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Friday, Oct. 21, 2016

Le Mars couple opens home to foster dogs in need

Friday, December 7, 2012

Kevin and Kim Vande Vegte play with their foster dog, Blue, front, and their own dog, Lucy, in the backyard of their Le Mars home. The Vande Vegtes, volunteers with Iowa Weimaraner Rescue, temporarily house dogs such as Blue until they find a new home.
Blue, a 7-year-old dog found abandoned in a house, is getting some tender loving care from a Le Mars foster family.

Kevin and Kim Vande Vegte have welcomed Blue, a Weimaraner (pronounced either VYE-mar-ahner or WYE-mar-honor), into their home.

The couple has been volunteering with Iowa Weimaraner Rescue (IWR) for about two years, first donating dollars; later transporting and fostering dogs.

IWR is devoted to rescuing displaced Weimaraners (Weims) like Blue and finding them "forever homes," according the organization's website, www.iowaweimrescue.org.

Blue came to the Vande Vegte's home last month and will stay until a "forever home" is found for him, Kevin said.

During his first month in their home, Blue and other foster dogs the Vande Vegtes have had go through a monitoring stage, Kevin said.

"We see what the dog's characteristics are," he said. "We recommend the type of home that the dog should go into."

For example, some dogs can go in any homes, others might not be good with children or other animals or like males more than females, Kevin said.

"We also work on basic obedience, the sits and stays. We make sure they are house-trained. We look for aggression," he explained.

Those factors are what the Vande Vegtes go by when recommending a home-life for Blue.

Kevin and Kim knew about Weimaraners before they became IWR volunteers.

They have their own dog, Lucy, who is about 3 years old.

"We got to know the breed and we like the breed," Kevin said.

Kim added that the couple got Lucy when she was a puppy.

"They're an attractive pup," Kevin said. "Their skin is like velvet and they have baby blue eyes."

Those features can actually work against Weimaraners because people get them for their looks, not their behavior, he said.

"The breed is really high maintenance, high strung and they can't handle them," Kevin said.

He said probably 75 percent of the 75-100 dogs the IWR cares for each year are surrendered or abandoned for that reason.

"They need to have moderate to high activity every single day," Kim said. "They have to be walked every day."

Kevin said he and Kim did some research when they were looking to become pet owners three years ago.

"We wanted a large dog. We wanted one we could run with, walk with," he said. "We wanted one was good for home environment."

Kim explained that Weims are also known for their affection, often nicknamed "velcro dogs."

"They will basically be right beside you from room to room, which is annoying at times, but they just want to be with their people," she said.

People who adopt Weims through the IWR must keep them inside because of their short hair and social skills, Kevin said.

However, he added, some Weim owners do keep them outside, especially if the dog is used for hunting.

"They are bred for hunting," Kevin said. "They have a huge prey drive."

That's why Weims might not be the best choice for households that already have cats or hamsters, Kim explained.

Blue is the third Weim Kim and Kevin have fostered this year, and they will keep him until an appropriate family is found.

"We call Blue the gentle giant," Kevin said.

Kim added, "he just comes to you and he will lay his head right up on your lap, saying 'pet me.'"

Anyone who would like to adopt Blue or another Weim can find more information on the IWR's website, www.iowaweimrescue.org.

Kevin suggests people learn about the breed before making the decision to purchase a Weim.

He explained that dogs adopted through the IWR are fully vetted, meaning they have all their shots and are spayed or neutered, obedience trained and house trained.

Along with adopting, anyone interested in donating dollars to the IWR or volunteering, can also find information on the nonprofit's website.

"We're always looking for fosters, especially on this side of the state," Kevin said. "To my knowledge there's a couple in Spencer and one or two in the Council Bluffs area."

The IWR currently has 50 volunteers covering Iowa and southern Minnesota.

"We could use some help in western Iowa," Kevin said.

Some of the dogs IWR works with are adopted very quickly, while others such as the their last one, Deacon, take a little more time, he said.

"Deacon came to us very ill. He was 20-25 pounds underweight," Kevin said. "It took us a long time to get his strength back and get him ready."

The couple cared for Deacon for five months before he was adopted.

"He actually went to a Gulf war veteran who was retiring, who was looking for companionship," Kevin said. "It was a perfect fit."

He and Kim want the same outcome for Blue, and other IWR dogs.

"We want to make sure their next home is their forever home, not a temporary home," Kevin said.

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