Diane Turner, President of NGWP Rescue and the Early Days of the Rescue

We highlight the members of the board of directors of the National German Wirehaired Pointer Rescue in our blog so everyone can get a peek behind the curtain. Instrumental in the formation of the rescue, Diane Turner, our current president, has secured two grants for the rescue in less than one year. Discover where her love for dogs began, how her journey led her back to GWPs, and read some beautiful foster stories. In addition, find out about a couple of her non-dog related interests.

Diane Turner, President, National German Wirehaired Pointer Rescue Association

Her love for purebred dogs started early

What an adventure life has been — sometimes exciting and crazy, other times full of fun and laughter and at times horribly dark and difficult, but through it all, two things in my life have been constant — the love for my family and my love for dogs.

I was born into one of south-central Colorado’s well-established and most-respected ranch families, so early on I understood that animals were a part of our lives and our livelihood. Our family had some of the first registered and polled Herefords in Colorado so dinner conversations often were about bulls and breeding, and though I was little, I understood that there was something special and important about those purebred bulls and cows.

My favorite aunt had married into our family and some of the women of the family considered her to be rather “uppity.” I, however, adored her. She wore tons of make-up, had incredibly fashionable clothes for the times and best of all she had the first purebred dog I had ever known. He was a buff American Cocker Spaniel — aptly named “Buffy.”

I loved that dog and knew when I grew- up I’d have a purebred dog.

And I did. I finished my first champion when I was 19 — a lovely Belgian Sheepdog bitch and the following year I finished a Belgian Tervuren bitch at the ABTC National weekend. She was a beautiful, but a very unsocial and un-controllable bitch I had taken to save from being euthanized. After a year of hard work, I started showing her and it paid off when Alice won Winners Bitch and Best Opposite Sex at the ABTC ‘s National Supported show. That same night Alice was Best of Breed at the club’s sanctioned match. The club was so new that they were not allowed to hold an independent specialty but the match was the final step to full club recognition by AKC. From that moment on I was hooked. I began a small but well-respected breeding program. I raised the Terv litters with my own babies and I am honored to say some of today’s Belgian Tervurens go back to those old dogs that I bred.

I raised kids and puppies, taught 4-H obedience and showmanship and worked as an assistant handler for Sally Terrroux — a well-known handler and judge. Life was good, until my then-husband was transferred to Tucson. I was devastated to leave my family, my friends and my job with Sally.

We had to sell our house and be in Tucson within a month. Though I didn’t have much time for sleep when I did finally get to bed, I had nightmares of cacti and rattlesnakes. And once in Tucson, to say I was an unwilling resident of our new home-town was an understatement. But gradually I got to know the dog community and I became active in our state-wide breed club. We built a house in the middle of 400 square miles of rangeland and I spent my days working with the dogs and riding horses with my small children. I worked with a local rescue taking in dogs that needed rehabilitation and teaching obedience classes for our local AKC obedience club.

From journalism to homicides

Once the kids were in school, I went back to school and got a degree in journalism. And waiting for me after graduation was a job as Assistant Traffic Safety Coordinator for the City of Tucson. I did PR for the city and helped formulate the Arizona’s first DUI laws. It was a dream-job — I had dinners with governors, lunch with traffic engineers and breakfast meetings with members of our local law enforcement agencies.

And then a new federal administration came into office and our funding was cut. I was out of a job. And in the midst of dealing with closing down our office and saying good-by to the employees I had supervised, my then-husband asked for a divorce. I was not only suddenly out of a job but a husband too.

The Pima County Attorney’s Office was looking for someone to write motions so I applied, and to my surprise I got the job. On my first day I arrived at the office thinking I’d probably have a table in the law library but instead I was sent to the Chief Trial Counselor’s Office. Things had changed and I was to be his new trial assistant and paralegal. I had to learn fast.

It was a lot of on- the-job training but within a couple of months I was in the courtroom doing major homicide cases with one of the most brilliant attorneys in the west. And within a couple of years, I became the senior paralegal for the Violent Crimes Team — that meant I did homicide call out two weeks out of every month.

I met Larry, my now-husband, when he was teaching at the Arizona Law Enforcement Training Academy. We married three years after we met and I not only got a husband but I adopted the breed he had grown up with — German Wirehaired Pointers.

