When the Gales of November Came Early – 42 Years Ago (Repost)

Every November 10, I reblog my post on the Edmund Fitzgerald. 42 years seems like a long time to most of us, but to the families of the crew lost, it must seem like yesterday.
 
Ever since I moved to Michigan, and especially since I have now been to Whitefish Point and seen the bell and the other ephemera at the Shipwreck Museum, it is even more poignant.
 
I hope you will read, enjoy, and comment on the story. It would be especially interesting to hear your memories.

If you’re reading this in email, Twitter or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

November 10, 1975. Do you remember?

“The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called ‘Gitche Gumee’
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty.
That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early.”

 Gordon Lightfoot, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” 1976

 

I remember it well. I can still “see” Harry Reasoner sitting at his desk on the evening news talking about the apparent loss of the ship “Edmund Fitzgerald” and crew of 29. For some reason, it struck me – viscerally. Perhaps it was because we were so used to seeing great ships going under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge (although they were not nearly as large as the Great Lakes freighters). I remember following the story at the time. I never forgot the sadness I felt. Then, too, there’s that song…it’s one of those that sticks in your head and takes forever to get rid of.

The last voyage of the Great Lakes Freighter “Edmund Fitzgerald,” captained by Ernest M. McSorley, started in Superior, Wisconsin on November 9, 1975. The “Fitz” was loaded with over 26,000 tons of iron ore pellets. The ship was scheduled to transport the cargo to Zug Island on the Detroit River. She left port with the Arthur M Anderson whose captain was Bernie Cooper. It was determined that the Edmund Fitzgerald would take the lead as she was the faster vessel.

Both captains were acutely aware of a building November storm entering the Great Lakes. Captain McSorley and Captain Cooper agreed to take the northerly course across Lake Superior, where they would be protected by the Canadian shore. They would later make a turn to the southeast to eventually reach the shelter of Whitefish Point.

Weather conditions continued to deteriorate. Gale warnings had been upgraded to storm warnings early in the morning of November 10. While conditions were bad, with winds gusting to 50 knots and seas 12 to 16 feet, both Captains had often piloted their vessels in similar conditions.

 

Last Voyage

As the Fitzgerald approached Caribou Island, it appeared to Captain Cooper on the Anderson that the Fitz had passed far too close to Six Fathom Shoal. He could clearly see the ship and the beacon on Caribou on his radar and could measure the distance between them. He and his officers watched the Fitzgerald pass right over the dangerous area of shallow water. By this time, snow and rising spray had obscured the Fitzgerald from sight

According to transcripts and quoting from the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum website, “At 3:30 pm that afternoon, Captain McSorley radioed Captain Cooper and said: “Anderson, this is the Fitzgerald. I have a fence rail down, two vents lost or damaged, and a list. I’m checking down. Will you stay by me till I get to Whitefish?” McSorley was “checking down” his speed to allow the Anderson to close the distance for safety. Captain Cooper asked McSorley if he had his pumps going, and McSorley said, ‘Yes, both of them.’”

There were no more extraordinarily alarming reports from Captain McSorley that afternoon. However, at around 5 p.m., a wave smashed into the Anderson smashing its starboard lifeboat. Winds were reported to be almost 60 knots steady, with gusts to 70 knots. Seas were running 18 to 25 feet.

Again, from the GLSM website, “According to Captain Cooper, about 6:55 pm, he and the men in the Anderson’s pilothouse felt a “bump”, felt the ship lurch, and then turned to see a monstrous wave engulfing their entire vessel from astern. The wave worked its way along the deck, crashing on the back of the pilothouse, driving the bow of the Anderson down into the sea.

“Then the Anderson just raised up and shook herself off of all that water – barrooff – just like a big dog. Another wave just like the first one or bigger hit us again. I watched those two waves head down the lake towards the Fitzgerald, and I think those were the two that sent him under.’”

The first mate of the Anderson spoke to the Fitzgerald one last time, about 7:10 pm.

