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Heart Strings holds reunion for hard-to-place pets - News

Hi mom! Beverly Schiver, of Frostburg Md., with her dog Trooper
(Public Opinion/Ryan Blackwell)

6/21/2009 - No one purchased Wilma the Dachshund from the pet store because she had an overbite. Trooper, an Australian Shepherd, didn't sell because he had a misdiagnosed genetic defect.

In 2007, Heart Strings was formed to help 're-home' commercially bred dogs like Wilma and Trooper.

On Saturday, Terri Young, one of the organizers of the Newburg group, held a picnic/reunion at Twin Bridge for dogs and their owners.

Affiliated with the Pennsylvania Kennel Assurance Program and working in conjunction with Conodoguinet Creek Kennel, Newburg, Young and staff help find homes for dogs - mostly purebred - that cannot be sold in pet stores or are not suitable for breeding.

As Wilma the Dachshund happily squeaked a blue stuffed bear that she won for placing third in the smallest dog contest, owner Jennifer Dewease, Shippensburg, said Wilma has been a wonderful addition to her family.

'She's very loving, and she likes playing with her toys,' said Dewease, who couldn't understand how an overbite could keep people from snatching up the tiny bundle of brown fur.

While many of the breeders and brokers sell the dogs to pet stores, Young said if a dog can't be sold or if the new owner can't keep the dog, Heart Strings will place the dog into a new, loving home.

Beverly Schiver, Frostburg, Md., wasn't really in the market for a dog until she saw the picture of a three-month-old black Australian Shepherd that she named Trooper.
Little did Schiver know when she welcomed Trooper into her home that the four-legged bundle of energy would save her boyfriend's life.

Schiver was watching television in the living room while her boyfriend Doug Horton lay in the bedroom when Trooper burst into the living room.

'Trooper came out of the bedroom and was jumping all over the place and was going crazy. I thought he needed out. So, I opened the door but he didn't go out, he just kept going back and forth to the bedroom,' said Schiver.

Horton suffered a stroke which affected the right side of his body. Schiver said Horton is doing fine now, thanks to Trooper's quick action.

'If it hadn't been for him. I would never have suspected something was wrong. He saved Doug,' said Schiver, looking at the unlikely hero Trooper.

Diane Burkholder, Whispering Spring Kennel, East Earl, traveled two-and-a-half hours in the hopes of seeing one of her beloved dogs.

She and her husband Jim raise Pugs, English Bulldogs and other breeds. 'I just want to keep that connection with my dog - to know the dog is well taken care of. I just want to be able to come to a yearly picnic like this and see that my dogs are healthy and happy,' said Burkholder as she scanned the pavilion looking for one of her dogs.
Burkholder wants to dispel the myth that all commercial breeders are operating substandard kennels.

'We're not saying there are no bad apples in the industry because there are - unfortunately it just gives everybody that black mark. But it doesn't take into account that there are responsible breeders like we are,' said Burkholder, who uses Heart Strings to "re-home" her dogs.

SOURCE: Public Opinion Online by ROXANN MILLER Senior correspondent. Reprinted with permission.

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