A Post I Don’t Want to Write – Tissue Alert!

This is a post I really don’t want to write. There’s no way to prepare for this, so I’m just going to tell you. Nitro passed away last night.

Nitro

Nitro

He crossed the Rainbow Bridge in his sleep. He was in his favorite place in Nichole and Tehya’s living room. His girls were safe in their beds. God called the old boy home.

 

Rather than focusing on the immediate sadness of this, I’d like to remember the joy and happiness Nitro brought us all. The mere fact that he made it home, and all the things that had to fall into place for him to do so, still dumbfounds me. In case you haven’t followed the story from the beginning, here’s something of a timeline that highlights the amazing intricacies that made his homecoming possible.

Nitro in the Orange County Animal Shelter

Nitro in the Orange County Animal Shelter

1.   Miracle #1: Jim got an email from “Home Again” telling us that Nitro had been found – in CALIFORNIA (we’re in Michigan). That, in itself, was something in that Nitro had only been with us a short time before he and our other dogs became totally incompatible. It was, however, long enough for us to get him micro-chipped and registered before he went to a home we thought would be forever.

 

2.   We talked to the shelter (Orange County) and they told us he’d been on the street for quite a long time from the look of him. His photo showed a shell of the dog who had once been so vibrant and beautiful. We needed to get him moved in a very short time, as his time there wasn’t going to be long.

 

What a GREAT DOG he was in his prime!

What a GREAT DOG he was in his prime!

3.   I gave it up to God and put a plea out on Facebook in every rescue and German Shepherd site I could find to see if there was any rescue or anyone who could help us save Nitro.

 

4.   Miracle #2: I got a Facebook message from California. Did I want Nitro to come home to Michigan or just find a rescue. I was completely gob-smacked! Was this really someone willing to help? Then the message went on to say that this angel was going to be leaving California to drive to Michigan for the holidays. She was leaving the VERY next day! She was willing to go get Nitro from the shelter and bring him home with her to Michigan. (I can’t help but marvel that if we’d gotten the first message ONE DAY later, none of this – or the rest – would have been possible.)

 

5.   Miracle #3: Our vet’s still had Nitro’s records on file so we could prove past ownership which was required for his release from the shelter. (That’s another thing that had very little time left. The vets would have purged the records after only a few more months.)

Leaving the Shelter

Leaving the Shelter

 6.   Miracle #4: Vinessa got to the shelter and, with her own funds, got Nitro released and to her vet for a physical, which he passed. There was grave concern as he was terribly mal-nourished and under-weight, but other than that his health appeared good. (Amazing considering that he had obviously been on the street for quite a long time.) 

Nitro's First Bath since?????

Nitro’s First Bath since?????

7.   Once Vinessa got Nitro home, he got his first bath in probably years and the first good night’s rest in equally long. All this time, Vinessa is packing up her car with her four VERY small children (oldest is 6), her young, German Shepherd puppy, and herself for the drive from California to Michigan.

 

First Good Night's Sleep

First Good Night’s Sleep

8.   The first part of the trip went quite well. The family headed to Montana for a Thanksgiving visit with friends. It would also be a reunion with Vinessa’s husband, David. David was already in Montana for work, so the voyage across country was a one-woman sojourn. After a pleasant stay, the crew headed off, once again. The destination was Michigan and Vinessa’s family here.

No time for gambling, Nitro! You've already hit the Jackpot!

No time for gambling, Nitro! You’ve already hit the Jackpot!

Is that SNOW?

Is that SNOW?

Why, YES, it IS Snow! I think I'm going HOME!

Why, YES, it IS Snow! I think I’m going HOME!

Almost HOME!

Almost HOME!

