Champ’s Story – Miracle Dog #306!

Champ’s Story – Miracle Dog #306!

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Champ with Santa 2016

 

This Beth Miller Erman’s wonderful story about her Miracle Dog, Champ. I love these stories and can never get enough. Champ’s story is especially powerful for me because he is Miracle Dog rescue #306. Our sweet Dolly is #307! I hope you feel the same. It’s especially sweet to share these wonderful stories of love and triumph during this, the Christmas season. Enjoy!

“I lost my first German Shepherd, a smart and loyal black-and-cream girl named Lindy, in July 2010. I felt like I had lost part of my being when she died. We still had my husband’s two dogs when she died (we are a blended family), but it wasn’t the same. She and I had made it through 13 years together. Well-meaning people would tell me about other German Shepherds that became available, but I wasn’t ready, but I knew that I would know when the right one came along.

 

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Champ on Yellow Blanket in the Park

That happened in mid-April 2014, when Serendipity German Shepherd Dog Rescue posted a photo of a couple of their rescues lying on a yellow blanket in a park. One was named Champ, and he had the classic GSD head tilt in the photo. As soon as I saw that picture, I knew he was the one. Serendipity was looking for a foster or adopter for him since he was in boarding at the time. By this time, we had lost all of our dogs and one of my cats, so I asked my husband if he would consider fostering Champ. He said yes, and we went to meet Champ at the kennel the following weekend.

 

Champ was very anxious when we met him and didn’t really want to be petted. He ran around the enclosed yard, and we played ball a bit. He was way too thin, missing some hair and needed some TLC. We were approved for adoption, and brought him home May 1, 2014.

 

My husband and I have had many dogs in our lives, but none of them were like Champ. High-strung and anxious didn’t begin to describe him. He reacted to every noise, every movement outside of the window, didn’t have very good leash manners, and was extremely reactive with other dogs. Even at a low weight, he was strong enough to pull me down. We couldn’t have people come to the house because he was so aggressive. We had our dining room chairs lined up in front of the front windows to keep him from going through them. I had to barricade rooms of the house to keep him from hurting my elderly cat. The whole neighborhood was afraid of him. After 10 days, we realized we were in over our heads with this one. We contacted a local dog training group that offered behavioral evaluations and had a one-hour evaluation. We were recommended for a class (appropriately) called “Dogs with Issues,” but it wasn’t set to start until fall, and we knew we couldn’t wait that long. We tried another trainer, but her style and Champ’s issues weren’t a good fit. The volunteers at Serendipity were always available for help and even came over to watch Champ’s behavior themselves and offer recommendations. We were pretty much at the end of our ropes when we learned about Casey Ray St. Louis Dog Trainers. One of the Serendipity volunteers who had helped us with adopting Champ suggested them, and we went to talk with Casey. Champ showed his true colors at the meeting, and we agreed that a two-week Stay & Learn, followed by weekly group training, would be the best thing for all of us.

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Champ with Beth! He Needed a Job

 

It didn’t happen overnight, but Champ is a very different dog than he was before we started training with Casey’s team. We have missed only a handful of group training classes in 2.5 years because he needs the structure and socialization. He is still reactive, but we are able to control him in those situations now, and it’s at a significantly lower level than all-out Cujo like he was in 2014. He is often the star of the class. We even did a 6-week agility class, and it was as if he was born for agility. He mastered it really quickly. To continue that, we take him to local playgrounds when children aren’t present and let him go up the climbs and down the slides. There is no playground he can’t conquer!

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Champ’s Chillin’ Now!

 

Emotionally, he has really come around. It took about 6 months with us before he wagged his tail, and probably 18 months before he would sit down next to one of us on the floor. He’s not much of a snuggler, but he does love to be petted and groomed.

 

If I could share one lesson from our experience with a rescued GSD, I would say to be patient. I was frustrated early on because I didn’t think he was catching on to things quickly enough, but I did not take into account his emotional scars. Once I realized that he needed to learn things on his own time schedule, build his confidence and learn to trust us and other people, it made things a lot easier. Looking back, it’s been such a joy to watch him blossom. He lets people pet him now, loves kids, especially toddlers, and is a happy, healthy dog. He’s not perfect, but he’s perfect for me. I’m grateful to the Miracle GSD Network for saving him and for Serendipity GSD Rescue for bringing him here for an opportunity for a new life.”

