by Lee Juslin
Nola and Olivia were not just sisters, they were best buds. But who knew?
Nola, nee Fascination, and Olivia, nee Tranquility, were born in a puppy mill. They lived their first five and six years respectively in 2.5 x 2.5 foot wire cages giving birth twice a year. They never knew human companionship or love, never played with toys, and never ran free. Their one and only job was producing more dogs for more profit. That is the main objective for puppy millers. Nola and Olivia, half sisters, came into Colonel Potter Cairn Terrier Rescue as shy, fearful, not very well kept dogs.
Colonel Potter Cairn Terrier Rescue Network, an all volunteer group, was incorporated as a 5031C organization in 2000, and since that time they have rescued, cared for, and re-homed over 3400 Cairn Terriers and Cairn Terrier mixes. “We try not to turn any dog away,” said Amy Robinson, Chairman of the Board for Col. Potter. “Even when a family with an elderly Cairn is unwilling to take that last step and care for their dog through a terminal illness, we will step in. We are the last, best hope for a dog, and we try to never turn away any dog.”
Colonel Potter is organized into teams. On the front line is the in-take team with a leader and volunteers for every region of the country. This team receives notices of Cairns needing help and takes in Cairns from shelters, through owner turn ins, and from puppy mills as with Nola and Olivia. The team assesses the dogs’ needs and suitability for eventual adoption. All in-takes are seen by a vet to deal with any health issues, to make sure they are up to date on shots, and for neutering. Next step is to a foster home where dogs remain for a minimum of two weeks and are further assessed as to behavior issues. Foster parents work with each dog with the aim of getting it ready for a forever home. During this period, dogs are not available for adoption. No dog is adopted out by Col. Potter until it has been fully assessed and all issues have been identified. If dogs are deemed unsuitable for adoption, they stay in Col. Potter in a foster home.
The adoption process through Colonel Potter, like other national rescue organizations, is involved and thorough. “We don’t worry about hurting people’s feelings,” said Amy. “Our one and only objective is to find a suitable and loving home for each dog”. Prospective adopters fill out a comprehensive application. If their application is provisionally accepted, they undergo a home visit by Col Potter volunteers armed with a long list of home requirements. For instance, the inspectors look to see that items which might be dangerous to a dog are secured, that if there are children in the family they have been taught how to treat a dog, and if the home and family seem to have the resources as to time and finances to properly care for the dog throughout its life. A fenced in yard is a big plus, too. The main purpose is to find a permanent home for each dog, but Colonel Potter always takes a dog back if, for any reason, the adoption does not work out.
After a dog is adopted, the post adoption team stays in regular contact with the adoptive parents for six months. This team is available to give advice and answer any questions the adopters might have. It is this follow-up contact that was so important for Nola and Olivia. Each had been adopted into loving home; both fairly close to Olivia’s foster home. But, when Olivia’s new mom had a fall and could no longer care for Olivia, she was returned to her original foster home. Here, her foster dad observed again what he had first seen with Olivia. Her tail was always down and while she greeted them whenever they came home, she never seemed really happy. Had her spirit been broken beyond repair in the puppy mill? No one knew until the mystery was solved by a visit from Nola.
“When Nola came to visit Olivia, her foster dad noticed an immediate change,” Amy told us. “Her tail went up for the very first time, and she and Olivia began to play. The attachment between the two girls was so obvious, that Nola’s mom went right home and filled out an application to adopt Olivia. The application was approved, and now Olivia’s tail is always up, her eyes sparkle with joy, and she and Nola live together not just as sisters, but as best buds.”
Colonel Potter Cairn Terrier Rescue Network is staffed solely by volunteers and they depend on donations to care for the Cairns that they take in. If you would like to volunteer, make a donation, or learn more about Colonel Potter you can go to their website: Col. Potter.
The organization maintains an extended family atmosphere with its adopters, foster parents, and volunteers through an annual, national picnic/fundraiser, Cairn Rescue Annual Party (CRAP) as well as smaller regional gatherings called Pals of our Pups (POOP).
Read more animal related articles by Lee here in KRL.