by Lee Juslin
Russell started life as a cute Scottie puppy named Scruffy. Bought by an older woman, he was headed for a life as a cosseted companion animal. However, when his new mom died, he moved in with one of her daughters and her family. With three active children and both parents working full time, this home was a poor fit for the young Scottie. Things came to a head when one day the youngest child, running about the house, suddenly jumped on Scruffy, now four years old, and blew in his face. Startled and frightened, the young Scottie reacted like a dog and nipped at the child. It wasn’t a serious bite; no hospital visit, no stitches, but the family decided Scruffy had to go.
Fortunately the family did one right thing for Scruffy and called Scottish Terrier Rescue of Greater New York instead of dumping Scruffy at a shelter or simply opening the front door and letting him loose. Erica Cerny, the heart and soul of the all volunteer rescue organization, remembers getting the call. “This dog needs to be booted out of here,” she was told. After getting some basic information, Erica agreed that her group would take Scruffy. “We always evaluate a biting situation carefully. In this case, we felt the dog was provoked and gave only a warning bite instead of a serious attack. We have experience in rehabilitating this kind of thing and I was sure if we could find the right home with no children and experienced dog owners, Scruffy would thrive.”
Erica immediately changed the pup’s name to Russell thinking Scruffy didn’t suit the Scottie and might have some bad connotations. Russell, like most dogs that come into rescue needed some basics. First, a visit to the vet to be evaluated and to bring him current with his vaccinations. Fortunately, Russell was already neutered which would have been another significant cost to the group. He also needed a grooming. “I think his previous owners had clipped him themselves, and he wasn’t very Scottie looking,” said Erica. Not surprisingly a very handsome Scottie appeared when the groomer was finished; much different from his days as Scruffy.
Next for Russell was to spend time with one of the experienced foster people the rescue group relies on. Erica had been told he was not house broken, but that proved untrue as he had no accidents in his foster home, and he also got along well with the other dogs.
As she does with all their rescues once they have been assessed and are deemed ready to be adopted, Russell was listed on the group’s Petfinder page. In addition, Erica began culling through applications that had come through the web site and from direct calls.
The group charges an adoption fee of $350.00, but less or no fee for older dogs or dogs with medical issues. In addition, those fostering dogs are paid a per diem rate for housing the dogs, taking them to the vet, and helping to evaluate them. Sometimes costs are defrayed by the Scottish Terrier Club of America Rescue Trust Fund, but the group depends heavily on donations. In some cases, rescuers cover costs out of their own pockets. Each of their adopted dogs goes to his forever home looking his best, with a week’s worth of food, and records of any known issues or problems
In Russell’s case, several possible applicants were found and vetted. The vetting process involves testimony from two personal references, a reference from a vet, and a home inspection. In no time, a middle-aged couple with no children came forward asking to adopt Russell. They passed the vetting process easily because they owned their own home, had a fenced in yard, and were experienced dog owners with a retired Briard show dog already in their family. In addition, they worked in higher education with flexible schedules; no more being tied outdoors or locked for hours in a crate for Russell. The only down side was that the prospective adopters were in upstate New York some eight hours away. However, they were willing to drive the sixteen hour round trip to get Russell; they really wanted him.
Today, Russell, the gentle giant who weighs nearly 32 pounds (the Scottie standard is 18-25 lbs.), has found his forever home where he is loved, cared for, and even has a playmate. Erica has been in touch with his new owners as she is with all their adopters. “I love hearing happy stories about our dogs settling into their forever homes, and if things do not go right, we take the dog back. We love each of our rescues and they remain part of our rescue family throughout their lives. Each year our group hosts a rescue parade at the Scottish Terrier Nationals, and it’s such fun to see these once unwanted dogs looking so happy and healthy.”
Not every rescue story has Russell’s happy ending, but rescue organizations around the country like Scottish Terrier Rescue of Greater New York work tirelessly with individuals, shelters, and other rescue groups to save and rehabilitate hundreds of unwanted or lost dogs so that they, too, have a chance to achieve a happy ending like Russell’s.
If you would like to know more about Scottish Terrier rescue, you can contact Erica Cerny who also serves as the chairperson for national Scottie Rescue: ecerny@optonline[dot]net and you can visit the Scottish Terrier Club of Greater NY Scottie Rescue site.
Most dog breeds have a national rescue organization with regional representatives. You can find a rescue for your favorite breed by doing a Google search or by looking up your breed on the American Kennel Club web site.
Read more animal related articles by Lee here in KRL.