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.


Our Darling Dolly



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



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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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!

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!)



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.



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.


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!


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!

Dolly’s (Miracle Dog #307) Trials

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!)


Those of y’all who have been following my blog for any time know that we adopted a beautiful, white German Shepherd mix in 2014 from Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue. Dolly is a Miracle Dog (#307). If you haven’t seen a previous post, let me explain who the Miracle German Shepherd Network are.



Dolly in the Shelter


Dolly’s Freedom Ride from the High-Kill Shelter (These photos is how I first saw her)

Miracle was started by a group of people who were incensed to find out how many German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) were being euthanized in California shelters. They made a pledge that they would form a network of caring individuals who would get as many GSDs out of these high-kill shelters as possible and get them to legitimate rescue organizations across the country. Over the years, Miracle has grown to a network of many people who have taken these dogs into their rescues, been foster homes for the dogs, adopted the dogs, and/or been donors. The core group is still in place and responsible for keeping the lines of communication open and doing the “heavy lifting.” The Miracle GSD Network has a Facebook page where updates and happy stories about the Miracle Dog alumni. https://www.facebook.com/groups/310605105708097 . There are always more dogs to get out of high-kill shelters. I, for one, am so grateful that Miracle GSD Network exists. It’s thanks to them that we have our beautiful Dolly.



Dolly with one of Miracle’s Founders

About this time last year, we noticed that Dolly seemed to be dragging her right front foot. Not really dragging behind, more like knuckling under. It was the sound that caught our attention first. We took her to the vet who thought she might just have a stinger from blasting through the dog door. (She was really apt to fly through that like a shot.) He did, however, warn us that we might be looking at Wobbler Syndrome. We started her on a regimen of prednisone to see if it would clear up the problem. While it did help, short-term, the condition continued. We gave her a couple of months to see if perhaps her condition would improve over time. Actually, I think we were in denial and since she didn’t show any signs of pain, whatsoever, we had all kinds of blood tests and labs run.


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Fluffy Dolly – The Day We Brought Her Home!

Finally, when her condition didn’t show any signs of improvement (although it had not gotten any worse), we asked our vet to refer us to a clinic where she could have an MRI. He agreed that this was the best course of action to see exactly what we were dealing with. It was a good decision.

The clinic ran the MRI and did a spinal tap to rule out cancer. Thank Heavens, the spinal tap was negative for cancer, but the MRI showed “chronic intervertebral disc disease between C5 & 6 and C6 & 7.” This was pretty much what was feared. A surgical option was discussed, but there was no clear indication that surgery would improve Dolly’s condition, and there was a small chance it could worsen. We decided to opt for rehab.



Dolly At ARF (Animal Rehabilitation Facility) in Dexter, MI

We are so blessed to know an incredible veterinarian who runs a rehabilitation clinic very close to where we live. Dr. Mary Cardeccia owns Animal Rehabilitation Facility in Dexter, Michigan. I had taken one of our previous dogs to Dr. Mary for acupuncture many years ago. Since that time, she has really increased the size and staff at ARF. They have everything one could ask for when it comes to rehabilitating pets.


We took Dolly in for an initial evaluation. After reviewing the MRI, and the notes from the clinic, we decided to try a course of exercise, massage, cold laser, and hydro therapy for Dolly. After several months of following this course, we are starting to notice some small improvement. Dolly’s flexibility and strength seems to have improved and she runs almost as though there is no problem at all. She has developed some callousing on the top of her right foot (the one that seemed to be affected the most). Her right hind is reacting better than prior to the rehab.


I must say that Dolly has come to really enjoy her therapy sessions. Of course, the fact that she’s completely fussed over doesn’t hurt and they have such terrific treats! I have to really rush to keep up with her when I get her out of the car at ARF because she’s so anxious to go see her friends (and stock up on yummies)!


Dolly in her “Doggles”


We all have to wear goggles (doggles in Dolly’s case) for the cold laser. I think she looks smashing in them. Don’t you?


Doesn’t She Look Smashing?


While most of the exercises are fun for Dolly, the water treadmill is not her favorite – at all! Poor little thing! She really doesn’t like it, but she’s a trooper.


After finishing 8 sessions, we are moving on to just going for cold laser treatments. (No more water treadmill which will make her a pretty happy puppy!) As long as we see no regression, we will stick with the laser and slowly ween her off the prednisone. It’s very comforting, though, to know that the other options are still available should we not see continued improvement.


Our Precious, Sweet Dolly


Through all of this, Dolly has kept her sweet, loving disposition. I’m not sure how; but I guess after having been picked up off the street in California and being put into a high-kill shelter, she knows that – thanks to the Miracle GSD Network – she’s in a home where she is loved and cared for. After all, Isn’t that what we all strive for?


