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

At Rescue Dogs 101, I will guide you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way.

This blog is jam-packed with 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.

The story and dogs behind Rescue Dogs 101

Hi, my name is Debi McKee. I am a mom of three human kids and three dogs. I am a huge advocate for rescue dogs, volunteering for a local dog rescue and humane society.

I have been a dog lover my entire life, starting with our family dog, Stormy, as a young child. As an adult, my husband and I had the pleasure of adopting seven dogs over the past 25 or so years.

Introducing Symba and Nala, Abby Girl, JJ, Ginger, Bear, and most recently, Thunder.


Black Lab/Golden Retriever Mix
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. He was top of his class, we were proud puppy parents!


Black Lab/Weimaraner 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, although she loved to run away.

Yellow lab 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 entire time 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

After living without a dog for several months and moving to Wisconsin, we found JJ on PetFinder. We met JJ in his foster home, which allowed us to get to know him before adopting him. He was my inspiration to start fostering dogs.

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, even if my husband and kids were home!

JJ passed away 6 years after adoption, so we guess he was around 10 years old.


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 mix of breeds she is on her Foster Tail page here.

Ginger has issues with resource guarding which we have learned to control with a lot of structure. She also suffers from food allergies, which after a lot of research and trial and error, we have under control.


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.

thunder border collie puppy

Border Collie
Brought home at 8 weeks old

We purchased Thunder from a reputable breeder after years of research and contemplation. You have to read our full story, Our Heartbreaking, Gut Wrenching Adoption Story to understand my decision. Then read Is it OK to get a dog from a breeder?

He is our first puppy from a breeder ever, the first puppy we raised from 8 weeks old. All new learning experience and appreciation for the breeding community.

Thunder is destined to be my teenaged daughters' agility partner. He is spunky, sensitive, and super smart.

Am I that crazy dog lady?

My mom once said that I take more pictures of our dogs than I ever did of my kids! I may have to agree, 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 love dogs, that's all there is to it. Take me to a party and I'd rather hang out with the dog than the people. 

It made complete sense to combine my love for dogs and my profession as a graphic designer and create this Rescue Dogs 101 resource. 

Debi McKee creator of Rescue Dogs 101 with her dogs Ginger and Bear

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 learn everything we can about our dogs… what food is best, how much exercise they need, understand their body language.

Rescue Dogs 101 is here to help you understand your dog
so you can create your dream family dog!

Now What? Start Your Journey Here…

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.

Rescue Dogs 101 Adopt

Start here if you are
preparing to ADOPT a dog.

Rescue Dogs 101 Love

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

Rescue Dogs 101 Train

Start here if you need information
about TRAINING your dog.

Personal Accomplishments & Training

2023 – The Natural Pet Doctor Healthy Holistic Pet For Life Blueprint Lifetime Member

2022 – Completed The Dog Calming Code Course by The Online Dog Trainer

2021 – Spirit Dog Masterclass Lifetime Member

2020 – Continual dog agility training with all three of our dogs. Classes were taken in-person and virtually.

2019-2020 – Completed Susan Garrett's Recallers online training program.

September 2019 – Completed 2.5-hour video training for Defensive Handling with Canine Behavior Specialist Bridget Pieper.

September 2019 – Completed 2.5-hour video training for Canine Body Language with Canine Behavior Specialist Bridget Pieper.

April 2019 – Started volunteering for Dane County Humane Society. Going through continuous training.

December 2018 – Attended dog behavior and training seminar with Majors Dog Academy, hosted by Fetch WI.

January 2018 – Attended dog behavior and training seminar with Majors Dog Academy, hosted by Fetch WI.

October 2017– Attended 2-day (12 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.

January 2017 – Started dog agility training with our dog Ginger. Currently attending training classes every week.

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

March 2016 – Attended a 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.