A Foster Mom More Stubborn Than a Cairn

May 6, 2017 | 2017 Articles, Animal Rescue Adventures, Lee Juslin

by Lee Juslin

Scruffy, or Sam Malone as his first foster mom renamed him, had been rejected by his owner as being too old and too fat. She dropped him at a shelter with instructions to euthanize him. Fortunately, the shelter called Col. Potter Cairn Terrier Rescue Network.

This should have been the start of a great new life for Sam M. but as it turned out, he had a very difficult problem, one most rescues will not take on: he was a biter.

It seemed pretty clear to Chris, a foster mom with Col. Potter, that he had been abused at some point. “I think he had a happy home early on, but, when he came to me, he didn’t really act like a dog,” she said. “He didn’t want to be part of my pack, he showed no interest in exploring my home, and huddled in a corner disconnected from me and the other dogs. Clearly he had low self-confidence and was very fearful.”



In addition, he had dry eye which had gone untreated so he had lost a lot of his sight. He has to be treated two times per day with eye drops and artificial tears. Plus, he had clearly lost trust in humans so with his limited sight he has to be approached carefully. “Without realizing it, I approached Sam from the rear once, scared him and he bit me.”

Chris says she is more stubborn than a Cairn and was determined to re-establish trust with Sam to help him to become the happy dog he once was. Because of his fear and lack of trust, Sam was difficult to handle or groom. After struggling to trim the tangles and knots he had when he came to her, Chris set about finding a groomer who would agree to do him and when she found one, it was a “twofer” because the groomer’s husband was a dog trainer.lee

Working with Sam, the trainer helped him learn basic commands and to trust humans again. He also helped Chris work with him to stop his biting and become part of her pack. One thing Chris does with him to build up his self confidence and get him to rely on his other senses, is to hide his favorite toy so Sam is forced to find it by scent. Sometimes it takes him forty-five minutes, but he keeps at it.

With all the work Chris and the trainer have done with Sam, he has become a lovable, snuggly boy who now enjoys being part of the pack and playing with other dogs. His eye drops cost about $50.00 every two months, the artificial tears are over the counter meds and he also takes Thyrolcare for thyroid issues. Other than these relatively minor issues, he is an active, healthy dog.lee

Sam has spent about a year and a half with Chris, but now he is ready to find his forever home. He needs a human who is aware of his blindness and prepared to keep up with his meds. If the home has another dog, an experienced dog owner could make this work by allowing a period of adjustment. Although Chris’ pack was leery of Sam with his stand-offish ways, they have become accepting of him. Recently, Chris took in another rescue, and Sam had no problem accepting him.

A fenced in yard would be good for Sam to help build his independence, but he prefers to walk on a leash. Sam enjoys toys as well as cuddling and interacting with his human. Someone who is not away from home all day, would be best for Sam. Chris doesn’t know how Sam would deal with children but suspects he would not do well with young children, though older, “dog knowledgeable” children might be okay.

If you are interested in applying to adopt Sam M or any of his other friends with Col. Potter Rescue, volunteer to foster, or make a much needed donation, visit their website: Col. Potter or go to their Facebook page: Col. Potter on FB.

Check out more animal rescue & therapy animal stories in our Pets 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. sounds like the person that surrendered to the Shelter was not exactly honest with them about Sam’s issues! He ‘bit’, but from what was triggering the response, I would not label him a ‘Biter’ so much as a dog than has bitten, and the reasons were quite understandable. Not saying he’ll never bite again – but every day that goes by without an incident is a step in the right direction. Ms. J can always find the most interesting situations and weaves them into a wonderful story about the dogs and the groups that Rescue them!

  2. It`s amazing what love and patience can do. Congrats to Chris, her husband and to Sam. Stories like this always warm my heart.

  3. Rescue angels like Chris are so integral in the rescue process–so many dogs come into rescue w/baggage many people are unwilling to help them unpack. It’s wonderful to see such dedicated animal advocates and read their happy tales!

  4. I gotta admit whoever did his grooming did a superlative job. He’s a handsome boy.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.