Tell me about your shelter dogs

We lost our 11 year old best dog in the world unexpectedly in December. Since he was my company around here, I couldn’t bear the thought of not having a dog, and we went to the shelter and had a 3 month old puppy from SC within a few days. She’s a feisty joy, and very different from old boy. She was my pick (well, we weren’t allowed near the puppies, so I said I’d take any pup from the first pen;). We saw another dog when we were there, an older 7 month old gsd mix, that most of the volunteers were afraid of. That was the dog my husband wanted, but December was such a difficult month (I lost my brother unexpectedly on Christmas Eve 2020), I just wanted a joyful bundle of puppy to offset the month, not a project.

Anyway, my husband couldn’t stop thinking about this dog, convinced a friend to finally adopt him, with the caveat that if he proved too much, we would take him. Not surprisingly, this large dog didn’t work out there, and he’s been with us for almost 2 months. He did unfortunately spend some formative months between 6 months and a year old not getting socialized, stressed in a shelter environment, and handled by only a couple of volunteers who weren’t afraid of him. He was also adopted and returned after a week. Since he’s been here, he’s learned to play with our female pup (thankfully she’s tough!), is learning to be in nature, and is generally doing really well. He’s definitely a sensitive gsd type, and has had some submissive peeing issues with my husband. He’s generally coming out of his shell and is learning to be a dog and developing a personality.

So tell me about your dogs from the shelter. What kind of changes did you see? How long before they really settled in? How much did they change from when you first brought them home?

Last year I adopted a year old coonhound from the shelter. He had never eaten out of a bowl, been in a house and had zero manners. The first three months were trying to say the least. However, he was a sweet guy who really wants to please. Over this year, he has changed so much and has become a good (mostly, after all he is a hound) dog. Gomer would steal things off tables, shelves etc… he had an obsession with my pillows and placemats and kept hoarding them. It took him about two months to understand how to navigate stairs. He would not eat out of a bowl, which I never experienced. That was a painstaking process! He had never had treats or cheese, so I could not use that to entice him. I literally fed him from the floor, then a paper towel, then a paper plate, regular plate, shallow bowl to a dog bowl. It took forever! Lol. He is so happy now and loves his life! He has a few old scars,one of which is around is neck, that I’ll never know how he got them.

Your guy has been through a lot. The main thing is patience and consistency. One great piece of advice, do not feel sorry for them because it will excuse their behavior. Set an expectation and ask them to meet it. Since you’re already seeing changes, I bet it won’t take long for him to be a good companion.


not out of shelter but headed there was this 140 pound German Shepherd who was said to be 1/4 wolf

He was one of great dogs we have had over the years who was our kids’ protection dog, nothing or no one the dog did not know as save could get near the kids

then there was Kelley the little black and white dog in this line up, rescued from a Houston apartment …possibility the smartest dog we ever had, she knew hundreds of tricks which my daughter used in elementary school talent shows (dressed up like a clown)…the Red dog next to her was an Irish Setter also rescued… he was most likely the dumbest dog in the world

12-18-2004 075


Most of our dogs have been shelter/ rescue dogs/ strays.

We have had excellent results with all of them. Some did take longer to really integrate into the family and build real trust but we just treat them all the same and lavish them with love ( i can’t help it).

All of ours were under a year old but obviously had mixed backgrounds. We just gave them time to develop and process at their pace and they blossomed.

I am sure you new boy will too.

I‘ve only ever adopted older or senior shelter dogs (except one), so the changes I saw were mostly just going from scared/reserved to delighted to be back in a home again. It usually took about a month to really see the actual dog I had, and they have all been amazing.

I love the old guys because they’re almost always housebroken, done with the destructive phase, and just want to be someone’s best friend. You lose them too quickly, but it’s still worth it!


They are so gorgeous, so funny, and dumb as rocks, well the ones I have met have been so!


I’m on my 4th & 5th, always with two at a time. They’ve all been different

  1. (1992) Lab/chow male adopted from the county shelter at 9 weeks old. He was an easy, happy puppy with the normal puppy issues, and a very smart dog. He just came home with me (I was 23) and that was that. I don’t recall any issues other than the day I stayed out late and he got into my trash and shredded and distributed it as evenly as possible throughout the kitchen/living room. He was 3 years old that day. This dog was petrified of the smell of lamb cooking, and very concerned/protective of my baby when I had one in 2001. He died in 2005.

