Pets Archive Four legs and fur fill empty nests

Four legs and fur fill empty nests


Baby boomers Laurie and Ed Blain of Harpswell have a long reach in arranging dog adoptions through their nonprofit dog-rescue organization, Puppy Love Inc.

People from around the state adopt dogs through Puppy Love, and Mike and Jean Richards are a prime example. The Holden couple were enduring empty-nest syndrome when they took in Smokey, an Australian mix. Not once, but twice.

“Our guy was pretty stressed up,” Jean Richards said. “He was never abused but he was never at home, so he was pretty afraid.”

Laurie Blain, 54, and Ed, 56, say they have placed nearly 700 dogs saved from “high-kill” Louisiana shelters and placed them in Maine homes in the past three years. They arrange for the dogs to be transported to Maine, then use a foster-home network that satisfies the state’s holding requirement of at least 48 hours prior to the hoped-for adoption. Empty-nester themselves, the Blains have six dogs of their own at their Bailey Island home.

Mike and Jean Richards are both 52. When their son Corey, now 28, still was living at home, they got a dog for him. Corey Richards was 24 and living on his own when they had to euthanize the dog at the age of 13.

“It was June 26, 2010,” Jean Richards said. “You can tell we really loved the dog. We remember the exact date.”

That’s when the Richardses felt the empty nest.

“We needed (Smokey) because there was an empty nest – no kid, no dog,” Jean Richards said. “This was dog empty-nest syndrome.”

They found Puppy Love on the Internet, and made the trip to Bailey Island in September 2011. The Blains told them Smokey’s story.

“People were pulling puppies from underneath this man’s porch in Louisiana,” Jean Richards said. “Ours was one of those puppies that were pulled out from underneath that porch. We love him.”

Mike Richards said that Smokey acted “really scared” when they arrived at Puppy Love. They brought him home, and he was still “a mess” on Sunday morning.

“Mike said we had to bring him back,” Jean Richards said. The Blains took the dog back.

The Blains, as they often do, took the dog into their home and did their best to rehabilitate him. Mike and Jean Richards, all the while, still wanted a dog, and returned to Bailey Island to talk to the Blains. Smokey was still there.

“We brought him back,” Jean Richards said.

For a short while, all went well.

“He was doing OK for a few days,” Jean Richards said, “then the dog scooted away in the woods, and didn’t return. We searched all week long, and I got ticks. Ed and Laurie came and tried to lure him back with a kennel mate. We tramped in the woods every day from morning to night.”

All the while, Smokey had found a familiar setting. Finally, someone found Smokey two miles away at an abandoned house.

“He wouldn’t come to us,” Jean Richards said. “Finally, Mike bought him a rotisserie chicken, but he still wouldn’t come to him. This lasted for days. Then he went into a shed, and Mike closed the door on him. When Mike went inside, Smokey jumped into his arms, like he was glad it was over, too.”

The dog was full of ticks, and was treated by a veterinarian.

Three years later, they have a great pet. They will take Smokey to the annual Puppy Love Fundraiser, scheduled for Sept. 27 at the Orr’s Island Schoolhouse.

“If you could see him now,” Jean Richards said. “I can’t wait to show him to Ed and Laurie.”

When it comes to empty-nesters adopting pets, the Richardses are not alone.

Julia Klosko, the customer service associate who sits at the front desk of the Coastal Humane Society in Brunswick, said it’s a common phenomenon.

“We do see a lot of it, and a lot of the time,” Klosko said. “They’re usually looking for an older animal. They don’t want to bother with training animals, or ones that need constant attention. They want a companion more than an infant. You know, they raised their kids.”

Larry Grard is a staff writer at Current Publishing.


Puppy Love provides full veterinary care to its dogs, as well as screening, counseling and support to adoptive families. Operational costs far exceed the adoption donation of $395 that is received from adopters, the Blains say. The transportation cost for each dog is $175, and each rescue dog receives wellness exams, vaccinations, heartworm testing and spay/neutering. Heartworm-positive dogs are treated following the American Heartworm Society’s recommended 61-day regimen.

The Puppy Love fundraiser is Sept. 27 at the Orr’s Island Schoolhouse. It will include live music by the Holy Mackerels, a buffet and silent auction with more than 200 items. For more information about the organization or the fundraiser, see, call 833-5199 or email

Laurie Blain holds her 10-month-old chocolate lab, Emma, who on June 5, 2010, suffered a fatal injury when another dog became entangled in the Invisible Fence transmitter collar Emma was wearing. Shortly after Emma’s death, the Blains began Puppy Love Inc. 


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