Waiting for the Right Home: Sage’s Story

A brown and black dog sits in a camping chair inside of the right home for her.

It was June 13th of 2023 and Sage (formerly Natalia) tilted her head in curiosity as a potential adopter peered excitedly into her kennel. Sage’s initial surrender into HSU’s care, as well as a return following an adoption that didn’t work out, were both attributed to her energetic personality feeling like too much to handle for previous guardians. She was beginning to lose hope that she would ever find the right home. But, as it turned out, Sage’s luck really was about to change!

Setting Sage Up for Success

Emilee knew from the moment she met Sage that this sweet, scruffy pup belonged with her family. During her chat with our adoptions counselors, HSU staff disclosed to Emilee that Sage may not be the easiest dog in the world. They let her know that Sage had been adopted and returned, and they told Emilee about how high-energy Sage was.

HSU staff had fallen in love with Sage during her stay. They wanted to be completely transparent about Sage’s needs to give her the best chance of going to the right home… and not coming back.

“[The counselors] told us that Sage had been brought back to the shelter, and we are still blown away by this. She’s such a gentle but energetic dog, and she blended perfectly with our family,” Emilee said.

So, as you might have guessed, Emilee was not deterred by Sage’s past but rather chose to look to her future. Sage left HSU that day with her tail wagging behind her; this time, she did not have to return.

A brown and black dog lays on her human's lap and looks directly into the camera in the right home for her.

The Future Sage Deserves

Today, Sage is absolutely thriving with Emilee and the rest of her found family. Emilee said that Sage is full of personality and is always making her laugh. Sage’s favorite pastimes include hanging out with her cousins, camping, and getting plenty of snuggles!

Emilee even had a funny story to share about Sage’s favorite seat in the house… a multi-seat camping chair! Sage is actually pictured in this chair at the beginning of this blog.

“Every time we would go camping, Sage would kick my husband out of his spot on the double chair. Eventually, one of my family members gifted us a three-person chair. Now we can all fit around the campfire!” Emilee laughed.

Emilee concluded Sage’s story with strong encouragement for others to adopt: “Our lives truly wouldn’t be the same without Sage. I love that HSU is sharing her story so people know shelter doggies are just as good as any!”

A brown and black dog sits outside in the fall leaves along with a cream dog and a black dog in the right home for them.

Big Heads, Bigger Hearts: Large Dog Adoption Special!

Large Dog Adoption Special banner

If you want to add a large and loveable companion to your life, now is the perfect time! Presented by Xfinity, the ‘Big Heads, Bigger Hearts’ adoption special runs through Valentine’s Day at the Humane Society of Utah (HSU). Thanks to generous support from Xfinity, adoption fees are waived for all adult large-breed dogs!

Love For Large Dogs

Find love this Valentine’s Day, and consider adopting a large dog! On average, large-breed dogs experience a longer length of stay at HSU when compared to their smaller counterparts. A big dog can seem like a big commitment, so large-breeds often get overlooked. But we know a large dog can be a great companion for the right adopter. And who knows what you might learn if you take a look around! That 65 lb pup might be a gentle and easy-going couch potato. Or maybe that large-breed sweetheart is the perfect companion for getting out and exploring nature.

Large Dog Adoption Photo with Family

An Adoption Special: Presented by Xfinity

From Sunday, February 11th through Wednesday, February 14th, HSU waives adoption fees for all adult dogs over 60 lbs. Thanks to our generous friends at Xfinity, we can help remove financial barriers so more adopters can bring these loveable large-breeds home! We are so grateful for our partnership with Xfinity, allowing us to address the needs of our animals and our community. If you are looking for a companion with a big heart, a big personality, and a big paw print, the time has never been better! Swing by for our ‘Big Heads, Bigger Hearts’ adoption special, presented by Xfinity!

The Truth About Adopted Pets as Gifts: Myths vs. Reality

The idea of gifting a pet during the holiday season often sparks debates and concerns. Some believe that pets adopted as gifts are more likely to be returned or end up in shelters. Let’s look at the data and debunk the myths surrounding pets given as presents.