  2. (1995) This female lab mix was not from a shelter, but from the white trash renters down the street. She was running loose on a main road and covered in fleas. She was probably 9 months to a year old, not housebroken, although they told me she slept in the kids’ beds (with fleas), and had never been to the vet. She was happy and friendly and it was not too difficult to housebreak her and teach her some manners. This one was petrified of snakes or snake skins. She died in 2010.

  3. (2006) Golden mix? from a shelter. She was very outgoing and energetic and they tried to talk me into an older dog because of my 5 year old child. She was 6 months old and had been at the shelter I got her from for two months, and was trucked up from another shelter before that, so I don’t know if she was anyone’s pet as a very young puppy or not. This was my “heart dog” and she loved me as much as I loved her. She was eager to please and easy to train. This one was petrified of hot air balloons. She died in 2020.

  4. (2011) One year old Medium mix from the south (9 years later DNA says boxer, golden retriever, great pyrenees, Boston terrier and rottweiler). This one broke my streak of happy, easy dogs. She was a year old. Something bad must have happened to her. She was very scared and nervous, and always thinking the worst - like if you lift a leg over her or move your hand too quickly, she screams and cringes, thinking she’s getting hit. It made training her very difficult and she never learned more than the basics. However, potty training was a breeze - I don’t know if she was trained at one point in her life or just to scared to screw up. Now, 11 years later, I still can’t step over her or move too quickly in her direction. It’s not as bad as it once was, but you’d think after 11 years of not being hit by me that she’d get over it. She is very sweet and loves soft petting and being close. So this one’s fear is getting hit or kicked.

  5. (2020) Several months after #3 died it was time to start again, and I wanted a young puppy again since I had the time. Unfortunately, this was right in the midst of the pandemic puppy craze and it was slim pickings and lots of competition. I strayed from my lab/retriever mix “type” and got what turned out to be a GSD/Coonhound/Bloodhound/pit bull/lab mix. Her pregnant mother had been brought up from MS to a foster home. There were many dogs in this foster home (two litters of puppies plus several adults) and I don’t think they got socialized outside the house at all. Mine was the last one left, having been turned down by the first people for “something smaller” (but in hindsight I wonder if it was because she was afraid). She was scared of me at the meet and greet. I took her anyway. It took a few days to get used to me and my son. Now she is two and is still iffy about strangers but optimistic that they might have treats for her. She’s also afraid of overly friendly/forward dogs, especially if they’re big. The looks and personality are GSD and hound, and those are both new for me. She is the smartest dog I’ve ever had, yet is not as motivated to please as I’d like. She is very attached to me, though. She is doing great with agility training except when her nose finds something more interesting to do. I have some resource guarding issues between her and my other dog but never with people. At two years old, I still have hope that she’ll mature into a great dog like all the others.

1 Like

When we lost my old Doberman, I was t going to have another dog, then we got broken into! The search started for a new dog, preferably a Rottiie or Dobie. We checked out all the shelters, my son fancied the Rottie we found, gorgeous but had been returned several times because of aggression…that was a hard pass.

Drove several miles to go see a Doberman cross, only to find a perfectly shaped Basset Hound, with perfect Doberman markings…another Nope! But a few kennels along was this little dude that looked like a badly singed hearth rug, grey, brown, bald in bits…but then he looked at me and i melted. The were a little reluctant for us to take him, he had been returned for being ‘difficult’ OK, difficult is fine, dangerous isn’t.

So Muttley came home, and I spent the first 2 days sitting in the floor with him, because he was so scared, and just wanted to be loved. After that he started coming out of his shell, and eventually became a fun member of the family. It was heartbreaking finding all his triggers, pick up a broom or a stick, and he would cower. A man with a beer bottle in hand would make him run and hide. It took two years to unpack everything for him, worth every second.


