By Jeanne Sager
GLEN WILD March 26, 2004 Jane and Kirk Ringbloom have found a hero in Liz Keller.
And for Keller, its just the opposite.
When Kirk Ringbloom got the call from the Army in 2001 that hed have to ship out to Korea, the family was desperate for a place to house their dog, Harriet.
Thats where Keller came in.
When no one in the Ringblooms family could come through, they resigned themselves to the fact that theyd have to give Harriet up.
But they werent ready to see their 5-year-old pooch put to sleep. So the Ringblooms went online looking for a no-kill shelter.
It was really difficult, Jane Ringbloom said. Id already planned on going with him we were devastated.
And we didnt think she should have to be put to sleep, Ringbloom continued. Shes a good dog.
Shes a 90-pound lap dog, she added with a laugh. She thinks shes a person.
Staying in Connecticut with Kirks parents, the Ringblooms were looking for somewhere they could travel to and someplace they could trust.
Thats when they found Glen Wild Animal Rescue, Kellers shelter in Sullivan County.
The dog groomer and animal control officer for a number of local towns refuses to euthanize the dogs in her care. So the Ringblooms gave her a call.
Keller was shocked.
Theyre doing the right thing for our country and no ones going to help them? she pondered. Its a horrible thing to have to put your dog to sleep because youre going into the service.
So Keller said bring Harriet over.
And when the Ringblooms arrived with their Great Dane/labrador mix, they felt theyd found her a good home.
It was hard leaving her, but once we left I had all good feelings, Jane Ringbloom said. I dont think I could say enough good things about Glen Wild.
Keller gave Harriet a home at the shelter. She fed and played with her like the other dogs and didnt ask the Ringblooms for a dime.
It was all the couple could have asked for and more. At the time, the newlyweds didnt have the funds to pay a kennel to keep their dog for an extended period of time, and they had been facing the idea of never seeing her again.
But Keller said shes had a hard time placing older dogs in the past, and she asked if the Ringblooms would be interested in having her back when they returned to the states.
That was actually what we were hoping, Jane said.
So Keller agreed to keep the pooch at Glen Wild for as long as it took. While other dogs were adopted out, she kept Harriet aside.
She already had a family. She was just waiting.
Meanwhile life was changing for the Ringblooms. Jane found out she was pregnant, and she was terrified that the dog wouldnt accept an addition to the family.
But Keller had an idea. She asked the Ringblooms to send a receiving blanket that baby Emily had been sleeping with.
When it arrived, Keller slipped the blanket into Harriets kennel and left her alone.
The dog went nuts, Keller recalled. She smelled something familiar.
And when the family came back after more than a year overseas and introduced the two, it was a match made in heaven.
Instinctively, she knew she was supposed to protect my daughter, Jane said.
Emily climbs on her and tries to ride her, and she loves every minute of it, she added.
The Ringblooms were reunited with Harriet about a year ago when they finally came home from Korea.
They walked into Glen Wild, and the tears were flowing.
Harriet was in the best shape shed ever been when we picked her up, Jane said. She was healthy and she was trim.
Of course weve fattened her up because we spoil her, she added with a laugh.
Kirk is now stationed at Fort Eustis in Virginia, and the family lives in Williamsburg.
Jane wishes they lived closer to Glen Wild shed like to do everything she can to give back to the shelter that gave so much to her family
They do take care of and try to find good homes for the dogs, Ringbloom said. All the workers there are all so good and amazing.
I cant even believe this they took her basically for free, Ringbloom continued.
Sometimes, its not about the money, Keller said. Theres not much we could do about the [war] situation at home.
Harriet became Glen Wilds military project. Each time she was taken out for a walk or lovingly fed some doggy chow, the workers at Glen Wild knew they were doing something to help their country.
Now their pet project is turning around and hoping to help them. Jane knows shell be getting her second dog at Glen Wild some day, and until then shes sending a little money each month to help support the shelter.
I just wish I could do more to help them, she said.
For more information on Glen Wild, call Liz Keller at 434-7191.