We found far too many wonderful tales to include them all in the hardcover edition of TO THE RESCUE
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(note: photos for these stories were supplied by each dog's owner)

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GRACIE
GRACIE by Bethann Culpepper

As usual, I was rushing around one Saturday with no time to spare. But something or Someone told me to go to the Albany Humane Society right now! I had been meaning to volunteer, but hadn’t gotten around to doing it. While I was sitting in the lobby completing the volunteer papers, I caught a glimpse of several dogs running around. They had let them out to mingle with the people. A very thin, scruffy little white dog came around the desk and gently put her feet up on my knee; she looked up at me with imploring soft, caramel-colored eyes. The receptionist exclaimed, “I can’t believe she is doing that! She was abused and is terribly afraid of everyone; that’s why we let her out, hoping she would become used to people”. By this time, I had picked her up and put her in my lap and it seemed like a perfect fit. They always pick out a name for the animals at the humane society-it seems to give them a better chance at finding a home – so they had been calling her Tracy. I had decided months before that I would name my next pet Gracie. Tracy/Gracie-it could work.

I had no intention of getting an animal that day-I already had two cats. But I took Gracie home, and she immediately found a special place in my heart. I began socializing her by taking her with me everywhere I went, getting her used to new people and experiences. It was a slow process, but she is now very outgoing and friendly. She still has that gentle touch she used on me the first day I saw her, and all the people we visit reach out and take her paw.

I had heard about Paws Patrol, a local pet therapy group. It sounded like a great thing to do so Gracie and I started going with them. At first, it was just six ladies with dogs visiting people when we could. After we became associated with Delta Society, Gracie and I were certified in September ’01. Gracie was voted most obedient in Obedience Class and also earned her Canine Good Citizen Award that same year.

During one of our first visits in an Alzheimer’s unit, a frail older lady smiled and reached out to stroke Gracie’s fuzzy face. As we were leaving, the nurse told me that this was the first response they had seen from this woman since she had arrived three months ago. When I heard this, I was hooked. To give someone happiness from such a simple thing as bringing your dog to visit them is so rewarding. Gracie and I have been doing our best to bring a little puppy love to people for many years now. I really don’t know who gets more joy out of it-the people that we visit, me, or Gracie. She gets very excited when we go visiting, dancing around in the car and “talking” excitedly as we pull up into the parking area.

I work fulltime, so I can’t visit as much as I like, but Gracie and I participate in many special events. We have been blessed to be involved with Special Olympics, we work with the youth detention center, we attend an Easter Egg Hunt as well as Bark in the Park (now River Bark) which is a fun day that Paws Patrol organized for people and their dogs. We also participate with children’s grief workshops. One of Gracie’s favorite activities was a dance class for local preteens-Gracie just loves to dance!

I am so thankful that I listened to that “voice” years ago when it told me to go to the humane society and take that little dog home. I rescued Gracie from some unknown fate, but if you want to know the truth, SHE rescued me! I cannot imagine my life without her.
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TORRIE'S STORY
Torrie Finds a “Forever Home”
By Diane Anderson

On the day before Mother’s Day, 2002, Victoria, better known as Torrie, arrived at our house, her “Forever Home”. Her journey towards a better life began when she was one of thirty German shepherds seized by the Dutchess County SPCA during a large puppy mill rescue operation. At the time Torrie was days away from giving birth to twelve white German shepherd puppies (eleven of whom would survive and be adopted.)

Several weeks after the puppies were born it became clear to Sharon, the current foster mom, that Torrie needed a break from motherhood. Sharon contacted me to ask if I would take Torrie for a week, as her next foster home was not yet available. Since I had already planned to foster one of Torrie’s puppies when they were old enough, I thought it would be a good opportunity to get to know the pup’s mother.
My mother and I met Sharon with Torrie at an agility trial in Pennsylvania. Torrie captured our hearts as soon as we saw her walking across the parking lot. During the next week she was loved, pampered and embraced by all of us including my husband and our three dogs and five cats. As the week went on, I found it hard to believe that Torrie was going to leave us. But when the planned time elapsed, I sadly returned the dog to Sharon. However in less than a week I learned that the next foster home had fallen through – this may have been due to my prayers. Several days later my husband and I, with our dogs, picked up Torrie and headed out to our 40 acres of woods in Port Jervis. When Torrie jumped out of the car, she stood perfectly still with a look of wonder in her eyes. I’m sure she thought she had found heaven on earth, a long way from the cruel puppy mill life. .As for us, we were blessed with an angel.

