Griffin’s incredible story

Published 7:36 pm Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Griffin’s journey began one night in 2006 when he was dropped off at the Chilton County Humane Society by either his owner or someone who found him.

Malnourished, cold and shaking, he wasn’t the most trusting dog in the world when it came to humans. But the Brittany Spaniel immediately caught the eye of Rebecca Harshman, an animal rescue advocate who had just started volunteering at the shelter.

Harshman took the dog home to nurse him back to health. She estimated he was about 2 years old. His freckles reminded her of Opie on “The Andy Griffith Show,” so she gave him the name Griffin (a variation of “Griffith”).

“Griffin was one of the first rescue pulls when I got started as a volunteer,” Harshman recalled. “He was one of the most needy dogs I had seen.”

She transported Griffin to Far Out Fields Brittany Rescue in Ocala, Fla. Harshman knew they could rehabilitate and train him to be a loving family pet.

It just so happened Janice Clardy Massa and her husband, John, of Millbrook came upon Griffin’s picture on At the time they had an older Brittany Spaniel and wanted a companion for him, so they decided to drive down and adopt Griffin.

“I love them (Brittany Spaniels),” said Janice, the former District Attorney for Chilton, Elmore and Autauga counties. “I think they are the sweetest dogs.”

Now back in Central Alabama, Griffin has come a long way in terms of both distance and quality of life. He goes with the Massas to every Auburn football game and sings “War Eagle” on command.

Griffin even had a taste of the campaign trail during the recent election. Bobby Bright, Janice’s brother-in-law, featured him in two of his campaign commercials while running for the 2nd Congressional District of Alabama.

“He’s a movie star now,” she said.

But Griffin’s owners know that without the dedication of animal rescue groups, he might not be with them today.

“Griffin was one of the lucky ones,” Harshman said. “That dog was terrified. He had to be rehabilitated to trust people.”

Harshman, now a member of Chilton Animal Rescue, urges anyone with an unwanted pet to consider the option of rescue.

“They can’t speak for themselves,” she said. “If you don’t want your dog, don’t drop it off somewhere. Get online and find a rescue.”

She also asks pet owners to have their animals spayed or neutered to prevent overpopulation.

Anyone wishing to get involved in animal rescue or desiring more information may send an e-mail to