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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2007
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REAL PEOPLE
Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com

Vinemont resident Glenda Wilhite with her dogs.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Vinemont resident Glenda Wilhite with her dogs.

'Fairy Dogmother' comes to the rescue
Vinemont woman heals dogs, helps them find homes

VINEMONT — Thirty dogs of various breeds and sizes, leaping and yelping in unison at a frenzied pitch, are colorful — and deafening.

It’s a ringing-in-the-ears signal to Glenda Wilhite, 51, of Vinemont that she has visitors.

Rosalie Faulk, 10, of Cullman wanted a dog for her trucker dad, Rusty, to ride with him on the long hauls. She and her mother, Suzie, knew to call on “Fairy Dogmother.”

They drove away with Darryl, a 3-year-old Chihuahua, whom Rosalie renamed Bam to honor the family’s favorite football team.

Score another one for Wilhite, who incorporated Fairy Dogmother Rescue & Rehab, a non-profit organization, in September 2005.

“I’ve never had a dog that I failed to turn around,” she said. “I’ve had people come from as far north as Nashville and as far south as Montgomery to adopt.”

Her dog tales began wagging 16 years ago, when she and her husband were a one-dog family. Their poodle “child,” Chanel, died at 9.

“I just about grieved myself to death,” Wilhite said. “I got another little dog right away. Gyzelle was a miniature dachshund, and I loved her dearly, but holding her didn’t ease my pain.”

Six months later, when a veterinarian gave her Gretchen, a standard dachshund, she said she felt her broken heart heal.

“I fell apart in the lobby, which was full of people,” Wilhite said. “I couldn’t help it. All I can figure is that Gretchen was more the size of Chanel.”

Finding a calling

After that, dogs found her or she found them, each one in desperate need from injury, abuse or abandonment. On New Year’s Night 1996, she stopped to drag an Australian shepherd, which she thought was dead, out of the road.

“I didn’t want the family to find him like that. I walked up, and he blinked his eyes at me,” she said. “He was paralyzed. I flagged down a car, and the fellow said he knew the dog’s owner. I went to him and told him his pet was in rough shape. He said, ‘Oh, well, just leave him.’ I knew that can’t happen.”

Three days later, Ernest, although crippled and blind in one eye, was on his feet.

“He was my first paralyzed dog but afterwards it seemed like paralysis was one of the main problems with dogs who came to me,” Wilhite said. “I haven’t had one yet I couldn’t get to walk again.” Soon, she had 17 rescued dogs. She wanted to keep all of them.

“I loved them too much, but common sense tells you, you’ve got too many dogs, lady,” she said. “I knew that I could not back away from saving dogs, but I had to learn to love them more to let them go than to keep them.”

Hard to let go

Cecelia McCullough of Falkville found that while Wilhite is pleased her dogs are going to good homes, parting with them is always painful.

“In November, we got Maggie Mae, part terrier and part miniature pinscher, and Glenda was crying as we took her,” McCullough said. “We got Sweetie, part Scottish terrier and part West Highland terrier, on Sept. 8, a birthday gift to me from our two daughters. The scene was about the same.”

On Wednesday, the McCulloughs returned with their pets for a visit. Since she started her rescue mission, Wilhite said, 331 dogs have come through her program.

“I believe being Fairy Dogmother is God’s way of making sure I always have a baby to hold,” she said.

On the Net

To see dogs the Fairy Dogmother has for adoption, go online to Petfinder.com. Key in Vinemont’s zip code, 35179, for Fairy Dogmother Rescue & Rehab, Inc.

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Ronnie Thomas Ronnie Thomas
DAILY Staff Writer

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