When Paducah Bank Compliance Officer Rusty Smith was nine years old, a friend presented him with Melvin, an Airedale that “really needed a nine-year-old boy,” Rusty remembers. “It was love at first sight for me. With the exception of about one year of time, I’ve had at least one Airedale since 1979.”
In May 2001, Rusty’s new wife, Marjorie, gave him an Airedale puppy as a wedding present. “Babe, our Beagle, needed a playmate and she couldn’t think of anything that would make me happier. And she was right.” In June 2002, Marjorie responded to an advertisement in the newspaper looking for volunteers to help with Dachshund rescue. This was the couple’s first real exposure to animal rescue and it has become one of the things that the two share as a common family bond.
Rusty and Marjorie are devoted members of the Airedale Rescue Group. The volunteers rescue, train and give away their loving charges to families who are willing to adopt the group’s beloved Airedales. The Smith’s group focuses on rescue in the southern United States—specifically Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North and South Carolina. Adoption requires a home visit; therefore, the best network is in a regional area.
“We are multi-purpose volunteers,” says Rusty. “We provide foster care for dogs needing homes, interview prospective adopters, conduct home visits, and aid in transporting dogs to their new homes.”
Lucky was one of those lucky Airedales rescued by the Smith’s. He came into rescue as an older dog with a big lump on his hip, says Rusty. The lump was discovered to be a spindle-cell sarcoma. The lump severely hindered his mobility and thanks to ARG, Lucky had surgery to remove the tumor in October 2003.
“He stayed with us until March 2004, at which time another volunteer in Memphis wanted to help by fostering him. We debated giving him up, but eventually decided that he would be able to have more one-on-one time in a new home and drove him to meet his new mom. Lucky quickly became the apple of her eye. When he passed on, we tried our best to comfort her and she tried to comfort us,” Rusty remembers. While this was a sad ending, the good part, Rusty explains, is that the rescuers helped to give Lucky an extra year without pain and with improved mobility. “The fact that we were able to improve his quality of life was a great help,” he adds.
Rusty and Marjorie have a new charge in the Smith home—Fergie. “She’s a sweetheart who’s five or six years old. We picked her up around Christmas.” Fergie joins the other Smith family pets—three Airedales, a Beagle, a Dachshund mix, and two Dachshunds! (Rusty and Marjorie are also involved in a new Dachshund rescue. You can get information at www.kydoxie.com).
“Fergie obviously hasn’t been given much human attention. She had a thick mop of tangled hair when we picked her up and has been diagnosed heartworm positive. Luckily, Dr. Ceglinski and Dr. Church were quick to map out a treatment plan,” Rusty comments. “We hope to have her treated and heartworm free by the end of February, and with any luck she’ll be ready to go to a home by mid-April.”
So if you’re interested in giving Fergie a warm, wonderful home, you can contact Rusty and Marjorie Smith at 442.7799. You can also get more information about the Airedale Rescue Group at its website: www.airedalerescuegroup.com/volunteer.php.