Quick Update on 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!)

Many of you have asked about some of the “Miracle Dogs” I’ve posted stories about. From the Miracle GSD Network’s Facebook page, I have the following great news:

“Another fabulous senior boy with another fabulous update! These are “progress reports” we NEVER get tired of sharing! GUTHRIE T, Miracle GSD #555 saved by the fab Thulani Program last July is doing great. His Mom, Jeannette shared the following with us: “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. Next week is putting on leash and walks- we have a definite schedule starting at 0600. His best walk time is noon thankfully. As soon as I get him in the car we are going German shepherd boot camp!” The good life… YEAH for Guthrie T!”

Guthrie T 1

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

Guthrie T 5

Guthrie T Knows He’s Now Safe and Loved!

Guthrie T 2

Guthrie T Shortly After Rescue

Guthrie T

Guthrie T Today!

Everyone who reads my blog knows how I feel about adopting seniors. One look at the “before” and “after” photos here will see exactly why I’m such a proponent of adopting a rescue, and why seniors ROCK!

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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You CAN Go Home Again – Part 3

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 HOMECOMING DAY! We woke to a very pleasant day with just a bit of a chill in the air. My anticipation level was off the charts. Had it really been 40 years since my last Homecoming game at Florida State? Sometimes it feels like only yesterday; but then I look in the mirror. Time certainly has raced by.

Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium

Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium

For my school, however, the passage of time has served to improve it and make it even more beautiful. The appropriately named Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium is one such improvement, and I could hardly wait to go inside and watch the game.

At breakfast in our fantastic B&B (The McFarlin House in Quincy, Florida – lots more to come on this, the area and the restaurants we visited within the next few posts) we met some other people who had come to go to Homecoming. It was really nice as most of the people who were visiting were in our age bracket. We shared stories over breakfast. Our largest concern was where to park. Lots fill up very fast, and as we aren’t high-dollar boosters, we knew we’d have to find a parking space a ways from the stadium. Luckily, one of the other Seminoles at breakfast had a friend who was holding spaces at a service station just up West Pensacola Street from the stadium. He kindly offered one of those spaces to us. Our parking dilemma had vanished. Now it was just hard to wait for game time.

We decided to do a little more sightseeing around the campus and Tallahassee. Football Saturdays in Tallahassee make for big crowds. Homecoming? Even more so. We drove around the city and, much to my surprise, I noted that there were a number of places still in existence even so long after my days at school. A word to the wise, if you want to try to eat at a local restaurant – especially one near the university, get there early! I do mean EARLY. It seems that folks come early, start eating and drinking, and only leave when it’s time to go to the stadium. Many don’t leave at all. They stay and watch the game on televisions.

(The Late) Magnolia Hall (small concrete-block building)

(The Late) Magnolia Hall (small concrete-block building in left bottom of photo)

Sadly, my freshman dorm, Magnolia Hall, is no longer. It was far from an attractive dorm – concrete block and sparse – but it was well-built and had some interesting history. As Florida State University was an all-women’s school until the 1940s, there were no facilities for male students. After the Second World War, the GI Bill made an advanced education available to multitudes of men who, otherwise, would not have received one. Magnolia Hall was the first building used for a dorm for men on Florida State University’s campus. There were two enormous pecan trees in the courtyard between the u-shaped dormitory wings.

After riding around for a while, we headed back to Quincy to get ready for the game. We wanted to be certain to get an early start so that we could meet up with the guys at the service station and keep our parking space. What fun they were! We made certain to buy a bottle of good bourbon to share. It was the right decision.

Closer to game time, we walked down Pensacola Street to the stadium. The crowd was in a terrific mood, and we were all anticipating another FSU win. Florida State had gone undefeated in 2013-2014, and had continued that trend in the fall of 2014. There was absolutely no reason to think that Homecoming would not add another “W” to their record. Walking to the game reminded me of my days as a student when all of us walked to the “old” stadium from our dorms. Of course, my legs were much younger in those days, and the hills seemed much smaller.

