Rejecting the Will of the People: Wolf Hunting in Michigan

Rejecting the Will of the People: Wolf Hunting in Michigan

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This is a real departure from my regular blog posts. I am doing so because I feel very strongly about this subject. I have gathered signatures. I have written and made phone calls – as have thousands across the state – to our supposed “representatives” and kept up steady pressure in the state. Still, the Michigan Senate has turned a deaf ear to the citizens of Michigan and have sent SB 1187 which authorizes wolf hunting to the State House for consideration. This Legislature is Fast-Tracking this legislation to benefit some very well-oiled outfitters and outsiders who have only a financial stake in a new hunting species.

I want to share my response to “my” Senator in Lansing regarding his vote FOR wolf-hunting in Michigan. For those of you who don’t know, the population of this very-necessary predator – which helps to maintain the balance of nature – is exceedingly fragile. The Michigan DNR’s estimates of our state’s wolf population have been steadily declining since 2012. There is no scientific justification for opening up this small population of an ecologically vital species to cruel and unsporting trophy hunting and trapping.

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From “Keep Michigan Wolves Protected” website

In the 2014 general election, Michigan voters soundly rejected two referendums on the trophy hunting and trapping of the state’s small population of wolves. And in late November 2016, a three-judge Appellate Court panel unanimously rejected an unconstitutional law that was rushed through the 2014 legislature to circumvent those citizen votes on wolf hunting.

Additionally, a federal court upheld a lawsuit by The Humane Society of the United States and other wolf protection groups, which charged that the 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to remove federal Endangered Species Act protection for wolves in the Great Lakes region — and opening them up to cruel shooting, trapping, snaring, and even hounding by packs of dogs — was not warranted. Wolves were returned to federal protection, where they remain today.

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From: “Keep Michigan Wolves Protected” website

Even with the well-documented information above, the Senate of the State of Michigan voted to authorize the “Natural Resources Commission” (a political group with no scientific base) to set wolf hunting dates. Not only does this run counter to the expressed will of the populace, it runs against everything that science has been trying to convey.

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Here was my response:

Please convey to Senator Hune that I have grave concerns that he has become more concerned about being in lock-step with the party than listening to the concerns of his constituency. In my many years of following government and politics, I have found that those who maintain their seat without opposition tend to lose touch with the people they are supposed to be serving. I fear this is becoming the case for a man who went to Lansing as a young person who wanted to make a difference.

I am disappointed in his vote for this measure. It appears as though there is another power-grab in place to circumvent the will of the populace. Again, this will plunge the state into another debacle where Michigan will look anti-environment. This is very sad. For a state with the abundance of natural beauty to come out against the very wildness that makes it so appealing to many (and, not incidentally a very important link in the balance of nature) is counterproductive.

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When the Gales of November Came Early – 41 Years Ago

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November 10, 1975. Do you remember?

“The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called ‘Gitche Gumee’
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty.
That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early.”

 Gordon Lightfoot, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” 1976

 

I remember it well. I can still “see” Harry Reasoner sitting at his desk on the evening news talking about the apparent loss of the ship “Edmund Fitzgerald” and crew of 29. For some reason, it struck me – viscerally. Perhaps it was because we were so used to seeing great ships going under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge (although they were not nearly as large as the Great Lakes freighters). I remember following the story at the time. I never forgot the sadness I felt. Then, too, there’s that song…it’s one of those that sticks in your head and takes forever to get rid of.

  

The last voyage of the Great Lakes Freighter “Edmund Fitzgerald,” captained by Ernest M. McSorley, started in Superior, Wisconsin on November 9, 1975. The “Fitz” was loaded with over 26,000 tons of iron ore pellets. The ship was scheduled to transport the cargo to Zug Island on the Detroit River. She left port with the Arthur M Anderson whose captain was Bernie Cooper. It was determined that the Edmund Fitzgerald would take the lead as she was the faster vessel.

Both captains were acutely aware of a building November storm entering the Great Lakes. Captain McSorley and Captain Cooper agreed to take the northerly course across Lake Superior, where they would be protected by the Canadian shore. They would later make a turn to the southeast to eventually reach the shelter of Whitefish Point.

