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COVER STORY: Searching out a home for the holidays
Murray, a gentle three-year-old Weimaraner, had a hard life before he met the volunteers at Dogwood Rescue.
While skipping between foster homes in Utah, his right leg had to be amputated, the result of a rupture between his shin bone and paw that severed ligaments and tore his Achilles tendon. Murray was in constant pain, so veterinarians decided removing his entire leg was the only way to give him a somewhat normal life.
But a lot has changed for the hound since he arrived on the North Shore.
In just a month, Murray has settled in nicely at a Dogwood Rescue volunteer’s home. He now goes on two-hour mountain hikes, outrunning most dogs and proving absolutely nothing can slow him down.
Sitting patiently in another volunteer’s living room, he’s getting ready for a photo shoot with The Outlook. Like other Weimaraners, Murray has a sleek grey coat, aristocratic features and long limbs bred for speed.
While waiting his turn, the medium-sized dog leans on his foster owner, letting her know he wants to be picked up. He looks too big to be a lapdog, but she hoists him up, and he looks content cuddling in her lap.
“It can be difficult placing a dog with three legs,” Lori Brownlow explains, referring to the rescue organizations that looked after Murray in the United States.
But he’s just like his four-legged friends, she adds, often having more stamina than others.
“Murray needs an active couple because he’s used to two- to three-hour hikes with his foster family in Utah. It’s OK if they have older kids, but he can get too bouncy for younger ones.”
Murray is one of 30 dogs waiting for homes at the North Shore’s Dogwood Rescue. As part of the Iams Home 4 the Holidays program, the volunteers want to let people know the benefits of adopting a rescue dog instead of buying one from a pet store.
Last year, more than a million dogs found families through the program, giving Dogwood Rescue hope the extra attention will boost adoptions this Christmas.
“Rescue dogs deserve another chance at a loving home,” says volunteer Allison Gibault, holding Little Guy, an affectionate medium-sized dog found wandering the streets in the Lower Mainland by a homeless man.
“If everyone adopted rescue dogs instead of ones from a breeder, we’d be able to help a lot more.”
Dogwood Rescue has found homes for around 800 dogs since it started four decades ago, says the charity’s founder Lichen Tilley, nestled between two dogs on the couch.
Dealing primarily with “sporting” or “gun” breeds, the group adopted 100 dogs last year and 200 the year before. With 14 foster homes, mostly on the North Shore, Tilley hopes this trend will stay.
“The number one reason we lose foster homes is because people fall in love with their dogs and keep them,” says Tilley, who has permanently adopted rescue dogs of her own.
Murray wears his red-and-green reindeer antlers with pride. Bribed with a couple treats, he’s trying his hardest to stay still for the photo.
His foster owner stands behind the photographer, calling him to look her way. After he poses perfectly, he walks towards her, his tail wagging.
“He’s only been with us only since last Tuesday,” says Brownlow, “and he’s already warmed up and is so affectionate.”
It seems Murray is happy to simply have a home.
Aggie, a small brown dog found neglected in a house near her dead dad and eight siblings, is in the arms of Brenda Kay, another volunteer sitting on the couch. After falling in love, Kay adopted her permanently.
The Dogwood Rescue volunteers hope Murray and their other dogs will soon find caring, foster homes like Aggie has.
To foster or adopt a dog, call Tilley at 604-926-1842 or visit dogwoodrescue.org to view each dog’s profile.