36 TulsaPets • January / February 2023 & Animal Dental Clinic of Tulsa Those are staggering numbers for a small, independent rescue. It speaks vol- umes to the plight of scent-hound breeds in and around our area. “Most of the dogs that come to us are abandoned hunting dogs that have never been inside a home and never had an owner teach them how to be a part of a family,” explained Edwards. “It takes time and work, but our hounds can become exceptional companions.” A big part of Edwards’ job in rescu- ing and rehoming hounds is educating potential adopters about the breeds. The big brown eyes and velvety, floppy ears paint an adorably appealing picture. And when you take a moment to research breed characteristics on the American Kennel Club website, you read descriptions about good-natured, low-maintenance dogs who can get along well in families with kids and with other dogs. The treeing walker coonhound has even earned the nickname “the People’s Choice” for its sensible, affable nature. But at the same time, each breed comes with considerations. Most of the AKC descriptions also detail an independent streak and a persistent prey drive, which means if a hound’s nose catches a bunny trail, it might turn a deaf ear to your calls while the dog’s instinct to hunt takes over. Each breed also has exercise require- ments — both physical and mental — to ensure a happy, enriched dog. A bored or anxious hound can become a very destructive hound. “A basset is obviously not the same as a coonhound or a bloodhound, so educa- tion is vital to successful placements,” Edwards said. Finding Hope for the Future When Edwards is asked what her great- est challenges are in running Helpless Hounds, you might be surprised that caring for the dogs is not what she notes first. Topping the list are returns — the dogs who don’t work out in their new homes. “Returns are tough because we are responsible for our dogs no matter what, so we immediately scramble to find space. It’s heartbreaking for humans and dogs alike.” Like most small rescues, Helpless Hounds does not have a facility or a kennel to house waiting dogs. The group relies solely on volunteer foster homes or Interested in learning more about hound breeds and how you can help or adopt? Visit Helpless Hounds online at Facebook.com/HelplessHounds or www.helplesshounds.com. boarding facilities, and of course Edwards’ home and office are never without a few extra hounds in residence. And that leads us to the second challenge Edwards cites — volunteers. The nonprofit relies heavily on volunteer help for running the rescue and caring for dogs. Although Edwards is grateful for her core volunteers, there is always a need for more. It seems there are never enough hands, never enough foster homes available to meet needs. Funding is also an ongoing challenge. Yes, there are adoption fees to help with some of the expenses, but it’s never enough to fully pay all the vet bills, buy supplies, or cover the food bills. Edwards credits good friend and volunteer Jennie Loucks for creating and spearheading unique and fun fundraising events to help keep the rescue afloat, a never-end- ing job. “She takes our crazy ideas and makes them happen. I couldn’t do this without her.” And the hardest challenge of all that comes with running a dog rescue? For Edwards, it’s when she has to say no. “It’s incredibly difficult to learn of a hound in need of help, but because of lack of funds or lack of space, I’m not able to offer assistance.” But when asked if it’s all worth it? Ed- wards’ reply says it all. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s a lot of heartache; there’s a lot of discour- agement. Some days it’s like banging your head against a brick wall,” she explains. “But who knows where 800 hounds would be if we didn’t exist? It brings me a lot of joy to see once broken-down hounds living their best lives in new homes with families that loves them.” Eight hundred check marks are now in the win column as testimony to the efforts and dedication of Edwards and her crew. With a track record like that, it almost seems appropriate to change Helpless Hounds to Hopeful Hounds. Surely the group’s alumni would all howl in agreement.