New Pine Plains Herald

My Pine Plains: Fire Tower Rescue, 18 Septembers Ago

Rosie, the rescued dog, at home.
Credit: Linda Dorrer

Back in 2005, at the Dutchess County Courthouse where I worked, our secretary was reading the newspaper. “Look,” she said, “they found a dog in the fire tower out where you live.” 

My husband and I had already adopted a stray dog that had found us on Silvernails Road in Pine Plains, but were thinking about getting a friend for him since we both worked full time and Ruffy was alone all day. So, I went to the Dutchess County SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in Hyde Park on my lunch hour and met the fire tower dog.  

She was a reddish chow mix about 3 years old and had been abandoned. (Yes, the person was later caught and paid a sizeable fine.) No one knew how she ended up in the Stissing Mountain fire tower or how long she had been there. It was September and the nights were cool and the breeze was brisk up in the tower. 

An 82-year-old man, Al Poelzl, and a buddy frequently hiked Stissing Mountain and sometimes climbed the tower. (Yes, you read that right!) On this particular day, Al had had his camera with him and snapped a picture of the dog. Who would believe him without proof? He could not get the dog to follow him down from the tower so, as soon as he got home, he phoned the SPCA. That same night Doug Niederkorn from the SPCA and Pine Plains Police Officer Shawn Ogden hiked the mountain and rescued the dog. She was cold, frightened and very hungry. 

And so, we adopted Rosie and she joined our family and brother Ruffy. Al, the man who found her, became our friend and visited Rosie every now and then and even gave me the picture he had taken that day up in the tower. Rosie lived out her life to the age of 14 and was loved every day until she went over the Rainbow Bridge. She is buried here at home next to her brother Ruffy. 

Al Poelzl, whose discovery of Rosie in the Stissing Fire Tower made all the difference.
Credit: Linda Dorrer

Recently, in the Office of the Aging newsletter, I saw that our friend Al, who lives in the Town of LaGrange, had reached the magnificent age of 100, so I sent him a note. He promptly called me up to reminisce, as we always do, about his finding Rosie in the fire tower. As I’ve said to him more than once, “Al, that’s probably one of the best things you’ve done in your lifetime, getting Rosie rescued.” And he answered, as he always does, “Yes, it was the best.” 


As we commemorate the 200th anniversary of the town we all call home, the New Pine Plains Herald wants to hear from you!     

Maybe you have a family story that stretches back through generations. Maybe you remember a favorite walk, friendship or pet. It could be the winning run in a baseball game, the birth of a calf or the crunch of autumn leaves. There’s simply no limit to what Pine Plains represents to each of the people who live here.     

Throughout the Bicentennial year, the Herald will be publishing your stories, creating a portrait of the town through your memories and images. If you’ve got a story you’d like to share, please send 200 to 500 words (ideally) and 1-2 photographs to If you’ve got a great story to share but don’t care for writing, get in touch! We’d be happy to listen to your story and help put it into print.   

Please include your name, brief biographical details and contact information so we can reach you with any questions or edits.     

We look forward to hearing from you! 

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