S a m a n t i c shttp://www.potomacvalleysams.com/Samantics.html


“The PA-DE 33”

by Tamara Somerville

(aka:  “Gidget’s Mom”)  © 2012

If you know of a Samoyed needing a new home, please e-mail:

samrescue@samfans.org and info@samoyedrescue.org 

“Rescue” in the usual sense denotes acts of bravery by first responders saving people from fires, accidents and natural disasters.  “Rescue” in the Samoyed community means sanctuary and a second chance for Samoyeds needing new loving homes when their current living situation is no longer tenable.  Samoyed rescue is rarely dramatic, except for the pups and owners.  

Most canine purebreeds have a formal or informal rescue network of volunteers dedicated to helping dogs of that breed who are in need.  The U.S. Samoyed community is one of the shining examples of breed enthusiasts with a nationwide rescue infrastructure (comprised of local volunteers). 

Rescues often result from a change in the circumstances of the original owner of the dog - perhaps due to divorce, death, deployment or foreclosure.  The process of deciding to turn a dog over to rescue may have been emotionally wrenching for the original owner.  It may be a selfless act in the best interest of the dog. 

Samoyeds have also shown up in Craigslist advertisements and shelters and come to rescue through those channels.  Many in the Samoyed community monitor such advertisements and animal shelters and reach out to help ensure that such Samoyeds find good homes capable of giving a Samoyed the kind of care they need (different breeds have different needs). 

Rescue is usually done one-dog-at-a-time by a dedicated corps of volunteers running local and regional rescue groups who give of their time, money and hearts year-round. 

But once in a while, a mass rescue effort is required due to law enforcement authorities seizing a large number of dogs from a “puppy mill”  or dog fighting operation or a hoarding situation.  And that is when, for the sake of the dogs, the larger community must step up in an extraordinary way -- primarily by giving money to pay for boarding, food and veterinary care. 

More than the usual contingent of volunteers will also be required to help with transport, grooming and other care of the dogs.  There will be urgent need for volunteers to open their homes and provide foster care -- perhaps the first time these dogs will have the kind of intensive one-on-one attention that our personal pets can take for granted.   

All the whys and wherefores of the dogs’ journey in these situations may never be known in their entirety.  Records may be sealed.  Participants may not be forthcoming.  But that is not the focus of rescuers, who, when made aware of Samoyeds needing care, will spring into action to see that they get it. 

Amidst an urgent rescue situation, why the Samoyeds need care is not the paramount concern.  It matters only that they need care.

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All Hands On Deck

October-December, 2012

As Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on the U.S. east coast in late-October, 2012, a storm of another kind came ashore in the Samoyed community via news of law enforcement actions that had resulted in the seizure of forty four Samoyeds. (More news here and here,disturbing facts are listed in a court judgement and subsequent suspension by the American Kennel Club is noted here.)

That is an astounding number of Samoyeds suddenly rendered homeless (Samoyeds are 69th in breed popularity as measured in AKC registrations in the U.S.).  Mid-Atlantic Samoyed Rescue (MASR), based in Maryland, typically has only one or two Samoyeds available for adoption. 

Undaunted, MASR leader Danielle Buchheister started reaching out to her network of rescue volunteers.  She also began building relationships with the jurisdictions where the dogs were being held.  Samoyed rescues around the nation, in turn, reached out to Danielle see if some of the dogs were suitable for relocation to other areas of the country where there may be a waiting list of prospective adopters.   

Word of the “Pennsylvania-Delaware 44” in need quickly spread via Facebook and e-mail.  Three thousand miles away, the head of the Samoyed rescue for the Pacific Northwest, Ron Manor, volunteered to update the MASR website daily to accommodate the clamor for news on the pups and make it easier for potential foster homes and adopters to determine which dogs could best fit into their households.  Fundraising appeals took on new urgency when Ron posted photographs of the scraggly Delaware Samoyeds afflicted with oozing ear infections, skin problems, matted and stained coats and some in dire need of significant veterinary care.

