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We are stronger together than we are alone!

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CodyandKatieI had a 13 year old Cocker Spaniel when my husband and I decided to adopt a Boston Terrier. He wanted the “perfect dog”. The dog had to have all the correct markings and no defects. Through the rescue system we found Miss Katie who was part of the Boston Terrier Rescue of East Tennessee and being fostered by Ron Baker in Stone Mountain, GA. We were living in Richmond, VA at the time.



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 In the rescue world, organizations should have a program in place to provide the basics on the specific breed. New volunteers should be willing to educate themselves. The benefits of having such a program for the organization as a whole, focused on the foster families and prospective adopters, could include providing standards of care and response protocols for emergencies.


By encouraging and supporting individual members to sustain each other as equal parts of part of a team, should discourage grandstanding, keeping the focus on the dogs and discouraging bickering over who is the rock star of the group. (Who really cares? It is supposed to be all about the dogs).

Sometimes it seems we forget that not everyone will have the same background or experience with the dogs, yet they eagerly agreed to foster or adopt and we need them. People in breed specific rescues should have someone to ask for help in learning about their chosen breed’s traits. 



An example of the importance of knowing the traits of the Boston breed is explained in this recent statement, “I just had a Boston come into care for being "too hyper". I prepared myself for a high strung Boston (we've all seen them, like a mix of Jack Russell and rabid squirrel), turns out, it's just a normal Boston, they just had no idea”.

Many Rescues find that there is one or two of their volunteers which have the ability of helping foster families and prospective adopters select the right dog for their lifestyle. They almost seem to have developed a sixth sense when it comes to matching the right family for the dog. 


Sometimes we come across the individual or family that insists on getting a puppy. They are attracted TIBBLESBUDDYSOPHIA 2932to a particular photo but have no clue on what behaviors the particular dog may have.  This is where the gentle council of a knowledgeable person can help prepare the family, or guide them toward a more appropriate aged rescued Boston.


Gently we must insist that the chosen dog matches the environment and will thrive with the life style of the proposed home. While a prospective foster or adopter may want a particular dog, the volunteer charged with helping must always keep the dogs needs in the forefront; otherwise what is the point if the dog is returned in worse shape than when fostered or adopted, because the humans wants (notice I typed WANTS) did not match the NEEDS of the dog.


It is just as important that the standard set by the rescue not be swayed by the urgency of finding a dog for a family. This is something that in the pressure to take in all rescues being shoved in the direction of a Rescue, or the fear that the foster or prospective adopter family might get discouraged and look at other ways to get a dog, constantly keep in a responsible balance. Rescue is not for the feint hearted. This is very hard work. The joy of doing it right more than makes up for keeping the standard high.   

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As someone wisely stated “It took me about two years before I totally decided and researched what I wanted to do, because I feel that when you get a dog it is tantamount to adopting a child, you are going to make a commitment for about 15 years so you better make the right one for you and the dog. I did......I got two rescued Bostons.”




NOTE from BOSTON TERRIER NETWORK: This is the fourth part of our four interviews with Debbie Rappuhn, the founder and president of HEART OF ALABAMA SAVE RESCUE ADOPT (HASRA), and a former Shoals Woman of the Year. They are located at 4101 Highway 72 in Killen, Al 34545. You may contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I decided to ask if I could come visit her new sanctuary. I was amazed. HASRA started their sanctuary less than a year ago on bare ground.  Interview dated July 2014.

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I walked around the HASRA sanctuary compound talking with Debbie and playing with some of the dogs for about an hour and a half. Debbie told me that once they get all of the items on their list done for the dogs, in the future they want to start on something for the Cats too. Debbie and her group have learned that going slow and covering all the bases one-step at a time ensures better success for their ultimate goals.


Q: What are some of your groups plans yet to be fulfilled?

Debbie: “We want to so much more. If we had free time (or more volunteers), we would have puppy bowls like Animal Planet and things like that just to make people aware of the joys of pet ownership. We would get them to come for the fun and give the public “THE TALK".  Educating the public on being better pet owners is high on her list. Debbie went on to explain another project they have on their dream list, to create an exciting fun place with unexpected delights. “We would love to have concrete poured and have people bring their rescued and adopted four legged friends and put their “paw prints” in our drive. We have so much we want to do, but again time, people, and money are needed."IMG 8685


Q: No one accomplishes amazing feats on his or her own. I asked Debbie who were the volunteers working behind the scenes?

Debbie’s face glowed with pride, and excitement, when she started talking about her sanctuary team. “We have a wonderful, caring, BUTT-KICKING SANCTUARY TEAM!  Robin Goforth and Bruce Zoldak can be seen every day 7 days a week cleaning and caring for the dogs. They do so much that there is not enough room to write it all. Then there is Jennifer Kamp and Craig Cassidy, Casey and Nathan Lowry, Alena Eaton, Owen Edwards, Staci Behel, Sheri Grosso who come when they can to do special projects. They have laid sod, worked on the buildings and dog runs, putting up the misting systems, planting flowers and even doing the laundry and so on. Then there are people who work on fundraising, Ana Hyde and Staci Behel. Our 501c(3) Board members are Elisabeth South, Jim Green, Bob Hill, Bruce Zoldak, Robin Goforth, Ana Hyde and Sheri Grosso. It takes a lot of work and dedication to make a sanctuary happen. “


Debbie also shared with us some of the fundraisers and upcoming events her group was working on.

“We are so excited that we had a benefit event at the Singing River Brewery, with all proceeds going to HASRA. Our open house for the sanctuary was on the 26th of July at the Sanctuary. Unfortunately, not all was completed. We just do not have the funds or time to get it all done. But oh, well WE had lots of fun and the dogs loved the extra excitement of all the people visiting...Fun!!!!   Other items we have on our list of plans are a fireworks stand twice a year, on July 4 and on New Years. This year to get our name out to the public we even sponsored a softball team.“


Q: Tell us more about what people will see when they come to visit and hopefully volunteer and adopt one of the 20 dogs you have here.

Debbie: “We just want people to know that we provide a place for animals that do not have a chance before we pull them. A place to stay until we find them a forever home. While our dogs are with us they are happy! People can come and visit to see what we do, but call first.“


Q: So what does your sanctuary look like at this stage?

Debbie: “We have chain link pens inside and out. We have pens that are away from the others for sick babies to stay in until they are not contagious. We have inside work areas and a huge playground for the dogs to run around. We are surrounded by several acres of walking trails and open play areas in the woods.”


Q: I noticed that Robin was already busy washing down the pens when I got here.

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Debbie: “We get here early every day. First items are letting all the adult dogs out in the play area while we clean all the pens, refreshing all their water and feeding them. The adult dogs play in the play area all day. The pups have to stay in their large pens and we move from each group cleaning and feeding each group according to their needs.  Next, when everything is clean and all are fed, we catch up on any vaccines, worming, medications, baths, or nail clipping, as needed. Then it is playtime for all of the humans and dogs alike.  This cycle is repeated again at noon, and again at night. Of course, there are many photos taken every day to show off the dogs."


Q: Debbie, is there any last thing that you would like to share with us?

 Debbie: “A long time ago, when I was at the shelter, I saw a picture of a place that had a huge play area for the adult dogs. Ever since I saw that, I have dreamed of that for my babies. Now I may see something on TV or in a magazine or online and I get ideas from friends and volunteers. I still want to do a Puppy Bowl, and will one day. THANK YOU DONNA!!!!”

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Now you come back and visit us soon!

Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1