The Texas-born pups are currently living the good life in Tigard
by: Jonathan House, TAKE A NUMBER – Houston Hickenbottom, pictured with some of the orphan puppies he and his wife Sharon are fostering, rounds up as many as he can for a photo.

TIGARD - A Tigard couple doesn't have quite 101 Dalmatians in their home, but they do have 10 rambunctious, lively shepherd-mix puppies which will soon be looking for new homes.

Houston and Sharon Hickenbottom regularly foster puppies for the Oregon Humane Society - in fact, they've already taken in three groups of pups this year.

But they are now nurturing a very special litter of lucky puppies whose lives were turned around by a guardian angel.

Houston works for Hillsboro Aviation, and one of the company's helicopter pilots, Mike Scheel, was in Texas recently when he learned about a stray dog living at a remote southern Texas airport that had been killed by a car.

The stray dog, who was living under a fuel tank, left 11 puppies behind, and Scheel started giving them food and comfort while e-mailing his co-workers back in Hillsboro for assistance.

According to a Web site set up for the puppies, Hillsboro Aviation President Max Lyons told his employees that rescuing the puppies was a company priority.

'When I heard of the extreme efforts that Mike and our staff members were doing to rescue the puppies, I wanted them to know they had the full backing of the company, including financial resources, to save these guys,' Lyons said.

After Hillsboro Aviation staff learned that the puppies would not have a good future if left in Texas due to their location, age and medical conditions, they decided the best option was to bring them to Portland.

A Texas veterinarian determined that the puppies were well enough to make the trip to Oregon, and with the exception of one that was adopted in Texas, the other 10 started their 2,400-mile journey to Oregon.

A 4½-hour drive in a rental car to the Houston airport was followed by a direct flight to Portland, where the special cargo landed a little before midnight Sept. 9.

Members of the Tigard Dog Park Committee helped with the airport pick-up

'This is an extra-special group of puppies,' Hickenbottom said. 'We've never picked up puppies from 2,000 miles away. Our goal is to raise them to good health. They are just thriving. They are a fun group of dogs and well socialized. They have great personalities and a lot of love to share.'

The dogs have been receiving top-quality dog food, excellent medical care and lots of attention during their short time in Oregon, and they will soon be available for adoption.

'The Oregon Humane Society does not adopt out dogs and cats without them being spayed and neutered, and while these dogs are not affiliated with the Oregon Humane Society, we want to follow that practice,' Hickenbottom said.

A fee of $250 will be charged for each puppy to cover the costs of spaying or neutering them plus their first round of shots, but people 'will get a dog with a heck of a history,' Hickenbottom said.

'We'll be looking for top-notch homes, for people who have fenced yards,' he added.

People interested in learning more about the puppies, which have been given Texas-style names, or adopting them can visit hillsboropuppies

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