'Completing families' one dog at a time

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WEST DOVER — Watching dogs "completing families" they join is the most rewarding part for Peter MacDonald, who founded The Grayter Good Weimaraner Rescue almost five years ago.

"Truly, it is the emotional upside that makes it all worthwhile," he said. "If you don't take time to appreciate the joy that you've created, then it would never be worthwhile."

A Sept. 28 golf outing will mark the third at Mount Snow Golf Club to benefit the rescue. To register, visit thegraytergood.org/doglegs. The cost is $150 per person and there is $1,000 in prize money.

Last year saw 48 participants with an additional 30 people attending the dinner. This year, MacDonald expects to see a number closer to 100. He anticipates about 60 players.

MacDonald said he is always looking for fundraising ideas. He found inspiration in a golf event organized at the same venue in memory of a friend who died.

"Mount Snow has always been good to me," he said.

He has run the ambassador program at Mount Snow ski resort for about 21 years. Ambassadors greet guests, field questions, assist with special events and administer guest surveys.

MacDonald said he loves the golf course, as do those who play there. He recalled the first outing being "a little scary," not knowing much about hosting one. However, he summed the fundraiser up as a success. To improve it, he has made slight changes to the schedule and style.

The next outing will see lunch served before games begin. Snacks will be provided after the ninth hole. A dinner will follow. This year will feature a raffle instead of a silent auction.

"We're always looking to make it better," MacDonald said. "It's traditionally been the largest fundraiser of our year."

After paying all the expenses associated with running the outing last year, his group brought in about $8,000.

"For us, that's eight dogs," MacDonald said. "That's how I look at it."

Each dog is said to average his group about $1,200 in expenses. Those costs include exams, shots, neutering or spaying, and taking care of any medical issues that may need to be addressed.

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The Vermont New Hampshire Veterinary Clinic in Dummerston gives "us a tiny bit of a discount," MacDonald said. "But more importantly, when I need them, they're there."

The Grayter Good now serves 23 states and has rescued about 258 Weimaraners since its inception in January 2015. By the time of the golf outing, it is likely to have rescued about 80 in the last 12 months. The fee to adopt a dog from the rescue is $400.

The need is not diminishing.

"We're fortunate to have relationships with six or seven other rescues around the country," MacDonald said. "So if we're not in a position to take a dog, just because don't have a foster locally, we'll reach out to them and they'll do the same with us."

The last approximately 10 dogs his group rescued have been older and experienced a change in their family where they could no longer take care of the dog, he said, whereas previously, "we had an influx of puppies."

As long as there is no history of biting or aggressive behavior, The Grayter Good will take in a Weimaraner that needs a home. As part of the group's "no dog left behind policy," it also will bring in other breeds if they are in a family unit with a Weimaraner.

The MacDonalds rescued their first Weimaraner in 2008. Through Facebook, the family adopted another from 13 hours away and learned about the need for another rescue in the northeast.

MacDonald said a "pervasive condition" known as nutritionally mediated dilated cardiomyopathy or NMDC, where a dog's heart will become enlarged, has been affecting Weimaraners. If caught in time, he added, the heart can return to a healthier size.

MacDonald said he is "blessed to have some really great volunteers." He and his wife Susan McDonald are based in New Jersey and West Dover. Kate Wagner, The Grayter Good vice president, and southeast rescue coordinator, works out of Florida. Another woman who starts soon will focus exclusively on families who foster dogs until homes can be found.

The hope is to find a fundraising coordinator, too. MacDonald envisions holding similar golf tournaments every month in different states.

"I never want to get so big that we're taking a salary," he said. "I'd like to get big enough where we don't go to credit cards when we have a problem."

MacDonald added, "It would be good not to worry. I'd like to be able to say 'yes' to every dog that comes out way without worry."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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