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.



Dolly in the Shelter


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. . 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.



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.


2014-10-31 17.34.37.jpeg

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.



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)!


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?


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.


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!

Hail to the Chief

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’ve been trying to write this post for months. Every time I’ve begun, the waterworks have started and I’ve abandoned ship. Not this time. This is for Chief.


Chief (or Chiefy as we called him most of the time) came into our lives at a very low point. Our goofy, adorable, white German Shepherd Dog, Blizzard, had contracted hemangiosarcoma and we’d been forced to euthanize him. For those of you lucky enough to not know what this disease is, it’s a form of blood cancer. We were bereft.


I told our friend Janet of the loss as she’d been the one who got us involved with Atlanta German Shepherd Rescue Resource. She had loved our Blizzydog almost as much as we did. She was still strongly involved with the rescue resource, while we had moved to Michigan. Janet told me that it just so happened that a young, male, white, German Shepherd Dog was in the process of going into the resource program. His former people had to give him up due to a relocation across country. Janet said she would take him as a foster to see if we might want to adopt him. Oh, by the way, his name was Chief.


After a few weeks, Janet told me that Chief was a wonderful dog. She was crazy about him, and not to worry – if we decided not to adopt, she’d keep him. Well, we decided that we had room (both in our home and in our hearts) for another fella. All three of our girls (Cheyenne, Guinevere, and Liesel) missed their brother, too. So, off to Kentucky we drove – on Fathers’ Day. Janet drove up from Georgia and met us at a rest stop on I-75 in the middle of Kentucky. We made the transfer, and Chief (who was ADORABLE) laid right down and didn’t give us a moment’s trouble all the way home.


The girls accepted him into their pack immediately. Here was another extraordinarily happy, white, boy. It was the smoothest transition you can imagine. What Chiefy must have thought – long ride, new people, new house and a pack of new dogs! Never turned a hair, though.


As time went by, Chiefy stole more and more of our hearts. His sisters adored him and he mended Jim’s and my hearts over the loss of Blizzard. He wasn’t Blizzard – no dog could ever be – but he had his own, inimitable, loving style that captivated everyone who ever met him. He was so much his own dog – a style all his own.  He was a sweet, funny, loving dog.


As time passed, so did our girls. I won’t recount all of that here again. Each has their own story in earlier posts. Chief mourned each, but seemed to realize how much his “dad” and I needed him. It was especially true when we lost Liesel (Jim’s best girl) in August of 2010 and Guinevere (who was my heart and my shadow) exactly (to the day) three months later. The toll their losses took on Chiefy must have been more than we could see.


Shortly after Liesel passed away, we brought Sydney into our lives. Sydney needed a home right away. Her people were divorcing and neither could keep her. She was an older dog (7 years) and they had felt that if they didn’t find a home quickly, they’d have to euthanize her. We didn’t hesitate. Surprisingly, she slid into the crossword puzzle that was our lives like a piece that had been planned all along. She had never been around other dogs, but she integrated like she’d been part of the pack forever. She let little Guinevere (as sick as she was) maintain the alpha female status and buddied up with Chiefy. Both she and Chief seemed to understand how desperately ill Guinevere was but never gave her a moment’s trouble. When Guinevere left us, they grieved – almost as much as I.


Not long thereafter, I noticed Chief had lost some of his get-up-and-go. I assumed that the years were starting to take their toll and that arthritis was starting to bother our boy. His annual exam and blood tests had come back “normal.” We decided to take him to a veterinarian friend who had started a rehabilitation clinic and did canine acupuncture. We hoped it would make him more comfortable and help him get his energy back.


We went through the winter, and it seemed to give him some relief, but not enough to warrant continuation. As spring came, it looked as though Chiefy was feeling better. We hoped that the sorrows of losing our precious kids were behind us and that we were starting to make our way again.

Spring turned into summer. It was as if, all of the sudden, Chief started slowing down again. Most of the time, he appeared to be his happy-go-lucky self; but the heat got to him more. We chalked it up to age, although he was only around 9 years old.

Last photo - 6/26/2011

Some days (like in the photo above), Chief acted completely normal. Unfortunately, things went downhill very fast. By late June, we were really starting to worry. Jim took him to the vets’ office. We didn’t see one of our regular vets – who knew Chief well – but the new vet assured us that Chief’s problem was arthritis. She didn’t think x-rays were necessary. She was wrong. The next couple of days brought a swift deterioration in Chief’s condition. We had to pull out the belly sling that we’d had for Cheyenne when she was losing her battle to cancer. In my heart, I knew.

Finally, on July 3, I made a call to our friend Mary – the veterinarian who had helped him with the acupuncture. She came over and saw that Chief could no longer walk. He was panting and in distress. The option was take him to the emergency vet to see if there was anything that could be done or put him down, then and there. If we’d taken that option, Mary warned us that we would always wonder if there had been another answer. I am so grateful that we took him to the emergency vet. They wheeled him from the car on a gurney and immediately x-rayed him. Cancer! He was full of it. We knew that there was only one option. It took the wondering out of the equation.

Chiefy was brought in and laid on the floor of the room that was specifically set up for goodbyes. It was large enough for people to be on the floor with their loved one, dimly – but, adequately – lit, and quiet. I laid down next to my great, white, sweet boy one last time. He was still sedated from the x-ray, but he knew we were there. He had given me a look when they wheeled him in that said – as clearly as if it had been out-loud and in English – “Please, Mom, make it stop.” He was so tired of fighting. He was in pain. It was time to let him go. My heart was, once again, in a million pieces. It was the only “right” thing to do. Jim and I kissed our boy as he went to the “Rainbow Bridge.” I told him he would see his sisters again and they could play. I told him he would finally get to meet his brother.

I begged him to come to meet me there when my turn comes. I’ll be looking for him.

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