Scott Azinger sat on the floor with treats for an hour the night Sailor, a Poodle mix, came to his home. Sailor doesn’t do well around men and that meant Azinger and his wife, Barb, were going to have to work with him in the foster home environment.
These days, though, Sailor and Azinger have a tight bond and the Poodle mix is finally overcoming his fear of men.
“He’s smart as a whip, but it took a long time working with him and loving him,” Azinger said. “Now he’s like my bud.”
The Azingers are foster home volunteers for CHEW Dog Rescue. The organization is currently in need of foster homes like the Azingers in order to rescue more dogs, about half of which are community turn-ins.
CHEW, which stands for Canine Heath Education and Welfare, was established in 2006 not as a rescue operation, but as an advocacy group. Sherette Main, now president, wanted a fenced-in place for her dog, Smoky, to run. She and others formed CHEW to petition PenMet Parks for a dog park. Today, the Rotary Bark Park is open for business. Unfortunately it opened too late for Smoky to get to play there, but other CHEW dogs enjoy being able to run free on the land.
Dogs are usually with foster homes for six to eight weeks. Foster homes are able to take breaks between dogs, which is why more foster homes are imperative.
“We could save so many dogs if we had more,” Main said. “It just breaks my heart when someone calls and needs to re-home their dog and we can’t help them.”
Judy Ruffner recently signed up to foster after seeing a CHEW sign at Mud Bay. She had a dog, Yanni, by the end of the night. It normally doesn’t happen quite so fast, but Yanni was living in a foster home where the foster turned out to be allergic to his fur. Ruffner took him in right away.
It can be hard to host a dog, help it heal and adopt it out in such a short time, but Ruffner has a mindset that helps her love Yanni while he waits for his forever home: She is his caretaker. Her job is to prepare him for his next stage.
Andi Pervinich, who fostered seven dogs over a year and a half period, takes a similar viewpoint to Ruffner.
“I’m just giving (the dog) a place and giving it the love,” she said.
Pervinich said seeing the dog in a new home with a new life ahead is what makes fostering so rewarding.
There are other ways to help CHEW in its mission. While fosters are the nonprofit’s primary need, the organization needs monetary donations and items such as water bowls, crates and more. Some dogs can come with health issues that require medical attention. CHEW steps in and helps pay vet bills. It also spays and neuters dogs.
CHEW takes in dogs of all shapes and sizes. Litters of puppies often go to what the nonprofit calls Camp Stewart; the home of volunteer Gloria Stewart and her dog, Seena, who acts as a “puppy auntie.” This year Camp Stewart has been home to three different litters of puppies.
Seena, a docile Elkhound mix who was adopted from the Humane Society, helps raise the puppies and socialize them.
Recently, five dachshund-terrier puppies were rescued from a California shelter. They’ve been dubbed the Spice Puppies because they are named after spices.
The pups have begun to be adopted out into homes. The adoption process is thorough, Main said. After the initial adoption application, the organization sets up a meet and greet. If things go well, there’s a home safety check to make sure the dog will be in a safe and welcoming environment. Main is proud to say that CHEW has a low return rate.
With that low return rate, Main and the other CHEW volunteers know there are dogs waiting for a “meeting of the heart” with new families. They just need a place to stay in the meantime.
To volunteer or donate, visit CHEW online at www.chewdogrescue.org or call 253-265-6235. Foster applications are available online and dog profiles for adoption are also available on the website.
Visit Gateline.com for video of the Dachsund/Terrier mix puppies.