself to me, and I said “I’m taking her.” I wasn’t even sure I was ready to take a dog yet.

She has been a vigilant mother to our son since he was born. She sleeps in his room. He went straight from a crib to a full-size bed otherwise he would have had to share a toddler bed with a lab. She sleeps with him every night.

I assumed that Huck’s namesake is Reinhold Messner, a mountaineer, adventurer, and author who is perhaps best known for making the first ascent of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen (with Peter Habeler)

Lisa Davis is the Executive Director of the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce. Thank you, Lisa, for participating!