Heartbreak Times Two

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

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Our Darling Dolly

Dolly

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

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Dolly

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

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

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Dolly – The Face I Couldn’t Resist

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

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Dolly’s Intake Photo

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

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Dolly Pappas – Day One!

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

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Cinder

 

Cinder

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Cinder at Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue

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

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Cinder’s Poor Feet on Intake at SWMGSR

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

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Bringing Cinder Home

Changes and Challenges

Cinder & Dolly

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

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

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Dolly in Doggles for Cold Laser Treatments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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To Honor Tito – Miracle Dog #328

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!)

This is a post directly from the Miracle GSD Network. They’ve graciously allowed me to post it, along with photos. Several people over the past couple of years have asked me who or what the Miracle GSD Network is. It’s definitely WHO. 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 (Miracle Dog #307).

Here is a tribute to one Miracle Dog – Tito #328

Few dogs have tugged at our hearts more than Tito, with his wonky head and his sweet demeanor. We knew the moment we saw him back in March 2014 at the Downey Shelter in CA that we needed to help him. Luckily, the wonderful Thulani program for seniors and hospice dogs saw the same thing we did in him, and stepped up to help, and Tito became Miracle Dog #328. We are sad to report that our Tito went to the bridge about a month ago. He had a GREAT end of life with his adopter Morris who took fantastic care of him. Morris sent us this wonderful Tribute, so we could all get a glimpse at Tito’s life for the past 2 years. RUN FREE AT THE BRIDGE SWEET TITO!

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A Tribute to Tito

2002 – March 18, 2016

He didn’t look exactly the way you’d expect a Shepherd to look, but he had a way about him. He was rescued from the L.A. County Animal Shelter in Downey, and I identified with him right away. Having spent most of my life in that general area, I knew there were some rough areas in that vicinity. He had been an “owner surrender” because they thought he had had a stroke and wanted him to be PTS. He actually was suffering from the benign condition known as “Old Dog Vestibular”… which NEVER occurred again! I often wondered what his life was like before the Thulani program.

He had a way about him. He wanted to be friends right away, and we were, from the beginning. He wanted to fit in with the rest of the pack: another male GSD, a male Chihuahua, and a two-legged couple, and he did, with ease, by watching the other dogs and learning the pack’s routine, expectations and the tricks they knew.

Early on, we battled with a few of his health issues, especially stubborn ear and urinary tract infections. In due course they were resolved, but in the interim he was confined to the laundry room to minimize the impact of “accidents”. Before too long he “promoted” himself, quietly and without adieu, out of the laundry room and into the kitchen. By then, his first infection had resolved, and we said he had promoted himself to Sergeant. Then there was a relapse, and another round of antibiotics, and, at last, a complete cure – he promoted himself into the dining room. Now, we said he had promoted himself to Captain.

When the pack came into the house in the evening from their day outside, and the door to the house was opened to him, he was oh sooo happy to come inside. So, he picked-up an alias of “Happy”. I wondered what his life had been like before Thulani… was he ever allowed inside? Scars on his hind feet and elbows, where fur refused to grow, suggested he might have spent many, many days lying on a concrete slab somewhere.

People often commented on how gentle and sweet he was – he was – all 90 pounds of him! He just wanted to fit-in and be with the pack. He had a way about him. He was “Happy” during our two years with him, enjoying camping trips with the pack, and especially his morning constitutional walks, sniffing here, peeing there, lagging behind but enjoying every foot of the 1/2 mile walk.

In his last 4 weeks, he developed a paralysis of his hind quarters. It had been gradually coming on for several months, showing its face as a dragging of the left leg, but in that last 4 weeks, it developed into a full paralysis, including a fatal inability to urinate – if you don’t urinate, you don’t live. He never complained – he was a trooper!

Probably his favorite time of the day was when the pack was gathered close together to watch TV at night. My legs would reach-out, and my feet nudged old “T”. His head would pop-up, and he would look at me to say “what’s up Dad?”, then flop back down to luxuriate in the comfort of his bed! He had a way about him…

[Our sincere thanks to Miracle GSD Network and Thulani for bringing Tito to us!]

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!

Remembering 9/11

This post was first published in 2011 – the tenth anniversary of the dreaded day. Since then, I have made some changes. We’ve come a long way. Sadly, we’re all a little less trusting and a whole lot more wary. Is this a good thing? Sadly, whether it is or it isn’t, it’s a necessity in today’s world.

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!)

I’m sure there isn’t a soul reading this who doesn’t remember exactly where they were and what they were doing September 11, 2001 when the news came out about the cowardly, terrorist attacks against us all.

I was still living in the Atlanta metro area. I was working in “corporate America” and was just pulling into the parking garage at work. I rushed into the office and everyone was buzzing. We were all completely freaked out. Our office manager was running between our four floors trying to keep everyone calm. Senior management finally decided that our proximity to the Centers for Disease Control was too large a risk, so they sent us all home. No one knew when, if, or where another attack would be.

