There are more than 400 recognized dog breeds in the world. Working dogs, sporting dogs, herding dogs – terriers, hounds and toys … the varieties seem endless. If you have fallen in love with a particular breed of dog, there is likely one out there for you, desperately in need of a home.
For those who prefer the “adopt don’t shop” approach, in the United States alone there are more than 450 American Kennel Club (AKC) Rescue Network groups.
Lab Rescue of the LRCP [lab-rescue.org] finds loving homes for nearly 1,000 Labs each year in Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and North Carolina. Over the past decade, animal lover M.C. Johnson has adopted 16 Labs. “I have been married 40 years, and no matter where my husband and I have lived, we made sure it was a good dog property — and later horse and donkey property, as we started an informal sanctuary for senior and/or ill horses.”
A common reason for pet surrender is moving to a home that is not suitable for pets, so the Johnsons were wise to make this a priority. The couple has had as many as six dogs (plus fosters) at a time, and some doubted their sanity when they bought a river cottage for a foster they adopted. “He had a degenerative neurological disease and was confined to a wheelchair, but we found out he loved the water, so we bought a house with easy access to water.”
They typically adopt older dogs. “Seniors really grow your heart,” she says. For the most part, they are fairly easy-going. “If someone relinquishes a seat on the couch with the human, they aren’t about to get into a dust-up over it. If another dog takes their toy or preferred dog bed, they may mope, but won’t start a kerfuffle.” Plus, many months of potty-training and (sometimes) years of chewed up furniture can usually be avoided.
“We are very impressed with the thoroughness of the application, interview and reference checks. We hope anyone who must surrender a dog to Lab Rescue knows how hard the volunteers work for a good match in a new home,” Johnson adds.
Abby & Co. [abbyco.org] is a dog rescue nonprofit in Blacksburg. Founder Lauren Bolte pours her heart into finding great homes for shelter dogs, and this is not a breed specific organization. Canines receive their first taste of “home life” via fostering, so they can master housetraining and crate training, if needed, before finding forever homes.
“Fostering with Abby & Co. comes at no cost,” Bolte relates. “We cover expenses for vet care, food, toys and supplies. The foster job is to provide a dog with a loving and safe home.” There are occasional “foster fails,” where people fall in love with their foster buddy and adopt him or her, but this type of fail is actually a huge success.
“Giving a dog in need a safe space to blossom into their best self is incredibly rewarding. So many shelters and rescues are overwhelmed with the number of dogs coming into their care, so now is a great time to foster and adopt,” says Bolte. And if you don’t quite have the space or living environment to bring in a dog, know that you can always help by donating money that will go toward food, supplies and veterinary care for pups in need.
Greyhounds are known for being family-friendly, intelligent and easy to train. Many are retired racing dogs which long for a more quiet life. They have short hair, so not a lot of shedding, and they are generally not barkers. Star City Greyhounds in Roanoke [starcitygreyhounds.org] takes seriously its mission to find loving, quality homes for these sweet dogs, believing it’s a mutual decision: “You and your dog pick each other.”
Local 4th grader Emmett Krause has spent the last two summers selling lemonade outside of his mom’s storefront, Original Frameworks, to raise money for Abby & Co. as well as for the Montgomery County Animal Care & Adoption Center, Southpaw Collective and his elementary school. “Emmett gets practice with many valuable skills like managing money, interacting with folks, and determining causes that are personally important to him,” mom (Becca Rainey) explains. “We love that Abby & Co. was founded by a local NRV resident who seeks to provide resources for animals needing fostering.”
It is fun to note that Becca also sold lemonade on that same shopping center sidewalk 35 years ago, when her parents opened their family business in 1987. As someone who purchased some of this fantastic lemonade recently, I can safely say they have perfected the recipe!
Text by Emily K. Alberts
Emily Kathleen Alberts is dog mom to Skippy, a purebred Hog Weasel (AKC certified) who found her while she was running late to a business meeting. She muttered: “I cannot possibly take in another dog,” as she pulled over to rescue this troublesome little stray who stole her heart.