Once upon a time, there was a pup born in a place where many other puppies were born and sold to anyone that wanted to purchase them. These pups were not cared for in any way except to be raised for the money they could bring to the breeder. This particular breeder "farmed" out the puppies to people to sell for him when his inventory got too large for him to handle. The people he farmed them out to just wanted to get at least $125 per pup so they could keep a portion of the money for themselves. This story is about a dog I knew as Deekan. He is now called Duncan and is living in a wonderful home with a Cairn sister named Katie.
Deekan's story is not a new one to anyone working in the Colonel Potter Cairn Rescue Network, nor is it as bad as some of the dogs that have found their way to the Colonel's group. His is a story of a brave little guy that had so much life to live but needed to be given the chance to do so. It is a story that I have lived and experienced and that alone makes it special to me. It is the story of a pup that for some reason, was given a chance at a happy life and how we were able to help.
It IS a story that covers just about every aspect of the work that is done in the Colonel's organization. It starts with someone finding the dog, someone else arranging to bring it into the organization, the vetting, the fostering and finally the happy ending - ADOPTION to a forever home.
A Little About Me:
I am a lover of Cairn Terriers. I have been since I more or less "rescued" my late Sister's Cairn - Bryndle - 11 years ago. When Bryndle crossed to the Rainbow Bridge, nothing could stop me from looking for a replacement Cairn. That was in 1994 and today, I own 4 Cairns, I breed Cairns, and I show Cairns. Over the past three years, I have been active in rescuing Cairns through the Colonel Potter Cairn Rescue Network. I am officially a Communications Coordinator and do application reference checks. Unofficially, I have done some transports, home safety visits and helped with various fund raising efforts. Through my work with Deekan, I got a chance to see some of the other portions of the work done in this organization - I got some new education that I will not soon forget.
The Phone Call:
My involvement and knowledge in the part of rescue that little is
about totally changed when I received a phone call in May of 2005
of the Intake group workers. They explained that through daily
ads in papers, on the internet, etc. they had found a Cairn in an
about 125 miles from my home that needed to be picked up as soon
as possible - could I help by going to pick up this dog?
I agreed to do this.
Bringing in the Dog:
These ladies contacted the person that I would be meeting and a price was agreed to for me to purchase the 8 month old male pup. I would be picking him up, taking him to my vet and getting him checked out and then sending him on his way to someone who would foster him. This did not sound too bad - I was happy to help out in any way possible. Off I went to get this little boy who I had already decided to name Deekan ( I was told that the rescuer of a dog gets to give the intake a name and even though I had not seen him yet, Deekan just stuck in my head).
After a 2 hour drive, I arrived at one of the filthiest places a person could ever go to. The road leading to the place was full of mud and ruts and at the end of it, sat an old trailer with a sheet of plywood for a door. This was my first shock! I pulled up, got out of my car and instantly heard a chorus of animals barking, whining, and clucking very loudly. I looked around and what I saw almost made me want to get back in my car and go home immediately. There were HUGE German Shepherd dogs in a rust wire pen with poodles, a large number of chickens in a pen, a rusty and muddy pen with Yorkies, ShihTzu's and Dachshounds together), a small dog house with 2 Boston Terriers chained to the side and there was a red crate sitting at the edge of the area that looked like cars had driven by and splashed mud on it more than once. I noted that in the rusty and muddy pens, there was ONE food bowl and ONE water bowl in each. These poor animals cried out to be free of the life they were living. I wanted to cry myself and just as I was wondering what I was doing here, a lady (who was about as dirty as the pens the animals were in) came out of the trailer and asked if I was here to get the Cairn. I put on my best happy face and said YES. She went to the mud spattered crated and pulled out a little guy that was totally scared for his life. This pup had no hair on the backside, no hair on his ears, and when she picked him up, all 4 of his paws stiffened straight out in front of him and his eyes looked like a wild animal that had been trapped.
Although it was very hard for me to look at this place and the dogs and other animals that were so obviously uncared for, I swallowed my disgust and put on a smile. I discussed the breeding of this pup with the lady. She told me how a breeder "down the road about 20 miles" has all kinds of these dogs. That he sells them all over the country and gets a lot of money from them. She said that when he gets too many of them, he lets her take some of them and sell them for him but he does not give any papers with them. She gave me her phone number and said that I could call her to see if she had any others from time to time - she did not want to take my phone number. I managed to pay the woman, get the pup in my car and get out of that place fairly quick. I took Deekan home with me and gave him a bath since he smelled like he had been rolling in dog doo for most of his life. The following day, I took him to our vet and found that he had sarcoptic mange and was very full of worms of every type (except luckily - no heartworms). Treatment for his conditions started that very day with the approval of Colonel Potter. It took 3 full months to get Deekan healthy and neutered.
