As you walk through the shelter I’m in the back hall,
Please take time to visit me, very few come to call.
Yes, these old eyes are sad and my muzzle is grey,
And my old wobbly legs make it difficult to play.
My coat may be matted, and I’m just skin and bones,
But, still, I deserve a loving place to call ‘home’.
Look at me! See me! Judge me not by my parts,
And you’ll see the best thing is my brave, loving heart.
~ Elaine Booker, Thulani volunteer
This old dog was born on April 23, 2002. For six months, in 2008, he cooled his paws in the care of GSRNC awaiting his forever home. There were no takers; only lookers.
Let’s turn on the way-back-machine and visit the waning months of 2008. In early November the phone rang. It was Mike, my Area Dog Manager. Before the conversation began I already knew what was going to happen. Caesar had been in Rescue for over six months with no takers; lots of lookers, but no one willing to take on this not so old dog and his sundry list of issues; the list being plentiful and sobering. Skin, temperament, hips and the vets estimate on longevity; about two more years. Mike started the conversation as expected and explained to me what I already knew, Caesar was not a good candidate for finding a home. I expected Mike to tell me that Caesar would be moving to a different foster home and continue his search for a forever home in a different locale. Mike had a curve ball for me. Yes, Caesar was a problem child. But, he had already found his forever home, if we would accept. Accept? Absolutely. It did mean we would no longer be fosters; Caesar was a poor socializer.
GSRNC named him Caesar Monterey. His birth name was Caesar Vom Fleischerheim II. With a fancy given name along with fancy AKC papers one would think that this old dog is not just a common, run of the mill, dog; he isn’t. He is Mr. Caesar, our Golden Shepherd. Never heard of a Golden Shepherd? Neither had I. Our vet was familiar with this sub-breed and spotted his Golden pedigree after a few visits. You see, the Gold is not in Caesar, it is in my pocket, err from my pocket to my vet’s pocket. Mr. C has such a funny vet!
When I first met Mr. C he had difficulty walking along with a well developed rash that covered much of his belly. When we fostered him he was to have limited walks in our yard and no contact with other dogs (good thoughts did not enter his head as other dogs approached). He settled right in and adopted us as part of his family. Wherever we went, he was quick to follow. He spent his outdoor time sniffing the bushes, the grass, the weeds, the concrete; the dude had a fantastic sniffer. Sniffing the same bushes day after day never got old for him. Sticking close to us was just, well, normal for him.
After the adoption was finalized I could take action on a hunch of mine. Caesar was missing out on the thrill of living. He was an expert at making whatever situation he was in a good thing. Be it lazing around in the living room (a snooze was always a welcome pastime), or smelling the same flowers day after day. Whatever it was, he found a way to enjoy it. He also knew how to ignore his limitations, namely his bad hips. How to expose him to new wonders? That was the question.
Walking, walking, and more walking, that’s what we did, day after day. Good for me and good for Caesar. A random question here: how can a GSD walk with his/her nose fractions of an inch above the pavement and never, and I mean never, get road rash on their nose? Nose, eye coordination has to be phenomenal. I have no answer, just wonderment.
Speaking of noses. It seems to me that Caesar’s sniffing abilities were unique. But, my experience in working with exceptional sniffers is limited to just Caesar. So, let me share my Caesar observations: Sniffing was not limited to simply sniffing the air. Oh, no, there was much more. Nose to target contact was desirable, no matter what. Yep, poop, dead things, rotten things, whatever, they all needed to be touched. Yep, I quickly learned leash control, and to keep a sharp eye on the ground. Oh, yes, there is more. Drippy nose syndrome and a bit of drool. When Caesar really got into sniffing he also got a runny, let’s make that very runny, nose and also rather drooly. I’ve concluded that if a dried-out object has some smell, then that same object, with a good wetting, will have even more smell. There were always wet patches on the ground after a Caesar smelling encounter. Nope, not done yet. There is more; the tongue. Remember that ‘contact’ thing? Well, it was not uncommon for Caesar to lay-his-tongue on the object of interest. He would just stick his tongue out and plant it on whatever he was interested in. The laying-of-his-tongue was not a short duration laying; he would let his tongue lay for many seconds.