Then there’s the time my son’s girlfriend, who was keeping her horses way out in the country, wanted a protection dog. Somehow the two of them thought that a 2 year old unsocialised Doberman, would fit the bill, shocker, he didn’t. So Nemo came to live with us, and we had a bit of a tough time getting him to be a good pack member with Muttley, but he got there, and became a great dog. He just needed some clear rules and boundaries, to learn where his place was, and exercise. Lots and lots, then some more exercise :rofl:

The latest, well she neve made it to a shelter, was found wandering the side of the road miles from anywhere, looking like she had been nursing pups. A male dog was subsequently found in the same general area, we think they were dumped. The lady who found her tried to make it work, but she had several other dogs, and this little dear, and one of her own bitches hated each other, so she came to us. Dog aggressive, but not to our old JRT, noisy aggressive towards people, but doesn’t attack. I always thought she was nervous, but vet says she isn’t, just has lousy attitude. Nearly got her good, when he got attacked, in our yard, by a couple of roaming big dogs. Fortunately she had the sense to squeeze under the trailer, so wasn’t hurt, but we were right back at square one…


My second dog was from the shelter - God knows what mix he was, he looked like he had Border collie, Pyrenees, Newfoundland, and maybe some terrier in him. We took him because he was little, and friendly. Little and friendly turned into 120lbs of friendly quickly, though he almost died of parvo (we’d taken him directly to the vet for his shots, and we think he had just enough time to develop antibodies before he got sick). Cinders was a great dog - learned basic obedience, loved car rides, guarded the house and farm animals.

My others have been dumped or just ended up at the farm.

Skye was left by the asshat neighbors - they moved out six months before I knew they were there. Skye hunted for herself and the cat they also abandoned (who had FIV and died shortly after we took them in). She was also a good dog - she was supposed to be a Yorkie/Aussie cross. Who knows . . . She was just happy to be in a good home.

Babe was a greyhound who showed up after a thunderstorm. We think she was used as a coyote runner. Very protective of me personally, and the farm in general - she bit Alex when he got too close to me once. She had to learn that. She did kill possums, which I didn’t like, but when she tried it with a porcupine, she kind of broke herself of that habit. She was a GREAT dog. If i ever got another dog, it would be a greyhound. Affectionate, loyal, ready to go, and ready to relax.

Doofus and Brit were both dumped - black Lab mixes. Brit was my heart dog. Both were happy, good-natured dogs who ate rawhide bones in a minute flat and could be cowed by my 5lb tabby cat. But let a stranger get anywhere near me, and they became very different dogs, very fast. I never worried when they were around. Doofus saved my dad’s life - he was attacked by a cow, and suffered broken ribs. Doofus kept the cow away from him long enough for Dad to get out of the pasture.

My best dogs have been the ones that just ‘showed up.’ They were meant to be here.


@clanter I think you need to write a book with all your stories and pictures in it!!

1 Like

Three years ago we took in a stray that had apparently been dumped. She appears to be some kind of hound mix, and she is blind in one eye from an injury that occurred before we had her. She was about a year and a half old when we got her. She had been running wild around the neighborhood farms for at least four months subsisting on roadkill, garbage, and cow patties because no one could get near her.

We put out word among the neighbors that we would take her if anyone could catch her. It took a couple of months, but a neighbor finally caught her one day and literally dragged her down the road to our house. I fed her and bathed her and took her in to live with us. After she had her vaccines and was spayed I enrolled her in obedience classes. I did this not only to teach her basic commands but also to socialize her help her enjoy being around other people and dogs. Going to obedience classes also taught her that riding in the car could take her to fun places.

She now has her American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizenship certificate, and everyone says what a good dog she is. She has gone from being afraid of everyone to believing everyone could be her friend. She doesn’t have an aggressive bone in her. She has never chased our cats or our chickens, even when she was starving. She loves to go with me to Tractor Supply or the local feed store or pet store. She also likes to go for long walks, but her very favorite thing is to run alongside when I ride my horse. In short, she had gone from being a terrified unwanted stray to a confident member of our family. In dog terms, we are her pack, where she belongs.

It’s very satisfying to see an animal thrive like this. It really is very easy to change a life. All it takes is just the very lightest touch.


with four kids and a wife who are all “animal people” there is an endless supply.

Wife who later became a RN was at first a board certified animal technician (she was part of the first issued in Kentucky, I believe certification number is 33…she missed one question of the the test which was later ruled to correct …the question was when can an animal be left alone in an exam room… the “correct” answer that the board wanted was to be Never, she put when it was dead. About six months after the test she got a corrected score which allowed her answer)

Both daughters have degrees in sciences , one works part time as vet tech for a small animal vet… so ALL of their friends believe They are one to take care of every found animal. Last “rescue” was a litter of kittens, six or seven little things that we raised and found GOOD homes for.

