Rescued Jack Russells arrive in West Michigan, prep for adoption

Crates of Jack Russells arrive via the ASPCA truck at Kent County Animal Shelter on Wednesday.

Crates of Jack Russells arrive via the ASPCA truck at Kent County Animal Shelter on Wednesday.


The Jack Russell terriers rescued from a suspected puppy mill operation in Lake City arrived at the Kent County Animal Shelter and Humane Society of West Michigan this afternoon.

The ASPCA’s Animal Cruelty Investigation Disaster Response truck pulled into KCAS around 1:30 p.m. and unloaded 15 Jack Russells. Six additional dogs, also JRTs, were then transported to HSWM. No Shiba Inus, also rescued from the puppy mill, were brought to West Michigan.

Dr. Laurie Wright, staff veterinarian at KCAS, said the dogs are in good shape, given what they’re going through. Some dogs had vomit and diarrhea in their travel crates and were given baths upon arrival.

“Most of the dogs are a little bit stressed because they’ve had a long car ride, but they’re really in pretty good physical condition,”  Wright said. “One I just processed had some evidence of flea dirt,  but no fleas. The ASPCA had already pretreated everybody, and  they’re all vaccinated heartworm tested, microchipped, fecal tested and dewormed, so we’re basically just getting them to the point where we can get them settled comfortably.

“They’ll get reassessed probably in the next 24 to 48 hours and we’ll see how they’re settling in. The bandanas you see us putting on them are sprayed with a pheromone to help calm them down. The bandanas aren’t just for cuteness, but also for de-stressing.”

Carly Luttmann, adoption program supervisor at KCAS, said the Jack Russells could be ready to be adopted as early as tomorrow.

“I think we need to do more behavior assessments on everybody tomorrow morning just to see how they’re going to fit in our adoption program, but I anticipate we’ll be ready to have them available,” Luttmann said.

The KCAS dogs all have familiar temporary names to anyone who follows the Detroit Tigers. They’re named after Tigers players and manager Jim Leyland.

“Our marketing and media manager, Lisa LaPlante, came up with Tigers’ players names,” Luttmann said. “It’s always a challenge to name a big group of dogs that comes in at once.”

Because there was just one male dog in the group of 15 at KCAS, Luttmann’s staff had to come up with solutions for the females.

“(The Tigers) have masculine names, so we had a to change a few things,” she said. “For instance, we changed Victor Martinez to Victoria M. We had to get a little creative.”

The dogs at HSWM will undergo behavioral testing before going up for adoption. Nicole Cook, marketing director at HSWM, said the dogs appear to have better temperaments than her staff expected, but they definitely are a bit fearful.

In addition, one HSWM dog is heartworm positive and another has a heart murmur. Cook said a grant from ASPCA will be used for medical treatment on those dogs, and said they should be fine with treatment. There’s no timetable for the adoption availability of the dogs in HSWM’s care.






Five more puppy mill dogs headed to West Michigan

I received word today that in addition to the 20 dogs slated to arrive at Kent County Animal Shelter,  five other dogs from the suspected puppy mill bust in Lake City, Mich., will be headed to the Humane Society of West Michigan.

Five dogs rescued from a suspected puppy mill in Lake City will arrive at Humane Society of West Michigan today, where they'll work with behavior specialists until they're ready for adoption. (Roscommon County Animal Shelter photo)

Five dogs rescued from a suspected puppy mill in Lake City will arrive at Humane Society of West Michigan today, where they’ll work with behavior specialists until they’re ready for adoption. (Roscommon County Animal Shelter photo)

A press release from HSWM said the five dogs are the last remaining from the more than 150 dogs seized and are the toughest to place, according to the ASPCA, because of their behavior challenges. The ASPCA worked in conjunction with law enforcement officials to find temporary shelter for the Jack Russell terriers and Shiba Inus rescued from the suspected puppy mill.

