Don't underestimate shelter dogs

Ashlee Boers
Izabella, a yellow lab purchased from the Mercer County Animal Shelter a year and a half ago, has found a new family that loves her. From left clockwise are Tony, Jamie, Laney and Casey Baugh of Matherville.

Tony and Jamie Baugh are on their third dog since they got married. "We had a St. Bernard before this, and then a German Shephard before the kids were born," said Tony Baugh. The most recent family member, Izabella, just turned two in October 2008. "I got her in May of 2007," said Tony.

"She's the best dog I've ever had," he added.

"We were wanting a yellow lab," said Tony.

He said he contacted other shelters near the Quad Cities and thought he had one to purchase, but it fell through. "It just kind of happened," he said, referring to how he found Izabella. "I talked to Chris (Brewer), and told her to give me a call if she ever got a yellow lab." Brewer is the animal control officer at the Mercer County Animal Control Shelter, just outside of Aledo.

"She called and said she had a yellow lab. She brought it over and we took her," he said.

Actually, Brewer brought the yellow lab over, to see if she was compatible with another dog they had -- Tucker, a Chihuahua - Yorkie mix. "Tucker was very protective of our family," said Jamie.

"When they saw how aggressive Tucker was, Brewer said, 'We can not place Izabella here.'"

The family decided that it was time for Tucker to go, since he had already shown aggression to others, and they took in Izabella.

Izabella has been good from the beginning. "She sits when you say sit and shakes hands with both front paws," says Tony.

"She's really playful," says Casey, their six-year-old son. "She likes playing fetch and tug-of-war."

"Laney's favorite thing is to give her treats," said Jamie.

Izabella is definitely still a puppy. She has taken to bringing the small pumpkins from the family's Halloween display up to the front door as a prize.

The only problem they had to solve when they first got her was her tendency to run away. That problem was fixed by installing an invisible electric fence. "Now she just runs free and never leaves the yard. I'm a firm believer in invisible fencing," said Tony.

Izabella is mostly an outdoor dog, unless the weather gets extreme.

Tony says she is very gentle with his two young children, Casey, six and Laney, two.

She likes to jump. "That's the only bad thing. She'll jump on you. We're trying to break her of that," he said.