As a veterinarian, my husband, Dr. Gary Yarnell, wholeheartedly believes in pet rescue as one of the best ways to unite terrific dogs with their forever families. During his more than 35 years practicing right here in Rye – he’s the founding partner of the Rye Harrison Veterinary Hospital – Gary has seen firsthand how adopting a rescue can work out beautifully for all concerned.
Yet we had never participated in anything but “informal” rescues, where we adopted a dog from friends or clients who were moving or whose circumstances had changed. That all changed for us with the adoption of our adorable rescued Lab mix Chloe in the summer of 2014.
We’ve always had two dogs at a time to keep one another company when we weren’t home. Others might send their solo pups to doggy day camp but we subscribed to the built-in play date model. So when our black Standard Poodle Kayley passed away at 14 in July of 2013, our then 3 1/2 year-old yellow Lab, Gracie, was devastated at the loss of her best friend/canine sister. Gracie is very playful and even as Kayley became frailer with age, she was still able to rally her a bit; we called her Kayley’s “aide” because she was so gentle with her. The year that followed Kayley’s passing was a tough one for our family that culminated in the death of Gary’s dad. Where normally we’d find a pal for Gracie in a few months, our focus was elsewhere. And while we were extremely attentive to her, we could see that Gracie was pining away for some canine company that liked to play chase and tug of war, two activities not high on our own lists.
Finally, almost a year later, we started the search for our new puppy. Going to petfinder.com, Gary entered “Lab puppy” and a photo of Gracie’s miniature popped up on the Good Dog Rescue site. Lilly, as she was then known, looked like a smaller Gracie; the resemblance was uncanny. We were very excited to put in an application to adopt her; most impressive was that even though Gary is a vet, we were not an automatic “slam dunk”, and subjected to a very careful screening. Once approved, we enjoyed the adorable pictures and videos of Lilly playing with her littermates that her Tennessee foster family would send us.
One steamy July day, we stood around a parking lot off a highway in Rockland, excitedly awaiting the arrival of our new puppy – much as we had waited in previous years for our kids to come home on the camp bus. The Good Dog Rescue transport was making a journey up the East Coast, with stops from Virginia all the way up into New England. When she was handed down to us from the big truck, we were instantly smitten. Once home, her canine big sister welcomed the now renamed Chloe on the front lawn, and they’ve been Velcroed-together ever since. Their constant antics continue to keep us laughing. Chloe is sweet, affectionate, and fun – we adore her.
Sure, there were some bumps along the road and a period of adjustment, but Chloe is a delight. She looks exactly like a miniature version of Gracie and everyone assumes they are mother and daughter. Our first Lab, Maggie, weighed in at a whopping 85 pounds; Gracie is “fun-sized” at around 60-pounds; and little Chloe, weighing about 45 pounds full-grown, is our own mini-Lab.
While we knew that our newly-born pup and her litter mates had been rescued, what we didn’t find out until later was that they were actually born beneath a trailer in Mississippi; the neighbors were none too happy with their new residents but fortunately the good folks from Good Dog swooped in to care for them all. Whenever we think of Chloe’s rough start in life, it breaks our heart. Today, everyone always says how lucky she is to have gone from a Mississippi trailer park to the leafy hamlet of Rye with a veterinarian as a dad, but truthfully, we know we are the lucky ones. Our little girl rescued our family from a difficult time and brought her own special sunshine into our live