Happy Tails

Rusko (ADOPTED!) is 10 years old, and weighs 53 lbs. We believe that he is mostly an Australian kelpie and boxer mix. He is a moderate energy and young-at-heart guy. Rusko is very friendly, with a very sweet, balanced nature and would be a perfect companion for almost anyone.

Although he is friendly with both men and women, Rusko seems much more comfortable and responsive with women than men. Rusko is happy, good natured, and very much wants to please. Besides his person, his favorite things are playing ball/fetch, going out for walks, and rolling around on the grass. He loves meeting new people, and does so very politely. He will NOT jump up, but will excitedly wag his tail and lick a new person’s hand for a few moments.

Rusko adores balls and fetching, and for an older dog, he has a lot of playfulness in him. He currently gets an hour long walk, both, in the morning and the evening. When home from his walk, Rusko is is full of happy energy and wants to play ball. If you are busy, he will self entertain and throw the ball for himself. Our boy is a bit ball obsessed, sometimes holding a ball in his mouth during his walks, and even when sleeping.

Rusko is the perfect gentleman and a very balanced, calm dog. In the first days at his foster home, Rusko was fine relaxing on his own in the living room, but after getting to know his foster mom, he now prefers being with her and following her from room to room. He is happy to sleep nearby when she is working at her desk. At night, he sleeps on his dog bed in his foster mom’s bedroom. In morning he waits in his bed until his foster mom is ready to get up. When he knows that you are awake he will come up wagging his tail and give you kisses, always excited for the day ahead with you. He is a big cuddler, loves being petted.

Rusko is super smart, observant, a good listener, and very eager to please. He also cares very much about what his person thinks, watching his person for any signs of approval or disapproval. When you smile at him, he gets very happy, wagging his tail and becomes animated. Rusko is also very sensitive to your tone of voice. Once when his foster mom was playing with him, she jokingly said something in a chiding tone. He immediately stopped, lowered his head and turned away as if he had been reprimanded.

He is a quick learner, and you CAN teach this old dog new tricks. He is also good at teaching his people new tricks. Rusko knows how to communicate when he needs or wants something. Balls and treats are his favorite things to ask for. For the ball, he will give a bark to get your attention, then look at the ball and then look at you, and repeat this, until you pick up the ball. Rusko is very treat oriented. He will do anything for a treat and knows where they are kept. He will bark, then point with his nose or look at what he wants. His fosters are working on ignoring the behavior and he is learning quickly that this isn’t working. Here's a short ball playing video: https://youtu.be/Ues6RyM8pv0

Besides giving a bark to ask you to throw the ball, or get him a snack from the treat counter, Rusko will bark when he hears people outside the house. He wants to let you know people are out there and requires reassurance. If you tell him to stop, he will stop barking. Sometimes he may give a bark to tell you he has to go out, or if you are resting on a bench during a walk, and he wants to continue, he will bark to tell you to get up.

He walks very nicely on leash, and does not pull, although this may depend on who is walking him. When walking with his foster mom, he heels perfectly at her side, frequently checking in by looking up or touching her hand with his nose.  During walks, he loves to sniff and explore, but will look back at his person and return to her side.

Rusko’s calm nature helps him get along very well with dogs. However, he loves nature and sniffing bushes much more than playing with other dogs. When meeting another dog, he is very calm, and will sniff politely. If another dog barks or growls at him, he will remain calm, look up at his person for reassurance, then ignore the dog and continue on his walk. We haven not yet seen Rusko with children or cats close up. During walks, he paid no attention to the children several feet away.
Rusko rides very nicely and quietly in a car. He is completely housebroken, and will let you know when he has to go out. He may come up to you and then go to the front door or pace around.

While our boy still has the personality, playfulness and energy of a younger dog, his years are beginning to show a bit. He takes his time when going up stairs, and getting up on the sofa is not easy for him. He manages to jump up, but his rear legs shake just before he decides to jump up. His muscles may be weak and need strengthening. His foster mom has also started him on joint supplements.
In summary, Rusko is an incredibly sweet, happy, playful older gentleman, who would be an ideal companion. He loves, looks to, and respects women most, and happy to hang out with you whenever he can. We are seeking adopters who are willing to give the TLC and care (and lot of balls) that this wonderful young-at-heart senior deserves.

If you have questions about Rusko, please 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. If you would like to meet Rusko, please begin by completing our adoption form at this link: http://hittgv.org/index.php/adopt. Please download and print the form to be completed.


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: http://hittgv.org/index.php/adopt. 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.

Sugar! (ADOPTED!) We named this older girl Sugar, because she is so sweet!  Sugar is friendly, gentle, quiet. Currently weighing only 38 lbs., she is a bit under weight. Sugar is housebroken and easy going.  She is also hard of hearing, but does hear some sounds (clapping and banging sounds).  Rides nicely in the back of a car.  She would make someone a wonderful companion.  We have not yet seen her around cats or children, but so far nothing seems to bother her.

