Washington German Shepherd Rescue

In Memoriam

Paying tribute to a special German shepherd who has passed, as well as his guardian, who selflessly cared for him in his final months of life. Logan was an old German shepherd who was a stray at a shelter in Oregon. Gentle in spirit and kind of heart, but old, with no chance of leaving the shelter without his guardian angel, Patricia, who fostered him during his final days. Under Patricia’s loving care, Logan was able to romp and play with Patricia’s other dogs and children. Logan could smile, that precious shepherd smile that reflected the joy in his heart for being loved and a part of a family. Toward the end of his days, lymphoma took hold in his body and stole the spark from his eyes. Again, Patricia’s loving hand and caring spirit were there for this kind-hearted dog. Patricia knew when Logan’s quality of life was so diminished that he could not enjoy life any longer. Patricia was by Logan’s side when he was put to sleep, comforting this special boy through his final moment of life. Without her loving care, Logan would have died months before, in a cold shelter, without the comfort of a tender hand. Thank you, Patricia, for providing love, and comfort, to a special dog who deserved to be cherished, in his golden years.

The words from the Rob Thomas song “Now comes the night” seem extraordinarily fitting to the plight of Buzz in his final days…..

When the hour is upon us
And our beauty surely gone
No you will not be forgotten
No you will not be alone

And when the day has all but ended
And our echo starts to fade
No you will not be alone then
And you will not be afraid
No you will not be afraid

Now comes the night
Feel it fading away
And the soul underneath
Is it all that remains
So just slide over here
Leave your fear in the fray
Let us hold to each other
Till the end of our days…..

Buzz ended up at the shelter after his owner lost his job and was living out of his car. Joyce, Buzz’s loving foster, had him for only a few days, but loved him even in that short time. She ensured that indeed, he was not forgotten and that he would not pass alone and in fear. Buzz passed away in his sleep, just one day after a surgery attempting to repair his enlarged spleen. Without caring fosters, dogs like Buzz would not make it out of the shelter and into a home. Thank you Joyce for ensuring that Buzz felt love and comfort in his final moments.

For each person, there is a reason for a deep love, or a passion, as is the case for Cara, who helped found the Washington German Shepherd Rescue organization. The following memorial helps to explain her special love of German shepherds, as well as her deep compassion and unfailing determination to help the breed.

Cara and her partner, Jeff, went to see a German shepherd at a shelter; a dog who had been left to die in the woods. The shelter had indicated that the dog was 14 years old, suffering from pneumonia, and had rotten teeth, which helped to explain the dog’s emaciated condition. Thor weighed approximately 50 lbs when he was first seen by Cara at the shelter. A mere fifty pounds on a dog who had probably weighed close to 120 pounds in his youth. Rather than allow the shelter to put the dog down, Jeff carried the emaciated dog to their car to be transported to their vet for evaluation. Again, instead of ending the dog’s life, the couple made the choice to give Thor the best that they could offer during his remaining days. Thor went to Cara’s home to be nursed back to health. During this time, he was unable to lift himself from a sitting position, nor sit from a standing position. However, his will and determination to live were unquestionable. Though Thor spent several months in Cara’s care, he was having a difficult time with their stairs, so she convinced her parents to foster him during his final months. Cara’s incredible parents made Thor’s final 6 months the very best that they could be. Thor’s determination to be near Cara’s parents lead him to attempt to conquer their stairs so that he could be near them at night. Rather than ban him from their room, they purchased a harness to assist him in his climb up and down the stairs. When Thor was having difficulty eating, Cara’s father purchased California Natural food, mixing wet with dry, and refrigerating it to be the right consistency. He would then spoon feed this special mixture to him. When Thor was losing bladder control, they had special bed covers made for him. Sadly, exceptional love and care could not prevent Thor’s inevitable decline. One morning, Thor was unable to get up at all……the best six months of this special boy’s life were finally at an end.

Cara’s parents gave their all to make an old dog’s final months exceptional. In Cara’s own words, “it is from them that I get my love of the German shepherds.”

Every dog has a story. For some it’s long, intimate, detailed. For others, it is brief and vague. Frederic arrived into Rescue after being picked up as a stray and taken to a shelter. Theresa, a wonderful volunteer for Washington German Shepherd Rescue, took Frederic from the shelter and into her home to be fostered. Frederic refused to eat during those first few days, despite being offered boiled hamburger or cooked chicken tidbits. After a very brief period of time, it became apparent to Theresa that Frederic was unwell and not just unhappy; that he needed to be seen by a veterinarian. The news was not good for Frederic. Handsome Frederic was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and it was clear that he was in pain. Although Theresa could have chosen to have him euthanized that very day, she chose to have him treated with steroids to help ease his discomfort, and she took him home to have one last weekend of happiness. The steroids gave Frederic a great appetite and eased his pain, allowing him to enjoy the precious time that he had been given. Theresa knew that Frederic loved to go for car rides, so she indulged his fancy and took him out for long drives, spoiled him with tasty treats and showered him with love. Had Frederic remained at the shelter, it is likely that his condition would have gone un-noticed, and that his discomfort would have escalated. Without a doubt, a comforting hand would not have been with Frederic in his last moments. Thank you, Theresa, for being there for Frederic. Thank you for ensuring that his last days were happy and that he felt love and comfort as a result of your compassionate nature.

