About Us


Boomer took off from his vet's office 17 1/2 days ago and is now, thank goodness, back home! Boomer has a past! He was once lost from a former owner's home in Idaho for 5 months. He was missing yet another time for about a month. Boomer's forever owners, Dana and Justin, did such an incredible job getting the word out that many sightings were reported. There were several days in a row with no reported sightings but at the end, when we knew he was on upper Eagle Ridge Drive in North Salt Lake, there were sometimes so many phone calls that Justin and Dana could barely keep up with them. That's the best. The silence --- no phone calls reporting sightings --- is very hard to deal with. Boomer was seen entering the trap set out for him and eating the food in it on Wednesday night. Silly boy ate, grabbed a toy of his that was in the trap, but didn't trigger the trap door to close. (He was able to reach far enough into the back of the trap to eat the food there.) Someone in a neighboring home witnessed him inside the 5 to 6 foot long trap and then exiting it. He trotted along with his toy and then dropped it. Dana and Justin were out, in the dark, trying to spot him. Dana saw him but he was running away. She recovered his toy which he had dropped along the way. There's was nothing to do but reset the trap and bait it with Kentucky Fried Chicken and Costco Polish Sausage, who could resist that? (Actually Dana and Justin because they don't eat meat.) Justin added a small board to the trigger pedal to make it more likely that when Boomer returned for more food, the trap door and his toy, the door would close. He was found in the trap early this morning.

This photo shows Boomer on the right with his Sheltie brother, Shaun on the left. Boomer is asking Shaun to please let him have his toy back! Welcome home Boomer!


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Adopting A Friend

1. What is Sheltie Rescue? How does that differ from Sheltie Rescue of Utah?

In a perfect world, every dog and cat would have a loving home where it feels safe and is properly cared for. Unfortunately, thousands of dogs and cats (and other pets) are abandoned and destroyed every week in the United States. The problem is that there are just too many births and too few caring people. Rescue organizations have sprung up all over the country to find good homes for these animals before they are put to death or become problems as they wander the streets. Some of those rescue organizations have chosen to focus on specific breeds; many of them are coupled in some way with dog clubs associated with the specific breed. The term "Sheltie Rescue" refers to organizations devoted to rescuing Shetland Sheepdogs (Shelties).

Sheltie Rescue of Utah is a non-profit organization devoted to rescuing Shelties in and near the state of Utah. Most of the Shelties we rescue are located in the urbanized Wasatch Front and Wasatch Back counties, but we attempt to monitor as much of the state as we can. Because of the absence of a Sheltie rescue organization in most of Wyoming, southern Idaho, and north-eastern Nevada, we monitor those parts of the country, too.

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2. Isn't it better to get a puppy? Aren't rescued dogs too old?

Puppies are wonderful. They're cute and endearing and loads of fun. However, they come untrained and without complete control over their bodily functions. Puppies aren't for everybody. If you have plenty of time to spend training a puppy to be your companion, lots of attention and energy to housebreak it, and the patience to work through inevitable problems, then a puppy might be what you want. But adopting an adult dog has unparalleled joys and benefits, too. Adults are usually (but not always perfectly) housebroken, they have settled down and are frequently less rambunctious, and they often integrate more easily into a household.

The old saying that "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" is just plain wrong. If you think you'd like to live with a dog, but you're not sure that you really want a young puppy, a rescued adult is worth considering. For reasons about which we can only speculate, it frequently seems that rescued dogs somehow recognize that they have been saved. As a result, they are very often more willing to learn and show their gratitude to their adopting people.

Even very old dogs need good homes to live out their last days in comfort and love. There are indescribable joys to be had from rescuing an old, even sick, dog and giving it unconditional love before it passes on.

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3. I saw the cutest dog over at the pet shop...

While there may be pet shops that sell dogs and cats that are healthy and come from reputable sources, we haven't found them. The great majority of pet shops acquire their dogs from "puppy mills" — places that exist solely for the purpose of manufacturing great quantities of puppies, often of questionable parentage and frequently in inhumane and unsanitary conditions. Puppies are often shipped from puppy mills piled into large cardboard or wooden boxes and arrive sick, filthy, and often severely injured. Worse, by the time the pet shops apply their markups and account for animals they have to destroy because of illness or injuries, the prices charged are significantly higher than you'd pay for buying an excellent pet-quality dog from a reputable breeder (one who truly cares about the puppies' health and about sound temperaments and stable personalities).

