When Farley the Australian shepherd dog first arrived at what was to become his forever home in New Jersey in 2016, he had to learn to ignore his natural instincts. The other animals at the rescue center were of a sensitive temperament, and the pup had to work hard to keep his impulses in check. Indeed, the doggo became an all-round good guy and a great pal to all the other residents. But then one day Farley found some new arrivals in a cardboard box, and his natural urges took over – but not the ones you may think…
To be more specific, Farley lives at Funny Farm Rescue, a charitable animal sanctuary founded and run by 49-year-old Laurie Zaleski back in the year 2000. The not-for-profit rescue shelter stands on 15 acres of private property in Mays Landing, New Jersey. But, as its unusual name implies, this is not just any old farm.
Funny Farm Rescue is involved in the serious business of providing a home for injured or homeless animals, and a visitor attraction for those interested in their welfare. “We pride ourselves on the well-being of over 550 animals,” the charity’s website states. “We give domestic, farm and exotic animals the opportunity to live out their natural lives in a happy, safe and protected home.”
The center also educates the public to raise awareness about animal cruelty and neglect. And in 2016 Farley the Australian shepherd became one of the farm’s most famous residents after Zaleski fostered him as a pup of only a few months old. For undisclosed reasons, the doggo’s previous owners felt that they were unable to care for the little guy any longer, but nevertheless they were keen for him to go to a good home.
As a result, Zaleski agreed to foster young Farley and let him hang out at Funny Farm Rescue until he could find his forever home. But the more time Zaleski spent with Farley, the more she fell in love with him. In the end, she just could not bear to say goodbye, and adopted the foster furry for good.
However, settling into his new home proved to be far from straight-forward for the herding animal. It was not the case that the pup had any dislike for the farm – quite the opposite, in fact. But as a shepherd dog, Farley had certain instincts that he found difficult to control, and his boisterous behavior tended to stress out some of Funny Farm Rescue’s more highly strung residents.
Regardless of the breed’s name, Australian shepherds were originally bred in the U.S. and were intended for use as herding dogs. With this in mind, it was only natural that Farley would see a farm full of animals and follow the call of his DNA and try to get all the critters organized. However, that was something his new human could not just sit back and allow.
Indeed, Zaleski spoke to animal-interest website The Dodo in June 2016 about the then nine-month-old Farley’s initial introduction to the facility and the problems the canine’s natural instincts caused around traumatized creatures. “I had to teach him, ‘No, you’re not allowed to herd around these animals, these are rescues,’” she recounted. “They’ve already been through enough, and the last thing they need is a dog herding them.”
Nevertheless, the shepherd pup was still very young, and proved capable of adapting to his new surroundings. Once Farley learned that herding the other Funny Farm Rescue residents around was not a good idea, he took on a brand-new role at the farm. Indeed, Zaleski named the mutt honorary manager of the New Jersey facility.
Needless to say, Farley is kept very busy with this position, and he is constantly faced with new challenges. But, according to Zaleski, the Australian shepherd has yet to find one he was unable to meet. Not only does Farley act as a best friend or sibling to Funny Farm Rescue’s other animals, he has also adopted the roles of nursemaid, nanny and sometimes even a peacekeeper!
This last responsibility arose when Ricky, the farm’s peacock, and Rosie the turkey squared off to determine who was top bird at the sanctuary. Thankfully, before feathers flew, Farley was on hand to step in. Apparently, the pup bravely positioned himself between the pugnacious pair so that they could not get at each other. And even caught between two large angry birds, Farley himself remained unflappable.
Contrarily, Farley is much more subtle in his interactions around some of the farm’s more vulnerable residents. When Cowboy the goat broke his leg, the hapless ruminant had his very own nurse in the form of Farley. The pupper would frequently visit Cowboy during his convalescence, no doubt providing a comforting and familiar get-well-soon presence.
In fact, none of the Funny Farm Rescue’s creatures faze Farley, be they great or small. However, the shepherd appears to have an affinity with smaller critters, such as kittens and birds. In that regard, the dog’s seemingly endless innate patience – a positive plus in herding animals – serves him well.
And, in spite of the traditional cat-versus-dog dynamic, Zaleski insists that Farley has a touching reaction around kittens. Similarly, the pup has no problem when it comes to chicks repeatedly pecking at him. So when he was faced with a box of the chirruping little fluffers, Farley’s natural impulses kicked in. However, it was not his herding impulse which took ahold of the helpful hound.
Instead, Farley’s new instincts – the ones he has developed since he moved in with Zaleski – compelled him to act in a more altruistic fashion. Whenever the good-natured shepherd sees any kittens who happen to pass through the Funny Farm Rescue doors, he cannot help but take a loving lick at them. This, of course, is exactly the same response a mother cat has when she greets her kittens.
Once news of Farley’s affectionate nature hit the internet, it was only a matter of time before his fame spread. As YouTube videos of his actions prove, he has touched many animal lovers across social media. Animal interest channel Slide Show For Fun uploaded Farley’s tale to the video-hosting website in July 2016 and it has since gone on to attract almost 75,000 views.
One overwhelmed YouTube user commented, “Just a magnificent dog. Thank you for sharing this beautiful animal’s story and recognizing what a huge value his life is on this earth.” Another solid Farley fan on the site was moved to gush, “He’s like an angel dog, God bless him.”
Furthermore, Farley’s fame has given the Funny Farm Rescue charity another fundraising opportunity – self-published literature. Zaleski has co-written a children’s book with fellow author Matt Reeves, called Farley the Funny Farm Dog, which is available through the not-for-profit organization’s website. In addition to Farley, it also features some of his buddies from the New Jersey animal center such as the aforementioned Cowboy the goat.
The tome also incorporates another of Zaleski’s talents – photography – in an attempt to teach kids about being good to one another. “This book is about compassion, kindness, teamwork, attitude, acceptance, equality, problem solving, anti-bullying, endurance, and adventure,” Zaleski wrote. And if anyone can teach those values, it is the owner of Funny Farm Rescue and Farley, the center’s unofficial manager.
As a proud Zaleski boasted to The Dodo, “He just wants to help everyone.” And she continued to sing Farley’s praises. “He’s a sweetheart of a dog. He’s in love with people and all animals.” The money earned from any sales of Farley the Funny Farm Dog will go straight back in to caring for the sanctuary’s residents. But the animal shelter and free-to-enter attraction is also open to donations of time and money.