by Dennis Dalman
As a foster dog, Tukker the sheltie was virtually deaf. One day, his foster “parent,” Jenna Trisko of Sartell, let Tukker go into the back yard along with her own family dog, Shyla.
Later, she yelled for the dogs to come back in, but she soon realized Tukker couldn’t hear her voice. Shyla, the miniature Australian shepherd dog, returned to the house.
“Shyla, please go get Tukker,” said Trisko. “Tukker can’t hear me.”
Just like that, Shyla ran back out and began to trot circles around her friend, Tukker, shepherding him back to the house.
Jenna Trisko is grants manager for Ruff Start Rescue, based in Princeton, and she also served – and still does — as a foster parent for many of its rescued animals through the years. She is one of numerous Sartell residents who serve as foster parents for animals up for adoption at various shelters in Central Minnesota.
Tukker has a new home now. Two women in Grand Marais, who specialize in adopting older shelties with health problems, heard about Tukker and visited the Trisko home. The women instantly took a liking to the dog and agreed to adopt him. Tukker is now 9 years old.
“My husband (Ben Borgert), and I had Tukker for about six weeks as a foster dog,” said Trisko. “But he still tugs at my heart. He is the sweetest, kindest dog, and when he looked at us it’s as if he could read our minds.”
Tukker is one of more than 70 animals – mainly cats and dogs – Jenna and Ben have fostered during the past seven or so years. And Tukker is still one of their favorites. They are glad he found a good home in Grand Marais, but that amazing dog still prances, trots and leaps in loops of happy memories in the minds of Ben and Jenna. Like many adoptees, the couple stays in touch with the people and the pets they adopted after being fostered by Jenna and Ben.
Tukker’s life had been a difficult challenge that he somehow managed to endure, overcoming adversities time and again. He was originally owned as a show dog by a woman in Texas, who decided to give him up. A friend of that woman has a son who lives in Princeton who just might take the dog. He agreed to, and his mother drove the sheltie from Texas to Minnesota.
One day in Princeton, Tukker ran away from the yard of his new owner. He ended up running around on a bitterly cold day next to the Ruff Start Rescue facility. The women workers noticed him and brought him in to warm him up. He was sopping wet and had begun to turn into a virtual canine ice cube, his tail frozen and matted. Later, Tukker’s owner learned his dog was at the shelter and came to pick him up. The very next day, Tukker ran away again. He was later found, hiding in the man’s garage. The owner decided to let the shelter keep the dog, and so the shelter’s women lured Tukker from the garage with food.
“Tukker was a very timid dog,” Trisko said. “He was almost completely deaf; he was arthritic and had severe dental disease. He was leery of men. We took him to the vet where he was neutered and had 12 teeth removed. After that, Ben and I decided to foster him.”
It is a deep satisfaction for Ben and Jenna when the pets they foster find warm and loving “forever” homes. They do get attached to the critters, but having to give them up is offset by the knowledge the pets will be cared for and happy.
Among other stand-out dogs they fostered are:
Raisin: A very sick puppy at first, she was severely malnourished and had mange. But, with lots of care and love, she thrived and was eventually adopted.
Shilo: A senior cattle dog was surrendered by a family that had to move elsewhere. For a week, she was listless and disoriented, but she suddenly bloomed and loved nothing better than than getting people hugs. She was adopted by an “amazing” couple in Rice, Trisko noted.
Lola Lee: A genuine “diva,” she fell in love with Ben. “To Lola Lee, I was chicken feed compared to Ben,” said Trisko. “A single man from Waite Park adopted her. And she could not be happier having her male human all to herself.”
Fostering animals is a rewarding task both for the animals and the people, Trisko noted. Before foster care, the animal is spayed or neutered and given complete check-ups. Foster parents, naturally, must love animals, be willing to take good care of them and be able to bring them to vet appointments (though shelters will provide transportation for shut-ins or those who lack their own transportation). Foster parents must also be willing to attend adoption events once a month, along with their foster pets. Many also use Facebook postings to let people know the pet is up for adoption.
“There is always, always a need for fostering,” said Trisko. “Ben and I wanted to adopt a second dog, but we realized we’d have to give up fostering if we did. And we just can’t do that because fostering is the best experience ever.”
If anyone is interested in fostering, call Ruff Start Rescue, the Tri-County Humane Society or any other animal shelter in central Minnesota.
Ruff Start Rescue was founded 10 years ago and so far has rescued 11,500 dogs, cats and small critters. This year alone, the shelter and foster homes will care for more than 2,500 animals, with 500 animals in rescue status at any given time.
There are 370 foster families – mostly in Central Minnesota and the Twin Cities area — and more than 600 volunteers, along with a small staff, that help Ruff Start thrive.
The nonprofit organization also offers a Foster-to-Adopt program where an animal can be placed into a foster home where the pet will receive veterinary care, love and attention. If the pet is the right “fit,” the family or the individual can then adopt it.
Among its many services, Ruff Start also has a Children’s Animal Welfare Program and a low-cost Wellness Clinic and other services to help economically strapped families.
For more about Ruff Start and its animals, visit its website at www.ruffstartrescue.com. The phone number is 763-355-3981.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.