The HSWM release said the five dogs headed their way today are fearful and unsocialized and some suffer from medical issues, including heartworm and a heart murmur.

“We have a fantastic behavior specialist and veterinarian on staff who are ready and skilled to help in dire circumstances like this,” Trudy Ender, HSWM Executive Director, said in the release.  “We are pleased to be able to help these dogs and give them the care and attention they deserve.”

When the dogs arrive at HSWM, they will immediately get medical care and begin working with the behavior staff to acclimate them. The dogs will be evaluated upon arrival and will be placed up for adoption when they are ready for their new “forever” home, HSWM said.

Rescued Jack Russells, Shiba Inus will be available for adoption at Kent Co. Animal Shelter

More than 150 dogs, mostly Jack Russell terriers and Shiba Inus, were rescued from this outdoor kennel, a suspected puppy mill.

More than 150 dogs, mostly Jack Russell terriers and Shiba Inus, were rescued from this outdoor kennel, a suspected puppy mill.

You may have seen a story on the television news last week regarding the seizure of 150 dogs, mainly Jack Russell terriers and Shiba Inus, from a suspected puppy mill operation near Lake City, Mich.

Wednesday, 20 of those dogs will arrive at the Kent County Animal Shelter and will be available for adoption. And because of grants earlier this year from the Michigan Animal Welfare Fund and “George’s Fund,” KCAS will make available all the dogs  for a $50 adoption fee, plus the $12 to license them. The adoption fee covers spay/neuter, vaccinations and microchipping. Check out the “How to Adopt” section on the KCAS website to make sure you’re prepared when you visit the facility.

Animal Shelter Program Supervisor Carly Luttmann said the dogs should be arriving sometime before noon on Wednesday. They’ve already been evaluated for behavior and medical issues and will be immediately available. The dogs will need to be spayed or neutered before being released from KCAS, but that process shouldn’t take more than a few days, Luttmann said.

A Shiba Inu gets a medical evaluation after rescue. (Roscommon County Animal Shelter photo)

A Shiba Inu gets a medical evaluation after rescue. (Roscommon County Animal Shelter photo)

The dogs were taken from two locations: JRT John’s Jack Russell and Shiba Inu Kennel, as a result of civil action prompted by violation of Michigan’s Dog Law. The Missaukee County Sheriff’s office and the Roscommon County Animal Shelter led the way and called on the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to help in the removal of the dogs.

The ASPCA said in a news release that the dogs were discovered living in outdoor enclosures with little protection from the elements. Many dogs had no access to clean drinking water or proper shelter, with plastic carriers being their only refuge from rain, snow or sun, the ASPCA said. Many of the dogs were unsocialized and fearful when handled by humans.

For that reason, Luttmann said those planning to adopt any of the dogs should realize that patience and training will be required. KCAS will offer information on Jack Russell and Shiba Inu breeds in addition to recommendations on training.

“We’re hoping people will come out (to KCAS) and help us find these dogs homes,” Luttmann said. “They lived in outdoor conditions at a puppy mill, so they might be shy at first and need training to adjust to their new lives. These Jack Russells are very smart, but they’re not all like the dog from ‘Fraiser.’ They will need training.”

A Jack Russell rescued from the suspected puppy mill who will be looking for a new home. (Roscommon County Animal Shelter  photo)

A Jack Russell rescued from the suspected puppy mill who will be looking for a new home. (Roscommon County Animal Shelter photo)

Luttmann added that the dogs may need dental work, not entirely uncommon for smaller breeds and terriers older than 2 or 3 who have never had dental care.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of the $50 adoption special and giving one of these dogs (or any other dog at KCAS) a loving home, be sure to stop by the animal shelter Wednesday afternoon or later.

The rest of the dogs seized are being housed at various locations, the ASPCA release said. They’ve undergone medical examinations and those that are medically and behaviorally sound, like those headed to Kent County, will be immediately placed by Roscommon County Animal Shelter with ASPCA response partners. Those response partners also include Medina County SPCA (Medina, Ohio) and Animal Humane Society (Golden Valley, Minn.), which are also supporting the sheltering operation and will help provide daily care for the animals.

