Nemo finds new home: Steamboat woman adopts stray dog that sparked national interest |

Nemo finds new home: Steamboat woman adopts stray dog that sparked national interest

Nemo, a stray dog found on Rabbit Ears Pass, got a new home Saturday following national interest in the animal. His new owner did not want to be pictured, in part due to the intense attention the dog received on social media.
Courtesy Routt County Humane Society

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After two weeks at the Routt County Humane Society, a stray dog that garnered national attention found a new home Saturday.

Nemo, a male, mini-Australian shepherd found on Rabbit Ears Pass in January, was adopted by a Steamboat Springs resident, according to shelter manager Mikhaila Hobbs. The new owner, a woman, could not immediately be reached for comment. She expressed a wish to remain anonymous for the time being, according to Hobbs, in part due to the intense interest people showed in adopting Nemo. 

The Humane Society fielded hundreds of inquiries from people across the country, Hobbs said. She couldn’t pinpoint exactly why Nemo became so popular, as many of the animals that come into the shelter have heartwarming stories. 

To handle the unusually heightened interest in the dog’s adoption, the Humane Society only accepted applications from noon to 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31. This followed medical examinations and weeks of recovery to ensure Nemo was healthy enough to leave the shelter. 

On Saturday, officials randomly drew a name from a pile of eligible applicants, Hobbs said. The woman selected picked up Nemo the same day. 

“It took a little while for him to trust her,” Hobbs said, adding Nemo is shy around strangers. 

The woman stayed at the shelter for almost an hour, allowing the dog to get used to her presence. By the time the two left together, Hobbs said Nemo seemed much more comfortable with his new owner.

“We told her that by the end of the night, he would be curled up in her lap,” Hobbs said. 

Nemo was not the only one that found a new home over the weekend. According to Hobbs, the interest in the stray dog encouraged a large crowd to take an interest in adopting animals from the shelter. 

In total, 13 dogs and cats found new owners over the weekend.

“That is a lot for us,” Hobbs said, compared to the usual adoption rate of two to three animals over a weekend.

Among more popular selections were two litters of puppies rescued from now defunct puppy mills in Missouri. 

Local snowboard legend and Olympic medalist Arielle Gold fulfilled a lifelong dream of having a dog of her own, rescuing one of the puppies, a chocolate Labrador retriever, from the shelter over the weekend. The puppy’s name is Layla, named after the Eric Clapton song that Gold’s father Ken used as his ringtone when she was growing up.

For the last six years, Gold has been fostering puppies for a shelter in Breckenridge, Animal Rescue of the Rockies, but her busy training schedule did not allow her the time to keep any of them. After a series of head injuries in the fall, Gold said she has been taking more rest days from the board to focus on her health.  

“I’ve been trying to be kind to myself and get healthy before I go back to riding,” she said.

In notorious Labrador style, Gold described Layla as stubborn and mischievous but added she has a lovable personality. A perfect match for her snowboarding owner, Layla adores playing in the snow. The dog’s companionship already has made a noticeable improvement in Gold’s life.

“She’s been a pain in the butt, but she’s been great at keeping me positive,” Gold said.

Craig resident Nathalie Boelen also adopted a dog amid the intense interest in Nemo. She and her 7-year-old daughter EllaClaire have been waiting for the perfect connection with a shelter pet. That moment came last Tuesday, Jan. 28, following a visit to the pediatrician. 

A sick EllaClaire told her mom, “You know what would make me feel better? If I got to see the puppies (at the Humane Society).”

Among all the dogs at the shelter, one in particular, a pit bull-heeler mix took an interest in EllaClaire. Usually energetic, the dog — whose name has been changed from Skittles to Lola — snuggled into the girl’s lap upon seeing her, something the shelter workers had not seen Lola do. 

“It was totally instant,” Boelen said.

While she followed Nemo’s adoption process, Boelen said it felt good to adopt a less-popular animal with just as much need for a loving home.

“Everyone wanted that dog,” she said. “There are a lot of dogs no one wants.”

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