Please, please, please: DO NOT BUY DOGS OR CATS FROM PET SHOPS. We give our business only to pet shops that do not deal in dogs or cats (or, for that matter, large birds).

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4. Maybe I should go to the animal shelter (Humane Society, dog pound) for a dog...

What a fantastic idea! We recommend in the highest possible terms that you consider rescuing a dog directly from your local animal shelter. Those dogs are in desperate straits and many of them have only a few days before they are put to death. They are terrified and would do anything — including being your best buddy for the rest of their lives — to be saved. While there, don't focus only on the puppies...after all, they are the most likely to be adopted. Consider the possibility of adopting an older dog.

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5. What happens if the adoption just doesn't work out? Or if I have to move into a place that doesn't allow dogs?

Sheltie Rescue of Utah contracts with adopting homes to guarantee that a Sheltie for which the adoption doesn't work out is returned to us for placement in another home. There are no limitations or restrictions on this return. If, at any time during the dog's life, you are unable to care for the dog, we will take it back from you. In fact, you are not permitted to transfer the dog to anybody else for any reason at all — the dog must be returned to Sheltie Rescue of Utah if you are unable to continue caring for it.

If you must give up your rescued Sheltie and know of a possible adopter, we will be delighted to work with you and with that potential adopter to ensure that the dog is placed into the best possible home.

In addition, we will gladly work with you to find solutions for problems that the adoption might involve. For example, if there are behavioral problems, we will be glad to offer guidance and to recommend suitable obedience training classes that will help you solve those problems.

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6. What if the adopted dog gets really sick and the vet bills are terribly high?

Part of the responsibility of owning a dog is caring for it...in sickness and in health, as the wedding vow goes. In most cases, when your dog gets sick, you will take it to your veterinarian and receive treatment at very reasonable costs. You must be willing to undertake this level of responsibility in order to adopt a Sheltie.

However, we do recognize that there may be extreme circumstances where a rescued Sheltie incurs extraordinarily high medical expenses and you are genuinely unable to bear those expenses — not merely unhappy about it. In such cases, please contact us and we will help in whatever way we can. (Unfortunately, as you will certainly recognize, we cannot cover your pet's medical expenses ourselves.) In truly unusual circumstances, where your only choice is to relinquish the dog, we will of course take it back.

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7. I want to give my friend a rescued Sheltie as a surprise!

Sorry, but such surprises are too often unsuccessful. Every person who will be living in the same house with an adopted Sheltie must visit us and get to know the dog before the placement. There are no exceptions to this policy. Far too often, we have seen the recipient of the surprise be upset, even angry, at being given a gift involving such heavy responsibilities without having been consulted in advance.

You are, of course, welcome to give your friend a rescued Sheltie as a gift, but your friend must visit us to ensure that the specific dog is right for your friend. We work very hard to match each dog with just the right person, because not every combination of dog and person works out well.

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8. My spouse hates dogs, but I want my kids to see the miracle of birth.

Ouch! A spouse who dislikes dogs poses a serious issue for adoption. We don't have specific policies against adoptions in which some of the family likes dogs and others don't. However, success is maximized when everybody is on board with the adoption. Therefore, we do require that every member of the household (especially the adults!) agree to the adoption. If you find yourself with disagreement amongst your family, then we urge you to work out those issues before you start looking for a pet. Everybody will be much happier, especially the dog, if there is no serious tension about an adoption. (A maxim we frequently repeat: An unhappy dog results in an unhappy family!)

Getting a dog for the purpose of showing your kids "the miracle of birth" is probably the worst idea in the entire pet universe. There are thousands of dogs and cats killed every week in this country because there are more animals than there are homes. Why on earth would anybody want to produce still more unwanted animals? Your kids might be able to witness the miracle of birth by visiting a working farm or ranch, where animals are bred for specific reasons beyond the mere act of being born only to suffer and die unwanted.