Aside from KCAS, other agencies in Michigan assisting the operation include Michigan Humane Society (Bingham Farms), Kalkaska County Animal Control (Kalkaska) and Clare County Animal Shelter (Harrison).

“This case has been years in the making and we felt strongly that something had to be done to protect these animals,” Missaukee County sheriff Jim Bosscher said in the ASPCA release. “The ASPCA’s resources and sheltering knowledge, combined with the support of the Roscommon County Animal Shelter, will finally allow these dogs the chance to have a happy life.”


Do you know Jack? Or Parson? Or Russell? Perhaps you will now

NEW YORK — I’ll admit it: I’m a terrier person. I love that they’re relatively small, feisty, funny, cute as the dickens and think the world revolves around them. When I learned the Russell terrier was joining the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show this year, I was thrilled. It’s THE breed I had to see here.

A Russell terrier, Billie Jean, in the benching area before taking the ring. (Mary Ullmer photo)

A Russell terrier, Billie Jean, in the benching area before taking the ring. (Mary Ullmer photo)

I got my wish during Tuesday’s benching at Pier 92/94. Most of the terrier breeds, whose group is judged Tuesday night, were housed at Pier 92, and I was in terrier heaven. I got to meet several Russell terriers, and learned a great deal about them.

If you’re confused about the differences between a Jack Russell terrier, a Parson Russell terrier and a Russell terrier, well, there’s good reason. They basically are the same dog.

The main difference between the Parson Russell and Russell terrier is size. The Russells are quite a bit smaller, standing between 10 and 12 inches tall. The Parson Russell, ideally, is 13 to 14 inches at the highest point of the shoulder blade. Acceptable coats are smooth, broken or rough (think “scruffy”).

What about the Jack Russell, you ask? Again, it basically is the same dog. The main difference: Jack Russell terriers are registered with the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America (JRTCA) while Russell terriers and Parson Russells are American Kennel Club (AKC) registered. JRTCA members cannot be registered until they are at least a year old. AKC dogs are registered at birth.

There's a reason the  Parson Russell terrier looks a lot like a Russell terrier ... but size matters. (Mary Ullmer photo)

There’s a reason the Parson Russell terrier looks a lot like a Russell terrier … but size matters. (Mary Ullmer photo)

JRTCA is more forgiving when it comes to breed standards for the Jack Russells. Or, rather, there is more variety within the breed. Where Russell terriers and Parson Russells are distinguished by their size, the Jack Russell can range from 10 to 15 inches at the withers. Think about Milo in “The Mask,” and Skip in “My Dog Skip.” Two different looking dogs, yet the same breed.

In the AKC world, such distinctions or varieties are considered different breeds. It’s why there’s a Standard, Miniature and Toy poodle — all poodles, yet different breeds. Or a smooth coated, longhaired and wirehaired Dachshund. Same dog, except for the coat, yet considered different breeds.

The JRTCA considers its registered dogs the “real” Jack Russell terrier. There no doubt is some animosity between the JRTCA and AKC over  the distinctions and, certainly, the claim to the name “Jack Russell.” There’s a reason AKC doesn’t call its dogs Jacks … that name is reserved for the JRTCA dogs.

Quite frankly, I don’t care for the politics or bickering. I’m the proud owner of a purebred Jack Russell terrier, although he’s not registered. And after meeting the Russell terrier, I have no doubt we’ll own one of them in the future as well. Because when it comes right down to it, they’re all silly little dogs who just happen to have stolen my heart. 

Mary Ullmer is a pets blogger and editor of Dogs Unleashed, a lifestyle magazine for dog lovers distributed in west Michigan. Contact her at or follow her on Twitter: @pressunleashed



Freaked over fireworks? Here’s a natural alternative to keep your canine calm

We’ve all seen the posts from our Facebook friends:

“Fido is shaking and panting! He hates thunderstorms!”