Bobby Bowden Field (From Our Seats)

Bobby Bowden Field (From Our Seats)

Once inside, I was flabbergasted by the scope of Bobby Bowden Field and the “new” Doak Campbell Stadium. My dear husband, Jim, had really managed to get us some terrific seats. We were on about the 45 yard line and only 43 rows up. We were close enough to get a real feel for the game, yet far enough up to see the whole field. Whoever has those seats on a season-ticket basis has true gems.

One of Julie's FABULOUS photos (Osceola & Renegade)

One of Julie’s FABULOUS photos (Osceola & Renegade)

During the trip, I kept in touch with one of my friends from Facebook who was also going to be at the game. It’s funny how one feels as though one really “knows” Facebook friends. Over a couple of seasons, I’d become truly friendly with photographer extraordinaire and moderator of one of the best FSU pages on Facebook – FSU GO NOLES!!!! >—-;;–FEAR IT –;;–>>. It turns out, Julie is a native Michgander who has moved to Florida. I was really anxious to meet her in person. Luckily, we were able to keep in touch via instant messaging and I managed to find her and her very nice husband at the game. She’s every bit as nice in person as she is on Facebook, and I felt I found a true friend. Of course, she’s every bit as rabid a Seminole fan as I, and it was nice to meet a new friend with whom I share that interest.

Close-up of Bobby Bowden Field from Our Seats

Close-up of Bobby Bowden Field from Our Seats

I headed back to my seat which was no easy feat! The stadium is gorgeous, but the close rows make it much easier for more nimble, younger patrons. Everyone along the way was incredible about grabbing my hands and helping me through the maze of feet and knees. Nicer, more helpful people you couldn’t wish to meet.

Even Sky Turned "Garnet" Prior to Start of Homecoming Game

Even Sky Turned “Garnet” Prior to Start of Homecoming Game

Once I managed to make it back to my seat, I found that there was a really funny younger fellow sitting behind us. He was so quick-witted, intelligently sarcastic, and spontaneous. I wish I’d gotten his name. Not long thereafter, his brother – a quieter, more reserved young man – joined him. We started chatting with them. It turns out that their parents are FSU alumni, and they have been coming to the games since they were only about 8 or 9 years old. When I told them that this was my first game back since the mid-1970s, they were shocked and excited for me. They told me that it was “so cool” to be sitting with me for my true “Homecoming.” It also pleased them to know that this was Jim’s maiden visit to the stadium and his first-ever, in-person, FSU football game. They do know the owner of the seats we were in and promised to tell him how much we enjoyed those seats. All the folks around us were welcoming and truly a joy to attend the game with.

Osceola & Renegade Planting the Flaming Spear

Osceola & Renegade Planting the Flaming Spear

I’m much older and (hopefully) wiser, but I still felt that surge of Seminole pride when the game kicked off. Osceola and Renegade were not part of the games when I was attending the university, but I believe that they are the best mascots in sports – not only collegiate football. I got goosebumps and chills ran down my spine when Renegade galloped out onto the field and Osceola planted the flaming spear in the center of the field. For the entirety of the game, it was absolutely as though time had returned me to the days when Saturday night meant going to an FSU football game.

Osceola & Renegade (Revving up the Crowd in the Student Section)

Osceola & Renegade (Revving up the Crowd in the Student Section)

The game ended as it should – another FSU victory. We got to watch Heisman-trophy winner, Jameis Winston, in his final FSU Homecoming game (although we didn’t realize that at the time). We knew that Rashad Greene was a senior and this would be his last Homecoming as a player also. Nick O’Leary (golf great, Jack Nicklaus’ grandson) was also playing in his last Homecoming game. I’m so glad that we got to see those champions play.