Weather conditions continued to deteriorate. Gale warnings had been upgraded to storm warnings early in the morning of November 10. While conditions were bad, with winds gusting to 50 knots and seas 12 to 16 feet, both Captains had often piloted their vessels in similar conditions.

 

Last Voyage

As the Fitzgerald approached Caribou Island, it appeared to Captain Cooper on the Anderson that the Fitz had passed far too close to Six Fathom Shoal. He could clearly see the ship and the beacon on Caribou on his radar and could measure the distance between them. He and his officers watched the Fitzgerald pass right over the dangerous area of shallow water. By this time, snow and rising spray had obscured the Fitzgerald from sight

According to transcripts and quoting from the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum website, “At 3:30 pm that afternoon, Captain McSorley radioed Captain Cooper and said: “Anderson, this is the Fitzgerald. I have a fence rail down, two vents lost or damaged, and a list. I’m checking down. Will you stay by me till I get to Whitefish?” McSorley was “checking down” his speed to allow the Anderson to close the distance for safety. Captain Cooper asked McSorley if he had his pumps going, and McSorley said, ‘Yes, both of them.’”

There were no more extraordinarily alarming reports from Captain McSorley that afternoon. However, at around 5 p.m., a wave smashed into the Anderson smashing its starboard lifeboat. Winds were reported to be almost 60 knots steady, with gusts to 70 knots. Seas were running 18 to 25 feet.

Again, from the GLSM website, “According to Captain Cooper, about 6:55 pm, he and the men in the Anderson’s pilothouse felt a “bump”, felt the ship lurch, and then turned to see a monstrous wave engulfing their entire vessel from astern. The wave worked its way along the deck, crashing on the back of the pilothouse, driving the bow of the Anderson down into the sea.

“Then the Anderson just raised up and shook herself off of all that water – barrooff – just like a big dog. Another wave just like the first one or bigger hit us again. I watched those two waves head down the lake towards the Fitzgerald, and I think those were the two that sent him under.’”

The first mate of the Anderson spoke to the Fitzgerald one last time, about 7:10 pm.

Fitzgerald: “We are holding our own.”

“Okay, fine, I’ll be talking to you later.” The mate signed off.

The radar signal, or “pip” of the Fitzgerald kept getting obscured by “sea return,” meaning that seas were so high they interfered with the radar reflection. Around 7:15 pm, the pip was lost again, but this time, did not reappear. The Anderson’s First Mate called the Fitzgerald again at about 7:22 pm. There was no answer.

Quoting Captain Cooper, “At this time I became very concerned about the Fitzgerald – couldn’t see his lights when we should have. I then called the William Clay Ford to ask him if my phone was putting out a good signal and also if perhaps the Fitzgerald had rounded the point and was in shelter, after a negative report I called the Soo Coast Guard because I was sure something had happened to the Fitzgerald. The Coast Guard were at this time trying to locate a 16-foot boat that was overdue.”

Captain Cooper kept asking the few other ships in the area if they had seen or heard anything from the Fitzgerald. As there had been no word, he persisted with the Coast Guard. Captain Cooper and his crew had just managed to pilot the Anderson to safety in Whitefish Bay. They were all breathing a huge sigh of relief when the Coast Guard made a huge request of them.

There were no Coast Guard ships in the immediate area. Could the Anderson go back out into the storm to look for the Fitzgerald? I can’t imagine the anxiety. Here they had just reached safety after being hammered by a huge storm including two huge, rogue waves (called “two sisters” in maritime lingo), but the seaman’s unwritten code is that you go to try to help fellow seamen.

The Anderson became the lead boat in the search. The Anderson was again severely pounded by the storm and was rolling badly, but they were able to locate the Fitzgerald’s two lifeboats (empty) and other debris, but no sign of survivors. The William Clay Ford also left the safety of Whitefish Bay to help. These two were later joined by two Coast Guard cutters and a fixed-wing aircraft.

