HOP BOTTOM — As she planned which rescue dogs she’d bring to the 15th annual NEPA Home & Garden Show, Hope Benson from Laura’s Hope Rescue in Susquehanna County said “NASCAR Nellie” likely would be among them.
“We call her NASCAR Nellie because she spins to the left. The vet said it’s a nervous condition, most likely because she was left in a crate for a long period of time and had no other way to exercise.”
Benson also plans to bring Steve, a springer spaniel who lost his sight to an eye infection. “He’s a fantastic dog,” she said. “Whenever I hear myself say ‘I can’t (do something)’ I look at Steve and say, ‘Yes, you can.’”
Since 2009 Benson, a school bus driver who lives on a 50-acre farm, has worked to find “the perfect family match” for many rescue dogs, most of them labs, hounds and beagles — the breeds with which she is the most familiar.
She expects to bring several dogs to the Home & Garden show, which is set for Jan. 22-24 at the Mohegan Sun Arena. There people will be able to meet the friendly canines — Steve in particular likes belly rubs — and perhaps even feel the effect of what Benson calls “the dog fairy shooting an arrow into your heart.”
Named in part for the woman who used to own Benson’s farm, Laura’s Hope Rescue found new homes for more than 200 dogs in 2015. Benson said she and her helpers spend time getting to know each animal’s personality and helping it adjust to children, adults and other pets before they announce on Facebook that it’s ready to be adopted.
But some dogs are Benson’s for keeps, including a black terrier named Lily that she describes as “general manager of my dog universe. She’s in charge and she lets every dog who comes in here know it.”
She’s also fond of Zachary, a hound/shar-pei mix who runs the length of the two enclosed acres to the point where “no bird will ever enter my fly zone,” and Benjamin, “my greeter, who knows where all the toys are.”
Working in tandem with several other women who also foster dogs, Benson said she guarantees the animals people adopt from Laura’s Hope Rescue are crate-trained, housebroken and good with other pets and people.
Among her recent success stories, she was pleased to place a pit bull/American bull dog mix named Zeus with “a great home in Endicott, New York.”
Zeus had been attacked by a large mastiff that mauled one of his legs to the point where he was no longer able to use it properly. “We got him back to health,” Benson said. “He gets along well with three legs and has all those scars to prove he’s been attacked.”
Not every dog at Laura’s Hope Rescue has endured such trauma. Some simply need a good home, such as the two pets whose elderly owners moved to a retirement facility in mid-December and couldn’t take their dogs with them.
“Somebody 14 miles up the road took the two dogs,” Benson said. “You talk about a Christmas miracle.”