During a previously scheduled quarterly meeting on November 1, the Potomac Valley Samoyed Club’s Board of Directors voted to immediately donate $500 from the club’s treasury to MASR and began developing a plan to raise more funds and help mobilize volunteers for what promised to be a protracted rescue effort. 

On MASR’s website, Danielle initiated a daily diary to chronicle developments as the Samoyeds were transferred on October 27 from the Delaware shelter to MASR.  And so Samoyed fanciers near and far began their acquaintance with “DE-2,” “DE-14,” “DE-19” and the many others being relocated. 

All the while Danielle was scrambling to handle the Delaware dogs (ultimately, 15 detained in Delaware were transferred to MASR), she was negotiating with the Pennsylvania shelter run by the Chester County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).  They had taken charge of 29 of the 44 Samoyeds upon the raid of the owner’s property on August 3.  The SPCA was under no obligation to deal with a Samoyed rescue group and were somewhat leery of handing the dogs over to people who may have connections to the perpetrators in the case. 

Fortunately, Danielle and the need to get the dogs placed, proved persuasive.  But, sadly, not before several of those Samoyeds were euthanized. 

The shelter kept four to put up for adoption and after disposition of the court case, signed the rest (18 Samoyeds) over to MASR, to be picked up by Danielle on November 9.  Between Delaware and Pennsylvania, MASR would receive a total of thirty-three Samoyeds left homeless by the animal cruelty case.

Meanwhile, the “Alabama Boys” -- a previously planned relocation of two Samoyed males from the state of Alabama -- were also in route to MASR.  In the frantic first few days of coping with the arrival of the Delaware dogs, Danielle drove out to Hagerstown, Maryland, to meet the Alabama transport at 2:30 a.m. and did not return home with them until 4:00 a.m.


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The Pennsylvania Pups

Friday, November 9

PVSC member Jan Lynch and I joined the burgeoning crowd eager to help the PA-DE 33.  Danielle indicated that she could use assistance transporting the twenty or more Samoyeds still in custody in Pennsylvania. 

So we topped off our gas tanks and hit the road. 

I also brought my 10-year old Samoyed, Gidget, because I had no idea how long this journey would take and had not been able to arrange a sitter for her.  It was destined to be a very long day, and night.

Driving up on this sunny Friday morning on I-95 and other routes north, by noon we had converged at the SPCA shelter located west of Philadelphia in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  We parked the U-Haul, driven by Danielle, and our other vehicles behind the shelter and prepared for the procession of 18 Samoyeds that the shelter had agreed to relinquish to MASR.

We helped Danielle configure empty crates into two rows on either side of the U-Haul:  boys on the left and girls on the right.  With practiced efficiency, Danielle guided us in securing the crates so they would not shift during the drive.  She then huddled with managers of the shelter, completed necessary paperwork and outlined an orderly process for escorting, loading and inventorying the dogs. 

I had rarely seen so many Samoyeds other than at dog shows.  In fact, we were transporting to MASR more Samoyeds than are entered in most AKC dog conformation shows. 

The contrast in venues was stark.  One-by-one, the rescue Samoyeds were walked out of the shelter by SPCA staff over the gravel and to an area where they could relieve themselves before getting into crates. 

Happy, healthy Samoyeds in public typically hold their heads high and wave their luxuriously-plumed tails proudly above their backs like Ms. America waving to adoring throngs.  In pitiful contrast, most of these rescue Samoyeds had their tails tucked between their legs and nervously spun around in circles.  Some could hardly stay straight long enough to get up the ramp into the U-Haul. 

Perhaps they were trying to escape their own stink.  One memorable aspect of the journey that photographs could not convey was the pervasive odor emanating from all the Samoyeds.  This was no doubt related to the excrement several had smeared on their legs, rear and abdomen.  This was another jarring exception to the norm for Samoyeds - a breed without an oily coat that promotes “dog smell.”

