DON’T BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?–HERE’S A REAL ONE–MIRACLE GSD NETWORK

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This story is a follow-up to my last post about the Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue 3rd Annual Reunion. I’ve had several people ask me about the Miracle GSDNetwork and the different rescues with which they work. Through the kind permission of The Miracle GSD Network team and Thulani Dogs, I am reposting a terrific article from their website. I’m sure you will enjoy it. These people ARE miracle workers.

Miracle GSD Network Team Members

Miracle GSD Network Team Members

“In the summer and early fall of 2012, a few people got together to see what they could do to help all the German Shepherds they were seeing that were dying in southern California shelters.  After talking for several weeks, they decided their best route would be to work with reputable rescues to move the dogs to places they could be adopted – where GSDs weren’t as common.  Their idea was to navigate the complicated California shelter system FOR the rescue.  Partner with the shelters, temp test the dogs, arrange with a rescue partner for the “pull”, arrange vet, board, and transport to the rescue – AND to raise the funds to do it.  They wanted to do this – to deliver the dog to the rescue – without the rescues having to figure all this out – taking away from the important job of taking care of the dogs, and getting them adopted.  Rescues already HAVE too much work to do!  After months of planning, Miracle GSD Network was formed, and “pulled” their first dogs in October 2012 from the Coachella Valley Shelter in CA for Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue.

Miracle GSD Network only works with a select few rescues that they have thoroughly checked out, and have processes in place that employ good and transparent rescue practices.   Since 2012 they have built a partnership with several rescues and shelters, and with many people on the “ground” assisting with temp tests, fostering, and transporting. They have earned the trust of so many people in rescue.  This small group of people is spread out all over the country – Arkansas, California, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts and North Carolina…”

Thulani Dogs is one of the select rescues who has been approved to work with Miracle GSD Network.. They have a marvelous website. Thulani is not your “everyday” rescue. These are people with an amazing strength. Here are a couple of excerpts from their website:

“The Thulani Program is a subactivity of German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California (GSRNC) that focuses on helping German Shepherds with limited life expectancy, typically measured in months or possibly as much as a year.  Although independently run, this program is fully integrated with the much broader activities of GSRNC…”

“The Thulani Program for providing hospice care and sanctuary for German Shepherd dogs with limited life expectancy was founded in mid-2009 as a German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California response  to a need identified by our shelter evaluators.  The evaluators were finding German Shepherd dogs in shelters that were wonderful dogs, but because of terminal medical conditions or extreme age, were not dogs that could successfully be adopted out to the public as part of regular adoption program. Yet these wonderful dogs have some quality life left for them, even though it might be short. The evaluators realized that, if they turned their backs on these dogs, they very likely would die alone and afraid in the shelter almost immediately…”

The Thulani Program has a wonderful website: http://thulanidogs.org/

Here are photos of “Morrie T.” He was a Miracle Dog who was adopted through Thulani.

“Morrie T” in the shelter (Just pitiful!)

Photographer, Jane Sobel Kronsky Morrie T with

Photographer, Jane Sobel Kronsky
Morrie T with “mom” Vicky (this year) – Just look at the happy, healthy, much-loved boy , now!

JUST ADDED!!!

Here are photos of two sweet, elderly dogs who were just rescued out of a shelter in California. They are going to the tremendous Thulani Program!

Shelter photo of Lucky and Sugar

Shelter photos of Lucky and Sugar

and NOW, here are their “Freedom” photos!

So good to see these two going to a place where they will be loved the rest of their days!

So good to see these two going to a place where they will be loved the rest of their days!

“Miracle GSD Network is PROUD to partner with the Thulani Program, to save Senior & Hospice German Shepherds – a cause near & dear to their hearts.  Miracle GSD Network is an “informal” organization dedicated to helping rescues navigate the difficult shelter system by coordinating “pulls” of dogs in need.  Visit (ask to join) our Facebook page – it is a HAPPY PLACE – where we post updates of all our “Miracle Dogs” – to date over 450 saved:”

Since this article was written, so many more dogs have been saved thanks to the combined efforts of the Network and their associated rescues. As of this writing, 564 dogs have been pulled from shelters and sent to rescues across the country. It’s so remarkable that such a small group can do so much good! I think it proves that if you really want to do something ‒ you CAN!

If you’re interested in learning more about Miracle GSD Network, you can visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/310605105708097/

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 Day of Celebration and Tears!

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After a long hiatus, I’m back to blogging. Life has a funny way of rolling by faster and faster as each year passes. Work, home, dogs, birds…all seem to demand their amount of time and energy. Happily, I may have figured out a way to steal some time and tell all y’all about the wonderful celebration we attended. I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoy telling the story.