More info soon... If you may be interested in Sugar please begin by completing our adoption form at this link: http://hittgv.org/index.php/adopt. 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.

Cowboy (ADOPTED!) is a playful, happy, enthusiastic, loving, gentle spirit, with a wonderful personality. We estimate that he is around 15-18 months old and weighs 45-50 lbs. He is a classic, “Old School” Australian Cattle Dog. As a young dog, Cowboy is energetic, mostly in short spurts, and may be a bit out of shape from lack of prior exercise. He is an extremely sweet, happy boy, who is great with other dogs and people. Cowboy loves playing with other dogs, and would thrive in a multi-dog home. He does seem to warm up to women more quickly than men, but he is good with both.

He is a velcro dog who always makes sure he knows where his person is. More than anything, Cowboy wants his own person/people to bond with and to be with forever. At this writing we have had Cowboy for less than a week, and right now, he very much wants to be with his foster person constantly. He craves human attention and is looking for love. Cowboy will roll on his back for belly scratches, and to get your attention will slowly try to crawl onto your lap.

Cowboy is very intelligent, a quick study, and eager to please. So far, we have learned that he knows Sit, Down and Lie Down, and Stay. He will follow commands, and if he understands what you want, he will will try to do it. Cowboy is completely housebroken, and knows how to use a dog door. He loves being in the car, and rides nicely in the back seat with head out the window. Our boy also sleeps quietly through the night on a bed just outside his foster’s bedroom.

Although Cowboy is a healthy adult sized cattle dog, we need to remind ourselves that he is mentally still very much a puppy. He is a sensitive soul. If someone (especially a man) raises their voice, Cowboy will cower. Sometimes he can get a little mouthy, to get your attention by using his mouth to take your hand or arm. When playing ball or following a command, he can be easily distracted if he sees birds or the mail truck drives up.

Cowboy enjoys toys, especially the squeaky ones. Our boy is very gentle with his toys and will carry them around, but will NOT chew or destroy them. He enjoyed the knuckle bone his foster Dad gave him, but otherwise Cowboy is not a chewer. He does NOT chew things inappropriately. He takes treats with a gentle, soft mouth. His foster Dad says he has “zero aggression” and does NOT have any guarding behavior with food or toys.

Cowboy also loves to play fetch, but mostly as a way to interact with and please his person. He will play ball for a while and then stop to rest of hang with his person. Cowboy is a quiet dog, unless he is upset, and howls a bit. He almost never barks. He is quiet around the dogs next door, across the fence, and is also quiet when playing with other dogs. We have not yet seen Cowboy around children or cats.

He rides quietly and very nicely in the car. However, if you leave him alone in the car to run an errand, he will complain about being left behind, with his high pitched, cattle dog stress bark. He walks well on leash, and would be the perfect dog for almost any home, except for this bit of separation anxiety. When left completely alone Cowboy will rearrange interesting smelling items in the house, knock down chairs, etc. He does NOT chew up or destroy things, he just moves things around. Motivated to be with his person, Cowboy is an escape artist. He will climb fences and can figure out how to open gate latches in an attempt to be with you.

We absolutely love and adore this dog! He is a phenomenally wonderful soul, who will make the right person/people the best companion anyone could wish for. When he is with his people, he is the happiest, most contented dog in the world. We are seeking loving and patient people, who can take Cowboy with them to works or be with him during the day, and who can begin teaching him how to feel comfortable when left alone for a few hours.

We believe that he may be an excellent emotional support dog for someone who needs a dog to be with them at all times. Cowboy and his human would understand and could support each other, and slowly work to gain confidence together.  

Once settled in a home and routine for a few months, Cowboy may outgrow his worry about not being with his person. We believe our foster home is at least the third home he has been in, and he was at the shelter twice. His last home was senior person who realized that a young playful herding dog was not the right fit for her. He needs someone willing to commit months and years to him to show him that he will not be surrendered or abandoned again, and enable him to feel he can trust and rely on his person/people to always return. We are seeking serious inquiries only, who can and will have Cowboy with someone most of the day, and who are experienced with, or willing to learn, how to slowly condition him to be calm when his people are not with him.

If you are interested in meeting Cowbpy, please begin by completing our adoption form at this link: http://hittgv.org/index.php/adopt. 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.

Cooper (ADOPTED!) is a 6 month old, 28 lb., Australian cattle dog and border collie mix. Besides being cute as can be, he is a sweet, loving, happy, playful pup, who is fun, energetic, and full of life. With the right training and slow exposure to new things, Cooper will be a great dog. He is keenly observant, curious, and smart as they come.
Cooper wants to be with his people whenever he can. He loves snuggling next to someone on the sofa and doze off for a nap. If you let him, he would sleep on the bed with you. Cooper is a sweet natured boy, who does want to please and do the right thing. He needs people who have the time to work with him on basic obedience, rules and how to be polite. He is very treat motivated, and with some positive (treat and praise based) training, he will try to do what you want. Knowing a household routine and training will give him confidence, when he realizes he can control or predict what will happen when he follows commands.

