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Small, abused dogs find safe haven in Blaine
LIVING PROOF: Eleni Naslund took in Carina, a Sheltie, in June when the dog weighed just 12 ounces and veterinarians did not expect her to live. At five months, Carina now weighs 5 pounds, still about half the normal weight for her breed. JACK KINTNER PHOTO

PEOPLE: Eleni Naslund rescues more than 100 dogs a year through her Furbaby Rescue service.

Jack Kintner, For the Bellingham Herald

BLAINE - When Eleni Naslund got her dog, a Shih Tzu-Bijon cross she named Sugi, little did she realize that he would be just the first of hundreds to follow.

Six years ago, Naslund, 50, began operating Furbaby Rescue, a small-dog rescue service, after bringing Sugi home from Alberta, Canada. She researched his breed on the Internet and learned there are many neglected and abused small dogs, some awaiting adoption in shelters, others publicized by networks of owners.

She now has as many as a dozen or more rescued dogs at a time in her home, all small breeds less than 12 inches tall. She rescues more than 100 dogs a year.

"We fix them up, even attend to their medical problems, sometimes at considerable cost," she said. "because when no one else will step forward, we become the last place they can go."

As an experienced rescuer, Naslund knows well the emotional burden of losing some of the dogs she gets, and how that burden can be lifted by the occasional against-the-odds survival of others.


Learn more

To contact Furbaby Rescue:


Online: www.furbabyrescue.com.


Phone: 332-5560.


"It's impossible for me to say 'no,' even though it can get to be really depressing when, despite your best efforts, a dog dies anyway," she said. "It's usually from medical conditions that were ignored, sometimes from physical abuse, or both."

So far, she's lost six dog since opening her service.

Last June, a tiny Sheltie that Naslund named Carina, seemed likely to become No. 7. Instead, Carina has inspired Naslund to continue on.

The puppy came to Naslund weighing 12 ounces and not eating. It couldn't stretch out its malformed legs; instead it moved around by crawling on its knees.

Naslund spent the first two weeks nursing the puppy round-the-clock, keeping it close to her for warmth. Despite veterinarians' pessimism, the dog survived.

"In five days she gained three-fourths of an ounce and began eating without my having to push it down with my fingertip," Naslund said.

Carina is now 5 months old and weighs five pounds, still about half the size of her litter mates, but scampers around the yard on her feet. Naslund decided to keep her, making four dogs that permanently live at her house along with a varying number of temporary canine housemates.

In the beginning, she promised her husband that she'd take in no more than one at time.

"I remember that promise, and how quickly she broke it," Rick Naslund interjected with a smile.

He also kept one of the rescue dogs, a Shih Tzu that follows him closely around the house.

"It had been beaten by its former owner, judging from its behavior, and would bite, so initially I handled it with gloves," he said. "But in just a few days it learned I was no threat."

Jack Kintner is a free-lance writer. For questions or story ideas, contact Jim Donaldson, Hometown editor, at jim.donaldson@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2288.

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