“Boo Boo won’t come out from under the bed. She hates thunderstorms!”

“Our neighbors lit off fireworks. Our Lab, Murphy, went berserk and tore up our couch!”

Courtesy image

Many friends swear by Thundershirt, which uses gentle, constant pressure to calm your dog. Others say it doesn’t have much effect on their dog.

I discovered an alternative while surfing online, just in time to order some for the July 4 fireworks (Stuart, our Jack Russell, is quite anxious when it comes to fireworks and thunderstorms).

The product is called Canine Calm, and it’s a spray mist made of all natural ingredients, including pure essential oils such as lavender, tangerine and geranium.

The maker of Canine Calm, Earth Heart, is running a “buy one get one free” special right now. Those ordering via by July 1 can type ShareTheCalm into the promotion code area and get a second bottle free. The idea is to give the second bottle to  a friend with a fireworks-phobic dog. (I know a few).

Vicki Rae Thorne, Earth Heart founder, assured me those ordering by July 1 will receive it in time for the fireworks. I ordered Monday and it was shipped out the same day. I plan to give it a try with Stuart since we’re expecting thunderstorms later this week.

Thorne, based in Dundee, Ill., recommends misting your fingertips with Canine Calm and then applying it to your dog’s ear tips. One or both ear tips is fine, she said.

“There are a lot of blood vessels in the ears, and applying the mist there allows you to get it into the bloodstream quickly,” Thorne said in a phone interview. “It also keeps you from overwhelming their sense of smell. It’s a very diluted solution so as not to overwhelm a dog and it can be applied as often as needed to any size dog.”

It also can be sprayed into your car or dog crate for traveling, even if you’re only headed to the vet or the groomer’s. Thorne told me her product has a 90 percent-plus success rate. She said the reason it may not appear to work on some dogs is simply because the owner isn’t using enough, or isn’t using it often enough.

“Sometimes a little dog might need just one spray, or it might need four,” she said. “Sometimes, a big dog might need one spray, or it might need six or eight. It depends on the individual dog — the size, the age, the health, the level of anxiety.”

Thorne also recommends spraying a bit of the mist on yourself (it won’t stain or leave a residue) and being around your dog during a normal, calm period when first trying it.

“Spritz your shirt or your hand and hang out with your dog,” Thorne said. “You can then see how your dog responds to the scent. If your dog starts to relax even more in a calm non-stressful situation, you’ll have an indication of how long it takes to take effect. You’ll also bond the dog with the scent. It will be a comforting scent to them when you go to use it again.”

She said it typically takes 10 to 20 minutes for Canine Calm to have an effect. Try using it  the moment your dog starts behaving anxiously because of an impending thunderstorm, Thorne said.

“Your dog’s behavior changes when there’s a thunderstorm coming,” she said. “They might pant, pace, whimper or hide. You can apply it right at that moment, and they’ll quiet down before the storm hits.”

Because it’s made of essential oils, Canine Calm is safe for you and your dog.

“I started my company working in aroma therapy in 1992,” she said. “At the time, I had a 5-year-old and I was pregnant with my second child. I started working with pure essential oils, which are very concentrated, and I needed to be sure they were safe, with me being pregnant and with a 5-year-old.  Our main goal since the beginning is that everything has to be family friendly.”

Canine Calm may not be for everyone wearing fur, Thorne said.

“It can be used in limited capacity with cats,” she said. “A cat’s skin is different from a dog’s. It’s physiology is different. It is OK for occasional use with extremely diluted products. If a cat freaks out when you’re trying to put it in a cage to take to the vet once or twice a year, spraying Canine Calm on a blanket in the cat carrier will help reduce stress. One spritz is going to help a cat a lot more than stressing it out. I don’t recommend it for cats on a daily basis, but it doesn’t hurt them to be around it or to use it with them a couple times a year.”