You go away. Come back and are greeted by your buddy which includes lots of sniffing. Caesar did that and, when necessary, added a twist. I do a fair amount of construction related work. Rarely wear gloves and occasionally come home with dinged up hands. Caesar is quick to greet and sniff. When his nose finds a scratch he very gently lays his tongue on the wound for a few seconds and then gently lifts his tongue. The process is repeated until he is satisfied with his doctoring or I tell him enough is enough. I must say, his tongue is very gentle. He takes his doctoring seriously and takes good care of his people.
The Chihuahua encounter. That’s what I call it. That’s what it was, an encounter. This took place while visiting family (out of town). I asked my pop if there would be any problems with walking Caesar in the neighborhood. Nothing he could think of came to mind. Off we went. Soon we were being stalked by a sweater wearing Chihuahua. He was pretty aggressive and not scared of Caesar. I am guessing he figured “the bigger they are the harder they fall”. He had a hankering to take Caesar down. After walking some distance the little guy disappeared and we could enjoy our walk. Just a few houses shy of our return the encounter took place. We were walking on the sidewalk, approaching a hedge separating two properties. As we passed the hedge I and Caesar spot the sweatered Chihuahua. He is to Caesar’s left and running at top speed on an intersect course. A few feet from Caesar he launches himself. He is a missile and on target. Caesar took one step back and caught that guy in mid air. Head sticking out of Caesar’s right jaw and his little butt sticking out the left. It took some work but Caesar did let the little guy go. Last I saw, the little guy was walking home; no longer concerned with “…the harder they fall”.
Once a year Roaring Camp holds a Civil War Reenactment. One of the events is shooting the canon; a very loud event. Well, Caesar and I happened to be in the right place at the right time, right on the firing line. We were warned that the cannon blast can be scary for dogs and it would be prudent to move back several yards. We moved back. As the cannon fired Caesar jumped forward and attempted to charge. Charge what? I don’t know. Scared him? Not in the least. To Caesar the cannon’s roar was more like a starter’s pistol announcing the start of a race and he was ready to race.
When Caesar naps he likes to prop his head against a chair, wall, or pretty much anything that will support his head. Experiment time: what will he do with a pillow? Stick his head on it and go to sleep, that’s what he will do. From that point forward, we always kept pillows on his beds. He loved them.
We have property in the Sierra Foothills. We named it Caesarville. It is the one place where he can be free to do whatever he wants without boundaries, neighbors, or other dogs. There is a small dirt road leading from the house to the workshop. I walk on the road. Caesar walks near me but off the road and in the grass. Grass that is about as tall as him. He loves it. You can see that he is in his own dream world and acting like a wolf taking slow and deliberate stalking steps. He can be very entertaining.
Costco has a food pavilion. They sell Very Berry Sundaes. This is his most favorite food in the world. Better than meat, better than anything else. It is so good that he closes his eyes while licking it from the cup. How do I know it is his favorite? An ad-hoc test was conducted. Very Berry Sundae vs Costco Polish Sausage. Which gets eaten first? You already know. It was no contest.
There is so much more to Caesar. I will leave you with one last memory. Dog friendly Motels. Get a room with twin (as in two, not size) beds. One for you and the other for your buddy. Bring your own blanket and spread it over ‘their’ bed. Invite them up (in Caesar case, help him up) and watch. There is no curling in a ball to sleep. Rather, it is head on pillow, legs outstretched, tail out and body angled in order to take up the whole bed. That’s my boy.
Caesar was not spoiled. Pampered, yes. Spoiled, no. He was, and remains, my buddy. I bid you farewell and godspeed.