Here is the first video we saw of Nitro with Laela (Vinessa’s puppy) 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzJ6I5HfxJ4&feature=youtube_gdata_player

9.   Miracle #5: In South Dakota, the trip took a frightening turn. Somewhere in the dark, Vinessa encountered a patch of “black ice.” The Expedition made a series of six, 360-degree spins and ended up in a farmer’s field. By the grace of God, it didn’t flip (even though the whole load on the top shifted to one side). The children were all buckled in and asleep, but poor Laela ended up on Vinessa’s lap. Nitro, thankfully, was not thrown around too much. Vinessa said she saw her life and the lives of all in her car flash before her eyes.

After the Spins

After the Spins

Vinessa was able to get road service out in a reasonable amount of time. The repairman looked at her car and said that he didn’t see anything physically wrong with the car (other than that the tire lost air due to being rocked so hard). He put the spare on and helped them get the load redistributed back on the roof. If you check the photo below, you’ll see the angel. Yes, I do believe in angels and there was one looking over Vinessa and her little band that night. In the photo, I definitely see an angel peering in the back window. Vinessa took several other similar shots, and only in this one does the angel appear. It’s not a lens aberration.

There's An Angel Watching Over them

There’s An Angel Watching Over them

After all that, Vinessa and her little band made it home to Michigan with no other scares or drama. We made plans to finally meet this angel to bring Nitro back to where he would be loved and cared for for the rest of his days..

Nitro with his "Angel" Vinessa

Nitro with his “Angel” Vinessa

10. Miracle #6: Our friend and coworker, Nichole, recently had moved back to our area. She and her daughter, Tehya, had been wanting a dog, but with work and Tehya in school, a puppy was out of the question. Nichole had been very involved in all of our struggles to bring Nitro home. I really don’t remember who brought up the subject first, but we quickly realized that Nitro was supposed to come home to join Nichole and Tehya.

Nitro with Jim, Vinessa, and me

Nitro with Jim, Vinessa, and me

Tehya went to visit her friend the weekend we went to meet Vinessa and pick Nitro up. It might easily be considered another “miracle” that Nichole was able to keep the secret from Tehya as long as she did. From the moment Nitro and Tehya set eyes on each other, it was love.

Tehya Meets Nitro

Tehya Meets Nitro

 

He' MY Doggie, Now!

He’ MY Doggie, Now!

 

Fast Friends!

Fast Friends!

 

Nitro Says, "Are You Taking Me Away?"

Nitro Says, “Are You Taking Me Away?”

After a very short while, Nitro settled into his new home and Nichole, Tehya and he were a happy family. I have to reiterate that Nitro was an old dog. He had been a full adult dog when he’d been with our family for that short while all those years ago. Since he was a rescue, there’s no way to be absolute, but he had to be at the very least 12 years old, and more likely 13 or more. He’d also been on the street in California for such a long time. He still showed signs of his old, noble self on so many occasions.

 

Nitro & His Girl

Nitro & His Girl

Gradually, through much love and care, Nitro gained back healthy weight and strength. Maybe even more than that, he brought people from many diverse backgrounds and all over the world together with his story. Nitro’s Journey Home on Facebook was begun, with love, by Vinessa. She, Nichole, and I have tried to tell this miraculous and happy story throughout our all too short time with Nitro. People from other countries even donated to help defray all the costs associated with the expense of bringing our boy home. Everyone who hears his astonishing story, are astounded that so many things had to fall into place so intricately for it all to work. Surely, there was a greater plan at work than we could even guess.

 

Nitro Put on Weight

Nitro Put on Weight

 

Not Takin' The Frisbee Away!

Not Takin’ The Frisbee Away!

Here in Michigan, Nitro brought us new, close, dear friends in Vinessa and her family. One very happy outcome of the trials of the journey is that Vinessa and her family have, since, moved back to Michigan. He also brought us closer to Nichole and Tehya. For the time that Nitro was with us all, Nitro brought laughter, smiles and joy.

My dear, dear friend Caz in England asked me to include this poem with this post. I’m so glad she did. So, farewell, noble Nitro. Run free at the Rainbow Bridge. Farewell.