Thorne said she has had customers who told her Canine Calm did nothing to ease their dog’s anxiety.

“Some people use it in combination with a Thundershirt or herbal remedy,” Thorne said. “Some say it didn’t work at all. At $11.98 a bottle, that’s about two cents per spray, so it can be one of the least expensive things you do for your dog. If it works for you, it’s a very low investment.”

Canine Calm is in about 200 retail stores now, although none in Michigan at the moment. Thorne didn’t even take it to the retail market until a few years ago, and said it’s “flying off the shelves” in the Chicago area.

“I have been working with aromatherapy, massage oils and body care products since 1992,” Thorne said. “About 12 years ago, a kennel owner took a class from me and asked if I could help in calming down her dogs. That’s when Canine Calm was born, to use in her kennels. After about two years she came in and said her customers wanted to take it home with them, that they loved how calm their dogs were when they picked them up from the kennel.

“So, we came up with the mist, and it started selling locally and was spreading by word of mouth. It got picked up by a distributor and I bought my first ad about 2 1/2 years ago. It has started to take off.”

A lesson learned, the hard way, about restraint when it comes to traveling with pets

I debated for a good week on whether or not to write about this. What convinced me? A couple of things:

1. A good friend told the Facebook world of a pretty silly thing she had done — basically trying to get into a car after stopping traffic and realizing it wasn’t her husband who had come to pick her up but a complete stranger. If she’ll admit to nearly carjacking someone by mistake, how bad can my little incident be?

2. This morning, one of the many websites regarding pets to which I subscribe took on the topic of travel and restraining your pets (dogs) in the car. It’s a rather long blog post on Life With Dogs by Dr. Jason Nicholas, but well worth reading.

Stuart's days of roaming unrestrained in the car are over (but I had to shoot his picture to prove a point).

After checking out the blog post, I figured it’s as good a time as any to share my rather embarrassing episode.

We do not often travel with our pets, except to the vet or perhaps to my dad’s land in Montague, where they can exhaust themselves in his 10 acres of woods. On the rare occasions the dogs do travel with us, we have not used restraints.

Such was the case last week, when I was taking our Jack Russell terrier, Stuart, to a photo shoot at Kendra Stanley-Mills‘ studio. She was photographing some products for an upcoming publication, and Stuart was going to model one of the items.

You must understand that, in our household, getting one dog into the car is a bit tricky when the others want to come along. This day, I lured the dogs into the garage and opened the car door. Stuart hopped in and I shut the door. I was then able to lure the others back into our “mud room” connecting the garage to the house, rather easily, I might add. In fact, I commented out loud to myself, “Wow. That was easier than I thought.”

Lo and behold, when I returned to the garage to get in the car, Stuart, unrestrained, had hit the automatic locks on the car doors. With the keys in the car. I panicked. I didn’t know where the extra set of keys were. But I did notice the driver’s side window was cracked a bit. My arm is skinny enough, I figured, so I squeezed it in, struggling at the elbow, and managed to reach down to the door handle. To my amazement, I was able to open the door.

Unfortunately, may maneuver triggered the car alarm, which sent Stuart bounding from the back seat to the front, against the windows and every which way. The blaring high-pitched alarm also sent the dogs waiting in the mud room into a tizzy. I panicked again.

To make matters worse, my arm was now stuck in the window and I couldn’t get to the keys. I struggled, dangling from outside the car, to free my arm. After about 30 seconds, which seemed like 30 minutes, I began to weigh my options. Cutting off my arm like the hiker in “127 Hours” wasn’t one of them. Nor was breaking the window, since I had only one arm free and couldn’t reach anything. Finally, I gritted my teeth and yanked my arm with all my might, freeing it from the window and door. I leaped into the car and grabbed my keys, hitting the button to silence the alarm.

My arm, not to mention my ego, sported a nice bruise after the incident.

