Pull up to Equine Rescue of Aiken’s barn, and you may be greeted by Trip. He’s shaped like a pointer only black with brindle and brown lights in his shiny coat. And it’s not just the tail and grin that welcome you; his entire slender frame wags with excitement. Trip’s greeting is so enthusiastic that you may not notice he is missing a leg.

Trip was originally named Trigger. He arrived as a puppy more than a year ago in a North Augusta neighborhood and soon came to rely on the neighborhood for his care. When a car mangled his hind leg, Trigger’s owners tried to deny he was theirs, then provided no care.

The neighbor Trigger turned to for help three days later, raw bone protruding from his infected leg, knew she was moving to an apartment, knew her Chihuahuas would hate him, and yet, she spent thousands to save him anyway. Ultimately, unable to place him, she surrendered him to the Aiken County Shelter.

The FOTAS volunteers adored Trigger. Why not? He is affectionate, intelligent, eager to please and easily one of the happiest dogs alive.

Meanwhile, the mission at Equine Rescue had evolved to encompass rehabilitation. And under Jim and Debbie’s expansive definitions of care, the mission not only included rescued horses, but puppies, dogs, cats, kittens and people, especially disabled veterans.

Months earlier, Jim had queried FOTAS about a three-legged dog to help with the veterans. Then there was the injured puppy that needed a leg amputated. That baby didn’t make it out of surgery. Then Debbie said no more dogs. Then their rescue dog named Tilly started showing aggression towards the horses. And then there was Trigger needing a home.

FOTAS arranged the swap, Trigger for Tilly, who was transferred up North. Trigger went to the farm, Jim made a joke (you will have to ask Jim) and “Trigger” became “Trip.”

Jim and Debbie were a bit concerned about how their very insecure Great Dane, Kelso, was going to handle Trip. Kelso is very attached to Debbie and, therefore, quite protective. The other eight canine members of the family sniffed Trip’s stump, offered their condolences and moved on. Kelso decided it was time to have a very best friend and Trip fit the bill.

When thunder and lightning portend the end of Kelso’s world, he turns to Trip, and Trip to him.

Trip has been at Equine Rescue for about a month now and you would think he founded the program. His upbeat presence is everywhere: surveying the Shetland ponies learning to trust, supervising the volunteers tacking up to ride, checking to make sure the 11 5-week-old terrier-mix puppies found in an abandoned house are okay and assuring that Jim doesn’t need him for something else.

Would you like to help? Trip wants to be certified as a therapy dog. The puppies all need a home, as do a momma cat and her three kittens (check Equine Rescue of Aiken’s website for pictures).

Please support Animal Rescue.FOTAS volunteers work with the Aiken County Animal Shelter, 411 Wire Road. For more information, email info@fotasaiken.org or visit www.fotasaiken.org.