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Dogs, Companions Race to Raise Funds for Humane Society

  • At the Save a Stray 5K in Newport, N.H. Eric Morse, right, of Berlin, Vt., with his dog Murdock and Kevin Pascoe, of Wilmot, N.H. and his dog Poppi finish second and third. The race is a fundraiser for the Sullivan County Humane Society. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Poppi gulps down water after finishing the Save A Stray 5K in Newport, N.H., on June 23, 2018. Poppi is owned by Kevin Pascoe, a veterinarian from Wilmot, N.H. The event is a fundraiser for the Sullivan County Humane Society. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Ruth Addante, of Norwich, Vt., keeps an eye on her dog Roxy after Addante ran the Save a Stray 5K in Newport, N.H., on June 23, 2018. The event is a fundraiser for the Sullivan County Humane Society. Roxy walked the race with Addante's parents. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, June 23, 2018

Newport — When Poppi, a deaf rescue dog, crossed the finish line on Newport’s Corbin Road on Saturday morning, she and her human, Kevin Pascoe, were both pooped. Their race time in the Save a Stray 5K — organized by the Sullivan County Humane Society to benefit homeless animals and spay-neuter clinics — had been 18 minutes and 42 seconds, with Poppi finishing second among her species, and Pascoe third among his.

“She loves stuff like this,” said Pascoe, who lives in Wilmot, N.H., but is a veterinarian in Manchester. Poppi, who appears to be at least part pit bull, had caught her breath and was gulping water happily out of a Tupperware container like there was no tomorrow.

“Maybe if she weren’t pulling a 145-pound weight she wouldn’t be so tired,” he joked.

But Saturday’s race was hardly the first or greatest of Poppi’s obstacles in life: She’d been brought into Pascoe’s emergency clinic vomiting, having ingested a large amount of fishing line that became lodged inside her. Only after the surgery — during which “we had to remove about two feet of her intestines,” Pascoe said — did he notice her hearing loss. He knew her chances of adoption at a shelter were slim.

“So I decided to keep her,” he said.

Similar stories of love and redemption abounded at this year’s Save a Stray 5K. There was Diesel, a three-legged pit bull from Texas whose owner, Aaron Converse of Grantham, believes was displaced by Hurricane Harvey. And there was the trio of Chihuahuas, sweet Lola, tiny Libby and energetic Daisy, who had found a home with Mary Morin and her 21-year-old daughter, Kayla Putnam, both of Claremont, after suffering apparent neglect or rejection by previous owners.

The Save a Stray 5K race took place this year for the first time in Newport, rather than Sunapee. It also was the first year that the event welcomed dogs, which several participants said made the race feel more like a social gathering than a competitive event, since dogs can make excellent ice-breakers.

“It’s nice to be able to get all these furry friends together,” said Kristel Davis, of Unity, as her 10-year-old German shepherd Tucker investigated another dog’s rear end. “It seems like a great way to meet people.”

More than 200 people registered for the race this year, an increase from previous years’ enrollments, said Laurie Waterman, race director and treasurer of the Sullivan County Humane Society, which is based in Claremont. It appears that many of those who were enrolled participated, but she noted that not everyone who signed up for the race showed up, perhaps because of the cool and intermittently drizzly weather.

Nonetheless, Waterman attributed this year’s healthy turn-out to the new dog-friendly policy.

“So we’ll see how that goes … hopefully no one gets bitten,” Waterman joked.

One pair of friends, Marcia Henry of Bradford, Vt., and Lisa Keller of Meredith, N.H., weren’t about to let a few drops of rain dampen their spirits.

“At least it’s not 90 degrees and sunny,” Henry said before the race, while her dogs, Murphy and Moe — a goldendoodle and poodle, respectively — barked and pranced around in excitement. 

Yet even it were that hot, the two friends said they’d still be there: Saturday’s 5K was one of many races they’ve been seeking out to benefit animal welfare.

Last year, they participated in eight such races. Save a Stray was their fifth this year.

“They’re becoming very popular. They’re a great way to raise money — oh, Moe!” Henry laughed.

The year-and-a-half old pup was standing on his hind legs, doing a sort of doggy-paddle motion with his front paws.

“He wants you to look at him,” she said.

Although neither Henry nor Keller owns a rescue dog right now — Murphy, Moe and Keller’s mini-Schnauzer, Bode all came from breeders — they both said they hope to in the future.

“I would love to rescue a female goldendoodle,” Henry said, adding that if she won the lottery, she would use the money to open a no-kill rescue shelter.

No-kill shelters, including the Sullivan County Humane Society, are shelters that do not euthanize animals, but rather keep and care for them as needed.

An estimated 6.5 million dogs and cats enter animal shelters in the United States each year, according to the ASPCA website.

Of those, roughly 1.5 million are put down.

“It just breaks my heart,” Morin said. “Pets are like children. You don’t just get rid of them.

“Good, bad or ugly, they’re forever.”

Over yonder, Poppi the dog was splashing around in a mud puddle, grinning from ear to spotted ear.

EmmaJean Holley can be reached at ejholley@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.