Be sure to check back. I will be posting about Dolly’s progress again in the near future.


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!

Update on Miracle Dog #555 – Guthrie T

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!)

The following story was shared with me by The Miracle GSD Network and The Thulani Program. I’m so very grateful that they keep me up-to-date with their wonderful stories. If you recall, I first wrote about Guthrie T in September of 2015. I feel especially close to Guthrie T in that we were able to donate to help with his surgery and medical care. I hope you will enjoy this update and appreciate the wonderful work being done by The Miracle GSD Network and The Thulani Program in making a huge difference, one dog at a time.

The Story Of Guthrie T.

Guthrie’s rescue story started at the Moreno Valley Shelter in July of 2015. He became Miracle GSD, #555 and brought into the Thulani Program. He came in as a stray with a bloody, ulcerated toe that needed to be removed and biopsied. As it turned out, he had pneumonia as well! Guthrie was treated for his illness, his toe was removed and thankfully, it was not cancerous.

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Guthrie in the Shelter (Before rescue by the Miracle GSD Network)

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Guthrie T Knows He’s Now Safe!

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Guthrie T looks sad, but his medical care had been accomplished

From there he went to his foster home in early September. During his stay with his foster humans, they discovered that Guthrie had had a pretty rough past. He would run away when his food bowl was given to him. He would lower his head and ears when you reached to pet him. It was very clear that he had fallen victim to some sort of abuse in his past. After about a month with his fosters, he started opening up, trusting, and even came looking for love with smiles and his tail wagging! Once he reached this point, it was time for Adoption Days and a search for his perfect retirement home.

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Guthrie T at his Foster Home

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Guthrie T in September!

It took a little while to find his perfect match, but in late December she entered his life. Here are some of her updates:

“All day, when let out, Guthrie would stand at the door and look in but wouldn’t come in if he saw me.

I finally stood by the bedroom sliding door and when he walked in the family room I ran outside, shoeless as to not make noise, and shut the family room sliding glass door.

Just now I let him out to use the bathroom. Got busy and did not leave the door open. After only 10 minutes I heard this howling. It was Guthrie. Opened the door and he came in…. too cute.” 12/30/15

“He has opened up into the amazing dog he was meant to be.

Now sleeping at my bedside. He wants to get on the bed but her royal highness has not allowed this.

He wakes me up to go to the bathroom and runs back in the house as soon as he is finished.” 1/10/16

“The new thing this week is he will come in the house when new people are over and stay near me. He is friendly enough to them in terms not growling but I do not let them pet him yet. We all wonder if he comes inside to protect me?

When they leave he goes back outside.

He won’t come in the garage to sleep but he does go in for his meals and water. Because of his PTSD I do want to get a house for him and put it in a corner of the yard.

When it is dark he does come in to sleep.

He goes to the door for potty and wines a little if I’m sleeping. Smart boy.

Love to see him running to me with his happy smiling face when I come home after even a short absence.

When I tell him he is safe and loved he seems to smile. “ 1/24/16

“loving this boy..

– he is getting in the car

– he went to the vet and had his ears and teeth cleaned .. they said he was a sweet boy

– calmly comes in the house now and even if the door is open stays inside most of the day

– sleeps all over the house, not just in corners

– loves walks

– loves company … or stays near me to protect me?” 2/16/16

“Guthrie no longer has nightmares that cause him to bolt up, growl and cry.

He does not like to stay outside, but will if needed.

New transition –

Guthrie had started crying to get up in the bed a month ago but I didn’t encourage him because Star was so territorial.

One day I walked in the bedroom and he was lying in the middle of the bed as if this is where he was meant to be.

Eventually one day he got up on the bed while I was reading. He was so emotionally overwhelmed he had a panic attack and ran outside to his ‘safe space’.

He now knows to only climb in bed when Star is not in sight and loves to cuddle – well, demands it!

I remember a trainer telling me “why did you take this dog” .. “love will not be enough to help him”.

So happy I trusted my connection and relationship with Guthrie over that advice.” 4/7/16

Looks like Guthrie is finally living his much deserved happily ever after!! Thank you Jeanette (adopter mom) !!

Guthrie T More

Guthrie T Looking Loved and Happy

If you want to learn more about adopting a wonderful dog like Guthrie T, please contact Bob at thulanidogs@gsrnc.org. The Thulani Program has several stipulations for adoption which you can read about on their website: http://thulanidogs.org/

Remember, I really love to hear your comments. Just click on the “Comments” 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!

New Year – New Challenges

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!)


Those of you who have hung in with me over the years know that I usually try to interject some humor into my posts. This one is going to be just a little different. I want to talk, very seriously, about rescue.