Fostering of Deekan:
Deekan had been at my home for close to 36 hours. My husband and I felt so sorry for him that we decided that we would be his foster family and I sent in my application to do so. I knew somehow that this was right for us to do even though we had kept away from this in the past. Since I love these dogs so much, I was not sure that I could take one into my home, nurture it, and then give it up - I was much too afraid of becoming a "Foster Flunkie". The first night he was with us, he brought tears to my eyes while watching him. I had quarantined him in a room apart from my personal dogs due to his mange being highly contagious. In this room, he had a clean crate with a pad in it, a food and water bowl, some dog toys that my "kids" donated to him, and a filled dog bed. When he thought we were not looking, he sniffed that dog bed and touched it. He then backed away and laid on the floor. Within a few minutes, he scooted his body closer to the dog bed and put his paws on it. A few minutes later, he put his head down on the bed. Then, he moved the upper half of his body onto the bed and finally after a full hour of working at it, he put his whole body on that bed and fell asleep. It was beautiful to see him have the courage to dare to try out this soft thing that he had never experienced but it was just too sad to think that an 8 month old dog had never experienced the pleasure of lying on something warm and soft. It is the little things like this that make a rescue worker see how much harm careless breeding does!
Over the next
4 months, we fostered Deekan in our home. Once his mange was cleared up, he got to play with my other dogs and boy did he love to play! You would have thought he was a 2 month old puppy - learning everything for the first time, instead of the 9 month old pup he was. He learned from my dogs that life was for fun. He went through his puppy chewing phase on my back deck furniture. He learned to wear a halter/collar and a leash and how to go on walks. He learned to chase balls and to "zoom" with the other dogs. He learned that he did not have to hide his food bowl because there would always be enough food for him. He continued to be very scared of people throughout the first two months with us. He would look at anyone new but would not make the first move to show friendliness except with my husband and I. His body still stiffened when he was picked up and his eyes still looked somewhat wild. We started taking him out to fun activities like riding on a boat and swimming and people started noticing him - he was finally growing into a beautiful and healthy Cairn. Deekan was finally able to accept new people at the end of his 4th month with us and was ready for adoption. It took 4 full months to bring him to a point where he was a confident little guy that accepted humans and dogs alike - by this time, he was turning one year old. I can't tell you how wonderful it was to have him give me a lick on the cheek one day when I scooped him up in my arms and held him. He finally knew that humans can give good love to a pup like him.
Deekan's Happy Ending:
I have no idea how many applications there may have been that listed Deekan on their wish lists. Being a Communications Coordinator myself, I know that the people who adopted him turned in an application that went through close scrutiny as to their care of their current dog, they passed a complete reference check, they passed a Home Safety Visit where the workers looked over their home physically and finally were approved to adopt. The Matchmaker group called me to tell me they had a couple with no children who had a Cairn that they wanted a companion for and they believed Deekan might fit the bill. That phone call was one of the worst that I have had from the group, since by now, I loved Deekan as my own. It also turned out to be one of the best phone calls to come in for Deekan. This couple came to my home with their cairn girl and it was instant love. Deekan never stopped to say good bye. He loved Katie and her family from the first minute that he met them. He is living happily ever after now in North Carolina with a new name - he is Duncan.
Deekan/Duncan was a lucky boy. He did not have to stay in the breeder facility to be a stud dog until he could not produce any more pups. I am thankful our group that scans the ads found him - I am thankful we HAVE these people that are doing this part of the work. We do not often hear about them or from them but they are doing a wonderful thing.
I had no idea what the rescue workers in our organization who go to the auctions or to breeder facilities and get the puppies from them went through. I still do not have an actual picture of their efforts but I have a personal image of what I saw, smelled and heard that makes me know that the group that does this work are strong. They have to be strong to keep on doing this. They are totally unsung heros in my book and I salute them with all of my heart.
I had no idea that fostering could be rewarding. It is. With each thing that Deekan accomplished and improved in, I felt like a proud mama. I believe I gave his new owners a wonderful little companion for their girl. I did learn through Deekan (and I did foster one other pup as well that came in later from the same location that Deekan came from) that I am not cut out to be a foster mom. I love too strongly and do not release well. However, I can rescue and bring them in to someone else and will definitely keep doing this as needed.
I feel that we have a wonderfully laid out work process for our dogs. From the intake to the adoption, there are checks and precautions and all the information needed flowing smoothly from one group to another. There are ID tags made, there is medication for heartworm, fleas and worms, there are web site stories, pictures and updates, and there are people behind the scenes of each of these things that are working daily to take care of the dogs placed in our care. All of this is just the tip of the iceberg too - there are so many others working to raise money, to arrange transports, and to do whatever is needed to take care of the Cairns that are rescued. This is an amazing organization!