Lee Asher spends most of the year traveling the country in his RV with his 11 dogs.
On a typical day, Asher wakes up in his RV, surrounded by his many dogs, ranging in age from 2 to 14 years old. They’re all very different, each with their own personality and backstory, but they do have one thing in common—they were all taken in by Asher when no one else wanted them.
There’s Bobo, a chocolate Lab who’s full of energy and loves to run fast and free. There’s Lillie, a Saint Bernard who’s very much a Daddy’s Girl. Queen No Latifas, a Chihuahua, is the second oldest of the bunch. She has no teeth but loves to eat. And that’s not even a third of his canine crew.
Each morning, the dogs get a potty break—that means nine piles of you-know-what to pick up—some exercise, and some breakfast before it’s time to hit the road. Like human children, they all vie for a spot in the front seat, next to Dad. The sibling rivalry doesn’t last long, though. Once the RV gets moving, they all settle down and usually snooze on the couches until the next potty break, which is about every 2-3 hours.
Their destination: One of the country’s many animal shelters.
Their mission: To inspire people to adopt, not shop.
“If you know you’re going to be a good [pet] parent, and give a living soul a beautiful life, then give it to one who needs it more than anything. One that’s been waiting, waiting and waiting,” says Asher, who runs the Instagram account, The Asher House (@theasherhouse).
Lee Asher has turned his love for animals into a full-time job, spending most of the year traveling the country in his RV with dogs to promote pet adoption. He works with 80-100 shelters and rescues across the United States to host pet adoption events and “meet and greets,” in which fans can meet him and his dogs and get sneak a peek inside the infamous RV.
Asher first hit the road on Feb. 2, 2018, after quitting his day job as a corporate trainer for a financial company. He had been running The Asher House Instagram account on the side for about a year and says he was struck by how many people were under the false assumption that the dogs in shelters were sick, untrainable or damaged in some way. Asher, a lifelong animal lover and shelter volunteer, felt compelled to show people the truth.
“I wanted to show the different breeds, ages— all the different dogs waiting inside the shelter to be adopted,” he says. “So many people are afraid to go to shelter. So many people don’t know what’s there.”
He asks you to think of your own dog or another pet you know and love. Maybe it’s not even your own pet, but a family member’s or friend’s dog you share a special connection with. There’s a dog just like that in a shelter now.
“The best dog that you can imagine, there’s thousands of them inside of a shelter,” he says.
He also hopes to show people that having a dog—or several dogs, even— doesn’t mean you can’t have an active lifestyle.
“The whole point of The Asher House was to show how your dog, specifically rescue dogs, could be an addition [to] your active lifestyle and not get in the way of that,” he says. “It was really about showing people the bond.”
Although, he admits, he is at the extreme end of the spectrum.
“One of my main goals is to inspire people to get out there and live their dreams … I’m doing it with nine dogs to show people whatever their reason is—no time, no space—they can find a way,” he says. (Asher adopted two more dogs after speaking with Pet Central, bringing his pup total to 11.)
It’s not all business while out on the road. It’s an adventure, with Asher and his dogs constantly seeking out new places to explore.
“We don’t live in the RV, we live in the world,” Asher says. “We’re not spending the majority of our time in our RV. We’re spending it experiencing new adventures.”
He usually spends 7-9 months on the road, with each stint lasting about two months and visiting an average of one to two shelters or rescues per state. The first year he went on the road, he visited 49 states—all except Hawaii—and roughly 70 shelters and rescues. This year, he plans to hit 40 states and is a little more than halfway there.
To date, more 500 pets have been adopted during his pet adoption events, he says, noting that many more animals have been adopted as a result of the growing popularly of his social media accounts.
“That doesn’t compare to the literally thousands of messages, emails and pictures that say, ‘I just adopted this dog because of you.’ And not only in US—China, Iceland, UK, you name it,” Asher says.
The people he’s met and stories he’s heard while on the road have fueled his passion. Take Mike, for example. Asher says the Las Vegas entrepreneur never considered adopting a dog until he started following The Asher House on Instagram.
His reasoning, according to Asher: "Why would I want somebody else's problems?”
"That’s the audience I try to reach," Asher says. "I want to reach the people who are not passionate about animal rescue, because those are the people who benefit most from the change."
Mike has since changed his mind about pet adoption, and plans to adopt after his current senior dogs are no longer with him, Asher says.
Asher's also picked up a few dogs along the way. When he started his travels, he had six dogs. Then in February 2019, he adopted three more. And in September—you guessed it!—he adopted a couple more dogs.
Let’s meet The Asher House crew.
Year adopted: 2010
Molly’s pet adoption story: “I was living in New York at the time and went to Florida to visit my mom. My mom went into the store, and I went into the shelter that I used to volunteer at when I was a teenager. Molly was petrified. They said she was afraid of men. I asked if I could hold her. She allowed me to and then she wrapped her paws around my neck, and I didn’t put her down. Within seconds I felt his immense love and I went from picking her up to filling out the [adoption] paperwork.”
Breed(s): Chihuahua/Pug mix
What’s her personality like: The first few years I had Molly she hated men, children and car rides. Now, if a man pulled up in a car with a bunch of kids in it and opened the door, she would jump right in. We have both grown in so many ways since we’ve known each other. I am truly and deeply so proud of her.
Year adopted: 2013
Cali’s pet adoption story: “I was living in Los Angeles and Cali was my neighbor’s puppy. They were always asking if I could watch her. The neighbor wanted to rehome her, so I took her. She was 8 weeks old.”
Breed(s): Golden Retriever
What’s her personality like: “She is well-behaved—the best out of the bunch—and loves to swim. She’s obsessed with swimming, that’s her element.”