SPCA staff clearly had put effort into maintaining the Samoyeds - most appeared to have had their coats shaved early in their tenure with the shelter - their hair was mostly white, their nails had been trimmed and ear infections had been treated.  But no crowded animal shelter is an optimal environment for a dog, let alone long-haired, double-coated, white, athletic and social creatures like Samoyeds.  All the other dogs we saw at the shelter appeared to be pit bulls or pit mixes. We were grateful that the Chester County SPCA’s Samoyeds were in a lot better shape than the Delaware rescues that had been transferred to MASR two weeks previously. 

Surprisingly, (if you have spent much time around large groups of Samoyeds) these rescue Samoyeds were silent.  Not a single note of protest emerged from these Samoyeds in the back of the truck as they were secured in the U-Haul and we prepared the convoy for departure. 

A few feet away, Gidget sat in the driver seat of my Honda Element, curious about these members of her tribe.

As we headed for the rescue Samoyeds’ next temporary home -- a reputable boarding kennel -- convoy drivers kept in touch via walkie-talkies, sorted out disagreements between our GPS units and discussed the next stages of the rescue effort.  In one of many acts of kindness that have aided this rescue effort, the boarding kennel’s owner and staff extended their hours late into the evening to accommodate unloading, greeting, walking and processing the Samoyeds into the facility. 

At midnight, we finally took a break when we sat down at a Denny’s for breakfast.  By 1:30 a.m. Saturday, we had all arrived at our respective homes in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.   


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Going Forward

If a picture is worth a thousand words, video is worth a million.  And so on Sunday, November 11, Danielle allowed me to photograph and video the Delaware dogs that MASR had taken possession of two weeks previously.  Some of those Samoyeds were already in foster homes and two (DE-4 and DE-11) went home with their new adoptive families while I was there. 

Prior to this weekend I had never participated in a rescue effort and was not sure what to expect or how I might react.  Few things in my life have triggered tears like a story of a dog who has suffered.  And here I was hanging out with thirty-three suffering Samoyeds. 

Yet, it was not maudlin.  One at a time, their kennel caretaker, Marlene, brought the Delaware dogs out for individual outings in a fenced grassy area so they could walk, run or just explore at their leisure.  The first thing just about all of them did when she opened the gate is smile, run over to me or Danielle to greet us and get petted.  That included “DE-14 the four-front legs girl.”    [Nov. 28 update - photos of DE-14 -- “Sasha” in her new home]

These Samoyeds are not living in the rear-view mirror. 

And neither do Danielle and the other experienced MASR volunteers.  As I write this Danielle is probably on the phone with a prospective adopter or foster home, arranging transport, consulting with a veterinarian or doing one of a hundred other things necessary to keep advancing the process of getting each and every one of these thirty-three Samoyeds into a new, qualified and loving home.   

To see Danielle and her colleagues in action is to learn that rescue is not about wallowing in anger or sadness at the plight of these dogs.  Outrage unchanneled into constructive purpose, is pointless. 

Rescue is not about judgment.  Rescue is about love. 

That is what propels rescuers like Danielle and other volunteers to forfeit sleep and weekends in the quest to help dogs who need it.  And that is what motivates supporters to donate.   

If you would like to support the Mid-Atlantic Samoyed Rescue effort, you can do so at their website ( http://www.samrescue.com/ ) where you can donate a tax-deductible contribution via PayPal and major credit cards.

On that website, you can also download applications to foster or adopt one of the Samoyeds in MASR’s care. 



