Mimi Dygert is a dog's best friend

WESTERLO — The love of her dog, Chip, a whippet mix, has led Mimi Dygert to help unwanted whippets find good homes. She says she adored Chip’s looks, temperament, and athletic ability.

Dygert is involved in a not-for-profit group called WRAP, which stands for Whippet Rescue And Placement. It is a national breed-specific group with representatives in every state.

When she lived in California years ago, Dygert was contacted by a whippet rescue group there about a purebred whippet named Chance.

“We adopted him and joined Northern California Whippet Fanciers,” Dygert recalled. “About a year later, their rescue chairman wanted to step down….I jumped in with absolutely no computer experience!”

She is enthusiastic about the breed, which she says is easy to keep. “They do not smell, as they were bred for hunting, and, in spite of their fragile appearance, they are just tough,” said Dygert.

Although she primarily does whippet rescue work, Dygert also has greyhounds, too, and also fosters pit bulls for Out of the Pits.

Her commitment to dogs is all-encompassing although she sees the daily chores as invigorating.

“On a typical morning,” she says, “I get the ‘Pack Chorus’ about 6 a.m. I hustle downstairs and put the greyhounds out to do their morning constitutional. Once done, I kennel these guys and then let the whippets out. Once they are done, I let out Mr. Lucas, my current pit bull dog foster. Once he is done, I let out Shadow, a little black ball of fire from Long Island,” she says, describing a rescued whippet.

“Every day is dog poop detail,” Dygert goes on. “Hope, my personal 11 year old pit bull, walks along with me and ‘tells’ me where the poop is…Once this is done, I play ball with the current athletes in the pack. We lure course and everyone gets a shot at playtime with me. Mid-morning, everyone is fed. All in all, there are six turnouts per dog per day. The evening meal is usually a mixture of raw meats and vegetables.”

Although it may seem like Dygert has a full house, she is particular about letting dogs go to permanent homes.

“I lean heavily on e-mail contacts, Petfinder, the WRAP website, and my own gut instincts,” she says of finding people to adopt the dogs.

“I have been doing this since 1995 and I still have room to learn about the human psyche….A detailed adoption application, a physical home check, a talk with their current veterinarian, and a visit here to meet the dog all play into the process.”

Dygert adds, “You will have to work hard to get a dog from me if you do not have a secure fenced yard.  I personally do not endorse the placement of rescue dogs with toddlers.”

In case an adoption doesn’t work out, WRAP maintains what Dygert calls “a safety net” for every dog it places. “Every dog that goes through WRAP or my personal rescue can be picked up at any time in its life should the need arise,” Dygert explains. “Even if the dog has bitten someone. We make the final decision on how to proceed with the dog. The main thing is to get the dog out of a bad situation. I rescue dogs not people.”

Dygert believes there is a right home for every dog. An older whippet named Freddy, for example, became an emotional support dog, flying in the cabin of the plane with his new owner. “This person went out of his way to adopt an older dog,” she said.

Another story with a happy ending centers on a pit bull named Rosie Rosita, which Dygert fostered last year. “She was left in an abandoned apartment; Rosie was just a mess,” Dygert recalled. “We went and got her, cleaned her up, and got her vetted. Now she has a great home with a young man and his parents. It does not get any more grassroots rescue than a dog abandoned in a house, left in the heat and her own filth.”

Every dog is different. After Rosie was successfully adopted, Dygert took in her third pit bull to foster for Out of the Pits. “Mr. Lucas (The Wonder Pit) is just a really nice dog,” says Dygert. “After working with the first two pit bulls (Rosita and Darby), Mr. Lucas was a little different. Settled in his ways, he acted a little aloof when he first arrived. But it did not take long for him to adjust and warm up to us.

“He will sit, shake hands, and is just a joy to be around! I call him the Wonder Pit because he is curious and wonders a lot about things. Mr. Lucas has the ingredients to be a very loyal companion.  Pit bulls tend to be more loyal than sight hounds. I love my sight hounds but, as a group, they tend to be ‘pleasure seekers.’ If someone gives them what they want, they will leave you without as much as a glance back!

“Pit bulls tend to be serious about their human companionship and bond closely with their owners.  Mr. Lucas was part of a very large rescue haul of pit bulls and some other breeds from a sub-freezing situation in Fort Plain this past winter. He is ready for a real home with real comforts!”

Editor’s note: Anyone interested in adopting a dog from Mimi Dygert may e-mail her at midogrescue@gmail.com and may also find information online at http://whippet-rescue.com/ andmhttp://www.petfinder.com/shelters/NY710.html.

For more photos and information on the pit bull Lucas, go to www.outofthepits.org, including the group’s Facebook page.

Helene Goldberger also lives in the Hilltowns and does dog-rescue work

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