Happy Tails

UPDATED 6/7/20:  Since our original description of Miso we have observed and learned more about her.

Miso (ADOPTED!) is a happy girl, who loves to hang out with her people, and is a joy to be with. She embraces all that life and the world has to offer. Her tail often wags like a propeller in her enthusiasm for any activity with her humans. We estimate that she is 2 years old and at 55 lbs., we believe she is a cattle dog and possibly shepherd mix. Miso would likely do best on country property where she has the space to run.
She is a high energy girl. If not given the space and other opportunities for exercise, Miso must get a good one hour, several mile (5-6 miles) long brisk walk, or running session, in the morning and another in the evening (2-3 miles). Once she has had her exercise, Miso is a mellow girl. She is happiest with her people, but not needy; and content to spend most of the day lounging around with you while you cook, do household chores or desk work. In the evening when the family is watching TV, she likes to snooze while resting her head on someone, or curl up so she is touching you. Besides loving to be in the house with her people, Miso loves her bed. He fosters placed her bed in their bedroom next to theirs. When they tell her “Go to bed,” she will enthusiastically bound up to the bedroom and happily throw herself onto her bed and stay there quietly for the night.
When at home, if the doors are open and she can be inside or outside, she will choose to be inside, sometimes she enjoys being just inside the open door and looking out. However, her people must be able to see the world through her eyes, and think at least two steps ahead of her, to keep her safe. When she knows her home, she will stay close and just wants to be around her people. However, Miso is VERY athletic, fast, and impulsive. If she sees something compelling on the other side of a fence, she can be very motivated to climb or jump over. High, sturdy fencing is a MUST to keep her safe. Until Miso knows, and has bonded with, her new family, extra caution should be taken to prevent escapes from the house, yard or car.  If she knows you are leaving her alone, she will whimper a little and usually settles down after a few minutes. She has not chewed on or destroyed anything when left alone in the house.
During car rides, she sits very nicely and quietly in the back seat. She seems to enjoy watching the world go by in the car. Miso is generally a quiet dog, unless there is something to bark at (another dog, or someone at the door). She may whine if you are standing around with her too long on a leash and she wants to be on her way.

Miso is the great combination of a highly intelligent, thinking dog, who very much wants to please her people. If she knows what you want her to do, she will try to do it. Currently, she knows Sit, Look at me, and Go to bed. She is also housebroken, and has done all her business outside when taken out. If the door is left open, she will go out on her own.

Miso shows her herding tendencies in only the mildest ways. Cattle dogs often use their paws like hands. Miso will gently touch you with her paw when she wants some attention, or for you to increase in your level of attention. The only time she does any mouthing on human hands, is when she is having her belly scratched, and she may softly take your hand in her mouth, to fondle it. She does like chewing on raw knuckle, or marrow, bones and rope toys, and has not chewed on anything she has not been given.

She is always excited to go on walks and share her outdoor experience with someone. After about the first brisk mile she stops pulling and walks nicely with a “loose leash.” However, if she sees a squirrel or a cat, her prey drive will be triggered, and she will pull to chase. She will also pull when she sees another dog coming.

Miso was in heat when the shelter released her to us. We thought her reaction to other dogs may be due to her hormones, but we aren’t yet sure as the hormones aren’t completely out of her system. We also suspect that traumas have happened to her involving other dogs. When on walks in urban and suburban areas, the sight of other dogs approaching causes her to be very agitated. Her environment must be managed actively during walks, and her people need to be ready to - have irresistible treats ready to go in her mouth one after another when another dog is seen, cross the street when you see an approaching dog, use cars to block her view/access to approaching dogs. Miso is very strong and can be hard to manage if she gets overstimulated when encountering another dog. Because we can’t predict if/when Miso may snap at another dog, for safety reasons, unknown dogs should not be allowed to approach Miso (or Miso approach them) when on an outing. For this reason, early morning, or late evening walks may work the best for Miso and her human, and it’s best to stick to routes that have wide streets, and few dogs, if possible. The good news is that Miso is a very quick study. Her foster mom is working with her to “Look at me,” when Miso sees another dog, and our girl is quickly learning to manage her response when most dogs are passing by, and to look to her person for a treat. However, if not distracted soon enough from another dog, she may begin pulling. Miso would benefit from leash work, and de-sensitization to other dogs with the support of a professional behaviorist.

Her reactivity when encountering other dogs makes it a challenge if long walks in a highly populated area are her only means of exercise. For this reason, we feel that adopters in a quiet setting with room to run, and where her dog encounters will be minimized, would reap the most benefits of Miso’s best traits as a happy, loving and devoted companion. Because she loves being with her humans more than anything, and so far, is still not keen on interacting with other dogs, she may do best as an only dog. However, she could possibly be fine with another dog in the same home, if the dog is mellow and not in her face. During her first week at her foster home, Miso would occasionally growl at her easy going, senior, canine foster brother if he entered a room she was in. Now, they sometimes nap together. She has NOT shown any resource guarding behavior with other dogs or humans. Because of Miso’s desire to chase cats, squirrels, and probably other wildlife, we do not recommend her for homes with cats or free range poultry.
Miso's foster mom will miss her when she is adopted, and said "...the only thing she needs to keep working on are her impulse control when seeing other dogs and creatures, and her leash manners."
If you are interested in meeting Miso, 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.

