2007-08-01 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Moppet and her new owner, Linda Moppet and her new owner, Linda After stays at three LI shelters, Moppet has a Gettysburg address. This middle-aged mix's new Mom calls each progress report "Moppet and Me"….a long distance pet love connection, thanks to that Internet Godsend, Petfinder, and one persistent lady. Try as I might, I couldn't talk her out of driving 13 hours and 530 miles round trip to meet the 7, almost 8-year-old scruffy pooch. So glad I didn't.

Last winter Moppet, a well-mannered Beardie/Otterhound mix, was bounced out of her home when her family got a new puppy. She wound up at Islip Shelter where she was adopted by someone who could not "meet her emotional needs"…what ever that means…and two months later was surrendered at Babylon Shelter. Several prospects fizzled, so in April she became a Last Hope foster dog.

Last winter Linda Rinehart from Fairfield, PA, west of Gettysburg, lost Samantha, her 14-year rescued Bearded Collie after a long battle with cancer. She nursed Samantha through many ups and downs, and even had her vet's permission to sleep at his hospital with her ailing dog when no staff was there over night. After typing "Bearded Collie" into Petfinder Linda followed Moppet's listing from afar on the Babylon Shelter site. Though not ready for a new dog, she was dismayed when the post vanished, and afraid to call to find out if Moppet was adopted. The dog haunted her.

Petfinder's breed search is an interesting feature. For example, when you enter "Pug", you get every dog with "Pug" in the description, including all the mixes, so "Moppet" popped up each time a searcher typed "Beardie" or "Otterhound". Moppet isn't that combo, merely the scruffy type I call a "Disney dog", or a small version of "Buck" from Married with Children. When "Moppet" became a Last Hope dog, the "Otterhound" and call name caught Linda's eye on a different Petfinder list. She decided it was a sign since this had to be the same Moppet.

I'm a true believer in out-of-state adoptions for purebred rescue, because such expertise ensures the matches are perfect. "Reynolds" my "Deliverance Dog" (Beacon/Record 4/5/07 ) is in Virginia with a "twin" sister via HT-Z Giant Schnauzer Rescue; "Cupcake" the broken pelvis Bullmastiff taken from Brookhaven Shelter by American Bullmastiff Assoc. Rescue ( Beacon/Record 1/4/07 ) lives with a chef in Maryland. These are just 2 recent ones. With purebreds rescuers are dealing with set expectations; mixes are more ambiguous. Locally based Last Hope likes their dogs within reach. However, I was forwarded Linda's Moppet inquiry to investigate further- turns out she had a lot of dog experience. Linda lives in PA but travels over 100 miles to her office in Virginia. Some days she works from home. I knew from the getgo that Linda was" a dog person"; confirmed when I spoke to her colleagues.

I had no doubts about Linda but had reservations about sweet but low key Moppet. I couldn't vouch for the dog's health. She was middle aged with eye-ear infections, plus an odd growth on her ear. A rabies certificate from her original owner's vet said she weighed 49 lbs. in 3/06. She was 38 lbs. now. Was the drop due to stress or a typo? Was it cancer? How could I ask this poor woman to come so far for a dog that might break her heart within months?

I did everything I could to dissuade Linda- dangled photos of an adorable Tibetan Terrier pup at a town shelter; sung the praises of Bearded Collie Rescue and the wonderful national chairman who lives on LI. He would find her a purebred Beardie. I promised. No, Linda wanted Moppet.

This perpetual pessimist kept stalling her until the vet removed and biopsied the ear mass. I wanted blood work to rule out cancer for the weight loss. Didn't she prefer I find her a younger dog? No, Linda wanted Moppet.

When all the medical tests came back good, Linda planned her solo journey. (She had only been to NYC once as a kid on a school trip.) Her trusty GPS led her to Canal Street during Monday morning rush hour. "Oops, I just went over some bridge", rattled her cell phone when she called to say she was in traffic. After a 6 hour ride with a few scenic detours, Linda met Moppet. They clicked and began their new life together following lunch at the diner across from Last Hope to chat about dogs, of course, and to fortify Linda for the 7-hour trip home by way of Canal Street again.

In little more than a month Moppet has become an animated social butterfly. A pet sitter lets her out at noon. She's gotten the A-OK from Linda's vet, put on some pounds, been groomed twice, takes daily mile-long walks through the park, and begun obedience school where she re-discovered her talent for a "High Five". Moppet is taking all prerequisite courses to learn sheep herding, just for the fun of it.

The transformation is mutual. Sandy, Linda's Sheltie Rescue pal, wrote: "I just wanted you to know what a change Moppet has made in Linda's life, as I know that Linda has done the same for Moppet. I get a new Moppet story every day, and Linda is alive again…Thank you and your organization for believing in Linda and doing an out-of-state adoption. This is one you will never regret."

• For Adoption: You need not travel far to find your pet soul mate. Visit a local town shelter; all are on Petfinder. Oyster Bay Town Shelter (677-5784) has a lovable, big gal this week. "Daisy" #696 is a purebred St. Bernard found as a stray. She's middle-aged and looks as if someone shaved her down but neglected her nails for a long time. "Snuggles"#499, a handsome Russian Blue type cat, just wants someone to pet him non- stop.

•Dogs: "Rikku"#584- female smooth Collie/Shepherd; "Rusty" #532 (aka "Sparkler") Golden/Chow.

•Cats: "Wendy" #375- spayed tabby in the lobby; "Hermione" #550- gorgeous calico. Lots of kittens.

Readers can write to Joanne Anderson c/o the Massapequa Post, 1045 B Park Blvd., Massapequa Park NY 11762.

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