However, there was a whole lot of good that day (and many succeeding days) to remember. I remember people displaying the American flag everywhere. People actually looked out for one-another. There was a sense of great community and shared compassion. I read a great article on Fox News’ website. I’d like to share it with you. I hope when you click this link you will be able to open it. If not, please cut and paste it in your browser. It’s wonderful! I couldn’t say it any better.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/09/06/blind-man-his-guide-dog-and-lessons-learned-on-11/

Hero Dog - Roselle

Hero Dog – Roselle

Another story about Roselle (the dog who saved her owner) is here. By the way, she was voted the “hero dog” by the public voting in the American Humane Society site.

http://www.today.com/id/44615382/ns/today-today_pets/t/dog-who-saved-owner-named-american-hero-dog/#.VBDgFmrD_VI

One vivid memory I have of the good will everyone had toward each other was how differently people drove that day. Instead of people driving like maniacs (which, trust me, is the norm in Atlanta) everyone was very careful and indulgent of each other. There was no general panic, just a sense that we were all in a very difficult boat and we needed to row together to accomplish anything. That spirit of cooperation seemed to last for many, many days after the initial attack.

Do you have memories to share of the spirit of togetherness and shared experience on 9/11 or thereafter? I’d love to hear about it. I’m sure we all would prefer to remember the good that came about from the attacks, rather than the fear and disgust.

Never Forget

March 17, 2015 – Farewell Ogygian

In less than 2 weeks the world has lost two of the greatest thoroughbreds of our times. I first met Ogygian when he went to stud in Kentucky at Claiborne Farm. It doesn’t seem possible that so much time has passed. He lived to be a few days shy of 32 years old. As I said in my response to Old Friends, “He was made by Damascus and embodied all the strength and beauty of the steel of the same name. Ogygian, you lived up to your name and your birthright. God graced us with your presence for 32 years. His loan was called and we must say farewell. Never good-bye.”

Old Friends Blog

Ogygian. March 17, 1983 - March 14, 2015 Ogygian. March 17, 1983 – March 14, 2015

I can’t do this. Can’t capture such a great spirit in mere words. Or describe the emptiness of his empty paddock. I just want to say that in his last hours he was with people he knew and trusted, on a mild night under a starry sky. He ended his life peacefully. We caught the colic symptoms early, Dr. Waldridge got there soon with pain relief and gave heroically of his efforts and expertise. Everything that could be humanely done to try and save Ogygian was done, and Ogygian was strong and loving through it all. My gratitude to Michael is beyond bounds. He made the right decision not to opt for radical hospital treatment that had little chance of working, to let Ogygian go peacefully in the paddock that had been his kingdom for so many years. To make all the…

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March 4, 2015 – Farewell Creator!

Creator was so amazing. Words cannot express the depth of his character. I am sharing Old Friends’ (bless you, Beth) obituary as the photos, story, and links need to be shared. I have added a few of my own photos of Creator. Run free, beautiful boy! I’m sure that Sunshine was waiting for you to show you to the evergreen pastures.

Creator in August 2013

Creator in August 2013

Creator  Summer 2013

Creator
Summer 2013

The Great Creator Old Friends - August 2013

The Great Creator
Old Friends – August 2013

Old Friends Blog

For three days I’ve waited for the words for a fitting tribute to Creator. They haven’t come. No words can begin to describe him, or the loss of him.

Creator, Feb. 2010, by Laura Battles. Creator, Feb. 2010, by Laura Battles.

Few who saw Creator at Old Friends saw him race, but in the summer of 1990 he was the best horse running in Europe, a superlative athlete worthy of his great lineage: Nasrullah, Never Bend, Mill Reef. He was already a character. Later, one of his grooms in trainer André Fabre’s barn would tell Michael how they called Creator “Houdini” because no matter how meticulously they’d fasten on his blanket, the next time they checked on him they’d find the blanket on the stall floor. Creator’s easy victory over In the Wings in the Prix Ganay was especially celebrated. To this day, Creator is remembered in Great Britain. Here is his obituary in England’s Racing…

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Sydney

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!)

Sydney

Sydney

Before I get started, let me issue a tissue alert. This is not a happy post. As a matter of fact, I’ll probably cry all over my keyboard while I write this.

Sydney

Sydney

I’m sharing this story because so many have to make the same decision that Jim and I had to make. It’s the hardest decision we humans ever have to make when it comes to our beloved “furkids.” We don’t come by this decision easily, and it’s one that we question over and over again. We do know, however, that when we finally do determine that euthanasia is the best and kindest answer for our pets, it’s been done advisedly and with the best interest of our family member in mind and heart.

