By Wendy Angel | Contributor
“URGENT. This sweet old man needs a foster ASAP. Shelter will not keep him much longer. Can anyone foster?”
For the North Texas-based Savings Pyrs in Need (SPIN), such requests come in daily.
Great Pyrenees—Pyrs to those who love them—are more common in North Texas than in most places, as they’re acquired as livestock guardians as well as family pets. People tend to love this giant breed for their stunning white fluff and typically gentle, affable nature, but the downside of Pyrs is they often go missing or are rehomed after reaching adulthood.
“These are big dogs,” says Cindy Tuttle, SPIN’s foster care coordinator. “People who love the breed really love them, but they’re not for everyone. They can be 140 lbs. They tend to bark a lot, and they shed even more. Pyrs also tend to wander and can’t be trusted off a leash. That’s often how they find themselves in a shelter or being hit by cars.”
For the Love of Pyrs
As an all-foster organization without a physical shelter, SPIN takes in about 150 dogs yearly. Right now, they have about 30 dogs and more coming in continuously.
SPIN accepts dozens of Pyrs each year with orthopedic injuries—such as broken bones or torn ligaments—as well as dogs with serious health issues such as mange and gunshot wounds. Recently, two puppies pulled from a shelter ended up having the deadly distemper virus, and SPIN paid for their life-saving treatment. A senior male recently taken in has a growth on his head that requires surgery.
One of the most challenging cases that came through was a skinny, malnourished dog that had a hole in her diaphragm, and her intestines were spilling into her chest. Experimental surgery saved the dog’s life.
“The shelters can’t always help some of these Pyrs with serious medical issues,” says Tuttle. “That’s where we come in. We also know this breed and know what kind of environment is best for them. We really scrutinize the families they go to, so we can minimize the chances of further rehoming. Pyrs have a lot of love to give, and we want to show it back to them.”
Big Dogs, Big Needs
Big dogs with big appetites and medical needs also means a lot of needed resources for the rescue. “The puppies can eat about three pounds per day!” says Tuttle. SPIN always needs food donations as well as collars and leashes. Monetary donations are important as well for veterinary costs.
On the COVID-19 North Texas Giving Day in May, SPIN received about $5,000 in donations, and while impressive, that amount pales in comparison to what’s needed to ensure the health of the dogs in their care. “I think we’ve just about gone through that already since then!” says Tuttle.
The usual yearly North Texas Giving Day—SPIN’s largest fundraiser of the year—will take place September 17. Another way to help is to choose SPIN to be your recipient for the Amazon Smiles program, which donates a portion of each of your Amazon purchases to your chosen charity. SPIN also takes donations on its website, www.spinrescue.org. As it’s a 501(c)3 organization, all donations are tax deductible.
Volunteers are also needed for transport, photography, and more. And, of course, foster homes are always critical. SPIN sometimes has to turn dogs away due to a lack of space, which can be disappointing, says Tuttle. “We always want to help as many dogs as we can. That’s why having more foster homes is so important. It’s also really rewarding for those who step up. You make it possible for someone to find their next family member.”
For the 17 years SPIN has been in existence, its board, fosters, and volunteers have donated countless hours and resources and been through the whole gamut of emotions from elation to heartbreak. But the love of the Great Pyrenees breed has seen them through it all, says Tuttle. “When you come home and you get that giant head in your lap and that Pyr paw hitting you, you realize what your efforts mean. It’s so worthwhile.”
To get involved with Saving Pyrs in Need, visit www.spinrescue.org or call 214-473-4394.