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Further Updates

Friday Nov. 16:  The DE-PA sammies’ growing crowd of supporters were shaken when Danielle disclosed that DE-19 had been rushed to the hospital with significant bleeding from her vulva.  Faced with potentially extensive veterinary expenses, Danielle had to consider what was in the best interest of the entire group of sammies, given the limited resources available to care for them.  And then Danielle opted to give DE-19 every reasonable chance to survive and she was referred to a specialist.  Surgery scheduled.  Several generous benefactors stepped up to defray 19’s expenses to give this stunning girl another chance at life.  Also on this day, four of the Delaware dogs were flown to Denver, Colorado, where the Denver Samoyed Rescue will find good homes for them.  And DE-14 (the “four-front legs” girl) flew to Seattle where she has a new home.

PVSC member Wendy Friedlander drove DE-16 to meet another volunteer transporter at Breezewood, Pennsylvania, who ferried DE-16 the rest of the way to Ohio where he now lives with his new family. 

Potomac Valley Samoyed Club’s Board of Directors voted to immediately donate another $600 to Mid-Atlantic Samoyed Rescue.

Friday, November 30:  PVSC members assisted MASR in transporting the “Pennsylvania Pups” from a kennel in Delaware to a facility closer to DC.  Over the next two weeks, the pups will all be examined by a veterinarian and will receive necessary care and will be spayed or neutered.  They are also being observed and assessed for behavioral factors that will be weighed in determining the best adoption option for them.

Friday, December 7:  New videos chronicle the ongoing physical and emotional rehabilitation of the Pennsylvania pups still in residence at the kennel and under the care of the manager, Marlena. 

Sunday, December 9: PVSC dedicates its annual holiday party auction to MASR and raises $2500.  PVSC has now contributed $3600 to MASR and individual PVSC members have contributed even more.

December 4-12:  Several of the Pennsylvania pups’s veterinary exams resulted in follow-ups, including dental treatments, biopsies and antibiotics for various infections.  “DE-2” continues to struggle.  Continued generous financial support has enabled MASR to pay for the needed care.

December 16:  PVSC’s annual Holiday Walk on the National Mall includes “PA-17” now known as “Oona.” 

December 18:  Twenty-one of the thirty-three rescues have now been adopted.  Several are in foster homes and a few are still in the kennel.

Christmas Eve:  Thirty-one of the rescues are in adoptive or foster homes.

All will have a much merrier Christmas and a Happier and healthier New Year.

January 10, 2013:  Suzy (DE-2) died.  Suzy was very fragile from the get-go. Despite the heroic efforts of MASR's Danielle and her adoptive mother, Marlene, Suzy was not able to persevere through some significant health issues. Until the very end, she still smiled through her struggles. She will live on in the memories of the many blessed to know her in her final months.

May 8, 2013: Chanel (DE-9) died.  Chanel was a senior girl and shortly after she was adopted, it was discovered that she had mammary cancer.  Her time with her new family was short but in those five months she had a great life - going to their business every weekday to assist Karla as an able public liaison, enjoying the wonderful foods and treats prepared in their kitchen and sleeping at night in the master bedroom.  Chanel is missed and will long be remembered. 

January 1, 2014: Joy’s (PA-2) first year is chronicled in a lovely essay by her adopters: “A Year of Joy”


The Delaware Dogshttp://www.potomacvalleysams.com/Delaware_Samoyed_Rescues.html

Mid-Atlantic Samoyed Rescuehttp://www.samrescue.com/
SamUrgency (veterinary expenses)http://www.SamUrgency.com/
The  PA Pupshttp://www.potomacvalleysams.com/Pennsylvania_Samoyed_Rescues.html
Samoyed Rescue Alliancehttp://www.samoyedrescue.com/

Rest in Peace, Suzy (DE-2)

  born: (?)   died: 1/10/13

adopted by her devoted caretaker, Marlene

Rest in Peace, Chanel (DE-9)

  born: (?)   died: 5/8/13

Adopted by Karla and Doug Perez

MASR’s Facebook Pagehttp://www.samoyedrescue.com/

Rest in Peace, Lia (PA-21)

  born: 9/17/04   died: 6/15/15

Adopted by Dave and Susan Hirst-Estes