In late March I got to work one day and was told there was a big black lab in one of our end kennels. A stray that Mike had picked up on patrol. He said to hold her a while as the sheriff's office was interested in testing her to see if she'd make a good candidate for their canine unit.
A week later when her stray hold was lifted they came and tested her. Great dog, fantastic recall skills, great play drive, but her hunt drive wasn't what it should be. I thought it wasn't really a big deal. She was just an amazing dog and knew that she'd be adopted quickly.
Weeks passed and 'Denver' was still sitting in a kennel in the shelter. Over 100 pounds of gorgeous lab, as friendly and outgoing as any dog I'd ever seen. The quality dogs sitting in shelters day after day always leaves me dumb founded. I'd come to work each day, open up the doors so the dogs could get some fresh air and then I'd take Denver out to play for a while.
After a couple weeks of this it occurred to me that she was the perfect size for a service dog for my husband, John. Over 20 years ago as a fire fighter, he responded to a residential house fire. He was an admin guy but couldn't resist going to calls when there was a report that people were trapped inside. He has been driven to save lives during his entire career, but this time it would nearly cost him his.
When they arrived on scene the entire house was in flames. The neighbors said they thought to residents were still inside. His crew ran in to do what they could to save any lives possible. Not far inside the front door the ceilings caved in and two floors fell down on them. There were many injuries that day, John's among them. He was left with a broken back and broken neck. Never one to give up, he went through rehab and eventually went back to work. Coming back from an injury he was required to re-take the physical endurance test and due to the damage from the injury couldn't pass.
Never one to give up, he chose to change careers and put himself through the law enforcement country in the most difficult course in the country with guys half his age. Despite his injury and the age difference he still graduated top of his class and went on to finish his career in this field. Over time however the damage and a disk disease took it's toll and he ultimately had to agree with the doctor's that had begged him to retire for over a year.
Since then he's had two surgeries on his neck, one on his back and another is needed, suffered two heart attacks, two strokes and been diagnosed with COPD. The man who had spent his entire career helping and saving others now needed help getting up and down from chairs and bed, couldn't climb stairs, needed help remembering medications and would frequently fall and be unable to get up. For someone who is staunchly independent, this was a traumatic emotional battle.
Around the time Denver was passed up by the sheriff's office, John had been clearing some land in the back of our property. He made one wrong step and fell. He was there for a long time, afraid he'd broken his ankle and not sure how he'd get back up. He texted our daughter and asked her to help him back in. Thankfully it was just torn ligaments and would heal just fine given time.
Denver would be perfect... If she could be trained to stand perfectly still so he could steady himself on her, she could help him stand back up when he falls. With her size she could carry a backpack for him or pull a cart with tools he needed when he worked outside so that he could use his cane when he was outdoors. I let the thought rattle around my head for a week before I called him with the idea.
At first he didn't like the idea. After 18 years of rescue and being over all softies when it comes to animals, we'd acquired quite the houseful of dogs. Another, especially one as big as she was, was not what we needed. But when I explained the things she could do to help him he slowly warmed to the idea and I brought her home a couple days later.
He was taken with her immediately. She's truly a man's dog. Very over sized and for anyone that doesn't know her she probably does look scary. She's a Labrador Retriever / German Shepherd / Rottweiler mix that, even in her too thin shelter condition, was over 100 pounds. Regardless of her size and look, she had the temperament of a kitten. Clueless about how big she is, but sweet to a level I'd never seen.
The first thing John wanted was to change her name. It took a few days but he chose Camden, the city in New Jersey that he'd started his career. Ironically, it's also the city that he probably sustained the pulmonary damage that left him with his COPD diagnosis. I had called a wonderful friend who had retired from dog training before moving here but had offered to help with the dogs in the shelter to make them more adoptable. She offered to come out and help train both John and Camden.
he first training day he called me immediately after to tell me how smart Camden was. Everything she was being taught she picked up in no time flat. She wanted so badly to please him and Chris. Training sessions with Chris are weekly but John works with her three times a day every day. As the training has progressed I've seen a rare bond form between the two of them. Camden is gaining her confidence and skill and John's becoming more proud by the day. I've also seen a change in him. He's more relaxed now, able to take a day and just enjoy not doing something.