Before we got him, he was not socialized or exposed to very much, and he had only be taught to “sit.”  As a result, he is a little nervous when he encounters new things and situations. Cooper left the only home he knew, and it took several days for him to begin to trust his foster mom. He seems to favor men, and immediately began following his foster dad.

He is a fairly calm boy when it is quiet around the house, but when playing, he is a wild man with energy to spare, and needs room to run. When he gets too wild in his playing, he will respond to a strong, yet calm voice and body language, and gradually stop and calm himself. He is also learning that rude behavior does not get him what he wants, and that polite behavior will work for him. He will sit politely at the door before going out, and is learning to “Wait.”

When Cooper is comfortable, he is very playful and bold. He seems to have a little angel on one shoulder, telling them to do the right thing, and a little devil on the other telling him that he’s the little boss who does what he wants. He is extremely smart and definitely has his own ideas about what he wants to do. As with most cattle dogs, Cooper needs patience and calm yet unrelenting consistency. Negative or punishment based (including prong collars or spray bottles) training will NOT work with Cooper, and will never win him over.

Although clearly part border collie, Cooper’s personality is all cattle dog. He definitely has herding instinct, frequently grabbing the rear legs of another dog while playing. He is a little mouthy, and likes to mouth at hands when trying to play with people. We have been working with him on his mouthiness.

Right now, he is the equivalent of a 2-year old child, testing everyone to try and get his way. When on leash, if he wants to do something that you don’t want him to, he will lie down and refuse to move, or begin biting the leash. His person must discourage any stubborn or rude behavior by simply not giving him the attention he wants.

Our boy is nearly housebroken, and will try to let you know when he needs to go out, but as a puppy, when he is excited or scared he may squirt out pee. Currently, during his waking hours, to avoid an accident, he needs to be taken out every hour.  He does sleep through the night without accidents.  Cooper is NOT crate trained and does not like going into crates, especially plastic (airplane transport type) ones. He fought for his life not to get into a plastic crate when he was being transported, and had a meltdown in it, peeing all over himself.

Cooper is a very happy and friendly pup, once he feels secure and trusts someone. Unfortunately, when he was a small pup, Cooper had to resort to snapping at people to stop them from ‘playing with’ him against his will. As a result, he can be a little cautious if he thinks you are up to no good. If you try to put a collar or harness on him, he may either pee in fear or struggle to protect himself, by air snapping or nipping at your hands.  He is also afraid of small children, and does not like to be picked up against his will, and will growl and get snappy. The only time he is ok being picked up is when he lifts his front paws asking to be lifted in or out of the car.

To work on his snapping, we are not initiating attention that he doesn’t ask for, and we let him approach us for petting and attention, to help him realize that he is safe and does not need to protect himself. Once he trusts a person to not manhandle him, he is much more accepting of being ‘handled’ but will still object to being picked up. After three weeks at his foster home, Cooper is happy, relaxed and initiating a lot of interaction with his foster mom and dad and their dogs.

Because he never truly met other dogs before, Cooper’s first instinct is to be afraid. He seems to be fairly good with smaller dogs, but will growl and bark at larger dogs out of fear. It took almost three days before Cooper figured out what a canine invitation to play was. The first several times that my playful male, who is taller than Cooper, did a play bow, Cooper would run and hide in the bushes. Now, he plays like a normal puppy, chasing, and wrestling. He has also learned to play tug with another dog.  

It may take a while for Cooper to feel comfortable with each dog he meets. If a dog is easy going and/or playful, he will eventually realize it and be fine. However, when on walks, when he sees unknown dogs, especially larger ones, he will try to growl and try to bark them away. Cooper needs active socialization with other friendly and playful dogs. Every meeting with another dog must be a positive fun experience for him.

Cooper is a wonderful pup with great potential. He is still a very impressionable puppy, and his personality is still developing. He needs a very nurturing situation, with adopters who have the time to spend with him daily to teach him how to feel comfortable and confident in new situations. Cooper needs to make up for lost time to learn about the world, other animals, and people.

Currently, we are unable to take him to public places, as he received his very first vaccinations very recently, and should not be exposed to public places until he has developed proper immunity in several more weeks. We are socializing him with friends, dogs, and homes that we feel are healthy and safe.

Because of his need to make up for lost time in socialization and training, we are seeking adopters who will NOT leave him alone during the workday, and will begin working on his socialization and training immediately.

Cooper would benefit from having a friendly, playful, polite adult dog to act as a good example to learn from. Observing another dog that he trusts will help him learn how to respond appropriately when encountering other dogs and new situations.

If you are interested in meeting Cooper, please begin by completing our adoption form at this link: http://hittgv.org/index.php/adopt. 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.