Some Action from the Homecoming Game

Some Action from the Homecoming Game

After the game finished, we made our way uphill to our car. I still haven’t figured out how it could feel like it was uphill both directions. The crowd was in an understandably good mood. Just as it was 40 years ago, there were some kids who had over-imbibed. Some things never change. That was the rarity, though, and most everyone was courteous with each other.

We stayed and chatted with our new friends in the parking lot until the crowds and traffic thinned. It was a perfect way to “tail-gate” until it was easy to get out and back on the road to Quincy. We watched as the Virginia Cavalier (our foe for the game) buses passed by and headed out of town. That was our cue to head out. We had wonderful time. It was clear to us both that this would have to be a new, annual tradition for us. Perhaps we wouldn’t make Homecoming each year, but we WOULD try to come to at least one football game in Tallahassee each year from now on.

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!

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

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

Nitro

Nitro

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

 

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

Nitro in the Orange County Animal Shelter

Nitro in the Orange County Animal Shelter

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

 

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

 

What a GREAT DOG he was in his prime!

What a GREAT DOG he was in his prime!

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

 

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

 

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

Leaving the Shelter

Leaving the Shelter

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

Nitro's First Bath since?????

Nitro’s First Bath since?????

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

 

First Good Night's Sleep

First Good Night’s Sleep

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

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

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

Is that SNOW?

Is that SNOW?

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

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

Almost HOME!

Almost HOME!

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

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

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

After the Spins

After the Spins

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

There's An Angel Watching Over them

There’s An Angel Watching Over them

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

Nitro with his "Angel" Vinessa

Nitro with his “Angel” Vinessa

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

Nitro with Jim, Vinessa, and me

Nitro with Jim, Vinessa, and me

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

Tehya Meets Nitro

Tehya Meets Nitro

 

He' MY Doggie, Now!

He’ MY Doggie, Now!

 

Fast Friends!

Fast Friends!

 

Nitro Says, "Are You Taking Me Away?"

Nitro Says, “Are You Taking Me Away?”

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

 

Nitro & His Girl

Nitro & His Girl

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

 

Nitro Put on Weight

Nitro Put on Weight

 

Not Takin' The Frisbee Away!

Not Takin’ The Frisbee Away!

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

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

 

            Those we love don’t go away

            They walk beside us every day

            Remembrance is a golden chain

            That links us ‘til we meet again

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

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

 

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

 

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

After the Spins

After the Spins

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

 

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

There's An Angel Watching Over them

There’s An Angel Watching Over them

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

One More Obstacle to Overcome

One More Obstacle to Overcome

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

Our Angel - At Last!

Our Angel – At Last!

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

 

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

Hugs All Around

Hugs All Around

 

Jim gets His Hug

Jim gets His Hug

Jack gets a Hug, too!

Jack gets a Hug, too!

It’s NITRO!!!!

It's Been a LONG Time, Old Friend!

It’s Been a LONG Time, Old Friend!

I'm SO Happy to See You, Buddy!

I’m SO Happy to See You, Buddy!

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

The PERFECT Shirt!

The PERFECT Shirt!

The Back of the PERFECT Shirt

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

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

Forever Friends

Forever Friends

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

 

Are We Going Home?

Are We Going Home?

Can We Go Home Soon?

Can We Go Home Soon?

DSC_0082

Rest Well, Old Buddy!

Rest Well, Old Buddy!

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

Nitro Makes Himself at Home

Nitro Makes Himself at Home

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

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

Nitro Says, "Are You Taking Me Away?"

Nitro Says, “Are You Taking Me Away?”

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

Tehya Meets Nitro

Tehya Meets Nitro

He' MY Doggie, Now!

He’ MY Doggie, Now!

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

Fast Friends!

Fast Friends!

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

 

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

Nitro, Tehya, and her BFF

Nitro, Tehya, and her BFF

Like They Should Be

Like They Should Be

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

Sweet Dreams! Don't Want to Get Outta Bed

Sweet Dreams! Don’t Want to Get Outta Bed

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

 

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

Nitro with his "Angel" Vinessa

Nitro with his “Angel” Vinessa

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

 

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

 

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Nitro – The Story of a True Survival Miracle – Part 3: The Journey

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!)