Myth vs. Reality: Examining Return Rates

The myth that gifted pets are frequently returned lacks substantial evidence. Studies and shelter data from across the country show similar or lower return rates for pets adopted as gifts than those acquired by personal choice. 

Understanding the Gifted Pet Adoption Process

Contrary to common assumptions, shelters, and rescue organizations have structured adoption processes for pets given as gifts. These procedures often involve thorough conversation to prepare pets and people for success. These organizations work hard to ensure the recipient is ready for the commitment.

The Importance of Preparation and Education

Successful pet adoptions, whether gifts or personal choices, hinge on education. Preparing the recipient for the responsibilities and long-term commitments of pet ownership is vital.

Responsible Gifting: Encouraging Thoughtful Choices

The focus should be on responsible gifting. Encourage recipients to visit the shelter or participate in the selection process, ensuring the pet’s compatibility with their lifestyle and preferences. Like HSU, many shelters offer post-adoption support and resources, including behavioral training, pet care tips, and counseling. This helps pets and their people stay together.

Despite the prevailing myths, evidence suggests that pets adopted as gifts do not inherently face higher return rates. The key to a successful adoption, whether a gift or a personal choice, lies in the recipient’s careful preparation, education, and involvement in the adoption process. When done thoughtfully and responsibly, gifting a pet during the holiday season can create enduring bonds and bring immeasurable joy to both the recipient and the pet.

Finding The Right Fit: Bernie’s Story

Sometimes, adding a new dog to the family is a matter of finding the right fit. Jess and Justin already had one dog, and Jess desperately wanted to welcome a second into their home. Justin was a little more hesitant. “I was resistant to the idea because I worried that because of my disability, I would have a hard time taking care of a second dog,” Justin recounts. However, when Jess shared a photo and bio of Bernard from the Humane Society of Utah, Justin was taken with his cute, squishy face. He knew he had to at least meet Bernard. Perhaps this dog could be the perfect fit for their family! As Justin and Jess remember, “We were the first ones there that morning, so we could make sure we didn’t miss our chance to take care of him.”

Bernie a brindle bulldog mix gets an eye exam at HSU.

A Dog’s Road to Recovery:

Bernard arrived at the Humane Society of Utah (HSU), facing numerous health challenges. He suffered from a severe eye infection, limited mobility, difficulty breathing, and a painful skin condition. But beneath it all, Bernard had a heart of gold and a happy, goofy personality. Staff members quickly noticed that Bernard loved being around people more than anything else. Even during times of discomfort, Bernard was happy to have someone visit his kennel. 

This is the first thing that Justin and Jess noticed about Bernard when they visited him in the spring of 2023. It was clear that Bernard had been through his share of challenges. His eye infection was so severe that emergency surgery had been performed to remove the affected eye. When Justin and Jess first saw Bernard, he was in a cone and still exhausted from his recent procedure. But they also saw Bernard’s personality shine through. “When they brought him into the room with us, he just lit up and wanted all the love and attention we could give him,” Jess remembers. Justin and Jess agreed that day to foster Bernard and help him on his road to recovery. When they brought Bernard home, they knew he was there to stay. As Jess describes, “It became clear very quickly that there was no way we could give him up! He fit right into our home and hearts like a missing piece we didn’t know was gone.”

Bernie the brindle bulldog mix sleeps on a couch in his adoptive home.

