Welcome fellow dog lovers! - Rescue Dogs 101

Welcome fellow dog lovers!

Whether you are preparing to adopt a new puppy, or are a seasoned dog owner, you’re in the right place.​

​Rescue Dogs 101 guides dog parents through every step of their dog journey. Ranging from finding and adopting the perfect dog, to bringing him home and raising him to become the dog of their dreams.

Th​is blog provides resources for not only adopting but also for when questions and problems may arise, including training techniques, tools, and useful products to help keep ​your dog happy and healthy. This educational resource aims to help reduce the volume of dogs being surrendered to shelters.

The story and dogs behind Rescue Dogs 101

Hi, my name is Debi McKee. I have been a dog lover my entire life, starting with our family dog as a young child. As an adult, my husband and I had the pleasure of adopting six dogs over the past 20+ years. Introducing, Symba, Nala, Abby Girl, JJ, Ginger and Bear...



Golden Retriever/Black Lab
Adopted at 6 months old

The one and only time we found a dog in a local pet shop. Symba was our superstar dog. This was pre-kids and we had the time to spend many hours training him. This is when we met a great trainer that taught us many training techniques we still use today.



Black Lab/Weinheimer Mix
Adopted at 1 year old

Nala was found as a stray by our trainer. The trainer was so impressed with our success with Symba, they asked if we'd be interested in adopting Nala. She was a great companion for Symba and a super sweet girl, with the softest ears ever!

Abby Girl

Abby Girl

Yellow Lab
Adopted at 4 months old

We adopted Abby Girl from a family that realized they didn’t have time for a puppy. She basically lived in a crate for the few months they had her. Abby struggled with severe allergies. Sadly she was with us only a few short years, passing away at only 5 years old.



Black Lab/Rottweiler Mix
Adopted at 3-5 years old

We found JJ on PetFinder, he was living with a foster family in Central Wisconsin. We met JJ in his foster home, which allowed us to get to know him before adopting him. JJ had a heart of gold, preferred to be the only dog in our home and suffered from severe separation anxiety. He would panic anytime I left the house!



German Shepherd Mutt
Adopted at 6 months old

Ginger was our foster dog which we intended to adopt. You can read more about Ginger and find out what breed she is on her Foster Tail page here. Ginger does have issues with resource guarding which we have learned to control with a lot of structure. She also suffers from food allergies, which I think we finally have under control.

Wordless Wednesday


English Yellow Lab
Adopted at 18 months old

We adopted Bear from a family that realized he was too much for them to handle. He was 95lbs and full of puppy energy that needed to be controlled. Bear is one big goofball, and with the proper amount of exercise has calmed down tremendously. You can read more about Bear's story on his Foster Tail page here.

When we adopted JJ, the concept of the foster home was intriguing to me, and got me thinking about how awesome it would be to help save a dogs life. Giving a dog the comfort of a home while he waits for his forever family is a fantastic way to help a dog in need. It took a few years before I felt we were prepared, but in 2015 we were approved to be a foster home for a local dog rescue group. I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about dog behavior and training since connecting with such an awesome rescue. You can follow our Foster Tails here.

Am I that crazy dog lady?

My mom commented last weekend that I take more pictures of our dogs than I ever did of my kids! I’m not sure I agree with that, but I admit, we do spoil our dogs ☺

As a dog owner and foster home, I’ve experienced many different dog personalities, gone through several training programs with our dogs, attended training seminars and have done more than my fair share of Google searches.

I do believe that a balanced dog training program is essential for any new dog owner. ​​As long as you are consistent, I believe training can be done at home on your own or by a professional dog trainer.

Rescue Dogs 101 Debi McKee

The perfect dog.

Most of us adopt a dog and have an idea of how we want that dog to behave. TV shows and movies put this picture perfect dog in our head, that walks around off-leash, comes every time when called, never gets into trouble and saves our kids from danger! You know, Lassie ☺ But the fact is, those TV dogs have been through hundreds of hours of training.

Dogs aren’t born understanding our “rules”. So please don’t expect to adopt a dog, bring him home and be the perfect dog you dream of. As dog owners we have the responsibility to train our dogs to understand right from wrong.

Rescue Dogs 101 is here to help you understand your dog and what it means to be a responsible dog owner, in turn, creating your dream dog!

Now What?

So now you know a bit about me, and why I started the Rescue Dogs 101 blog. I’d love to hear your story, feel free to drop me an email and let me know if you have a question I haven’t covered yet, or how I can help you become a better dog owner.

Start here if you are
preparing to ADOPT a dog.

Info about adopting a dog

Start here if you LOVE your dog
and want to keep him happy and healthy.

Info about keeping your dog happy and healthy

Start here if you need information
about TRAINING your dog.

Info about training your dog

Personal Accomplishments

October 2017– Attended 2-day​ (1​2 total hours​) seminar on dog behavior and training with ​Sit Means Sit Dog Training, hosted by Fetch WI.

March 2017 – Attended seminar on dog behavior and training with Majors Dog Academy, hosted by Fetch WI.

November 2016 – Attended a seminar on Managing Multi-Dog Interactions and Play hosted by Fetch WI.

March 2016 – Attended 6 week training session at The Dog Den in Madison, WI with our adopted German Shepard Mix, Ginger.

July 2015 – Attended seminar on dog behavior and training with Majors Dog Academy, hosted by Fetch WI.

March 2015 – Attended seminar on dog behavior and training with Majors Dog Academy, hosted by Fetch WI.

February 2015 – Attended seminar on dog play and behavior at Charlie's Bark Park , hosted by Fetch WI. Learned about strategies for working with dogs with different behavior issues.

January 2015 – Attended seminar on dog behavior and training with Majors Dog Academy, hosted by Fetch WI.

November 2014 – Current – Foster home for rescue dogs in need.

2006 – Completed 8 week dog training class with our adopted yellow lab, Abby.

1996 – Completed 8 week dog training class with our black lab mix, Nala, after adopting her from the trainer we used for Symba. Nala "graduated" top of her class.

1995 – Completed 8 week dog training class with our black lab/golden retriever mix, Symba, in McHenry, IL. Symba "graduated" second in his class.