Rachel Sparling, her husband, Sgt. Russel Sparling, and their 2-year old son, Declan, were heartbroken when their beloved Boxer mix passed away in May 2011.
"We loved the Boxer characteristics," said Rachel, "but we weren't ready to own another one so soon."
Boxers are medium-sized dogs known for their loyalty, intelligence, and friendliness.
The Sparlings heard about Louisiana Boxer Rescue, and decided to foster in late July. They were the first foster family in this area.
Rachel works at Beall Animal Clinic in Leesville, and Dr. Larry Beall soon came on board as area veterinarian for the rescue organization.
Louisiana Boxer Rescue was founded about 16 years ago in New Orleans by Connie Back. She has rescued and placed over 1,200 boxers with the help of volunteers.
Sparling said rescue volunteers are in the New Orleans area, Baton Rouge, Sulphur, Lake Charles, Moss Bluff, DeRidder, and Anacoco.
"We kept our first foster Boxer for six months," said Rachel, "then we decided to adopt him. Boogy came from the New Orleans SPCA, and he had heartworms."
When the Sparlings brought Boogy home, they vetted him, and brought him back to good health. They joke they were a foster failure at the beginning when they decided to make him part of their family.
"We screen all fosters and adoptees really carefully," said Sparling. "We make sure the dogs go to a place where they will be well taken care of, with heartworm medication and shots.
"Before we adopt out we look at vet references five years back," she said, "until we feel comfortable."
Louisiana Boxer Rescue requires a contract with new owners that state the dog must be returned to the rescue if they can no longer care for it. The rescues cannot be sold or given away. The adoption fee is $225.
"On average we spend about $500 per dog," said Sparling. "You never know what ailments they'll have when they come from a shelter. The dogs are vetted to be sure they are healthy when they're ready to be adopted."
Last year the rescue placed 110 boxers with new homes.
"I love the breed. They are so good with children," said Sparling. "They are extremely gentle with them, and have a playful personality."
The Sparlings have fostered 12 Boxers.
"They are so good with our son," she said. They are oversized lap dogs, they love to cuddle."
Sparling said the rescue is always looking for volunteers, foster homes, and donations to continue their work.
To learn more about Louisiana Boxer Rescue, visit their website www.louisianaboxerrescue.org.