Acquired: Rescue / shelter organization
Training: Previous owner, I haven't learned care / training techniques, Attended conferences / shows, Books
Posted January 28, 2013
When I finished graduate school, I suddenly wanted a dog in my life. I decided to consult with my friend (who owned two mixed breed dogs) for some help with this process. While we were discussing the pros and cons of each breed I was considering, she said, "Why don't you go to the shelter and get a dog? There are so many dogs that get put down because no one wants them." At first I thought, no way-I have a kid and I want to be able to rule out any aggressiveness. My next thought was: the Humane Society selects only highly adoptable dogs, and they accept permanent responsibility for the dogs that enter their care. I could take the dog back to them if we aren't the right fit for each other.
When you arrive at the point of looking at dogs in shelters online, it is inevitable that you will get one of these dogs! Consider yourself warned. I was interested in a dog on the Southern Hope Humane Society website. Southern Hope brought some of the dogs available for adoption to PetSmart on Saturdays, so I went to inquire about the dog I had seen. Then, I saw the dog I went home with.
When I saw Kenai get out of a volunteer's truck, I thought, "I want this dog." He was all white, with one black spot on his eye and one above his tail. The shelter had named him Alaska due to his thick white fur. They let me take him for a walk. He had a stately confidence when he walked and leaned into me when I petted him. I loved him immediately.
It is a very sad reality that highly adoptable dogs are put down at animal shelters every single day. The volunteer who found Kenai told me he was on death row in a county that kills unwanted dogs in gas chambers. If the humane society volunteer had not been at the shelter that day, it is highly likely that he would have been put down. He has brought me so much joy over the last ten years. I can't bear to think about all of the dogs that didn't get a chance.
Southern Hope house-trained Kenai before we brought him home. Kenai has always wanted to be loved on and stay by my side all day. When he was around ten months old, he developed more spots on his fur. I read that this is called "ticking," and it was a welcomed surprise! People often stop us on the street and ask us, "What kind of dog is that?" After ten years of ownership, we think he is an English Setter/Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix.
An English Setter/Border Collie/Australian Shepherd is a great dog for me, but I must divulge some info if you are considering whether or not such a dog is right for you. Kenai sheds A LOT. Avoid dogs that look like him if you are not into sweeping up tumbleweeds of fur! I thought a mixed-breed dog would be able to tolerate any decent kibble, but not Kenai. He has severe allergies, so he eats very expensive, top-of-the-line Six Fish kibble from Orijen.
Kenai is great with kids. If a child is harassing him, his defense strategy is to get up and move. He has never snapped at a child or an adult. The advice I received ten years ago, to find a dog at a shelter, was some of the best advice I have ever received.