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Cayla's Story
by Pam Burt

Until a month ago, my husband Irv and I were blessed for 12 years with a beautiful pair of male and female Cairn Terriers: Toto and Lammy. We had purchased Toto from a pet store, and Lammy from a private breeder. For 12 years, the two of them were soul mates and they were our babies: filling our lives with unconditional love and pure joy.

In mid-October, we lost little Lammy to a tumor that snuffed out her life quickly. We were devastated, and Toto was so sad and lost without his soul mate that it broke our hearts. It was an unbearable loss, leaving the three of us crippled with grief and clinging to each other for solace.

Then I remembered something a friend at our local humane society had told me about: rescue groups who foster abandoned and abused dogs of various breeds until they can find homes for them. With a flicker of hope, I hit the Internet in search of a rescue group for Cairn Terriers.

I happened immediately upon the Col. Potter site. When I studied the photos and stories of Cairns available for adoption, I was deeply touched. I knew then that we needed one of those little Cairns as badly as those little dogs needed homes. I quickly submitted our application on the Col. Potter site, hoping from the bottom of my heart that we'd be approved and that there would be a little female rescue Cairn for us. Through our work with our local humane society, we had learned that buying a puppy from a store or breeder only promotes animal overpopulation. Instead, we wanted very much to give a loving home to a rescue Cairn.

Our Col. Potter application was approved in short order. When Michele called to tell me and to report that a little female Cairn named Cayla seemed to be a perfect match for us, we were thrilled. Michele then introduced us by email to Cayla's foster mom, Bonnie, who had been fostering Cayla since her rescue from a puppy mill. Several days later, we drove from our home in northern Michigan to Bonnie's home near Cleveland, Ohio with great hope in our hearts that Cayla would be the little girl for us.

When we got to Bonnie's home, she met us at the door with Cayla in her arms. It was love at first sight -- not just for us, but for Toto too. Bonnie and her husband Alan gave us all kinds of tips on Cayla's diet and needs, and Bonnie was so attached to Cayla that good-byes were very tearful. We parted from Bonnie and Alan's with little Cayla safely tucked in her crate in our car. On the long trip home, Toto nestled as close as he could to Cayla's crate, with his nose resting inside, and slept that way for hours.

We have now had Cayla in her forever home with us for two weeks. She has brightened our lives immeasurably, and Toto won't leave her side. When we look in Cayla's eyes, we can't help but feel that a part of Lammy's spirit lives on in her. We also see in her the loving touch of Bonnie, who first brought this scared and timid little 1-1/2 year old soul out of her shell. Now Cayla gives Irv and me a little bath of kisses when we bring our faces close to hers, just as we saw her do with Bonnie at her foster home.

Cayla is still a little fearful of the outdoors, which she never got to see in her puppymill life, but she's getting less timid each day. What a heartwarming thing it is to share her joy at discovering the simple pleasures of life: even a little leaf on the ground gives her a thrill. As we shower her with love, she showers us right back. I call her Cayla-la in a sing-song voice, and she drops whatever she's doing to come running to me.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Col. Potter, to Michele, and especially to Cayla's foster mom, Bonnie. We're hoping that Bonnie and Alan will visit us next year, or that we can visit them. We want Bonnie, whose heart was big enough to nurture little Cayla for weeks and then give her up to us, to see the magic that a loving forever home has worked on her little Cayla. Bonnie will also see a big change in Toto, Irv, and me, because all three of us have learned to smile again.

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, to the left is a photo of Cayla snuggling up to Toto for a nap.

May God bless all of you at Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network, and especially the foster parents whose hearts are made of pure gold.