The Coast Guard continued the search. On November 14, a specially-outfitted, U.S. Navy plane got a strong signal 17 miles off Whitefish Point. In the next few days, the Coast Guard cutters used different technologies (including side-scan radar) to check that area. One of them located two large pieces of wreckage on the bottom in the same area. A similar search took place in late November. However, winter was closing in. There would be no chance to continue until spring. As large as the Great Lakes are, Mother Nature and winter are stronger. The Lakes become impassible with ice.

 

In May of 1976, they returned to try to determine if these sonar responses were, indeed, the wreckage of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Navy submersibles took thousands of feet of video and hundreds of still photos. On May 20, 1976, all question as to the final resting place of the “Fitz” was removed as photos were examined and the name “Edmund Fitzgerald” was clearly seen on the stern, upside down, 535 feet below the surface of the lake.

Depiction of the Wreck

In November of 1994, family members of the crew brought their concerns to The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS). They were worried that technology was getting to the point where more and more divers were able to dive the wrecksite of the Fitzgerald. They, naturally, considered this sacred ground as it is the final resting place of their loved ones. The families were still trying to find some form of “closure.”

 

After discussions with the families, a long list of U.S. and Canadian government agencies, and the owners of the wreck, it was determined that a single, significant artifact – the ship’s bell – could be removed from roof of the pilothouse and brought to shore. A replacement bell, inscribed with the names of the 29 sailors who lost their lives on the Fitzgerald, would be returned to the pilothouse.

The bell of the Edmund Fitzgerald broke water at 1:25 pm, July 4, 1995 as family members watched. A wreath was placed on the water following the recovery. Family members there that day finally had the opportunity to express their grief, say goodbye and for some, bring closure after 20 years. The replacement bell would be returned to the wreck.

 

The Fitzgerald’s bell was stabilized and then delivered to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point. From there, the museum continued restoring the bell for use as the centerpiece of a memorial to the men who died in the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. You can see it, today, as the centerpiece of their museum along with a photo of Captain McSorley and additional information about and pictures of the Fitzgerald.

The Edmund Fitzgerald will forever, legally, remain off-limits to divers as it is the final resting place for the 29 souls lost that fateful night.

 

Christening of the “Fitz”

“Life” moments of the Edmund Fitzgerald

8/7/1957: Keel laid

6/8/1958: Hull #301 is christened “Edmund Fitzgerald” after the CEO of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company

9/24/1958: The Fitzgerald makes her maiden voyage

1972: Captain Ernest McSorley takes command of the Edmund Fitzgerald

11/10/1975: Last day of the great ship

5/20/1976: More than 40,000 feet of video tape from expeditions to the purported wreck by submersibles is examined. The words “Edmund Fitzgerald” were clearly seen on the stern, upside down, 535 feet below the surface of the lake

7/4/1995: The bell of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald is raised, restored, and replaced on the ship by a new bell with the names of the twenty nine men lost. This is the last time the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald will ever again be legally dived upon

 

To this day, the true reason for the sinking goes unsolved. Did the Fitzgerald essentially scuttle herself on the shoals in the storm? Were the hatches properly fastened? Did the two giant, rogue waves (the “two sisters”) that hit the Anderson continue to build and swamp an already listing Fitzgerald driving her into the bottom? We’ll never know. There were no survivors to tell the tale.

“Does any one know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The searches all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay
If they’d put fifteen more miles behind her.
They might have split up or they might have capsized;
May have broke deep and took water.
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

 

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. Be sure to “subscribe” to my blog. You will be automatically notified of each new post.

 

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

Cinder(ella)

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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.

http://www.swmigermanshepherdrescue.com/

 

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

Michigan Maple – Syrup That Is

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Michigan is known for many things – the Great Lakes, the automobile, cherries, apples, wine, beer, and other spirits – but did you know that some of the finest maple syrup comes from Michigan? It does. There are sugar houses in virtually every county in Michigan.