 

            Those we love don’t go away

            They walk beside us every day

            Remembrance is a golden chain

            That links us ‘til we meet again

A Little of This and A Little of That (of course, a Nitro Update)

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!)

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I seriously doubt that I’ll get another blog out before the big day, so I want to make absolutely certain that I wish all of you the happiest of holidays!

 

The Tree is Up!

The Tree is Up!

This year, I vowed that I would have all my decorating and package wrapping done at least a week before Christmas. Uh, no, it just didn’t happen. I did get my house decorated somewhat for Christmas the weekend following Thanksgiving; but this year my baking, package wrapping, and prep for Christmas dinner is WAY behind! I don’t know where the time went at all! I do work, so my time is fractured, but that really doesn’t explain it. I’ve worked ever since I was a kid (starting in high school and college), and time has never gotten away from me like it has now. Maybe the organizational skills reduce as the silver hairs increase…

 

Progress!

 

For those of you who are wondering how I’m doing with my diet, I’m pretty pleased with myself. I’ve lost just a little over 20 pounds. I really feel like I’ve turned the corner with my new plan. In case you haven’t read that post, I’m keeping track of every morsel I eat. I found myfitnesspal.com , and it’s working for me. I have to admit, though, that I absolutely do not intend to track a single thing I eat during our group Christmas party at work or for Christmas Eve or Christmas day. This is a program that I will have to live by for the rest of my days. Depriving myself of all goodies at all times is a recipe for failure. A wise man (a doctor) once told me, “It’s not what you eat between Thanksgiving and Christmas that hurts you. It’s what you eat from Christmas to Thanksgiving.”

 

Another real plus for us is that there are several, top-of-the-line exercise machines in our hangar. This has been a real benefit for me. Every morning before I start work, I use the elliptical trainer for about seven minutes and an exercycle for another five to seven minutes. There are also weights and toning machines that really make a difference. I truly haven’t felt this healthy in a number of years.

 

A Terrific Addition!

 

Vinessa with Nitro

Vinessa with Nitro

I am giddy with joy! Vinessa – our angel – has decided that she and her family are staying in Michigan! She’s a Michigan girl to begin with. Ever since that terribly frightening accident on the way to Michigan from Montana, Vinessa has known that she wanted to live in her native state with all her family around her.

 

She and her family used to make the amazing trek from California to Michigan (and back) four times a year. What kind of toll would that take on anyone? I just can’t imagine it. This decision makes complete sense for her and her little ones.

 

At present, Vinessa is considering starting her own German Shepherd Dog rescue. They’ve already located a house and she’s got a line on a shepherd in need of a foster home. I have to hand it to this gal, when she puts her mind to something, it’s done. If you want to watch, don’t blink!

 

Nitro!

 

Nitro is doing absolutely fabulously! He is absolute proof that miracles DO happen and that there is a plan. I certainly can’t explain all the myriad of things that had to fall into place, perfectly, to save him and bring him home to Nichole, Teyha, Jack, and us any other way. There had to be a “plan.”

 

Here are some photos just a short six days since we met Vinessa and brought Nitro to his furever home. He’s put on weight and he’s getting very strong.

 

This photo is Nitro showing how much weight he’s put on and that his ribs are no longer standing out.

 

Nitro getting STRONGER!

Nitro getting STRONGER!

Here he is almost pulling Jack’s arm out of the socket.

 

Hang on Jack!

Hang on Jack!

One of the most remarkable things about Nitro (and there are so many) is that he’s still a very friendly boy. One would expect that he would be a little shy around strangers. Since he, somehow, ended up on the street, you would think that someone didn’t treat him very well. He also shows signs that he wasn’t well cared for for quite some time. This is why it completely amazes me that he is so happy to meet new people. The photo below shows one of my coworkers right after getting a complete “face wash” from a quick Nitro tongue.

 

Her face tasted GOOD!