Favorite Things: Playing with any water toy, all treats
Year adopted: 2014
Butters’ pet adoption story: “I adopted Butters from a high-kill shelter in Los Angeles where I volunteered. Butters had been living on the streets with a homeless person and had been abused.”
Breed(s): Chihuahua/Jack Russell Terrier
Age: 5 or 6
What’s his personality like: “Butters is a confident dog. He’s a very, very chill, loving and affectionate dog. He just wants to cuddle with somebody.”
Year adopted: 2015
Bobo’s pet adoption story: “The owner of the company I worked for got Bobo from a breeder and he was a problem child. They spent all this money on training. I tried to train Bobo. They couldn’t do it, and I couldn’t do it. He wanted me to take Bobo to the shelter or a rescue, but I kept him instead.”
Breed(s): Labrador Retriever
What’s his personality like: “Bobo still has a lot of energy, but he’s much calmer now. He eventually changed … Out of all the dogs, there’s not a single one who loves to cuddle in bed more. That was a good way for me to always forgive him [for his problem-child ways].”
Favorites things: Playing Frisbee and eating any treat!
Year adopted: 2016
Lillie’s pet adoption story: “I adopted her from the same high-kill shelter as Butters. I was there volunteering and I went to visit her every day for 3 weeks. No one would rescue her because she was getting awful seizures. I took her in. The first couple months were difficult. We went to specialists and nothing was working. Now she is seizure-free.” [Asher credits her success to CBD oil.]
Breed(s): St. Bernard
Age: 8 or 9
What’s her personality like: “She’s very much a Daddy’s girl who takes a long time to warm up to other people. They all warned me she wouldn’t live long, especially for such a large breed. A human is a dog’s reason to live. She is alive for me.”
Favorites things: Dog bones.
Year adopted: 2017
Stella’s pet adoption story: “I was looking to adopt a smaller dog when I came across Stella at the South LA Animal Shelter [the same shelter where Butters and Lillie were adopted]. I had a Pittie named Muscles who I lost a few months before. [Stella] had so much energy, and I really just asked if they could take her out to show her to me so she could get some exercise. When I saw her running around the field … she was so powerful. I thought, ‘What better way to inspire other people to adopt and to give dogs like Stella a chance?’ She looks intimidating but she was just perfect.”
Breed(s): Pit Bull/Cane Corso
Age: 4 years
What’s her personality like: “She loves any treat. She’s a foodie!”
Favorite things: Playing with large-sized Chuck-It! toys and tires, eating any treat.
Year adopted: 2019
Tony’s pet adoption story: “Tony had been adopted and then returned. Unfortunately whoever adopted him wasn’t so good to Tony and returned him to the shelter in really bad shape. He was extremely overweight. He was too big to greet you. I learned from the Sacramento SPCA where I got him that they actually get more German Shepherds than any other breeds. I said if he was there in a week, I’ll take him. Tony has lost 50 pounds since I adopted him. ”
Breed(s): German Shepherd
Age: around 7
What’s his personality like: "Ever since I adopted Tony we’ve had a very special bond, a very father and son bond. Although he loves to play with the dogs, he’s always watching my every move. He’s like my shadow, always by my side. Tony has so much heart because even when he gets tired he never gives up! He’s always chasing the dogs and is up for anything we do. He used to be afraid of water and now he loves to swim. He’s just the most awesome dog in every single way."
Favorite things: Dog bones, toys he can play fetch with and jerky treats
Queen No Latifas
Year adopted: 2019
Queen’s pet adoption story: “I also saw her at the Sacramento SPCA when I first met Tony. Queen’s story broke my heart and that’s what made me adopt her. She was dropped off with another dog. The other dog was adopted that day and Queen was there for 40 days. She was so old and fragile I had to take her.”
Age: 12 years
What’s her personality like: “She’s very similar to Lillie. Very much a daddy’s girl. Her favorite things to do are to be snuggled up inside a blanket or carried by me. Surprisingly, though, she loves food. It’s the only thing that gets her out of bed.”
Favorite things: No toys (she likes to sleep), any soft treats
Year adopted: 2019
Penny’s pet adoption story: “I didn’t plan on getting her, [but] when I went back to get Tony and Queen, she was still there. So I said, ‘I’ll take her too.’”
Age: 2 years
What’s her personality like: “She just loves people so much. She always wants to play. She’s so sweet. She melts everyone’s hearts.”
Favorite things: Playing with small tennis balls and lounging on anything soft.
Year adopted: 2019
Cece’s pet adoption story: “Cece was surrendered to the [Sacramento SPCA’s] shelter because her family was moving to Philadelphia to take care of family.”
Breed(s): Boxer/Golden Retriever
Age: 14 years
What’s her personality like: “Cece is very calm and curious. She’s a daddy’s girl and follows me everywhere. She is nearly blind but can always find me. She’s very sweet, loving and gentle.”
Favorite things: Eating and snuggling up on the bed.
Year adopted: 2019
Pearlie’s pet adoption story: “Pearlie’s family was convinced to take her to a shelter because they weren’t giving her any way of life. She was kept in a cage for 23 hours a day for 7 years.”
Age: 7 years
What’s her personality like: “Pearlie is a Momma’s girl and although she loves me, she’s obsessed with my girlfriend, Sydney. She is in love with Butters, my male chihuahua.”
Favorite things: Flirting with Butters or nestling up in her mom’s sweater.
Phew, that’s a lot of dogs. But to Asher, the more dogs, the merrier. He never really asks himself if he needs another dog. Instead, he asks: Does this dog really need me?
Want to meet Lee Asher and his ever-growing canine crew? Visit them at any of the upcoming pet adoption events:
Walter Station Brewery
The Watering Bowl
Sonshine Performing Arts Academy
St. Louis, Missouri
The Dog House
One Tail at a Time Dog Rescue