Fitzgerald: “We are holding our own.”

“Okay, fine, I’ll be talking to you later.” The mate signed off.

The radar signal, or “pip” of the Fitzgerald kept getting obscured by “sea return,” meaning that seas were so high they interfered with the radar reflection. Around 7:15 pm, the pip was lost again, but this time, did not reappear. The Anderson’s First Mate called the Fitzgerald again at about 7:22 pm. There was no answer.

Quoting Captain Cooper, “At this time I became very concerned about the Fitzgerald – couldn’t see his lights when we should have. I then called the William Clay Ford to ask him if my phone was putting out a good signal and also if perhaps the Fitzgerald had rounded the point and was in shelter, after a negative report I called the Soo Coast Guard because I was sure something had happened to the Fitzgerald. The Coast Guard were at this time trying to locate a 16-foot boat that was overdue.”

Captain Cooper kept asking the few other ships in the area if they had seen or heard anything from the Fitzgerald. As there had been no word, he persisted with the Coast Guard. Captain Cooper and his crew had just managed to pilot the Anderson to safety in Whitefish Bay. They were all breathing a huge sigh of relief when the Coast Guard made a huge request of them.

There were no Coast Guard ships in the immediate area. Could the Anderson go back out into the storm to look for the Fitzgerald? I can’t imagine the anxiety. Here they had just reached safety after being hammered by a huge storm including two huge, rogue waves (called “two sisters” in maritime lingo), but the seaman’s unwritten code is that you go to try to help fellow seamen.

The Anderson became the lead boat in the search. The Anderson was again severely pounded by the storm and was rolling badly, but they were able to locate the Fitzgerald’s two lifeboats (empty) and other debris, but no sign of survivors. The William Clay Ford also left the safety of Whitefish Bay to help. These two were later joined by two Coast Guard cutters and a fixed-wing aircraft.

The Coast Guard continued the search. On November 14, a specially-outfitted, U.S. Navy plane got a strong signal 17 miles off Whitefish Point. In the next few days, the Coast Guard cutters used different technologies (including side-scan radar) to check that area. One of them located two large pieces of wreckage on the bottom in the same area. A similar search took place in late November. However, winter was closing in. There would be no chance to continue until spring. As large as the Great Lakes are, Mother Nature and winter are stronger. The Lakes become impassible with ice.

In May of 1976, they returned to try to determine if these sonar responses were, indeed, the wreckage of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Navy submersibles took thousands of feet of video and hundreds of still photos. On May 20, 1976, all question as to the final resting place of the “Fitz” was removed as photos were examined and the name “Edmund Fitzgerald” was clearly seen on the stern, upside down, 535 feet below the surface of the lake.

Depiction of the Wreck

In November of 1994, family members of the crew brought their concerns to The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS). They were worried that technology was getting to the point where more and more divers were able to dive the wrecksite of the Fitzgerald. They, naturally, considered this sacred ground as it is the final resting place of their loved ones. The families were still trying to find some form of “closure.”

After discussions with the families, a long list of U.S. and Canadian government agencies, and the owners of the wreck, it was determined that a single, significant artifact – the ship’s bell – could be removed from roof of the pilothouse and brought to shore. A replacement bell, inscribed with the names of the 29 sailors who lost their lives on the Fitzgerald, would be returned to the pilothouse.

The bell of the Edmund Fitzgerald broke water at 1:25 pm, July 4, 1995 as family members watched. A wreath was placed on the water following the recovery. Family members there that day finally had the opportunity to express their grief, say goodbye and for some, bring closure after 20 years. The replacement bell would be returned to the wreck.

The Fitzgerald’s bell was stabilized and then delivered to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point. From there, the museum continued restoring the bell for use as the centerpiece of a memorial to the men who died in the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. You can see it, today, as the centerpiece of their museum along with a photo of Captain McSorley and additional information about and pictures of the Fitzgerald.

