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Doggie Do-Gooder

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CherylFelps
Cheryl Felps and friends

Cheryl Felps knows that a friend to a dog in need is a friend indeed.

By Marene Gustin
Photo by Yvonne Feece

 Cheryl Felps didn’t set out to be a doggie do-gooder, but she took to the task like a dog to a juicy bone.

The 32-year-old law firm employee already had a cute little cocker named Chloe four years ago when a friend asked her if she had weekend plans. When Felps said no, she wound up going on a transport mission to Falfurrias to pick up some rescues.

“I just went along for the ride,” she says. “Just as company and an extra set of hands to help out.” But she wound up finding her calling, and taking one of the rescues home.

“That’s how I got Teddy,” Felps says.

And then she got Bowie (whose eyes are different colors like David Bowie), and then Pockets came to stay. “But I’m just fostering him,” she insists. “I really only have three dogs.”

And if you think that was crowded, wait until you hear what happened after Hurricane Ike. But first, the rest of the story.

Last year Felps started volunteering with Scout’s Honor Rescue, Inc., a nonprofit pet rescue that takes all lost dogs and cats. She went from taking animals for Saturday morning romps to working at meet-and-greets for perspective adoptees, to fostering pups in her own home. Last month Scout’s Honor asked her to join the board of directors of the organization after her efforts to aid an entire litter of post-Ike pups.

“A friend of mine found a litter of nine puppies under a maintenance shed at HBU [Houston Baptist University] after the hurricane,” she says. “She knew I worked with Scout’s Honor, so she called me.” Of course, Felps took them in. Two of the pups were injured, as a plastic six-pack ring top had grown into their skin, and had to be treated at the vets. Felps named them Ike and Tina, obviously. She also managed to name the other seven, who spent the post-Ike electrical blackout with her.

“It took three days, but I named them all. Trooper, Romeo, Tiny Tim, Guinness, Hershey, Tank, and Lexy,” she recites. Happily, five of the thriving pups now have permanent homes and there’s interest in the other four, all of which are now healthy and have new foster homes. “I may be insane, but I’m not crazy,” Felps laughs. “They were adorable, but I couldn’t keep that many dogs.

“Of course you miss them when they’re gone,” she says of fosters. “But it’s such a fantastic feeling when you find them homes. You just can’t beat that feeling.”

Not that rescue work is always uplifting, let alone glamorous. There was the one time she was on a transport and picked up two dogs, putting one in the back seat and one in the front, next to her. “I’m driving down Memorial,” she tells the story, “when I see him put his head down, and before I can do anything he yaks all over the front seat!” And then he did it again.

But most missions have happy endings, and the feeling Felps gets from helping homeless canines is worth the price of a car cleaning.

“They know you’re it for them,” she says. “They know you’re their last hope when you pick them up, and they are just so grateful.” Just ask those nine puppies.

 

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.

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