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 (ADOPTED!)  is a 2 year old, border collie and Siberian husky mix. He is a super sweet dog, who needs a patient, gentle, loving person to be his companion. We can see that once he feels secure Niko has a wonderfully happy, loving personality.  As a young, mix of two working breeds, he does need a good long hike and some active, tongue-hanging out exercise each day. This is NOT a dog for apartment life while people are away at work, or for people who want a dog by their side, without the ability or commitment to exercise a young working breed properly each day.  

He does not have a mean bone in his body, and was a favorite of several staffers at the shelter. When Niko was getting to know his foster dad and feeling safe and happy, he showed some puppy-like traits of doing zoomies and play bows. However, currently Niko is still afraid of everything that moves. He tucks his tail between his legs and tries to hide at the sight of people or dogs coming towards him.

When inside and he feels safe, Niko is just happy to quietly hang out with his foster dad, following him from room to room, and lie down near him. Around the house, he is very calm and affectionate. If his human is sitting at a table, sometimes Niko will rest his head in your lap. He can be playful when inside, but not often. If his foster dad tries to initiate play, Niko will play a little with his foster dad. He has shown no interest in any toys or balls. We believe that Niko has never been given toys and doesn’t know what they are. He also does not have the desire to chew on anything.

Our boy is extremely smart and learns quickly. He has two spots that are “his” at his foster home, and he will go right to one of them and lie down. At night, Niko sometimes sleeps on the couch, or one of “his” spots. He is a very quiet dog, and we have not yet heard him make a sound. So far, he has never barked, whined or made any sound.

Niko is extremely obedient and seems to already know a few things. He is completely housebroken. He also knows “Come” and will lie down on command. If you say ‘No’ to something he’s doing, will stop immediately and come to you. He has just learned to return and heel when given the command "With me.”

Niko has probably never walked on leash in the past. When putting on a leash near the door, Niko will flatten himself and cower. He also will not leave the house unless his person has attached the leash to him and is holding it (see 4 paragraphs down, on transitions). Once outside, he is fine. He will pull slightly, and sometimes zig zag in front, when on a leash. In just a week, he has learned that he is supposed to walk on the sidewalk and not down the middle of the street.

When walking outside on city or suburban streets, 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. Niko is also afraid of all children. We have not yet seen him around cats.

Niko does love being outside and hikes in nature. Once outside on a trail, his personality shows. He happily runs back and forth, and will check in frequently with his foster dad. When called, he will return to his foster’s side immediately, and checks in by touching his foster’s hand with his nose, sometimes giving one lick. He loves going far ahead on the trail and then races back at full speed. So far, the only animal he isn’t afraid of are birds. When he sees birds nearby, Niko hops after them. He did this when they saw a wild turkey.  Here's a YouTube link to Niko and his foster playing outside:
Niko is afraid of many things that he is not familiar with, and especially the possibility that something new may be a bad thing. He is confused and anxious about seeing reflections in mirrors and windows, especially the dog (himself), and not being able to reach his foster’s reflection.
Any change from one environment or situation to another creates great anxiety and fear in Niko. Taking him out of the house for a walk, or getting him in or out of a car, or in or out of a building or room, are all fearful obstacles for Niko. Once he’s transitioned to the new location and nothing bad happens, he settles and will relax (lays down, etc.). This is basically fear and uncertainty of the unknown. He is especially afraid when entering an institutional type setting (building lobby, veterinary office, etc.), which may remind him of the shelter. Once he has done a certain type of transition multiple times with positive associations, and understands that what will happen next is going to be fine, he is no longer afraid. Entering his foster home is easy now. Niko is apprehensive about getting into and out of the car, but once he is in the car, he is relaxed and falls asleep.
He will need a very patient, caring and understanding person/people, to teach him how to trust, become socialized and gain confidence. Although he loves his new foster, he is very afraid of what any person 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.
We also believe that some of his worries when out on walks is because he may have been confined to a yard and never been out in the world before. As a result, he may not be used to the everyday sights and sounds when out in public. We believe that in the right hands, over time, that he could become a self assured and happy dog.
Niko is a mix of highly active working breeds, and he is not an appropriate dog for people who live in apartments and/or who will leave him with nothing to do during the regular workday (when people go back to work). He needs people who have experience with giving a highly intelligent and active pup the mental and physical activity, and who know how to begin working with him on his fears and self confidence. 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. This is NOT a dog for a first time dog owner or one who is not familiar with these active working breeds, or with a dog who has been mentally and physically abused. For 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 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.

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.


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.


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