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!


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!