In order to avoid all potential conflicts associated with this issue, no dog can ever be adopted from Sheltie Rescue of Utah until after it has been spayed or neutered. There are no exceptions for any reason.

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9. Can I make money breeding a rescued dog and then selling the puppies?

Not a chance. First, we always spay or neuter Shelties before they are placed for adoption. Second, serious competitors in the dog showing community know that "if you're making money breeding, you're doing it wrong"! There are significant costs associated with breeding, whelping, and raising a litter of puppies, not the least of which are unexpected medical expenses that can be stunningly high if something goes wrong. And, unless the sire and dam are of provably high quality in the breed, the puppies will rarely sell for enough to pay for even minimal expenses. It's much more common that the puppies are given away, abandoned to fend for themselves, or just turned over to the animal shelters to be destroyed.

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10. Where can I go for help if I have behavior problems with a rescued Sheltie (e.g., barking, jumping up, running away)?

You can always turn to Sheltie Rescue of Utah for help with a Sheltie that you have rescued from us. While we don't have the answers to every problem, nor the resources to give you our complete attention for a long time, we can recommend books, training videos, obedience training programs, and other resources in the local dog community. Most of the simpler problems can be handled with only a little training — of the family! The most important two ingredients are love and consistency, but adding a healthy mix of understanding and regular activities with your dog will significantly improve the success rate.

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11. How does Sheltie Rescue of Utah get the dogs that it places for adoption?

We maintain contact with the animal shelters throughout the Wasatch Front and the rest of Utah (and, less frequently, in some neighboring states). Frequently, the shelters will contact us when they acquire an animal that they believe might be a Shetland Sheepdog. Some of our rescuers visit each shelter periodically to see if a possible Sheltie might be held there.

Once in a while, we see a Sheltie running loose on the streets. When we are able to reach the Sheltie, we first check to see if it has tags identifying its owners; if so, we return it to its owners immediately. If it has no tags, we try to determine whether it needs medical help and take it to a veterinarian if it does. After all other avenues have been exhausted, we place the Sheltie into one of our foster homes for rehabilitation and eventual adoption. Where local ordinances require it, we (with the greatest reluctance!) are sometimes forced to temporarily surrender such loose dogs to local animal control before rescuing them.

We are mentioned in a number of web sites and people who have Shelties that they can no longer maintain sometimes contact us from the information available on those web sites. Or they hear about us from people they meet who have adopted a Sheltie from us or relinquished a Sheltie to us. When an owner relinquishes a Sheltie to us, he or she is asked to fill out our Relinquishment form, in which he or she gives up all rights to, responsibilities for, and ownership of the dog. On some occasions, owners who give up their Shelties with great reluctance (the owner's health, for example) even make a donation to Sheltie Rescue of Utah to support our work in placing their dog with the perfect home.

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12. How does a Sheltie from Sheltie Rescue of Utah differ from one from the animal shelter?

Sheltie Rescue of Utah initially places every rescued Sheltie into a foster home where the dog is evaluated for physical health, temperament and personality, and any potential special needs. They all receive all medical care (including spaying or neutering, vaccinations, and treatment of diseases) and are given a microchip that permits their identification any time in the future. Our rescued Shelties are bathed and groomed to look their best before their placement in an adoptive home. If a Sheltie has a particular behavioral problem or is un-housebroken, we strive to correct the issue. In short, we do everything we can to ensure successful adoptions.

Animal shelters rarely have the resources to give the animals they hold more than basic medical care, and they almost never have the time it takes to evaluate their personalities for matching with suitable adopting families. Although virtually all shelters do their best to maximize the success of adoptions, our tax dollars simply don't go far enough! Don't get us wrong: Thousands of animals adopted from shelters return devoted love to their adopters for the rest of their lives, and we are fervent supporters of rescuing dogs and cats from shelters! The difference between such animals and those adopted from Sheltie Rescue of Utah lies in how much you know about the Sheltie before you adopt it.

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13. What are the steps involved in adopting a Sheltie from Sheltie Rescue of Utah?

