911 Rescue: A Col. Potter Story

Apr 13, 2013 | 2013 Articles, Lee Juslin, Pets

by Lee Juslin

The under-sized Wheaten Cairn was the shyest of the shy.

Found and brought to a county shelter by a police officer named Swartz, she huddled in a back corner of her cage with her tail tucked firmly between her legs. The shelter staff was not even sure if she was male or female. Of course she was passed over by every potential adopter and her time was running out. But, the kindly police officer had kept tabs on her and when it became obvious that the little dog he had rescued would not be adopted, he claimed her and contacted Col. Potter Cairn Terrier Rescue. And, for that kindness the lost little Cairn soul was named Swartz in his honor.

Swartz-Aren't I Pretty

When Col. Potter volunteers took Swartz to a vet for skin issues, it was discovered that little Swartz was a little girl. Once she was treated and spayed, it was determined that she would need a foster home with a strong track record in “difficult” in-takes. Enter Mary, a long time Col. Potter volunteer, and her partner, Jim.

Mary, a social worker, had successfully fostered and rehabilitated 25 dogs, so Swartz—Mary renamed her Missy Swartz—was in great hands. Little Missy Swartz, weighing only 8-10 lbs, which is small for an adult Cairn, had a lot of issues. She growled and snapped at anyone who approached her, didn’t integrate with Mary’s pack, and wouldn’t take food if Mary was even in the same room. “The worst thing,” Mary said, “was that she would scream if anyone tried to pick her up. A shrill scream that went right through you.” Clearly Missy Swartz had had a tough start in life and would require a lot of effort and patience.

Swartz came to Mary in mid-October. Mary followed her usual procedures by using an X-pen to keep her separated, feeding her separately, and generally letting her proceed at her own pace. Swartz had so many phobias and was so unapproachable that Mary had to wear gloves. Although when Swartz did actually get Mary’s hand on one occasion, she didn’t bite hard. Despite all Mary’s and Jim’s best efforts and patience, Swartz’s progress was snail-slow. It wasn’t until the middle of December that Swartz took a treat from the floor with Mary in the room.

In late January, Swartz began to integrate into Mary’s pack and then a small miracle happened. Swartz began to bond with Suzie Q, a four year old female Cairn who had come from a puppy mill and had been a mom to multiple litters. Swartz followed Suzie Q around imitating her and learning from her. One day with Suzie Q in Mary’s lap on the couch, Swartz actually got up on the couch and sat beside them. “I hardly dared to breathe,” Mary said. Several days later, Mary saw her do a play bow to Suzie Q, and then they began to chase. Next, Swartz actually came when called to receive a treat that Mary was handing out to the pack.

Missy Swartz and Suzie Q, BFFs

Clearly Swartz has made great strides in the nearly five months she has been with Mary, but she still has a ways to go. She is very afraid when strangers come to the house. She can not be crated, and she is still terrified of being picked up. “Although I think she might eventually progress to a point where she could be adopted to the right home, we have decided to keep her. She has become comfortable with my pack and is very bonded to Suzie Q. Staying here is the best thing for our little Missy Swartz. Besides, we’ve really lost our hearts to her.”

While Missy Swartz’s story is not an unusual one, the happy ending sadly is. In shelters where over-crowding and short staffing are the norm, a dog like Swartz would not have made it. In fact, had Officer Swartz not come back for her, she would have been deemed unadoptable and euthanized as too often happens to many dogs traumatized from the streets and abuse.

A lucky dog--The luck of the Irish

Rescue organizations like Col. Potter, the largest national Cairn rescue, are the only hope for dogs like Swartz. Without their intervention and rehabilitation efforts and the never-ending work of their dedicated volunteers, more dogs would fall between the cracks and never find a forever home, never know the love and companionship of humans, and never enjoy playing and bonding with others of their own kind.

Col. Potter Cairn Terrier Rescue, like most breed rescues, is all volunteer. Fund raising to rehabilitate Cairns is a never ending process. You can find out more about Col. Potter and learn how you can help by going to their website.

You can find more animal rescue, therapy dog, and other pet related articles in our pet section.

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 is a free lance copywriter living in North Carolina with her husband, Scott, and her band of misfits: Tarquin, a Wheaten Scottish Terrier, and three handicapped cats. They can be seen on their website: Hampshire Hooligans. She owns I B Dog Gone, a small embroidery business and is the author of the Nurse Frosty books for children and Frosty’s Story: Tales of a Therapy Dog. She supports a number of national and regional terrier rescue organizations.


  1. Lee, you warm my heart when I hear that an animal has been rescued. Thank you and Thank you to the Col. Potter Cairn Terrier Rescue.

  2. Another wonderful story! Thank you so much Lee and the magazine for continuing to inform and bring to light each and every story. I am proud to be a full time volunteer of Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network. THANK YOU!

  3. Col. Potter is an exceptional rescue organization. I have volunteered for several different ones and Col. Potter is the best. All of these lost souls are given the medical attention they need and go to wonderful foster homes, just waiting for the perfect furever home.

    If anything were to happen to my husband and I, our sweet Callie will go to Col. Potter. Callie is going to be 15 years old, can’t see or hear much, but loves to be with people. I’m praying nothing happens to both of us as I can’t imagine being bless with a better companion as Callie.

    Thank you for all you do for Cairns In Need.


    Nancy B.

  4. Lee, great job and terrific story. It is amazing what love and caring will overcome. Col. Potter is a top notch organization, full of kind souls like Mary and Jim. This is one lucky little Cairn to have found her way to the good life.
    Thank You Lee for all you do for Col. Potter!

  5. Col. Potter does a truly outstanding job saving cairns in need. Mary is a wonderful person who does a fantastic job with fostering special case cairns. I am thrilled to know that little Missy Swartz will be able to stay with her forever.

  6. Beautiful story! I love happy endings!

  7. Great story, Lee. We all love happy endings.

  8. Another great article from this magazine and Lee. I look forward to reading more.


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