Chief Guin Liesel

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

As most of you know, we have been very involved with both canine and equine rescues over the past years. This post is all about dogs.

Blizzard Stairs

Blizzard, left tied to a tree without food or water when his “humans” skipped out on their rent.

All of our dogs (who I refer to as my “furkids”) have come through rescues. We didn’t start out to go that route (our initial plan was to buy a puppy). Rather than deal in negativity, I want to tell you that we’re so very glad, now, that we have adopted all our “kids” through rescues.


Cheyenne, the one who started it all!

If you haven’t been with me for the long haul, let me tell you that a dear friend of mine was an officer with a rescue in Georgia when we lived there. She introduced the idea of adoption to me as a logical alternative to purchasing a puppy, as she knew that we both work and that we would, necessarily, be away from home for longer hours than was good for a puppy. She could not have been more correct. I’ve never once regretted adopting an adult (or mostly-adult) dog.


Let me tell you a few of the great benefits of adoption.


  1. Rescue dogs are almost always past the “puppy” stage. “Puppy stage?” you ask. Yes, this is one of the first reasons we decided against buying a puppy. Puppies need to be raised very carefully. They need lots more constant attention than many feel able to give. Puppies need to be taught where they need to do their “business” and they need constant supervision and socialization to help them achieve their potential.


  1. Rescue dogs have (most often) lived with foster families who have learned the talents (and foibles) of each dog. They have learned how well housebroken (or not) a dog is. They’ve learned how each foster gets along with other dogs, often with children of differing ages, and frequently with cats. When you adopt from a rescue, you know – for the most part – who you are bringing into your family.


  1. Rescue dogs are already spayed/neutered. These are not inexpensive operations. For the girls, it’s a bit harder; but, for them all, it’s surgery. The rescues have already taken care of the medical bills associated with making sure your new “kid” won’t be having “kids” of his/her own. What this world does NOT need are more unplanned pups!


  1. Rescue dogs already are current on inoculations, heartworm preventative, etc. Two of our dogs had been heartworm positive prior to reaching rescue. The rescue went to all the expense and spent all the time required (extensive hands-on care to make sure the dog doesn’t become too active while on the remedy) to cure them before they allowed them to be adopted.


  1. Rescue dogs are (again, for the most part) already microchipped. If you wonder whether or not this is a necessity, please go back and read my posts about Nitro – or read “Nitro’s Journey Home” page on Facebook. Microchipping can be the difference between losing your beloved dog forever and having him/her returned to you.

Nitro saying, “Why, YES, it IS Snow! I think I’m going HOME!”

  1. Rescue dogs often have had at least rudimentary training. Once again, because they’ve been in a foster situation or spending lots of quality time with those involved with the rescue, most rescue dogs have, at least, some knowledge of how to act on leash. Many know other commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” (“Stay” and “come” are extremely important for them to know whether they know it before or you teach them after they join your family.) Many have learned other fun tricks, as well.
Bears Obedience Grad Bear

Our Boy, Bear, The Graduate from Obedience Class

  1. Rescue dogs have known rejection. They appreciate when they are brought into a loving home. They show their love (sometimes it might take a while to earn their trust, but they will learn) in more ways than you can ever imagine. A dog’s love – once earned – is unconditional. They will give every fiber of their beings to their family. There are so many stories about how dogs have saved their humans’ lives or protected them from harm. Think of the German Shepherd Dog in Alaska who got the attention of the State Trooper and forced him to follow him to his family’s burning home. Then there are also stories of rescued dogs alerting their families to carbon monoxide, fires, a child having a seizure, and so on.

Our Much-loved Miracle (#307) Dog, Dolly! (Read her story in an earlier post)

  1. Rescuing a dog actually rescues three. The dog you bring into your family is one. The one who comes out of a possible high-kill shelter into the rescue is number two; and the dog that gets picked up off the dangerous streets is the third.
Syd & Dadcrp

Our beloved Sydney with Dad. This was the day we brought her home!

I want to add that adopting senior dogs is one of the most rewarding things we’ve ever done. We have adopted two senior females over the years. By senior, I mean over age 7 (in the case of German Shepherd Dogs – our breed of choice). Both girls had originally had loving homes, but human circumstances had changed their lives. One was caught up in a divisive divorce and, consequently, neglected by the one party she had to stay with. The other’s humans had developed health issues which negated their ability to properly care for their dogs.


Our current senior, Cinder! (You can read her story in an earlier post!)

If you’ve read my recent stories about the Miracle GSD Network and, especially, The Thulani Program, you’ve seen what wonderful older dogs are out there. Granted, adopting a senior is not for everyone. It naturally follows that these dogs will not be with you for a very long time, but the time that you give them will often be the best of their lives. Giving care and love to an older dog comes back 100-fold.