Claire, better known as “the guardian” to her friend, Cecelia, passed away on May 12, 2007. Claire came to Cecelia two years ago with a mysterious eating disorder that stumped the veterinarians. The first two weeks at Cecelia’s home, she refused to eat anything. In desperation, Cecelia made her chicken noodle soup and miraculously, she ate! Slowly, Cecelia was able to introduce other foods to Claire. Every few months, she would decide that her likes had changed and Cecelia would have to scramble to find something enticing enough to keep Claire from starving. Despite her health problems, Claire was a joy to be around. She proved herself to be a loving, charismatic dog right up to the end of her life. Claire appointed herself as the guardian of the yard, and would situate herself outside whenever Cecelia left, not going inside, no matter what the weather, until her friend came back home. Claire took her job of protecting her home quite seriously, perhaps in gratitude for Cecelia working so hard at keeping her alive. Quite the team these two were….caring for one another as if their life depended upon it. Claire’s presence will be greatly missed by her human guardian, Cecelia. Without a doubt, Claire is still standing sentry to her family from the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.

Augustus, or Gus, as his family called him came to Rescue under desperate circumstances. Gus was sitting at a shelter….”Red Listed”, or rather…out of time. Luckily, a kind volunteer was able to pull him and get him into safety. When Augustus arrived to his temporary foster home, they quickly reported that he was a giant dog, with a tremendous heart full of love. Happily, a family was able to adopt Gus at the same time that the foster home had to move him along. Gus’ new family was not searching for a senior, but circumstances seemed to lead the two together. Sadly, Gus passed away just a few months after he was adopted. Knowing that Gus was loved in those final months truly warms the heart. He did not die alone….he did not die afraid…..he did not die without a family. If only every senior dog could have the same opportunity. The efforts of wonderful volunteers in the Rescue community ensured that Augustus was able to enjoy his final months with love and comfort. Gus was able to let his sad past easily fade away with every happy moment that he shared with his new family. What a beautiful note to end on……

We took April in after she had been diagnosed with lymphoma, planning to give a sick dog some comfort and company during her remaining time. To our surprise, she arrived at our door with lots of energy, and all ready to do some living!

We shared lovely walks around Green Lake (where she snuck in a few splashes here and there) and lots of trips to Woodland off-leash area, where she was hands-down the best ball catcher & fetcher. She'd leap off the ledge of the hill, out run all the other dogs to the bottom, and prance back up the hill tossing her head, ball in mouth, and grinning triumphantly. She was SO much fun to watch, and had many fans cheering her on!

And of course, there was the shadow-pouncing. She got a lot of laughs and new friends with that, too! At night, she was quite the party girl - loved having folks over, and wouldn't go to bed til the last person turned in. Then...she'd sneak downstairs looking for midnight snacks, so I'd join her, of course. In the mornings, she loved to sleep in. When I'd start to wake up, she'd jump up on the bed for a snuggle, and would usually succeed in convincing me to sleep just a wee bit longer.

It's such a shame April's body wasn't nearly as good at fighting off illness as she was at pouncing on shadows, catching carrots out of mid-air, and chasing balls - not to mention winning everyone's heart! She had a great attitude - always up for some fun and affection; and she was such a trooper handling her illness - never got grumpy, and was very patient & sweet when being worked on.

While I can't say taking in a terminal animal is an easy thing to do, or that I don't miss her terribly, getting to know April, spending so much time with her, and being with her at the end was an incredibly rewarding experience. As is most often the case with animals, whatever love, affection, and fun times we gave April, she returned to us many times over.

We're very grateful to WGSDR for bringing April to us, to Amy for her compassionate care while we were away, and to all the folks at Green Lake Animal Hospital and my good friend Dr. Naomi Bierman, who did all they could to give us more time with her and increase her quality of life.

A beautiful life has recently come to a close; far too soon for the people whose lives he touched. Feiger, lovingly known as Geiger to his foster family, succumbed to complications from bloat earlier this week. His loving foster family is devastated by his loss, but takes comfort in knowing that he was loved right up to his last breath. Geiger entered Rescue a mere month ago after the death of his owner. Luckily Kathy, a wonderfully compassionate foster, was there to take him in to her home so that he did not have to lament in a shelter. He quickly won a place in her entire family’s heart with his big brown eyes and happy tongue. Geiger was everything that Kathy loves about the breed and loving him was easy, letting him go, heart-breaking. Ironically, just a day earlier, Kathy’s was with her best friend who had to say good-bye to her beautiful German shepherd who was suffering with cancer. Kathy would like to believe that Geiger and Maggie were running side by side up that path to meet all of their friends on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. There is a poem that was shared with Kathy and her family when they lost their beloved companion, Kota. The poem sums up the reason that so many of us willingly take on the pain of loss for our beloved friends:

"We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own,
live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached.
Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way.
We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan."

                                       ~ Irving Townsend

Thank you Kathy, and thanks to your entire family, for taking Geiger into your home and into your heart. Who can measure the impact your kindness held for a dog at the mercy of strangers? Most certainly this old boy will remember your kindness and greet you happily with those same big, brown eyes when you see him again.

The Carsons bid farewell to their friend, Franco, this past weekend. While they are heartbroken at the sudden loss of their beloved companion, they are comforted with the knowledge that the two years that Franco called them family were the best years of his life. Prior to entering Rescue, Franco lived a life which would cause dogs and dog lovers alike to shudder in horror. Subjected to neglect and abuse, Franco did not know that humans were capable of sharing love. The day the Carsons took him home was the day that he began to understand true love and kindness. Under their tender care, he blossomed into a dog who knew the goodness of being loved. He learned to savor treats and pats from friends and he learned that life is to be enjoyed. The past two years were just as they should be for a dog in his golden years; surrounded by love and comfort, trust and respect. Franco passed with his loving guardians by his side; a peaceful and beautiful ending for a noble dog who deserved every ounce of kindness that he finally received.