That time I hit the rescue dog jackpot


The Amazing Sitka will be turning 13 this summer and just got an A+ on his recent vet checkup, so we decided to re-share his awesomeness all over again. He’s the best dog ever. – The FetchFind Team


By Paulette Solinski, CPDT-KA

From the time I was a small child I would get the AKC Book of Dog Breeds from the library and fantasize about what dogs I would have as an adult. When I became an adult and was able to actually get a dog on my own, I realized life was more complicated. – should I get the dog of my dreams or rescue a dog in need of a home? What I decided to do was get one of each – a dog from a breeder and a rescue dog. It has always worked out, although there have been challenges along the way. But, what I really learned is that picking a dog is always somewhat of a gamble, no matter where you get him.

On the other hand, sometimes that gamble pays out a jackpot. Enter Sitka, my rescue dog, also known as the Best Dog in the World. I know what you’re thinking – but it’s not me who says it, it’s everyone else! I found Sitka online at  I had a Newfoundland and was looking for a Newfoundland rescue or a Newfie mix, so I put that in the search. Cimarron, as he was known at the time, popped up. He was gorgeous, with a beautiful coat of red and gold with just a hint of brown but, at least to my  eyes, no trace of Newfoundland. His write up also commented on how huge he was, several times. The rescue estimated that he was about one year old. Since he was already one hundred pounds they wanted to be sure that the prospective owner knew that “huge” could become “GIGANTIC.” 

My family and I, including the Newfoundland, went to Michigan to check him out. We all fell in love and he came home with us. At the time, I had no idea what to do. I now know that I should have taken it slowly – keep the dogs separated for awhile, watch for certain signs from the new dog, feed them separately. Stuff like that. Of course I did none of these things. However,  every time I tested the newly named Sitka to see whether he knew a command, he did. Sit, down, stay, come, walking on a leash – he knew all of these and more. He was also extremely appropriate with his audience. If a child approached him (while he was leashed and under control, of course) he would lay down and stay nicely for petting. He kept getting better with age. In fact, Sitka worked for many years as part of an animal-assisted therapy team with Pet Partners. 

Sitka isn’t a pup anymore, and he’s a little cranky due to age, but he’s still amazing and still loved by everyone who meets him. So if you’re thinking about a rescue dog, do your research –  but take a chance and hope for a big payoff.


logo-pet-partnersDo you think your pup has what it takes to be a Pet Partners therapy dog like Sitka? (Your cat, bird, horse, pig, and even llama can become part of an animal-assisted therapy team as well!) Check out their free courses here. 

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