Then recently was the seven eight week old Great Pyrenees pups that my older daughter’s husband’s boss needed “boarding” while they took a relaxing trip to Mexico. All seven looked pretty much alike so we had to get color coded collars to keep track who was or wasn’t doing whatever. … payment (if it can be call payment?) was one pup for wife, Dog’s job is to watch the grand kids goats to protect the goats from the coyotes (who believe Lexie (daughter’s substitute horse) is their friend and the coyotes stay with her). Phoenix, the Great Pyrenees, unlike her name of a place where its hot does not like the heat so has taken up her responsibilities by watching the goats on the CCTV, so much for the planned guard dog.

Our kids always were dragging in something and the grand kids have expanded that “care” to insects (photos of the girls at age two, concerned the bug is having a problem)

IMG_0515 IMG_0520


Over several decades, all my dogs have been shelter dogs. Never really any issues; there were two puppies and one 7 month old, all just easy adjusters. One 2 yr old chow/shep mix who took one look at my older dog and it was like velcro. I did not wany a furry chow mix, but there was no choice. Once home she had some mild separation anxiety when we went out, that lasted about a week and faded away. She mourned the old dog like crazy when he died, it was sad. Got her the above mentioned 7 month old and all was well. Two yr old border collie/dachsie mix, came from foster home, easy dog, cutest 27 lbs on the planet- he’s now about 12.
The really interesting one came to me at 2+. From a pregnant and sick street dog (heartworm) to a great foster home where she spent 4 months or so getting healthy. 50ish pounds of true heinz 57. She is very laid back and somewhat aloof, but did bond with the foster, so we had several weeks of pacing, whining, restless dog, but no bad behavior. Slowly she began to play with toys, to learn about squirrel chasing from the little guy, responding to her name, etc. Its been 4 years and she has steadily continued to become more personable, outgoing, funny and a bit bossy. It really makes me wonder how bad her first life was.


Oh, I’m loving all these stories :revolving_hearts:!

1 Like

We mostly had purposely bred and bought dogs because we were some of the starting members of our AKC performance dog club 40+ years ago.
AKC was at that time the only real action in dogs, agility and other venues had not started yet, so it was imperative our dogs were AKC registered.
At that time aussies had their own registry but were cross registered to the emerging AKC aussie club, so we looked for an aussie.

A breeder of working aussie not AKC dogs had sold a puppy to a herding client.
Client got sick and died a few weeks later.
Puppy had been warehoused in an empty kennel behind the house, until estate was settled a year later, breeder’s name came up and he was contacted.
He asked us to take dog, now over a year old, not knowing any more about it.

Well, dog came here in a cheap plastic crate, skin and bones, covered in flea and tick dust and could not hardly stand.
Our vet gave her fluids and medication for shock.
Since he came daily for our horse breeding and training stable, he kept watch on her.

Poor dog, when you approached her she melted into the ground and you had to lift her up to interact and handle her, draped over you like a stuffed long limbed toy.
She was limp, if you didn’t hold her up, back to puddle of melting dog.
It was beyond sad, really.
We don’t think she was directly abused, just utterly neglected while growing up in that lonely kennel, probably thirsty, hungry and flea bitten.

After a bit she started feeling better, watching our cats and dogs and horses and coming and goings and started filling up.
We transferred her papers so to be registered also AKC and she was my second obedience dog and was a star from day one, super attentive but calm and smart, the kind of dog that reads your mind and never hesitates to do what you need done.

Once in beginner dog class, she was still very insecure, the instructor wanted to show something, he asked for her, took the leash and she would not move for him at all, but laid down.
He worked kindly with her over the next lessons and finally had her doing excellent work for him or others also, she was very smart and coming along in her socialization, thankfully.

She was the most wonderful dog, once we received our cardboard box of 30 chicks one spring and had them in the bathroom under a heat lamp and she crawled in there and herded them all under her, herself panting in the heat.
She raised all kinds of little critters for us and was fine once they grew to let them go on their own.
True to her breeding, she was also a great herding dog, babying calves, licking and gently bumping them along, later playing with them, as well as getting the respect of the most aggressive bull just by looking at them.
Working cattle she was worth many hands, could handle a large herd all by herself, just tell her where to go.

