Partnership with local kennel helps animals find their 'furever' homes
Last updated 3/15/2021 at 5:21pm
Tumbleweed Country Kennels in Fountain is helping dogs find homes through its partnership with Adoptable Animal Rescue Force (AARF). A nonprofit centered on helping homeless dogs – particularly in the Pikes Peak Region – get new owners, AARF has been active for 22 years.
"We started out doing most of our adoptions up in Teller County," AARF Vice President Cathy Blake said. "For 12 years we've had the opportunity to partner with PetSmart, so then we started reaching out from Teller County into El Paso County."
Blake learned about Tumbleweed through a mutual connection when its owners, Gary and Leslie Louzon-Keller, bought the kennel space in January 2019.
"The rescue community is pretty small, is pretty tight," Blake said. "Somebody else in rescue had known the previous owners of that kennel, and when Leslie and Gary came in, they had a particular dog that they wanted to re-home, and this other person contacted me and said, 'You should meet these people.'"
Blake was immediately impressed at how the Kellers approached renovating the kennel.
"Gary and Leslie are fabulous," she said. "When they came in and had to redo the kennel – because it had been pretty run-down is my understanding – they really did ask all the right people all the right questions to fix it up just right."
Leslie Louzon-Keller says the partnership allows Tumbleweed to fulfill dog adoption work at Fort Carson, alongside its other services.
"At Tumbleweed Country Kennel, not only do we do boarding, grooming and daycare for our clients, but we also have the Fort Carson contract," Keller said. "That means any animals that are strays and need to be relinquished off of Fort Carson come to our facility. If they're strays, we try to find their families and get them reunited. In the event that they do not get reunited with their family, then we need to find means to get them re-homed. That's where AARF comes into place. They help us find homes for these dogs."
The partnership also moves the other way as well, since AARF sometimes rescues dogs from out-of-state areas with high-kill shelters and no foster homes. In those cases, Tumbleweed provides a shelter space for the dogs until they find a new home. AARF also uses an open field on Tumbleweed's property for meet-and-greet events where potential owners meet the dogs. Keller described how the field helps create a natural setting.
"Dogs get to be out in a field that's probably an acre [in size] and they get to run and play," Keller explained. "So, you really get to see the type of dog, versus in maybe a store setting where you might not... You get to see the dog really truly being a dog."
Blake noted that the open field particularly helps with families who have multiple dogs.
"If somebody's coming to adopt a dog and they already have one, it's the best way for the dogs to meet," Blake explained. "When you put a dog on a leash like we do at PetSmart – PetSmart is wonderful and up until COVID we did Saturday adoption fairs there. But when you get a dog on the leash, it can become reactive and very defensive. So when you get two dogs meeting each other for the first time, we take them out in the field, we keep them on their leashes until we make sure that there's not going to be a big problem, and then we just let them play."
Blake emphasized that the adoption fairs and the open field events work together, and she's looking forward to continuing work with PetSmart once health guidelines make it possible again. She also admitted that COVID-19 has made things more complicated for AARF in several ways.
"Because of COVID and not being able to do the adoption fairs, we can't get together as a group, which we all miss very much," Blake said.
Despite the fact this last year hasn't been ideal, the partnership has helped Tumbleweed and AARF to get through an unusual time. It also seems clear that the two groups will continue to help each other for years to come.
"It's been a very positive experience," Keller said. "Everyone [at AARF] cares deeply about the animals they're working with. They put a lot of personal time and effort into getting the dogs the care that they need... I think they go above and beyond to try to help the dogs in need."
"It's been wonderful," Blake said. "If a dog is getting ready to have a meet-and-greet with a possible adopter, it's not unusual for them to just not say anything and go ahead and wash the dog for us if it needs it. They're very good about communicating with us if the dog has any needs that have arisen. They're just wonderful to work with."
To schedule a visit to Tumbleweed Country Kennels (located at 12599 Jordan Road) or learn more about their services, go to tumbleweedcountrykennels.com or call 382-1126.
To find out more about AARF's services within Colorado or how to donate or adopt, go to aarfcolorado.com.
These dogs and more are available through AARF. Schedule a meet-and-greet at Tumbleweed Country Kennels by calling (719) 382-1126.