Our Rescue Dog Experience

This summer we decided  that it was time to make room in our family for a new addition… a dog. We have been dog owners in the past, and have done the “puppy thing.”  After much discussion, we decided there simply was not enough room in our schedules to housebreak (or chew-proof) a puppy, so we began our search for the perfect young adult dog to fit into our brood.

Our search began online, and we checked all of the local animal shelters (no offense to those who prefer to purchase their animals, but we are shelter people, through and through). While perusing the Avery County Humane Society’s website, we stumbled across Homer, who would become the furry, sweet love of our lives.



Homer really couldn’t be more perfect… a 15 month old German Shepherd/Hound mix (we are big dog folks), who was enrolled in a program called “A New Leash on Life”, that graduated trained dogs every eight weeks. That sure did sound like the perfect fit!  We were so impressed by the concept of the “New Leash” program – each dog trains for 6 hours per day for 8 weeks with 2 inmates at Mountain View Correctional Institute.  The difference this makes for the dogs, (some of whom may never have been adopted) who receive training, love, and socialization, pales in comparison to the impact on the inmates’ lives.  During a time when warmth, affection, and empathy are far from common, these men have an opportunity to bond with the animals; not to mention learning a skill that can be applicable once they have served their sentences.

We continued looking, to be sure we were making the right decision. After all, we had not yet met Homer, and it was quite a haul out to the prison to take the kids into the guard house and introduce them!  So we visited the local shelters and adoption fairs, found many a dog that nearly wound up smuggled into our car, and listened to multiple pleas from the kids, whose desire for immediate gratification was beginning to overshadow our “perfect dog” search.  Once we were sure that every time our thoughts went back to Homer’s sweet face, we made the appointment and went out to meet him.

The first visit was well planned and we were escorted to the facility by Charlene Calhoun of the Avery Humane Society.  Charlene was there with us every step of the way, ensuring a smooth transition both for our family and for Homer. On this first visit, I was pleasantly surprised by Homer’s calm, quiet demeanor, but still a bit reticent due to his bashful behavior with the girls (who were oblivious to his aloof attitude and completely smitten).  Nonetheless, based on his amazing ability to follow commands and his gentle disposition, we finalized our adoption that day.  Homer was ours.

The First Meeting

The First Meeting

Any concern I had was alleviated immediately the day we went to pick Homer up. He had finally graduated from his program, was fully trained by Mr. O’Brien Brown (a household name here), and bounded towards his new family (us – YAY!) with such unbridled love and joy that I knew we had made the right decision.

Since that day, Homer has been a more valuable part of our family than I ever could have anticipated.  He is loyal, sweet, and protective.  He will sit, stay, lay down, shake, and “come” whether the person asking him to do so is myself or my 6 year old child.  He kisses tears away, snuggles kids to sleep at night, and watches over outdoor play better than the best babysitter.  He plays dress up  and even climbs playground rock walls just to spend time with the kids.  He listens to “Junie B. Jones”, read at the speed of snail, with such patience and adoration that I am beginning to think that he genuinely understands the stories.  He silently follows me as I deliver laundry from one room to the other, and sits at my feet as I type this right now, but never enters the dining area when food is on the table.  Sometimes I’m pretty sure he is the only one in the house that listens to my every word without argument or dissent.

Not only is Homer “no trouble”, but he is a RESCUE DOG. And by that, I mean that he has rescued us. Not from certain doom or misery, but from a life without him in it.  We are proud and honored to have a dog like Homer, and from all of our family, if you are considering adopting or buying an animal, please look in to the “New Leash on Life” program, at the Avery Humane Society.  You won’t be making a mistake.  Here are the basics…

The adoption fee for “New Leash on Life” dogs is $150, only slightly more than the basic adoption fee of $85. This includes spay/neuter, shots, microchipping, and the 8 week training.  We also received a free collar and training leash for Homer, and still use them.  From what I’ve seen, the majority of the dogs from each session are adopted by the time they graduate, so you may have to be patient and wait for your family’s perfect fit to graduate, as well.  Check out the website here to see which dogs are currently available through the program.  (I’ve looked and there are some CUTIES!!!) If you find one you fall in love with, tell Charlene that Homer sent you!

Animal lover but you can’t get one right now? Sponsor an animal for $35 through the Avery Humane Society!  My youngest daughter turned her birthday party into a fundraiser for the prison training dogs, and raised enough to sponsor 6 animals!  You can even choose which dog or cat you would like to sponsor.  More information here.

Visit www.AveryHumane.org today!!!.


  1. We really could not ask for a better family for one of our dogs. We are so happy for our Homer. Thanks for adopting. Charlene and crew at the Avery Humane Society!

  2. I volunteer with the dogs at the shelter. Homer was such a sweetie and a dog I thought about often. I was so happy he got a wonderful adoption.