Her name was Blue, not because she was blue colored, but she was a blue merle:


We’ve had quite a few; the only on purpose bred dogs we’ve had have been Aussies to “work” on our places which some actually did, mostly it’s just my favorite breed now. Also got GP’s on the same premise and they have all been good workers.

My heart dog was a pound puppy that I got when I was 8 months pregnant with my first kid. I don’t know what any of us were thinking when I did that but she was the best dog. Looked like a GSD Aussie Red Heeler Golden Retriever cross, yellow and fluffy with a mask. I still miss her and look for her behind my chair sometimes even though she’s been gone a long time.

Little bulldog/heeler cross that was a great little dog but a dedicated chicken killer so she had to move on.

Same with a black fluffy dog that had been tied in a yard his entire life. When the owner had to move to a retirement home he was just going to shoot him and be done with it. I found that out and I went and got him. I really liked him but he ended up also a chicken killer and was so protective of me it was causing issues with the other dogs so I rehomed him to a small family.

My daughter’s dog, had been in the shelter 4 times in 4 years. When we found him there he was billed as a biter and cat killer. We worked with him a bit at the shelter and didn’t think he was committed to either activity so took him home. He’s probably an akita/mastiff/pit cross so he looks intimidating and he is very protective of her but has never bitten anyone. He will gruff at someone that approaches her car door… and will stand and bark at the gate or door which is sufficient to stop someone until we get there. He’s really a smush and silly, smart and playful. Perfectly behaved and a pretty brindle. Loves all of our cats too. lol

My sidekick dog right now never made it to the shelter, he was picked up by a rescue from under a dumpster on a reservation, starving and bruised 8 week old puppy. The rescue lady posted him on her page and I picked him right up. He’s rez dog all the way, yellow with a mask and looks like all the other street dogs. Smart, loyal, silly, and hopelessly devoted to me. He has a ton of personality and keeps me laughing, sweet sweet dog.

My familiar dog, my little black tri chi cross, was a “here do you want this puppy I hate female puppies” freebie from my parents’ idiot neighbor about 10 years ago. She’s small and fierce but actually all bark no bite. She’s a tough little nut that has run the entire bob marshall wilderness on pack trips. In her younger days she could jump from the trail up into the saddle with me when we had to cross a river or I had to stop her from barking at hikers. I’ve hardly spent a night without her, she goes nearly everywhere with me. I’m going to require that she lives forever.

We will probably only have shelter dogs from here on out. I like the randomness of them and feel like we have a good eye for dogs though I thought this rez pup was going to be a lot smaller than he is lol His body is small but his legs just keep growing longer and longer…


Shelter dogs and strays.

Spridget showed up as a couple of months old puppy. She was small (about 15-20 ponds), golden/red, with pointy ears. She was very shy at first, but later decided I was her person. She moved with me twice, but unfortunately died from a blunt force injury (probably a horse kick) when she was a couple of years old. (Spridget, a combination of Sprite and Midget, is slang for the Austin Healy Sprite and MG Midget, which were essentially the same car.)

I went tot the local SPCA/County shelter, and got a male red and white (probably) American Foxhound I named Ariel Red Hunter (named after a 1930s to 1950s motorcycle). You wouldn’t believe how many people were sure Ariel must be a female. Aside from a tendency to wander, he was a very good dog. Even when he became quote elderly (he was old enough to get a driving license) the other dogs recognized him as the alpha dog. When he was 6 or 7 year old, he and two other dogs managed to get into some radiator antifreeze, which is highly toxic. We got them to the vet, not knowing what was wrong with them. They only had two doses of the antidote, which were given to the other two dogs, who were showing more severe symptoms. They gave Ariel IV Vodka, while we went the rounds of all the other (emergency and regular) vet to get more doses of the proper antidote. The ethylene glycol kills by binding with something (I forget what) to form large calcium oxalate crystals which tear apart the kidneys. But the “something” would rather bind with (ethanol) alcohol than the ethylene glycol, delaying the toxic reaction. By the time for the next dose of antidote, we had collected 3 more doses. Ariel was definitely drunk, but he recovered with no long term problems.

