|A good life is made up of a bucket of memorable friendships with success in your chosen passion. I have had both in the last 21 years with ARG. It is time for me to pass on the leadership of the group and become a volunteer.
Starting a new charity is like starting a small business. There are so many things you don’t know. So many mistakes you make. So many decisions to be made. No one can be successful alone. ARG was started by a small group of women who are passionate about helping Airedales live. While it is often said that you can choose your friends but not your family, the women in ARG are my chosen sisters. Over 21 years, we have laughed more than we’ve cried, shown grace more than anger, and though bittersweet, rejoiced when handing over the leash to a dog’s forever family. My sisters in heart are Barbara, Christina, Claire, Cyn, Jackie, Marti, Pat, Pat, and Sue.
Website – Susan Bring was ARG’s first volunteer administrator. When I first met Susan, she did everything in paper – applications to the adoption agreement. Working for a large national bank, I found this daunting, and Susan found it very stressful. In the fall of 2000, a good friend of mine, Angela, wrote the first site and taught me how to edit in Dreamweaver. Since then, the automation of the work and the design of the site has been improved by Curtis, Brian, Cyn, Rebecca, Ribs, and Pat. Today, owners who were initially hesitant to give their dogs to rescue often say to me, “It wasn’t until I read your website that I was sure you were the rescue group for my dog.”
Fundraising – In the beginning, ARG ran on adoption fees and our personal credit cards. Some Fridays, we would hit zero and have no money over the weekend to pick up a dog or pay for vet care. There were three people I could always count on to write a check. There is no overstating the degree to which the success of our group belongs to the first three Angels – Polly, Mike, and Keith.
Before Go-Fund-Me, Facebook, and Amazon Smile, we received a gift named Cyn. Cyn knew everyone in Greyhound, Bassett, and Airedale rescue. She went on to make friends with everyone in dog rescue throughout the East Coast. Her gifts to ARG are numerous – from writing our first and only Airedale mystery to creating our calendar contest, marketing our memorial tiles by Polly Siegel, and many, many more. Cyn’s ideas breathed life into ARG when our bank account was gasping.
Men – While our daily volunteers are women, we and our dogs would be literally nowhere without our men – friends, partners, husbands, co-workers, and passionate Airedale owners. These fine men fly dogs from here to home, drive through winter storms, write heartfelt articles, smile when dogs love their partner more and laugh out loud when their BMW burl wood gear shift knob has gnawed marks. Men have trained unruly dogs in Manners 101, bravely driven to the emergency vet clinic at top speed, put 10 or 15 dogs in minivans, washed and washed very stinky dogs, and chased runaway dogs from everywhere. In no order, thanks to James, Pat, Albert, Steve, Kevin, Dale, Wendall, Rick, Marti’s John, Stew, Mike, and ALL the men who save dog’s lives.
And a giant thank you to all who have written checks; sometimes you were surprised to learn you were picking up two dogs from me, not just one! I’m giving a special call-out to my husband, Don, who once offered to drive 2 hours to pick me up at the side of a road – before we ever thought about dating – and has been picking up Airedales ever since.
Vets – Lovely, caring, understanding people who have loved animals since they were kids and never want to share bad news. They love to be wrong when a heartworm-filled breeding dog lives life past the 12 months they secretly believe would be the tops. Their belief in long odds when the dog whose leg that HAD to amputated was fixed by a brave, innovative surgeon who watches him now run on all fours. Or, when a dog diagnosed with cerebellar hypoplasia, making the dog walk with a stiff, jerky gait, is saved by a physical therapist. I cannot list all the vets who have helped ARG throughout our 5 states, so I will thank my vet, Dr. Barbara Nicks, and her staff for saving numerous needy, dirty, sick, and a few absolutely, normal Airedales for ARG. And, to Dr. Corinne Murray, our animal behaviorist, who by critical listening saved dogs from themselves. Extra special gratitude goes to our own Airedale loving vet, Dr. Gale Ford, who has freely given her time on everything from chicken-bone-eating to lost-in-the-woods situations.
Fostering – You save lives. “Fostering is the only way to put your hands on that many animals”, said Pat P. Fostering is the difference between becoming a statistic and getting a second or third chance. You disrupt your schedule, your budget, your animals, and your family to take in a needy dog. Thank you for keeping them safe overnight to keeping them always in your home & heart. There is no rescue without foster parents.
At last, a call out to my own heart-owned dogs. Purchased dales: first Tyler, out of a love for Asta on The Thin Man stories, and Brave, who saved me from the loss of my heart dog, Blue. To those first adopted after being rescued by Joey Fineran in PA – Brie, who sat crossed-legged in a pink wing chair, and Bentley, who wouldn’t come out of the snow or the lake. Briefly, a friends’ Airedale named Corcoran, who hated Tyler and found a home with “his” window overlooking a park. Then Brillo, more mix than Dale, with a badly healed shattered rear leg – given by his last owner. Followed by Bess with Bayley, her sister, who I was just fostering for Susan when she adopted a thunder-phobic Dale. Wonderful Blue, received from a breeder, adopted out and instantly lost in the woods of Maryland, miraculously recovered by Christina and me on a lonely, country road. From then on, Blue was never without his mom – at the barn, in the fields, in the car, or at the end of each day sharing our secrets as he lay at the end of our bed. Blue jumped into my heart and has never left. Cherry Berry, a wonder-dale, left in a shelter after she was bred out. She has teeth nubs from chewing out of fences and a diseased heart but now finds delight under my office desk, near mom. Finally, I freely admit I lie when I promise I will not keep one of a fostering litter. Bishop and Bette are testaments to the giant heart my husband has when recalling the rule of dogs – “If we go to three dogs, I get a Harley.” Well, no Harley, but he did buy a Shelby Mustang at number 4.
To all of you in my heart, but unmentioned by name, please take my gratitude and admiration for helping the ARG Gals to create a wonderful organization now led by Jackie, Pat, and Christina, supported by newer, passionate volunteers and you – while I wait for a call to foster a litter!
Love and big Airedale hugs,