The Edmund Fitzgerald will forever, legally, remain off-limits to divers as it is the final resting place for the 29 souls lost that fateful night.

 

Christening of the “Fitz”

“Life” moments of the Edmund Fitzgerald

8/7/1957: Keel laid

6/8/1958: Hull #301 is christened “Edmund Fitzgerald” after the CEO of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company

9/24/1958: The Fitzgerald makes her maiden voyage

1972: Captain Ernest McSorley takes command of the Edmund Fitzgerald

11/10/1975: Last day of the great ship

5/20/1976: More than 40,000 feet of video tape from expeditions to the purported wreck by submersibles is examined. The words “Edmund Fitzgerald” were clearly seen on the stern, upside down, 535 feet below the surface of the lake

7/4/1995: The bell of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald is raised, restored, and replaced on the ship by a new bell with the names of the twenty nine men lost. This is the last time the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald will ever again be legally dived upon

 

To this day, the true reason for the sinking goes unsolved. Did the Fitzgerald essentially scuttle herself on the shoals in the storm? Were the hatches properly fastened? Did the two giant, rogue waves (the “two sisters”) that hit the Anderson continue to build and swamp an already listing Fitzgerald driving her into the bottom? We’ll never know. There were no survivors to tell the tale.

“Does any one know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The searches all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay
If they’d put fifteen more miles behind her.
They might have split up or they might have capsized;
May have broke deep and took water.
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

 

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Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!

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Unexplainable! (A Haunting?)

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

Having grown up (and spent most of my life) in the south, stories of hants, witches, and things that go bump in the night are part of the fabric of our beings. We’ve heard the stories, the “hear-tells,” since we were just wee little things. I don’t know that the south is any more prone to holding on to its spirits, or if it’s a result of the English/Irish/Scots long history of story-telling that keeps these tales going. Since most of the original settlers in the southern mountains were English, Irish, or Scottish, story-telling and acceptance of the unseen was as much a part of their DNA as hair- and eye-color. Thank goodness this has been passed down to today. I think acceptance of the unexplained is part of the reason so many have current-day tales of seeing, hearing, or experiencing things that give us the all-overs.

I also think that there are some folk who are just more (shall we call it) “open” to experiencing things that are perhaps from another dimension or time. I’ve heard it called “sensitive.” Whatever it is. Some of us see or hear things others do not (and, no, I’m not talkin’ about after a few snorts). Perhaps it comes from an active imagination fueled by stories from the past; but just maybe those things really are there – just out of the seeing and hearing of most folk.

I must be one of those people who is sensitive. I’ve had many occurrences of things that just can’t be explained. One of those I will recount in this post. It was something seen (and unseen until recently) on my wedding day.

Let’s go back to late July in 1986. It was hot as the blue-blazes in Georgia. We lived in Marietta (which has many a ghost story associated with it due to the War Between the States). Temperatures were well over 100 degrees and the humidity was sky-high. Frankly, it was miserable, and our wedding was planned for August 2nd.

The Thursday before we were due to be married on Saturday, as all the relatives were arriving in town, a storm hit. It was a storm like none other we’d experienced before (or after). There was virtually constant lightning followed by enormous cracks of thunder that continued to roll for what seemed to be an eternity. Rain came down in sheets and the wind blew to the point we worried about the 40- and 50-foot tall pine trees in the yard. Quite frankly, it was terrifying! The storm raged for almost an hour, then – as suddenly as it came up – it was gone.

Friday, dawned clear and cooler. By Saturday, the temperatures were very comfortable and the humidity was gone. It was a beautiful day – especially by summer in Georgia standards.

 

 

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The Planters Restaurant

We had chosen to be married at the Planters Restaurant in Marietta, GA. This was a pre-War plantation home (previously called Bushy Park) that had survived the war and Sherman due to a pre-existing relationship between the owner and important people in the north. The owner allowed his home to be used as a hospital for Union forces. Still there were skirmishes around the home as evidenced by still-existing bullets in the framework around windows and doors.