This is a rare thing for a man that even after surgery on his spine was fighting to get out of a hospital bed, back to a gym and always wanting to go back to work. He's never accepted retirement or his disability and it's made his life a daily struggle. His mind is so sharp and his drive so strong, but his body had failed him and he was constantly conflicted in life. Lately I've seen a different side of him come out. When the pain is too much and he knows that trying to do yard work will leave him in worse shape, he accepts it. He'll take Camden outside and play ball, work on her obedience, or they'll just sit on the front porch and enjoy life.
It's a perfect match, John and Camden. He needed her, she needed him. He saved her life by pulling her out of the shelter and she's given him back his. Fate has a wonderful way of working things out, doesn't it?
Friends of White County Animals (FWCA) was formed as a non-profit organization in June of 2012 to promote the well-being of all animals.
FWVA's Mission Is
FWCA is also grateful to Compugeeks Computer and I.T. Solutions for their donation of developing, hosting and managing the FWCA website: www.FriendsofWhiteCountyAnimals.com.
This is truly an amazing story of what love and patience can do for a hopeless shelter animal.
I was scanning Facebook as usual one day in the spring and saw this picture from the White County Animal Shelter. I tried to keep scrolling down the page because I was at "full capacity" (as I usually am) but my heart moved my fingers back to her image. I clicked on the picture and read the thread. She was in terrible condition and had very little chance of getting out of the shelter. I decided to go and at least offer to get her some medical attention. Mike, the Animal Control Officer, helped me get her to Dr. Colwell in Sparta. He did two different skin scrapes to try and determine what type of mange she had but could not confirm Demodex or Sarcoptic.
He got her up to date on her vaccinations, wormed her, bathed her, clipped all her hair off, dipped her for mange and gave her antibiotics. I watched as this small, emaciated dog finally had some attention given to her. She had to go back to the animal shelter that day because I had no space. I rushed home and found an overnight foster for her and then she came home with me. She had to stay in our garage until I determined that she had Demodex and not the contagious Sarcoptic.
I named this little urchin "Hope". I integrated her slowly to inside our house so she could play with our other three spoiled "children" and she started to blossom. I took her to my husband's office one day to visit and a remarkable young lady from across the hall saw her. I told her Hope's story and she said she and her fiance were thinking about adopting a dog. I was so delighted that she was open to considering Hope in her condition. After a couple of months of rest, good food and lots of love, Hope went to her forever home with Tamara and Jason.
As you can see, Hope is a beautiful border collie and to my amazement only about 8-9 months old. She has come a long way from that day when I first saw her pitiful image on Facebook. Her new owners adore her. She is a testament of courage and "hope" and I am humbled and blessed that she came into my life.
Open Heart Rescue is a life line for some of White County's most special needs dogs. Hope is a very lucky girl for Cheryl to have found her because many dogs in her condition would not have been adopted. You can do your part to control White County's animal population by having your pet spayed or neutered. Also, to help other animals at White County's Shelter, look for the donation barrels located at Kroger, Savage Building Center and Walmart.
Introduction by Sharon Langford
While visiting the White County Animal Shelter I met a Basset Hound and was sure I could find a forever home for her. I made an appointment with Dr. Denton Colwell to have her fully vetted including spaying. Daisy's Legacy (I established this trust to help animals and donate all my proceeds from sales of "Living With The Rescues--Life Lessons and Inspirations" to the trust) partnered with Homeward Bound, a rescue group established by Sarah Hawlik to foster the Basset Hound and post her on adoption sites. We named the Basset Hound Sadie.
A week or so later I had a business meeting in Murfreesboro with a lady who is also an animal lover and told her about Sadie. She said that she has a friend in Cookeville who might give Sadie a forever home and called her right then. This was more important than our business agenda! Her friend Lilah agreed to meet Sadie. I contacted Sarah, Homeward Bound, and gave her Lilah's contact information to arrange a meeting. It was love at first sight.
