10 years ago when I adopted my first wheaten from a reputable breeder, I waited 10 months on list for her. I would never have believed there would be Wheatens that ended up in shelters. After all, these are “valuable” dogs and you’d think that someone that invested that much money in their dog would take good care of them. Unfortunately, ours has become an instant gratification, throw away society. And yes, many wonderful Wheatens do end up in shelters! National statistics indicate that up to 25% of the dogs entering shelters are purebred. The shelter was more than happy for me to adopt Noelle and free up a cage. Depending on the shelter, the pets only have a limited amount of cage time and either or adopted out or euthanized.

In December, 2005, I spotted Noelle on Petfinder and drove to the city kill shelter she was in to identify her. Wheatens in shelters can be hard to identify. Many do not have docked tails (Noelle’s is long), many have never been combed, bathed, brushed or nails trimmed in their lives. Often, only feeling the ear can you tell if they have cocker spaniel length ears or the smaller, higher, triangle shape ears of a wheaten because of all of the heavy, long fur. To my best guess, Noelle (originally listed as Smokey, a 6 month old Akita mix), was a young Wheaten, unspayed female.

I pulled her for WIN, and fostered her. She had horrible worms and the spay incision was badly infected. She was listless, not wheaten puppy like. According to the paperwork at the shelter, she’d been adopted by a family who gave her to another family when they no longer wanted her. They told this family she was an Akita mix. In this area of the city, the bigger, more protective type dogs are the ones in demand. Noelle is a submissive dog, the opposite of a guard dog. The shelter manager said she felt Noelle had been abused just by the way the man dragged her in and never looked back when he surrendered her. I’ve seen some signs of it, but she now knows that hands coming towards her face mean hugs, kisses and petting instead of hitting. And, that huge tail wagging brings a smile to our faces!

I had her placed, twice, and she came back through no fault of her own. One family decided they only wanted one dog as their dog was no longer paying enough attention to them, but playing with Noelle. This was after 2 days. About this time, I found out my oldest wheaten, Bailey, was sick. We decided there was a reason we still had our sweet little foster girl, and adopted her. Everything was new to her, she’d only been in a fenced in yard, no walks, no meeting other dogs or People, etc. It is fun to see her experience so many things and how she is blossoming.

She didn’t bark for 7 weeks, not a sound out of her. The vet said she would bark when she felt confident enough. Now, she will bark if the doorbell rings, but still doesn’t bark much. She is wonderful with other dogs, knows exactly what the other dog needs, either lays down and is gentle or can body slam and rough house with the biggest of dogs. She is gentle and sweet, not a mean bone in her body. We adore her. The best guess of our vets is that she was 9 – 10 months old in December, so is about one now. She had all of her teeth and a bit of tarter when I adopted her, so she was older than 6 months.

Shelters often underestimate the dogs ages as they adopt easier the younger they are. Noelle has a Wheaten sister, Bailey, age 10, a Wheaten brother, Rowdy, 9 in a month, and two Maine coon kitties, ages 2 and 3 that she is great with, plus a human mommy and daddy who love her very much, grandparents, aunts and uncles and human nieces and nephews, etc. So many human and doggie friends as she is a really special girl.

Please help WIN to continue helping these “Wheatens In Need”. And, please have your pets microchipped and wearing a collar with an I.D. tag!