They may not be pure breeds. They may not have the best manners. But when it comes to pets, rescuing an animal from a shelter may be the best choice anyone ever made.
According to the American Humane Association, 5 million animals enter shelters each year in America, and 3½ million are euthanized.
WALKING DOG KEEPS SENIOR ACTIVE
Sue Wilson lives in the retirement community Las Ventanas, 10401 W. Charleston Blvd. She is 82 and has always enjoyed the outdoors. These days, walking her dog is her way to connect with nature.
She moved from the Denver area to Las Vegas about seven years ago with Lucky, a Golden Retriever adopted from the pound.
“He was one of three dogs at Las Ventanas when I got here,” she said. “Now, there are about 20 (dogs) here, mostly small ones. But I’m 6 feet. I need a large dog.”
Lucky died of cancer about five years ago. Within 10 days of his death, Wilson was contacted by representatives of Golden Retriever Rescue Southern Nevada. They showed her a dog, Champ, whom she couldn’t resist. But he was large, 50 pounds overweight.
“I went to put him in the back of my SUV to take him home,” Wilson said. “It took three of us to boost him up there.”
She took him for walks, trekking 5 or 6 miles a day, every day. Champ soon shed the weight to reveal himself as a shining example of his breed. They were inseparable until Champ died of cancer in September.
Why adopt an adult dog?
“I prefer a rescue,” Wilson said. “Goldens are programmed to be gentle, to be companions.”
Wilson received a call from GRRSN and made arrangements to see a dog that it thought might be a good fit. Sure enough, Rusty, 8, is her new companion on the trails at Las Ventanas.
“He’s truly a love, so well-trained. He’s won everybody’s heart,” she said.
DOG IS COUPLE’S ‘ANGEL’
Minnie Byers of Sun City Summerlin lost one dog but gained two others this fall. First came Paris, a toy poodle.
“I’m convinced she was a little godsend, and she was sent to me because I was about to lose my other poodle (Sangria, age 14), and I didn’t even realize it,” Byers said.
As soon as Paris came into the household, she kept sniffing at Sangria. Knowing that dogs can smell diseases, the Byerses inspected Sangria and found a growth on her jaw. It was advanced melanoma. Sangria lasted three months.
“It was just horrible, but this little darling, Paris, (found the cancer),” Byers said. “She even looks like an angel. Her little ears are set on her head, and when you lift them up, they look like little wings.”
Minne and her husband, Jim, had seen Paris’ picture on a rescue site, forecloseduponpets.org, while they were out of town. By the time they returned, Paris already had a new home. But the Byerses learned that Paris had been returned to FUPI, and they intended to foster Paris in her home. Paris had other ideas.
“When I picked her up, she put her little paws around me and hugged me, and from that point on, she was no mere foster dog,” Byers said. “She was my baby, and she just crawled into my heart.”
It made the blow of losing Sangria a little easier to bear.
“God spelled backward is ‘dog,’ and I swear, these are his emissaries,” Byers said.
Three days after Sangria was put down, another toy poodle, Sierra, found its way into the Byerses’ home. The two dogs took to each other immediately, as they should have — they had adopted together before, another adoption that didn’t work out. The Byerses said the two dogs would be with them forever.
‘FOUR-LEGGED CHILDREN’ MAKE LIFE COMPLETE
Tanya Russell of Summerlin’s the Canyons has had dogs all her life. The latest was Lady, a shepherd mix rescue from Best Friends Animal Society. At 10, Lady succumbed to cancer, as had five other dogs Russell had owned.
“I sat with them and held them (when they were put down),” she said. “You have to let them go. It got to the point where they were suffering.”
She said she’s never had children, so her dogs have been her “four-legged children.” About a year later, in January 2012, Russell found herself in PetSmart, which features animals for adoption.
“I had no reason whatsoever to go into PetSmart, but I walked in, and there was Foreclosed Upon Pets Inc., and I knew one of the trainers,” Russell said. “She said, ‘This is a really nice little dog.’ ”
The dog was a Chihuahua named Spinner/Sir Charles. He’d been found running around a busy intersection. He had no tag and no microchip. She took him home.
“After a week, I couldn’t imagine living without him,” she said.
She also got a golden Labrador, Gordie, who came to her in April. Both dogs are 7. Russell walks them every morning and takes them on the trails in Summerlin. As a treat, she takes them hiking at Red Rock Canyon or Mount Charleston.
“Charlie sleeps with me in bed, and Gordie tries,” Russell said. “If I get up at night, he thinks he can jump up on the bed, curl up in a ball, and I won’t see him. He’s a 70-pound dog, mind you. So, I’d have to be pretty blind not to see him. But he’ll lie there, going, ‘If I lie real still, she won’t take notice and make me get down.’ ”
CAT LOVER CONVERTED
Terri Brown was always a cat lover when she met her husband, John, who is a dog person. She was surprised to find that she also had a place in her heart for his two pooches. After the last pet, 16-year-old Trixie, died, the couple decided they would own no more animals so they’d be free to travel.
That lasted about two months.
“We went to Catalina Island one weekend and a dude ranch in Arizona, and I was like, ‘I can’t take it anymore, I’ve got to have a dog,’ ” she said.
Soon after, in April 2007, a Chihuahua named Brutus became available through Heaven Can Wait Animal Society. He was at a PetSmart, and Brown called her husband to come check him out. Trouble was, John went to the wrong store. After straightening out the location, they vacillated whether Brutus, a cross between a Boston terrier and a Chihuahua, would be theirs.
“I’ve always had white, fluffy dogs, so I’m walking him around, going, ‘I don’t know, you’re kind of an ugly dog,’ ” Brown said.
John was anxious to get home for a big hockey game on TV. In the end, he left the decision in her hands. No surprise, Brutus came home with her that night.
“He’s the perfect dog, a stoic little old man,” she said.
Later, when she took Brutus to PetSmart to buy dog food, a “pitiful little dog” in the adoption area caught her attention. The pitiful little Chihuahua had a name: Cocoa.
“We came home with Cocoa — no dog food, but we came home with Cocoa,” she said.
In 2009, Terri Brown became a FUPI volunteer, leading her to Fizzie, who was found on the streets. He was sick and weighed only 2½ pounds. She nursed him back from a digestive tract infection. Now, he weighs more than 5 pounds.
“He smiles at me with this big grin,” Brown said. “I’ll turn the radio on, and he’ll dance on his back two feet.”
The dogs can be seen riding in a basket on the back of her bicycle around the trails of Summerlin.
Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2949.