Champs blog: The long way home.

Published 8:37 pm Tuesday, November 24, 2009

As I am sure most of you know, I am proud of my “Official Spokesdog” status at the Foothills Shelter. In that capacity, I would like to thank each person who donated their money, their time, their home, or their expertise to the animals at the shelter. Staff, donors, Board members, volunteers, foster caregivers, transporters, kitten feeders, dishwashers, dog walkers, feral colony caretakers, visitors, and everyone who put their spare change in the Foothills donation cans, as well as the businesses who let us put the cans there — you all are literally life-savers for the animals. We are enormously grateful.
The purpose of my column today is to tell you about the Long Road Home. Each of the animals at Foothills has his or her own story; some happy, some not so good, and my friend, Lennie Rizzo, details many of them for you in his Special Cases column. I would like to tell you about how a community, our community, saved eight very special lives last week.
Last July, someone brought in three large, shy, unruly black pups, about four months of age. No one had taken the time to socialize these dogs, and it was difficult to manage them at the shelter, much less adopt them out. Enter Cindy and Ray Norden, two of the shelters Fantastic Fosters. One phone call was all it took, and Cindy was at the shelter, leashes in hand, to lead these three lost boys (Huey, Dewey, and Louie, of course) out to her car and back to her farm, so that they could learn how to get along in polite society. Cindy and Ray are miracle workers and the most badly behaved dogs respond to their gentle training methods, becoming healthy, confident, and adoptable. The difference in their behavior was striking, even to me! Cindy returned them to the shelter, but no one came to adopt them, despite their delightful manners and sweet and hopeful faces. As the shelter became more and more crowded, Cindy and Ray took them back to their farm to give them just a little more time to find the perfect homes.
Kelly Vinesett, another one of the shelters Fantastic Fosters, began by fostering — wait for it — EIGHT puppies (oh Kelly, say it isnt so!) but, because the shelter was plumb full of puppies, five of them had not been adopted. Dana began networking, and a rescue up in Connecticut offered to take them, since they had a long waiting list for lab mix puppies.
The rescue put pictures of the five puppies on their website ( and agreed to put Huey, Dewey and Louies photos up too, just in case someone might want to adopt one of these three lovely dogs.
And lo and behold — a wonderful man saw their photos and decided that all three would be the perfect addition to his family! He filled out his application and his references were checked, and he was approved to adopt Huey, Dewey, and Louie! But one problem remained to be solved… could the shelter get all eight pups up north?
Ta-da! Fred Clas saw shelter staff member Angie Yates plea in the Tryon Daily Bulletin, and volunteered to be a Terrific Transporter. He agreed to drive up to Delaware to meet the rescue, and to take all eight pups with him! Whew! That is one trip I am glad I did not have to make! Fred, you are now officially my hero! So Kelly, Cindy, Ray and the eight pups met Fred in the Ingles parking lot in Landrum at 6 a.m. one chilly morning last week (see photo). Freds wife, Madeline, was there to see them off, but she said that unfortunately, there just wasnt enough room for her to go along (Quick thinking, Madeline!). After a flurry of goodbyes from the Fantastic Fosters, Fred and the pups were off!
Following a traffic jam of several hours (whoa, better you than me, Fred), they arrived and met the rescue lady, along with Huey, Dewey, and Louies new family. These sweet dogs knew instantly that they had a permanent home with a wonderful new family! The other five puppies traveled with the rescue lady to Connecticut — and they have each been welcomed into new homes where they are loved and wanted! It is a very, very happy ending to what could have been a very sad story. Word has it that Huey, Dewey, and Louies new owner is so happy with them that he is considering training all three of them to be Therapy Dogs! WOW! Im sure theyll take after their Uncle Champ and be “simply the best!”
So my hat, if I had one, would be off to Ray and Cindy, Kelly, Angie, Fred, Dana, and the rescue, for ensuring such a happy ending! And we have happy endings every day, thanks to all of you. You know who you are, and I thank each of you from the bottom of my great big pyrenees heart, We are very fortunate to live in a place that has people like you!
Have a happy Thanksgiving, and save a little turkey for me!
Woof! Champ

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