What a terrific story! Thank you, Beth, for sharing. It’s amazing what you’ve accomplished in such a relatively short time. We who have had the joy of having a Miracle Dog (or other adopted rescue) don’t know exactly where our dogs have been prior to rescue or what their lives were like. The best we can do is to give them time, consistency, and strong love to help them learn that their lives are forever changed and that they will never need to be afraid again.

 

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!

Dolly’s (Miracle Dog #307) Trials

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Those of y’all who have been following my blog for any time know that we adopted a beautiful, white German Shepherd mix in 2014 from Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue. Dolly is a Miracle Dog (#307). If you haven’t seen a previous post, let me explain who the Miracle German Shepherd Network are.

 

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Dolly in the Shelter

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Dolly’s Freedom Ride from the High-Kill Shelter (These photos is how I first saw her)

Miracle was started by a group of people who were incensed to find out how many German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) were being euthanized in California shelters. They made a pledge that they would form a network of caring individuals who would get as many GSDs out of these high-kill shelters as possible and get them to legitimate rescue organizations across the country. Over the years, Miracle has grown to a network of many people who have taken these dogs into their rescues, been foster homes for the dogs, adopted the dogs, and/or been donors. The core group is still in place and responsible for keeping the lines of communication open and doing the “heavy lifting.” The Miracle GSD Network has a Facebook page where updates and happy stories about the Miracle Dog alumni. https://www.facebook.com/groups/310605105708097 . There are always more dogs to get out of high-kill shelters. I, for one, am so grateful that Miracle GSD Network exists. It’s thanks to them that we have our beautiful Dolly.

 

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Dolly with one of Miracle’s Founders

About this time last year, we noticed that Dolly seemed to be dragging her right front foot. Not really dragging behind, more like knuckling under. It was the sound that caught our attention first. We took her to the vet who thought she might just have a stinger from blasting through the dog door. (She was really apt to fly through that like a shot.) He did, however, warn us that we might be looking at Wobbler Syndrome. We started her on a regimen of prednisone to see if it would clear up the problem. While it did help, short-term, the condition continued. We gave her a couple of months to see if perhaps her condition would improve over time. Actually, I think we were in denial and since she didn’t show any signs of pain, whatsoever, we had all kinds of blood tests and labs run.

 

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Fluffy Dolly – The Day We Brought Her Home!

Finally, when her condition didn’t show any signs of improvement (although it had not gotten any worse), we asked our vet to refer us to a clinic where she could have an MRI. He agreed that this was the best course of action to see exactly what we were dealing with. It was a good decision.

The clinic ran the MRI and did a spinal tap to rule out cancer. Thank Heavens, the spinal tap was negative for cancer, but the MRI showed “chronic intervertebral disc disease between C5 & 6 and C6 & 7.” This was pretty much what was feared. A surgical option was discussed, but there was no clear indication that surgery would improve Dolly’s condition, and there was a small chance it could worsen. We decided to opt for rehab.

 

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Dolly At ARF (Animal Rehabilitation Facility) in Dexter, MI

We are so blessed to know an incredible veterinarian who runs a rehabilitation clinic very close to where we live. Dr. Mary Cardeccia owns Animal Rehabilitation Facility in Dexter, Michigan. I had taken one of our previous dogs to Dr. Mary for acupuncture many years ago. Since that time, she has really increased the size and staff at ARF. They have everything one could ask for when it comes to rehabilitating pets.

 

We took Dolly in for an initial evaluation. After reviewing the MRI, and the notes from the clinic, we decided to try a course of exercise, massage, cold laser, and hydro therapy for Dolly. After several months of following this course, we are starting to notice some small improvement. Dolly’s flexibility and strength seems to have improved and she runs almost as though there is no problem at all. She has developed some callousing on the top of her right foot (the one that seemed to be affected the most). Her right hind is reacting better than prior to the rehab.

 

I must say that Dolly has come to really enjoy her therapy sessions. Of course, the fact that she’s completely fussed over doesn’t hurt and they have such terrific treats! I have to really rush to keep up with her when I get her out of the car at ARF because she’s so anxious to go see her friends (and stock up on yummies)!

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Dolly in her “Doggles”

 

We all have to wear goggles (doggles in Dolly’s case) for the cold laser. I think she looks smashing in them. Don’t you?

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Doesn’t She Look Smashing?

