Rescued hounds thrive with local artist
Six years ago, Olson and her husband decided to adopt a third Saluki, to join the two they already owned. And Olson thought she’d look first into the possibility of adopting a rescue animal.
When she didn’t find a Saluki in need, she typed “Afghan hound” into her computer. She’d seen some recently and fallen in love with their looks.
Like the Saluki, the Afghan is a sighthound. Thus, “I thought they should be pretty similar,” she said.
As it turned out, she was totally wrong about that.
Olson loves her Salukis, but she describes them as “cat-like dogs — aloof and kind of snotty.” Afghans, by contrast, are “goofy clowns” and “very lovey,” she said.
Those discoveries, however, were still off in the future. At the time, Olson’s browser located the nonprofit Afghan Hound Rescue of Southern California, which had recently removed 41 badly neglected Afghans from a local couple and was nursing the 39 survivors back to health.
“I talked to the leader of the group, and after several weeks of conversations, she said, ‘We have two left, and we have to place them together, because they’re brothers, and they’re very attached to each other,’” Olson recalled. “Much to my husband’s chagrin, I said, ‘We’ll take them!’”
It wasn’t quite that easy, of course.
First, the Olsons had to pass a home inspection. Then Olson and her sister had to drive down to California to pick up them up.
Months of socialization followed.
For a long time, Raglan wouldn’t let Olson’s husband or children anywhere near him. Raised in a large pack in a barn for the first year and a half of his life, he simply hadn’t learned to trust people.
Then there was the uncertainty.
The original owner was fighting to recover some of the dogs, including Raglan and Xavier. And the rescue group, having spent all its funds on rehabilitating the dogs, lacked the money for the court battle.
Eventually, the owner accepted a plea deal, forfeiting the dogs. “We fostered them for around three months, before we got the green light that they were going to be with us forever,” Olson said.
Despite the life-threatening conditions under which they were raised, Olson said, “Oddly enough, they all had the sweetest temperaments. Afghan hounds can be kind of stinkers, if they want to, and these are just the sweetest.
“I was hoping you could make people realize how important those rescues are. It seems like most rescue animals, they seem to appreciate what they’ve got after what they’ve been through before.”
Although taking on rescue animals involves some challenges, Olson said, “It’s pretty cool, because the rescues will take them in, clean them up and have them vetted, so they’re checked for heartworm and all of that. You know exactly what you’re getting when you take them on.
“And it is a good feeling. It’s like you’ve saved someone.”
Today, after years of socialization, and lots of posing for Olson’s camera, Raglan and Xavier are friendly, confident, happy dogs. They have been featured in many of her art works, including a calendar and a book on sighthound training — “Only Angels; How to Raise and Train the Perfect Sighthound,” by Cherie Fehrman.
“They’re just the best dogs,” Olson said. “We love them.
“I just really want to encourage people to check with the rescues if they’re in need of a dog or a cat or whatever. I know they have rescues for all kinds of critters, even guinea pigs. You never know what great things will come of it.”
The artwork of local photographer and painter Lori Olson will be on display through March and April at the Wortman Park Art Gallery, located in the McMinnville Senior Center, 2250 N.E. McDaniel Lane.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Olson’s work is inspired by nature. She often features her beloved Saluki and Afghan hounds, and vintage automobiles, including her old Chevy pickup.