Thor's golden opportunity

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Thor the golden Labrador had a tough time.

His owners were unable to afford to keep him, so they gave him to a friend.

Thor crashed through a window to get back to his family, cutting his face.

It got worse before it got better. When push came to shove, his old family couldn’t keep him.

So, they left him tied to the Carroll Veterinary Clinic sign, with a bag of dog food, pedigree papers and a note.

Vet Jim Adams called the note heart-breaking, and said he couldn’t help but be empathetic, as the economy in recession makes it difficult for people to take care of their animals.

But Adams pointed out there’s a good end result for Thor, as a family with a soft spot for Labradors stepped forward to give the dog a new home.

Letting Go

Thor, whose pedigree papers show he’s just about two years and two months old, started out his life in Texas, but somehow found himself in Carroll County.

Dropped off at the clinic, Thor was found shivering in the cold with a cut on his face.

“I am sorry that we had to drop our boy off like this,” the anonymous note said. “We are not able to take good care of him anymore.”

This was apparently the second time Thor had been passed around, because the note said he came to the anonymous party from a family member.

Already separated from his family and kept in a friend’s basement, Thor jumped through a window to get back out, the note said.

The former owner tried to find Thor a new home — or at least a no-kill shelter, according to the note — but resorted to leaving the dog with the vet’s office, which could only keep it a week.

Workers at the vet’s office immediately fixed up Thor’s injuries, including stitches on his face, and then started thinking about who might want to take him in.

No person and no shelter could do it, the former owner found.

“Please find him a good home,” the note said. “Please take care of him. I couldn’t take him to the pound…. we never wanted to leave him.”

That’s about all the note said, except for offering some advice for getting Thor to listen while walking on the leash.

New Start

Last Thursday the vet’s office called Frieda and Bill Jessup of Hillsville, who have been taking their labs there for treatment for years.

It didn’t take much to convince Bill Jessup about welcoming Thor as the new addition to the household, but he did have a picture of the animal sent to Frieda — who was at work at the time — via a cell phone.

“I always like to run things by her first,” he said.

The Jessups weren’t looking to get a new dog, but they changed their minds after one of their two lab mixes died after an accident on the road.

Confessed lab lovers, the Jessups found a faithful companion in Thor, Bill said. The dog has only been with them a week, but he already follows them to every room and keeps them in sight and lays by their bed at night.

Thor likes kids — important because any pet must get along with the Jessups’ eight grandchildren — and remains calm around other dogs.

Labs are not too big and not too aggressive, Bill said. Thor fits that description pretty well.

“Talking about being attached to labs… I’ve always wanted a golden one,” Bill confessed.

He figures the workers at the clinic knew the couple would be willing to adopt him.

If he could, Bill Jessup would send the message to Thor’s former family, telling them thanks for the dog being able to come into his family’s lives. He’s certainly glad Thor did not go to the pound.

“He’s found him a home and he’s not going anywhere,” Bill said. “It’s like my wife and I have always said — if we keep a dog, we’re going to look after him.

“Just let them know he’s got a good home and will be taken care of.”

Helping Animals

Stories like Thor’s are common these days, except many more animals end up at the animal shelter, said Pearl Hill of the Twin County Humane Society.

“The economy has really taken it’s toll,” she noted. “People have to make the choice of feeding their family, and the first thing to go is the family pet.”

The Humane Society has been able to get a fortunate few of those surrendered animals out of the shelter and into their foster and adoption programs.

After a visit to the vet for a check-up, animals can get sheltered, socialized and housebroken at the foster homes while awaiting adoption, Hill said. They work mostly with small- and medium-sized dogs now because it’s hard to get a large dog placed.

There’s an application process for adoption in which the TCHS volunteers try to find the best possible match between the dog and the home, Hill said.

Foster homes are desperately needed, she reported. “We could save a lot more if we had more help.”