The Perfect Dog for This Family:

Bernard spent a few weeks in foster care with Justin and Jess. He needed daily medical treatment as he recovered from surgery and got his skin infection under control. During this time, Bernard fit right in with the whole family. He instantly connected with their kids and their other dog. Bernard’s medical history and slow-moving style might have been a turn-off to other pet guardians. But he was the right dog for Justin and Jess, who wanted a mellow companion to add to their family. When Bernard finally recovered and was healthy enough for adoption, it was no surprise to HSU staff that Justin and Jess decided to adopt him permanently. These days, Bernard (who has been renamed Bernie) can usually be found snuggled up on the couch with his people or napping with his new dog sibling. Now that Justin has a constant companion in Bernie, he is so glad he took a chance and decided to visit the Humane Society of Utah. He explains, “What I didn’t realize until he came home to us is that my wife was right, I needed him just as much as he needed us.” So, if you are still deciding whether to add a new pet to your household, remember to keep an open mind. The perfect fit might be out there for you! And there are plenty of animals like Bernie, who just need the right person to take a chance. We couldn’t put it any better than Jess, who says, “You’ll know when you meet the one for you.”

Bernie the brindle bulldog mix cuddles with his adoptive family in his new home.

Gray of Face, Full of Heart: Adopt a Senior Pet

Granny paws, old-timers, sugar snoots… whatever you call them, we at the Humane Society of Utah know that senior pets make some of the best fur-iends! Here are just a few of the many reasons why you should welcome a senior dog or cat into your family:

Adoptable senior pet Dolly the gray and white cat sits in Kitty City awaiting adoption.
  • Aging Like Fine Wine: Potty training, learning leash manners, and scratched up furniture are just a few of the less cute and cuddly endeavors that you have a good chance of skipping when you adopt a senior pet! Many of these pepper-muzzled pals come with a set of built in house manners, ready to go! However, it’s important to be mindful that there may be an adjustment period while your pet learns the ropes of their new home.
  • “Senior” is a Relative Term: While both cats and dogs are often considered to have reached senior status by about seven years of age, that doesn’t mean they don’t have oodles of golden years ahead of them! Cats, in particular, routinely live into their late teens and early 20’s, meaning there’s a good chance you have a decade or more left with your new senior friend.
  • Senior Pets are Surprising! Dispel your expectations, because not all senior pets are ready to slow down just yet! While many senior pets may enjoy a good snooze on the sofa, it’s just as common that they’re still very in tune with their inner kitten or puppy. Don’t pass on a perfect pet just because you think they may not want to chase that ball or catnip mouse— they just might surprise you!
  • Annnnd Unsurprising In the Best Way: Oftentimes with senior pets, what you see is what you get! That snuggly couch potato you meet in the kennels will most likely be a snuggly couch potato when you get home to your actual couch, too. Unlike puppies and kittens, senior pets have had time to develop their personalities, making it less likely that you’ll be caught off guard by who you’re bringing home. However, don’t forget about that adjustment period pets may go through as they get used to their new digs!
  • A New Best Friend Without Breaking the Bank: Many animal welfare organizations offer discounted rates and adoption fees for senior pets to help incentivize adopters. Sometimes, they’re even completely free! Here at the Humane Society of Utah, our senior pets are “Name Your Own Price,” meaning you get to choose what you’d like to contribute to their adoption fee. Sweetening the deal, our seniors still come spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, and with a certificate for a free check-up with a participating veterinary office! 
Adoptable senior pet Koa the black and white dogs poses in a studio with a happy open mouth smile.

Haven’t you heard? Eight years is the new eight months! Adopt a senior pet today from utahhumane.org/adopt and find out firsthand why they say “old friends are the best friends.”

A Fluffy Orange Sidekick: Gunther’s Story

Stacie had been telling Ben that he needed a cat for pretty much the entire time they’d been dating, but it wasn’t until the pair moved in together that this dream became a reality.

“‘It’s not fun to live alone!’ I would tell him. So after living in our new place for a couple of months, we agreed to get a cat and went to [the Humane Society of Utah].” Stacie said.

Visiting Kitty City

After carefully browsing many of the rooms in Kitty City, Stacie had a gut feeling that she and Ben shouldn’t skip the last room in the corner. Despite meeting many wonderful felines along the way, Stacie expressed that she felt a deep pull towards that area that she couldn’t explain.