We figured that a home that had withstood the onslaught of hundreds of troops and survived through war would be a good place to begin a marriage. We planned to get married outside under a huge, old oak which had seen the worst and was still standing proud and strong. We liked that as a good omen for a strong marriage.

Now for the “strange but true” part. During previous trips to the Planters (which was our favorite restaurant), we had seen some things that were a little “odd.” For example, one cool, early evening, we were walking up the steps to the front door when two of the rockers on the front porch started rocking ever so slowly. Now, there wasn’t a breath of air moving, so that didn’t cause the motion. We kinda looked at each other and went inside. It’s funny to me now that neither of us got the willies over that at all. There was no maleficent feeling or anything even remotely scary. It just seemed “natural.” I can’t explain why, it just didn’t seem at all frightening.

On the day of our wedding, my mother, sister, good friend and I were getting ready in one of the upstairs rooms which had been a “lady’s” bedroom. What a beautiful, sweet room it was. I felt completely at ease there. I should have had butterflies in my stomach – I was, after all, getting ready to vow to spend the rest of my life with the man of my dreams. Instead, I felt intense calm. I will say that all three of the other ladies were a little “jumpy,” but I put that down to excitement.

When the staff member in full, long, war-era dress brushed by the door and just peered in for a moment with a sweet, but almost-sad smile, I thought it was nice. Then I realized, they don’t have staff wearing period costume. My friend went to go look out the door to see what I saw and there was no motion anywhere. She did remark that the hallway felt “cool,” but nothing beyond that.

Still, I didn’t feel anything but calm. I honestly felt as though I was being watched over. There was such a strong feeling of comfort, strength and happiness that pervaded the entire ceremony and gathering afterward. I honestly felt as though the “house” was wishing us well.

Flash forward to just this year. As Jim and I were preparing to celebrate our 31st anniversary, some friends were asking if I could share any of my wedding photos. I also put one up on Facebook. I really didn’t think anything of it – that way, until I saw it. There in the photo, looking back at the camera in the window was the unmistakable outline of the head of a German Shepherd Dog. Both Jim and I have always had affinities for that breed (as most of y’all know and can tell from my previous posts). By the way, this room was on the second floor. Was this my spirit animal watching over me? Was it a trick of light? What do you think?

Wedding Photo Dog

I’m sad to say that The Planters is no longer a restaurant; however, the building still stands. I hope it will continue to do so for another 150 years. For those who watch over it (whether from this world or the next), I am forever grateful.

Remember, I really love to hear your comments. Just click on the “Leave a Reply” link and let me know what you think. Also, let me know if there’s something you’d like to hear more about.

Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!

Heartbreak Times Two

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

It’s never easy to say goodbye to a beloved family member. For many of us, the loss of a dear four-legged “kid” is as heart-wrenching as any human loss. You may wonder why I haven’t been authoring my blog for so long. Here is a large part of that reason.

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Our Darling Dolly

Dolly

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It’s incredibly hard for me to even think about this, let alone write about it; but I’ll give it a try.

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Dolly

You’ve read about our Dolly girl in several previous posts. Without reprising all of that, I’ll give you a synopsis of how Dolly came to be with us.

We really weren’t looking to adopt. We had Bear and Sydney who had established a relationship over almost three years of living together. Bear had driven poor Sydney (who was a senior when we adopted her) a little crazy with his youthful shenanigans, but they had reached a comfortable status quo. Bear was a couple of weeks shy of his first birthday when we adopted him and Syd was a senior, but it worked. Sadly, though, Syd was slowing down quite a bit and Bear really needed someone to play with. Syd wasn’t a viable candidate for that anymore.

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Dolly – The Face I Couldn’t Resist

One evening I was reading posts on Facebook, when up popped the photo of the most adorable, fluffy, white, German Shepherd Dog I’d ever seen. Jim had always said he would like to have a white GSD female sometime. Here was the cutest face on the planet and she was coming to Michigan. I knew in my heart that she absolutely must come live with us. She would be the white female Jim had wanted and the playmate Bear needed.

