Havre Daily News
KREMLIN - Each dog that has passed through Renee Lanoue's home has had its own name and its own story - all 600 of them - and Lanoue knows them all. Jocko recently lost his owners at age 14, Cherub has been fighting cancer for five years, and Tanner came to Lanoue ill with what turned out to be an easily treatable thyroid problem.
For eight years, stray, abandoned and mistreated dogs have had a home on the Hi-Line. Now, at the end of the week, Lanoue is moving.
Sixteen dogs will travel with Lanoue to Idaho, where she plans to build a life around her passion for caring for animals. There Lanoue will manage an animal training facility for a woman who wants to start one, but can't be there year-round.
Lanoue will leave behind a community that has come to depend on her.
When Lanoue began Ren's Rescue eight years ago, after living for two years in Kremlin, she visited area veterinarians and told them to call her if they had a dog that needed a home. She receives calls from people throughout the Hi-Line and, because of her Web site, throughout the state, asking about homes for dogs.
"I've had people in grocery stores say, 'What are we going to do? Is someone taking over?'" Lanoue said. The answer, so far, is no.
Lanoue hopes that among the friends she's made here, a network of small-scale fosterhomes will develop. Lanoue also will meet Hi-Line rescues in Missoula and take them back with her to Idaho.
Nobody, Lanoue agrees, could be expected to do what she's done. Lanoue pays thousands of dollars in veterinary care for the dogs she rescues. Often the neediest dogs are the ones she keeps for life because they are hard to adopt out.
She will be honored at tonight's Havre City Council meeting, Havre Mayor Bob Rice said today.
"I was told that she's done a lot of work in the community," Rice said about his decision to include in the 8 p.m. City Hall meeting a thank you to Lanoue.
Havre resident Debi Rhines was the one who suggested the city do something, he said.
"She's placed animals and taken them into her home and built an animal rescue. She's poured out her heart and soul into these animals," Rhines said today.
Four years ago, Rhines said, her husband found a puppy in a trash container. The family tried to keep it, but the red heeler pup was too much for them. They gave the dog to Lanoue, who found a home for it on a ranch.
"That's how we got to know her," Rhines said.
For the past eight months, Rhines' family has cared for another dog, Mr. Wiggles, a cocker spaniel who came from Lanoue's shelter.
"My children were really impressed that she would take animals in. I was too, but the kids were extremely touched. When I heard she was leaving I e-mailed Bob real quick and said, 'Please recognize this woman.'"
Without Lanoue, Rhines said, she thinks the city shelter will have more dogs and residents may see more abandoned dogs in Beaver Creek Park.
In the middle of the clutter of packing, Lanoue held a card she plans to keep. It's from the Havre Day Activity Center, which hosted a farewell lunch for her last week. Lanoue has periodically invited center residents to her home to walk the dogs and help out.
She's had many other impromptu helpers, including two Montana State University-Northern students she knows from working at Tilleman Motor Co. where, for 10 years, she's done bookkeeping. The two will help her make the move, driving her truck and a moving van and then riding their motorcycles back.
Lanoue said she'll miss the people she's met, but, originally from Colorado, she is moving to get back to the mountains and to work with animals full time.
The center she will manage, Paw Prints of Promise, will train disabled animals, such as deaf and disfigured animals, and also train animals for people with disabilities. It will also be an animal rescue, Lanoue said.
She will be joined by a woman she has gotten to know over the past year through an effort to get two disabled cats, Weeble and Wobble, wheel carts. The Wisconsin animal trainer offered to pay for the carts for the barn cats Lanoue took in. The woman was to adopt the cats and train them to use the carts.
Delays have meant the cats have stayed with Lanoue and instead of being sent to Wisconsin, they will meet the trainer in Idaho. Plans for the cats have also changed slightly. Wobble has been fitted for a cart, but Weeble will probably go without one because he functions so well, even with his disfigured hind legs, Lanoue said.
The trainer is working on purchasing a property in Idaho County for Paw Prints of Promise.
Among the 16 dogs and two cats Lanoue will take with her will be a mother, Momma, and five 8-week-old puppies that need a home.
Lanoue took the animals in eight weeks ago, when the puppies were 3 days old, she said. They were rescued by a Havre woman who could not keep them all once the mother gave birth, she said.
Anybody interested in adopting one of the puppies or the mother can reach Lanoue at 372-3197 by Friday.