From fostering, to breeding, to training, to managing a kennel, Haley Lancey is doing it all for man's best friend.
By 22, Haley has met more dogs than most people will meet over 5 lifetimes.
She began volunteering at Chebaco Kennel in Swanzey, NH in the 7th grade, when most kids her age were singing into hairbrushes practicing for their future as a pop sensation in a girl group named after something you season food with. (or was that just me? “Spice up your life!” *jazz hands*)
"Chebaco like Tobacco"
Her first duties were to feed the dogs, and let them out to run and play in the fields out back of the kennel. Eventually Judy Clark, owner of Chebaco, taught the eager pupil how to groom her own family dog, Creo, a schnauzer. Now, almost 10 years later, Haley is the manager of the whole kennel, and speaks with more knowledge and assuredness than someone 10 years her senior.
Judy encouraged Haley to start fostering dogs who needed a good temporary home while they waited to be adopted. Her first, Brody, came from English Setter Rescue. Every day Haley would come to Chebaco to see him, take him out to run, and work on some bad habits. He stayed at the kennel for 7 months, a long time for a foster, but was eventually adopted, and is doing fantastic, according to the Merry Christmas card she still receives every year.
Now, Haley fosters a few dogs at a time in addition to taking care of the kennel’s regular clients. When one finds a good home, another will come take its place. During their stay at the kennel, she works with them on their bad habits such as food aggression and leash aggression, and she’ll also take them home occasionally to expose them to pet life, so they are prepped and ready when their forever family comes. She currently has two waiting to find good homes, Fin and Toby.
Fin is a rambunctious Pitt mix. He's a sweetheart, but his nickname is “The Wrecking Ball”, because he’s completely ignorant of his size. He’s also a little unpredictable, and can be aggressive (although when I met him, he was nothing but playful, as you can see above). Haley hopes to place him with someone experienced and local so she can continue to work with him.
Toby is like that person you just met, but you feel like is already your best friend. He is a Black Lab, about one and a half years old, and loves other dogs. Not so good with other small pets like cats, but he couldn't be more friendly, leaning into you like he's giving a warm hug.
Both Fin and Toby were scheduled to be euthanized, but were saved at the last minute by a few good hearted rescuers.
If you are interested in learning more about Fin & Toby, please email Haley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Breeding and Rescuing actually go hand in hand.
Judy Clark and Haley, have also had a hand in breeding Golden Retrievers. Given the common perception that breeding is the antithesis of rescuing, at face value this seems ironic, but when done properly, responsibly, and ethically, breeding is done for the love of the breed. They aren’t the horrible backyard breeders you hear about on the news, that have liter upon liter that are kept in abusive conditions. They won’t breed a dog, unless it's proven to be in good health, which means a lot of screening for any ailments that exist, or could exist, and they don’t breed often. Their last litter was a year ago, and that was the first litter in 6 years.
Breeders, are often times the ones that are helping in-need dogs the most. Judy runs a doggy retirement home out of her own house. She’s on the board of Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue, and will take home a dog deemed un-adoptable, and allow them to live out their life in comfort. Katie, one of the golden “retirees”, was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was given 2 months to live, but ended up living 2 years at Judy’s home.
Rudy was another “retiree” that Haley took in at the kennel. He was an older standard poodle, whose owner, a client of Haley's, suddenly passed. The living relatives were going to euthanize him, but Haley would have none of that. In lieu of flowers at the funeral, guests were asked to donate to Chebaco, where Rudy would be moving to. There was a huge outpouring. They raised over $2000, and Rudy was able to live out his life comfortably at Chebaco. 9 months later he passed peacefully in his sleep.
...But wait, there's more
As if the kennel’s furry clients, the spirited rescues, and mature retiree’s weren’t enough, Haley also has 3 dogs of her own, a harmonious blend of all her past and present doggy passions.
DiNozzo, named after the cocky detective on the CBS tv series, NCIS, is a purebred golden from their last litter a year ago. Haley is training him to win a few obedience titles, and hopes to show him soon, although his eyes are a little light, and his coat is a little lacking. (Not that the untrained eye could tell. Looks just about perfect to me.)
Talyn, is a retired racing greyhound she met during an assignment while studying animal care at Becker College. Racing dogs are often given up when they fail to win. Talyn came from a seemingly attentive owner (not always the case) that had very good notes on him; One being: Talyn loved donuts. That’s not part of your normal everyday robotic feed-the-dog routine. There’s got to be a story, behind figuring that little tidbit out. How do you just give up those memories like nothing? It's mystifying. In the end, it worked out for Talyn. He spends his days going to work with Haley at the kennel, and running to his heart’s content in the large fenced-in field out back.
Walking around Chebaco kennel talking to Haley, was like being thrown into another dimension that you immediately wanted to make home. She's completely absorbed in her passion and it's intoxicating. But once you leave, and realize you’ve got your own world of things you’re working on and you can’t just drop everything to become a dog whisperer, a little guilt nestles in; like you aren't doing enough good in the world. But there are people like Haley at the frontlines, and then there are people that give them support, and recognition for their cause, and those people are important too. Those people are you, and me, and anyone that takes a minute of their day to think about these things, and take a little action.
Actions like volunteering at a shelter, or even buying products that give a little back, or getting involved in a charitable event can have an amazing ripple effect. We encourage you to throw a rock and start a ripple. Show a little support and gratitude for people like Haley, so they can keep doing what they can for man's best friend.