Her face tasted GOOD!

Nitro has completely adopted his new family. He is completely smitten with “his girl.” He welcomes her home with joyous yodels and dancing. A happier dog I’ve never seen.

 

Like They Should Be

Like They Should Be

Once again, I want to thank all of you who have been praying for our boy and us. I can’t imagine a happier outcome for him (and for his family).

 

Keep believing!

 

Up Next: We Made It!

 

Would you like to subscribe to my blog? (Oh, yes, it’s free!) Hopefully, you have already clicked on the title and are now directly in my blog page. If you have not gotten to the blog page, click on the title of the Posting and it will take you to the blog. From there, click on “Follow.” I hope you will. You will be notified of each new posting. I also hope you will jump in and comment on my posts.

 

Looking forward to “seeing” you here on Colmel’s Blog!

Nitro – The Story of a True Survival Miracle – Part 4: Home At Last

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!)

 

NITRO IS HOME!!!! That’s the important part. If you’ve been following this improbable story on Facebook (Nitro’s Journey Home), you know most of the story already, but let me fill you in on the details. (If you HAVEN’T been following on Facebook, let me invite you to join us by “Liking” the page. We plan to keep it current so that our friends can follow Nitro’s progress.)

 

On December 1, Vinessa, her four small children, her dog and Nitro left Montana for the trip to Michigan. She started out a day later than expected due to one of the little ones running a fever. Once she started feeling better the final leg of the journey began.

After the Spins

After the Spins

Late that night, in South Dakota, Vinessa encountered a patch of “black ice.” The Expedition made a series of six, 360-degree spins and ended up in a farmer’s field. By the grace of God, it didn’t flip (even though the whole load on the top shifted to one side). The children were all buckled in and asleep, but poor Laela ended up on Vinessa’s lap. Nitro, thankfully, was not thrown around too much. Vinessa said she saw her life and the lives of all in her car flash before her eyes.

 

She was able to get road service out in a reasonable amount of time. The repairman looked at her car and said that he didn’t see anything physically wrong with the car (other than that the tire lost air due to being rocked so hard). He put the spare on and helped them get the load redistributed back on the roof. If you check the photo below, you’ll see the angel. Yes, I do believe in angels and there was one looking over Vinessa and her little band that night. In the photo, I definitely see an angel peering in the back window. Vinessa took several other similar shots, and only in this one does the angel appear. It’s not a lens aberration.

There's An Angel Watching Over them

There’s An Angel Watching Over them

Since they were out in the middle of nowhere, Vinessa sucked it up and drove to Illinois where she took a long break to get some rest, try to soothe her aching body, and get her nerves calmed. From there, it was a reasonable drive to her family in Michigan. She got in on December 3.

After five days of rest at home with family, Vinessa and Nitro got back on the road. With her this time was her sister, Stephanie. They were heading to Grand Rapids. Also heading for the same destination was a car from Brighton. In that car were four people aching to see Nitro. It was Jim and I and Nitro’s new “parents,” Nichole and Jack.

 

If you are wondering why Nitro wasn’t coming home with us to live, remember back to “Part 1,” where I talked about Nitro not getting along with other dogs – especially other male dogs. We have our older, female, GSD – Sydney – and Bear, who is a young (just past 2 years) male GSD. It was fairly obvious that Nitro would not be happy, long-term, with us.

 

Early on, when we were first talking about bringing Nitro home, our co-worker and friend, Nichole, told us that she would absolutely LOVE to have him. She and her children previously had a rescued German Shepherd named Lady. After Lady went to the Rainbow Bridge, they’d always said that they would love to have another rescue dog, but there had never been the right circumstance for them. On top of that, Nichole was diagnosed with a life-altering medical condition. A puppy would be out of the question, yet her daughter, Tehya, still longed for a dog. They also have the patience and love to share with our Nitro. He’s still got a long way to go before he’s up to optimum weight and health. He has already gained almost 15 pounds under Vinessa’s loving care, but he has another 25 or more to go. He also has some joint issues from sleeping where and when he could find a place on the street. His fortitude has gotten him this far. I know that loving care, time and patience will help take him the rest of the way.