A few years later my husband adopted an Australian Shepherd cross from the same shelter. Unlike a full Aussie he had a magnificent fluffy tail. He was about a year old when we got him. I remember that, due to the shelter schedule rules, he had to be picked up on one specific day. My husband couldn’t get off work that day, AND there was a snowstorm. I remember driving VERY CAREFULLY down the narrow back road, with several inches of snow (not yet plowed), and more coming down. But I got there and brought him home. We called him Britten, after a New Zealand racing motorcycle. Unfortunately, he was the first one to get into the antifreeze. We called the vet’s overnight number with his symptoms (excessive urination and lack of coordination) and were told it was probably a UTI and to bring him in the next morning. By then the two other dogs were showing symptoms, so we took them all in. But the overnight delay proved fatal for Britten as the antidote was not in time to prevent irreparable kidney damage. (The third dog, who was my sister’s dog, recovered without further complications.)

Tim then adopted a (just weaned) Aussie cross from a shelter in Maryland. The mother dog had been found at the side of a road with a litter of puppies, all with mange and fleas. When Tim brought him home, Dante had a very pointy nose, very little hair, and a completely bare tail. I rudely said that, with his pointy nose and bare tail, he looked more like a 'possum than a puppy. But he grew a very healthy coat, and was then quite handsome.

After that we started fostering for a different local SPCA (not affiliated with a county shelter) and had a couple of “foster fails”. The SPCA had taken in a pregnant shepherd cross. When she had her puppies were born, they all looked quite different from each other. When the were separated from their mother we fostered “Bert”. He was a complete “Heinz 57 varieties” mix. His head and ears looked roughly like a German shepherd, but he had a very deep body and shortish legs. He had a short, brown and white coat like hound. He was a bit shy, but he got along well with us and our dogs. Tim took him to obedience class and he came in first at the test at the end of the classes. But when we took him to the adoption days he would hide under our chair, and not interact with anyone. We took videos of him playing with us at home, and showed them at the adoption day. But still he didn’t get adopted. So we adopted him and changed his name to Frodo, because he was short and funny looking. We eventually lost him to jaw cancer.

We fostered a black lab/chow called Anabelle that Tim as very attached to, and we probably would have adopted. But he developed (kidney?) cancer, when blind, and died in a matter of a month or so. Tim was so heartbroken he didn’t want to foster any more, but they talked us into fostering Lisa, a white Jindo (taken form a situation where she was chained outside without sufficient shelter or water). “She is small and she is pretty, she will be adopted quickly, and you won’t have time to get attached.” Well, she DID get adopted. But she was very protective of the wife and daughter, to the extent of trying to keep the husband away from them, so she was returned. And didn’t get adopted again. She clearly preferred me to Tim, she would run to me when I called, but she would try to hide when Tim called her, but she was never the least bit mean toward him. And before too long she had bonded to him as well. At that point we decided it would be hard on her to be taken somewhere else, so we adopted her, and kept her name.

When my father died in 2008 we took in his, then 4yo, Samoyed, Terry, and had her into old age.

After Terry, and the other “shelter” dogs died, in 2019, we adopted another dog from the SPCA/county shelter. This was a (estimated 9 yo) red Shiba Inu named Kitsune, which is Japanese for “red fox”. She was picked up as a stray, with a bad skin condition, but had cleary been used for breeding. They were able to find out where she came form, but the original owners didn’t want her back, claiming she was “dog aggressive”. We nicknamed her “Mrs. Grumps”, as she will sometimes growl and snarl at our other (non shelter) dog, but she has not been actually aggressive. She tries to hump our (shelter) indoor/outdoor cat (who uses the extra large dog door), but he doesn’t seem to mind.

1 Like

I am crying at some of these stories. I haven’t gotten many from the shelter (dogs tend to find me so I haven’t had to look) but one of my kids worked at our local shelter, so we did get one dog from there; the dog they currently have. She was left behind when a family was evicted, and the realtor found her in August in Florida locked in the garage with no food and water. She was a tiny, 12-week-old pom pup, and nearly dead. After some fluids and some medical foster, though, she was bright and alert. She’s just been the best little dog ever; well trained and hangs out at the barn, has flown all over with my kid. She just had a scare with some elevated calcium levels and I was SO worried but the more sensitive test was fine, so they think it was just a bit of dehydration from being at the barn and forgetting to drink :frowning:.