Like fine wines, every year is different when it comes to the quality and quantity of syrup. The main determining factor is weather. Here are some interesting factoids about Michigan Maple Syrup (from the Michigan Maple Syrup Association website)

  • Michigan ranks 5th in maple syrup production in the United States.
  • Average maple syrup production in Michigan is about 90,000 gallons per year.
  • There are an estimated 500 commercial maple syrup producers in Michigan with some 2,000 additional hobby or home use producers.
  • The production of pure maple syrup is the oldest agricultural enterprise in the United States.
  • Maple syrup is one of the few agricultural crops in which demand exceeds supply.
  • Only about 1 percent of Michigan’s maple forest resource is used in maple syrup production.
  • In an average year, each tap-hole will produce about 10 gallons of maple sap, enough for about a quart of pure Michigan maple syrup.
  • It takes approximately 40 gallons of maple sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup.
  • Maple syrup is the first farm crop to be harvested in Michigan each year.
  • A maple tree needs to be about 40 years old and have a diameter of 10 inches before tapping is recommended.
  • The maple season in Michigan starts in February in the southern counties and runs well into April in the Upper Peninsula.
  • Warm sunny days and freezing nights determine the length of the maple season.
  • The budding of maple trees makes the maple syrup taste bitter. Thus, production ceases.
  • Freezing and thawing temperatures create pressure and force the sap out of the tree.
  • A very rapid rise in temperature (25 to 45 degrees) will enhance the sap flow.
  • While the sugaring season may last 6 to 10 weeks, but during this period, the heavy sap may run only 10-20 days.
  • Maple sap is boiled to remove the water and concentrate the sugars in a process called evaporation.
  • Maple sap becomes maple syrup when boiled to 219 degrees Fahrenheit, or 7 degrees above the boiling point of water.
  • Pure Michigan maple syrup has 50 calories per tablespoon and is fat-free. It has no additives, no added coloring and no preservatives.
  • Maple syrup has may minerals per tablespoon: 20 milligrams of calcium, 2 milligrams of phosphorus, 0.2 milligrams of iron, 2 milligrams of sodium, 35 milligrams of potassium.
  • Maple syrup is classified as one of nature’s most healthful foods.

Every year, on the last weekend in April, the town of Vermontville hosts the original, the “granddaddy” of Michigan syrup festivals.

As is typical in Michigan, some years are gorgeous, shirt-sleeve weather and some are bitingly cold. This is important to keep in mind as you are preparing to go to the festival because you will be outside most of the time.

Naturally, the day starts out with pancake breakfasts. Lines are very long, so be prepared to wait. These breakfasts are a main form of revenue for charitable causes in the area. The pancakes and sausage are good, but the syrup is heavenly.

The Vermontville festival is great for all age groups. There are always games and contests for the little guys, and there are craft booths, car shows and sales of all things maple. My personal favorite (next to syrup, of course) is maple sugar candy. If you’ve never tried it, you’re really missing out. It’s very rich though but easy to make, so buy lots of extra syrup to make candy with.

Here are a couple of photos of the early crowds. Notice the long line for pancake breakfast.

Early morning - Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival

Early morning – Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival

 

Crowds Lining Up for Pancake Breakfast

Crowds Lining Up for Pancake Breakfast

Here are the instructional exhibit and the coop sales buildings.

Instructional Building (Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival)

Instructional Building
(Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival)

 

Maple Cooperative - Buy All Things Maple Here

Maple Cooperative – Buy All Things Maple Here

The local mounted patrol came by to check things out.

Local Mounted Police Unit

Local Mounted Police Unit

Some of the terrific cars at the car show

Pretty in Pink (50's era Ford Thunderbird)

Pretty in Pink (50’s era Ford Thunderbird)

 

Early Ford Mustang Convertible

Early Ford Mustang Convertible

 

Gotta Have Fuzzy Dice

Gotta Have Fuzzy Dice

One of the craftsmen is a chainsaw carver. His specialty was bears (naturally, a favorite of mine), but he also had some other cute “critters.” Two of his bear carvings made it home with us.

Bear, Bears, and More Bears (Plus a Few Others)

Bear, Bears, and More Bears (Plus a Few Others)

 

Bears and Other Critters (Check the Bear with Beer Sign)

Bears and Other Critters (Check the Bear with Beer Sign)

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This One Had To Come Home With Me

This artist made useful items from found materials. There were all manner of benches, chairs, cabinets, and bookshelves made from discarded items.