Sydney

Sydney

Sydney came to us by an unusual route – even for people who had adopted five previous “rescue” dogs. In August of 2010, our beautiful Liesel went to the Rainbow Bridge. She had lymphoma, and there was no hope for her. She’d become terribly sick and we just had to let her go. She and Jim had formed a very special bond. Anyone who has ever had pets in the family has probably had one who stood out as a “soul dog (or whatever species).” Liesel was Jim’s. I wrote an earlier post about Liesel leaving us. If you’re interested, it’s available in my back posts.

Sydney Was a Beauty!

Sydney Was a Beauty!

After Liesel left us, Jim was in a very sad, dark place. Our friends just happened to see an advertisement in the classified portion of their newspaper only about a month afterwards. People were looking for a home for their 7-year-old, female German Shepherd Dog. They called us to let us know, but realized that we might not be ready for another dog just yet. One of our remaining two, Guinevere, was quite ill with megaesophagus – but that’s another story. They did want to let us know, “just in case…”

Sydney LOVED Snow

Sydney LOVED Snow

Surprisingly, Jim said he wanted to go take a look and meet the dog. I called and made arrangements. This girl who needed a home was Sydney. The family had gotten her as a puppy, but the family dynamic had changed due to divorce. Sydney had been the husband’s dog. He had moved to a location where he couldn’t bring Sydney, and the ex-wife didn’t want her. It was either find a new home – and soon – or she would have been euthanized.

Syd & Dad (The Day We Brought Her Home)

Syd & Dad
(The Day We Brought Her Home)

You may have read this whole story in an earlier post, but I wanted to catch new readers up to speed on how Sydney came into our lives. It was very obvious – right from the start – that Sydney was to become a “daddy’s girl.” At first she basically tolerated me (although considering the lack of care she’d received from the previous female in her life, that wasn’t surprising). Thankfully, in the last year of her life, she came to love me, too. I’d never be as special to her as Jim, but she realized that I loved her and she let me into her heart, too.

Syd Loved Just Chillin' in the Snow

Syd Loved Just Chillin’ in the Snow

We had say goodbye to Sydney on July 7. Over the past year-and-a half, it had become increasingly difficult for her to walk on her hind end. We had her tested for Degenerative Myelopathy (a common affliction that German Shepherd Dogs are susceptible to). The good news wasn’t DM, the bad news was that we couldn’t pinpoint what was causing the difficulty. X-rays indicated some extensive arthritis in her back, so we surmise that this was the main problem she was encountering. We managed to prolong her ability to get around by using prednisone, but that wasn’t a cure.

Sydney in Her Pool (July 4, 2014)

Sydney in Her Pool
(July 4, 2014)

Ultimately, time, age, and the arthritis took such a toll that we had to let her go. On July 4, we managed to get Sydney downstairs one more time to go “swimming.” Sydney always loved her pool. She would allow Bear in it, but it was unequivocally her pool. I knew time was short, so I snapped these photos. She was so happy for one last “swim.”

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Sydney’s Last Swim (July 4, 2014)

Now, it’s time to heal. Everyone heals from the loss of a loved one differently. You may be surprised at how we choose to do that. You can read more about that in upcoming blogs. Until then, cherish those loved ones around you – be it human, canine, feline, equine or other. There are no promises of tomorrow.

 

Up Next: Hello Dolly!

 

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

Remembering 9-11

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!)

I’m sure there isn’t a soul reading this who doesn’t remember exactly where they were and what they were doing September 11, 2001 when the news came out about the cowardly, terrorist attacks against us all. There will be television programs, newspaper, and magazine articles (ad nauseum) to remind us all of the horrors of that day. We will be inundated, once again, with those images and harrowing stories of disaster.

However, there was a whole lot of good that day (and many succeeding days) to remember. I remember people displaying the American flag everywhere. People actually looked out for one-another. There was a sense of great community and shared compassion. I read a great article on Fox News’ website. I’d like to share it with you. I hope when you click this link you will be able to open it. If not, please cut and paste it in your browser. It’s wonderful! I couldn’t say it any better.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/09/06/blind-man-his-guide-dog-and-lessons-learned-on-11/

One vivid memory I have of the good will everyone had toward each other was how differently people drove that day. We lived in the Atlanta area, and there was great fear that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) would be a target. Most companies allowed their employees to go home to their families (and to get out of town). Instead of people driving like maniacs (which, trust me, is the norm in Atlanta) everyone was very careful and indulgent of each other. There was no general panic, just a sense that we were all in a very difficult boat and we needed to row together to accomplish anything. That spirit of cooperation seemed to last for many, many days after the initial attack.

Do you have memories to share of the spirit of togetherness and shared experience on 9/11 or thereafter? I’d love to hear about it. I’m sure we all would prefer to remember the good that came about from the attacks, rather than the fear and disgust.

Up Next: Hello Dolly

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