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We all love a heart-warming, animal rescue story. Giving an animal another chance at life or a better home is inspiring. All animals deserve to be loved and cared for. I like to think all pet owners strive to provide the best environment for them. Whether it’s intentional or not, sometimes an animal’s situation has to change. Not every home is the best for them.
I wanted to share a story about my dog. I love this dog like he’s my own son. Writing all of this in the best detail I could turned out to be a little hard. I was tearing up and had to walk away a couple times to give him a hug. Thinking back, this was actually a really difficult time for him. He transitioned very quickly into my home, and nowadays he acts like he’s been with me his whole life. I’m honored to have him as my companion.
I'm very excited to share the tale of how I found Dino, and made his dreams come true.
In January of 2016, I was living alone in a small apartment above a goat farm. I worked up to 10 hours every day, bouncing around three different farms within a five-mile radius. At the time, I had my cat who was old and very happy to not be living with her sister for the first time. It was nice being 19, having my own place, and working a job I loved. Every morning I completed care for our boarded horses, the goats that lived underneath me, and then continued my day of maintaining the three different farms. I’d end the day alone, feeling a bit worried that I only had my tiny cat to protect me in the middle of nowhere.
For a while, I had wanted a dog. I yearned for a protector and a companion. Don’t get me wrong, my cat was wonderful and had been by my side for 13 years up to this point. However, I was living the farm life now, and I was doing it all by myself. I wanted to feel safer all alone in the countryside. Plus, it would be cool to have a dog I could take to work with me! As the reasons clicked in my head, I began researching the best dog for me.
I knew I needed a partner. I was looking for a true farm dog. Since we had herds of goats, I figured a herding dog would be best. I could practice my own training skills and develop a working dog that had something to offer to the farm itself. The loyalty was another trait I was interested in. If I wanted to bring a dog with me to work, it had to be a breed that I didn’t need to worry about. I hoped for a dog that wouldn’t stray far when I was preoccupied. This led me to search for an Australian Shepherd.
I spent hours searching Facebook groups, Craigslist, and random rescue/re-homing websites for an adult shepherd. I didn’t care if it was mixed, but I did care if it was a puppy. With the amount of hours I worked every day, I knew I didn’t have time to potty-train a baby. I looked and I looked, and all I could ever find were young puppies. I started expanding my search for different herding breeds, but couldn’t find any dogs that were one to two years of age. Every ad was a pure-bred, puppy!
After a month of scouring the internet and feeling defeated, I stumbled upon an odd website: Rescueme.org. At this point, I was glancing at ads for Australian Cattle Dogs. While some were the age I was looking for, a lot were born deaf and blind. I really didn’t mind having a blind dog, but I feared for the safety of a deaf dog on the farm. I wouldn't be able to call them over quickly, and they wouldn't hear our equipment. That would be an accident waiting to happen! Deaf and blindness is common in cattle dogs, so it wasn’t one I was really searching for. I really didn’t want to put a deaf dog in a bad situation. However, while I was browsing around the website, I noticed a picture of a particularly red Cattle Dog with the biggest smile I had ever seen.
Dino (Dee-no) was his name. He had big, brown bat ears, a spot over his eye, and there was a sweetness to him I could feel through the picture. Reading his description, I was happy to see he was a well-trained adult dog. He knew basic commands, was crate trained, and up-to-date on all his shots. Although he ended up being five years old, he was the first adult dog that matched what I was looking for. I sent an e-mail right away letting his owner know I was very interested.
After e-mailing back and forth about Dino, I was very excited to meet him. Turns out, he was living in a small apartment with four other dogs! There definitely wasn’t much space for him, and he had the most energy. His owner at the time was worried about him knocking over her young grandson, and knew Dino needed more space. When I informed her of all the space I had, and what I planned to do with Dino, she was just as excited to meet!
It was early February and snowing when we had arranged to meet up at a park. We were a fair distance apart, and decided to meet half-way. That half-way point was still a decent 40-minute drive, and almost an hour with the light snow-fall. I invited a friend to make the drive with me, because it’s important not to go alone when you meet people off the internet!
We arrived and parked about 15-minutes before Dino and his owner. I remember sitting in my car, watching the snow fall around us, shivering from the cold and anticipation. I really didn't know what to expect. Eventually, we watched as a large, black truck slowly rolled up into the parking lot. They slid into the spot next to us, and we all got out of our cars. As we shook hands and exchanged names, one lady swung open the back door and Dino took off running into the snow-covered grass!
His owner gave me a lot of information while Dino went to the bathroom and sniffed around the benches. He never went far, and was off a leash the whole time I chatted with his owner. She gave me his whole life story, informing me she got him as a young puppy, and was his only owner all five years of his life. I was happy to hear she decided against cropping his tail, which he was happily wagging the whole time. She explained his habits, what he’s done in the past, and what he liked to do now. Eventually, Dino was called over to display a couple tricks he knew. When she felt comfortable with all the info she had given me, it was time for the big question. “So, do you want to take him home?”
I was stunned. I didn’t really interact with Dino during our conversation. He was preoccupied by the new smells and his current owners. My heart sank when the owner asked me so excitedly. She was ready to let him go. I looked down at Dino, who was sitting in the middle of all of us. He was looking up at the group, wagging his tail and smiling big. From what information I could gather and observe, he seemed to fit the bill of what I needed. Still, I felt unsure even when I did blurt out: “Sure! He seems lovely!”