When you first contact Sheltie Rescue of Utah, you will be given (by email, fax, postal service, or this web site) an Application for Adoption. We ask that you fill the application out in detail, allowing us to know more about you and your doggy desires, as well as your experience with and expectations of a dog. In completing the application, you will learn something about our policies and practices, too.

When we have a rescued Sheltie for which we think you might be a match, we'll invite you over to visit with the Sheltie to see if there is indeed some degree of compatibility. We never send a dog home with an adoption family on the first visit. Never! We always require a second visit. On at least one of the two visits, and preferably both, we and the dog must meet every member of the household in which the dog will live.

During the visit, we will answer all of the questions that you might have about the dog, about adoption, about care, about training, and so forth. We'll also carefully watch the dog's reaction to you and the interaction between you and the dog. We're looking for a genuine attraction between the adopting family and the dog, not a "well, this will do" feeling between them.

If all parties involved (that is, you, us, and the dog) agree that the situation is favorable, then we arrange for the specific adoption visit. During this visit (which might be the second of the two visits mentioned above), you and we are required to initial and sign a (legally binding) contract that gives certain rights to protect the dog's welfare. We will also give you some supplies to get you started in helping your new family member settle into his or her new home. In most cases (except for dogs that we've had only a very short while), we also give you a customized booklet that contains specific information about your adopted dog and his or her habits, needs, health issues, and so forth.

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14. How much does it cost to adopt a Sheltie from Sheltie Rescue of Utah?

We currently require a "donation", also known as an "adoption fee", ranging from $75.00 for most rescued dogs to $500.00 for young, healthy dogs, from adopting families. In a very few cases, we may modify this amount, but we are extremely reluctant to give away Shelties because the adopter "just can't afford it" — after all, if the adoption fee is financially difficult, then health care for the Sheltie is unlikely to be easy to afford. We've also found through bitter experience that some people just don't value that which they have acquired without cost.

If you are unable to pay the adoption fee in full at the time of the adoption, under some circumstances, we are willing to set up a payment plan. Please don't ask for this unless you really need it, though.

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15. Where does that money go? Aren't you making money from rescuing Shelties?

If you only knew! Over the fifteen or so years we've been involved in rescuing Shelties, we have spent anywhere from $200 to significantly more than $10,000 (yes, that's ten thousand U.S. dollars) in medical and related expenses to bring a Sheltie back to health before we consider it eligible for adoption. That minimum $75 adoption fee doesn't cover even the minimum expenses for a single dog and we depend very heavily on donations. Typical expenses include: spaying or neutering, insertion and registration of a microchip for permanent identification, vaccinations, heartworm testing and medication, de-worming, feeding, leash and collar with identifying tag, and (possibly the most important...to the Sheltie!) toys. Every now and then, we rescue an "unadoptable" Sheltie (for example, we have rescued Shelties with terminal cancer and Shelties with various organ failures) and we just integrate him or her into one of our households for life, incurring the on-going medical and other expenses ourselves — but gaining that unconditional love that such dogs have to offer.

Don't kid yourselves: this is a labor of love. Our expenses run (quite literally) to tens of thousands of dollars every year. Expenses that we cannot cover through adoption fees, donations, and sales of some Sheltie-related items come out of our own pockets!

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16. Do you have purebred Shelties?

Most of the dogs that we rescue are purebred Shelties. Only a few of them are anything like show quality—that is, suitable for entering into conformation competition. Except for the very rare dogs that are of exceptional conformation quality, our rescue Shelties are always neutered or spayed before we place them, which prevents them from producing more unwanted puppies, but also prevents them from being entered in the conformation ring. Occasionally, we rescue Sheltie mixes, but our limited resources make it very difficult for us to do so as a rule.

On the other hand, rescued Shelties are often excellent candidates for training and exhibiting in various performance events, such as herding, obedience, agility, and others.

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17. When do you make your Shelties available for adoption?

When they are ready and not a day before! Seriously, we take great pains to ensure that our rescued Shelties are as healthy as possible, that their medical condition is fully evaluated (so we can accurately tell potential adopting families), and that their emotional condition is well understood. If there are any behavioral problems, we work intensely with the dog to rectify them before placing them into an adopting home.