 

On the Road!

In the last installment of this story, Nitro was hitting the road with his angel, Vinessa, her puppy, Laela, and Vinessa’s four small children. The drive was from Orange County California to Shelby (northern), Montana. This sounds like a long drive even without the crew. I couldn’t imagine doing it by myself with all those little faces on board. With all her free time (getting four children and two dogs packed and settled in the car, clothing for the trip, all kinds of assorted dog food, crates, beds etc.), Vinessa started a Facebook page “Nitro’s Journey Home.” Please feel free to check it out, and be sure to “Like” it!

 

Vinessa told me that she makes this trip – Huntington Beach, CA to Michigan four times a year. FOUR TIMES A YEAR?!?! Holy smoke! That’s a lot of miles. She told me that she has a big Ford Expedition, so there’s plenty of room for all the kids and Nitro would get a double seat in the passenger area. Her young pup, Laela, would have to learn to ride shot-gun. She cranked up the DVD player and off they went.

 

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

 

The first stop was in Las Vegas. It was completely dark, but the dogs needed to stretch their legs, take a potty break, and the kids all needed to eat. The photo is of Nitro at the Las Vegas stop. He already looks better. He must know that he is now with friends and safe. He was driving along with his head out the window enjoying the ride. Apparently, he taught his new friend, Laela, to do the same. I can imagine the looks on passers-by. With two German Shepherd Dogs in attendance, no one would mess with that car.

 

There was one moment that really startled poor Vinessa. She thought she’d “lost him” for a few tense moments. She stopped for a short nap, and when she woke up and turned around she didn’t see his head. She felt for his body and lifted his head. Poor Nitro was stiff as a board. She panicked and jumped into the back and shook his hind-end. Old Nitro just looked up at her like “I am SLEEPING! What is your PROBLEM!!!?” Poor Vinessa! After everything, she feared old Nitro had passed away while she slept. It took her a walk and several minutes to get her heart rate back to normal.

 

While I was laughing at her story, I started realizing that the reason he was so soundly asleep was probably because this was the first time in a very long time that he could just relax and sleep. This wasn’t concrete or asphalt; it was a soft back seat. He didn’t have to worry about being chased by anyone or anything. He could just sleep and totally relax. He was with people who truly cared about him.

 

One of our main concerns was what to feed Nitro. Goodness only knows when his last decent meal was. He was more than 40 pounds underweight. We were concerned that feeding him high-quality puppy food (higher fat content and high vitamin/mineral values) might give him diarrhea. Luckily, he didn’t suffer any of that. He was thriving and growing stronger with every hour and mile.

 

Is that SNOW?

The next stop was in the snow! It appeared that Nitro hadn’t seen snow in a very long time. He sure saw plenty in his life in Michigan, but he had apparently been in California for some time. From the photo here, you can see he was certainly enjoying the cooler weather and the snow.

 

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

One thing that really made me sad was that people were giving poor Vinessa really nasty looks. Yes, Nitro was in horrible condition. He had fly-bitten ears, he was completely emaciated, and was just a shell of his former self; but he was being cared for for the first time in way too long. People didn’t bother to ask. They just assumed that Vinessa was the person responsible for his terrible condition. Nothing could be further from the truth. If it weren’t for her, Nitro’s days would have been very few and very sad. I learned a thing or two, myself. Don’t prejudge. Don’t assume. The story could be quite different from what you are thinking.

 

Can you help a guy?

Once the troop finally got to Montana, Nitro wanted quite badly.to jump up on the bed and cuddle with the family. (That’s one of the more endearing memories I have of the time Nitro was with us. He dearly loved to be on the bed with us.) Poor guy, he still was too weak to jump. This sad photo shows Nitro when he realized he couldn’t make it onto the bed – yet.

