We are a small but mighty group of women and men devoted to helping stray and homeless Jack Russell Terriers (JRTs) find their way to loving adoptive homes and helping individuals who need to re-home their dogs due to difficult circumstances.
To Err is Human to Forgive Canine
So far this year we have adopted out 76 dogs from widely divergent situations. Every year, we hope to hit the “100 dogs placed” mark but we know every adoption is a reason to celebrate. We are currently operating with 13 active foster homes, 5 emergency foster homes and 3 long-term, palliative foster homes where Princess, Mr. Biggs and Bethany Lyn are living out their days with families who love them.
The JRTRO is a “cyber” rescue with no bricks and mortar central location. Rather, the volunteers who organize, administer, transport, communicate, advertise, interview, follow-up, agonize, worry and generally work tirelessly for the dogs do so from their homes, using their own computers and resources, relying heavily on social media to get their jobs done. From fielding calls and internet enquiries to take dogs in, to organizing transport and setting up foster homes, to interviewing potential adopters and arranging home checks, to moving dogs and fostering dogs, our volunteers are amazing.
No rescue can sustain their good work without the invaluable contribution of its foster families and we are no different. This is a special group of people, some fostering non-stop for long periods of time, others coming and going as their life situations change but all of them sharing the same goal – to help these lost and abandoned dogs find their way to a new life. It’s hard work and it’s heartbreaking to let go when the time comes for the foster dog to move on but rescue cannot happen without it. Some foster families have their own dogs and cats, some have children and some do not, some live alone and others have large extended families, some work full time and others are retired – whatever the circumstance, these people work selflessly to train and socialize dogs that might otherwise have met very sad endings in shelters and on the streets.
Chachi was dumped at a local humane society where one of the employees had the wherewithal to contact the JRTRO.
Chachi at rest
His owner had experienced a relationship breakdown and felt looking after his companion of 6 years was too much for him. Chachi came into foster care with severe allergies marring his beautiful white coat with blotches of red and inflamed skin. He was fearful and loud noises and raised voices would send him cowering and looking for cover. His foster parents taught him that a home can be a loving place and he had no reason to fear. A change in diet and less stress in his environment resulted in his skin clearing up. Chachi now lives with his new adoptive family where he is absolutely cherished. He waits patiently every day for his favourite human to come home from work – the young man who obliges Chachi’s excitement by lying down on the floor to wrestle and throw his favourite toy for him.
Bethany Lyn (right) at home
Bethany Lyn lived her entire life with a family that decided they no longer wanted her because she was almost blind and totally deaf. After being left unceremoniously at the local shelter, the staff there was determined that an old, blind dog should not die alone in the cold and lonely surroundings of a humane society. Knowing how difficult it is to get rescue for senior dogs, they nonetheless contacted the JRTRO and asked, please, could we take this little dog somewhere to live out her days? They said she was not in good shape and probably did not have long to live. Almost a year later, Bethany Lyn has defied the odds and is living life as the queen bee in her palliative foster home. In good weather she romps around the backyard like a little lamb, sometimes bumping into things her blind eyes can no longer see or losing her balance and falling over. But nothing deters her and she takes every day in stride. She loves her meals and she doesn’t hesitate to put her canine siblings in their place. As her foster mom says “Bethany Lyn had owners for the majority of her life but her golden years will be spent with her guardians. Her owners lost their humanity when they abandoned her at the pound and I believe if she could express one wish it would be that they would be shown more mercy than she was. That truly is the nature of rescues. They don’t hold malice or revenge or hatred. Instead their hearts are full of forgiveness and love, lessons that are never lost on those that rescue, foster and adopt.”
Nothing is sadder than a family that has decided to relinquish their pet. For some, the decision is heart wrenching and for others not so much. Whatever the back story, the scenario for the dog is always the same – upheaval, confusion and stress. But dogs are amazingly adaptable and when they are no long wanted in one family, they are inevitably better off with a family that wants to welcome them into their lives.
Lucy came to the JRTRO from Kentucky where she had been rescued from an abusive home by a caring woman with two dogs of her own. Mel worked diligently for weeks trying to convince a co-worker to give her the dog that she so clearly had no use for and that she had threatened numerous times to tie up outside the local shelter and abandon. Finally, the co-worker agreed to turn the dog over and Mel took Lucy home with the dream of giving her a forever home. However, the dream faded as it became obvious Lucy could not get along with Mel’s two dogs. No amount of training or professional advice seemed to help the situation and Mel and her husband had to eventually face the very sad fact that Lucy had to be re-homed.
Lucy is home at last
Mel’s plight came to the attention of a volunteer at the JRTRO and arrangements were soon made for Lucy to make the trip up here to be fostered. Sadly her initial foster situation did not work out and we scrambled to find alternative care for her. One foster parent stepped up to help but she had 5 dogs of her own. We knew Lucy had been relinquished because of her dog aggression but Julie insisted she could make it work. Two years later, Lucy is living with Julie and Alan as their 6th adopted dog – they fell in love with her and decided they could not have her move yet again. Lucy has learned to co-exist not only with her siblings but with all the foster dogs that come and go in her home. Julie and Alan learned what triggered Lucy’s aggression and worked patiently with her to let go of her insecurities and anxiety, resulting in a loving little dog that even takes new fosters under her wing to show them the ropes.
The stories are endless – most have happy endings but every rescuer knows not every dog finds his forever home, not every dog can be helped. We all carry the not-so-happy endings in our hearts too. But every day rescuers make change happen. Every rescue volunteer has a huge impact on the lives of animals that others have carelessly abandoned. Centuries ago humans and dogs made a mutually beneficial pact to protect and help each other resulting in the domestication of this amazing animal. Man has seriously let down his side of the bargain and has much to answer for in this regard. That’s why every individual who gives their time, their money or their resources to help dogs in distress is doing important work that matters. We can all effect change if we’re willing to give even a little. Eleanor Roosevelt famously said “You must do the thing that you cannot do”. I wrote this article to tell you about our small but mighty rescue. I challenge you to find your place in this fight to end the suffering – I challenge you to do the thing you think you cannot do.
– written by JRTRO Volunteer, Colleen Milloy