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18. Why do you ask so many questions when all I want is to adopt a dog?

We ask as many questions as can reasonably think of. The reason is simple: The more we know about you, a potential adopter, the better we can do in finding exactly the right dog for you...a dog who will fit into your lifestyle and make the best possible companion for you. Bitter experience has taught us that failure to take such great care to make the right match leads to a failed adoption and more heartbreak for the rescued Sheltie. Make no mistake about it: we are advocates for the Shelties, who have already undergone enough trauma!

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19. Why do you want to visit an adopting family's home?

In a few cases, we like to visit a candidate adopting family's home to ensure that it will provide a safe and comfortable environment for a Sheltie who is known to have special needs. In most cases, the questions we ask of potential adopters give us sufficient information. But we always reserve the right (enforced by our adoption contract) to make follow-up visits to adopting homes to ensure that the dog's best interests are being met.

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20. How do you help lost Shelties get back home?

The most important thing we do is require that every single rescued Sheltie has a microchip implanted. That makes the chances of recovery much, much better. We also comb the neighborhood where a Sheltie might have been found running loose to see if we can locate its rightful owners. If that fails, then we run advertisements in the Lost and Found section of the local newspapers. In many cases, we are able to return the Sheltie to its original home. Only when everything else fails do we bring the Sheltie into the rescue program.

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21. What is a microchip?

A microchip is a tiny (about the size of a grain of rice) computer chip that a veterinarian inserts under a dog's skin, usually between the shoulder blades, using a special needle. The dog doesn't feel any pain, either during the insertion or afterwards. Whenever a dog is taken to an animal shelter or a veterinarian, it can be immediately scanned with a special device that most shelters and vets have in their offices. If the dog has been chipped, then the scanner will display the chip's unique identification number. Assuming the chip was registered after its insertion into the dog, the dog's owner can be found within hours.

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22. Why can't I leave my dog out in the yard?

To leave a dog confined in a yard, whether actually tied up or not, can often be unbearably cruel. In the summer, the sun is often brutal, and winter cold is very hard on all but the most hardy breeds. Shelties were developed to work outdoors herding sheep, but they were never intended to remain outside in all weather. Even if your particular dog seems to enjoy staying outside a lot, the neighbors might not appreciate the barking and other activities that may be conducted by a dog who is bored. Sheltie Rescue of Utah contractually requires that rescued Shelties live (particularly sleep) indoors, but of course most dogs enjoy going outside in a fenced yard or on leash for exercise and fun.

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23. Why do you insist that I have a fenced yard?

We got into Sheltie Rescue (see Melody's story on our Success Stories page) because we were asked to help pay for the medical care incurred by a Sheltie who was horribly injured when she was hit by a car. Dogs who are outside and unrestrained are far too likely to be injured by cars, by other dogs, or even by cruel people passing by. All homes that adopt from Sheltie Rescue of Utah are required by contract to have a fully fenced yard and for the fence to be in good repair.

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24. Do dogs really need dental care?

Of course! Maintaining a dog's dental health is surprisingly easy. We recommend brushing your dog's teeth at least 3 or 4 times every week. This skill is easy to learn and we happily teach it to adopting families. Some new products have come onto the market that make doggy dental care much easier – ask us about it. Dogs whose teeth have have not been properly cared for can actually have their lifespans dramatically shortened and their health expenses increased significantly. As with humans, prevention is much cheaper than cure!

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25. Do dogs really need to have their nails trimmed regularly?

Absolutely! Dogs who are very active, going hiking in rocky terrain or working outdoors, usually wear their nails down naturally. However, most dogs do not have the benefits of such activities, and their nails grow too long (as does the hair between the pads of their feet). We strongly recommend that owners trim their dogs' nails and the hair between the pads of their dogs' feet about twice a month. Some dogs seem to get very anxious, even afraid, of this activity, perhaps because of it having been painful at some time, but patience, loving care, and a few treats often helps relieve their anxiety enough to let you get the job done. If your dog continues to be anxious or fearful about having its feet and nails trimmed, we recommend that you ask your veterinarian about a possible calmative, such as Rescue Remedy (available at many health-food stores).

