Poodle rescuer retires on high note

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Poodle rescuer Daryl Masone holds Sophia, one of five toy poodles found abandoned by the side of the road in New Fairfield, in her garage as another rescued poodle looks on last year. –RA ARCHIVE
Poodle rescuer Daryl Masone holds Sophia, one of five toy poodles found abandoned by the side of the road in New Fairfield, in her garage as another rescued poodle looks on last year. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — They are only four of the 2,000 poodles Daryl Masone has rescued over 14 years. Yet five days from her retirement as a rescuer, the co-owner of Poodle Rescue Connecticut can say she saved the lives of Apricot, Brûlée, Creamsicle and Éclair after they were found with tumors, neglected in a hoarder’s house in Hebron.

Brûlée is a miniature poodle and the others are toy poodles. Masone, who runs her business from her Autumn Ridge Road house, picked them up Aug. 3, along with another white toy poodle named Dove Bar.

The Hebron Five, as they came to be known, all needed surgeries and veterinary care. The bill exceeded $6,000, money Masone did not have.

After an article appeared in the Republican-American about the situation, the donations started rolling in. Some also sent checks after Masone posted a video of the five poodles, shot by videographer Jodi Greenleaf, on her website.

“Every once in a while, something will still come in,” Masone said. “It’s been amazing.”

In total, Masone said she has raised about $10,000, leaving her about $2,000 after the Hebron Five were treated. The leftover money will pay veterinary bills for other poodles Masone rescues, including one she took in last week with a broken leg that healed incorrectly.

The money could only do so much. While Masone was grooming Dove Bar, the day before an interview with a prospective owner, she felt nodules on the dog’s neck. The veterinarian initially said everything was fine, but the bumps grew fast, to the size of junior Brillo pads, Masone said. They were determined to be cancerous and Dove Bar was euthanized about two weeks ago, Masone said.

The other four poodles were matched to loving owners, but Masone said she was once again devastated when Éclair ran away from her new home in Quincy, Mass. Masone said the woman who took her in was a good owner who had adopted three other rescued poodles over the years, but Éclair disappeared on the second day after adoption.

Masone went to Massachusetts and helped search for the tiny poodle for four days before her owner hired a company with a pet-tracking black Labrador retriever. Even though it had rained, the sniffing dog found Éclair in a neighbor’s yard half a block away, Masone said.

Now Masone is looking for a home for Éclair while she boards Brûlée, whose new owners are on vacation.

Despite the twists and turns, Masone said the Hebron Five were a good group to retire on. She said she will no longer bring rescued dogs into her house, but she will still put them on her website and help other rescuers get them veterinary treatment and grooming. She and her husband, Pete, will keep seven poodles as personal pets.

“I want to live in a home,” Masone said. “I’ve been living in a dog pound for 14 years. … I’ll be like a poodle matchmaker.”