Hello Dolly

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“Hello Dolly,……well, hello, Dolly

It’s so nice to have you [back] where you belong”

It’s high time to introduce our Dolly!


Dolly is a California girl who was picked up as a stray by animal control. According to someone who saw them pick her up, she had been fed by an entire neighborhood, but no one had actually adopted her. Sadly, the shelters in California are way past capacity, and dogs and cats that are picked up rarely last past 4 days. By law, they have to keep an animal 3 days for an owner to look for them. If no owner in 3 days, the animals can possibly last for another day or two in case they are adopted. Then, well… you know what happens then.
Luckily, the German Shepherd Dog community has reached out and there are several groups who routinely take dogs from California (and other state) shelters and send them to rescues around the country. Dolly, thank God, was one of the lucky ones who got rescued and sent to Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue.

The Face That Popped Up on Facebook

The Face That Popped Up on Facebook

I just happened to be reading posts on Facebook one evening in March when up popped Dolly’s photo. I fell in love instantly! Jim had always said he’d love to have a female, white German Shepherd Dog. We’d had so much fun with our boys – Blizzard and Chief – that we thought it would be fun to have another. Here was an adorable face looking out at me and I knew she had to come live with us.  (I want to thank Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue for taking such great photos! These are photos that I took of the computer screen with my phone. Isn’t technology amazing?)

Just LOOK at That Face!

Just LOOK at That Face! (Seen here with Kristin Bright of SWMGS Rescue)

Once I showed her photo to Jim, it was a done deal – in our minds. Now, we just had to convince the rescue that we were the home for Dolly. I must say that SMGSR has a rigorous program in determining who is a good fit for their dogs. I was very happy to see this as it helps them to determine which humans are a good for their dogs; but it also helps the humans determine if the dog is a good fit for them. The first part is a questionnaire which I immediately filled out.

Dolly With A SWMGS Rescue Playmate

Dolly With A SWMGS Rescue Playmate

I guess I probably was something of a pest, because I couldn’t just wait the 10 days they say – up front – it will minimally take to go over the questionnaires. I called and left a message that I had filled out the questionnaire and that I wanted to reiterate that we are experienced with German Shepherd Dog rescues. At that point, we had adopted 7 German Shepherd Dogs since 1995. I wanted to be sure they knew that we really wanted to meet and hopefully adopt Dolly.

Sweet Girl Playing at SWMGSD Rescue

Sweet Girl Playing at SWMGS Rescue

Did I stop and wait there? Do you know me? Of course I didn’t. I called again just as the 10 day period ended and left another message about how much we wanted to bring Dolly into our family. At that point, I got a call back telling me that the director of the rescue was out of town, but that they could do the required telephone interview prior to that. I was overjoyed. We set up a time for that afternoon to complete the phone interview. I guess we must have passed muster with the questionnaire, vet interview, and telephone interview because I heard back from the director as soon as she got back into town. Kristin (who I now call a miracle worker because of all she is able to do with so little in terms of financing and also human help) called and asked if we’d like to bring our current “kids” Bear and Sydney to meet Dolly the next weekend to see how they meshed.

Just LOOK at that Precious Little Dog!

Just LOOK at that Precious Little Dog!

I was certain that Bear would be welcoming and friendly, but our Sydney (God rest her sweet soul) was an alpha female. I wasn’t so certain that she would appreciate a much younger, also female family member. The travel to the rescue (which is near Battle Creek, Michigan) went well. Sydney was having a good day and didn’t appear to be in any pain, so the ride was uneventful. Bear and Syd couldn’t figure out, though, why there was a crate in the back of the car.
While we walked Syd and Bear around, the rescue got Dolly brushed and ready for her public. As soon as Kristin brought her out, I was determined that I wasn’t leaving without her. She was the absolute cutest, fluffiest, little (mostly) German Shepherd Dog I’d ever seen. Also, she was a wiggling mass of affection. It did take some work getting Sydney not to be put off by Dolly’s exuberance; but Dolly seemed to instinctively know not to push Syd’s alpha dog buttons.
After an extended “getting to know you” walk around with Bear and Sydney and with only a minimum of posturing, Dolly officially became part of the family. Final paperwork was signed and we loaded our new girl into the crate. The other two spent most of the ride home sniffing the crate and trying to figure out exactly who this new dog was and where she fit in the scheme of things.


