2007-06-06 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Lucky Lucky Call it serendipity-shelter style. While at an agility match to root for a former Babylon Town Shelter Border Collie mix in his debut meet, I was bragging about a past rescue, a Sheltie who became a super star in obedience and therapy work. It turns out this Sheltie (who I last saw at Babylon Shelter 9 years ago) was standing a few feet away.

These dogs have a lot in common. Both survived terrible ordeals before entering Babylon Shelter as strays; both were fostered by purebred rescue volunteers who placed them with loving families that trained them in canine performance. Both make me proud to have known them as pound pups before their glory days.

Nike's Success Story: In '05 a lady brought a terrified Border Collie/Springer puppy into the shelter. She told us she saw him thrown out of a Mercedes in Wyandanch. His tiny sister didn't survive. On July 15, 2005, he was my Beacon poster pup "Carl Benz". My pal Monica of MCM Rottweiler Rescue stepped out of her breed to foster him. She called him "Puddles" for the obvious reason, and posted him on her group's Petfinder site. Monica was very fussy about where she placed him. He had been through enough.

Above, Nike coming out of the tunnel. Inset, Kara after earning her UD. Above, Nike coming out of the tunnel. Inset, Kara after earning her UD. The Crisciones of Medford adopted Puddles and gave him the speedy name- "Nike". Julia, their 12-yrold daughter, wanted to train a puppy in agility. We were thrilled. I'd run into Julia and her mother Margaurette at Doggie U. "Nike" was a much better student than my Afghan (a drop out). So good, they recently entered the 3-day LI Agility Trial at Cathedral Pines with Julia as junior handler and Nike in the elite open novice class. The Crisciones camped out in their RV to watch the young team win two first places in the junior skilled 12 in. jumps. On Memorial Day, we cheered for Nike as he ran the tunnel course. (See photo).They plan to keep on training and competing.

Connection Key Words: "Sheltie" & "pancreas": Eavesdropping is a powerful force at a dog show. When Julia's dad asked if any other Babylon Shelter dogs besides Nike had ever participated, I mentioned a Sheltie that came into the shelter years ago, emaciated from a digestive abnormalities. She went on to earn top obedience titles. Another member of our "Nike entourage" stopped me to say she overheard a lady across the field saying something similar about her Sheltie's pancreas. Sure enough, that was our "Kara".

Kara's Success Story: In '98 a frail, young Sheltie stray only 7 pounds, about half her ideal weight, entered the shelter. I ran her photo saying: "The tiny sable Shetland Sheepdog in Cage 53 is so thin. She's scared but darling, and will sit for a cookie" (Beacon 3/19/ 98)- but called Sheltie Rescue first. Karen rushed down to sign her out and Terri fostered her three months. During that time the vet discovered that "Kara" had a pancreatic enzyme insufficiency that could be controlled with a low fat diet and prescription powder on every meal. Her foster Moms tenderly made her stronger .

Audrey Blake saw tremendous potential when she met the waif at training class. She became Kara's forever Mom. Like Audrey's other obedience titled dogs, Kara went on a homemade holistic diet. Audrey began clicker training the Sheltie. A click signals a job well done and the imminent receipt of a reward. Kara responded well to the clicks followed by morsels of her special diet as treats. On Feb. 3, 2000, I wrote a followup. At the time Kara was on her way toward the first level- CD (Companion Dog) obedience title- and had been invited to the Sheltie National in PA to compete in a novice team demo with 3 other rescued Shelties, but after that I lost touch until this recent chance reunion.

Kara has gone on to much more. Since then she has also earned a CDX (Companion Dog Excellent) and a UD (Utility Dog) title. At each level the AKC requires that a dog pass all exercises with 170 out of 200 points, win 3 legs, under 3 different judges. Dog and handler enter the ring with no leash. Once judging begins, the handler cannot guide the dog in position.

The UD title is quite a canine accomplishment and takes jumping, retrieving, scent discrimination and concentration to the highest level of training. Registered under the name "24 Karat Gold", Kara is shown here in a professional shot taken right after she earned her UD. Now about 10 the pretty Sheltie is also a Therapy Dog International and continues to visit many nursing homes and hospitals.

Nike and Kara. Not bad PR for all shelter dogs; not bad for two helpless dogs who almost died. Seven years separate their adoptions from the same shelter. Such a thrill to meet them again.

+Current Dogs at Oyster Bay Town Shelter (677-5784) Miller Pl. Syosset waiting for their chance to create their own success stories: "Lucky" #394 is a sweet 2 yr. Tibetan Terrier (shaved). She'd be better placed with older kids. Also "Fiona" #285- older Beagle/Basset; "Beauford" #287- handsome Coonhound mix; "Blue" #325- Rottie/ Husky gal. The shelter is overflowing with adorable kittens.

+Last Hope "Wine & Cheese Tasting" featuring "Dogs in Art" Fri. 6/8 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Lynn Anderson Galleries, 92 Forest Ave,. Locust Valley. $25 donation benefits Last Hope. Call-516-220-6695.

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