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26. Why is good nutrition so important for a dog?

For health, of course! A dog who eats low-quality dog food, such as bargain foods, isn't getting proper nutrition, but is probably getting away too many calories. As a result, the dog puts on weight, but tends to get sick too easily. A high-quality, balanced diet is vitally important to your beloved pet's well-being.

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27. Why are crates so helpful and crate training so important?

Dogs in the wild live at least part of the time in dens, cave-like places where they are protected and feel safe and undisturbed. Domestic dogs have retained many of the urges and needs of their wild ancestors and just enjoy having a private place where they can go when they are feeling stressed or merely tired. A crate provides just such a place...but you, not your dog, gets to choose where to locate that private place. When your dog is ill, especially if vomiting or diarrhea is involved, you will be grateful to have a place where you can confine your pet and limit the amount of mess that you have to clean in your home.

But don't expect to buy a crate one day and throw your sick dog into it right away! You'll almost certainly end up with a very unhappy, perhaps panicked, dog. Instead, make the crate a fun, enjoyable place to be. We recommend feeding your dog in his or her crate so that the crate becomes associated with good things. We also like to put a blanket or pad into a crate to make it more comfortable.

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28. Why should I take my dog to a training class?

Every dog needs training. Let us repeat that: every dog needs training. And every dog will get training, whether you intend it or not. If you don't consciously train your dog to know the things that you want him to know, he will learn whatever he feels will give him the best chance of surviving and thriving in your home. Unless you are already experienced in dog training, we strongly recommend training classes that are offered by local dog clubs, veterinarians, and even adult education courses. The additional bonding that develops between you and your dog will amaze you, and the fun that you will have just adds to the experience. Remember, Shelties are very intelligent dogs and they are typically quite curious. Smart and curious animals (and people) who aren't given something good to do have a tendency to get into trouble. Train...don't complain!

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29. Is a Sheltie right for my home?

Ahhh...a really hard question! Shelties have certain characteristics that distinguish them from other dogs — all breeds do. Shelties fit perfectly into our lifestyle, and they might or might not fit so well into yours. Some things that you need to know about Shelties before deciding to adopt one:

  • Shelties shed. Some shed a lot during part of the year and less during other parts of the year, while others shed a moderate amount all year 'round. But they all shed! If you really hate dog hair, then choose a Sheltie knowing that you will have to be vigilant in vacuuming hair. 
  • Shelties are very intelligent. Intelligent beings get bored easily. Bored beings get into trouble. (Remember those junior high school years?) You will be much happier if your Sheltie isn't bored. Training classes help avoid that boredom. We often assign specific chores to our Shelties, such as having them pick up their toys and put them back into the toy box. 
  • Shelties are widely recognized as truly enjoying the sounds of their own voices. That means they have a tendency to bark. Some Shelties bark more than others, and it often changes over their lifetimes. Older Shelties who are losing their hearing may start barking over nothing that you can observe...this might be due to a desire not to miss barking over noises that should be there. Believe it or not, a few Shelties actually howl — it's very cute, but some people might find it annoying. 
  • Shelties are typically, but not always, reserved. They often need to be properly introduced to your friends and guests before they will pay much attention to them (other than barking at them, of course). This is not the same as being shy (although some Shelties are indeed shy). It is certainly not the same as being fearful (although a very few Shelties, mostly those who have been abused, are fearful). 
  • Shelties must be groomed fairly regularly. If you brush a Sheltie often enough, the shedding is much less a problem than otherwise. If you brush a Sheltie's teeth often enough, bad breath and dental problems are less likely to occur. If you trim a Sheltie's nails regularly, there is a reduced chance of scratching your floors and of causing structural problems with his joints.

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Who We Are

Our Mission Statement

The mission of Sheltie Rescue of Utah is to rescue lost and discarded Shetland Sheepdogs (Shelties), rehabilitate them physically and mentally, and to find new homes in which they will flourish for the rest of their lives.

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