Story by Lilah Clack
My beloved basset hound, Zipper, died in 2008 and I vowed never to get another dog. However, it was October 2011 when some interested parties encouraged me to meet with the Homeward Bound Rescue group, and I met a beautiful basset named Sadie. It took Sadie only twenty minutes or less to change my mind about getting another dog. She sat quietly by my side and gazed into my eyes.
I knew she was special and awesome and I had to adopt her. Sadie is the perfect companion and she has three plans to get me out of bed every morning. She is always happy when she has succeeded and dances around as if she wants my day to start with a good beginning. We start the day with a walk through the neighborhood and our neighbors watch for us and they bring Sadie treats. Although thankful, she has become very selective and demanding of the quantity and quality of the treats. Together, we work in the yard, we watch TV, and we take power naps.
Sadie is the lifeguard at the swimming pool during the summer although she thinks if a drop of water is splashed on her it could cause her to melt. We have fun going to the "doggie spa" for a bath and manicure, and she acts as if she is Queen for a Day. Sadie is a faithful companion and she has enhanced my life tremendously.
Don't think twice about adopting a rescue dog..........you will be truly blessed!
Homeward Bound Rescue
Anyone that is involved in animal rescue can tell you that you see the very best and the very worst in people in this line of work. An incident that occurred in our area is exemplary of that. Four puppies were found, duct taped in a bag and they were all soaked in a caustic liquid such as gasoline or acid. These four babies were beautiful inside and out, despite the patchy loss of fur on their coats and burns on their skins.
Two of these puppies appeared to be Great Pyrenees and Golden Retriever mixes, one looked like a terrier and Golden Retriever mix and the other appeared to be a Golden Retriever and hound mix. A wonderful rescuer, Juanita Hall of Compugeeks in Sparta, took them to receive veterinary attention from Dr. Denton Colwell and then took them home to care for. She named them Sugar, Snoopy, Scruffy and Einstein…all very appropriate names for the personalities of these sweet puppies. It was easy to see that these puppies were unfazed by their horrible start to life.
Even though they showed physical evidence of the cruelty of humans, they showed no emotional damage. The fur babies were all puppy: playful, energetic, sweet, and cute! What Juanita believed was going to be a one night stay at her home until we could find another foster better equipped for the demands of puppies, turned into several weeks. However, in that time period these babies found their forever families. Scruffy immediately found a local home. Sugar and Einstein then went to separate, but equally wonderful families outside of Nashville and we are currently in the process of placing Snoopy in a home outside of Chattanooga.
The best and the worst: a horrific act of cruelty showed the resilience and kind nature of animals while a generous foster and four families stepped forward to open their homes and their hearts to these wonderful dogs. We are glad that this story ended showing the very best of people. Our heartfelt thanks goes to everyone that made this adoption possible, from the shelter volunteers and staff to Juanita Hall who became their lifeline, the incredible staff at Sparta Veterinary Services and finally to the families that took these babies into their lives.
Post by Sharon Langford
After being abandoned to die a slow and painful death, these special puppies experienced the best of humanity. Juanita contacted me about the puppies and Sarah (Homeward Bound Rescue) and I (Daisy's Legacy) quickly agreed to partner to find their forever homes. Juanita created a special place in their garage for them to live and took care of them including numerous trips to Dr. Denton Colwell. Juanita routinely volunteers at the White County Shelter; is a founding board member of FWCA and usually has a foster dog for Sarah and me.
Additionally, she and her husband Charles, through their company Compugeeks built our original FWCA website and host and administer it as a contribution to help animals. Sarah Hawlik, Homeward Bound Rescue, spends countless hours taking and posting photos of our rescues as well as communicating with prospective adopters and follow up after adoptions in addition to working in her businesses, Legacy Appraisals and Vintage Rose Antiques.
She also serves on the board of Cookeville/Putnam County Friends of Animals and provides a loving foster home for some of our rescues who are waiting to find their forever homes. I believe that most people care about animals and want to help--Sarah and Juanita are wonderful examples.
