Since we last spoke with Kim Kuenlen, founder of Nor Cal Aussie Rescue, she's seen no letup in the deluge of homeless Australian shepherds arriving at the rescue's Grass Valley sanctuary, where 30 dogs of all ages are currently waiting for their forever homes. Indeed, she says, nowadays it often happens that two or three dogs from the same family come into rescue together, because their people lose their own home. Meanwhile, Aussies continue to grow in popularity, causing a breeding boom—"they're now as popular as golden retrievers were in the '70s," Kuenlen sighs—and all too often they end up in rescue when people smitten by the cute ball of fluffy puppy are completely unprepared for a smart, active dog with a strong herding drive.
"If they're adoptable, I don't care about the age," Kuenlen says, adding that having the sanctuary allows her to keep each dog safely until exactly the right home comes along. Thus current residents range from lovable 5-month-old red merle puppies Apple and Flynn, whose respective owners couldn't deal with their Aussie energy, to 5-year-old tricolor mini-Aussie Bailey, who lived happily with a 2-year-old child until the child developed allergies, to the beautiful blue merle 13-year-old Sammie, who lost her family when her people went into senior housing, and now seeks a comfy couch and a person to share it with.
Sometimes the dogs come from more traumatic situations, as on the occasions Kuenlen's taken in Aussies rescued from hoarding and puppy mill situations. "It's amazing how resilient these dogs are," she says of their ability to bounce back, given patience, structure, and TLC. "It brings a tear to my eye sometimes."
Photo: Sammie - Nor Cal Aussie Rescue