Against the Odds
A Tribute to the Best Cuddler-Ever, Ever, Ever
Stella was a dog that survived-against many many odds.
Stella lived in a field for 4 months. Jenny P., a college student home on winter break, persuaded Stella to come into their back yard. Stella had massive mammary tumors. Jenny’s family took Stella to the vet and the x-rays in December 2011 showed the malignant cancer had already spread into Stella’s lungs. Her prognosis was 3-6 months. Bob J. asked me to go pick up Stella. She had already passed the temperament test with flying colors and now needed a foster home until she could find her forever home for whatever time Stella had left. The local animal control had decided to put Stella to sleep as soon as they caught her.
Stella dodged that bullet-against the odds.
Stella Comes Home
I was originally charged with transporting Stella. Having lost my 13 year old Casador in July 2011 and my other 13 year old, Chancellor in July 2009, I was committed to getting a Thulani doggie. I had the honor to escort my two biggie boys in their final days and saw what a sweet, tender time it was. My intention was to repeat that honor with another older biggie boy; but then I saw Stella. An obvious GSD mix, Stella was a pocket shepherd size at about 45 pounds with doe eyes that just draw you in. Stella came to my home January 19, 2012. I had no intention of letting this dog go anywhere else, our chemistry was immediate and I decided to keep her. If she only had a few months, I wanted to be with her for those months and not shuttle her to still another home. Knowing my dog Ashley may not welcome another female, Stella was gradually introduced to, and became an integral part of the pack with Ashley and 6 month-old Wolfie.
Stella became an integral part of a 2 female 3-pack, against the odds.
Stella’s First Surgery
Stella’s mammary tumors grew and bled, they seemed to grow overnight. Stella had a short prognosis, yet the Thulani Program had her massive tumors removed at Adobe Animal Hospital. The staff at Adobe was grateful Stella was in our Thulani Program, and so was I.
Stella survived the massive surgery-against the odds.
Stella is Shameless
Stella knew she was beautiful and used her beauty to get what she wanted. She batted her eyes at male dogs and strutted by them flirtatiously. Stella had play dates with a regal, senior Thulani dog, Zane. Zane immediately was attracted to Stella and would chase her around the house. The regal, senior Zane would rest from the exhaustion of chasing Stella miles inside the house. He was in a bit of a frenzy to catch her and Stella acted like she didn’t like being chased. Zane rested a bit and then Stella would go put her butt in Zane’s face and revive him, and the chase was on again.
Stella was a shameless flirt reviving a senior dogs “interests”-against the odds
Stella’s Second Surgery
Stella recovered from surgery and became a Thulani ambassadog. Her pocket shepherd size and her big doe eyes made many want to adopt her. She was the vast exception to the typical Thulani dog; young, healthy looking, no mobility issues. Stella attended Bark in the Park in September 2012 and the dogs just gravitated to her too, and for a good reason, Stella was in heat! September 2012 put Stella far past her 3-6 month prognosis given in December 2011. Stella was spayed in October 2012.
Stella survived still another surgery-against the odds.
Stella Fits In
Stella settled into a routine with Ashley & Wolfie and me. She was such a contradiction; a young, healthy looking Thulani dog. A pocket shepherd that could back up her much bigger, younger brother, Wolfie. A feisty pocket shepherd that would prevent me from getting any unsolicited hugs by bolting to me and barking the person away. Stella was feisty with other dogs and a major, constant cuddle bug with me. Stella loved her pack and adored me, and I adored her.
Stella thrived and enjoyed life to the fullest-against the odds.
Stella’s New Normal
Most who knew me on a personal basis also knew Stella. I took her to lots of GSRNC events and Thulani events. Stella paid it forward for many, many Thulani dogs so the public saw a gorgeous Thulani dog and asked about them and heard her story and heard what the Thulani Program does.
Stella advertised the Thulani Program and helped others dogs get saved-against the odds.