3rd Annual Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue Reunion

3rd Annual Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue Reunion

July 25 was the Third Annual Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue reunion. This was a day for all athe dogs who had been adopted through the rescue to come together with their owners and meet/reacquaint with others.

Some of the Reunion Attendees

Some of the Reunion Attendees

It was also time to meet some extraordinary people who are involved in saving so many German Shepherd Dogs from certain death in the overcrowded shelters in California.

Lisa & Kathy from the Miracle Network with one of the greatest contributors and two Miracle Dog owners.

Lisa & Kathy from the Miracle Network with one of the greatest contributors and two Miracle Dog owners.

This group is the Miracle GSD Network. You can find their page on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/groups/310605105708097/

Lisa and Kathy from the Miracle Network flank Maz (one of the leading contributors)

Lisa and Kathy from the Miracle Network flank Maz (one of the leading contributors)

This group is especially dear to us, as they are the ones who saved our darling Dolly!It was our first opportunity to meet some of these dedicated women with whom we’ve become very dear Facebook friends over the past year. It was also the first opportunity for them to actually meet – face-to-face – with many of the dogs they’d worked so diligently to save. There were lots of happy tears shed over these first meetings. I’m not completely certain, but I think even the dogs realized how important and special these women were in their lives.

Dolly with Lisa (her first opportunity to meet the girl she helped to save!)

Dolly with Lisa (her first opportunity to meet the girl she helped to save!)

The group began when several of these women got together just a very few years ago to see if they could help with the dire situation in the shelters in California. The shelters were (and are) filled well past capacity and it has meant that hold times for dogs (especially large dogs like German Shepherds) have been cut to just the bare minimums required by law. Rescues were doing their best to try to save as many as possible, but sheer numbers and widely-spread locations and even crossed communications were hampering their abilities. The women from the Miracle Network have been able to help cut through these barriers. They have helped funnel dogs from the overrun shelters to reputable (strenuously checked) rescues throughout the country. They take absolutely NO funds for their work and spend hours upon hours on the computer and telephone with the yeoman’s job of coordinating getting the dogs from the shelters to the rescues which are all around the country.

One of the approved rescues is Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue. Kristin Bright has been involved from the very beginning. It is through her rescue that we adopted our adorable Dolly and our precious Cinder.

Kristin with Lynne's Kaiser

Kristin with Lynne’s Kaiser

Another great photo of Kristin with Kaiser

Another great photo of Kristin with Kaiser

A few months after Dolly came to live with us, we lost our Sydney. Not long after that, Kristin contacted us as a possible home for another senior girl who had recently been rescued from Ohio. Cinder was not part of the Miracle Network, but was an owner turn-in. You can read all about both Dolly and Cinder in previous posts, but they were alumnae at the reunion on Saturday.

Our Cinder at the SMGSR 3rd Annual Reunion

Our Cinder at the SMGSR 3rd Annual Reunion

Cinder Chilling at the Reunion

Cinder Chilling at the Reunion

All of the dogs here had amazing back stories. It’s impossible to share all the stories. Here are a few that will amaze you and which exemplify the work being done to save these fantastic dogs.

Naturally, you know I have to start with Dolly. The before and after are really something to see, and she was one of the dogs who wasn’t in very poor condition.

Our Dolly (Miracle Dog #307) - Intake Photo

Our Dolly (Miracle Dog #307) – Shelter Intake Photo

Our Dolly now!

Our Dolly now!

Dolly & Cinder Taking it Easy

Dolly & Cinder Taking it Easy

Here are photos of Kyra (Miracle Dog #38) before and after!

Kyra BEFORE the Miracle Network swooped in to save her

Kyra BEFORE the Miracle Network swooped in to save her

Kyra now! Three beautiful girls!

Kyra now! Three beautiful girls!

Kyra with her Dad

Kyra with her Dad

Kyra's a Happy Girl!

Kyra’s a Happy Girl!

Kyra Enjoys Looking at the World From Above

Kyra Enjoys Looking at the World From Above

Here is handsome Zeppelin (Zeppy) – Miracle Dog #69. It’s clear that he has gone from the depths to a wonderful, loving home.

Zeppelin (Zeppy) in the Shelter - Poor bedraggled boy!

Zeppelin (Zeppy) – Miracle Dog #69 – in the Shelter – Poor bedraggled boy!

Zeppy now! He's such a Happy, Handsome Boy

Zeppy now! He’s such a Happy, Handsome Boy. Who wouldn’t be with two lovely ladies!

Zeppy is Now a Gorgeous, Silky Boy - Miracle Dog, indeed!

Zeppy is Now a Gorgeous, Silky Boy – Miracle Dog, indeed!

