Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Hope Cattle Dog Rescue of Colorado

I wanted to share with you all some info on New Hope, because they are truly an amazing group of people. New Hope rescues Australian Cattle Dogs (also known as heelers), fosters and rehabilitates them and finds them a forever home. We were blessed to come upon this organization when looking for a second dog earlier this year. I had adopted Rufus, a red heeler, a couple years prior. I had done a lot of research on this type of dog and recommend you do so the same if you're thinking about adopting a pal. Rufus is an absolute joy, but we felt he needed a furry buddy. We adopted Radar after filling out New Hope's application form (on their website) and receiving a phone call from PJ, the gal running the show. PJ works very hard to find the perfect home for their dogs. She thinks it's incredibly important to know your lifestyle and the home environment your new dog will be living in. We loved all of information she was able to give us about Radar's life - we felt like we knew him before we even met him.
After the phone interview it was time for Radar to meet us (and typically the dog stays with you from this moment). Radar's foster mom and her daughter, along with PJ, came to our home with Radar. We chose to do this when our own kids weren't home to not only keep the chaos level to a minimum, but just in case things didn't go well. Rufus greeted Radar with wagging tail and within minutes they were bounding around the back yard. While we watched the dogs play, Radar's foster family filled us in on his personality, his toys, his favorite activities, how he sleeps... again, this made the process so wonderful because we knew what to expect with Radar. We all stood out back watching these two furry goofballs get to know one another and were in agreement that Radar was going to stay. New Hope gives you time to make this decision permanent with a one month grace period of sorts. All dogs WILL change once they get settled in and feeling comfortable-this you can count on. This month of time allows everyone to make sure things are going well. If they don't, New Hope will take the dog back and try again. None of their dogs are destroyed. New Hope will keep trying until everyone is happy... dogs included in this, of course!
Our kids came home a few hours after everyone had left and Radar had time to sniff around and get to know the lay of the land a bit. Radar is an incredibly easy going pup and quickly found himself surrounded by four kids who all wanted to hug and kiss him at once. He loved it:) Radar was blessed with a fantastic foster family and loving and caring folks at New Hope and it shows in his personality and temperament. For us, the decision to make him a permanent family member was quick and easy. We fell in love with this little guy immediately:)
It's been about six months since Radar joined our family and we can't imagine life without him. Last weekend New Hope had a picnic to celebrate their 5th anniversary and placement of over five hundred dogs. We took our pups and kids to join in the fun. Radar's foster family was there and since this spring, they've fostered four other dogs.:) What wonderful people they are! We met dozens of other folks and we shared stories and laughs while watching all of our silly spotted dogs attempt to herd one another and bounce around with glee. It was great fun! Congrats to New Hope!

A bit about Cattle Dogs, if after reading this you're thinking you might want one of your own (which I am hoping you will!). The Australian Cattle Dog originates, of course, from Australia, and is the result of cross breeding between dogs including, Australian Kelpies, Scottish Highland collies, dalmatians, and wild dingo. Developed in the early nineteenth century, this dog, as the name suggests, was bred for herding cattle, often over long distances. Cattle Dogs thus have a natural herding instinct and you can pretty much count on them nipping or licking your heels and finger tips as they attempt to herd you! We personally don't mind this because our dogs are gentle about it, but if this bothers you then it is your job to establish that you are the alpha in the pack.
Cattle Dogs are incredibly intelligent and eager to learn. They need jobs, they need to stay physically and mentally active beyond just throwing a ball for them in the yard. Long walks, teaching them tricks and commands, taking them jogging, hiking and backpacking are wonderful activities to do with Cattle Dogs. They LOVE dog parks and if you're lucky you'll get to see them herd the other dogs by running in circles around them to close them in.
Cattle Dogs are very loyal and protective and do well with older children and outgoing owners. Meek owners, apartment dwellers, those that work long hours.. skip this breed. Cattle Dogs LOVE to chew, and when frustrated or bored they WILL chew things you probably don't want chewed. I lost a fabulous pair of Oxford pumps to Rufus when he was a puppy. Our dogs mulch branches we cut from the trees in mere hours and go through raw-hides like they were going out of style.
Generally Cattle Dogs are very loving and affectionate. Our dogs will sit in your lap, curl up against you on the couch (or on you, really), beg for hugs and belly rubs and follow you from room to room to stay close by. Radar drags his pillow into whichever room I'm in. Rufus likes to sleep on the kids' beds when they're at school. Radar will also spoon you when sleeping... yes, we let the dogs on the bed. Don't judge us, they're irresistible!
Cattle Dogs are medium weight and height, very muscular and shed like mad a couple of times a year. They have a double coat of hair since they're bred to be outdoors in extreme temp changes. They like to be brushed, though:)

Please take the time to look at New Hope's website and read about this fabulous organization. They're looking for foster parents and volunteers as well:)
(picture at top: Radar McGrowl, with pack on, and Rufus McRuff on a backpacking excursion. Picture below: Rufus McRuff working the cute while camping. He REALLY likes MRE's!