This bench was made from old farm implements (pitchforks) and discarded doors.

Bench from Pitchforks and Found Door

Bench from Pitchforks and Found Door

This corner cabinet (which I bought) really grabbed my attention. It is made from an old window, old shutters, and an old door.

 

Nifty Corner Cabinet (from found/discarded materials)

Nifty Corner Cabinet (from found/discarded materials)

Made from Old Window, Shutters, and Door

Made from Old Window, Shutters, and Door

These are just a few of the activities that go on during the Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival. Other activities include rides, fireworks, bands, a parade, a 5k walk/run, a petting zoo, a flea market, and several dinner, fundraisers – lots to do for the whole family.

So mark your calendars, now, for the last weekend in April. Plan to visit the Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival. I might see you there!

Here is a link to the festival’s website.

http://www.vermontvillemaplesyrupfestival.org/schedule.htm

 

Up Next: Autumn comes to Michigan

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

Hello Dolly

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

 

“Hello Dolly,……well, hello, Dolly

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

It’s high time to introduce our Dolly!

 

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

The Face That Popped Up on Facebook

The Face That Popped Up on Facebook

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

Just LOOK at That Face!

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

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

Dolly With A SWMGS Rescue Playmate

Dolly With A SWMGS Rescue Playmate

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

Sweet Girl Playing at SWMGSD Rescue

Sweet Girl Playing at SWMGS Rescue

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

Just LOOK at that Precious Little Dog!

Just LOOK at that Precious Little Dog!

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

 

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

Yep, She's Home

Yep, She’s Home

 

You Talking About Me?

You Talking About Me?

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

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

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

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

Did Someone Say Cookie?

Did Someone Say Cookie?

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

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

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

CHEESE!!!

CHEESE!!!

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

Are You Done With the Camera YET?

Are You Done With the Camera YET?

Spoiled? Who ME?

Spoiled? Who ME?

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

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

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

http://www.swmigermanshepherdrescue.com/

 

Up Next: Michigan Maple – Syrup That Is

 

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When A Bird in the Hand…

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 know I’ve kvetched about the winters here in Michigan ad nauseum. There are, however, a whole lot of fun things to do. One of the things I’ve always enjoyed doing in the winter is visiting Kensington Metropark.

 

For those of you who have never been to this part of Michigan, a ‘metropark’ is an area set aside for recreation. One can either pay a small fee on a daily basis, or purchase a yearly pass. Kensington is one of the largest parks in the Detroit metro area. There are lots of things to in the park, including bicycling, running, dog-walking, fishing (ice fishing in the winter), boating, sailing, picnicking, and, winter tobogganing/sledding.

Ice Fishermen Enjoying the Sunny Day

Ice Fishermen Enjoying the Sunny Day

 

A Lady & Her Dog Out for a Walk

A Lady & Her Dog Out for a Walk

Here some folks enjoying the cross-country skiing trails (there are miles and miles of them).

Cross-Country Skiing - a Big Favorite at Kensington

Cross-Country Skiing – a Big Favorite at Kensington

Cross-Country Skiing at Kensington

Cross-Country Skiing at Kensington

Here are some photos of children (big and small) having a wonderful time sledding in Kensington.

A Dad & His Boys Out for a Slide

A Dad & His Boys Out for a Slide

A Wolverine Fan Gets His Slide On

A Wolverine Fan Gets His Slide On

 

Lots of Fun!

Lots of Fun!

My favorite activity in Kensington is birding. This is where Jim and I first realized that birding is a passion we can share.

A Bird (Chickadee) in The Hand

A Bird (Chickadee) in The Hand

For many years, people have been feeding the wild birds at Kensington’s Nature Center. Eventually, the birds got very used to people having seed to share. Now, especially in the winter, the small birds will come right down to your hands and eat out of them.