“We found our guy in the very last room! He immediately started cuddling and kissing me. My husband wanted to hold him and he did the exact same thing.” Stacie said.

At the time, Gunther’s name was Milo. However, Stacie said it didn’t match his strength and personality, so Milo quickly became Gunther. 

Gunther loves to chase straws, cuddle up with his humans on the couch (or, as Stacie fondly calls it, “cat traps” them, as we all know that once a cat is comfy, it’s a crime to move them), and will even play fetch! He also has supervised backyard time in which he loves to rub on his favorite tree, now affectionately named “Gunther’s Tree”.

A Kitty You Can Count On

Even when dark days came over the horizon, Gunther remained a rock for his family.

“I’ve unfortunately been through cancer three times,” Stacie said. “Gunther was adopted after the first, but he was by my side for the next two. I got really nervous that he wouldn’t like me because I smelled different during Chemo, and I had heard of cats doing that, but that wasn’t the case for my buddy! He was at my side unless it was time for him to eat. He would sleep in between my husband and I and make sure I was okay through the night. I don’t know what I would have done without him.”

Gunther is considered a senior kitty these days, but his new sister, Greta, has not allowed him to slow down one bit!

“I had a cat named Marley, and she and Gunther used to love to watch the world out the window together. When we lost her to kidney failure, it was awful for all of us. Gunther looked for her for months,” Stacie said. “Four years later, I didn’t realize we were ready for another cat until Greta caught my eye one Christmas. It only took 5 days for her and Gunther to begin to make friends, and it’s been the best thing for him. She brought life back into him!”

When asked what she would say to someone looking to adopt a pet, Stacie wanted to point out that it’s a responsibility, but a highly rewarding one. “You have to remember that they need more than just love. But if you can do that, it will be one of the best things you’ve ever done.”

Wiggling into a Heart and a Home: Ollie’s Story

Ollie, an Australian Shepherd with Microphthalmia in one of his eyes, had found himself back at the Humane Society of Utah once again. He was an energetic fellow, and it seemed that he could be a little bit much for some dog owners to handle. After 22 total days in HSU’s care and two adoptions that didn’t work out, Ollie was more than ready to find his new home.

Meeting the right person

Jessie had just finished her undergraduate degree and was moving into an apartment on her own for the first time. After seeing Ollie’s picture, she immediately drove over to HSU to meet him.

After meeting with an adoptions counselor to talk about Ollie, Jessie discovered that he may not be the easiest dog out there.

“[The adoptions counselor] told me that Ollie had been returned by a previous adoptive family after less than a day. She said he had some behavioral issues, his eyesight was very limited, and one of his eyes may have to be removed. However, I am very stubborn, so all of the warnings just cemented the fact that I wanted to meet him,” Jessie said.

After he was first brought out to meet Jessie, Ollie seemed a bit timid, but as soon as he got outside into a run, his true personality shown through. Various staff members came by to express to Jessie how much they loved Ollie, but it only took a few minutes for her to know that the wild white-eyed Aussie belonged with her.

Ollie the Australian Shepherd sits in the Utah desert with round red rock cliffs behind him.

“I knew that I had to give him a good life and we’d try to work through whatever issues he had,” Jessie said, “He wiggled his way into my heart.”

Jessie pointed out that she struggles with her mental health, and Ollie has been extra special because he helps her through the darker days.

“He brings purpose to my life especially when I’m struggling,” Jessie said. “He doesn’t care if I don’t want to go for a walk, he will persistently annoy me until I get up and go with him, which in kind improves my mental health. I have become so much more active since I got him, and I have learned to enjoy being out in nature.”

Nothing can hold him back

She adds that although his limited eyesight sometimes makes Ollie a bit clumsy, he doesn’t let it slow him down. She describes him as a goofy boy who doesn’t even realize his own goofiness, and is brave even in situations where it may serve him not to be. For example, Ollie doesn’t know how to swim, and Jessie has had to rescue him from running into bodies of water multiple times.

