Meet Romeo. He needs a home. Our Kaleb rules the roost here, or we'd be adopting him...instantly.
Romeo is the Australian shepherd I'm featuring for July to highlight the wonderful dogs available through your local rescue shelters. If you are in Florida and have a place in your heart for a forever-companion specific to the Australian shepherd breed, here is the link to the Aussie Rescue and Placement Helpline to see this and other adoption candidates. If you're in another area, you can Google "Australian shepherd Rescue" for similar groups closer to your home.
Every dog I've owned in my adulthood have all been shelter rescue dogs. Each has had his forever place in my heart and unique contribution to my life and my family's.
I can definitely attest to the necessity to plan in advance for the breed/range of breeds best suited for mine and my family's lifestyle and situation. And even after careful consideration of breed instinct and temperament, activity level, and other important factors, when rescuing a dog it's important to have a period of time to spend seeing if the dog can be happiest in his/her new environment and looking honestly at whether it will be a good fit for forever...it's very unfair trying to fit an active breed dog into a restrictive environment, a "velcro" dog into a schedule where no one is home most of the time, a nervous dog into a rambunctious family full of small children, and so on. But that's not to say there's not a wealth of the most amazing dogs available, mixes and purebreds, from rescue organizations...dogs who are one in a million, unimaginably intuitive, total comedians, mind-readers, mischievous and loyal and protective and goofy. But enough about my dog, Kaleb ;-)
Well, no, wait a minute...not enough. We adopted Kaleb about a year ago, and I have had no regrets. None, not one. All I feel is grateful that this lovely, entirely handsome and devoted being thinks I am the queen of his days and the object of protection every night. He can tell what I am saying, is pretty much a mind-reader, and has warded off the blues I used to have every now and then when spending so much time somewhat isolated, what with Jack and I working different shifts. I'm just not naturally one of those "animals are my babies" kind of people, and no, Kaleb doesn't get dressed up in designer outfits nor get fed gourmet kibble from a crystal dish. But I do dote on that fella...a LOT. He's definately a part of our family. He thinks I'm the Queen and he's the Joker :) He dotes on Jack, too. But he's my shadow and he'll forgo his favorite thing to keep me in his line of sight (even food, and that's saying a lot because that's his second love in life, rivaling the chasing of rabbits or going for rides in the cab of the truck.)
As I type this, Kaleb is stretched out at full length on our cold tile floor, his black-tri coat soft and glossy and still slightly shedding (which keeps me sweeping daily). And he's softly snoring. His body is filled out since we first adopted him, to the point where we watch his portion sizes...the guy has a healthy appetite. He'll do anything for a treat, and now I know his favorite foods, which are usually a few bites of things I am cooking when in the kitchen. He loves the end pieces of papaya, a bite of banana, a sample of smoothie, frozen blueberries or strawberries, a spoonful of plain yogurt, a nibble of meat trimmings. He frets when one of us is gone, and shows his jubilation when the other arrives home by doing his doggie dance around and around, voicing his happiness in a husky breath that sounds like "Huh! huh!" At high alert, when he hears a sound outside that sets off his warning radar, or at the initial sight of a wayward rabbit when he's in the field, all his flags to up...his head, his ears at full perk, his stance...like a spring about to go Sproingggg...and there's about a two second window there to give a voice affirmation before takeoff, or watch out :)
I guess you could say I'm more than slightly smitten. The most intelligent dark hazel eyes are always fixed on me, ready to anticipate my next move and to not miss a bit of the action.
This is the velcro dog. It's a trust we should never abuse. This dog, and all dogs with these traits inbred in their natures, actually suffer if they can't be given a job to do, even if the job is just shadowing a companion (such as Me) rather than herding some animals or doing primarily physical work. Some dogs do well, and feel secure, being bedded down in a crate when their owners are absent. This would make my dog mental, and others who are wired like him. He likes a schedule and can deal with absences if he knows what to expect and when, and as long as they are not frequent or lengthy. You've never seen such a joyful reunion, afterwards :)
Anyway, in all of the things I am thankful for on this Friday evening, I'm stopping to remember a year ago when we first adopted Kaleb, and to look back across the months as they've passed and my days have been so much happier. I am happy not only for the companionship and for the incredible being this particular dog is individually, but also that I can see him obviously happy and content, mischievous and with his personality so artless and comedic, serious and funloving. There is just something about the end of a long day, curling up on the couch to read a page or two of a good book, and seeing those eyes quietly appealing to me for permission ...and to say "OK"...that's all I say, and he gives me the question one more time to be sure...and I say "Yes, it's ok, you can come on up" and he jumps up beside me, gets comfy, and falls asleep curled in a Letter C with his velvet muzzle buried between a pillow and my side...perfectly content, and soon snoring.
This is the happiness that can't be bought. Thank you, God, for my Australian shepherd.
My husband seconds the motion. Kaleb is visibly relieved when Jack is with me...it's like they both have an understanding. When he hears us laughing, he trots to a corner and takes up the snoring at more of a distance, letting Jack do "guard duty" for a while while he takes a breather....ha!
What a joy :) My best friend of the husband variety and best friend of the canine furball variety. I'm a happy gal!