At the top of a long list of unlikely candidates for starting up Montana’s first Siberian husky rescue organization is Missoulian Jeff Goodner. Plagued by life-threatening, dog-induced allergies and asthma, Goodner compulsively avoided dogs of all sizes, colors and demeanors for most of his life. Now he’s got a husky calendar hanging on one wall, a framed photo of his favorite husky, Nessa, on another, and eight lively huskies wrestling in the yard.
“I think I’m making up for the first 33 years of my life,” Goodner says with a proud parent’s grin.
Two years ago, Goodner says, Nessa ended up in his backyard for a day while friends sought a new home for her. Her anxious howling drew him out into the yard and that’s when everything changed.
“I looked in her eyes and she just had this spark and it was fascinating,” Goodner says. “At the end of that time, I was almost dead from allergies but I was changed. It was like seeing another color for the first time.”
After he adopted Nessa, Goodner decided she needed a friend. And after realizing how many other huskies needed help, he turned his southside home into Montana’s only husky rescue, a place where abandoned dogs otherwise slated for euthanasia at other shelters can receive love, training and help finding a new family. Weekly allergy shots and daily oral medications keep Goodner’s symptoms “95 percent under control,” and the creatures he once despised now join him in bed.
Over the last year, he’s fostered 10 dogs for an Idaho shelter, and at the start of September he began taking in and adopting out dogs independently. Affiliated with petfinder.com, which matches Goodner’s vet bills, the rescue’s business is picking up and Goodner (who can be reached at email@example.com) says he can always use donations of food, fencing and vet supplies.
Dogs of the husky persuasion changed his life, Goodner says, and now he’s more than happy to help them improve theirs.