Applications Coordinator
Lucy Ryley

Lucy Ryley has had pet Westies since 1967 and her first show Westie in 2000 (Sweet Sounds Double Trouble – “Stevie”) has excelled in his show career, achieving a national ranking of #3 Westie in 2002.

In 2005 she bred her first litter, of which three achieved their Championships.  Her newest addition should start her show career in August of 2008. Her Westie family can be seen at

Lucy has been involved in Westie Rescue since 1999 and is the past Rescue Chairperson for the West Highland White Terrier Society of Connecticut.  She is a charter member of the WHWTSOC.

Lucy has been a member of the WHWTCA since 1993 and served on its National Rescue Committee in 2001.

She is an associate member of the WHWTC of Greater Washington.

Lucy is a Founding Member of WestieMed.

Vice President
Website Coordinator
Sandy Gilmer

Sandy Gilmer and her husband have been owned by dogs for over 45 years. They began their love of Westies in 1986 when they added two Westies to their family, their beloved Sam and Jennie. Since then their lives have been devoted to the breed. Two more delightful Westie pups, Rocky and Kalie, were added to their family in 1998. In 2014, they adopted their sweet Annie, a charming 11-year old rescue Westie who quickly stole their hearts.

With a desire to give back to the Westie community in appreciation of her wonderful Westies, Sandy has volunteered continuously with Westie dog clubs and Westie rescue organizations, both nationally and locally, for the past 25 years.

Sandy is a Founding Member of WestieMed.

Recording Secretary
Denise Sunkel

Denise Sunkel has been involved with Westies since 1989.  Her first Westie, Sadie of 13 years, has inspired her to continue her efforts in in helping and assisting Westies in need.

She is presently a new member of WHWTCA and a member of the Indiana Westie Rescue group since 2002.

She comes from a family of two Westies, a field spaniel, and husband Morrie who provide her with support and encouragement to carry out her desires in helping such a wonderful breed.

Denise joined the WestieMed Board in 2009.

Corresponding Secretary 
Ellen Williams
(South Carolina)

Ellen fell in love with the West Highland White Terrier breed when she was in her teens. She and her husband adopted their first Westie for their first anniversary, in 2001. They had Casey from 8 weeks old until she passed at age 17. They have been loved by Westies ever since! They foster failed with Ellen’s heart dog, Squeekers who was a puppy mill momma in 2012. Unfortunately, Squeeks’ time was cut way too short by a nerve sheath tumor. They adopted their second foster fail, Whitney in 2016.

Ellen has had experience with many Westie health issues over the years. She is an avid reader on dog-health. She feels it’s important to educate herself on this topic to be able to advocate for her pet’s health.

Ellen and her husband foster Westies through Westie Rescue of Missouri and Cairn Rescue USA. They moved from the Chicago area to the Charleston, SC area in 2019 and eventually plan to foster for Southeastern Westie rescues. They also support other local and national rescue organizations. Ellen is happy to be able to further help out Westies by being on the WestieMed board.

Ellen joined the WestieMed Board in 2024.

Jon Elkow

Jon Elkow grew up in Brooklyn, NY.  He married Barbara Breslin the same year they graduated from Brooklyn College (Jon with a BS in Accounting). They moved to CT in 1964 and despite Jon’s 35-year career with IBM have never moved since.  Jon received an MBA in Corporation Finance from NYU.

Jon and Barbara joined the Westie world 25 years ago when Fiona entered their lives and have never looked back.  Since then they have lived with Robbie, Tuppence, Annie, Tucker, Jennie, and Molly as actual members of the family, as well as a bunch of part-timers who passed thru as they fostered.  The most were when they hosted the Missouri Six for several weeks until they could teach these rescued Westies to walk on grass and live outside of a cage.  They were all placed.  Left ruling their lives are Tucker and Jenny, both rescues.

Jon and Barbara, have been active in the CT Westie Society; Jon served as President and Treasurer and Barbara co-chaired their rescue operation with Lucy Ryley.  Jon has also been active in the community, serving as the Treasurer of their church for several years as well as serving on the Board of Education and chairing it.  He currently volunteers as the Ridgefield coordinator for AARP TaxAide, preparing tax returns for low to moderate-income taxpayers at no cost.

They have a second home on Cape Cod that they try to visit as often as possible.  Thanks to modern telecommunications, they are never far from the phone or the mail.

Jon joined the WestieMed Board in 2018.

Board Member 
Carolyn Piccininni
(New Jersey)

When Carolyn Piccininni met her husband Ralph 16 years ago, she’d never heard of a Westie.  As soon as she met 1-year-old Roscoe, she was hooked. They added a second Westie, Bentley, to their family a year later.  In 1998, she found the message list Westie-L and got connected to a group of folks who were as crazy about Westies as she was.