“Ollie has contributed so much in my life, and I am forever grateful I was able to adopt him. I am flying to Colorado to get a portrait tattoo of Ollie on August 31st,” Jessie said. “There were a few behaviors that were really frustrating with Ollie in the beginning, but I gave him consistency and training to show him there was nothing to be afraid of. I also realize that Ollie has situations that he is not comfortable with, just like humans, and we are able to work around and avoid those situations.”

Jessie said she would suggest adopting a pet to anyone considering it. “There will be good and bad times in the beginning, but if you are consistent and patient while you train them, they will become the best pet you could have ever asked for.”

If you are interested in following more of Ollie’s story, he has an Instagram account! See more of this wonderful pup at @olliethewhiteeyeaussie.

Uniting Hearts and Paws: HSU Joins Clear the Shelter

With summer in full swing, an event on the horizon brings together the forces of love, care, and companionship—Clear the Shelters. This annual nationwide pet adoption and donation campaign, presented by NBCUniversal Local, is returning for its ninth consecutive year from August 1 to 31.

A Month of Joy and Compassion: Clear the Shelters

Clear the Shelters isn’t just an event—it’s a movement, a heartfelt initiative that resonates with pet lovers, animal advocates, and communities across the United States and Puerto Rico. NBC and Telemundo-owned and affiliated stations partner with local animal shelters and rescue services to ignite a change for animals in need. Together, they amplify the message of pet adoption, creating awareness and raising funds for animal welfare.

August 26: Clear the Shelter in Utah

Mark your calendars for August 26, from 10 am to 7 pm. The Pet Resource Center in Murray will be buzzing with excitement as HSU invites you to join the movement.

You’ll have the chance to meet animals of all shapes and sizes, each with a unique story waiting to be shared.​ Adoption fees will be waived for all cats, kittens, and bunnies. Various dogs will have “name your own price” adoption fees. When you Adopt from the Humane Society​ of Utah, you’ll help create space in the shelter for other animals in need.​ You know you’re getting an animal who has been properly assessed and cared for. Your pet has been microchipped, spayed/neutered, and vaccinated. ​Plus, ​H​SU offers training advice and educational information to support pet families for the life of their newly adopted pets.

Whether you’re an experienced pet owner or taking your first step into pet ownership, you’ll find guidance, support, and a wealth of resources to help you make the right choice at the Humane Society of Utah! 

Puppy Survival Guide – Part 1: The Importance of Sleep

Tan puppy sleeps on white blanket.

Bringing a new puppy into your home is an exciting experience but comes with its fair share of challenges. Proper sleep is one of the most vital aspects of ensuring your puppy’s well-being and development. In this first part of our Puppy Survival Guide series, we’ll dive into why sleep is essential and how you can create a comfortable sleep environment for your new puppy.

The Sleep Needs of a Puppy

Like human babies, puppies require a significant amount of sleep to grow, learn, and stay healthy. Sleep is a vital part of their physical and cognitive development. While the exact amount of sleep varies depending on your pup’s breed, size, and age, the general recommendations are:

  • 8-week-old puppies sleep anywhere from 18 to 20 hours a day.
  • 12-16 week old puppies require 12-16 hours of sleep daily.
  • 6-month-old puppies start to sleep about the same amount as adult dogs, 10-14 hours a day. However, their brains are still growing. When you have house guests or return from an outing with your puppy, they may need a longer nap to recover.

During sleep, your puppy’s body undergoes crucial processes such as tissue repair, growth, and memory consolidation. It’s not just about getting shut-eye— it’s about giving your puppy’s body the time it needs to thrive. Puppies are like sponges, soaking up new experiences and learning from their environment. However,  many people misjudge the amount of sleep their puppy needs, making it harder for themselves and their new puppy.

Benefits of a well-rested puppy

  • Sleep helps consolidate new memories and experiences, improving cognitive development. 
  • Like humans, dogs can experience mood swings and irritability when tired. Ensuring your pup gets enough sleep can help maintain a balanced and happy disposition. 
  • A well-rested puppy is more receptive to training. When your pup is alert and focused, teaching them basic cues, house training, and proper behavior is easier.

