A New Leash On Life

BEMUS POINT – A pedigree of dog rarely seen in the United States made a visit to a local groomer Friday

John and SueAnn Helgren, owners and proprietors of Doggie Style grooming in Bemus Point, welcomed Kay into their business early Friday morning. Kay is a Sloughi, native to northern Africa, and has an interesting story about how she wound up in Chautauqua County.

Kay belongs to Navy Lt. Douglas McDowell, who rescued her from Bahrain while deployed for active duty in the Middle East.

“There were a few Bahrainis (people of Bahrain) who were getting rid of nuisance animals by throwing them into a burn barrel,” said Bob McDowell, Douglas’ father. “The dogs that were being thrown in were just puppies, and one of my son’s friends witnessed what was happening and stopped it. He managed to save two of the puppies, so my son took one and his friend took one.”

Surprisingly enough, shipping Kay from Bahrain to New York was not as much of a hassle for McDowell as one would think. According to Bob, Kay spent a little less than an hour in customs before she left JFK.

“Everything was in order when Kay landed,” said Bob. “All of her shots were brought up to date by an Army veterinarian before Douglas put her on the airplane, and everything went according to plans when she landed.”

However, there was some sacrifice that had to be made to get Kay into the United States. Happenstance would have it that Kay landed in New York City the day of McDowell’s parents’ 40th anniversary; so instead of celebrating the occasion, Bob and Gerri McDowell spent eight hours driving from Chautauqua to New York City to pick up their son’s dog from JFK.

“We didn’t even get to do anything in the city, because we had a dog with us,” said Bob. “We did stop at a New York City deli, though, and we enjoyed that.”

Kay lived with McDowell’s parents until he returned from duty. Once he was back in the states, he and Kay made a trip across the country to Monterey, Calif., where McDowell spent a year for Naval Post Grad School.

Following his graduation, McDowell and Kay moved to Newport, R.I., then to Norfolk, Va. McDowell is preparing for active duty once again, and Kay will again live with his parents until he returns from duty.

“She’s very comfortable around us, but I think she knows that she’s Douglas’ dog,” said Gerri, McDowell’s mother. “She never acts around us the way she acts when she’s around Douglas.”

The Helgrens were honored to be able to groom a breed as rarely seen in the United States as the Sloughi, and were touched by McDowell’s story, especially since rescuing Kay was above and beyond his responsibilities in the Navy.

“We’re really proud to support the military, and stories like this show just how caring our soldiers are,” said SueAnn.

Doggie Style grooming is located at 3913 Westman Road in Bemus Point. Questions about services can be answered by calling 969-3494 or by emailing doggiestylebemuspoint@yahoo.com. More information can be found at www.doggiestylebemus.com.