Stella continued to have a fabulous life. Stella cuddled with me many times, every day. Relaxing in the bedroom, Stella jumped on the bed and wouldn’t get off. Stella took her half of the bed in the middle. I called Stella my hemorrhoid dog because she was always near my butt.
Stella had been undersocialized and gave affection with enthusiasm-against the odds.
Most would think a dog who lived in a field for 4 months wouldn’t be able to connect with dogs or people. Stella was so attached to me, that she would stay in the bedroom when I ran errands and refused to go outside to go potty with her other dogs. As soon as I came home, Stella came out of the bedroom and would go potty.
Stella had lived by herself in a field and adored her pack-against the odds.
Stella’s Third Surgery
Another mammary tumor started to grow. I wondered if she would survive still another surgery, if she would still be the same feisty Stella, and hoped my tough little Stella could handle still another recovery. Stella’s tumor was extremely slow growing and in December 2014, yes 2014, the tumor was removed. It was major surgery and it took Stella a full month to completely recover.
Stella survived still another surgery-against the odds.
Stella Seemed Different
Stella recovered physically from her third surgery just fine. X-rays done with her December 2014 tumor removal showed the malignant cancer had spread even more to her lungs and all throughout her torso. Soon after her surgery though I noticed she no longer ran out the sliding door with the rest of the pack, the way horses bolt out the gate. Stella tried to avoid the other dogs outside and inside. Stella had to be coaxed to go outside when the other dogs were out. She would eventually go out, but it seemed obvious she was worried and not enthused to be among her fur buddies. This was a huge change from the Stella that had dripped with attitude in her dog-pack before and had to be in the thick of any fun to be had. Stella’s closeness and cuddling me never wavered or decreased. Often while cuddling, Stella would squirm her way closer. Those doe eyes would stare into mine, and love was everywhere.
Stella loved unconditionally, even when she didn’t feel well-against the odds.
You May Get Another 3-6 Months
All the dogs were getting ready to go outside one evening and one of the other dogs bumped into Stella and she screamed; a very loud, bad injury type scream. Stella couldn’t walk on her front left leg. I took Stella to the emergency vet and the x-rays showed Stella had a fractured humerus. Just that minor bump from her buddy doggie had fractured her bone. That vet said one option was to amputate her leg and maybe get another 3-6 months out of her. In obvious pain, Stella was determined to go home and jumped in her Jeep to go home. Stella finally let me push some heavy meds in her and her whimpering subsided a bit. Stella was in such pain. One thought repeatedly going through my mind was that if the cancer had weakened one leg, realistically it was spread all over her, especially after more than 3 years. How could she have a leg amputated, shift her weight to compensate for the amputation, and only possibly do well, then have another inevitable bone break. Stella’s regular vet described it as termites eating wood over a very long time. Her December 2011 x-ray showed the cancer had metastasized, and it was June 2015, far beyond her original 3-6 month prognosis. Stella’s bones were brittle, she didn’t want to play with her fur siblings and tough, tough Stella was in extreme pain.
I kept hearing in my mind that I could possibly “get another 3-6 months out of her”. The question was, at what price? What if she had her leg amputated and then another bone broke while she was still recovering, or soon after? I didn’t want to “get another” anything out of her. I didn’t want to wring the last bit of life out of her to get more time with Stella. That was not what was best for Stella.
Stella would do anything I asked her, and too painful to be touched, she limped and whimpered to the Jeep and hopped in with a broken arm, as I asked.
Stella did anything her mom asked, even when it was extremely painful-against the odds.
Stella Lives On
Our regular vet had to carry Stella from the Jeep.
I asked Stella to hop on the low-sitting table in the vets office. Of course Stella did what I asked and it was a bit less painful thanks to her meds.
I made the difficult decision not to possibly have another 3-6 precarious months with my baby girl. It’s all a guess about how Stella would do, and what if Stella is miserable. How possible is it to regret wringing a bit more time out of her; again, at what price?
Stella was welcomed at the Rainbow Bridge by her predecessor GSDs: Jordan, Casador, Chancellor, Shiva and Mikey.
