Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dog lover volunteers to rescue cairn terriers, find them homes

By Julius Whigham II
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

May 5, 2010

PORT ST. LUCIE — Linda Bagley recalls the first time one of her foster cairn terriers was adopted into a new home.

"I cried," she said. "It breaks your heart. You really become attached to them. Even though you want them to have a good home, I always say a piece of your heart goes with them."

For the past year and a half, rescuing cairn terriers and helping them find good homes has been a labor of love for Bagley, manager of Port St. Lucie's Public Works Department and a volunteer with the Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network. The not-for-profit organization, comprising volunteers across the country, rescues and rehabilitates unwanted cairn terriers.

Bagley said she learned of the organization while searching for a companion for a cairn terrier that she acquired as a family pet.

"We loved the breed," she said. "We knew that he needed a buddy, so I went online and I came across Col. Potter. … I was just so in awe of the whole operation of how they did everything."

Bagley, 59, said she handles publicity for the organization and helps arrange foster homes for cairn terriers in Georgia and North Carolina. She also has provided a foster home to local cairn terriers.

"It's very, very rewarding," she said. "I've never done anything that makes you feel the way this does."

Last year, four of her foster pets were adopted by new owners and so far this year, one of the two that she's taken in has been adopted.

Bagley said she's always loved dogs. Along with her foster pets, she has four dogs in her Port St. Lucie home. Bagley said the organization acquires many of its dogs from puppy mills and rehabilitating them so that they can be adopted can be particularly challenging.

"When you get a dog that's coming from a puppy mill, you can't even imagine what this poor animal has endured," she said. "It takes awhile for you to regain their trust."

What has been your biggest accomplishment?

'I got my (business management) degree when I was 50-some years old. I worked for a former director that was really big on education. I took his challenge.'

What's one thing people don't know about you that would surprise them?

'A lot of people that first meet me don't know that I'm from New York. I never had the typical New York accent.'

Who is your hero or someone who has inspired you?

'(Former city councilwoman) Jane Rowley. She is my second mom. She always volunteers for everything. She has a big heart and she always has time for everyone.'

With whom would you like to have dinner?

Two of my favorite people that I think do a lot in this world are Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres. They are very giving people.'

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