Saving Humphrey

Organization finds homes for special breed of dogs

TAMMY KEITH
Log Cabin Staff Writer
Published Friday, July 25, 2003

Humphrey is looking for love. He likes cuddling, long car rides and romantic dinners.

Oh, and he's house trained, too.

Humphrey is one of many bichon frises available for adoption through the Small Paws Rescue organization.

Anthony Reyes photo  

Cheri Sisco is the foster owner for Humphrey, a bichon frises, rescued through Small Paws Rescue organization. Sisco will care for Humphrey until a permanent home can be found for him.

Cheri Sisco of Conway is Humphrey's foster parent, and she is giving him lots of love until he is adopted.

"Bichons are such great pets. You wouldn't believe how many there are here in town," she said.

Sisco said she always liked bichons, which look similar (but are not related) to poodles, only with broader faces.

"They look like big powder puffs," she said. These dogs have hair, not fur, and don't shed like regular dogs, Sisco added.

She got on the Small Paws Rescue Web site, signed up for the newsletter and then decided to volunteer. The organization is based in Tulsa, Okla., but everything is done via the Web site.

Humphrey is the fourth bichon she's fostered, and Sisco also serves as an adoption coordinator. He was adopted by an older woman in Iowa, but they had a personality conflict. He does like to get in the trash, but Sisco said she keeps the trash out of his reach and "he's perfect."

Humphrey is on the national Web site, along with others waiting to be adopted. The rescue organization is the largest breed-specific rescue organization it the country, Sisco said.

"It's really just an awesome organization," she said, taking any bichon frise or bichon mix that needs to be rescued. The reasons they come up for adoption vary, she said, from an elderly owner dying, owners moving to a place they can't have a pet or they're rescued from a puppy mill.

"Small Paws go to the horrible, awful puppy mills ... and gets them out of that vicious cycle," she said. They use donations to bid on the animals and rescue them. Sisco once fostered a bichon that had come from a puppy mill and had lived in a 2-by-4 wire cage all her life. The puppy didn't know how to go outside or act like a normal puppy. The dog was adopted and is living happily with a family in Pennsylvania, lounging on the couch and making great progress, Sisco said.

The cost to adopt a bichon frise is $150, but the nonprofit Small Paws organization spends much more than that on the dogs' veterinary care when it gets them, Sisco said. Also, buying a bichon puppy could cost up to $500, she added.

Adoption forms are available on the Web site.

People wanting to adopt a bichon must prove themselves worthy. As an adoption coordinator, Sisco talks to people wanting to adopt a particular bichon "to see if they're a good match."

Then, the foster parent of the dog talks with the person wanting to adopt. "If the foster parent doesn't feel good about it, nine times out of 10 it won't happen."

Humphrey is 9 years old, but bichons live to be 15 to 17 years old, Sisco said. He has some champion blood lines in his pedigree, she added.

At 37 pounds, he also is on the human's equivalent of Weight Watchers. Bichons usually weigh between 10 and 20 pounds, Sisco said.

They need to live inside, because they are "companion dogs," she said.

"They just want to be close to you. Even at 37 pounds, he's just the biggest cuddle bug," she said.

Sisco also has Fozzy, a 6-year-old poodle of her own.

Humphrey is comfortable in his foster home, and Sisco said her friends think she'll end up adopting him. "We'll see. That's called failing fostering 101," she said with a laugh.

The World Book Encyclopedia says the dogs descended from the barbet, or water spaniel. The breed developed in Spain about 200 B.C. It later became popular with royalty there as well as in France and Italy.

"Every dog is a little different. But they are just a good dog all the way around," Sisco said.

For more information, Sisco can be reached at 450-6386, or visit the Web site, www.smallpawsrescue.org.




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