by George & Danielle Rackstraw
As with most stories, there are lessons to be learned by reading them. The story of Silly is no exception. Often those who work rescue are asked if the Cairn is able to adapt easily into another household once they are no longer a young pup. Those who breed this beloved breed always get a little grin on their face when we are asked this. We proceed to tell story after story on how well our tough little terriers actually adjust in a new home. It is often said that we WISHED at times that they would not readapt as fast! In Silly's lifetime, she had four new homes. Her companion "Peri", who was also a rescue dog, had three different homes [Peri's story follows Silly's]. What did these two rescue dogs have in common? First, they were both very well bred dogs of beautiful pedigrees; second, both ended up as rescue dogs more than one time, and third they both became hearing dogs for a senior couple who happened to be deaf.
Please meet Silly:
Silly was one of our first rescue Cairns. She truly did not start out to be what we envisioned a rescue to be; after all, we had Silly's litter sister, and we were well aware of the lovely dogs in her "show" sister's pedigree. Silly was one of five pups that were whelped in a well thought out and planned breeding. The breeders were good folks, who, like many, never should have bred their female when they did. There is a saying "timing is everything", and the timing was just not right in their life; the owners of Silly's Mom just had too much going on in their life at the time to be devoting the time and energy that is required to properly raise a little of active Cairn puppies.
The breeders were a young couple, about to move across country due to a business transfer. They were also having marital problems. Their household consisted of a young daughter and a newborn infant. This did not make for a harmonious move across country. Once settled in their new home, the puppies and their other dogs required more work and time than they ever imagined. The litter spent most of their day either in a small pen outdoors in the humidity in a back yard that was loaded with bugs, or in a small bathroom indoors. The pups had little contact or interaction with their humans and they were unsocialized.
Silly was twenty months old when the telephone rang on New Year's day. The caller stated who he was and asked us what we were doing: watching the Rose Bowl parade, was our reply. We were told that Silly was put on an airplane that morning and that she was on her way to us as we spoke. We had previously expressed interest and concern on the welfare of the balance of the litter prior to the family's move across country; however, we were quite surprised that many months later without a prior phone call, this little girl was on the way to California.
Flight information was obtained, and if we rushed we could be at Los Angeles International Airport prior to the freight office closing for the day. To this day, we wonder what would have happened if we were not home or if we were on vacation and could not pick her up. We were told that we could place her as a rescue dog or keep her, they just couldn't handle her any longer.
When Silly arrived it was immediately apparent that she was one sick puppy. We called our Vet and he agreed to meet us at his office the next day even though the office was closed. Silly had severe flea anemia, the worst our Vet had ever seen. She was so malnourished that we were warned that she might not pull through the next few months. Her blood panel count was horribly off the normal ranges. She tested positive for three different types of worms. Her skin was in horrible condition from fleabites and various infections, and she was suffering badly from neglect. Huge patches of her coat were falling out from improper nutrition and lack of care and dog bites. Silly's eyes were severely sunk into her skull from the malnutrition caused by her worms. At twenty months of age, this little girl weighed barely eight pounds. She was a rack of bones covered by improperly cared for coat. She had been bitten on the eye, her rump and her neck by another dog. She also happened to be in full season when we got her. She very easily could have been bred by the intact males in the household, and on her way to being a mom herself at that time. If a puppy mill breeder owned Silly, she would have been bred. Pregnancy tests showed that she was not pregnant.
Silly's story is NOT an unusual story. It is a story of a well-meaning couple breeding a litter that they never should have bred. Many dogs that come into a rescue program have similar stories. Silly has blessed three families since she arrived with us on New Year's day. We were blessed to have had her in our lives when she first came to us. Everyone who was involved in her care immediately fell in love with her. We were blessed that this little girl found the strength to trust her foster homes and that she responded to medical treatment when, at times, it was doubtful that she would make it. Most of all, however, we were blessed that Silly seemed to hold no grudge. She accepted our love, and she loved everyone she met.
A senior couple adopted little Miss Silly. Pat and Jane happened to be deaf. They needed a 'hearing dog' that was a small breed and they needed a dog that was highly intelligent and willing to learn. That was Silly. Their current hearing dog at the time "Peri" was quite the senior himself, and was having difficulties hearing. Silly lived with Pat and Jane for quite a few years. Both Pat and Jane died within the same year's time.
One of my fondest keepsakes is a certificate from the fire department in the city in which that Jane and Silly lived. Jane, who was at one time a professional seamstress, fell asleep on the sofa not knowing that the foot pedal on her sewing machine was stuck. This caused a small electrical fire. Silly realized this, and pulled Jane off the sofa and to the front door of her home when she smelled the smoke. The city gave Silly a certificate for doing this.
After Jane's death, Silly then came back into our rescue program, and we once again found the perfect new home for her with another wonderful senior couple who lived in a neighboring state. She is VERY happy and healthy and loved today. Thank you, little girl, for making such a wonderful impact on so many people.
The first photograph to the left shows Silly shortly after her arrival. The second photograph was taken prior to being placed in her new "forever" home. The third photograph was received from her current owners; this was taken on her fourteenth birthday in 2000.