Hi I'm Nala Grace, Thank you for helping furbuddies that are like I was, abandoned, lost, starving and scared.

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2007 Featured Shelter

Dogs Life Rescue Stories

These stories are representative of the dogs this shelter has rehabilitated. We are happy to say there are so many success stories that we are unable to bring all of them to you. Will you help us make the dogs waiting for a home part of the happy ending stories too?

Nancy Van Allen Chief Rescuer


Nalas Furbuddies

Bud n Ben

and then Jesse!

We had to put our purebred Airedale (Feisty) down October 25, 2003.  Fast forward to Thanksgiving, when the holiday preparations just weren’t “right” without an Airedale underfoot; and I was brokenhearted.  I had been in contact with Nancy that summer when I was researching rescue web sites.


I e-mailed her again and filled out her application form.  She told me she didn’t have any “pure” Airedales available at that moment but sent me pictures of two mixes she did have.  Ben, a hound/Airedale cross, and Bud, a black Lab/Airedale cross.  I know I’m out of step with the parade here, but I love black dogs; and Bud has melting golden eyes.  So, I told Nancy that we were probably interested in Bud.  At that point she gently told me that Ben and Bud were very bonded to each other, and she thought it would break Ben’s heart if Bud left rescue without him.  Would we consider taking them both?  But of course!


We passed our home visit and made arrangements to travel to Butte to meet the new members of our family on December 13, 2003 (just in time for Christmas!).  Ben was scared and spent the journey curled up in back of the van, as far away from the humans as he could get.  Bud carefully balanced himself on the edge of the bench seat, rode over 200 miles with his front feet on the console, and took turns placing his forepaws on Don’s and my thighs.  You might say it was love at first sight with him!


Since we were traveling back to Billings anyway, we were tapped to help transport other mixed Airedales on their journey to Colorado.  One of those was a prancing little princess then known as Missy, a heeler/Airedale mix.  We fell in love with her and the way she presented herself, too.  Her Colorado mother renamed her Jesse.


After getting settled in Billings, it became apparent that Ben had some past abuse issues (NOT from his time spent at Nancy’s!); and he showed aggression towards one of the neighbors.  We had a consultation with a veterinarian, who recommended we put him down (“You’ll never be able to trust him”) and adopt a shelter pet.  Instead, we consulted with a trainer/kennel owner, who graciously made a house call and worked with us, showing us how to deal with Ben’s fear issues.  We immediately enrolled in her obedience classes and took Ben and Bud, but it was actually the humans who learned how to work with their dogs.  We also improved our fence to 6’ white vinyl!  Note to forever home adopters:  While your vet may be very well qualified to deal with your rescue’s medical issues, he may not be an expert on behavior or temperament.  We are so very glad that we took the time to work with Ben and turn him into a sweet, loving, trusting, happy dog!


Fast forward again to summer, 2004, when we decided to pay Nancy a visit in Missoula and show her how her “kids” were faring.  During our visit, she received a call from Jesse’s Colorado mother who was moving and needed to place Jesse back in Nancy’s rescue.  Don and I took one look at each other and said to Nancy in unison, “Well, Jesse wouldn’t have to travel all the way back to Missoula!”  Don drove to Wheatland, Wyoming, to pick her up.  She joined our Billings family on August 13, 2004, exactly eight months after we had met her!  We celebrate that day as her first birthday.  When she got out of the motor home, she twitched her fanny, play bowed, brushed Bud’s shoulder; and he’s been “hers” since that moment!


Yet he and Ben remain attached to each other, too.  They often lie down together with their forepaws entwined.  Or one uses the other’s butt as a pillow.  Don and I will glimpse them in quiet moments together and comment on what a sin it would have been to separate them.


Our rescue children romp, spar, chase each other, play bite each other’s faces, throats, and necks.  Sometimes the two boys, sometimes one boy with Jesse, sometimes all three.  They add humor and richness to our daily lives, which would be much emptier without them.


The Ruckmans :)