Returning to GWPs

Throughout my life I have been passionate about breeding top-winning purebred dogs and providing a home and love for dogs who have no one to care for them. My last Terv died at 17 and for a long while we without a purebred dog but we eventually acquired our first of many GWPs my focus changed from Tervs to Wires. We joined the GWPCA and I became active once again in both the conformation and the obedience ring.

In 2009 Larua Reeves was president of GWPCA and in the late-autumn she sent out a plea for someone to take over the club’s rescue efforts. I sent a note to her saying I have been a long-time foster for our local rescue organization and once they had someone to take over to please pass on my phone number because our family would be willing to foster. It wasn’t long until I got a call from Laura asking if I would consider taking the project on. I talked with my family because I realized it would be a time-consuming project. We agreed that I should say “yes.”

At that time there really was no “rescue program.” There was money that had been raised for rescue over the years but only a few times had someone asked for help with a Wire that had been rescued.

The start of the NGWP Rescue

From my work with our local organization, I knew that no respectable shelter or rescue would release dogs to an organization that was not a federally recognized 501c3 non-profit. My first task was to get the organization recognized by the federal government and to incorporate in the state that the GWPCA had incorporated in –which just happened to be Michigan. That took several months because we had to separate the rescue from the GWPCA yet keep the rescue under the auspice of the national club.

We had to have a board of directors for the rescue and there were those folks who were naturally hesitant but Dr. Cindy Heiller jumped in as did Ann Duffin , Garnett Persinger and Carol Callahan.

I knew we had to have a foster system to take in dogs throughout the country. I put out a plea to GWPCA members for volunteers and the response was amazing — we had nearly 60 responses. Adam and Amy Cunningham immediately offered to provide foster care in their area and seeing the need, Adam set about getting NGWPR’s first website up and running.

We had to have a way to move the dogs from one area to another so the next project was to organize several people who could and would transport.

I spent time writing manuals and copy for the website — some of it that is still used today.

Within a year NGWPR was up and running — not always smoothly but we had the foundation solidly built.

I stayed on as National Rescue Coordinator for several years then stepped down to take over another position in the GWPCA. I stayed on as the VP of the NGWPR Board. In 2016 I had a severe health crisis so I took a year off.

Today I serve as the President of the NGWPR Board. I am so proud to be a part of the organization and I am impressed with the progress that the rescue has made. A great deal of that progress has been due to the dedication of National Rescue Coordinator Suzanne Oslander and our other board members who donate so much of their time and effort to rescue. And each day I am thankful for our fosters who make the whole program work.

Best and Worst of the job

I think the worst part of the job for rescue is when we as a board must make those life and death decisions. Sometimes the decision to euthanize a dog is straight forward — it must be done to eliminate a dog’s suffering. But there are other more complicated situations. The board is always involved in those decisions and it weighs heavily on each of us. NGWPR has led the way in accepting and treating heartworm positive dogs, dogs with serious medical conditions and taking dogs with temperament issues and giving those dogs a chance to live in a foster home and receive lots of training.

Unfortunately, we cannot take in a dog with a bite history, and sometimes I know those of us who work with aggressive dogs sometimes feel we might help the dog. But the liability is just too great, and Suzanne must explain to the owners when we can’t help. Suzanne spends a lot of time working with those families — offering suggestions and if nothing changes the dog’s behavior, supporting them in the decision to euthanize.

The best part of the job for all of us is to see a dog who was in terrible shape when it came into our program — medically or from neglect — thrive in his or her forever home. And one of the most rewarding parts is the friendships that are built because we all share a common cause.

I do not believe recue organizations can ever be “too picky” when choosing forever homes. The dogs that are taken into rescue programs have often been so neglected or have been on their own for so long they have issues — rescues must try to make certain the adopters are in it for the long haul. Dogs that have been in that kind of a situation are fragile and can’t be rehomed over and over. As to Wires specifically — we who have Wires and work with Wires know full-well that GWPs are not for everyone. People see their cute faces and fall in love with the look of a Wire but Wires are not the typical sporting dog. You must speak “Wire” or you will never form that special relationship that every GWP needs. Wires are smart, determined, will run the household if allowed and some come from lines that are “edgy or sharp” — it takes a family that is capable of dealing with the strong-will of a GWP. Wires love discipline, rules and boundaries and if the owner is not willing to provide that structure, Wires can be very troublesome. So finding homes that are able to provide steady, solid leadership is important. I know that our volunteers who work with potential adopters are thankful when an adopter has had Wires in the past — the adopter knows the breed and knows how better to deal with a Wire that may have issues.