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Dolly’s Intake Photo

I put the wheels in motion. I started writing to Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue (the organization that she was coming to all the way from California). I went to their website and filled out all the paperwork. “Dolly” (as she had been named by the rescuers in California) had been pulled from a high-kill shelter by an organization called Miracle GSD Network.

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Dolly Pappas – Day One!

After the Miracle Network checked over our application and followed-up with our references, we were approved to adopt Dolly. Sydney, Bear, Jim, and I piled into the car and drove to meet Dolly. Everyone got along beautifully, and Dolly became part of the family. Honestly, though, she was already firmly in my heart.

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Cinder

 

Cinder

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Cinder at Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue

As you probably recall from previous posts, we adopted Cinder from Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue in 2014. (See previous post “Cinder(ella?)” She had come to the rescue in exceedingly poor shape. She was nothing but skin and bone and her toenails hadn’t been trimmed in ages. Basically, she was a mess. Kristin at SWMGSR immediately went to work to get “Sinder” healthy. She called us as she knew we had experience with adopting seniors and had recently lost our most senior girl. Would we consider taking on another senior?

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Cinder’s Poor Feet on Intake at SWMGSR

After the requisite spaying (and – in this case – nail trim), we rode out to meet “Sinder” with our Dolly (who had been adopted in April of 2014) and Bear (adopted July of 2011). Everyone seemed to get along well, so we signed the paperwork and Cinder (immediately changed her name to match her coloration) came home with us.

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Bringing Cinder Home

Changes and Challenges

Cinder & Dolly

Happy Days – Cinder & Dolly at Miracle/SWMGSR Reunion – Summer 2015

Sometime in the fall of 2015, we noticed that Dolly seemed to be “dragging” her front feet a little. She still would run, but she seemed to knuckle under frequently. Our vet thought it was possible that she had banged her shoulder into the dog door and was experiencing some weakness due to some minor nerve damage. He also cautioned, though, that we might be dealing with Wobblers’ Syndrome if she didn’t improve over a little time.

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Dolly in Doggles for Cold Laser Treatments

My earlier blog posts went into great detail about Dolly’s challenges with Wobblers’ and her brave struggles.

Life has a way of throwing hard, curve balls at you. How you respond to adversity sometimes tells you more about yourself than when things go well.

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Earlier this year, Cinder started a swift decline. Her mobility became very compromised. She had difficulty getting in and out of the house. Walking for her was exceedingly difficult. She was obviously in quite a bit of pain. She didn’t even want to eat. We tried everything the vets recommended, but Cinder was telling us she was done. With a great deal of sorrow, we allowed our big girl to end her pain and suffering and go to the Rainbow Bridge in peace.

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Only a month later, our Dolly dog started to experience very similar problems. Her Wobblers got to the point where she was unable to control any portion of her mobility or her internal organs. We tried helping her with a sling – which worked for a while. Within that short time, though, our Dolly gave up. She couldn’t be coaxed to eat anything. (Dolly had always been such a “chow hound.” Undoubtedly, this was due to her tough life on the streets of California before she was rescued.) She wouldn’t even try to rise. I still get a huge lump in my throat and my eyes tear uncontrollably when I remember the sad, pained look of surrender in her eyes. Once again, we had to make the decision to let her go.

It’s never easy to lose a family member. To lose two in the space of a few short weeks is almost too much to withstand. Our poor boy, Bear, was very sad and confused; but we know that he had an even better sense of the degree of the girls’ conditions and illness than we did. Letting them go was the hardest thing to do, but it was also the ONLY thing to do. Allowing them to suffer was never an option. Cinder and Dolly will always have very special places in our hearts. We will miss them until the day comes that we join them again across the Rainbow Bridge.

Remember, I really love to hear your comments. Just click on the “Leave a Reply” link and let me know what you think. Also, let me know if there’s something you’d like to hear more about.

Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!