Creating a Comfortable Sleep Environment For Your Puppy

Creating a comfortable and safe sleep environment is essential to provide your puppy with the best sleep possible. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Designate a quiet area. Choose a peaceful spot in your home where your puppy can sleep without disruptions. This will help them relax and sleep soundly.
  • Choose the right bed. Invest in a comfortable and appropriate-sized bed for your pup. Whether it’s a plush bed, a crate with soft bedding, or a cozy corner, ensure your puppy has a designated sleeping space.
  • Temperature control. Puppies are sensitive to temperature changes. Make sure the sleeping area is warm enough. However, some puppies may prefer a cool floor over a warm bed, depending on their breed type.
  • Establish a routine. Puppies thrive on routines. Establish a consistent bedtime routine with a short walk, playtime, and quiet moments to help your puppy transition into sleep mode.
  • Limit distractions. Keep the sleeping area free from loud noises, bright lights, and other distractions that might prevent your pup from sleeping well.
  • Be patient. Like any new routine, your puppy might need time to adjust to their sleep schedule. Be patient and understanding as they adapt to their new environment.

Stay tuned for the next installment of our Puppy Survival Guide series, where we’ll explore the art of management. And don’t forget, a well-rested puppy is a happy puppy!

Big Love, Big Hearts: Six Reasons to Adopt a Big Dog

big tan dog Billie Bean poses in studio against white backdrop.

Welcoming a furry friend into your home is a decision that comes with both joy and responsibility. While some may be drawn to small, adorable pups, cuddly cats, or other tiny creatures, there’s something truly special about adopting a big dog from the Humane Society of Utah. These gentle giants have the capacity for love and loyalty that can enrich your life in ways you might never have imagined. If you’re considering adopting a canine companion, here are six compelling reasons why you should consider bringing a big dog into your heart and home.

  1. A Lifetime of Companionship: When you adopt a big dog, you’re embarking on a journey of friendship that’s likely to span a decade or more. Their larger size means there is more to love! 
  2. Boundless Love and Affection: Big dogs are known for their enormous hearts and affectionate nature. Some thrive on physical contact, from gentle headrests to cozy cuddles on the couch. Your big dog will gladly become your constant companion, showering you with love and affection that will brighten even the darkest days.
  3. Ultimate Adventure Partners: A big dog could be your ultimate adventure buddy if you’re an outdoor enthusiast. Their size and strength make them perfect companions for hiking, jogging, and exploring the great outdoors. A big dog’s enthusiasm for new experiences can encourage you to lead a more active and fulfilling lifestyle.
  1. Large Breed Dogs Need Homes More Than Ever: 2023 has been a challenging year for large breed dogs in animal shelters nationwide. They are being surrendered more than any other animal at HSU, and other shelters are also witnessing that trend. More large breed dogs are also showing up as strays and waiting longer to get adopted than in years past.
  2. Emotional Support and Stress Relief: Research has shown that spending time with dogs can positively impact mental health. With their often gentle demeanor and inherent ability to provide comfort, big dogs can be excellent sources of emotional support. Their presence alone can help reduce stress and anxiety, making them invaluable allies in your pursuit of overall well-being!
  3. Making a Difference in a Big Dog’s Life: By adopting a big dog from the Humane Society of Utah, you’re not only changing their life but also your own. Big dogs are often overlooked in shelters, and giving one a loving home means you’re opening up space for more animals in need. Your decision to adopt a big dog is a compassionate choice that will make a big difference for one special dog.

As you consider bringing a new furry friend into your life, remember that big dogs have big hearts and even bigger capacities for enriching your life in ways you may have never imagined. So, take that step, open your heart, and experience the joy of adopting a big dog – a decision you’ll cherish for years to come. Visit UtahHumame.org/Adopt to view our big dogs currently available for adoption.