Stella learned to answer to:
Stella survived and thrived and lived and loved every day-against the odds.
There truly are no words to describe how much I love my Sterro.
Thank you Sterro for doing all you did-against the odds.
Join us in celebration of life in honor of Nemo
“A bright spot in the universe”
Sunday August 2nd 10am-4pm
“Nemo came to us at 10 weeks. I was intending to “find him a home” because I knew that as a pituitary dwarf he would likely have lifelong health problems. When I saw his adorable little face and “Big Dog” attitude, I was smitten. My friend Beth who often came to visit shared a special bond with him, and one day when he was six years old, he jumped into the back of her car and declared he was going to live with her. He had a special knack for always knowing when people needed some soul-soothing, and visited in rest homes, churches and in general was an ambassador for the GSD breed. Under Beth’s special care he remained quite healthy into old age. All the books say dwarves do not live past 5 or 6 years, but Nemo never read the book. We finally helped him over the Rainbow Bridge at age 16 1/2. He was surrounded by the people he loved and given gentle care and as much comfort as possible. His passing was peaceful, and although our tears were many, our hearts were at peace because we knew he had the best life a dog could have. When I thought of the disgraceful way in which some people discarded their ill or older dogs to die alone and frightened in shelters or worse, and the wonderful work that Thulani volunteers do to give them comfort and care instead, I knew the spirit of Nemo needed to come and help. He is our inspiration and we hope we can raise awareness and aid for these deserving senior dogs.”
Good Food, Good Friends, Dog Demonstrations, Meet Some Thulani dogs—Bring Your Dogs (On Leash).
A BBQ will be served to all
Check out the doggie demos:
10:15 Rally/Obedience: presented by Nicole Charles of Focused Canine Academy
11:00 Schutzhund: by Cherie Flores of Gold Country Pet Resort/Training
11:45 Agility: presented by Jessica Clough of Precision Chaos
Bring your dog and practice an obedience run through ($5.00 donation fee)
A great day in the shade graciously hosted by
Nemo’s family, Julia Priest and Beth Shea.
Location: Micke Grove Park / Stanislaus Shelter
111793 N. Micke Grove Rd., Lodi Ca. 95240
Please RSVP by July 25th to Celia Driscoll @ Cealia123@yahoo.com
(Please let me know people and dog count…..)
We look forward to everyone attending and celebrating Nemo’s life.
If unable to attend please consider supporting the Thulani Dogs in Nemo’s honor at:
Micke Grove Park has a $6 parking fee.
The Passing of Sweet Lotto T.
Karma played a central role in the rescue of Lotto T. — Karen Barnes was at the right place when Lotto needed her most. But that same karma was not enough to stave off the cancer that took her two days ago.
Lotto’s time with Thulani was much too short, but it was not in vain. In the words of Karen who cared for Lotto for the brief time she was with us “2.5 weeks with this gentle soul was a gift; I think she enjoyed her stay and knew she could call our place “home.”
Let your thoughts be a warm gentle tailwind to ease Lotto’s passage over the Bridge.
WE THOUGHT WE WERE GETTING A HORRIBLY INJURED DOG TO REHAB, BUT….
Mackenzie is anything but. On his way to Thulani Central, he stopped at the Lady S Ranch, popped out of the car to say hello to a big male shepherd, then grabbed a toy, well three toys actually. He found a ball—game on!! He is a ball nut that knows that humans are part of a good game—chases the ball, retrieves it, then drops it at the human’s feet and stares, waiting for something good to happen.
Welcome to Thulani, Mackenzie, but did we get the right dog? What happened to that dog with the skull fracture and the bone chip in his head? To quote one of our followers “Thulani Happened!!!!”
Foster or Adopt–Mackenzie would love to live with someone who will dote on him, and enjoy a moderate level ball game on occasion. Oh, and take him for walks of, course.
