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Ken and Angee Alwine made room in their already full house to foster dogs in need. Ken moved to Portland after his service in the Navy twenty-seven years ago, met Angee and started volunteering with Meals on Wheels. He found his way to Fences For Fido (FFF), a local nonprofit that builds fences in yards so dogs can run free, unhindered by chains and leashes. FFF has unchained nearly 1600 dogs since 2009. “It was [my] first experience with an animal related group, and I loved every minute of it,” Ken says.


1898626 10206212753868636 6150535451913634162 oThe Alwines happened into fostering without seeking it out. “One day around Thanksgiving a few years ago, someone called me and asked if I could take a dog overnight,” Ken says. That dog, Zoey, ended up staying with them for three months. “We decided that we loved being a foster home.”

They fostered several dogs over the years, with stays ranging from a few days to several months. When the Alwines’ own dogs entered their senior years they decided to hold off on fostering to care for them.  “We ended up losing all three of them over the course of May and June. That was devastating,” Ken says. The loss was heavy, and they were reminded of it “every day when we came home to an empty house.”

 

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They decided to wait to get another dog, however, they soon started pondering what type of dog they might look for when the time was right. They have a special connection with King Charles Cavaliers, and decided their next canine family member would be a senior King Charles Cavalier in need of a loving home. “Once we made that decision,” Ken says, “within a few days the search was on.” Word of Ken’s search got out and not long after, Ken was tagged in a Facebook post about a dog named Molly who fit the bill perfectly. She was 11 years old and in need of a home after losing both of her human companions. The Alwines drove down to Salem Dogs and adopted Molly two days later, in July.

 

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King Charles Cavaliers are prone to cardiac issues, and Molly came to the Alwines with a heart murmur, missing teeth and some behavior problems. She especially had issues with living with cats. Ken and Angee’s cat, Bella, was experienced with living with dogs and integrating with fosters. The three of them were up to the challenge that Molly posed.

 

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Molly was timid and cautious at first. She slept on the bathroom floor or in a closet. Ken says she “wasn't affectionate at all, but that is part of the challenge and fun.” With patience and treats, Molly soon came out of her shell. “It didn't take long, and now Molly is waiting for me to stir in the morning...wagging and cuddling and encouraging me to get up.” They’ve fallen into a routine of treats, breakfast, medications and a walk.

 

Molly ultrasoundAdvances in diagnostics and treatment have helped pet owners provide for the special needs of dogs like Molly. Dr. Rausch, Molly’s cardiologist who practices at  Sunstone Veterinary Specialists in SE Portland, has helped extend the lives of dogs and cats for almost two decades. “Over the last 17 years,” Dr. Rausch says, “I have seen advances in veterinary cardiology that give us more options for screening for early detection of disease and better options for novel therapies and combinations of treatments that can allow pets to live longer high-quality lives. Early diagnosis generally leads to better long-term outcomes and this is an important reason for a good annual exam and an auscultation of the heart with your primary veterinarian.”

 

Dr. Rausch has cared for many of the Alwines’ other dogs, helping extend their time together, and now he treats Molly. “Molly couldn’t be a sweeter dog and she has found the home all dogs deserve”. Ken and Angee have opened their hearts and their homes to dogs in need over the years. They are able to give older dogs with health problems a safe and loving home with the help and support of great veterinarians and their staff. Molly has no plans of retiring just yet. Ken says, “Molly is a total doll, and we love her. She is super smart too, and is ready for any adventure.” Adding, “Senior dogs are the best.”

  

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