 

I couldn’t tell y’all this part of the story before, because it was quickly determined that Nitro would be going to become a member of Jack, Nichole and Tehya’s family, but it was to be a huge surprise for Tehya. As soon as Nichole said she would love to have Nitro join her family, I knew that THIS was the whole reason for everything. Nitro was meant to be their dog and Tehya’s best friend.

 

After all Nitro had been through, he had persevered, and “miraculously” continued on. He could also be amazing encouragement for Nichole on the more difficult days. Tehya is thirteen – an age when having a non-judgmental best friend is so incredibly important. This was the match that Nitro had waited his whole life for. I walked around with a silly grin from the very moment I knew that this was, indeed, the whole reason everything had happened as it had. It was meant to be.

 

One More Obstacle to Overcome

One More Obstacle to Overcome

The seven of us (Nichole, Jack, Vinessa, Stephanie, Jim, I, and (of COURSE) Nitro) finally met around noon on December 8. After coming all the way across country, it was rather amusing that the last hours were a comedy of errors (the snow had started and we showed up at two different meeting places); but it was finally time for us all to meet. We hadn’t seen Nitro in years. His time on the streets showed on his body, but Vinessa had done a marvelous job of putting 15 pounds on him in the short weeks she’d had him. The most amazing thing, though, was that he is still an amazingly friendly, people-oriented, happy dog. Even after the years where his life had, obviously, been very tough, he was still a wonderful, loving dog.

Our Angel - At Last!

Our Angel – At Last!

I was thrilled to finally get to hug our angel, Vinessa! I am – and will always be – so incredibly grateful to her for all she went through to bring our boy home. We were total strangers, yet she trusted us enough to change all her plans to help us. From here on, I consider her family. I am proud to know someone who is so generous of spirit.

 

Here are several photos of our initial meeting. Lots and lots of happy tears were being shed.

Hugs All Around

Hugs All Around

 

Jim gets His Hug

Jim gets His Hug

Jack gets a Hug, too!

Jack gets a Hug, too!

It’s NITRO!!!!

It's Been a LONG Time, Old Friend!

It’s Been a LONG Time, Old Friend!

I'm SO Happy to See You, Buddy!

I’m SO Happy to See You, Buddy!

During our lengthy text conversations, I found out that Vinessa feels as though she has now found her “calling.” She wants to foster rescue dogs. I think she’ll be phenomenal! When talking about her past when she fostered kittens, she actually said, “I refuse to be a crazy cat lady. Although I wouldn’t mind being a crazy dog lady. LOL!” Imagine how tickled I was when I found THIS shirt advertised on line.

The PERFECT Shirt!

The PERFECT Shirt!

The Back of the PERFECT Shirt

We also bought her this shirt. The reason is obvious.

DSC_0003It was time for farewells. We weren’t saying goodbye because, after the terrifying accident, Vinessa realized that she really wanted to move back to Michigan to be near her family. Her husband, David, travels extensively for work, so he can live anywhere as long as there is an airport nearby. This brings me great joy because that means that I will be able to see her often. It also warms my heart that she and her family will also be able to see Nitro occasionally. They formed quite a bond and I think it will be wonderful for them all.

Forever Friends

Forever Friends

Here’s Nitro, in the back of our car. It wasn’t long before he was sound asleep on his bed.

 

Are We Going Home?

Are We Going Home?

Can We Go Home Soon?

Can We Go Home Soon?

DSC_0082

Rest Well, Old Buddy!

Rest Well, Old Buddy!

