Repeat Adopters Turn Abandoned Puppy Into Adored Pet

Australian cattle dog finds trail to loving family

Koda at the beachThis story is written by PetSmart Charities Roving Reporter Bart Butler.

The contrast couldn’t be more dramatic.

Little Koda, a 5-month-old Australian cattle dog puppy, was abandoned on a road that runs along an American Indian reservation. His brothers and sisters were dumped with him.

Luckily, a caring passerby saw the puppies and took them to Foothills Animal Rescue. Eventually, the agency helped the puppies meet potential adopters at a PetSmart Charities® National Adoption Weekend event in Phoenix, Arizona. That’s where Koda became part of the Blackburn family.

A few months later, Koda’s experiences include a permanent home, family camping trips and running through the California surf with kids and other dogs.

Happy puppy despite his tragic start

“He gets along great with everyone here at home,” said Mike Blackburn. “Everyone” is a long list of people and pets: Mike’s high school sweetheart and wife of 20 years, Cindy; their 11-year-old daughter, Jesse; 16 year-old son, Jacob; a cat; a dachshund and a guinea pig.

“We’re surprised Koda has such a good personality for all he’s been through,” Mike said. “He has a good disposition. He’s happy, goofy and fun. I don’t think he has a bad vibe in his body.”

They named him Koda, after the character in the Disney movie, “Brother Bear.” It’s the Sioux word for “companion” and “friend.”

“He sleeps with us every night in our bed,” Mike said. “He may be a little bit spoiled just because he’s loved by everyone in the house.”

Active puppy is perfect for this active family

In addition to traveling with the whole family on vacations, Koda stays busy at home. In fact, he’s busy wherever he is.

“He likes to be outside,” said Mike. “He chases the dachshund around the yard and plays with him. He’ll sometimes climb up on his back and ride him around like a bull rider at a rodeo.”

“We take him for walks every day,” he said. They also go to the park frequently, and Koda gets a lot of attention whenever Jesse’s and Jacob’s friends come over.

“He loves riding in the car when Cindy drives our daughter to school,” Mike added.  

“Koda likes to play with toys,” Mike said. “Squeaky toys, balls, any dog toy. He’ll even play with them on his own. Sometimes we’ll find him with a number of toys he’s gathered up around him.”

Even good puppies present challenges for parents

Experienced pet parents like Mike know puppies sometimes do things that might look like bad-dog behavior, but are really just puppy energy. It’s important not to overreact.

Koda, for example, is teething, which makes him want to chew on things.

“He chewed on my daughter’s backpack the other day,” said Mike. “He even chewed up her homework.”

Sometimes, Koda’s teething can be costly. “He likes to chew paper,” Mike said. “Like a receipt for an item we planned to return.”

“I think it’s just a stage he’s going through with the teething,” he said. “I don’t think it’s something he’ll do all the time.”

Big supporters of forever homes for adopted pets

Mike and his family are strong believers in pet adoption. Their dachshund was also a rescue puppy they adopted through PetSmart Charities.

Cindy particularly praised the foster parents who help rescue agencies care for pets while they await adoption.

“There are just so many dogs and cats out there who need homes,” said Mike. “And we feel so much better about ourselves when we rescue one of these guys and basically give them a second chance.”

“If we had a bigger house or more land,” he concluded, “we’d have more of them.” 


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