Life is Short, Live in Dog Years

Life is Short, Live in Dog Years

I will be back soon. We just lost two of our precious dogs (Cinder on Feb. 2 and our darling Dolly on March 29). This story is wonderful, touching, and beautiful. Please enjoy. I did – through my tears.

Ruffwear Blog | News, Events & Adventures

Life is Short, Live in Dog Years

Story and Photos Contributed by Ruffwear Ambassador Mallory Paige, in loving memory of her adventure pal, Baylor the Dog.

I used to say a dog’s short life was the hardest part about making them your best friend, but now I know it’s actually the biggest gift. My dog, Baylor, taught me that.

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For 12 years, Baylor and I did everything together. As a tiny puppy he followed me from room to room, unable to relax unless we were snuggled up together. He went on his first road trip at just 11-weeks-old and was irreversibly convinced he was the size of a chihuahua.

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He wasn’t perfect, and that’s what I liked about him. Years of never getting into anything were intermixed with moments of gobbling down an entire carrot cake, shredding a wicker wastebasket and methodically eating an entire rock garden.

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He was an…

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Chasing a Dream: Runaway Wildcat – How It Began

Chasing a Dream: Runaway Wildcat – How It Began

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Runaway Wildcat – The Dream Who Came True

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

Anyone who has known me or followed my blog for a while knows that horses have always been an extremely important part of my life. I’ve often said that when one is born in Kentucky, the very first inoculation is one which ensures love of horses and bourbon. The love of horses kicked in very early with me, and some of my earliest memories are of horses – most specifically, thoroughbreds.

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Me with Alysheba – Lane’s End Farm – May 1989

Without completely rehashing earlier blogs, Jim and I spent a few years in the thoroughbred breeding and racing business. While we loved the horses and everything about being around them, the business end was not kind to us. As I’ve often said, “If you want to make a small fortune in horse racing, start with a big one.” Let’s just say, it didn’t end well.

One of the brightest spots about loving horses is that you can meet some of the most wonderful people on the planet. (Yes, the flip-side is true, too, but we will focus on the good.) One of the best people I’ve ever known I met many, many years ago through the early days of computer networking – on Prodigy. My dear friend, Peggie, and her family became extended family of mine. We talked nearly every day on the telephone. She lived in the heart of horse country, near Lexington, Kentucky. Her love of horses and racing and mine dovetailed forging an amazing bond. She went through the many ups and downs of the horse business with us. She exulted with us over wins and cried with us over tragedies.

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Keeneland Inside Sales Pavillion – From Keeneland.com

In September of 2009, I got a call from my friend. She’d been battling cancer and had been quite sick, so it was something of a surprise to hear from her. She said she’d gone to Keeneland to go to the yearling sales hoping it would lift her spirits. I thought that sounded just like her. Go see horses (especially young ones) = feel better. She was actually excited about one she saw there. He was from Michigan! (We had moved to Michigan in 2003, and had been out of the horse business for many years prior to that.) The thing about this colt was that he had a nice pedigree – especially considering that racing in Michigan had become all but non-existent (and, sadly, still is).

She said he was so incredibly pretty, well-built, and kind. Her big hook was that he had three Triple Crown Champions in his pedigree. Citation, Seattle Slew, and Secretariat (THAT almost got me), along with a couple of descendants of Northern Dancer – the preeminent progenitor of thoroughbreds in the current era, all figured prominently in his pedigree.

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Didn’t I want to reconsider having horses? Didn’t I want her to buy him for me? I was laughing because my never-give-up friend was so excited about something. I assured her that owning a racehorse (especially starting with a baby) was just not in the cards. I did promise her, though, that I would keep track of him to the best of my ability. I wrote down his hip number (that’s how they catalog horses in the sale), his pedigree, who had bred him, and followed his sale (for $10,000 to a gentleman from California).

Hip Number

Hip Number Example (NOT Runaway Wildcat)

In 2010, a 2-year-old horse named Runaway Wildcat started showing up as readying to race in California. Sure enough, it was the colt from the sale. Everything matched.

