LIFESTYLE

Volunteer gets a pet and mention in national magazine

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Oliver has found a loving home with Laura Yacoubian and her family. His best animal friend in rural Greencastle is a cat named Puff.

One good thing to come out of Hurricane Sandy is that a rescue dog and his new owner are featured in the June issue of “Every Day with Rachael Ray”. And the dog wasn’t even affected by the storm.

Ray became aware of Greener Pastures No Kill Animal Rescue, 924 Social Island Road, after founder/director Samantha Frey posted videos of the hurricane devastation on You Tube. The sanctuary did not lose any animals, but suffered heavy property damage.

“The videos went viral,” said Frey. “Someone told Rachael Ray about them. On Jan. 9 I was approached by phone. I thought it was a prank.”

She worked with a representative of the American television personality, cook and author. They emailed back and forth, and the rep asked for a good animal adoption story involving a wholesome family. Each month the magazine devoted one section to an animal rescue organization.

“We take in some of the worst cases that no one else wants,” said Frey.

“We give them sanctuary. People know what we do and support us.”

Greener Pastures houses about 150 animals at any given time, and some of them get adopted. Frey immediately thought of Oliver and Laura Yacoubian.

A love story

Laura, 16, a sophomore at Greencastle-Antrim High School, earned her 30 community service hours at the shelter.

“I met Oliver. We’d been looking for a dog. He’s kind of sweet,” she said.

Ollie came from an abusive situation in Pittsburgh. A network of people learned of his sordid living conditions, and the family finally gave him away to a concerned person. He was transferred from home to home, given veterinary care, and eventually arrived at Greener Pastures.

“He was chained in the yard all the time,” said Laura.

Frey said the Great Pyrenees suffered physical abuse and his fur matting was the size of cantaloupes.

Laura’s mother Kerry picked her up at the shelter one day. “Laura told me, ‘You have to see this dog,’” she recalled. “He was a big teddy bear. All he wants is love.”

The Yacoubian family adopted him last July, and he has been a welcome addition for everyone, including father Kev, sister Heidi, 14, and brothers George, 11, and James, 8. Ollie lives in the great outdoors at the Coseytown Road farmette, sharing attention with a rat terrier, cats, and two miniature donkeys.

“He’s forgotten his past,” said Laura.

They guess his age at seven. Since Ollie was not house-broken by his former owners, he stays in a doghouse, but prefers the natural elements.

“The colder the better,” said Kerry. “In fact, 19 degrees seems to be optimal for him.”

Ray’s people also contacted Laura. She sent in photos and was interviewed. The magazine is due on store shelves in mid-May.