One of the most frequent questions I (or any other rescuer, for that matter) is asked is "How did you get involved in rescue?” The answers are as varied as the people who do the work, but in my case, it was actually an accident. A happy series of coincidences that dragged me into the world of rescue and resulted in some of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had in my life.

Shortly after the Internet began its transformation from an academic tool into what we know it as today, I purchased my first "real computer" and went online to see what all the excitement was about. One of the first things I found was an email community dedicated to dachshunds. When it was time to add another pet to my home, this group guided me to "The Dachshund Rescue Web Page", at that time a small listing service run by a woman who had found her beloved dachshund on the internet and decided that a dedicated resource for these little long dogs would be a good idea.

At first, like most people, I restricted my search to trying to find a young animal who was close to my area. But I kept being drawn back to one particular listing on the website; a little senior girl a thousand miles away from me, who's owner had gone to a nursing home. And as I watched the website over the weeks (and months), it became obvious that no one wanted "Punky".

At the time, I had no real knowledge of how rescue works. I couldn't have known then that once a rescue accepts an animal, it's safe for however long it takes to find a home. I began to have a real fear that if no one adopted this little one, she would be put down and so I finally took the step of applying to be her new home. In retrospect, it's probable that I was the first (and only) person to ask about her, but regardless of that, I was approved to adopt her. All I had to do was figure out how to get her from Pennsylvania to Florida. A few hours on some airplanes solved that problem easily and "Punky" came to live in my home.

Punky was 12 years old, happy and healthy. I knew that the average life span of a dachshund was anywhere from 14 to 18 years, so I was optimistic that Punky and I would have many years together. Sadly, it was not to be and my Precious Punky passed to Rainbow Bridge some 14 months after her arrival. But during her time with me, I came to realize that there are thousands of "Punkys" out there and that they had a very special love to offer to a new home. Because of my experience with her, I wanted to help them and there was no one to give me any guidance. It was then that the most magical of coincidences took place.

The Dachshund Rescue Web Page was struggling. The woman who began the site was unable to continue maintaining it. She passed it on to someone else who tried mightily, but who's life circumstances changed so drastically that she was also unable to continue it. I watched with increasing concern over the months as both the original and new maintainers tried desperately to save the resource they had so lovingly built. Finally, I saw the announcement I had been dreading - the Dachshund Rescue Web Page was to be shut down forever, unless someone agreed to take it over immediately. It was then that I decided to jump in with both feet and I told them that I would take over its maintenance. Now, keep in mind that I had no experience in rescue, no skills in coding web pages, no practical experience at all that would allow me to undertake this sort of endeavour. All I had was the memories of a very special senior girl that I had adopted from this website and the knowledge that the potential resource the website offered was too great to be allowed to fail. And so, on November 16, 1998, I took over ownership of the site. It was the best decision I have ever made.

At first, it was a struggle just to complete the necessary updates and to clean up the site of older listings that no longer needed to be there. I was fighting a losing battle. Having led most of my life by the "in for a penny, in for a pound" philosophy, I decided that the whole site had to be redone from scratch. I taught myself how to code web pages and started to learn about rescue work in general. The site began to take on the look that it has today and as I learned more and more about rescue, I came to understand that THIS would be my soapbox. Through this website I would be able to provide a resource for all of the "Punkys" who needed help. Not just the younger dogs who are "adoptable", but the seniors as well. This became a major focus of my personal rescue work. THE major focus, in fact.

In February of 2000 I made the most momentous decision I ever had since taking over the website. I incorporated as a non-profit organization. In the United States, where this website (and organization) are based, there are special advantages to being recognized as a charitable organization even if it's for "humane", rather than "human" interests. Anyone who does rescue work will tell you that the costs associated with bringing a rescued animal to "adoptable" condition far exceed what you can expect a new home to reimburse the rescue for, especially in the case of the seniors. Our "non-profit" status allows us to accept donations from the public, which the donors can deduct from their income when computing their taxes each year. Those donations allow us to cover the $500.00 vet bill that a senior might run up, while keeping the adoption fee at a level that someone might consider reasonable for an older dog. The shortfall between adoption fee and total expenses is made up for by the donations.

As I write this (in September of 2005), thousands of dachshunds have found new homes through our website. I have personally placed about 300 animals into new homes since I became involved in rescue. My most rewarding placements have always been the seniors, but I'm sorry to say that not all of them ever made it out of rescue. But, I am content in the knowledge that those that did not find "forever homes" left this earthly plane knowing that I loved them. Yes, my personal home has become a sanctuary of sorts for those 13, 14, 15 year old dogs that no one else wants. So many have passed away in my care and so few of them received even one inquiry about adopting them. But all of them received all of the love and care that they needed to enjoy the remainder of their lives with respect and dignity. I hold no illusions about the future. There will be others that will arrive and never leave. Some will get lucky enough to find that special person who realizes that the QUALITY of the time with their rescued pup is far more important than the QUANTITY of the time. Most will not.

My Precious Punky taught me of the special love a senior can give. During the short time I was allowed to care for her I gained so much more personally than I ever suspected was possible.

I've often wondered if she wasn't guided to me for this reason.


Benny Archuleta

If you would like to adopt or foster a dachshund or make a donation to help Benny’s work, please visit his website here. 

http://www.drwp.net/

You can also get to it from this link: http://www.dachshund-rescue.org/

If you live in the UK there is a page that you can visit here:

http://www.miniaturedachshundclub.co.uk/dachshund_rescue.htm 

 

 

 

A Cats Purr

"Cats make one of the most satisfying sounds in the world: they purr ...

A purring cat is a form of high praise, like a gold star on a test paper. It is reinforcement of something we would all like to believe about ourselves - that we are nice."

Roger A Caras

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