Benah Stiewing, 16, of Baltimore competes and trains in dog agility. She had been working with her toy poodle, Kodi, for several years, but the dog didn’t seem to enjoy it. “And he’s pretty slow,” Benah says. So she and her mom turned to Petfinder to search for a new agility partner for Benah.
Though Border Collies are the masters of the sport, Benah wasn’t sure she was ready for that breed’s “endless energy.” So they began looking for an Australian Shepherd, or a mix, and started submitting applications to various animal welfare organizations.
New Spirit 4 Aussie Rescue in Collegeville, PA, approved them as adopters, but unfortunately, the dogs they’d been interested in there had already been adopted. No problem. “The amazing crew of people knew of another dog in one of their foster homes,” Benah says. “It was our sweet Nina.”
Benah and her mom were a little apprehensive at first about Nina because she was a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix. “We were worried she might be ‘too much,'” Benah says. But after talking with the foster mom, they decided to take a chance.
“We are Nina’s fourth home. It took her a long time to settle in completely but we loved her and … her intelligence was obvious. Now I can’t even begin to express our deep, deep, deep love for our amazing girl.” Benah has taught Nina lots of tricks, and her first trial in agility is coming up soon.
The teen’s interest in animals goes beyond just dogs and agility. She started a website, steppingupforanimals.org, to spread awareness about factory farming and the joys of a cruelty-free lifestyle. She hopes to begin working in animal welfare when she graduates.
Nina may be Benah’s new best friend, but all animals have a best friend in Benah.