The first anniversary of a love story

After seeing a story about a dog in need, a local family comes to the rescue

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Mourning the sudden loss of their Lab mix, Rich and Bobbie Hostetler were looking for a replacement. That’s when they saw a picture in the Powell Tribune of Jada — a Lab mix at 3 Dog Rescue who was in need of a forever home.

“When Rich saw those ears flying and the ball in her mouth, he was so excited he wanted me to call right away,” Bobbie recalled.

The Cody couple called Kathy McDonald, founder of 3 Dog Rescue, only to find they were third in line to adopt Jada. A family from Denver had called first and a family from Sheridan was second in line. But it’s not first come, first served at the charity adoption organization: What’s best for the dog is the most important consideration.

McDonald was looking for a family in the country where Jada’s barking wouldn’t be a problem. Jada is part redbone coonhound and her baying is prominent — so much so her first family couldn’t keep her. The Hostetlers have acreage. McDonald was also looking for a family with another dog to help keep Jada company. Bobbie and Rich have a black Lab named Darcy who was equally heartbroken over the loss of their mix, Jackson.

“We were all bereft when Jackson passed,” Bobbie said.

“Darcy was just moping around the house,” Rich said. “We took Darcy with us when we first went to see Jada and they hit it off.”

The final concern was a family that could provide lots of care. The Hostetlers are retired and empty nesters. Despite being third in line, Kathy McDonald and her husband Bud chose the Hostetlers after the interview process. Now, it’s a daily love story unfolding at the Hostetler house.

Jada and Darcy are treated better than many children. Both pups are tireless. Bobbie and Rich have to spell out B-A-L-L between them or the two inseparable playmates will fill the house with echoing cries for instant playtime at the mention of the word. Both have their own ball. And they patiently wait for their ball to be in play while the other gets a turn. Darcy is 8 years old and wears out before Jada, now 2.

“[Jada] has that drive of a hound. She’ll just keep going until she drops,” Rich said.

Once in the house, playtime isn’t over. While the couple takes a seat in the parlor, toys come out for the dogs. Both love to destroy supposed “indestructible” toys, but the rope is their favorite. Darcy gets on one end, Jada on the other and they play tug of war. While some families would frown on the racket made during their game, hearing the two having fun is music to the Hostetlers’ ears.

“Darcy is the loud one,” Rich said, laughing out loud as the war of the rope raged.

At the end of playtime came snacks. Both dogs lined up patiently for their snack, neither trying to greedily snatch the other’s. Bobbie gave commands prior to each snack. Both obeyed instantly. Teaching commands are joyous moments for the family.

“They know they don’t get on the bed unless the sheet is laying down there,” Rich said.

“Same thing with the couch,” Bobbie said. “We have a quilt for the couch and they wait for the cover before jumping up.”

“They have $300 of dog beds sitting in there, but they’re laying on the couch,” Rich said.

All four family members squeeze on the couch like snuggle bunnies in a den. The Hostetlers rarely go anywhere without the dogs. They camp often and one of the first lessons they learned was how to keep the two best friends happy at night. On their first trip, Jada was restless. She had every comfort available, but it wasn’t until Rich moved the two dog beds next to each other that Jada would sleep.

“They just want to be near each other,” Rich said.

In the backyard, the Hostetlers have stones inscribed in memory of the pets they’ve lost as a couple — something they have in common with Bud and Kathy McDonald. They’ll never regret adopting, they said, and have nothing but respect for the McDonalds and 3 Dog Rescue.

“We point people in that direction,” Bobbie said. “You should consider an older dog.”

“The McDonalds have a knack for matching up dogs and families,” Rich added.

Sometimes a family selects a dog and it’s not a good fit. And sometimes a dog gets lost and becomes a stray. That’s why the no-kill shelters in Powell and Cody and folks like the McDonalds work hard every day. Not only are these dogs in need of a home, but in most cases, they become an important part of the family, bringing unconditional love and joy to those willing to adopt.

“We don’t go anywhere without them,” Rich said of their dogs.

“We wouldn’t have it any other way,” Bobbie said.

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