Nitro – The Story of a True Survival Miracle – Part 1

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This is the story of love, compassion, perseverance, angels, and God’s plan. That sentence probably frightens some of you who aren’t used to me getting all “religious.” This is not a preachy story. It’s a true story that is still unfolding.


Chief (White), Guinevere (Black), and Liesel (Black & Tan)

Let’s start at the beginning. About 5 or 6 years ago, we had three rescued German Shepherd Dogs (Guinevere, Liesel, and Chief). Somehow (memory fails) Jim found a male GSD in need of a home in a nearby rescue. His name – Nitro.



We went to meet Nitro. He was a gorgeous big boy who was very nice and polite around us. We went back with our pack and all went well, so we adopted him. At the same time, there was another person interested in Nitro who asked us to please let him know if, for any reason, our adoption didn’t work out.

Nitro with his Frisbee

As we have always done, we took Nitro to our vet for a complete check-up and to be micro-chipped. He passed with flying colors, so home we went. For the first several days, everyone got along just fine. After the first few days, however, things started to get chippy between Nitro and Chief (our beloved, male, white German Shepherd Dog). Both were young males (neutered) who wanted to be the Alpha male. The situation deteriorated rapidly. Nitro was larger and stouter, but Chief had “seniority.” There was no backing down. Even the girls, who had lived together in harmony for many, many years started fighting each other. Before I knew it, I was in the middle of a 4-dog-fight. For future reference – that’s not a good place to be. Believe me. We hoped that they would all work it out and become one big, happy pack. It wasn’t to be.

Nitro the Athlete

After giving as much time, soul-searching, and as many chances as we dared, we had to admit that Nitro wasn’t going to fit in with our dogs. We were terribly sad because, alone, Nitro was a terrific, smart dog. He knew many commands, loved to fetch and play Frisbee, and was a human-centered cuddler. We came to the conclusion that he’d never been socialized and we feared for the well-being of our dogs who had been with us for years. It was clear that he would have to go back. Then, we remembered the man who had asked us to let him know if things didn’t work out.

I Can FLY!

We called the rescue and they said that they had checked the other party out and that he would have been able to adopt Nitro if we hadn’t. We got in touch with him and made arrangements to meet at the rescue. It was with heavy hearts that we drove back to the rescue.

Where’d it GO?

We were met outside by the man who really wanted Nitro. He was obviously very excited that he was going to be able to take him home to be his dog. Although we would have preferred to be able to keep Nitro, we didn’t feel too sad for him because we felt that he was still going to be loved and well cared for. The paperwork was completed, and the transfer took place right out front. Nitro went from our car to his truck and never looked back.


It was a silent ride home with several tears shed. We felt, in our hearts, that it was the best outcome for our dogs and for Nitro, but we were still disheartened. That was the last time we saw Nitro, until…


Tuesday, November 13, 2012. It seemed for all intents and purposes like any other work day. Then, Jim checked our home email. To our complete consternation, there was an email from Home Again saying that Nitro had been found. Found?!? Even more dumbfounding was the fact that he was in the Orange County Animal Shelter in CALIFORNIA!! How in the world? Even more amazing was the realization that we had never taken his name out of our records, nor had we ever been asked to transfer ownership to anyone else. As far as Home Again and the Orange County Animal Shelter were concerned, Nitro was our dog.


I placed calls to the rescue, but never got an answer. They never did call me back, either. I also called the Orange County Animal Shelter. Just to explain a bit, that is a huge shelter with enormous capacity and an over-abundance of dogs waiting for their owners to come for them or to be adopted. They explained that, since Nitro was micro-chipped, we had seven days to arrange for him to be picked up or they would put him up for adoption (or euthanize) dependent upon his condition, medical health, etc. They told me Nitro’s identification number and the number of the crate he was in. I could go to the website and see a photo to be certain that he was our dog, but they assured me that the chip number matched the records of Home Again. They also told me that he had been picked up as a stray with no other identification.

What Happened to You?
(Nitro @ Orange County Animal Shelter)

Once I saw the photo, my heart broke. The once-proud, regal, strong German Shepherd Dog that we had hoped to have as part of our family was a scared, sad-looking, thin, bedraggled dog. Any resemblance between this shell and the dog we remembered was minute; however, we could immediately tell it was, indeed, Nitro. Our hearts fell. How would it be possible to save him? We don’t have any family in California. Seven days to make arrangements to get to California from Michigan and to bring him home (or to a rescue) was just too little time. It was also pretty obvious that there would be no adoption time for him. What could we do? We knew we had to try something, but what?


I turned to Facebook. We both get posts all the time from various rescue organizations and breed organizations. Maybe if I posted on all the sites I could think of and ask the people there to cross-post to groups that they deal with or know, we could find someone to help us save Nitro. It was a “hail Mary,” but we were willing to try just about anything.


By this time, it was getting pretty late at night for us in Michigan. We are very early risers, so I started making my plans to start calling rescue organizations in California, Nevada, and Arizona the next day. It was a terrible night.



Up Next: Part 2 – Salvation?!?!


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