Merryn and the Pizza Box: An Animal Rescue Story

Feb 2, 2013 | 2013 Articles, Lee Juslin, Pets

by Lee Juslin

Merryn, a dark brindle Toto-like Cairn, was turned into Colonel Potter Cairn Terrier Rescue by her owner. Her owner deemed her aggressive to other dogs. But, as it turned out, her real problem was that she had been kept outside for her entire eight years with little human interaction, attention, or love.


Col. Potter handles many owner turn-ins that come to them for a variety of reasons and sometimes the information from the owner is incomplete or not accurate. Bonnie, an experienced foster mom with Col. Potter, agreed to take Merryn and work with her to make her suitable for adoption. Imagine her surprise when Merryn, described by her owner as being fifteen pounds, turned out to be a seriously overweight dog. At twenty-one pounds, Merryn was considerably heavier than a Cairn should be and considerably more than the maximum size that Bonnie accepts to foster. Because of a bad back, Bonnie usually limits her fosters to fourteen pounds. Her own two Cairns, also Col. Potter rescues, meet this weight limit and are both of a size Bonnie can lift and handle. But, Merryn, who waddled rather than walked and often groaned upon getting up, won Bonnie’s heart.

Merryn, due to her outside living, arrived with a very matted coat and a nasty skin infection. Plus, she smelled really bad. Like every foster that comes into Col. Potter, Merryn went to the vet for her skin issues and for a general evaluation. Fortunately, she was generally healthy and up to date on her shots, which is often not the case with rescues.

After the vet assessment, Bonnie put Merryn on a diet and kept her separated from her own two Cairns, Janna and Gilly. The dogs could all see one another but not interact. At first, Merryn growled at Janna and Gilly, but both are almost as experienced in fostering as Bonnie, so they were not bothered. Next, Bonnie and her husband took the three Cairns on walks together and then, gradually, let them spend time together in the yard. “We were careful to read Bonnie’s body language and heed her growls to avoid any confrontations,” said Bonnie, “because once a dog bites, every other bite gets easier.” Janna and Gilly, to their credit, were just as understanding and did not push Merryn. In time, Merryn began to accept the two resident Cairns and her aggressive attitude disappeared.

Slowly, Merryn was allowed to spend time loose in the house with Janna and Gilly, but they were all fed separately, and Merryn slept in her crate away from the others. Thanks to Bonnie’s care and love, Merryn is now down to a respectable fifteen pounds. This once overweight girl, who waddled instead of walking, actually prances on her walks now, and there is no more groaning when she gets up.

“The only setback,” Bonnie said, “was the pizza box incident. One day my husband left a pizza box out and the next thing we knew, there was Merryn tearing into it. But, she dropped it on command; a real step forward for her.” Under Bonnie’s tutelage, she now sits on command and has learned to shake hands and sit up.

However, the best news for Merryn is that she will soon have a forever home. Her mom-to-be is an experienced terrier person who works only part time and who recently lost her Westie. Bonnie and the new mom will meet at the Clarion Inn just off the Ohio Turnpike in Fremont, OH. Bonnie has, in fact, used the motel several times to deliver adoptions because the Clarion has been very cooperative. “They let us use the lobby to sit and talk so I get a chance to spend a little time with the new mom and give her all the information I have on the dog being adopted. They are also a pet friendly motel for their guests.”

Merryn and her new mom

If you would like to learn more about Col. Potter Cairn Terrier Rescue Network, apply to adopt a dog, or support them financially or by volunteering, go to their website: Col. Potter.

Read more animal related articles by Lee here in KRL.

Want to know how to see your ad like this at the end of an article? Email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] for more info. 10% of all ad sales goes to animal rescue.

Lee Juslin a graduate of Bucknell University with a master’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and is a freelance copywriter who lives in NC. Until recently, she was active in pet therapy with her certified therapy dog, Frosty, and owns I B Dog Gone, an embroidery business dedicated to supporting several terrier rescue organizations.


  1. this is so wonderful to hear, I adopted a Irish setter from rescue he was 10 months from a puppy mill bought at a pet shop and had been given up on as aggressive at 8 months by his third owner, never showed an aggressive bone in the 11 years I had him.

  2. Lee, I love your rescue stories, my heart melts with each dog or cat that’s goes to another loving family.

  3. What a wonderful story! And darling pictures to go with it. So glad it had a happy ending.

  4. Lee – thank you and Bonnie for this wonderful story on Merryn – finding forever is the icing on the cake for us and all of our rescue dogs – the OVER 3400 little ones we have rescued in our 12 years of existence is testament to all the hard work our all volunteer organization accomplishes. LEE – you ROCK – and thank you Kings River Life for publishing this wonderful happy ending story – Amy Robinson – CPCR BoD

  5. So heartwarming. Rescues are wonderful pets and your stories are wonderful reading.

  6. Lee, great story, thanks for all you do for Col. Potter. Bonnie and Col. Potter, thank you for giving this sweet girl the chance at a life she deserves.

  7. I love happy endings! As a Col. Potter volunteer I get to be witness to a fair amount. Makes my heart sing every time!

  8. this is so exciting to see in print – I adopted three adorable Cairns from the Col.Potter Rescue Team . And now proud to say a Volunteer. This is one of the Best Teams ever… If your looking to adopt a rescue come to Col.Potter Rescue first! Thanks so much

  9. Merryn will love her new mom and new life! Knew Merryn from Col. Potter Vol. This Cairn is so sweet and a great companion – very devoted, cuddly (and protective). She deserves the best! Thanks SO MUCH TO BONNIE for giving her the attention and expertise needed! Col. Potter Volunteers are INCREDIBLE!!!

  10. Hats off to Bonnie! She completely restored Merryn with her love, care, patience, and experience. These kinds of stories truly warm your heart and inspire you!


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