If you’re an animal lover, you know one of the sweetest joys in life is coming home from a long day at work and being greeted by a wagging tail and a dog who thinks you’re the greatest person on the planet.von Drehle’s Corporate Marketing Manager Jon Thomson and his wife Doreen know that moment well because they’ve experienced it with more than 200 dogs.
Yes, you read that right. Over 200 dogs have been lucky to call the Thomson’s 100-year old house “home.” While some of those dogs have stayed for only a few days, others months or years, each one has been lucky to call Jon and Doreen their foster parents, and their home has been a stop on the trail to hundreds of happy adoptions.
Jon and Doreen both grew up with animals – Doreen had a few dogs but was more of a cat person, and Jon had dogs, cats, chickens and even a raccoon (“The best pets ever!” he says, describing them as a cross between a cat and a dog). Getting a dog was a frequent topic of discussion when Jon and Doreen married – he always wanted one but she didn’t. After having kids, Doreen relented, and they adopted a Golden Retriever. This wasn’t your typical dog, though — the five year old had been horribly abused. She was a purebred but according to Jon, “didn’t even know she was a dog anymore” because of all the trauma she had suffered. All she wanted to do was be left alone, but they chose her, and the whole family fell in love with her, including Doreen. That started it all.
That dog’s story pulled at Doreen’s heartstrings, and she started volunteering for a local rescue, working adoption events and doing anything she could to help out. Animal rescues depend on volunteers like Doreen, and the number of dogs they save directly correlates with the number of people they have helping them. Eventually, Doreen connected with Hartman’s Haven Dog Rescue, and Jon and Doreen became dog foster parents. Over 200 dogs later, the experience proved to be life-changing for both the canines and the Thomsons.
Hartman’s Haven Dog Rescue: A Life-Saving Network
Hartman’s Haven Dog Rescue is a non-profit, all-volunteer, all-donation supported rescue for unwanted and homeless dogs (and sometimes cats) in Catawba County. von Drehle is proud to support their work through donations, which go directly to the animals they serve and help pay for food, medicine and surgeries.
Unlike many other rescue organizations, Hartman’s Haven hardly ever turns a dog in need down. The expenses of surgeries, medication and vet bills can be astounding for these dogs, but the results are priceless. Take the story of Marshall, for example, an 8-month old yellow lab mix who was hit by a car after his owner discarded him and turned him loose. Luckily, a passerby saw the accident and Marshall being knocked into a ditch before crawling into a drainage culvert. The fire department had to flush Marshall out with a fire hose and quickly discovered the bones were sticking out of his front left leg due to a huge compound fracture. Animal Control was called and wanted to euthanize Marshall, but a vet had to sign off first. She refused to sign, noting that Marshall never stopped wagging his tail during the examination. This dog wanted to live, and Hartman’s Haven was called to give him a second chance at life.
The vet also discovered that Marshall’s back leg was shattered too. After three surgeries and over 50 vet visits (Doreen made the 30-mile trip every day so Marshall could have his bandages changed), Jon calls Marshall “the luckiest dog I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Adopted by a traveling physical therapist, Marshall was trained as a therapy dog. He goes to work with his adopted mom every day and plays an important role in helping others recover from trauma. He’s on the job in New Orleans right now, and his tail probably still hasn’t stopped wagging.
His story is just one of the reasons we are proud to support the work of Hartman’s Haven. Marshall’s vet bills totaled over $10,000, and each life-saving procedure was covered thanks to generous donations from the community.
In just the first half of 2018, Hartman’s Haven’s costs for veterinary services totaled over $100,000. This included treatments for 36-heartworm positive dogs, 11 parvo-positive puppies and 10 dogs with distemper. With the support of volunteers, donors and dedicated vets, Hartman’s Haven has been able to save these and hundreds of other dogs each year.
Lucy, Griffin and the Rewards of Fostering
Unfortunately, Marshall’s story isn’t unique. Jon and Doreen have opened their hearts and home to some of the worst cases of animal abuse and neglect. When a woman in the area called Hartman’s Haven to surrender a few puppies from a litter, they were shocked at what they found. The puppies were so starved you could see their rib cages, but the woman wanted to keep one puppy for herself. The volunteers from Hartman’s Haven were able to talk her out of it, and that puppy died within an hour of leaving the owner’s house. Out of the five in the litter, only two puppies survived. An autopsy was conducted on the three that died, and there was nothing in their digestive track except for sticks and rocks.
The two puppies who survived, Lucy and Griffin, lived only because of the hardworking and generosity of Hartman’s Haven and Jon and Doreen. Both puppies were severely underweight and suffering from parvovirus, a highly contagious disease that, left untreated kills 91% percent of dogs that contract it. Lucy in particular was gravely ill – Doreen and Jon rushed her to the emergency vet in the middle of the night multiple times.
Over time, the Thomsons nursed Lucy and Griffin back to health until, as Jon says, “they got nice and fat and playful again.” Adopted by a family in New Jersey, Lucy and Griffin are now happy and healthy in their forever home.
Experiences like that keep the Thomsons going and highlight both the best and most challenging aspect of fostering: saying a tearful goodbye but knowing the dog you loved and cared for is going to a home where he will become part of the family.
While Jon admits that saying goodbye is hard, he loves that Hartman’s Haven gives foster parents the final word. He and Doreen get to meet potential adoptive parents, inspect their homes and see how they interact with the dogs they’ve saved. When an adoption is successful, the best part comes next — when the new family sends pictures of happy faces and gives updates on the dog’s new life. “That’s our awesome part,” says Jon, “I can’t think of anything more rewarding than that.”
That’s the moment Jon wants to share with people who are thinking of fostering: “All you have to do is think about how you can impact these lives.”
Finding a Four-Legged Soul Mate Through Fostering
Hartman’s Haven has a strong network of volunteers offering support to foster families, but sometimes, the best helpers are four-legged ones.
Jon and Doreen have permanently adopted two dogs they lovingly term “foster failures.” While Jon affectionately describes Heidi the beagle as “the old grandma who yells at people to get off her lawn,” their purebred piebald Siberian Husky, Hudson, has proven to be an intuitive, gentle helper in their rescue operation.
Doreen says Hudson and Jon are soulmates, and they do everything together, including helping foster dogs. Hudson even loves the foster cats that have come into the Thomson home, and he seems to be convinced that the kittens are his pets. He lays with them, plays with them, and when they foster injured dogs, Hudson seems to intuitively know what they need. One of Hudson’s special friends was a dog who was hit by a car on the freeway and suffering from a broken back, pelvis, hip and leg. She was in a full-body cast, and the Thomsons surrounded her with pillows in Jon’s office to protect her delicate bones as she recovered. One day, Doreen came out of the shower, heard noises and rushed into the room to discover that Hudson had moved the pillows to get closer to the dog, and they were barking back and forth, having a conversation like old friends. That isn’t the first time Hudson has known exactly what a fellow dog needed, and he will often lay down next to the injured pups, letting them know they aren’t alone.
Hudson, Jon and Doreen will continue to welcome dogs into their hearts and homes as long as there is a need. While local animal control euthanizes 7,000animalsa year, Hartman’s Haven and their team of volunteers remain committed to giving as many animals as possible a second chance at life.
Please click here to make a donation and join von Drehle in supporting this important work. To view the list of dogs currently available for adoption through Hartman’s Haven, click here, and keep this reminder from Jon in mind: “Wherever you are, there’s a dog in your area that needs to go to your home.”