(The following photos – for better or worse – are mine… WELL except for a few taken by the remarkable Paula TenBrink of Pawla’s Pantry (purveyor of the best puppy treats in the world).

Yep, She's Home

Yep, She’s Home


You Talking About Me?

You Talking About Me?

I must tell you that our Dolly has been a fabulous addition to our family. She seemed to immediately comprehend that Sydney was the “in charge” dog in the house. Right up until Sydney’s last days, Dolly was exceedingly sweet to her. The largest worry I’d had – that Sydney and Dolly wouldn’t like each other – never came to fruition. If anything, Syd looked after Dolly and vice versa. I’m so grateful that we didn’t let that concern dissuade us.

Dolly Meets Paula of Pawla's Pantry (fabulous dog treats) at the Howell Farmers' Market

Dolly Meets Paula of Pawla’s Pantry (fabulous dog treats) at the Howell Farmers’ Market


Yes, The Treat Booth – That’s Where I’ll Settle

Did Someone Say Cookie?

Did Someone Say Cookie?

Yes! I'm SURE I Heard "Cookie!"

Yes! I’m SURE I Heard “Cookie!” Pay No Attention to the Funny Dog with No Tail!

Since bringing Dolly home to the family, we had her DNA run. In a few of the photos you can tell that her body looks like a typical German Shepherd Dog, but her legs are really short, her paws are quite large and fluffy on the bottom, and her head and ears look like perhaps another breed.  Something you can’t see from photos is the way she walks. She sashays! It’s almost like she’s hinged in the middle.  We decided we just really wanted to know what parentage made for such a cute, yet incongruous, dog. Turns out she’s a German Shepherd (White Swiss Shepherd), German Shepherd Dog, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Keeshond mix (along with possible Chinook, Irish Setter, and/or Alaskan Malamute).



Yes, Dolly does have some work to do. She’s wonderful with people – especially once she gets to know them. She’s vocal and loud with other dogs (rather like one of those annoying people who come right up into your face to talk to you – loudly), but she’s not really aggressive. Considering her past and life on the streets, it’s not at all surprising. We are working on her socialization skills and I’m certain that her sweet personality will dominate and allow her to be more comfortable around other dogs and in unusual situations. She’s an adorable work-in-progress that we’ll take great joy in helping along that path.

Are You Done With the Camera YET?

Are You Done With the Camera YET?

Spoiled? Who ME?

Spoiled? Who ME?

I Have NO Idea What  "Spoiled" Means, but If This Is It, I'm Fine With It

I Have NO Idea What “Spoiled” Means, but If This Is It, I’m Fine With It

Below is the link to the Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue. Kristin does amazing things with very short funding and assistance. If you are in Michigan or close state and are considering adopting a new family member, you might want to see who is available. If you are considering making a financial donation to a tax-deductible charity, you might want to consider SWMGS Rescue.



Up Next: Michigan Maple – Syrup That Is


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Farmers’ Markets (Howell)

I previously wrote, farmers’ markets are a way of life in our part of Michigan. Most run from May through the beginning of October. There are a few (e.g., Ann Arbor) that have winter markets, but those will be the subject of a later blog (or two).


Livingston Cty Court House

 Where the Ann Arbor market is covered and in a dedicated area, the Howell Farmers’ market (held on Sundays) is held on the streets around the courthouse (Howell is the county-seat for Livingston County, MI).

Dog-friendly! LOVE IT!

The Howell farmers’ market is much smaller than the Brighton or the Ann Arbor markets – which can be a good thing. It’s a very laid back, family- and pet-friendly venue.