 

We learned, further, that Nitro’s life, after leaving us, must have been pretty rough – especially the last few years. His emaciated appearance wasn’t the only evidence. He has terrible calluses from sleeping on concrete and a leg that became quite swollen and made him limp pretty badly. Of course, this really worried Vinessa. This is something that will have to be looked into once he gets to an area with good veterinary care. We were able to talk to our niece who is a veterinarian in Colorado. Her educated opinion was that this was probably an old injury that was swelling and arthritis. If it had been new, he would have been very vocal and unable to walk at all on it. We will have it checked with our vets once he’s home, but after a long rest, Nitro seemed to be doing much better. The swelling went down quite a bit. He even felt well enough to “play” with Laela a little.

 

Nitro with his “Angel” Vinessa

Another thing we learned about Nitro during his journey home is that he’s VERY protective. When the 3-month-old baby cries, Nitro will run, check the baby, and then look at Vinessa as if to say, “What did you DO?!? The baby is CRYING!” Of course, that is very endearing. There’s a whole lot to be said about a dog, who – while still not in the best of condition – will be the protector of his “pack.” It’s also important to keep that behavior within acceptable levels. This may be something worth watching for. We do know that Nitro’s person must the alpha-being. He needs to have a strong, yet calm, leader.

 

After only a few days
Left Day 1 – Right Day 5

After only eleven days, Nitro got weighed again. He had gained 10 pounds. This is an amazing feat. Yes, there’s a long way to go, but he’s taken such huge steps so far. At each turn, I’m reminded that God surely has a plan for him. Now it’s been two weeks since he left the shelter and he’s a stronger, happier, healthier dog. All of that in such a short time!

Almost HOME!

As of this release, plans are underway to get Nitro home by December 8. The family will be leaving Montana and heading for Michigan. I hope everyone who reads this will think warm, happy thoughts for the family on their drive. They will go straight to family and rest for a week or so before getting back in the car to bring Nitro to us. I know it will be hard for them to say good-bye to him. They have given so much of their time, energy and hearts into saving this amazing dog. Their sacrifices have been so selfless. Every time I think of all they went through, for total strangers and a completely unknown dog, it renews my faith in human beings. The world would be such a better place if more of us followed their examples.

 

 

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

 

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Nitro – The Story of a True Survival Miracle – Part 2: Salvation?!?!

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!)

 

As I continue the story, I am reminded that only a week prior to getting the notification from Home Again about Nitro, a coworker asked me if I thought micro-chipping was a good idea. I emphatically told her that I did and that we would always be certain that our dogs had “chips.” How ironic is that?

 

At the end of the last post, we had tried to get some sleep knowing that poor Nitro was in the Orange County Animal Shelter with only a week until euthanasia would be all but assured. I had gone to every Facebook page for rescues and German Shepherd Dogs that I was aware of. My plan for the morning was to check on-line for rescues in the Orange County area.

 

After a very fitful night, we were heading for work. My mind was consumed with trying to come up with a plan to rescue poor Nitro. I almost didn’t hear the message tone on my phone telling me that I had a private message on Facebook. When I opened the message I almost screamed.

 

I had a message from a young woman named Vinessa. She was asking if we wanted Nitro to come home to us or if we were just looking for a rescue. She said that she lives in Orange County, but would be coming to Michigan for Christmas!

 

My voice was cracking and tears were spurting out of my eyes as I read this to Jim. Could this be true? Could Nitro’s salvation have come – and so quickly? I wrote back asking if this were really true and possible. I hardly allowed myself to believe it could be. I didn’t expect to hear anything for a while due to the fact that there’s a 3-hour difference in time between Michigan and California. When I saw the message it wasn’t yet 6 am, eastern time.

