- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 23, 2008

EASTON, Md. (AP) | A border collie-sheltie mix rescued after Hurricane Katrina has gone from a hurricane victim to a happy dog helping others on the Eastern Shore.

Susan Delean-Botkin said she fell in love with the three-legged dog at a shelter in Long Beach, Miss.

The nurse practitioner at Family Care in Easton set up a clinic in Long Beach after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in late August 2005.

The clinic saw roughly 300 patients a day. Mrs. Delean-Botkin said she saw people in tears at shelters because they missed their pets. Families had to leave pets behind when they fled because shelters didn’t allow animals.

After a few weeks in Long Beach, Mrs. Delean-Botkin visited a local animal shelter to take money donated for dog food. The shelter had so many animals that workers had tied some to trees outside.

One of those dogs was Skippy.

“He poked his head around a tree, he looked at me and I looked at him,” she said. “I said I would come back at 5 [o’clock].”

When Mrs. Delean-Botkin returned, Skippy was not there. Someone had come to take the animals to the Humane Society. Mrs. Delean-Botkin eventually tracked down Skippy and brought him home with her.

“He decided he’d had enough of the South,” she said.

About six months before Katrina, Skippy had lost one of his legs after a car hit him. When Katrina struck, his family had to leave him with a veterinarian. When Mrs. Delean-Botkin found Skippy, he had heartworms.

The dog appeared traumatized but has now turned into a confident, self-assured pet who goes to work with Mrs. Delean-Botkin.

When he hears the door to the clinic open, Skippy runs on his three legs to greet patients. He takes his job seriously, even interrupting interviews to carry out his duties.

“He’s a blood-pressure-lowering dog,” Mrs. Delean-Botkin said. “He greets patients and sits with them until their blood pressure goes down.”

Skippy also visits assisted-living facilities in Easton, where he inhales crumbs from the floor, she said.

In the winter, Skippy works almost every day, but reduces his schedule in the summer to go boating, sailing, camping and swimming with Mrs. Delean-Botkin and her husband or to play with Mrs. Delean-Botkin’s grandchildren and keep a close eye on squirrels, ospreys and sea gulls. “He doesn’t like having his air space invaded,” Mrs. Delean-Botkin said, adding that Skippy also dislikes thunder and horns.

Most of Skippy’s time is spent playing with his best buds, Corky, a dog, and Snoopy, a cat.

“He’s so interesting to be with,” Mrs. Delean-Botkin said. “His personality is so patient. It shows how much a shelter dog appreciates what you do for them.”

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