Intro by Sharon Langford
Almost 2 years ago a woman who volunteered at the White County Animal Shelter called me and asked if Daisy's Legacy would help a little dog she found frozen to the concrete floor when she went in to work. I asked her to take it to Dr. Denton Colwell. It was about 2 days before he could get a temperature and we were growing increasingly concerned about the prognosis. While Jack (by then we had named him) was recuperating, Frances and Rick Ford were at the clinic with their dog.
They met Jack and offered to foster him while he recuperated and waited for his forever home. Daisy's Legacy partnered with Homeward Bound Canine Rescue (Sarah Hawlik) to find Jack’s forever home. After a few weeks, Sarah had not received an acceptable application and it was evident that the Fords were in love with this little dog. I called and asked if they would consider giving Jack his forever home and they quickly agreed.
A few months after the Fords adopted Jack, they fostered Molly, a little beagle, while she recovered from heartworm treatment to get ready to go to her forever home. Last February, I called them about a special-needs dog, Snookie, who Homeward Bound and Daisy's Legacy had rescued from a shelter where she would have been euthanized because of her medical needs. The Fords agreed to foster her.
She was very insecure and not ready to be adopted. After a few months, we had not received an acceptable application and it was evident that Snookie was very bonded to the Fords and increasingly to Jack. The Fords agreed to become a "foster failure" again and are giving Snookie her forever home. I recently visited and it is amazing the transformation in Jack and Snookie. Rick and Frances Ford own and operate a small business, Professional Cleaning Services, but find time, along with their son Charles, to help the animals.
Story by Charles Ford
The way we came to have Jack is a sad, but ultimately happy, story for our family. The economy hurt us as it had so many. We lost our home and shortly after we lost “Sugar,” a very sweet Boston terrier we had for many years. When we got our 25-acre farm, we began to plan for animals. I have always planned to take in and find forever homes for animals that have been abandoned, abused and neglected.
We were introduced to Sharon Langford who is an inspiration and strong advocate in helping these animals find permanent, loving homes. We began to foster dogs and have been happy to see many find homes. This is how we came to have Jack, a small, energetic and happy Jack Russell terrier. He is a little miracle. We first saw him at our vet’s office. The vet said he had been found frozen. He was able to save him but he was in bad shape for quite a while.
When I first saw him at the vet’s office, he was in a small cage and he was beautiful. He stared at me with his big brown eyes and I immediately wanted to take him home. A few days later my mother saw Jack and they had a bond instantly. We brought him home to foster but it was not long until we just could not part with him. It is not easy for me to let go of any of the animals I care for. I worry about them and love them all and cannot understand the cruelty and neglect I have seen toward so many animals. I am very happy when one finds a loving forever home.
I will continue to care for any animal I can but especially dogs. They bring so much joy and unconditional love each and every day. I am building kennels now and have started a dog boarding and daycare business so I can expand and care for more dogs. I intend to help them find homes but if they are not adopted, they will live with me for good.
Today our family has grown. We now have one horse, 3 goats, 12 chickens, 4 ducks, 13 cats and 7 dogs. Also, Jack has a very best friend “Snookie.” She is a mixed breed rescue also.
I would like to ask you to please consider taking in a rescue before you buy one. They need your help and they will enrich your life. Since our little miracle Jack has come into our lives he has brought nothing but joy. He is the most loving dog. I could not imagine our home without him. We have many dogs and the other animals but the dogs bring so much love, joy and loyalty.
I only hope one day there will be no need for animal shelters and putting animals down. You can make a difference by donating time, dog food or money to shelters or rescues like Daisy’s Legacy, Homeward Bound or Friends of White County Animals. Also, please do your research before you adopt a dog to make sure it is the right temperament for your family and that you will be able to care for your animal (consider vet costs, food and shelter).
Thank you so much to all those who help now and all those who will!
Good News to make you smile
These are the stories of good things that are happening in our area with animals, courtesy of some of the people who work with us, and some of the people who have fostered and rescued animals in the Upper Cumberland area.