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Happy Tails: The story of Dalton, a survivor, and a keeper

Dalton is a little Manchester Terrier, whose difficult earlier life is heart rending. He's got wounds that can still be easily re-awakened and which make his prospects for adoption slim. He's a "keeper," at Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, with a special bond with the director - and a home at the farm as long as he needs it. His story would make a movie. Peg thinks he should write a book. This Happy Tail may be a big chapter in the book, his latest escapade, lost for 10 days in Bowling Green, KY.
Next earlier Happy Tails: Who says money can't buy love?

By Peg Schaeffer
News from Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 270-378-4521 or 270-634-4675

I've had a good life. I've been places, done things. I'm retired. This is the new chapter in my life - to help animals who need me. I was picked for this job when I was a child. Yes, my entire day is spent caring for the dogs.

But look at all of the other dogs in bad situations. I read stories about them and I want to save them all. But I can't.

First of all it wouldn't be fair to them. They need one on one. They need a foster or a permanent home. I know I'm not the only kind hearted person in the world and I can be confident that someone else has stepped forward to help unfortunate pets. I'm not the only one who is sacrificing their life for the benefit of abused and abandoned animals.

At Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, I have some dogs here who are not suitable for adoption. Gracie, a Maltese, who is a fear biter. Bear, a Chihuahua, who lives up to his name. Sally, an Australian Cattle Dog, who grieved for a week when her owner left her here.

These dogs have problems that most adopters would not tolerate. So they stay here.

One of our keepers is "Dalton". He's a Manchester Terrier who should write a book. He started out as a puppy mill dog. His life consisted of living in a crate, taken out to breed, and then returned to the crate. When the puppy mill was raided, he had to be handled with leather gloves since he was a biter.

From the puppy mill he went to a hoarder situation. He ended up here.

For the first few days he was here he just glared at me like I was the enemy. After a while he decided he needed a friend and he gradually warmed up to me. Eventually he would allow me to pet him and he came out of his shell. He was, and still is, very distrustful of strangers. He will allow Keith to pet him.

Dalton loves to ride in the truck and I can't leave home without him. A few years ago I had a meeting in Bowling Green. Dalton and some of the other dogs came for the ride. After the meeting when I went out to the Tahoe, Dalton was gone. The meeting was held in a shopping center in the middle of a busy intersection. It was late at night so it was dark out. I went to all the fast food restaurants, checked alleys, looked around the dumpsters - checked everywhere a little, lost dog would go, but no luck. I gave up at midnight.

The next day I drove back to Bowling Green, KY. I saw a homeless man in the parking lot and enlisted his help distributing information and asked him to tell his friends about the lost Dalton.

I went back every few days to check on leads. I'd gotten lots of Dalton sightings but he was not the kind of dog to walk up to strangers. He had an ID tag on his collar but it was highly unlikely that anyone could get that close. After he'd been gone for 10 days I gave up hope of ever seeing him again. Then later that day I got a call from an organization in Bowling Green, KY. They were able to catch Dalton with a net and had him in a crate.

They would take him to a pick up point.

When I got there I don't know who was happier - me or Dalton. They told me how they had to put on a leather glove to move him from the crate he was in and that he bit them through the glove. So the tough little Manchester Terrier survived a puppy mill, a hoarder, and 10 days on the lam in Bowling Green, KY.

Dalton does not give kisses. That wouldn't be very manly. But he is a "hugger". He can jump into my arms from the ground and when he wants my attention he will jump at my feet until I open my arms and he leaps into them. He then wraps his paws around my neck and gives me a hug.

He presses his face against one side of my face and then the other. I make a big production of it and thank him for the hugs. Then I ask for a big hug. He closes his front paws tightly around my neck and closes his eyes. Sometimes he will give Keith hugs but the big hugs are reserved for me.

After I thought about all my friends brags and how jealous I was of them and my life as a rescuer always at home caring for these homeless dogs, I reminded myself of the adage "I once felt bad because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet".

I have a beautiful farm with a view like no other. I can sit on my deck and see for miles. I can look out and see the horses grazing in the fields. I can watch the dogs playing or napping under the trees. Why do I need to get away? I have my own Utopia right here. And I'm helping dogs who didn't have a good alternative in their life to look forward to.

At night Dalton sleeps above my head on my pillow. In the morning when I wake up he greets me with a BIG Dalton hug. That's something that no one can put a price on and it's reserved for only me.- Peg Schaeffer

Contact us if you would like to help.

Peg Schaeffer, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue,
860 Sparksville Road
Columbia, KY 42728
Home telephone: 270-378-4521
Cell phone: 270-634-4675

This story was posted on 2013-08-04 06:19:43
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Happy Tail: Dalton, a keeper at Sugarfoot Rescue

2013-08-04 - Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY - Photo by Peg Schaeffer.
Some dogs have pasts and traits which make them unlikely candidates for adoption. They're "keeper" dogs at Sugarfoot, where they get the understanding and special care they need. Dalton has endured hardships of a puppy meal and life with a hoarder. Peg Schaeffer doesn't expect an adoption to happy, but she has a special bond with Dalton, foreground who has a home at Sugarfoot so long as he needs it.

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