 

I didn’t have to wait long. It was barely 8 a.m. when I heard back that, yes, she was entirely serious and would be willing to get Nitro from the shelter and bring him with her to Michigan. She had also been willing to rescue him and find him a home. Any wonder I call her Nitro’s “angel?” We moved the discussion to private messaging and I told her that I would contact the shelter to find out what was necessary to “spring” Nitro and allow for her to take possession.

 

It wasn’t all that easy. The shelter required proof of ownership to pick Nitro up. Of course, we are over a thousand miles away. I’m glad the shelter is thorough, though. It protects the true owners from someone who isn’t authorized walking away with their dog. The staff was very helpful. They told me that the email from Home Again would be considered part of the proof. What else could we provide? We hadn’t had Nitro in over 6 years! I immediately thought of our veterinarian. Would they still have records? I made the call.

 

Not only did our vets still have records with Nitro’s name on it, they actually could provide a copy of the receipt for when we had them micro-chip him. It had his name, our names, address and the micro-chip number. They could, if necessary, confirm the chip number against our records.

Nitro in the Orange County Animal Shelter

In the meantime, Vinessa was busy getting a temporary tag, collar, bed, bowl, etc. She also called her vet to make sure she could bring Nitro in to make sure he was healthy enough for the trip. After seeing the photo above, we all knew he wasn’t in the best of shape.

 

As she lived only about 15 minutes from the shelter, Vinessa was ready to go get Nitro once all the paperwork was faxed to them. We had moved our conversation directly to texting each other to make our communication quicker and more private. Although I could scarcely believe it, everything seemed to be in place. Her next text told me she was at the shelter and that they had accepted all the material we had sent and that they were releasing Nitro to her. SALVATION!

Salvation! Nitro safely in Vinessa’s Truck

From this point, though, we knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. Nitro was so thin and weak that he couldn’t get into Vinessa’s vehicle by himself. Poor guy. He was in really sad shape.

Nothing but Skin & Bone (and heart)

He made the trip to Vinessa’s veterinarian. The vet was appalled. She had never seen such a bad case of malnourishment and he was severely emaciated. This is a boy who should weigh over 100 pounds and he only weighed 62. The photo shows how badly his bones were showing through. He had absolutely NO meat on his bones at all. Things were looking pretty grim. The vet said she would run a full blood work-up and let us know.

 

By this time, not only were we praying that Nitro would be able to make the journey, but so was Vinessa. She’d already fallen in love with the big boy and wanted nothing more than to help him come to his forever home. It was one of the longest waits I can remember, but by 5 p.m. our time, we got the amazing news that Nitro didn’t have any illnesses (or even fleas)! He was going to require tender care and lots of food to get him healthy, but he wasn’t fighting heartworms or any kind of parasite that would make it impossible for him to travel and, eventually, thrive.

Poor, exhausted Nitro. First kindness in probably years

Through all of this communication, I learned so much about Nitro’s angel. This young woman was actually leaving on Thursday to drive to Montana and then on to Michigan to visit with her family for the holidays. That was quite a feat in itself, and for her to be willing to bring along a “strange” dog who needed lots of care was remarkable. What made it miraculous was that she wasn’t driving alone. In the car with her would be her 10-month-old, female, German Shepherd puppy and her FOUR small children (the oldest is 6 and the youngest is 3-months). Who does this?

Nitro’s First Bath since?????

In less than 24-hours, Nitro had found salvation and was with an amazing human being who was ready to bathe and care for a thoroughly rough-looking dog. Nitro’s resolve helped us all. His nobility shone through – even in his terribly misused state. His first night with a good bath, decent food, and a soft place to sleep were probably the first he’d had in many, many years. The photos sent were both sad and triumphant.

Clean and exhausted

Here’s a quick timeline of the amazing, “miraculous” things that had to fall into place to be able to save Nitro.

