Potluck to initiate area Australian shepherd rescue

By Josette Keelor

On Saturday, a potluck lunch and day of fun, music and dogs will have a double benefit: raising money for The Reasoning Tree Church south of Edinburg and heightening awareness for rescue dogs who need homes.

Pam Marshall, Edinburg resident and Australian shepherd fosterer, said she hopes the event will lead to the start of an area rescue group for the breed.

“We don’t have a representative for Virginia, and we need one badly,” she said. “And I thought this was a good way of getting all the volunteers together and maybe getting a rep out of it. We’ve been in Aussie rescue for some time.”

She and members from area dog rescue groups plan to help out at Saturday’s event, which will begin with a 10 a.m. meeting to help educate the community about the breed and its need for a local branch of the national nonprofit Aussie Rescue & Placement Helpline Inc.

Currently Marshall has two rescue Aussies of her own, Maddie and Marty, both 7. They were 2 when she adopted them from separate situations, Maddie from Georgia and Marty from a helpline volunteer who rescued him from being euthanized in West Virginia.

“It was the best thing I ever did because they play like littermates,” Marshall said.

She said volunteers to Saturday’s meeting will receive a light blue ribbon with a rosette reading First Australian Rescue Meeting — “You know, give ’em something to remember it by,” she said.

Visitors are asked to bring a dish for a potluck lunch. The band Thrashen Hollar will perform, and dogs are welcome. Foster dogs available for adoption will wear orange bandanas to distinguish them from others. All dogs that come must have a rabies certificate.

Admission will be a “humble donation.”

“It don’t matter how much or how little,” Marshall said. All donations will go to The Reasoning Tree Church and Thrashen Hollar. “It’s just a humble thank you for letting us use [the] church grounds,” she said.

Marshall said Maddie and Marty are working therapy dogs trained through Waggin’ Hearts Therapy Dogs in Sperryville. The breed has a working dog heritage, and, Marshall said, “They love to work. … They want to work.”

“They’re very, very intelligent,” she said. “… very sensitive dogs.”

Maddie and Marty have visited places like Life Center of New Market, Lynn Care Center Nursing Home at Warren Memorial Hospital and area schools.

Marshall admitted there are always exceptions, since each Aussie has a unique personality and story. Many who enter the foster system come from sad situations and require special consideration.

“But both of them, that’s why we do the therapy, because it gets them out and it gets them a job,” Marshall said.

Before adopting out foster dogs, she said she requires an application process and home study of applicants.

“What we want to do is make sure that the Aussie that they pick out is going to be compatible with their lifestyle, ’cause all Aussies are different, just like any dog. But we want to make sure that the Aussie will blend in with them.”

“And that’s another reason for having your volunteers here that are familiar with Aussies … because some of them might be too active, too hyper, some of them might be just perfect. It all depends on the situation,” she said.

She said she chose The Reasoning Tree Church for Saturday’s meeting because of its convenient placement to Interstate 81, just south of Edinburg in Shenandoah County.

Future meetings will depend on demand, but for now she said, “It’s a start, a pioneer.”

“This is our first one, our very, very first one,” she said, and she has high hopes because of interest from around Virginia and out of state.

Last weekend she mentioned it at the Oatlands Dog Show in Leesburg, and “It just went through the whole thing like wildfire.”

The meeting to discuss an Australian shepherd rescue group will be at The Learning Tree Church, Edinburg, at 10 a.m. Saturday followed by a potluck lunch and music by Thrashen Hollar. Bring a dish for the potluck. Admission is by donation. For more information, call 540-984-9040 or email britepath1951@yahoo.com.

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com