Guthrie T 1

Guthrie in the Shelter (Before rescue by the Miracle GSD Network)

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Guthrie T’s a Happy, HEALTHY boy  with the Thulani Program Now!

Let me finish this post with the one truism that encompasses everything I’ve talked about. I’ve said it, easily, 100 times. When it comes right down to it, I didn’t rescue my dogs – my dogs rescued me. They can do the same for you. You’ll see what I mean.



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!


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!)

After a long absence, I’m back. Work can put a real crimp on blogging, but I love my job and the people I work with, so I try to find a balance. In the transportation industry, things get really crazy for several months before Christmas, so work necessarily had to jump to the fore. I hope that I’m finally going to be able to get my blog rolling along again with new posts and updates to old stories. I hope you will hang in with me and follow along.
I wrote about losing our sweet Sydney last August. What I haven’t written about is the message we got only a few weeks after she went to the Rainbow Bridge. Kristin Bright from Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue got in touch with me to tell me about a wonderful, older girl that had come to be with their rescue.

Cinder (the day she arrived at SWMI Rescue)

Cinder (the day she arrived at SWMI Rescue)


Cinder - Skin and Bone (Day She Arrived at Rescue)

Cinder – Skin and Bone (Day She Arrived at Rescue)

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This gal had come in with another dog – a male – from an owner who had some severe medical issues and was going to have to go into assisted living. Neither of his dogs could go with him. It was obvious from the photos, that “Sinder” had not had proper care for some time. She was painfully thin, had some severe flea dermatitis, had hard callouses on her legs, had virtually no fur on her tail, and her toenails were incredibly (grotesquely) long. I don’t believe it was from lack of concern, rather lack of ability to do anything.

Grotesquely Long Nails (Photo taken day she arrived at Rescue)

Grotesquely Long Nails (Photo taken day she arrived at Rescue)

Kristin told us that she immediately thought of us as we had experience rescuing older dogs. She knew we were missing our Sidney and had room in our home and hearts for another dog. In case you’re relatively new to my blog, we had adopted eight previous German Shepherds – including Sydney – and fostered two others. Kristin told us that this girl was a real sweetheart and needed a loving home to help her bloom and get back in shape.

Beauty and Nobility Shone Through

Beauty and Nobility Shone Through

Maybe it was the nobility in her lovely face. Maybe it was the obvious need for a furever home. Maybe it was because we know how hard it is to place a dark-colored dog – especially an older one. Maybe it was just that both Jim and I hate the idea of a sweet, old dog not being with a loving family, but we immediately told Kristin that we would bring Bear and Dolly for a visit. If all went smoothly, we would adopt Sinder.

Despite All the Ills, Beauty and Sweetness Shown Through

Despite All the Ills, Beauty and Sweetness Shone Through

Before we could visit, Kristin had Sinder spayed. (Yes, we’re pretty sure she had been used for breeding.) At that time, while she was under, the vet cut and cauterized her nails. They were so long and misshapen that they had to be done under anesthesia. She had several baths with medicine for her skin and coat. She was on her way back to health.

The Day We Met & Brought Cinder Home

The Day We Met & Brought Cinder Home

As is obvious, the visit went very well. Dolly is an in-your-face kind of girl (although she’s finally learning to relax a little). She’s like one of those women who get right up in your face and talk very loud. She’s not at all malicious, she just grew up on the streets and had no manners. Even that didn’t faze good, old Sinder. (You’ve probably noticed that there are two spellings of her name. She was turned over to the rescue as “Sinder.” We changed the spelling to “Cinder” to match her coloration.)

Silly, happy girl. Cinder VERY much a part of the family

Silly, happy girl. Cinder VERY much a part of the family

Now Cinder is blossoming (Cinderella?). She gained the badly-needed weight. Her coat is shiny and full. Her tail looks like it should, and her dermatitis is long gone. She’s a happy, quirky dog. I say quirky because she’s of the opinion that every toy that comes into the house belongs to her. It’s rather comic, and it’s a good thing both of the other kids are easy-going. I wonder if she ever had a toy prior to coming to live with us. She’s also not good with small dogs or cats. That doesn’t matter at all to us as we don’t have either. As it turns out, Kristin knew we would be a perfect fit. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Cinder with Her Lovely Coat and Tail

Cinder with Her Lovely Coat and Tail


Such a Pretty, Sweet Girl!

Such a Pretty, Sweet Girl!

Sweet Cinder (ella?)

Sweet Cinder (ella?)

Below is the link to the Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue. Please cut and paste it into your browser. 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.



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

Hello Dolly

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!)


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