 

A Tufted Titmouse Gets a Peanut

A Tufted Titmouse Gets a Peanut

The first time I came to Kensington with my sister-in-law, she introduced me to the joy of hand feeding the birds. She was very interested in birding at the time and knew my love of birds. She also knew I would be charmed by the birds eating out of my hands. We were still living in Georgia at the time, so I knew this would be a place I would enjoy coming back to. Little did I know that I would one day be living within just a very few miles.

A Black-Capped Chickadee In for His Landing

A Black-Capped Chickadee In for His Landing

Next!

Next!

 

A Downy on My Shoulder

A Downy on My Shoulder

Here are some photos of the next generation of “bird feeders” in Kensington.

Birding's Next Generation

Birding’s Next Generation

While most of the birds that look to be fed are tiny (chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, even woodpeckers), here are the latest trying to get into the act. One piece of advice, DON’T attempt to hand-feed the Sandhill Cranes. Those bills are really big and sharp. The birds can also be somewhat aggressive. I was completely shocked that these birds stayed through the winter. Sandhills are common here from Spring through mid-Autumn, but they always migrate to Florida and points south during the winter (not unlike a large number of humans).

Did Someone Say Food?

Did Someone Say Food?

This Sure Isn't Florida. It's COLD here!

This Sure Isn’t Florida. It’s COLD here!

 

I hope you enjoyed our photos. If you are ever in the Detroit metropolitan area, try to make a trip out to Kensington. The birds are here year-round, and they are always happy to be fed.

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Blue Heron Rookery

If you’re here in the summer, these nests will be full of Blue Herons. It’s quite a site.

 

Up Next: Isn’t Worth THESE in the Bush

 

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There’s A BEAR in My Yard!

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!)

Got your attention, didn’t I? Actually, yes, there is a Bear in my yard. It’s my adorable 2 ½ year old German Shepherd Dog, Bear. With all the attention given to the weather and things to do in the snow, I thought it only fair to give Bear equal time.

 

Bear in my Yard

Bear in my Yard

You Talkin' About Me?

You Talkin’ About Me?

Bear loves the snow! The only thing Bear likes more than running in the snow is chasing squirrels in the snow. That’s an activity I haven’t mentioned before – squirrel chasing. There’s a certain joy in watching a dog plow through the snow after a furry-tailed rodent. Sure, it’s not a ‘personal’ activity, per se; it’s a spectator sport. Considering the fact that I always have about 14 bird feeders full at any one time, there is no shortage of targets. I tried really hard to get a photo of Bear in flight after a squirrel.

Squirrel!

Squirrel!

In case you’re wondering about the tail…yes, he was born with one. In March of last year, he and Sydney were playing. They would play chase and he would slow down just a little to let her almost catch up to him. I used to laugh at him when he would do that. It was just as though he was saying, “Nah, nah, nah! You can’t catch me_e” in the way that all children do. He always got away unscathed.  Well…almost always. This time, though, he slowed down just at the wrong time and Sydney caught the tip of his tail. Without going into gory de-tail (oh, I made a pun), no matter how we tried to save his tail, he just wouldn’t leave it alone long enough to heal. After several surgeries (and weeks in the ‘cone of shame’) to remove just one more bone, we agreed that he would have to have it bobbed.

I am PITIFUL!

I am PITIFUL!

To this day, I’m still trying to get used to it, but everyone who meets him says it “fits” his personality. If there’s a benefit to it, it might be that items on my shelves and tables are now a whole lot safer.

Did He Go That Way?

Did He Go That Way?

When Bear isn’t chasing squirrels or annoying Sydney, he can be a downright awesome buddy. He likes to sit next to my chair when I’m here. I often wonder if he’d like to put in his ‘two-cents-worth.’

001

I think he may know that I’m writing about him.

Dogs 002 

I’d love to hear about your special buddy! Please share him or her in the “Comments” section.

Up Next:  A Bird in the Hand…

 

Would you like to subscribe to my blog? (Oh, yes, it’s free!) Hopefully, you have already clicked on the title and are now directly in my blog page. If you have not gotten to the blog page, click on the title of the Posting and it will take you to the blog. From there, click on “Follow.” I hope you will. You will be notified of each new posting. I also hope you will jump in and comment on my posts.

 

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