National Rescue Dog Day is May 20

As a 7-year-old boy, Justin Nelson longed to have a dog.  His desire was so strong that during breakfast one morning, he presented his mom and dad a manilla folder stuffed with printouts of dog breeds. It wasn’t meant to be. So, he waited.

On Aug. 5, 2022, at age 29, Nelson’s childhood dream of owning a dog became a reality. He and his wife, Sarah, adopted a rescue dog.

His 22-year-old desire was fulfilled. The wait was over.

Sarah grew up always having a dog around. While attending college and post-secondary school, Justin lived in rentals and was prohibited from having a dog. When he and Sarah first moved in together, they were allowed to have a dog 25 pounds and under.

“We both agreed we wanted a ‘larger’ dog,” Justin said. “We waited to own a dog until we bought a house together.”

And so, they waited — again.

“Sarah and I both agreed that we should adopt a dog,” Justin said. “We wanted to give a dog a second chance.”

Not long after they purchased their first home, the search began.

“We had applications out for other dogs and at other shelters. But, when we got Wally’s picture from the foster family, we knew we had to adopt him if we had the chance to do so,” Justin said.

They adopted him from W.I.L.D. Canine Rescue in Springfield, Ill. WILD Canine Rescue is devoted to saving animals in need. WILD Canine Rescue (WILD) was founded in July 2016 by a group of friends who are committed and passionate women that are WILD about dogs.

Justin said he first found out about W.I.L.D. on His wife and he also asked co-workers if anyone had experience with the group.

At the time of his adoption, the dog was 6 months old and weighed about 48 pounds. Today, he tips the scales at slightly more than 60 pounds. He has been nurtured with a steady diet of healthy food, love and attention.

The couple wanted to know everything about the newest member of their family, so they had a DNA test done on him. Turns out, the dog is 88% Poodle and 12% Golden Retriever.

Now, about his name.

The couple developed a list of hypothetical dog names while on an eight-hour-30-minute road-trip to South Dakota last year.

“We narrowed down the list to two names — Wally and Moe,” Justin said. “We flipped a coin. The coin landed on the option for Wally.”

“We really are fortunate we were able to adopt Wally,” Justin said. “We understand people, at first glance, would assume we are a young couple who bought a ‘designer’ dog. We would like others to know, we rescued him and are trying to be the best owners we can. We have a lot to learn about Wally and I look forward to what he can teach us about himself and our relationship.”

Wally loves his walks and enjoys playing fetch, Justin said. “He loves to chew on his multiple toys. He does love to work for treats as well.”

Justin is a rabid Minnesota Vikings fan and bought Wally a Vikings bandana. Justin is known for getting a tad riled up, shall we say, when the Vikings do something “dumb” or miss a field goal or touch down.

So far, Wally isn’t taking sides. “Wally doesn’t really seem to get too worked up if we’re watch sporting events,” Justin said.

The couple said they have no regrets in adopting Wally. They do, however, have a great deal of learning to do, Justin said.

Wally has brought into their home, “companionship, joy, love, and nurturing responsibility,” Justin said.

Today, May 20, is National Rescue Dog Day. When it comes to four-legged friends, they improve the human condition remarkably with their barks and yips. It is hard to imagine a world without them.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), which is a nonprofit organization established in 1866, more than three million dogs enter shelter homes every year. Of all animals facing abuse and neglect, 65% are dogs, making them the most abused animals.





Image Sources

  • Wally and Justin: Justin Nelson