This is Tequila! Of all the sad faces, she had one of the saddest. I fell in love with her when I first saw that sad face. I was so hoping the right person would come along and give her the home she so richly deserves. She sure hit the jackpot with her “mom”, Susan!

Tequila (Miracle #373). Have you ever seen SUCH a sad face?

Tequila (Miracle #373). Have you ever seen SUCH a sad face?

Tequila now! I can hardly believe it's the same dog. She is absolutely stunning!

Tequila now! I can hardly believe it’s the same dog. She is absolutely stunning!

Amazing Transformation! Just proves that, with love, anything is possible.

Amazing Transformation! Just proves that, with love, anything is possible.

The most amazing story of all (in my opinion) is that of Dulce (now named Cali). This poor dog looked so emaciated and rough. I can’t help but believe she would not have lasted more than a day or two more had the Miracle GSD Network not swooped in and saved her.

Dulce (now named Cali) in the shelter. It's hard to look at this photo. She's just skin and bone.

Dulce (now named Cali) in the shelter. It’s hard to look at this photo. She’s just skin and bone.

Dulce/Cali (Miracle Dog #383) after just a few short, loving months

Dulce/Cali (Miracle Dog #383) after just a short, loved period. Isn’t the difference amazing?

Everyone who saw her transformation (and her forever family hasn’t had her with them very long) was thrilled. I think more happy tears were cried over this pup than any other.

Sweet Cali! Safe and LOVED at last!

Sweet Cali! Safe and LOVED at last!

There are so many happy stories with the Rescue and Miracle Network. It was wonderful to get to meet other human family members who share with us the love of rescued dogs. I hope to be sharing many of these in future posts.

Another great story is that of Karu and her puppies. Karu wasn’t at the reunion, but two of her pups were. Karu was rescued and had puppies. Karu is full German Shepherd Dog, but dad was apparently a Mastiff/Boxer mix. Two of the pups – Augusta and Gunner – had not seen each other since they had been adopted. It was clear to all that they remembered each other. It was such a joy to watch them play together.

Karu's pups, Augusta and Gunner, meet again for the first time since adoption. Gunner (the brindle) looks a little tentative

Karu’s pups, Augusta and Gunner, meet again for the first time since adoption. Gunner (the brindle) looks a little tentative

I think they're starting to remember

I think they’re starting to remember

That's my BROTHER!

That’s my BROTHER!

Yep, they're brothers, all right

Yep, they’re brothers, all right

All in all, there were easily forty-plus German Shepherd Dogs all in one place. There were absolutely no instances of fights or difficulties because we all respected each other’s space. There was ample area to walk the dogs, kiddie pools to drink or cool off in, and activities to keep the dogs entertained. There were also many children around who really enjoyed being able to pet so many beautiful dogs. That was remarkable in that the dogs seemed to enjoy the kids as much (if not more).

German Shepherds everywhere

German Shepherds everywhere

The kids and dogs got along terrifically.

The kids and dogs got along terrifically.

There were contests for the dogs (like who could lie down and stay the longest) and “hot dog” eating contest. (Not really hot dogs – they were special doggie treats that floated.) I entered Dolly at the last minute.

Kiddie Pools for drinking and cooling off (for the dogs)

Kiddie Pools for drinking and cooling off (for the dogs)

She wasn’t sure at first, but got them all. Just as they were finishing the contest, Jim decided that Cinder needed a chance to beat Dolly’s time. Not only did Cinder beat Dolly’s time, she won the contest with all ten pieces snagged in 10 seconds! A new record! She won a prize bag full of fun toys and treats!

Dolly wasn't sure about this contest

Dolly wasn’t sure about this contest

There were cakes and treats for humans and canines alike. The door prizes and raffles were really top notch.

Treats for the Dogs

Treats for the Dogs

and Cake for the Humans

and Cake for the Humans

Just a few of the prizes

Just a few of the prizes

We all had a marvelous time and are very much looking forward to next year’s get together. We’re really hoping that many of those who couldn’t make it for this reunion will be able to join us next year.

I can’t say enough about all the work put in by Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue. Kristin has so much on her plate running the rescue; but she did a fantastic job of pulling everything together and assuring a great time for everyone. I can’t imagine how she found enough hours in the day to do everything she did. If Wonder Woman were real, I imagine she’d look a lot like Kristin.

The amazing Kristin

The amazing Kristin

Kristin taking a short break

Kristin taking a short break

Kristin greeting one of the pups she cared for before adoption.

Kristin greeting one of the pups she cared for before adoption.

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!

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)

2014-10-24 12.25.50

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!

Hello Dolly

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“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

20140504_100940

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

Sydney

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

Sydney

Sydney

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

Sydney

Sydney

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

Sydney

Sydney

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

Sydney Was a Beauty!