Remember, I really love to hear your comments. Just click on the “Leave a Reply” link and let me know what you think. Also, let me know if there’s something you’d like to hear more about.

Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!

Champ’s Story – Miracle Dog #306!

Champ’s Story – Miracle Dog #306!

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

 

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Champ with Santa 2016

 

This Beth Miller Erman’s wonderful story about her Miracle Dog, Champ. I love these stories and can never get enough. Champ’s story is especially powerful for me because he is Miracle Dog rescue #306. Our sweet Dolly is #307! I hope you feel the same. It’s especially sweet to share these wonderful stories of love and triumph during this, the Christmas season. Enjoy!

“I lost my first German Shepherd, a smart and loyal black-and-cream girl named Lindy, in July 2010. I felt like I had lost part of my being when she died. We still had my husband’s two dogs when she died (we are a blended family), but it wasn’t the same. She and I had made it through 13 years together. Well-meaning people would tell me about other German Shepherds that became available, but I wasn’t ready, but I knew that I would know when the right one came along.

 

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Champ on Yellow Blanket in the Park

That happened in mid-April 2014, when Serendipity German Shepherd Dog Rescue posted a photo of a couple of their rescues lying on a yellow blanket in a park. One was named Champ, and he had the classic GSD head tilt in the photo. As soon as I saw that picture, I knew he was the one. Serendipity was looking for a foster or adopter for him since he was in boarding at the time. By this time, we had lost all of our dogs and one of my cats, so I asked my husband if he would consider fostering Champ. He said yes, and we went to meet Champ at the kennel the following weekend.

 

Champ was very anxious when we met him and didn’t really want to be petted. He ran around the enclosed yard, and we played ball a bit. He was way too thin, missing some hair and needed some TLC. We were approved for adoption, and brought him home May 1, 2014.

 

My husband and I have had many dogs in our lives, but none of them were like Champ. High-strung and anxious didn’t begin to describe him. He reacted to every noise, every movement outside of the window, didn’t have very good leash manners, and was extremely reactive with other dogs. Even at a low weight, he was strong enough to pull me down. We couldn’t have people come to the house because he was so aggressive. We had our dining room chairs lined up in front of the front windows to keep him from going through them. I had to barricade rooms of the house to keep him from hurting my elderly cat. The whole neighborhood was afraid of him. After 10 days, we realized we were in over our heads with this one. We contacted a local dog training group that offered behavioral evaluations and had a one-hour evaluation. We were recommended for a class (appropriately) called “Dogs with Issues,” but it wasn’t set to start until fall, and we knew we couldn’t wait that long. We tried another trainer, but her style and Champ’s issues weren’t a good fit. The volunteers at Serendipity were always available for help and even came over to watch Champ’s behavior themselves and offer recommendations. We were pretty much at the end of our ropes when we learned about Casey Ray St. Louis Dog Trainers. One of the Serendipity volunteers who had helped us with adopting Champ suggested them, and we went to talk with Casey. Champ showed his true colors at the meeting, and we agreed that a two-week Stay & Learn, followed by weekly group training, would be the best thing for all of us.

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Champ with Beth! He Needed a Job

 

It didn’t happen overnight, but Champ is a very different dog than he was before we started training with Casey’s team. We have missed only a handful of group training classes in 2.5 years because he needs the structure and socialization. He is still reactive, but we are able to control him in those situations now, and it’s at a significantly lower level than all-out Cujo like he was in 2014. He is often the star of the class. We even did a 6-week agility class, and it was as if he was born for agility. He mastered it really quickly. To continue that, we take him to local playgrounds when children aren’t present and let him go up the climbs and down the slides. There is no playground he can’t conquer!

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Champ’s Chillin’ Now!

 

Emotionally, he has really come around. It took about 6 months with us before he wagged his tail, and probably 18 months before he would sit down next to one of us on the floor. He’s not much of a snuggler, but he does love to be petted and groomed.

