As cars zoomed by, several small puppies toddled across the busy highway toward another litter that lived on the other side. This heart-stopping scene had occurred daily since the pups had gotten brave enough to venture away from their mother. Miraculously, none of them had been hit, but it was only a matter of time. So when Colorado’s Second Chance Animal Rescue Foundation, also known as SCARF, learned of the situation, fast action was needed.
Paying a personal visit to both owners, they learned, not surprisingly, that the litters were unplanned and unwanted. Luckily, both agreed to surrender the pups to the safety of rescue. The puppies were cleaned up, vetted, placed in a foster home, had their pictures taken and then listed on Petfinder. SCARF founder and director Donna Emick was, as always, relieved that these dogs now had the opportunity to be raised as beloved family members.
Meanwhile, 1,200 miles away in California, Omar von Muller sat down at his computer.
Von Muller is a highly accomplished dog trainer who knows about celebrity. After all, he lives with two of the hottest stars in Tinseltown.
That’s Uggie, star of the Academy Award-winning movie The Artist. On the left is Jumpy, the jaw-dropping canine performer featured in viral videos like this one.
While Uggie is now semi-retired, Jumpy’s star continues to rise, keeping owner-trainer von Muller busy with auditions, photo shoots, commercials and movies. With demand increasing, von Muller realized that Jumpy, like Uggie, would need a stand-in to give Jumpy a much-deserved break on long shoots.
So when von Muller sat down at his computer on that day in January, he did what he had done many times before: He logged on to Petfinder to search for a puppy who resembled Jumpy. This was no easy task. Jumpy, like most of von Muller’s dogs, is a rescue and also a mix with distinctive markings.
“I had been searching for a puppy for about six months,” he says. “During that time, I found a couple of possibilities but we weren’t able to adopt either of them for a variety of reasons.”
But this day his search would turn up an adoptable dog named Kyra, who was with a rescue in Colorado. The resemblance between puppy Kyra and puppy Jumpy was stunning. Quickly, von Muller wrote SCARF and hoped for the best.
SCARF, a small all-volunteer nonprofit organization that has saved the lives of more than 5,500 animals in the past 12 years, is in the plains of Southeastern Colorado. Because of its rural location, there are too many unwanted animals and not enough qualified adopters. Therefore, most of its rescue animals are driven three hours west to adoption fairs held in Colorado Springs. Because of logistics, time, and cost, however, pets are rarely adopted or transported out of the state.
When Emick opened von Muller’s inquiry, she was understandably hesitant.
“However,” she says, “I did some research on Omar and we exchanged many emails and talked on the phone. He asked some great questions about her personality and it became clear that this would be a wonderful opportunity for Kyra.”
Von Muller’s application was approved and he arranged for a reputable pet transport service to bring Kyra to California. On the day of the transport, Kyra was bundled into a van and set out on the road to Hollywood.
Once in California, Kyra was welcomed with open arms by von Muller, his wife, and their two children. Renamed Lola, she immediately took to her big brother and mentor, Jumpy, who happy to show her how things worked.
Lola is now about five months old and, von Muller says, “doing great.” He’s been working with her on socialization and getting accustomed to being on a set around lights, cameras and crowds. She has learned sit, down, stay, hit your mark and cover your face.
“She’s so smart,” says von Muller. “I adopted her to be Jumpy’s stand-in, but who knows? She might be a star herself one day.”
Despite his busy schedule, von Muller makes time to update Emick with cute pictures and stories of Lola’s adventures. Emick is proud of everything Lola has accomplished in the short time she’s been in California.
“It just really goes to show that anyone, regardless how they started out in life, can accomplish great things,” Emick says.
Von Muller agrees: “If Jumpy, Uggie and Lola, who were all rescues, can do this, any dog can. It’s just not necessary to buy when there are so many in rescue. Go out and adopt!”
He advocates training after adoption.
“Dogs are curious animals,” he says. “They like to explore and can develop bad behaviors if left on their own. It’s our responsibility to teach them what’s expected of them. So many dogs end up in shelters because people don’t take the time to train them. We can help reduce the population in shelters if we just train our dogs.”
And Uggie, Lola and Jumpy are all for that!
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About the Author: Amber Carlton is a freelance pet industry marketing copywriter and content specialist for hire who also acts as interpreter and typist for her dog’s musings at Mayzie’s Dog Blog. She shares life with her husband, two dogs and two cats (all rescues except for the husband). Connect with Amber at her business website, Comma Hound, or on  Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.