In the summer of 1998, through Westie-L Carolyn found and joined the West Highland White Terrier Club of Northern NJ.  Later that same year, while pregnant with her second baby, she took in her first rescue Westie.  Over the next 6 years she was a Rescue Volunteer, and including 2 as the Rescue Coordinator for WHWTCNNJ.
Carolyn and Ralph live in New Jersey with their 2 boys, Louis and Dante.  The family is still owned by 2 Westies, but now the Westies are Rocky and Cosmo.  Roscoe and Bentley are waiting at the Bridge.

Carolyn joined the WestieMed Board in 2009.

Newsletter Editor
Rachel Scott (Massachusetts)

Rachel Scott has always loved animals, starting with a pony and graduating to jumpers whom she put through their paces in horse shows throughout the US.  And where there are horses there are always dogs; and the barns usually had Jack Russell terriers.  So that is where Rachel developed her special appreciation of the terrier personality, full of feistiness and with unlimited energy and curiosity.  Her first dog was a Jack Russell and after only a short time she could not resist finding another; they were her babies and she doted on them seriously.  When Rachel was a child she used to watch her neighbor walk a white Westie (Salt) and a Scottie (Pepper)  back and forth in front of her house every day and it always stuck in her mind how much that Westie appealed to her.  So, when the Jack Russell passed on at around 17, Rachel was on the lookout for a Westie.  

In 2011 she began volunteering to transport Westies for New England Westie Rescue and out of that she began to take in Westies for foster care.  One might have predicted that the Westies who were fostered became treasures in Rachel’s heart and, before long, she had three Westies, all of which needed a little bit of extra care and love and one of whom was in hospice care and had multiple serious medical conditions which required lots of vet visits, special diet, and myriad prescription pills  Her hospice Westie, Sammy, passed in July 2016 and his presence is still very much with her.  

Rachel has a continuing interest in protecting Westies at risk and making sure that the very ill Westies have the medicine and treatment which their owners sometimes cannot afford.  

Rachel joined the WestieMed Board in 2016.

Marketing Coordinator
Rachel Phelps

Rachel Phelps is a pet industry influencer best known for her development of the nationally recognized dog blog She is a professional member of the Dog Writers Association of America and the Cat Writers Association. She is a regular speaker on pet issues, rescue topics, and the use of social media. She oversees the social media endeavors, website, and general PR for several nonprofits.
She and her husband Brad own Preston Media Group, a full-service media and event planning agency specializing in the pet industry.

Rachel is also very involved in the animal welfare community. She is the founder and president of the Preston Cares Network Westie Rescue which covers Indiana and Kentucky. She is also on the board of Shorty’s Rescue, an international non-profit that works to provide free veterinary care for animals in need throughout the United States and Mexico.

Rachel and her husband have four “fur kids” – Preston, Daisy, and Piper (all Westies) and one cat named Dillon who is very much outnumbered by little white dogs in the house!

Rachel joined the WestieMed Board in 2012.

Gift Shop Coordinator
Becky Walker

Becky Walker has been owned by Westies since 1992. Her love of the breed grew, and through the internet, she was able to connect with other Westie lovers.  Through an internet message board, she learned about rescue and was eager to become involved.  She co-founded a Westie rescue group that served five states. She initiated a rescue internet message board that brought together rescuers and groups from all over the US.  Rescues and transportation were coordinated and Westie rescue took off, growing by leaps and bounds.  

After leaving the Westie rescue group, she became a board member of WestieMed and served from 2000 to 2009.  During that time her main function was fundraising.  Becky took a leave of absence from WestieMed for several years but is back now, and eager to help in any way she can.
Becky re-joined the WestieMed Board in 2013.

Auction Coordinator and  Application Follow-up Coordinator
Linda Duncan

Linda Duncan can remember only two years (while she and her family were stationed in Japan) in her lifetime that she didn’t share her life with a dog.  She was introduced to the world of terriers via her Cairn Terriers in 1971.  Having had a near-perfect Cairn Terrier, she researched and chose to explore the Westie world getting her first  Westie  (Mickey) in 1981.   Mickey often went to work with her at the nursing home where Linda was a licensed nursing home administrator before the benefits of therapy dogs were widely accepted.  In the early 2000s, Linda got her second Westie,  Nessie.  Because of social media, Linda became aware of the many Westies in need of rescue and furever homes.  She reached out to the local rescue group opening her heart and home to countless Westies, Cairns, and occasional terrier mixes since 2004.  Nessie played a big role in welcoming each furkid and sharing Linda with them.  Of the various Westies that Linda has fostered, there were many with health issues including heartworms, skin allergies, socialization, aggression, Addison’s, and Westie Lung Disease (Pulmonary Fibrosis).  