 

  1. Nitro was picked up as a stray and chip read on Monday, Nov. 12.
  2. Tuesday, Nov 13 (around 2:30 pm) – We received the email from Home Again saying Nitro had been found. As we never transferred the micro-chip to another person and never took our names off the records, we were still considered his owners. (If we had made either change, we never would have been notified that Nitro was in the Orange County Animal Shelter.)
  3. Tuesday, Nov. 13 (around 5 pm) – I got in touch with the Orange County Animal Shelter and they gave me Nitro’s ID number and crate number so that I could look at his photo on the web to reassure myself that the dog they had was, indeed, Nitro. After getting over the initial shock of seeing him in such poor shape, I realized it was Nitro. It was an older, sadder, and scared version of the dog we had played Frisbee with, but it was Nitro.
  4. Tuesday, Nov. 13 (starting around 6 pm) – I thought to post his photo and story to several groups and locations on Facebook.
  5. Tuesday, Nov. 13 (night-time in California) – Vinessa happened to go to one of those group pages. What makes this even more amazing is that this is a page she very rarely visits. She sends a message to us via the group asking if we want her help with Nitro’s rescue.
  6. Wednesday, Nov. 14 (5:50 a.m. in Michigan) – I get Vinessa’s message. I immediately respond and the wheels start in motion.
  7. Wednesday, Nov. 14 – Vinessa and I are able to get in touch and we agree that she will attempt to get Nitro out of the shelter.
  8. Wednesday, Nov. 14 – We are able to get all the information required for the shelter and fax it to them. They accept it and allow Vinessa to take Nitro with her.
  9. Wednesday, Nov. 14 – Vinessa is able to get Nitro in to see her vet who gives him the okay to travel.
  10. Thursday, Nov. 15 – Vinessa and crew leave for Montana.

Ready to Go! A much cleaner, happier boy after less than 24 hours

When I consider how many things had to come together, it just completely amazes me. If Nitro had been picked up one day later… What if Vinessa didn’t live only 15 minutes from the shelter? What if she’d never looked at that particular Facebook page?

 

By the way, every dollar required (and there were MANY, MANY dollars) to pay for getting Nitro from the shelter, vetted, and all the tags, collar, food, bedding, etc. had been paid for by Vinessa. It’s amazing enough that she was willing to do all of this for complete strangers and a dog she’d never met. To be willing to cover all the costs? Again, who does that? Who is that trusting?

 

We have, since, been able to reimburse Vinessa for most of the costs. There will be more, but she’s more than happy to take care of them until we can pay her back. Pay her back? How will we EVER be able to pay her back for all she has done? It’s not just the money. This brave, unselfish, young woman has single-handedly become a glittering example of what is right and good in humans. My friends, family, and we are astounded! We didn’t know that there were still people out there like this. There is at least one. She is Nitro’s (and our) angel.

Up Next: Nitro – The Story of a True Survival Miracle – Part 3: The Journey

 

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Nitro – The Story of a True Survival Miracle – Part 1

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 the story of love, compassion, perseverance, angels, and God’s plan. That sentence probably frightens some of you who aren’t used to me getting all “religious.” This is not a preachy story. It’s a true story that is still unfolding.

 

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

Let’s start at the beginning. About 5 or 6 years ago, we had three rescued German Shepherd Dogs (Guinevere, Liesel, and Chief). Somehow (memory fails) Jim found a male GSD in need of a home in a nearby rescue. His name – Nitro.

 

Nitro

We went to meet Nitro. He was a gorgeous big boy who was very nice and polite around us. We went back with our pack and all went well, so we adopted him. At the same time, there was another person interested in Nitro who asked us to please let him know if, for any reason, our adoption didn’t work out.

Nitro with his Frisbee

As we have always done, we took Nitro to our vet for a complete check-up and to be micro-chipped. He passed with flying colors, so home we went. For the first several days, everyone got along just fine. After the first few days, however, things started to get chippy between Nitro and Chief (our beloved, male, white German Shepherd Dog). Both were young males (neutered) who wanted to be the Alpha male. The situation deteriorated rapidly. Nitro was larger and stouter, but Chief had “seniority.” There was no backing down. Even the girls, who had lived together in harmony for many, many years started fighting each other. Before I knew it, I was in the middle of a 4-dog-fight. For future reference – that’s not a good place to be. Believe me. We hoped that they would all work it out and become one big, happy pack. It wasn’t to be.