There are wonderful stands with people selling eggs from their own free-range chickens and excellent baked goods (Czech bakery and Polish bakery – YUMMMM)! You can find home-made soaps, sauces, maple syrup and other maple products. The variety is surprising considering the smaller size of the market.

Flower Sellers

Due to our late spring (cold weather and very wet conditions into June), the vegetables haven’t really started to mature. The early season crops (garlic, radishes, onions, early beans, blueberries, raspberries, some cherries) are starting to show up. The flower-sellers are having a good year with lots of potted plants starting to be at their best now.

Later in the summer (within the next three or four weeks), there will be wonderful ‘maters, peaches, apples, sweet corn, and a great variety of other veggies and fruit. (I’ll discuss Michigan produce versus that from other states in a later blog. You may be surprised – I was!)

The craftspeople are also on hand. On any given Sunday,  you can find beautiful, hand-turned wooden bowls, wooden toys, hand-crafted jewelry, and many different varieties of clothing. There is usually a gentleman who sharpens knives. Frequently, there are people selling interesting yard-art.

Jim & Friend

You just never know what you’ll see. It’s so much fun! The people-watching is sometimes the best part! Just take a look at the photo. That’s Jim with a Pink Cockatoo (aka Major Mitchell’s/ Leadbeater’s). The owner was walking down the street with the bird on his arm. Being bird-lovers, we naturally stopped to see the bird. Recognizing fans, the gentleman just stuck the bird on Jim’s arm. Must say the bird loves to show off. Just look at the raised crest and wings!

This is why I enjoy the Howell market so much! It’s so relaxed and there’s always something new to enjoy. The sellers are all neighbors and they seem to be enjoying themselves as much as the rest of us. It’s like a friendly, neighborly get-together where you can, incidentally, buy some really good stuff!




Up Next: When the Blues are a GOOD thing

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Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market

Farmers’ markets are a way of life in our part of Michigan. It seems every town, no matter the size, has a market day at least once a week from Memorial Day until Labor Day. This is a marvelous way for local farmers to sell their produce to their neighbors. It’s also a wonderful way for us all to learn a little more about what grows well in our area and to get to know each other. In some cases, people are welcome to bring their dogs (well-behaved ones on leashes). It can be a real treat to watch our very friendly, white German Shepherd Dog (Chief) reacting to the squeals of delight and lavish attention from little children.

We’ve lived in the Brighton/Ann Arbor area for almost seven years and finally got the opportunity to go to the Ann Arbor farmers’ market. I had heard that Ann Arbor’s farmers’ market was “the best” in the area. We finally got an opportunity to check it out.

My initial impression was that there were a great number of sellers there. I was pleasantly surprised that there was a covering over the entire market. The flip side of that, though, can make it difficult to maneuver. I worried for those who had children in strollers. It also made getting to the vendors difficult. Twice, I was wanting to purchase cherries only to have someone slide in ahead of me and purchase the entire supply. (In my best ‘Soup Nazi’ voice)…no cherry pie for us.

The variety of produce and merchandise is good. It’s early in the season for Michigan, so most of the the vegetables hadn’t come in well yet. However, there were lots of flower vendors, craftspeople, bakers, and cheese/meat purveyors. One of the highlights was the pickle vendor! He had set up an awning right outside the main portion of the market, and was selling the famous (even made it onto the Food Network) McClure’s Pickles. Let me tell you something about those pickles – they’re AMAZING! He had two varieties there and we chose the crisp dills. The hot and spicy pickles were also excellent, but I figured that they would go with fewer things.

Other stand-out vendors included the maple products (syrup, candy, sugar) from Mason, Michigan, Zingermann’s cheeses, and a lady from Milan, Michigan who baked some outstanding doughnuts and fritters.

We will definitely go back to the Ann Arbor farmers’ market, but I doubt we’d make it our “regular” stop. Too much traffic, paying to park, and awfully crowded. It’s definitely worth all of the previous to make a special occasion, but for the beans and ‘maters, I think I’ll stick to the smaller, more laid-back markets of Brighton or Howell. (And, yes, I’ll be talking about both of them, soon!)