IF she had to name favorites of her fosters it would be thosewith Addison’s or Westie Lung Disease.  Because her own Westie, Nessie, was diagnosed with Addison’s shortly after Linda started fostering, the Addisonian furkids are near and dear to her.   There was one female Westie that was an owner surrender from New Orleans whose family said they were never able to stabilize her Addisons.  This precious furkid came into rescue one week prior to Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans – no doubt luck was on her side to get out of New Orleans. SuziQ was another long-term furever Addisonian rescue living with Linda for over 4 years.  Even though these three had Addison’s, they had unique needs and personalities. Linda’s first encounter with Westie Lung Disease was with a retired male breeding Westie (Smookie).  He walked into her house with a twinkle in his eye, wagging his tail and smiling; yet, oblivious to how poorly he had lived prior to his as well as how ill he was. Throughout his time with Linda, Smookie never complained and actually discovered not only toys but also TV! Kenner, her current Westie Lung Disease furever rescue, has been with Linda for almost three years.  The shelter staff was concerned he wasn’t “selling himself” and ready to put him down until a fellow rescuer contacted Linda to step in.  Once Kenner’s meds kicked in, Kenner started showing his Westietude and antics. He will live his remaining life knowing he is loved.

When Linda’s Dad passed away, she had to make the difficult decision to give up her lead active role in rescue so that she would be free to help her mother.  Linda kept four of the rescue dogs that she considered not adoptable due to age, health, or behavior issues.  This includes Oscar (a Westie mix), Josie (a retired Cairn breeder), Kenner (a Westie with Westie Lung Disease), and Stewart, a fortunate recipient of WestieMed assistance for his Total Ear Canal Ablation (TECA) with no hearing and decreasing vision.  After losing Nessie two years prior to this, she had made the decision to adopt Rory (a Cairn) as her own (he had experienced three failed adoptions attributed to his nervousness) which makes a total of five furkids (Westies and Cairns) sharing Linda’s life.

Once an individual gets involved in rescue, it is difficult to step away.  Linda continues to coordinate with the other Westie rescue groups in Texas.  She does home visits in the Central Texas area when needed.  She helps with owner surrenders or westies in shelters in Central Texas and fosters until schedules can be coordinated to transport to the rescue group.  Linda can often be seen at the various Celtic/Scottish festivals in Central Texas helping at the Texas Scottie Rescue Fund booth – spreading the word of rescue for the Caledonian furkid cousins (Scotties, Cairns, and Westies!)

Linda joined the WestieMed Board in 2015.

Virtual Candle Coordinator and
WHWTCA Liaison

Karen Spalding

Karen Spalding grew up with dogs and had them for as long as she can remember.  She purchased her first Westie, Muffy, in 1995.  When Muffy was about a year old Karen saw a “give away” ad in her local paper for a 7-year-old female Westie.  She called about the dog and went on her lunch break to meet her.  After hearing her story, Karen arranged to pick her up at 5 pm that evening.  Her name was Diamond, not housetrained and neglected.  Karen trained Diamond with Muffy’s help.  They had Diamond for several years when she became very jealous of people that came over and of Muffy.  Diamond went to live with good friends and was very happy as an only dog.   In 1997 Karen added a male Westie to her home. 

Karen joined the local (Greater Washington) Westie club in 1998 to meet other Westie people.  While in the club she became active in rescue and it was actually her husband who volunteered them for fostering at one of the meetings.   They offered to take in the next rescue which occurred a month later on Christmas Eve. Her name was Mandy and she fit into their family beautifully.  At 10 years old she was deaf and found her forever home with Karen.  For years Mandy was a participant in the National Parade of Rescue and represented their club in an All Breed Parade of Rescue at a local kennel club dog show. 

Mandy’s story is in one of the past issues of the Westie Imprint.  Karen became co-chair and later chair of the rescue committee.  She also served as Treasurer and Secretary. That club is now inactive.  In 2000, she joined the West Highland White Terrier Club of America (WHWTCA) and in 2002 Karen purchased her first show Westie, Zoe.   Zoe is a daughter of Lucy Ryley’s “Stevie”.   Zoe loves toys and will keep them forever.  Now her son, Chase (Ch. Ivydale Nothing But Trouble) kills them immediately like his grandfather! Karen continues to be active in rescue and has served as President of Westie Rescue, Inc. since it was organized as a non- profit in 2000.  In 2010 she was asked to serve on the National Rescue Committee of the WHWTCA.

Karen joined the WestieMed Board in 2011.

Ex-Officio Board Member – Consulting Veterinarian
Dr. Kevin Shrewsberry
(Ragley, LA)

Dr. Shrewsberry has been a Consulting Veterinarian for WestieMed since 2019.

Ex-Officio Board Member – Consulting Financial Advisor
James Gniadek
(Hamden, CT)

Mr. Gniadek has been a Consulting Financial Advisor for WestieMed since 2009.

Ex-Officio Board Member – Website Consultant
Brad Phelps
(Owensboro, KY)

Mr. Phelps has been a Website Consultant for WestieMed since 2021.

Ex-Officio Board Member – Consulting Attorney
Lisa Curry, Esq.
(Randolph, NJ)

Ex-Officio Board Member – Auction Consultant
Gerry Cannavan
(Peoria, IL)

Ms. Curry has been a Consulting Attorney for WestieMed since 2015.

Ms. Cannavan has served on the board since 2016 and has been an Auction Consultant since 2023.