Sunday, April 5, 2015
Today, out of habit, I moved some food away from the edge of the kitchen counter so that the tallest dog nose in the house wouldn’t be able to tug it down to the floor. Suddenly I remembered the tallest dog nose in the house has been gone for two days already.
“Rudy T.” came into our lives on August 23rd, 2014. He had been picked up by Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control the month before. My husband Lindsay and I took our three small breed dogs to the home of Bob Jachens to meet Rudy and brought him home that same day.
Rudy came into the Thulani Program as “Dakota”. He had spondylosis, hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy and infected skin from embedded foxtails. His body had been shaved so his coat was coarse but his face was silky soft.
Rudy vocally notified us that he couldn’t stand being separated from us even by just a screen door. He loved snoozing on the lawn and supervised every step of food preparation in the kitchen. His best friend was “Dottie” a seven-pound Chihuahua mix. He loved grooming her which really just produced a slimey, spit-covered tiny dog.
Earlier this year Rudy developed a cough which was diagnosed as megaesophagus with secondary aspiration pneumonia. Mornings involved the whirring of a blender to make his meals and medications into a slurry. I often wondered if the neighbors thought we had a heck of a daiquiri habit at 4 AM.
This past week Rudy stopped eating and water would not make it to his stomach any longer. On Friday, April 3 I took him to the vet and held his beautiful head in my hands and kissed his nose until he stopped breathing and his heart stopped beating.
Later that day my husband said, “I can see there’s a breeze but it feels still.” We hugged and cried missing our big furry breeze.
Christine Hitchner and Lindsay Thompson
When my 12 year old GSD passed away a week before Thanksgiving last year, I was filled with such incredible sadness. He had been with me his entire life. The holiday season was here and I was all alone. Rather than wait, I decided to get another GSD right away. I walked into the Northern California GSD adoption event in San Jose hoping to find a middle-aged sweetheart whom I could provide a loving home. And then I saw her.
Named Niurka T. at the time, she looked at me with her big fluffy smiling face. I recognized her from the website and remembered her being much older than middle-aged. In fact, she was a proud member of the Thulani program. My head told me that she was very senior, not middle-aged and that I needed to find a GSD that was a bit younger. But I looked at her again and my heart was telling me something entirely different! After spending about 20 minutes with her, I knew in my heart that there was absolutely no way I could allow her to spend her remaining days without a forever home. I already loved her.
I named her Greta. She filled my home and my heart with love from the very first day. I had to make a few adjustments at home to ensure Greta was happy and safe. Her legs couldn't support climbing 2 flights of stairs up to the bedrooms, so I put a bed in my family room. I didn't care how funny it looked. I just couldn't fathom being away at work for 10 hours and then retreat upstairs for bed at night. That would be too much time all by herself! Her memory foam dog bed sat comfortably near the dog door and more importantly, near me. I also purchased 70 cinder blocks and built an ad hoc barrier around my pool because I feared her unsteady legs might lead to a fall. They did the trick and she was safe. And she was happy.
Yes, I rescued Greta and gave her a loving home. But the truth is.....she rescued me. She took away my sorrow and she filled my heart with love. But sadly, Greta was in my life for only 3 months and 22 days. Not nearly long enough! Her legs would no longer allow her to stand, and combined with her other health conditions, I had to make the toughest decision of my life. I desperately needed more time with her. I wasn't ready to let her go so soon. But I also couldn't let her continue to live when her quality of life became so poor. Losing Greta has hit me harder than anything else in my entire life. It's been just over 2 weeks and I still cry everyday. Her dog bed is still in its place, as are her food dishes. Only now, her ashes rest atop my fireplace. But she is still in my heart. In such a short period of time, she touched my heart like no other. Greta was special in so very many ways and every time I close my eyes, I see her big fluffy face smiling down at me. Many thanks to Bob Jachens and Brigitte Donner for allowing me the privilege and honor of caring for Greta. She was truly an angel, and she will never leave my heart.