The lady handed me a half-empty, 15lb bag of dog food, and leashed Dino up. She explained his feeding routine and gave me a few other tips about him. The entire time we were preparing, Dino was whining.
“He whines when he gets excited. He just knows something is about to happen!”
Those words will stick with me forever. Not because it was a sad moment, it really wasn’t. But because that was about the only true information that woman gave to me the whole time she was talking. He really was excited, and he really did know that something was about to happen. As she hurriedly handed me his leash, I felt very frozen. It seemed too easy to just show up, meet a dog in 10 minutes, and then take him home. Maybe she was rushing so she didn’t cry or change her mind. Maybe she had already accepted what needed to happen to make him happy. It just made me feel bad for him. Either way, they helped me guide him into my car, and waved good-bye as they jumped back into their truck.
Dino was very confused once we closed the doors behind him. I asked my friend to take the wheel so I could sit in the back with him. As we put on our seat-belts, Dino watched a car he knew so well drive off without him forever. I could see it was a very conflicting moment for this dog that spent all of his life with one person.
The car ride back was reassuring. I invited him to sit next to me, but he was hesitant at first. Oddly enough, the wind-shield wipers began to make him uneasy and he ended up with his head in my lap for a good stretch of the drive. I was feeling happy and excited, but also strangely sad. I felt like this dog had been dumped. I worried about how long it would take him to open up to me. His breed is a very loyal one.
The Moment Dino Fell in Love
Looking back on Dino’s first moments at the farm, I start to tear up. It was the most shocking moment to watch this lost-looking dog instantly perk up as we drove onto the property.
He was definitely excited to see all the space and smell the animals around. Of course, he didn’t know this was his new home. He was just happy to run around and hang out with us after feeling confused. It was interesting to watch his switch from a previous owner to me. It took him maybe a week, if that, to become instantly attached to me.
I remember him jumping out of the car, bouncing around the snow. I remember being surprised that within minutes, he was responding to my calls and following my lead. I think the farm helped. He was in love! He loved the space, the smells, and the leadership I was now providing for him. Every worry I had about how we would build our relationship was thrown out the window. It felt too perfect that he was already walking at my heels, following my every move and command. You feel like the luckiest girl in the world when it all just clicks so easily. Introducing him to people within the first month, they thought I had owned him for years because of how loyal he was to me. All I did was give him a new home.
I gave Dino a week to settle into a routine before I introduced him to the livestock. The best present I could have given this dog was a herd of goats. I remember that moment so clearly. Opened the door that led straight into the goat barn; the door we had been avoiding for his first week. I didn’t want to overwhelm him, and I needed to get to know him before letting him loose on our livestock. When I finally let him inside the barn, he stopped dead in his tracks. His head whipped around and he gave me the happiest look I’d ever seen. He seemed to be shocked, but happy about it! This dog was genuinely surprised and absolutely grateful!
I remember him standing up on his back toes, sniffing the air and trying to sneak a peek over the walls of the pens. The goats, at the time, were split up into 4 small groups. It was breeding season, so the groups were being rotated around the pens with our handful of males staying put. I led Dino to a pen without any males, to ensure his safety. Once I told him he could go in, his herding instincts kicked on! A dog that had spent five years in an apartment, never seeing a single farm animal in his life, instantly herded a group of 30 goats into a corner. He zig-zagged and ushered every single one into a tidy group in the back of the pen. Once they were set up to his liking, he left them alone to go mark his territory. Dino strolled around, sniffing and investigating. He would notice a stray goat and instantly push it back into the group. I was dumbfounded at how perfect this dog turned out to be.
Dino has lived with me for over two and a half years now. He’s very active and healthy for seven years old, so I see him being with me for a while. Unfortunately, we don’t live with the goats anymore. Dino was trained directional cues and mainly herded for fun while I worked there. Eventually, I had to move back home, and Dino has gone on quite a few adventures with me since.
The goat farm wasn’t the only job he was able to tag along to. For a long while, we worked at a daycare for dogs. By us, I mean me, but Dino enjoyed playing with other dogs while getting to see his mom all day. We worked in California on a farm for a bit, where we also lived onsite. No livestock to herd that time, but Dino’s true passion is being with me.
Dino turned out to be very anxious and energetic. He refuses to play with toys, won’t put things in his mouth, and runs away in fear when I fold laundry. He hides under or between my legs constantly. He flinches and cowers to most movement. When his previous owner told me he loved to play tug-of-war, I couldn’t understand why he refused to touch any toy I’d bought him. I was also told he used to have a bad chewing habit, but then just “randomly stopped” one day. Seemed odd at the time, but it’s even more unnerving that he acts like he’s not allowed to play with toys. The way Dino behaves conflicts with a lot of what I was told. I don’t know what truly happened before he came to live with me. I don’t ever want to call his last owner a “liar,” but it makes me sad how contradicting her stories turned out to be.
The Moral Is...
When I gave Dino a job and the right environment, he truly felt grateful. He’s been thanking me ever since. He sticks to my side 24/7, he always wants to please me, and he will literally never stop licking my face. We were meant to be, and I’ll never let him go. I hope one day I can give him another chance to herd livestock, even if it’s just for fun. The farm life is totally our calling, but more importantly, we’re meant to be together.
Thank you for taking the time to read our story. Dino gets annoyed when I spend this much time typing on a computer, but I'll make it up to him!
If You Would like to See MORE of Dino:
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