Cathy Worthington Moen
As a former town girl, I’ve always been a fan of little dogs because of their BIG personalities in small easy-to-store packages. My current lap ornament is a rescue dog named “Walter.” He sees an Australian Cattle Dog in the mirror, but he’s actually an eight-pound Chihuahua-Poodle mix, or according to my husband, “someone else’s mistake.” Finding him turned out to be quite a challenge.
I quickly discovered it’s not easy for ranchers to adopt dogs because the rescue organizations have very strict fenced-yard policies, therefore, all my applications were rejected as “unacceptable.” Not one to give up easily, I kept searching. I explained over and over to the shelters and rescues that I appreciated their mission to find good forever homes and we had successfully been forever homes for many happy dogs, and not one had run away in the long history of the Moen ranch. Why would they? The ranch is doggy paradise. However, the rescues weren’t having it. One shelter flat out said they wouldn’t let any small dogs go to ranches. I said, “Look, we’re not going to use it for coyote bait,” and they hung up on me. I did get one approval from an organization that asked if I’d consider a “special needs” dog. They had a litter of two-legged Chihuahuas and they’d waive the fence policy because, seriously, where were they going to go?
After months of searching, I finally found Walter on a rescue website right before Christmas, 2007. His adoption was a little too easy—no application, no home inspection, no adoption fee. Maybe they were having a Christmas special. The alarm bells went off when I was asked to meet at a restaurant parking lot off the interstate. I was beginning to wonder if the dog even existed. Was this some kind of kidnapping plot or murder for hire? Mark seemed relatively happy in our marriage and he certainly couldn’t afford a ransom. Determined to get a dog, I agreed to meet despite the warning signs. I was “packin,” though because my husband was much too busy watching football to get involved in this rescue.
As soon as I arrived, a young woman walked toward me leading a tiny gray dog. She picked him up, handed him to me, said “good luck” and quickly walked away leaving me with a dog dangling from my hands in the middle of a parking lot. I yelled after her, “Does he have a name?” She just waved and kept ongoing. Thankfully this wasn’t a murder plot, just someone desperate to be rid of, as we soon found out, the orneriest dog on the face of the earth.
More recently, I helped my father-in-law find a companion dog. He only wanted a cow dog, so I looked at organizations that rescued herding breeds thinking they would understand ranch life, but not so. Rejected again! I called to plead our case and by now I’m about over the fenced-yard policy. I was told they were very picky about rehoming their dogs because most had been runaways and had special needs. I said, maybe a little too loudly, “Of course they have special needs! They need to get out of their fenced yards and herd something!” I eventually found the perfect dog for my father-in-law through a neighbor fostering a Blue Heeler whose owners had been incarcerated, probably for not having a fenced yard.