Happy Tail: A family goes the distance for a Maremma Sheepdog


There aren’t many Maremma Sheepdogs listed on Petfinder, and most people haven’t even heard of the breed. So when Randall Stevenson saw one named Jessie on the site, he got in gear. He’d been browsing the site, looking for one ever since the family’s Maremma, 12-year-old Hugo, had died the summer before.


Now he was looking at one, listed by Pets Miracle Network in Wright, KS, a far cry from his home in Houghton Lake, MI.

These dogs, he says, “are livestock guardian dogs who are inclined to protect their territory in three ways: they mark it, they patrol it, and they are vocal in their claims to it. If you give them five acres, they want 50. If you give them 50, they want 500, etc. … They need strong fences and room to roam.” Their independence can make them misunderstood. They are often misidentified as small Great Pyrenees, he adds.

After talking to his wife Barb about Jessie, he contacted the shelter and filled out an application. Monica at Pets Miracle Network told him that the dog had been running loose with a male dog in Dodge City and was picked up by animal control. Monica took her from the shelter, researched her breed and then listed her on Petfinder.

Randall and his wife headed west. A day later, Barb was showered
with kisses when she met their dog-to-be. “She received more kisses from
Jessie in the first ten minutes of meeting her than she received all
the years we had Hugo,” Randall says. “We knew then she was special.”

They headed home in their Chevy Malibu. “She gave us absolutely
no problems, the whole 900 miles,” Randall says. On the trip he
consulted with his granddaughters (who live next door to the Stevensons)
about names, but they wanted to see her first. Eventually, they settled
on Kansas — but they call her Kassie, for short.

The family can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t have claimed this
loving and sweet dog. But it’s their loss. To the Stevensons, it’s their
gain, and they feel blessed to have their new family member.