I think the most surprising thing that most people would learn about me is that I am passionate about breeding really nice purebred dogs. My co-breeder Angela Milowski and I are the breeders of the 2016 GWPCA National Specialty Winner MBISS NBISS GCHS Wireworks Share the Fantasy at CanDo. (Fanny definitely is one of my heart dogs). We have had multiple top-ten dogs for the past several years. And we have a two-year waiting list for puppies. I am absolutely passionate that if you breed purebed dogs of any kind you should feel obligated to take in rescue dogs.

Dr Cindy Hieller said it best “If you put ’em on the ground, you need to take ’em out of shelter.” Those are words every breeder should live by.

I am a fanatic about this — purebred rescue dogs come from breeders. And each and every person who breeds a litter needs to be responsible for each puppy they produce for that puppy’s entire life. If they cannot do that or choose not to do that then they should never breed a litter. If every breeder was responsible for each dog he/she produced we would have no need for our breed club rescues. And my hope is that someday we will get to that place.

Education and Grants

I am passionate about educating the public that being AKC registered has nothing to do with the quality of the dogs. AKC is a registration organization that sponsors dog shows. Nothing more. Buying a purebred dog from a reputable breeder who breeds to the breed standard, does health testing, properly socializes their puppies, microchips each, supports new owners and is responsible for the dogs they breed is so important. If people who want to purchase a purebred dog refuse to buy a puppy from those breeders who are “unaffiliated” and breed without health testing breeding stock or understanding the dog’s faults or ever looking at a pedigree those same breeders would not produce litters over and over because there would be no quick easy money. And we would have fewer rescue dogs.

It is through education that we will change things and I feel it is each breed rescue’s place to educate the public when it comes to the purchase of purebred dogs and finding reputable supportive breeders.

Many of our less popular breeds today are nearly extinct or endangered and these breeds need to be protected because some are thousands or years old with remarkable histories and reputable preservationist breeders need to be supported. Wires are considered a low -entry breed — not yet on the endangered list but one with registration of litters dropping each year. The reputable Wire breeders who work to better and preserve the breed should be supported by everyone who cares about Wires.

Dogs often come to rescue because they have sudden behavioral changes. Recognizing treatable medical conditions, like hypothyroidism, that can cause these problems and educating owners is critical. Last year NGWPR needed funds to cover the costs for the Project Hope Thyroid testing program. Since I’m out west and we have few Wires to foster in my area I was feeling pretty useless. I thought, “ what if I applied for a grant or two” — I had written tons of grants when I was working. So I applied to Good Dog and to Westminster Kennel Club and NGWPR received grants from both organizations. We are so grateful to Good Dog who provided $1,000 and to Westminster KC who believed enough in the project to provide $5,000.

Foster Stories

I am one who knows that dogs often come into rescue due to their behavior. I love the story of Shayna the female juvenile delinquent that our family fostered — Shayna’s story was featured in a past blog, and then there is the story of Maggie and Molly.

Maggie and Molly were sisters found running along I-10- in Phoenix. A Mastiff breeder saw them and realized they were GWPs and stopped and picked them up. He took them home, and as he tried to unload them from his van they escaped and he could not catch them. They played havoc with the neighborhood cats for a few days until a joint neighborhood effort finally captured them. After checking with the local animal control folks and putting out flyers in the area where he found them, he called and we made arrangements to transport them to Tucson to our home.

These girls were the worst fosters our family has ever had and I have to say they kept the men in the family constantly repairing and building. Molly was the brains and Maggie was the brawn. They spent every waking moment planning their escape from any kennel, fence or crate. We laugh about it now but at the time it wasn’t funny. I spent hours chasing those two. Finally, out of desperation out came the electric fence and we wired both the kennel runs and the exercise yard fences. It took a few tries and one or the other getting zapped before they learned climbing, jumping or chewing fencing was just not a good idea. I immediately separated the two, although I hated to do it because they were so bonded. And they began “Turner Boot Camp for Wayward Girl Wires.” Once each was adopted I stayed in touch with their new parents for a long time. Both lived well into their teen years and both were adored by their families. I have to say Maggie and Molly are fosters we will never forget.