Nitro the Athlete

After giving as much time, soul-searching, and as many chances as we dared, we had to admit that Nitro wasn’t going to fit in with our dogs. We were terribly sad because, alone, Nitro was a terrific, smart dog. He knew many commands, loved to fetch and play Frisbee, and was a human-centered cuddler. We came to the conclusion that he’d never been socialized and we feared for the well-being of our dogs who had been with us for years. It was clear that he would have to go back. Then, we remembered the man who had asked us to let him know if things didn’t work out.

I Can FLY!

We called the rescue and they said that they had checked the other party out and that he would have been able to adopt Nitro if we hadn’t. We got in touch with him and made arrangements to meet at the rescue. It was with heavy hearts that we drove back to the rescue.

Where’d it GO?

We were met outside by the man who really wanted Nitro. He was obviously very excited that he was going to be able to take him home to be his dog. Although we would have preferred to be able to keep Nitro, we didn’t feel too sad for him because we felt that he was still going to be loved and well cared for. The paperwork was completed, and the transfer took place right out front. Nitro went from our car to his truck and never looked back.

What a GREAT DOG!

It was a silent ride home with several tears shed. We felt, in our hearts, that it was the best outcome for our dogs and for Nitro, but we were still disheartened. That was the last time we saw Nitro, until…

 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012. It seemed for all intents and purposes like any other work day. Then, Jim checked our home email. To our complete consternation, there was an email from Home Again saying that Nitro had been found. Found?!? Even more dumbfounding was the fact that he was in the Orange County Animal Shelter in CALIFORNIA!! How in the world? Even more amazing was the realization that we had never taken his name out of our records, nor had we ever been asked to transfer ownership to anyone else. As far as Home Again and the Orange County Animal Shelter were concerned, Nitro was our dog.

 

I placed calls to the rescue, but never got an answer. They never did call me back, either. I also called the Orange County Animal Shelter. Just to explain a bit, that is a huge shelter with enormous capacity and an over-abundance of dogs waiting for their owners to come for them or to be adopted. They explained that, since Nitro was micro-chipped, we had seven days to arrange for him to be picked up or they would put him up for adoption (or euthanize) dependent upon his condition, medical health, etc. They told me Nitro’s identification number and the number of the crate he was in. I could go to the website and see a photo to be certain that he was our dog, but they assured me that the chip number matched the records of Home Again. They also told me that he had been picked up as a stray with no other identification.

What Happened to You?
(Nitro @ Orange County Animal Shelter)

Once I saw the photo, my heart broke. The once-proud, regal, strong German Shepherd Dog that we had hoped to have as part of our family was a scared, sad-looking, thin, bedraggled dog. Any resemblance between this shell and the dog we remembered was minute; however, we could immediately tell it was, indeed, Nitro. Our hearts fell. How would it be possible to save him? We don’t have any family in California. Seven days to make arrangements to get to California from Michigan and to bring him home (or to a rescue) was just too little time. It was also pretty obvious that there would be no adoption time for him. What could we do? We knew we had to try something, but what?

 

I turned to Facebook. We both get posts all the time from various rescue organizations and breed organizations. Maybe if I posted on all the sites I could think of and ask the people there to cross-post to groups that they deal with or know, we could find someone to help us save Nitro. It was a “hail Mary,” but we were willing to try just about anything.

 

By this time, it was getting pretty late at night for us in Michigan. We are very early risers, so I started making my plans to start calling rescue organizations in California, Nevada, and Arizona the next day. It was a terrible night.

 

 

Up Next: Part 2 – Salvation?!?!

 

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