2007-04-04 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Reynolds, shown above, before his makeover. His famous namesake, left. See a resemblance? Reynolds, shown above, before his makeover. His famous namesake, left. See a resemblance? Purebred rescue groups spread a safety net across the country. Some have stronger, wider nets. When a relatively rare purebred appears in a local town shelter, those concerned may be contacting breed experts for the first time. Recently the national Giant Schnauzer rescue effort embraced several needy LI dogs wholeheartedly. Their support for these Giants is overwhelming.

Earlier this year an unkempt 3-year-old Giant Schnauzer- Reynolds the Deliverance Dog- named for his uncanny, tousled resemblance to a young Burt Reynolds, came into Babylon Shelter as a stray. I'm fortunate to have one degree of separation to the breed. A handler friend who rescued my Afghan also shows Giants.

She introduced me to the wonderful HTZ Giant Schnauzer Rescue, and also made arrangements to board our guy with show colleagues while HT-Z located a foster home. Then she put me in touch with the LI reps- Rita Mischke and Barbara Crisafulli. Rita came to Babylon to evaluate and sign Reynolds out.

HT-Z Giant Schnauzer Rescue is the official rescue of the Giant Schnauzer Club of America. The group was made possible by an endowment of Fred and Hertha Thomas-Zagari, devoted Giant owners, with the help and organization of Carolyn Janak in Lakewood, Colorado. As soon as I returned from my vet with Reynolds, Carolyn, who grew up on LI, called to make arrangements to pay the hospital directly. I kept telling her that no one ever did that for me. She insisted. I felt I too had been "adopted."

During his boarding time, Reynolds was transformed- groomed, neutered, cysts removed, blood tests, dentistry, micro chipped- the works, courtesy of his fairy godmother Carolyn who kept checking on his progress. He endeared himself to everyone at the kennel and hospital. A foster home turned up in NJ right before everyone (including his kennel hosts) left town for Westminster. We drove Reynolds from the hospital to Aunt Barbara's in Brooklyn for a PJ party with her Giants. The next day, she transported the temporary "Jersey Boy" to his foster home where he still waits for a forever placement.

The timing for Reynolds couldn't have been worse. I called in the midst of a terrible HT-Z ordeal. Last fall Barbara took Hope, another darling Giant, from Hempstead Shelter. She had been surrendered with a suspected razor slash that needed stitches. After several months in Barbara's foster care, Hope found a perfect home with Jean Engle. Her Giant, a dog she adopted from a niece who was dying of breast cancer, had recently succumbed to cancer too.

On the way home to Virginia, Jean, an 80-year-old widow, had a car accident during an ice storm. Hope escaped out the back door in panic- a black phantom vanishing into the night on an interstate. Jean's belongings, including her pocketbook, were stolen from the wrecked car. Barbara put out an all-points bulletin. She posted a canine Amber Alert with a lost dog website. She called Virginia DOT and learned that they didn't scan roadside dead dogs for microchips. Had Hope survived? Jean was out searching in her rental car every day. Two days later a extensive coverage. The trucking company became cooperative only after law enforcement got involved. Hope's microchip deemed her stolen. The driver was fired. No one was sure if it was because of Hope. There were reports that she was on her way back home to Florida by way of Texas. The search and media frenzy moved further south and west.

About two weeks later, a Rottie rescue lady in Florida overheard a convenience store clerk say that a lady trucker had just come in to show off her "new" big black dog. The description matched the flyer, so the Rottie lady contacted Florida sheriffs who were able to recover Hope. Her collar was missing, but Hope's microchip verified her identity.

Hope spent a night in a Florida shelter. HT-Z set up a caravan. A Giant fancier on her way to Westminster picked Hope up and brought her to North Carolina. Another volunteer drove from her home in Virginia to North Carolina and then back with Hope for a grand reunion with Jean. Hope had traveled 2,700 miles. The press and dedicated Virginia policemen were on hand to share in the joy.

Presently HT-Z has two local Giant boys for adoption- Reynolds, my Deliverance Dog, shown here, and "Sabby", an 11- month-old male. (Giants reach their full potential when owners invest lots of time in training and grooming.) Call 718-596- 5525. For breed info. plus more photos including groomed shots of Reynolds, Google "HT-Z Giant Schnauzer Rescue".

Many of these HT-Z heroes got together at Westminster. Rita Mischke suffers from Lyme disease. Her Giant "Slate" started out as her service dog but blossomed into such an Adonis that he also became a top show dog- the '05 national specialty winner and western regional champion. He was one of only a few entrants that Westminster singled out this year for special accomplishments outside of the ring. Competition is secondary to camaraderie in HT-Z, the Giant Schnauzer extended family. Their teamwork and commitment win the blue ribbon every time.

At Oyster Bay Town Shelter (677-5784) Miller Pl. Syosset, "Lilly" #187- a loving declawed tabby is schmoozing up with the Easter Bunny. She'd love to be snuggled in a basket at your house. Other cats include "Buttons" #189- a declawed calico and the Morris the cat twins #173/174- abandoned at an apartment.

+Dogs: "Blossom" #169-a loving Beagle soprano and a male Shihtzu with hazel eyes.

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