Thursday afternoon volunteers from the National English Shepherd Rescue prepared a group of dogs, rescued from Pilot Mountain after their owner died, for transportation to foster and adoptive homes.
The rescue group presented Dr. Mark Hauser and his staff at Surry Animal Hospital with a certificate and jars of Vermont maple syrup as a thank you gift.
The certificate presented to Dr. Hauser was paired with an illustration from an old book that was artistically modified to resemble the English Shepherd dogs.
Dr. Hauser said it has been “a very rewarding experience” working with the rescue group.
“It has been fantastic, above and beyond anything we expected. To see the dogs move on to happy and healthy homes is wonderful. Our job was the easy part — the rescue group did the real work. It is a reward to see how much the dogs have turned around since their first day here. It has just been extremely rewarding…I want to keep up with the dogs and see what happens with their future.”
Linda and Wade Collins were also presented with a certificate from N.E.S.R. for their efforts in rescuing the dogs.
Linda Collins was given ownership of the dogs by her cousin, who died in the hospital the day after he signed the final papers. Collins worked for weeks to feed and find homes for the dogs before the National English Shepherd Rescue stepped in to take over and continue her hard work.
Collins said she had “mixed feelings” about saying goodbye to the dogs.”It is bittersweet for me. I would love to keep them all, but that’s not possible; we have so many pets already. These dogs have names, faces, and personalities and it is especially hard after I named most of them after my family members.”
She also said she was touched to find out that the dog named after herself, Linda, was going to be fostered by a woman named Liz, which is Linda’s mother’s name.
Linda Collins’ husband, Wade, said he is “happy the dogs are going to be taken care of and loved,” and added that the vet and the rescue group “have been outstanding.”
In addition to N.E.S.R. president Nancy Houtkooper, volunteers Jan Hilborn from Vermont, Cynthia Etter from Virginia, and Jane Connors from Massachusetts were in town to assist with transportation of the animals.
Savannah Hutchens, who helped to feed the dogs from the beginning and continued volunteering after they were transported to Surry Animal Hospital, said she will also assist with the transportation, traveling withto Asheville, where the dog will travel with it’s new owner to their home in Tennessee.
Hutchens said “it seemed like the process started so slow, and then when it was all lined up [with the vet and the rescue group], it flew by, and I knew it was going to have a good ending, which we are seeing now.”
Linda Collins said she will travel with the N.E.S.R. president and several dogs to Minnesota.
Nancy Houtkooper said Happy Jack, the dog with three legs, was adopted and will travel to his future home in Wisconsin, where his owner is “very excited” about his arrival.
Wade was also adopted, and will travel to New Hampshire.
All the other dogs from the group were placed in foster homes, according to Houtkooper, where they will receive additional training in preparation for adoption. The closest foster home location is Boone, N.C.
The three puppies were fostered by National English Shepherd Rescue volunteer Margaret Procter and she gave each one a name in tribute to this area: Surry, Airy, and Pilot.
Houtkooper said the transportation process will involve travel crates secured to the floor of the vans. A cable will be attached to the dog and the crate, so the dogs do not try to bolt when they stop for restroom and exercise breaks. They remain on the cable until they are transferred to a leash. Houtkooper said this was the protocol the group established for transporting dogs.
Nancy Houtkooper said the experience was “a valuable lesson for the public.”
“We can only work with the dogs for three hours a day, so even with our limited time look how much they have turned around. The dogs are a product of their environment and their breeding. They aren’t just something you bring home; you have to work at training and providing the right environment for them.”
The National English Shepherd Rescue operates a website at www.nesr.info. A section of the front page of website was devoted to updates on the “Pilot Mountain Rescue” with pictures of the dogs and more information about adoption.
The president of the organization, Nancy Houtkooper, said they need donations for the dogs’ medical care and continued support, and anyone interested in donating may visit the website and click on the link to Paypal. Donations should be designated for the Pilot Mountain dogs.
Reach Jessica Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1933.