Phyllis Fox wasn’t looking for a second dog.
Until she met Henry.
Two weeks ago, Tom Fox told his wife about Henry, an 11-month-old Jack Russell terrier mix, a tiny bundle of black-and-white energy who was awaiting a forever home at Saving Grace Pet Adoption Center in Winchester. Both the Foxes volunteer there.
Tom thought Henry might be a good pick for some friends of theirs who were looking for a dog. But when Phyllis met him, she had other ideas.
“I took one look at him and he melted my heart, and I was not leaving Saving Grace without him. It was a done deal,” she said.
Henry’s adoption could mark the beginning of another good year for Saving Grace. In 2017, the shelter reported a 7 percent increase in adoptions over 2016. In all, 1,111 pets were adopted. The shelter also returned 427 lost pets to their owners.
Henry is the second Saving Grace rescue to join the Fox family. Six years ago, the Foxes adopted Harper, who they think is a Jack Russell and beagle mix, or as Phyllis calls it, a “purebred mutt.”
Both are small dogs, but Harper’s considerably larger than Henry. Personality-wise, they’re peas in a pod, bright-eyed, friendly, eager to play.
For years, the Foxes lived on a golf course resort in Welches near Mount Hood and couldn’t have a dog. They moved to Roseburg in 2012 and began volunteering at Saving Grace. Their family, which already featured rescue cats Skyler and Sophie, grew to include Harper. The cats accepted Harper, and Skyler, an orange tabby, likes to wrestle with him, Tom said.
“The cat instigates it most of the time,” Tom said.
Harper likes everybody. When Henry arrived two weeks ago, Phyllis said, Harper seemed to assume he had come to play.
“They’re still playing,” she said.
Henry broke his front leg some time before he met the Foxes, and it didn’t heal correctly, but it doesn’t slow him down.
The two dogs like each other so much that they never fight, though they do enjoy a good game of tug of war.
They had no problem at all deciding how to spend their time on a sunny Saturday afternoon. They enthusiastically chased a ball around the yard, ran inside, eagerly greeted visitors, took a little time to enjoy pulling cotton out of their stuffed toys, and then ran outside for a little more ball time.
The Foxes are big believers in adopting dogs, and it’s something they’ve passed on. Both their grown son and daughter have also adopted pets at Saving Grace.
Phyllis said she encourages people looking for a dog to adopt one at Saving Grace instead of buying from a breeder.
“There are so many wonderful dogs up there that need homes,” she said.
People not looking to adopt can still help the shelter out, she said, by volunteering or donating food or other supplies. She said many people have the misconception the shelter is operated by the county, or that adoption fees cover its costs. Actually, it gets 24 percent of its revenue from adoption fees, and 16 percent from the county. The rest comes from donations, grants and fundraising.
In addition to sheltering and adopting out dogs, cats and guinea pigs, the shelter also traps and neuters feral cats before returning them to their outdoor homes. Operation Fix ‘Em focused on large colonies of 15 or more cats, and was able to spay or neuter 372 cats last year, according to Executive Director Wendy Kang. Kang estimates that will prevent about 1,500 kitten births in 2018.
Kang said the shelter is fortunate to have enough room for dogs that they don’t have to euthanize any for lack of space, though some are euthanized for aggression or severe medical issues. At times, they have room to bring in dogs from other shelters, which means Douglas County residents in need of a new best friend have even more dogs to choose from.
“It’s a win for the overcrowded shelters, a win for Saving Grace, and most importantly, a win for the dogs!” Kang said.