 

While most of the exercises are fun for Dolly, the water treadmill is not her favorite – at all! Poor little thing! She really doesn’t like it, but she’s a trooper.

 

After finishing 8 sessions, we are moving on to just going for cold laser treatments. (No more water treadmill which will make her a pretty happy puppy!) As long as we see no regression, we will stick with the laser and slowly ween her off the prednisone. It’s very comforting, though, to know that the other options are still available should we not see continued improvement.

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Our Precious, Sweet Dolly

 

Through all of this, Dolly has kept her sweet, loving disposition. I’m not sure how; but I guess after having been picked up off the street in California and being put into a high-kill shelter, she knows that – thanks to the Miracle GSD Network – she’s in a home where she is loved and cared for. After all, Isn’t that what we all strive for?

 

Be sure to check back. I will be posting about Dolly’s progress again in the near future.

 

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!

To Honor Tito – Miracle Dog #328

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This is a post directly from the Miracle GSD Network. They’ve graciously allowed me to post it, along with photos. Several people over the past couple of years have asked me who or what the Miracle GSD Network is. It’s definitely WHO. Miracle was started by a group of people who were incensed to find out how many German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) were being euthanized in California shelters. They made a pledge that they would form a network of caring individuals who would get as many GSDs out of these high-kill shelters as possible, and get them to legitimate rescue organizations across the country. Over the years, Miracle has grown to a network of many people who have taken these dogs into their rescues, been foster homes for the dogs, adopted the dogs, and/or been donors. The core group is still in place and responsible for keeping the lines of communication open and doing the “heavy lifting.” The Miracle GSD Network has a Facebook page where updates and happy stories about the Miracle Dog alumni. https://www.facebook.com/groups/310605105708097 . There are always more dogs to get out of high-kill shelters. I, for one, am so grateful that Miracle GSD Network exists. It’s thanks to them that we have our beautiful Dolly (Miracle Dog #307).

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

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

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A Tribute to Tito

2002 – March 18, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heroes

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Heroes come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. Real heroes don’t wear capes. If you met a true hero on the street, you probably wouldn’t even realize that you’re in the presence of greatness. A couple of years ago, we were in the presence of many, many heroes. These are everyday people who were courageous enough to take a chance on adopting a Miracle dog. If you’ve read my blog in the past, you know that Miracle dogs are German Shepherd Dogs (or GSD mixes) who – through no fault of their own – ended up in high-kill shelters (mostly in California). An amazing group – The Miracle GSD Network – https://www.facebook.com/groups/310605105708097/ swooped in and saved these marvelous creatures.  Through outreach on public media (mostly), funds are raised to rescue the dogs from the shelters, initial veterinary care, and cover transportation to rescue organizations throughout the United States.

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Cali (then called Dulce) – skin and bone in the high-kill California shelter

One story that illustrates, to me, a true hero, is this story. This is Jill’s story of her Miracle Dog, Cali. Cali has had all kinds of health issues, but Jill has persevered and given Cali all the love and care any dog could hope for.

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Cali (Dulce) at the Reunion with one of the wonderful Miracle GSD Network founders

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Just Look What Jill’s Love has Done for Cali

“As I sit here looking at poor Cali, I wonder why God brought her into my life. Having lost our Border Collie 6 months before getting Cali, I swore I would never have a dog again. Hayley was our only dog because I am NOT a dog person. I am very afraid of dogs and with my OCD, I cannot pet them! I know, weird. When I saw Cali’s picture on FB, my Miracle GSD Network, #483, I told Howie that God told me I had to get her. Why God choose me to get her, I still question this. I have petted this dog, brushed her daily, held her, gone out in the snow in middle of the night to carry her in when she was too weak, cooked her homemade food, hand fed her, cleaned up many accidents in the house, whatever this princess needs. Last summer, I brought her to a reunion sponsored by SW German Shepherd Rescue and so many people from around the country were there to see Cali. They hugged her, cried when they saw her and knew what a special, sweet girl she is. I was TERRIFIED to attend. I was surrounded by huge German Shepherds…not just one but many. My heart pounded out of my chest the whole time but was thrilled I went. All I want is Cali to be happy and not in pain. The last year has been a constant struggle with this dog. Why God I ask..why? My heart hurts when I think of her in pain, thinking I may have to put her down, questioning am I doing the right thing. I do know though, that I love this dog and wouldn’t change getting her and getting her off the streets of abuse and starving in California. Please continue praying for Cali…and me!!”