After a quick stop at Ed Bock Feeds in Pinckney, Michigan to visit our friends who have been closely following Nitro’s progress, we got home. It was a good time to give Nitro a little time to stretch his legs before the final leg of his journey – travel to his new home. It didn’t appear that he recognized our front yard as the one he had played in. Of course, that’s not all that surprising considering how many years had passed.

Nitro Makes Himself at Home

Nitro Makes Himself at Home

Nichole and Jack took Nitro home – for the first time. He seemed to realize right away that this was where he was supposed to be. God knows, it’s been a long, circuitous, and difficult journey; He made himself right at home jumping up on the couch with Nichole and promptly going to sleep. Little did he know that the very next day he would meet “his” girl.

Tehya had been at a birthday sleepover out of town with her BFF. How we’d all been able to keep the surprise this long is still a mystery. I know it had to be driving her mom and Jack crazy, but the secret was still intact.

Nitro Says, "Are You Taking Me Away?"

Nitro Says, “Are You Taking Me Away?”

Nitro – ever the intrepid traveler – jumped into the car with Nichole and Jack and away they went. I wish I could have seen the look on Tehya’s face. Now, I have to tell you, Tehya knew the story about Nitro. She had been following the Facebook page. She’d also been begging her mom to buy him presents and to come visit him. She was under the assumption that he would be coming home to live with us. She’d already grown a strong attachment to the dog behind the story – long before she’d ever met him.

Tehya Meets Nitro

Tehya Meets Nitro

He' MY Doggie, Now!

He’ MY Doggie, Now!

Her mom tells me that she told Tehya that she had an early Christmas present. She asked what it was and then, just then, saw Nitro. Her eyes got as big as saucers and she started jumping and squealing, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Then all she could do was hug Nitro’s neck.

Fast Friends!

Fast Friends!

Not long after that, Tehya sent Jim and me a very sweet thank you video. If I can get it to attach to this blog post, I will. The emotion in her voice took our breath away. It brought tears springing out of our eyes. It felt so very right for such a lovely young lady to have a dog who needs her so badly.

 

I’m going to attach several photos that Nichole has shared of Nitro with his girl. It’s evident that this was a match made in Heaven.

Nitro, Tehya, and her BFF

Nitro, Tehya, and her BFF

Like They Should Be

Like They Should Be

This last photo was just this morning. Looks to me like they are inseparable. It just looks right.

Sweet Dreams! Don't Want to Get Outta Bed

Sweet Dreams! Don’t Want to Get Outta Bed

I want to take a moment to thank everyone who sent along their prayers and best wishes. This has been an amazing journey for all of us. I hope that this story has brought you some smiles. I think my biggest “take-away” from all of this is the generosity and general good in people.

 

A huge thank you goes out to wonderful old and new friends in the United Kingdom who have been following Nitro’s story on this blog and on his Facebook page. Their generosity to put together a contribution to help offset the costs incurred in bringing Nitro home were a complete and wonderful surprise. To each of you, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!

Nitro with his "Angel" Vinessa

Nitro with his “Angel” Vinessa

Vinessa is an angel – pure and simple. How many people would be willing to drop everything while readying for a trip to go get a complete stranger’s dog out of a shelter? How many would be willing to spend their own money for the fees for the release and then take the dog to their own vet – again, at their own expense – to be sure the dog was healthy enough to travel and know what she would have to do to properly care for him? Sure, we told her we would reimburse her, but there was never a question from her in that regard. She just kept saying that she was thrilled to be able to do this. You can’t tell me that there aren’t angels living among us.

 

Up Next: Catching Up – A Little of This and A Little of That (of course, including a Nitro update)

 

Would you like to subscribe to my blog? (Oh, yes, it’s free!) Hopefully, you have already clicked on the title and are now directly in my blog page. If you have not gotten to the blog page, click on the title of the Posting and it will take you to the blog. From there, click on “Follow.” I hope you will. You will be notified of each new posting. I also hope you will jump in and comment on my posts.

Looking forward to “seeing” you here on Colmel’s Blog!