 

If I could share one lesson from our experience with a rescued GSD, I would say to be patient. I was frustrated early on because I didn’t think he was catching on to things quickly enough, but I did not take into account his emotional scars. Once I realized that he needed to learn things on his own time schedule, build his confidence and learn to trust us and other people, it made things a lot easier. Looking back, it’s been such a joy to watch him blossom. He lets people pet him now, loves kids, especially toddlers, and is a happy, healthy dog. He’s not perfect, but he’s perfect for me. I’m grateful to the Miracle GSD Network for saving him and for Serendipity GSD Rescue for bringing him here for an opportunity for a new life.”

What a terrific story! Thank you, Beth, for sharing. It’s amazing what you’ve accomplished in such a relatively short time. We who have had the joy of having a Miracle Dog (or other adopted rescue) don’t know exactly where our dogs have been prior to rescue or what their lives were like. The best we can do is to give them time, consistency, and strong love to help them learn that their lives are forever changed and that they will never need to be afraid again.

 

Remember, I really love to hear your comments. Just click on the “Leave a Reply” link and let me know what you think. Also, let me know if there’s something you’d like to hear more about.

 

Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!

Rejecting the Will of the People: Wolf Hunting in Michigan

Rejecting the Will of the People: Wolf Hunting in Michigan

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This is a real departure from my regular blog posts. I am doing so because I feel very strongly about this subject. I have gathered signatures. I have written and made phone calls – as have thousands across the state – to our supposed “representatives” and kept up steady pressure in the state. Still, the Michigan Senate has turned a deaf ear to the citizens of Michigan and have sent SB 1187 which authorizes wolf hunting to the State House for consideration. This Legislature is Fast-Tracking this legislation to benefit some very well-oiled outfitters and outsiders who have only a financial stake in a new hunting species.

I want to share my response to “my” Senator in Lansing regarding his vote FOR wolf-hunting in Michigan. For those of you who don’t know, the population of this very-necessary predator – which helps to maintain the balance of nature – is exceedingly fragile. The Michigan DNR’s estimates of our state’s wolf population have been steadily declining since 2012. There is no scientific justification for opening up this small population of an ecologically vital species to cruel and unsporting trophy hunting and trapping.

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From “Keep Michigan Wolves Protected” website

In the 2014 general election, Michigan voters soundly rejected two referendums on the trophy hunting and trapping of the state’s small population of wolves. And in late November 2016, a three-judge Appellate Court panel unanimously rejected an unconstitutional law that was rushed through the 2014 legislature to circumvent those citizen votes on wolf hunting.

Additionally, a federal court upheld a lawsuit by The Humane Society of the United States and other wolf protection groups, which charged that the 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to remove federal Endangered Species Act protection for wolves in the Great Lakes region — and opening them up to cruel shooting, trapping, snaring, and even hounding by packs of dogs — was not warranted. Wolves were returned to federal protection, where they remain today.

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From: “Keep Michigan Wolves Protected” website

Even with the well-documented information above, the Senate of the State of Michigan voted to authorize the “Natural Resources Commission” (a political group with no scientific base) to set wolf hunting dates. Not only does this run counter to the expressed will of the populace, it runs against everything that science has been trying to convey.

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Here was my response:

Please convey to Senator Hune that I have grave concerns that he has become more concerned about being in lock-step with the party than listening to the concerns of his constituency. In my many years of following government and politics, I have found that those who maintain their seat without opposition tend to lose touch with the people they are supposed to be serving. I fear this is becoming the case for a man who went to Lansing as a young person who wanted to make a difference.

I am disappointed in his vote for this measure. It appears as though there is another power-grab in place to circumvent the will of the populace. Again, this will plunge the state into another debacle where Michigan will look anti-environment. This is very sad. For a state with the abundance of natural beauty to come out against the very wildness that makes it so appealing to many (and, not incidentally a very important link in the balance of nature) is counterproductive.