The current dog we have with us (my kid lives separately) is a poodle. My DH got him when he was single. He’s likely full poodle (he’s 15.5 inches so probably an oversized mini but he has the sharper nose and doesn’t look like any kind of doodle), and he’s terrified of brooms and sticks, and very “quirky” otherwise. He has some health problems like a heart murmur and some allergies (when DH got him he was such a mess he had no hair!). He loves my stepson and my kid but not many other people. We have to be a bit careful of him but he’s a very fun dog; alert and eager to please so I’m trying to teach him some useful skills. He walks easily on a leash now and loves to play. He is a bad resource guarder for toys (not so much food) so I’m hesitating about getting another dog now. I may let him enjoy the single life for a while. He has his cat, and that seems to be enough for him right now.

We’ve had a mixed bag of shelter dogs. I had a heeler that had a litany of health issues and we were constantly in the vet’s office. Like, we were there so often that we called the vet by her first name. We were in grad school and had no money, but one day the vet’s office called and said they had a dog for us. (we weren’t looking for a second dog, of course.) He had been chained on a six foot concrete pad for a year. A neighbor talked his owner into giving him up, and rushed him to our vet. He was the worst mange case she’d ever seen. No hair, depressed. She said we had to take him.

And so we did. He bloomed into a magnificent Catahoula, a wonderful dog. Beautiful too. He was overly protective of our truck, so we had to be careful with that, and he was aloof with others, but a truly loyal and kind canine for us.

While that dog was still young, we lost our old red heeler to her poor health. One day when I was at work, my husband looked out to see a skinny red heeler trotting down the street dragging a chain and a stump. He called our little town’s animal control. Two days later, the animal control guy comes into my office and says, “I know you like red heelers. If you don’t come take this one, I’m gonna shoot him this afternoon.”

So, we did. He was a nervous bundle of energy. For months he’d submissively pee. He and the Catahoula were great together, though, and Pansy worked out how to exist with us over a few months. He’d never had dog food, or eaten from a bowl, or ridden in a car. Nothing. Our kid took first place in a 4H dog rally with him at age 12, at a point at which the dog was nearly blind and totally deaf. We left the Catahoula, Pansy and a friend’s dog at our house one night when we went to our local bar. We got home at midnight and the trio had eaten a newly-bought, completely full jar of peanut butter. I mean…the jar and the peanut butter. All that was left was the lid. No glass anywhere. We called the vet in the middle of the night. She said to feed them as much Wonder bread as possible and hope for the best…glass wasn’t going to show up on an x-ray, after all. We did, and all three were fine. He also once ate an entire pound of baking chocolate, enough to kill him several times over. For that one, the vet said come on in, and gave us Valium and said hope for the best. He was hyper for three solid days, but then he was fine.

We still miss those boys. The Catahoula went first, with an enlarged heart. The heeler had a neuro problem and couldn’t control his hind legs. Both lived to be 13 or so.

I next picked up a lovely Catahoula puppy at eight weeks old from the shelter. Her mother had been caught in a bar ditch with puppies. This grew to be an elegant dog, always melancholy and very sensitive. I figured out that she would do better as an only dog, and so she went to live with my inlaws, who adored her. Though she remained highly sensitive and quirky, and despite being a large dog with 70yo parents, they were perfect for each other and they added so much magic to each other’s lives. Died of old age at 14 1/2.

Next was a foster fail, a black mouth cur that ended up staying with us. She was initially subdued and just wanted to please. Six months in, her true personality shone. She was physically outstanding, 75 pounds, and gorgeous, but she took her protection of us to 11. A very serious dog. We utterly hated to do it, but we gave her back to the shelter because her focus on other dogs and people when we went out was borderline dangerous. Like, someone would pass us on the sidewalk and she’d silently wait for them to get close, then lunge…and she meant business. She ended up a solo dog of a rancher and I’m sure she bloomed. A terrific animal, but not a fit for us at that moment.

Most recently, our inlaws were ready for another dog and wanted us to find one and load her with manners and housebreaking before dropping her with them. Our shelter recommended this nutty looking half heeler, half Wookie who’s great. She’s blue and wire haired and generally shaped like a Corgi (no Corgi in her, however.) A more perfect dog for them does not exist. The inlaws get stopped by people every day of the week asking about this marvelous blue wooly creature with the flagged tail.

1 Like