Stuart jumped from the car and into the garage. Going for a “ride” suddenly didn’t seem like much fun to him. I managed to swoop him up and put him back in the car, and we were on our way. After the big adventure, Stuart sat perfectly still in the car and was well-behaved during the photo shoot, the first he’d ever done.

Me? My ego, and my arm, were bruised from my stupidity. As someone who writes about pets, I should know better.

I made a couple of notes to self: A. Do not ever put the dog into the car when the keys are in it and B. Get restraints to buckle the dogs in our vehicles and avoid the many mishaps, which could be far worse than my silly little alarm incident,  that can occur. I only hope others will take note of this as well.

When it comes to pets, fate sometimes intervenes

While trolling the Internet this morning, I discovered an interesting story about newspapers struggling with digital revenue. On the same site,, I found an even more interesting post from Roy Peter Clark, an author, blogger and instructor at Poynter Institute.

Clark was making a point about journalists, that a reporter should inquire enough to “get the name of the dog.” If a reporter cares enough to get the name of the dog for the story, he or she likely will have asked all the pertinent questions a story requires.

Ella, a Jack Russell terrier, was my first dog and went everywhere with me.

Clark’s post was more about journalism than about the name of his dog (Rex, by the way) or any other dog name, but it reminded me of how one of our dogs came to be.

Our Jack Russell terrier (Clark’s dog also happens to be a JRT and recently celebrated his 18th birthday) came about his name purely by coincidence. Or, as I prefer to label it, fate.

It was a Sunday in March six years ago when I had managed to drag myself out of bed. I had been inconsolable the previous couple of weeks after the death of my first dog, Ella, also a Jack Russell. She had been hit by a car in front of our home.

I had Ella for 13 years, and she moved with me from South Florida to Chicago and back home to Michigan. She had hiked mountains in Colorado and New Mexico, climbed trees in Florida, played soccer with the children at the park in Chicago. Her picture had been in the Chicago Tribune and the Grand Rapids Press. She went everywhere with me.

When she died, I grieved to the point that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I cried myself to sleep every night and struggled to get out of bed in the morning, especially on weekends when I didn’t have to work.

I had been checking out Jack Russells online on the odd chance I one day would overcome my grief and get a new dog. Friends told me to “get back on the horse.” I knew they were right, but the guilt of “replacing” Ella was weighed heavily on me. Then, I saw him. This Jack Russell terrier, 13 weeks old, was available. His adorable face filled my entire computer screen. I’d look elsewhere, but kept coming back to him. It was just too bad I wasn’t ready to stop grieving and get another dog, I told myself, because he could be The One.

When it came to naming our new Jack Russell, "Stuart" was the obvious choice.

A few days later, on that Sunday that I managed to get out of bed mid-morning, I was staring at our back yard and talking to myself, as usual. “What if we did get another Jack Russell?” I asked myself. “It would be a boy, for sure. What if it was that dog whose cute big face was on my computer screen? What would we name him?

“Hmmmm. Stuart. That’s a fine English name, and Jack Russells are from England. Yeah, I like the name Stuart.”

That night, I went to bed at 5 p.m. because I couldn’t stop crying over Ella. It had been “only” a few weeks. My partner began yelling from our home office for me to get out of bed and get in there at once. I wiped the tears from my eyes, sighed heavily and stumbled into the office.

There, on the computer screen, was that same Jack Russell I had discovered earlier that week, his face filling up the entire screen. Uh-oh. She found him, too.

“This is our next dog,” Yvonne said to me.

“I’m not ready yet,” I responded.

“Yes, you are. You need to make a call about this dog,” she said.

Then, as if she had been reading my mind from that morning, she asked me: “What do you think of the name Stuart for this dog?”

Whether I thought I was ready or not, I no longer had a choice in the matter. Fate. Kismet. Coincidence. Whatever it was, it was bigger than my grief. Stuart joined our family the next weekend.




