I am just a few short days away from retirement. I’ve been running a dog rescue group in Illinois for the St. Bernard breed for the past 12 years. It has been a very challenging and rewarding experience. I didn’t think I would ever be able to leave, at least not without complete and utter remorse and guilt. However, starting a family and having a child changes everything. It is time to trade St. Bernard drool for baby drool and focus on my family.
I bare some sadness as I say good bye but I know the group and the dogs are in good hands. I leave my legacy behind with some fun tidbits of info many people do not know about my years as the president of the Illinois Saint Bernard Rescue.
1) My first official rescue mission was to drive to Iowa to rescue a Saint puppy from an owner who no longer wanted him. I drove to Iowa sight unseen. Yeah, he wasn’t a Saint Bernard. He was a Great Pyrenees. He drove back with me to Illinois anyway and found a great home.
2) The first official rescue vehicle was a four door Pontiac Grand Am. I folded down the back seats so the dogs had from the back of my head to the end of the trunk.
3) Sometimes I rescued two complete dog strangers at one time. Loaded them one by one in the Grand Am and tied them to the doors so they couldn’t fight.
4) For the first 5 years I cried every time a new dog went to his/her home.
After that, I waved at the
little big shits and smiled.
5) A certain volunteer and I lost a dog on the interstate. He jumped out of the enclosed bed of her truck at a gas station with a surgically repaired broken leg. Stupid dog. We found him safe and sound.
6) I once found a Saint on the roof of my house. He decided to push the upstairs air conditioner out of the window and take a stroll. The air conditioner was still plugged in, dangling. If I was trying to deter animal control from coming to my house, this was not helping.
7) I hate puppies. They are the devil.
8) I remember every dog’s name and their owner that I ever adopted to. True story! Just ask my son’s Neonatologist in the NICU.
9) I have adopted over 500 dogs. More than half of them have lived in my home.
10) At one time, 18 Saints resided at my home.
11) I owned a mini-van at 31 years old. I was not married nor had any children. It was for the dogs. It was less than 24 hours old when Chloe and Morgan finger painted the back of it with poop. Good Times!
12) I once drove half way to Missouri to rescue a Saint puppy, again sight unseen. He turned out to be a long hair Shar-pei. He drove back to Illinois that day. I named him Kramer and he lived his 10 years of life with me.
13) Every Saint Bernard I ever rescued named Buddy is Satan in a fur coat. Even if you change their name, they are still a Buddy. There has only been one exception to this rule.
14) Our group was kicked out of a Petsmart after a volunteer allowed Dudley take a dip in their Koi pond set up. We were never allowed back.
15) The first time I ever dropped the F-bomb on someone giving up a dog was Zachary’s previous owners. I found him half dead on their living room floor, depleted of blood, from the tens of thousands of fleas living on him. Don’t worry, he lived and what a great life he had!!
16) I shed a tear every time I euthanize a rescue dog even if I’ve known it 5 minutes.
17) I can tell by a dog’s eyes and his demeanor if its a good dog or bad dog within the first 10 minutes I meet him. I am right 99% of the time.
18) I hate stupid people, paperwork, pet expos, and public events.
19) A certain volunteer and I take pictures of silly looking people at public events and text them to each other as a game. We even do it now when we are apart from each other. We’ve also been known to pack coolers with alcoholic beverages or rent booth space closest to the beer tent.
20) Being bit by a Saint really sucks. They are mostly a gentle breed but like all breeds, there is always a bad apple. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve been punctured either accidentally or on purpose.
21) Your property is not your own anymore when you rescue dogs. I’ve suffered through chewed doors, floors, walls, couches, and TV stands to name a few.
22) When you rescue dogs for so long, nothing surprises you. Especially people.
23) The most funded shelters are the most disgusting and untruthful.
24) I miss my original four Saints more than anything. Rescue took me away from the dogs that mattered the most..my own. I would give anything to have time back with Quincy, Gertie, Lincoln, and Toby.
25) Some of my best friendships were formed because of rescue. I am so thankful for the dogs that brought us together.
I have many more rescue stories to tell but I will leave those for the book I hope one day to write. Until then…