Niko, a.k.a. Cooper (ADOPTED!), is a 2 year old, border collie and Siberian husky mix. He is a super sweet, wonderfully loving companion. He does not have a mean bone in his body, and was a favorite of several staffers when at the shelter. When he feels safe at home, Niko is calm, and happy to quietly hang out with and follow his person from room to room. He is also is very affectionate. When getting to know his foster dad and feeling safe and happy, he showed some puppy-like traits, doing zoomies and play bows. He has little to no interest in toys or balls. He also does not chew on anything. He is a very quiet dog, and rarely makes a sound

However, this dog requires a very specific type of home situation, as noted below.

1)  Niko has shown himself to be a one-person dog. If there are two or more people in the home, he will choose one person to trust and bond with, and will refuse solo walk with others. It could take up to a year for others to win his trust. We cannot stress strongly enough that Niko needs patience and time (6 to 12 mos.) with a gentle, loving person/companion to begin to blossom. We can see that once he feels secure Niko has a wonderfully happy, loving personality.

2)  We are seeking a quiet rural situation where he could be with his person all or most of the day. Niko loves being out in nature. This is NOT a dog for apartment life, or even an active suburban neighborhood. He needs a calm quiet home, where he will not have frequent encounters with people and other animals, or have vehicles regularly driving past him on daily walks. His true personality shows, when walking on hiking trails in the hills. Once outside on a quiet trail, he happy runs back and forth. If off-leash on a hike, Niko would often check in with his foster dad by touching his hand with his nose, sometimes giving one lick. He loved going far ahead on the trail and then raced back to his foster dad at full speed. The only animal he doesn't seem afraid of are birds. When he sees birds nearby, Niko hops after them, even when seeing a wild turkey.

Niko has probably never walked on leash in the past. When putting on a leash near the door, Niko will flatten himself and cower. Once outside, he is fine. He will pull, and sometimes zig zag in front, when on a leash. When walking outside in town, Niko is very cautious and nervous about meeting people and animals. When other animals approach him he will lay down or try and hide behind his person. If more than one dog approaches, he will begin to tremble or try and jump up onto his person with front paws. If he is introduced slowly to a dog, he is fine, but has no interest in interacting with another dog. He was recently meeting another dog on walks, but after several times, he finally let the other dog know he did not want him close-by. Niko is also afraid of all children. We have not yet seen him around cats.

3)  This is NOT a dog for someone who is not familiar with these breeds AND with a dog who has been mentally and physically abused. Niko is not for a first time dog owner. This pup is an extra challenge because he will need to learn about people, other animals and the outside world in a slow and encouraging way. He will need a very patient, caring and understanding person to teach him how to trust, become socialized and gain confidence. Although he may love his person, he is very afraid of what anyone may do to him. When Niko saw his foster dad pick up a wooden stirring spoon to cook with, the pup put his tail between his legs and turned to hide. For these reasons, it would be best for his new person to begin working with an animal behaviorist trainer to create a long term plan on building Niko’s confidence and socialization.

Niko has a great fear of the unknown. Any change from one situation, such as, going in or out of a building or room, creates great anxiety in Niko. Once he's transitioned to the new location and nothing bad happens, he will relax. Once he has done a certain type of transition multiple times with positive associations, he is no longer afraid. He had been afraid to get in and out of cars, until he realized that car rides mean a walk out in nature. He now loves getting in and out of cars.

Our boy is extremely smart and learns quickly. Niko is completely housebroken. He also knows a few commands: come, lie down, and if you say 'No' he will stop what he is doing and come to you.

Niko does need a good long hike and some active, tongue-hanging out exercise each day. He needs someone with experience with giving a highly intelligent and active pup the mental and physical activity, and who understands how to begin working with him on his fears and self confidence. For all these reasons, we are only willing to adopt him to people who are within a few hours' drive from the San Francisco Bay Area.

If you may be interested in Niko please begin by completing our adoption form at the "Adopt" link at the top of this page: Please download and print the form to be completed. If you have questions, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or leave a message at (707) 583-9583.


Our mission: To rescue, care for, and rehabilitate unwanted, abused, and neglected dogs of herding breeds, concentrating on Australian Cattle Dogs and Border Collies.

Our focus is on their permanent placement into appropriate, loving homes, and informing the public about the special nature and needs of herding breeds.

Contact us at:   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


We are grateful for any contributions to help us rescue, care for, and transport animals.

If you prefer to write a check, please mail it to: Herd It Through The Grapevine, P.O. Box 9585, Santa Rosa, CA 95405

Herd It Through The Grapevine is a 501(c)(3) approved organization.