Love Large: Adopt a Big Dog


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by Janet McAfee

I was raised by a special German Shepherd named Boy. Boy saved my life the day my grandmother fell asleep while babysitting. My carriage rolled down the sidewalk to the end of the block while Boy followed preventing me from rolling into the street. My guardian angel stayed by my side, not permitting anyone to come near me, including animal control officers. We grew up together with 12 years of happy memories. Boy is the reason I love dogs so much, especially German Shepherds.

Janet McAfee with Boy. JANET MCAFEE
Janet McAfee with Boy.

In 2022, it’s heartbreaking to see overcrowded public animal shelters with rows of beautiful large pups. Recently the Riverside County shelter in Thousand Palms (Coachella Valley Animal Campus) housed four large dogs in kennels that comfortably house two. Huskies and German Shepherds make up the largest number of dogs in most shelters. Sadly, some are at risk of euthanasia when there is no more kennel space. Some of the dogs are strays from the streets, others relinquished by owners, and others brought in when owners pass away.

Back in 2020, we saw happy news stories of empty kennels as homebound Americans adopted pets in record numbers during the pandemic. What changed? Some people who adopted a dog for companionship then are now relinquishing their loyal friends to shelters because they are returning to work. Other people are going through a housing crisis and moving to places that won’t accept large dogs.

We are a community of dog lovers, and working together, we can turn this tragic trend around. What can you do? Here are some things for a plan of action:

Adopt a large or medium size dog from a shelter.

Large dogs are usually calm when indoors keeping you company, particularly if you adopt one over 3 years old. If not already house trained, these brilliant creatures learn quickly.

If you can’t adopt, foster a big dog.

Fostering “expands the walls of the shelter.” Vanessa Ruggles and Curtis Sweesy fostered 44 large dogs, most of them rescues with Loving All Animals. Vanessa says, “Fostering is one of the most rewarding things we do. You can always be a ‘foster failure’ if you fall in love with your dog like we did, twice!”

Volunteer if you can’t adopt or foster.

It makes a difference in the life of a kenneled shelter dog to enjoy a walk and special time with you. Contact a shelter to discuss fun opportunities!

Donate if you don’t have time to volunteer.

Private shelters do not receive government funding and rely on private donations to house, feed, and provide vet care.

If you can’t afford to donate, network homeless animals.

LIKE the Facebook pages Loving All Animals, Coachella Valley Animal Campus, the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, and the Humane Society of the Desert. Network animals on Facebook, Instagram and NextDoor.

Kenny (pictured above) is a regal 1-yearold German Shepherd mix at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus, 72-050 Pet Land Place, Thousand Palms, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Kenny is neutered, people and pup friendly, and ready to go home. He’s 50 pounds of doggie love. He is dog ID#A1688617.


Charlie, the handsome German Shepherd fellow pictured above, would be quickly adopted at the Humane Society of the Desert during better economic times. He weighs 80 pounds, is 6 years old, and loves people and other pups. Charlie’s hobbies include playing in the water, hiking, and watching TV with you at night. Complete an application at and call (760)329-0203.


Jack is a fabulous Husky weighing 45 pounds at 9 months of age, dog ID#A1685692. He is at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms hoping for a home for the holidays. Jack is a beloved staff favorite. Huskies are the largest group of dogs there, so come by between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to meet Jack and his friends.


Brandy, a spayed female 1-year-old Husky at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms weighs just 40 pounds. She is spayed and ready to start a New Year with your family. Brandy is the dog playgroup rock star, and she’s great with humans, including the little ones. Dog ID#A1694343.

Want to foster? Contact Loving All Animals to foster a large dog, (760)834- 7000. Call Rosemary at the Palm Springs Animal Shelter to foster one of their big dogs at (760)416-5718. Call (951)358- 7376 to foster a big dog at our county shelter, the Coachella Valley Animal Campus, or email Call (760)329-0203 to foster for the Humane Society of the Desert.

If any of these dogs are adopted by the time you visit a shelter, there are many other beautiful animals there to select from. Ask the staff to bring the one you like to a private visiting room, and you might be greeted by a big welcome kiss or at least a grateful wagging tail. LET’S SAVE A BIG DOG TODAY!

Pet Companion Mag
Pet Companion Mag
Southern California's Local Pet Magazine


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