NEWS

Dogs find unconditional love

PAT FRIDGEN
One swims and one tags along beside Bobbie McIntyre, who with her husband Terry, rescues dogs from poor living conditions.

It's a dog's life at the Barr Road home of Bobbie McIntyre and her husband Terry. The couple has 10 dogs that roam freely over their fenced two-acre property. The canines have access to the inground swimming pool, indoor sleeping accomodations, and a regular schedule for meals. They are house-broken and cared for as vital members of the family.

Such were not the good old days for these dogs, who started life in harmful or neglectful conditions.

One is blind, and was sent to an animal shelter five times by previous owners. Two were morbidly obese, their bellies scraping the ground. They also had undiagnosed tumors. One had hot oil thrown over her face and body, and attracted no adoptive family for a year.

"We take dogs in when no one else can take them," said McIntyre, 47. "People call me 'The Dog Lady'. They find me somehow."

She estimated they had cared for 100 dogs over the past seven years, since they became an independent rescue team. Some of those who spent respite time with them had previously been chained outside and ignored.  Two came from Tennessee, running wild. One was a Hurricane Katrina victim, saved after swimming three days in the toxic water. Some came when the owners passed away and remaining family couldn't take them. Occasionally McIntyre will ask an owner if she can take a dog she sees is being abused.

A small mixed-breed was abandoned outside her fence one winter. "I chased her for three days. She was scared to death," said McIntyre. Finally the neighbors caught her in a trap. "I went to pick her up. She wrestled like a bobcat but eventually became an angel." McIntyre found her a home in Hagerstown.

Each critter gets spayed or neutered before leaving their temporary home outside Greencastle. McIntyre networks with other agencies and individuals to match each animal with an appropriate placement. She has seen many, many families find their perfect pet.

Eight of the dogs living in their dog heaven now will likely stay. McIntyre said they are not appealing to new owners, but she and her husband love them too much anyway. All of them have names, and several nicknames. They have definitive personalities. One is 'crazy' and still learning commands. One can get greedy. The blind one is the only one who likes to escape from the yard so a GPS tracker is on order for him. The fat ones are getting in shape. The clan keeps an eye on the rural road. One decided he didn't like UPS trucks, so the pack runs to the fence and barks whenever one drives by. They let the FedEx truck pass in peace.

Caring for so many dogs can run into money.

"Terry works," McIntyre said with a smile.

However, citizens and rescue groups have been generous in donating dog food. McIntyre does as much home care as she is able to minimize veterinary bills.

Ashley, scarred from the hot oil burns, brought recognition to the McIntyre's passion for saving unwanted dogs. The two had met her as an animal shelter director brought her to events in Pennsylvania. They had to undergo screening to be considered a suitable home. After passing with flying colors, they drove to Philadelphia to pick up Ashley. There they were met by representatives from Animal Planet. A television crew came back to Barr Road to film the dog's new life. They had been chronicling her life since she came to media attention after her injury.

Today Ashley and Bengal and Harley and Lieb and everyone else is content to know their needs are covered. They run happy and free inside the fence.