Torrie became an important and cherished member of our family. Over the next couple of months, she was a source of great strength for our family as we had to say goodbye to our oldest shepherd very suddenly. Torrie seemed to understand our grief. She paid special attention to Tara, our younger dog, who would wander around the house looking for big brother, not understanding where he was.

My heart nearly dropped to the floor one day when I received a call from the enforcement department at the SPCA requesting information and a picture of Torrie to be used in the upcoming puppy mill court case. I was sick at the thought that we might lose her, but the case was successful, and Torrie got to stay with us.

Her new life consisted of daily walks in the woods, where she was able to run freely about with the other dogs. She quickly realized the joy of swimming, chase games and numerous rides in the car.. She also enjoyed our family’s tradition of Sunday morning pancakes

Torrie truly loves people and loves being the center of attention. It was clear early on that she was meant to work with people. As a member of Delta Society Pet Partner Program since 2000 (I am an instructor / evaluator) as well as from my experience with Animal-Assisted Crisis Response, I knew Torrie would thrive in this type of work. We began traveling to New York City by train. We would spend the day walking around, meeting people and building Torrie’s confidence. By November (six months after Torrie come to us) we were certified as a Delta Society Pet Partner Team. Since then Torrie has been visiting with developmentally disabled children and adults in a variety of settings, as well as with elderly nuns in a home in southern Westchester. Torrie also is used as the “Neutral Dog” during Delta Society Pet Partner evaluations. Torrie was one of the featured Delta Society dogs at the Intrepid on September 6, 2003. She is now learning agility, and she just loves it when everyone cheers after she does the obstacles.

During the past two years Torrie has taken four trips to Florida to visit my family. Twice we drove and twice Torrie flew with me in the plane’s cabin. My parents loved this dog so much that they fenced in their yard so she would have a place to be free and safe outside.

Torrie has taught our family about gratitude and contentment. She definitely emits gratitude in her interaction with her loved ones. She exhibits contentment as she lies in her favorite spot, her head resting on a soft toy and a cat or two curled against her warm belly.

We send blessings to all of you who fought for Victoria, we are truly grateful to you.
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FELIX, Prison Visitor
FELIX, Prison Visitor by Vicky Glancy

Felix was an abuse case. He was rescued after his previous person tried to beat him to death with a pair of bolt cutters. The poor dog had a broken jaw, lost most of his teeth and suffered shoulder injuries. After a number of surgeries, Felix was adopted by the Prison Paws program at a women’s prison here in Montana. Inmates there rehabilitated and trained him. He was assigned to a particular inmate who did a terrific job with him. When he eventually became available, I adopted him, and when I went to pick him up, I don’t know who was crying more, his beloved inmate trainer or I. He is a great credit to her; he’s doing marvelously.

Just months after I adopted him, Felix passed his Canine Good Citizen test, and then the Delta Society certification tests. Now he’s an active therapy dog. He visits at the women’s prison. When we were there on our Christmas visit, an inmate came over to see him. She asked to pet him and sat with him quietly for a while. Then she told me that she liked animals better than people because animals never hurt you and you can always trust an animal. It’s neat to see people interact with Felix. A dog’s love seems so unconditional.

We went to a few nursing homes, but sometimes Felix could be a little noisy. He didn’t WOOF quite properly because of the missing teeth, but he could MOOF pretty loud. We mainly visited at the prison.

All he ever asked was to be loved, and he sure got that from me. He liked to visit with anyone who came over, and our walks always took a long time because he had to stop to get pets from everyone we met. He loved to swim and play ball.

Being shut up in a small space caused him great anxiety. He was always happy to jump in the Jeep, but the minute I closed the back he got very stressed, so we just drove around with the windows down – even when it was minus-20 degrees! Also I had to be careful not to swing anything near him. One day a bee got in the house and I was madly swatting at it until I realized Felix was cringing in the corner. I dropped the fly swatter immediately and told Felix how sorry I was. I just didn’t think how scary it could be for him. The poor old guy would even shy away if you leaned down to pet him unexpectedly. As long as he could see you coming, he was OK.

Even with all that he had been through, Felix just loved life and brought smiles all around – on our prison visits and everywhere. My wonderful friend passed away just a few weeks ago. I miss him so very much; he has left a huge hole in my life. I didn’t get to enjoy him nearly long enough.
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