Your name: Shannon Knisley
Dogs names: Juno, Rory, Oakley
Where do you live: New Port Richey, Florida
Tell us about your dogs: They are all three Australian Shepherds. Juno (Red Merle) and Rory (red tri) we got as puppies and Oakley (blue Merle) we rescued when he was 7 months old from an abusive home.
Juno was named after the Roman goddess of marriage and the home. Rory means red in Gaelic and was an important figure in Celtic mythology. I love reading Greek, Roman, Norse, and Celtic mythology and folktales.
Oakley was already named Oakley when we got him but he is the tallest of the three so his name fits him since he is “tall like an Oak”.
Tell us a little about you: I am the oldest of 8 kids. I grew up in Ohio and moved 25 times growing up, so I have always had a hard time staying in one place for long until recently. I’ve fallen in love with the Tampa Bay Area and all the amazing friends I have made here.
I was a middle school teacher for 5 years before going back to school to get my nursing degree and masters in healthcare administration. I just graduated in December, 2019 and have been working as a nurse on a nuro unit.
I had a bad accident snowboarding about 6 years ago when we lived in Ohio and broke multiple bones in my lower back, lost a whole inch in height due to my spine being compressed, and was stuck in bed for 4 months followed by lots of water therapy and use of a brace and walker.
It was a very slow recovery and I now have arthritis in my back and sciatic nerve issues, but I’m very proud to be where I am physically now and I try to take advantage of every opportunity I have to get outside and be active with my three Aussies. People say Aussies are super active dogs, but I wear mine out with my active lifestyle.
My back injury and my husband Cody getting an ICU nursing position in Tampa, Florida brought us to Florida. We recently moved into a log cabin on 10 acres of land that we can’t wait to cut trails through and explore.
I got into photography when I got my camera in 2018 and would take landscape photos on my hikes. I always brought the dogs as they are off leash trained and I started gathering a lot of photos of them on our hikes so I decided to start an Instagram account as a photo journal so all the photos were just sitting on my computer with the hopes of encouraging other dog owners to get outside with their dogs because pet and human obesity is a big issue in the US.
I have led so many hikes with other humans and their dogs and love every minute of it!
What are your dog’s favorite things (toys, treats, etc): They love their Zippy Paws stuffingless, large Santa squeaker toy I got for $2 at a post Christmas sale. They love all treats! Juno won’t eat the freeze dried minnow treats but anything else is fair game.
Why do you think of yourself as a dog mom: I consider myself a dog mom because I don’t have any children and the dogs are my babies. Honestly, a lot of the same rules apply to children and dogs: they want attention, they need structure and consistency, and spending time with them is what makes them happy.
I also can’t help but hold puppies like they are my babies. I have a very strong maternal instinct whether it was my students or my dogs. And if anyone tries to mess with my dogs, mama bear comes out!
What was the moment you knew you weren’t just a dog owner but a dog mom: When my husband and I were talking about having a kid and we decided to get another dog instead.
We might have a child down the road or adopt because of my back issues, but for now we are both content with our three dogs who love us so unconditionally.
What is your favorite part of being a dog mom: Getting home from work and seeing them greet me with their wiggly butts and big ol smiles on their faces. Melts my heart and makes me feel so loved.
What is your best dog mom advice: Be active with your dog, the time you invest in your dog you will not only have a stronger bond, but you can really enjoy your time together. There still needs to be structure and you need to be the leader of the pack and have consistency.
I can truly say I have some amazing, well behaved dogs because of the time and energy I’ve put into them and because of this we can do so much more together and go to so many places together.
What is your best dog mom hack: Tjmax/Marshall’s is a great place to pick up discounted dog gear and treats! I’ve gotten all their favorite toys there. I love me some clearance shopping!
What is your favorite thing to do with your dogs: Off leash hiking.
Oakley was so timid and scared of everything when we first rescued him. He didn’t know how to be a dog. So, I trained him for off leash hiking and it really amazes me to see how he has grown over the years. Honestly, not even the same dog he was.
There is something about being out in nature with my dogs. We don’t even talk, just trek along in companionable silence because no words are needed. Plus, Oakley always finds the wild flowers for me and stops and points out animals along the way (he has been trained to not run after any wild animals).
What is one dog mom goal you have: I would love to foster more dogs. My husband and I have both rescued so many dogs from being chained up outside without food and water to those about to be put down at a kill shelter and rehabilitated and found homes for them. I’d love to work with an aussie rescue in Florida.
Fun fact about your dogs: Oakley: He has the nickname smooshy face because he loves to come up and smoosh his face into my lap for me to scratch his ears and neck. He is also the snuggliest of the three and will cuddle with me for hours.
He is super fast and has a high prey drive so he will stop and point out animals in our woods or on the trail which is amazing because one time we came upon a family of wild boars and he alerted me. Boars are very aggressive and have tusks so we got away from them fast!
He also has such human like amber eyes. He is also the most sensitive of the three.
Juno: She is a complete angel and loves all people and animals. Her parents were a families pet dog and she spent the first weeks of her life riding around in a 5 year olds baby stroller and was dressed up like a doll. She loves to be held like a baby to this day.
She is my soul dog. I had my back injury when she was only 1 so we spent a lot of time together. I would throw the ball from where I was lying in bed, down the hall and she would bring it back.
She is afraid of water deeper than her tummy hair and cries to go into the water with me but hates it if I bring her out with me. She will be the dog all other dogs get compared to because I just love her so much.
Rory: He is the definition of the annoying little brother. He comes from a working line Aussie and he is neurotic and high strung. He loves with every hair on his little body. He does everything 150%.
He is obsessed with my husband Cody and is definitely Cody’s dog. They snuggle together every night before going to bed and Rory stares at Cody like he is the best thing since sliced bread. His happy place is with Cody.
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Related: July's The Crazy Dog Mom of the Month: Kelly and Finley
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