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  • Writer's pictureStream Valley Vet

National Rescue Dog Day - Debra's Stories

We all have a passion for something. Whether it's collecting meaningful items, traveling the world, or making a difference in our communities. For Debra, one of our lovely Customer Service Representatives, her passion is rescuing beautiful dogs in need.


Her family's first rescue was through Second Hope Rescue in Frederick, Maryland. They rescued a 4-year-old Husky-Labrador mix named Smokey, who they've had for 6 years now. "He has put up with us rescuing other dogs to give him a buddy to help with his severe separation anxiety," Debra said. In the first week that her family had Smokey, he broke four windows, chewed window and door frames when everyone left for work. She then crated him for a while until she rescued an 8-year German Shepherd. His name was Waron and he was level ll Shutzhund trained in Germany as a puppy. Unfortunately, the dog only lived for a year after developing Megaesophagus, a disorder in which the esophagus loses its ability to move food into the stomach.

Smokey grieved the loss so terribly that they looked for another companion. Her family then found 13 year-old Colby, a very handsome full bred Malamute through Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA). Colby was a seemingly unadoptable “village dog” (a section of the rescue with little houses for the dogs who have been there the longest) due to his health issues, one being incontinence. He was on Proin and six other medication, but he urinated and dribbled constantly. They put "pee pads" all over their basement, loved him as much as they could, and gave him the best 14 months of his life until he passed at age 14.

"He taught us a lot about unconditional love and letting dogs die with dignity," Debra said. "He was a very stoic dog, a big, strong willed but goofy personality. He and Smokey would woo and talk up a storm together and give us a lot of lip when we left them alone." Debra and her family mourned his loss deeply, but were determined to rescue another senior dog from FOHA's senior foster program or "village dog."

Due to Colby's health issues and the cost of his medications, FOHA would not allow her family to adopt him but they were his permanent fosters. Unfortunately, FOHA did not have any senior dogs that would tolerate another dog in the house.

After Colby, Debra & her husband were so smitten with the Malamute breed and determined to find another so Debra searched on Facebook and found the Chesapeake Area Alaskan Malamute Protection (CHAAMP). She found her family's next dog, Lacy Lou, through CHAAMP and drove to Pennsylvania to get her.

Lacy Lou Malamute
Lacy Lou

Lacy Lou lived her life on an Amish breeding farm. Sadly, when the farmers were done with the dogs, they would "dispose" of them by taking them behind the barn and throwing them down a well..or worse. CHAAMP rescued her and took her to the Antietam Humane Society where she luckily spent a few weeks until Debra and her family found her. From living outside her whole life, Lacy Lou was not house trained, did not have basic manners, and was recovering from being spayed. At first, Smokey accepted her and they walked together after just a few minutes of meeting.

Smokey and Lacy Lou

Outside the dogs were fine, but inside a severe "turf war" ensued. Debra explained that they got into two serious fights. Her family wondered if they would have to take her back as she almost severely hurt Smokey. After consulting with Stream Valley's very own Dr. Corey, it was determined Lacy Lou has serious food aggression issues. Per Dr. Corey’s suggestions, Debra and her husband no longer free-fed the dogs. They feed them in their own room (they each have their own bedroom) with the door shut & take up the bowls and do not leave them out. Both fights happened over food.  

This method has worked well with the dogs and they now get along well. Lacy Lou is almost completely house trained and Debra taught her to how to sit and give a paw! Debra and her family are still working on "stay" and "come," and taking treats gently. They don’t believe she had ever had treats before with how excited she gets. "My husband is retired and these dogs are not just his hobby but his life's mission/purpose," Debra said. "They have taught us so much and truly rescued US." Debra's retirement dream is to have a large sanctuary and take abandoned dogs, seniors, or dogs that have been in a shelter for a long time. Let's all take a moment to thank Debra and the Lawlor family for their wonderful efforts in giving wonderful companion animals a second chance at life!



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