Here’s hoping ‘The Artist’ success doesn’t dog Jack Russell terriers

We’ve all seen this before: Cute dog stars in popular film and suddenly becomes “must have” breed for the adoring public. Ill-informed dog owner discovers said cute dog is too much to handle and surrenders it to a shelter, adding to the millions of dogs already awaiting adoption.

It happened with Dalmatians after the 1996 remake of the animated Disney Classic and the updated “102 Dalmatians” released in 2000. “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” anyone? And how about one my favorite all-time movies, “My Dog Skip?”

Uggie stole hearts in "The Artist," but he had a lot of help from his trainer. (AP photo)

Now that “The Artist” captured the coveted Best Picture honor at Sunday’s Academy Awards, people will want to check out the film and the Jack Russell terrier will once again become the “it” breed of the moment. Yes, Uggie, the dog in the film who also shared the stage at the Oscars during the acceptance speech, is adorable.

Equally cute is Cosmo, the scruffy Jack Russell who steals hearts as Arthur in “Beginners.” After seeing the film, I have to wonder why Cosmo, who was the star in “Hotel for Dogs,” isn’t generating more buzz?

Cosmo, who played Arthur in "Beginners."

As cute and well-mannered as both Uggie and Cosmo are, I have to caution readers: Do your homework before even considering bringing a Jack Russell into your home. Any Jack Russell owner will tell you they are not the breed for everyone.

How do I know? I’m a three-time Jack Russell owner.

My first JRT also happened to be my first dog. I waited until my 30s to get a dog, because I knew my lifestyle before then — coming and going, moving across the country — didn’t fit with responsible dog ownership.

Ella was a great dog for me, but she took a lot of work, including a “personal” trainer. My friends didn’t much like her because she was, well, a Jack Russell terrier. She was incredibly intelligent, but also had the typical terrier instinct of aggression. She was responsible for the death of a friend’s hamster and another friend’s bird (yes, I felt horrible and replaced them). She was an excellent gardener, however, given her penchant for digging.

Ella died six years ago last week, at the ripe old age of 13. She was hit by a car in front of our country home while doing what terriers do — she chased a rabbit into the road.

I loved Ella with all my heart and love the breed. After getting Invisible Fence installed around our property (a tough lesson to learn), we found another Jack Russell. Stuart is a bit more mellow than Ella was, if a JRT can ever be considered mellow. But we don’t trust him with cats. Stuart was fine with our house cat until Millie, a Jack Russell we briefly fostered, came along and the two became a pack. We keep Stuart away from cats, and from children. He simply is too unpredictable, with those aggressive terrier instincts, to be allowed off leash around either.

Don’t get me wrong — Jack Russell terriers are great dogs and can be wonderful pets with the right owner. They need lots of exercise, training and attention. If you are not up for a daily walk (or several walks per day) and activities to keep your dog busy, you are not up for owning JRT. And while Ella was fine around children, not all Jacks (or all dogs, for that matter) are.

If you fell in love with Uggie or Cosmo, keep in mind they were in the hands of professional dog trainers and didn’t learn that discipline on their own. Research the breed online — the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America is an excellent resource — and read up on it before you run out to get one.

From the JRTCA’s site:

Jack Russells are first and foremost hunting dogs. The traits and skills that make them excellent hunting dogs (i.e., digging, barking, aggressive nature, ability to follow scent) are often interpreted as bad habits that cause people to give them up. Jack Russell Terriers require a long-term commitment to obedience, activity, exercise and entertainment… their unique character, intelligence and high energy level can frustrate you, will undoubtedly entertain you, and can bring you great joy (when they’re happy!) or great grief (when they’re not!).

Convinced you can handle a Jack? Check with local animal shelters, Jack Russell terrier rescue groups or humane societies. There are sure to be plenty looking for homes after unsuspecting owners, who didn’t see beyond the cute little dog doing fabulous tricks in the movies, gave up on them.