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Gone to the Dog

Oregon Dog Rescue has big impact on dog-loving LO community
by: Vern Uyetake, Oregon Dog Rescue is in the business of making dogs happier, and people, too.  Cosmo seems to take great interest in his photo session, as owner Mitzi Boardman approvingly looks on.

Has Lake Oswego gone to the dogs?

The answer, unquestionably, is yes.

The proof is Oregon Dog Rescue, an organization that has been going less than a year but is already thriving in Lake Oswego, as well as West Linn and Tualatin.

Since Deb Bowen and Krystyna Schmidt founded the organization last July there have been 150 dogs placed, 150 heartwarming success stories. It just makes you want to wag your tail.

'This is such a dog-loving community,' said Nancy Truax, who has been a dedicated ODR volunteer for the past seven months. 'I take my dog to the dog park on Stafford and I know the dogs by name, there are so many regulars. I go to Palisades Market and there are dogs in the back of SUVs. Where else do you see a dog in every car?'

Certainly, there are other successful dog adoption agencies, and Bowen and Schmidt both worked for a couple of them. But they decided to start their own dog adoption project because they could design it to be just what they wanted.

Oregon Dog Rescue has some unique qualities. Like new dog owners being able to obtain their dog immediately, after only an interview at the ODR's weekly event at Petsmart in Tualatin. That is how Jim and Sue O'Neal of Lake Oswego got their dog, Romeo, a lhasa apso.

'Oregon Dog Rescue let us take the dog right away,' Sue said.

'They interviewed us in the store and that was it,' Jim said. 'That was nice, because we wanted a dog fairly soon.'

Yet the thing that most stands out about Oregon Dog Rescue is the care taken by Bowen and Schmidt, along with Truax and Barb Roach. They bring the pooches right into their own homes and take care of them until that lucky day when the new owner falls in love at first sight with the dog. They also offer photos of potential adoptees on the organization's connection through the Petfinder Web site.

'Some dogs don't do well in a big shelter,' Truax said. 'We find foster homes for anyone willing to take a dog for a week, and we have follow-ups if people have problems with the dog down the road. We also do the PR and outreach.'

And if the first adoption doesn't take, the ODR tries, tries again.

'We require that a dog comes back to us if an adoption doesn't work out,' Truax said. 'We don't want a dog ending up on Craig's List or abandoned somewhere.'

Such dedication is what inspired Truax to sign on. With her youngest son having gone off to college, the dog-loving Truax was ready to 'chase dogs around' instead of kids. She had gone to Tualatin Petsmart to buy some doggie products when she saw Oregon Dog Rescue in action for the first time.

'They were setting up an adoption event and had all the dogs there,' Truax said. 'I had a feeling I wanted to work with these dogs. I knew it was a good match. I wanted to be in a place where my talents would be well used.'

'I can't believe their dedication,' said Mitzi Boardman of West Linn, who recently adopted a dog through ODR. 'These women are unbelievable. They take dogs into their own homes and deal with whatever problems they have. They clean 'em up, spay 'em and neuter 'em.'

Boardman cited a case where one ODR dog was found to have diabetes. Bowen and Schmidt 'in no time had it going on insulin' and the result was another happy dog adoption story.

Oregon Dog Rescue has had many such stories in its short existence.

Finding the right friend

Boardman already had a dog named Marty, a 1-year-old bichon frise. But, 'I felt he needed a buddy, and there are so many dogs out there. I didn't want to go through the breeder.'

Boardman went to an Internet dog adoption database called Petfinder, where she kept seeing the face of a dog named Elmo, a half bichon frise, half lhasa apso. 'He looked so much like Marty,' Boardman said. So she checked him out when the ODR held one of its Saturday adoption events.

She liked everything about the dog except his name. 'He looked more like a Cosmo,' Boardman said, thus giving him a new moniker. She also noticed something remarkable.

'By the time I left with Cosmo they had adopted out five more dogs.'

Cosmo/Elmo had already been briefly adopted, and Boardman said, 'I was so glad they gave him back. He's a wonderful dog.'

Boardman's two young daughters, 11-year-old Sarah and 7-year-old Lily, totally agree. In fact, Sarah and one of her friends will be baking dog treats to be sold at the ODR fundraiser on May 3 at Palisades Market in Lake Oswego.

The perfect dog

When Jim and Sue O'Neal adopted their new lhasa apso puppy, they knew a name change was in order.

'His name was Ranger, but he didn't think he looked like a Ranger,' Jim said.

'He was cuddly and very loving,' Sue said. 'He thought he was a Romeo.'

When it comes to loving, the new Romeo beats the original Romeo by a mile. He practically vibrates with joy over human companionship, and if Romeo really likes you he will jump into your lap. His fur is more like smooth, silky hair that is remarkably gentle to the touch, and Romeo's paws are huge.

'We're wondering if he is going to grow into his paws,' Jim said, 'but I don't think so. I think he just has big paws.'

The O'Neals love to recite Romeo's wonderful qualities:

n He doesn't bite.

n He hardly ever barks.

n He is very gentle.

n He loves to follow them all around.

n He goes to work with them at their hospitality supply business, where he sleeps all day.

n He is making friends with their 20-year-old dove named Birdy.

n He never fusses at all when Jim gives him his Saturday bath right in the kitchen sink.

'He just lays there on his back and lets me scrub him and wash his face,' Jim said.

The O'Neals were extremely eager to acquire a dog since their son had just gotten one and so had their next-door neighbor. The O'Neals weren't so lucky with their first attempt. That dog was adopted by a veterinarian.

But thanks to Oregon Dog Rescue, they began their great love story with Romeo, the perfect dog.

'He's a 10,' Sue said.

ODR plans Saturday fundraiser at Lamb's

Oregon Dog Rescue has a milestone coming up on Saturday - a major Lake Oswego fundraiser at Lamb's Palisades Thriftway.

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

'We want to find foster homes for our dogs, we want volunteers, and we want other support, like grant writers or veterinary services,' said ODR volunteer Nancy Truax. 'Anything that will help us with our mission.'

The big event will feature:

n Bentley B Vintage T-shirts for dogs.

n Lexi Dog boutique items and supplies.

n Lamb's Castor and Pollux, Newman's products.

n Fresh-baked dog treats.

n Dogs for adoption.

Besides providing a place for the fundraiser, Lamb's Palisades Thriftway will donate 5 percent of sales of their pet-related items to ODR.

Lamb's Palisades Thriftway market is located at 1377 McVey Ave. in Lake Oswego.

Oregon Dog Rescue is a non-profit 501 c (3) corporation. It holds a pet adoption event every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Petsmart in Tualatin.

The organization's Web site is www.oregondogrescue.org .