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Much Loved Cali 

My heart goes out to Jill, her family, and her sweet Cali. If Jill isn’t a hero, there is no such thing.

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Please Pray for Cali and Jill

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Update on Miracle Dog #555 – 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!)

The following story was shared with me by The Miracle GSD Network and The Thulani Program. I’m so very grateful that they keep me up-to-date with their wonderful stories. If you recall, I first wrote about Guthrie T in September of 2015. I feel especially close to Guthrie T in that we were able to donate to help with his surgery and medical care. I hope you will enjoy this update and appreciate the wonderful work being done by The Miracle GSD Network and The Thulani Program in making a huge difference, one dog at a time.

The Story Of Guthrie T.

Guthrie’s rescue story started at the Moreno Valley Shelter in July of 2015. He became Miracle GSD, #555 and brought into the Thulani Program. He came in as a stray with a bloody, ulcerated toe that needed to be removed and biopsied. As it turned out, he had pneumonia as well! Guthrie was treated for his illness, his toe was removed and thankfully, it was not cancerous.

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

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Guthrie T Knows He’s Now Safe!

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Guthrie T looks sad, but his medical care had been accomplished

From there he went to his foster home in early September. During his stay with his foster humans, they discovered that Guthrie had had a pretty rough past. He would run away when his food bowl was given to him. He would lower his head and ears when you reached to pet him. It was very clear that he had fallen victim to some sort of abuse in his past. After about a month with his fosters, he started opening up, trusting, and even came looking for love with smiles and his tail wagging! Once he reached this point, it was time for Adoption Days and a search for his perfect retirement home.

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Guthrie T at his Foster Home

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Guthrie T in September!

It took a little while to find his perfect match, but in late December she entered his life. Here are some of her updates:

“All day, when let out, Guthrie would stand at the door and look in but wouldn’t come in if he saw me.

I finally stood by the bedroom sliding door and when he walked in the family room I ran outside, shoeless as to not make noise, and shut the family room sliding glass door.

Just now I let him out to use the bathroom. Got busy and did not leave the door open. After only 10 minutes I heard this howling. It was Guthrie. Opened the door and he came in…. too cute.” 12/30/15

“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.” 1/10/16

“The new thing this week is he will come in the house when new people are over and stay near me. He is friendly enough to them in terms not growling but I do not let them pet him yet. We all wonder if he comes inside to protect me?

When they leave he goes back outside.

He won’t come in the garage to sleep but he does go in for his meals and water. Because of his PTSD I do want to get a house for him and put it in a corner of the yard.

When it is dark he does come in to sleep.

He goes to the door for potty and wines a little if I’m sleeping. Smart boy.

Love to see him running to me with his happy smiling face when I come home after even a short absence.

When I tell him he is safe and loved he seems to smile. “ 1/24/16

“loving this boy..

– he is getting in the car

– he went to the vet and had his ears and teeth cleaned .. they said he was a sweet boy

– calmly comes in the house now and even if the door is open stays inside most of the day

– sleeps all over the house, not just in corners

– loves walks

– loves company … or stays near me to protect me?” 2/16/16

“Guthrie no longer has nightmares that cause him to bolt up, growl and cry.

He does not like to stay outside, but will if needed.

New transition –

Guthrie had started crying to get up in the bed a month ago but I didn’t encourage him because Star was so territorial.

One day I walked in the bedroom and he was lying in the middle of the bed as if this is where he was meant to be.

Eventually one day he got up on the bed while I was reading. He was so emotionally overwhelmed he had a panic attack and ran outside to his ‘safe space’.

He now knows to only climb in bed when Star is not in sight and loves to cuddle – well, demands it!

I remember a trainer telling me “why did you take this dog” .. “love will not be enough to help him”.

So happy I trusted my connection and relationship with Guthrie over that advice.” 4/7/16

Looks like Guthrie is finally living his much deserved happily ever after!! Thank you Jeanette (adopter mom) !!

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Guthrie T Looking Loved and Happy

If you want to learn more about adopting a wonderful dog like Guthrie T, please contact Bob at thulanidogs@gsrnc.org. The Thulani Program has several stipulations for adoption which you can read about on their website: http://thulanidogs.org/

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!