Then Nadia came into our lives. Nadia had once been a special housedog but when her first owner passed away Nadia had ended up on a chain in a backyard of her second owner. It is illegal for a dog to be tethered in our county so Nadia was confiscated and placed in our local very over-crowded and not so nice animal control facility. And she freaked out. Nadia had had a beautiful coat in the pictures the shelter sent to me when they asked NGWPR to take Nadia, but when I went to get her at the facility one of the groomers had shaved her — including her beard and eyebrows — she was naked. Her coat never did come back to what it had once been. She lived with us for 18 months because no one wanted an older naked Wire. But I knew that her family had to be out there somewhere we just hadn’t found them yet and they hadn’t found us. Eventually I got a call from a Pastor’s wife in MI and after lots of talks on the phone and photos going back and forth we agreed Nadia was their dog.

It was nearly Christmas when I put Nadia into her crate for her long journey east. The plane made it to Denver before being grounded due to weather. I panicked — there was Nadia stuck in Denver. I called Adam Cunningham and asked him to go get Nadia. He said what airline is she on and I said “United” he said “give me a few minutes and I’ll call you back.” When he called he said not to worry — the General Manager of United Airlines in Denver had a dog Adam had bred. And the manager had gone from his office down to cargo and he had Nadia in tow and she was going home with him and would stay at his house until her flight could proceed. Two days later the GM put Nadia back in her crate and she headed onto to her new family. When she arrived her new house was decorated for Christmas. There were colorful misspelled Welcome Home Nadia signs and toys and a big comfy bed under the tree for her. She met her new family of seven and though she was to be the kids dog, she made her way upstairs to the master bedroom and claimed the king-sized bed. The Pastor had a rule — no dogs on the furniture — but that rule went out the window — Nadia slept on the bed every night from her first night until she passed away at nearly 15. It was a long road but Nadia made finally made it home.

The lesson I learned from Nadia was to be patient. There is a special family for every Wire we take into our program we just must be patient and wait for the family to find us.

Javelina whisperer and novelist

Two things that most folks don’t know about me — my husband’s friends call me “The Swine Queen” because for the past 20 years I have been the guardian of a sounder of javelina who live on our property. And though javelina are technically in the rodent family they look like pigs and most folks refer to them as “wild pigs.” They bring their new babies for me to see and many times a wounded of sick javelina has arrived for help. Ill babies have been left at the gate and we transport them to the wildlife hospital. I am crazy about them and I think they feel the same about me. They are incredibly caring about their family, their babies and anyone that they adopt. I am privileged to be accepted into their family.

I also have distant Cherokee heritage and I have had the privilege to have studied with some of the most respected Cherokee elders. Because of that interest I have written three historical novels — two are currently being marketed and one is at Amazon as an e-book, soon to be a paperback.

I am honored to have been asked to share a bit about my life and my philosophy regarding purebred dogs and rescue.

About Us

National GWP Rescue is a nationwide rescue program whose volunteers work tirelessly to provide funding, foster homes, medical care and training for GWPs found in shelters, animal control facilities and to those GWPs whose current owners are unable to provide a suitable situation.

Working hand- in-hand with governmental and local shelters, NGWPR provides a safe and responsible home for GWP’s in need. Placed with an experienced GWPCA member, fostered GWPs that have been neglected, untrained or have medical issues quickly blossom as they are readied for their “forever” homes.

Prior to releasing our rescued GWPs for adoption, volunteers provide obedience, manners, and house training. We hold to the philosophy that a mannerly dog has a better chance of fitting into a new household.

NGWPR believes that Wires were designed to hunt and unlike some other rescue programs, we are happy to place dogs with field experience or bird instinct with potential owners who enjoy hunting behind a Wire. However, NGWPR insists that any rescue dog first be a house dog and companion, then a weekend hunting partner.

Please go to our website to learn more.

National German Wirehaired Pointer Rescue

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We believe that the more we educate people the more likely we are to accomplish our mission of matching homeless GWPs with loving owners.