Sydney Was a Beauty!

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

Sydney LOVED Snow

Sydney LOVED Snow

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

Syd & Dad (The Day We Brought Her Home)

Syd & Dad
(The Day We Brought Her Home)

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

Syd Loved Just Chillin' in the Snow

Syd Loved Just Chillin’ in the Snow

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

Sydney in Her Pool (July 4, 2014)

Sydney in Her Pool
(July 4, 2014)

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

IMG_20140704_141029_099

Sydney’s Last Swim (July 4, 2014)

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

 

Up Next: Hello Dolly!

 

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

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

A Little of This and A Little of That (of course, a Nitro Update)

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!)

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I seriously doubt that I’ll get another blog out before the big day, so I want to make absolutely certain that I wish all of you the happiest of holidays!

 

The Tree is Up!

The Tree is Up!

This year, I vowed that I would have all my decorating and package wrapping done at least a week before Christmas. Uh, no, it just didn’t happen. I did get my house decorated somewhat for Christmas the weekend following Thanksgiving; but this year my baking, package wrapping, and prep for Christmas dinner is WAY behind! I don’t know where the time went at all! I do work, so my time is fractured, but that really doesn’t explain it. I’ve worked ever since I was a kid (starting in high school and college), and time has never gotten away from me like it has now. Maybe the organizational skills reduce as the silver hairs increase…

 

Progress!

 

For those of you who are wondering how I’m doing with my diet, I’m pretty pleased with myself. I’ve lost just a little over 20 pounds. I really feel like I’ve turned the corner with my new plan. In case you haven’t read that post, I’m keeping track of every morsel I eat. I found myfitnesspal.com , and it’s working for me. I have to admit, though, that I absolutely do not intend to track a single thing I eat during our group Christmas party at work or for Christmas Eve or Christmas day. This is a program that I will have to live by for the rest of my days. Depriving myself of all goodies at all times is a recipe for failure. A wise man (a doctor) once told me, “It’s not what you eat between Thanksgiving and Christmas that hurts you. It’s what you eat from Christmas to Thanksgiving.”

 

Another real plus for us is that there are several, top-of-the-line exercise machines in our hangar. This has been a real benefit for me. Every morning before I start work, I use the elliptical trainer for about seven minutes and an exercycle for another five to seven minutes. There are also weights and toning machines that really make a difference. I truly haven’t felt this healthy in a number of years.

 

A Terrific Addition!

 

Vinessa with Nitro

Vinessa with Nitro

I am giddy with joy! Vinessa – our angel – has decided that she and her family are staying in Michigan! She’s a Michigan girl to begin with. Ever since that terribly frightening accident on the way to Michigan from Montana, Vinessa has known that she wanted to live in her native state with all her family around her.

 

She and her family used to make the amazing trek from California to Michigan (and back) four times a year. What kind of toll would that take on anyone? I just can’t imagine it. This decision makes complete sense for her and her little ones.

 

At present, Vinessa is considering starting her own German Shepherd Dog rescue. They’ve already located a house and she’s got a line on a shepherd in need of a foster home. I have to hand it to this gal, when she puts her mind to something, it’s done. If you want to watch, don’t blink!

 

Nitro!

 

Nitro is doing absolutely fabulously! He is absolute proof that miracles DO happen and that there is a plan. I certainly can’t explain all the myriad of things that had to fall into place, perfectly, to save him and bring him home to Nichole, Teyha, Jack, and us any other way. There had to be a “plan.”

 

Here are some photos just a short six days since we met Vinessa and brought Nitro to his furever home. He’s put on weight and he’s getting very strong.

 

This photo is Nitro showing how much weight he’s put on and that his ribs are no longer standing out.

 

Nitro getting STRONGER!

Nitro getting STRONGER!

Here he is almost pulling Jack’s arm out of the socket.

 

Hang on Jack!

Hang on Jack!

One of the most remarkable things about Nitro (and there are so many) is that he’s still a very friendly boy. One would expect that he would be a little shy around strangers. Since he, somehow, ended up on the street, you would think that someone didn’t treat him very well. He also shows signs that he wasn’t well cared for for quite some time. This is why it completely amazes me that he is so happy to meet new people. The photo below shows one of my coworkers right after getting a complete “face wash” from a quick Nitro tongue.

 

Her face tasted GOOD!

Her face tasted GOOD!

Nitro has completely adopted his new family. He is completely smitten with “his girl.” He welcomes her home with joyous yodels and dancing. A happier dog I’ve never seen.

 

Like They Should Be

Like They Should Be

Once again, I want to thank all of you who have been praying for our boy and us. I can’t imagine a happier outcome for him (and for his family).

 

Keep believing!

 

Up Next: We Made It!

 

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!