Archive for August, 2012

Traylor: Escape from the Desert


Traylor (AKA Tray) comes to the Thulani Program from Apple Valley, California.  Sounds idyllic and pastoral, doesn’t it?  And it is right next to Lucerne Valley!!  What could be better?

Traylor T in the desert

Well, whoever named these places rivals the moxie of Eric the Red when he named that grounded iceberg “Greenland” to try to attract settlers.  Both Apple and Lucerne Valleys are in the high Mojave Desert, 115° in the shade at this time of year, and there ain’t none.

Traylor was left there by his owner who departed for Alaska.  The people took care of him, but he was relegated to living in a cluttered sandbox and sleeping under a trailer to get out of the sun.  A good Samaritan recognized his plight, contacted our representative in southern California, Karen Barnes, and they negotiated his release to us.  She bailed him, took him to a groomer to gussy him up, and Karen sent him north with Cindy and Randy Ried, long-term Thulani volunteers.

Tray is an exceptional dog.  He is 11-12 years old, people focused, great with other dogs young and old (a bit submissive), wonderful house-dog, house trained, good house manners, and an absolute pleasure to be around.  He wants to be with his people, and will readily and easily climb over a 5.5’ gate to sit on the front porch and wait if left behind without his people contact (so much for the old boy with the bad knees).

Traylor in the hills

Tray is living in the hills west of Gilroy, with six other fur buddies of various flavors.  We are looking for the super forever foster home for Tray, one without cats (nice squeaky toys according to him) and with people who are there most of the time to revel in his attention.  Tray is one very special dog who will make the right family an exceptional companion.

Katsu: A Story of Courage, Survival, and Rescue



Katsu is an amazing German Shepherd, by any standard you choose to invoke.  He is stunningly handsome, he is amazingly well and thoroughly trained, he fits into any situation with people and dogs with a degree of ease and comfort that is a pleasure to behold, and he is affectionate in a way that only a GSD can be.

Which is all the more amazing given the ghastly conditions under which he came to us.  Karen Barnes from LA found him and pried him out of a stagnant system while we could still help.  Below is the message Karen sent to Ginger Lev, our Thulani volunteer who is fostering Katsu.  I could not say it better, so I won’t.  But expect to hear more about this very special dog.



Ginger – first, thank you for taking Katsu into your life.  He is ultra special to me for several reasons.  When we took him out to the yard at the shelter, he could barely walk; his legs trembled; he could only stand for a few minutes before collapsing from weakness.  When I called him to me, he had to lean against me for support.  Then he had to sit down.  But, in true GS fashion, he tried his hardest to hold his head up and sit in that regal position.  I promised him I would get him out, come hell or high water.

Katsu in the shelter

In usual fashion, the County would not release him to me b/c he was part of a criminal case.  Some creep turned in 14 bully breed dogs, all in horrendous condition.  They would not release Katsu until the court case was over.  His medical tests showed that he was anemic and had a heart murmur so I stretched the truth and told them that he would die without a blood transfusion.  Still nothing.  They would rather him die in the run.  So I went to the big boss and got my way.  (Bob calls me relentless).  “Come pick up your dog Karen.  We’ll even open up early for you.”

Free at last

So, after a few days at my vet who got him on the right path, he has gained 15 lbs.  I had him at my house for about a week and after a short while he made a total transformation into a happy, content dog.  He even started showing some spunk when he jumped in the air to bite the water from the hose.  He got lots of loving from my nephews who were visiting from Sonoma.  Katsu let them roll him over, play with his lips, and hug him to pieces.  My one nephew said, “Auntie Karen, this is a solid dog.”  So cute.

I can’t disclose the facts of the case right now but I can tell you that Katsu lived a miserable life in horrendous conditions; was treated cruelly in an attempt to make him mean and was probably used as a stud.  Now he is paying, quite possibly with his life, with a swollen prostate that could be cancerous.

In spite of all this, he has made it through and still believes that life can be good.  I have never seen a transformation like this. That’s why I named him “Katsu” which means in Japanese “one who has overcome obstacles.”

So, you’ll have to bear with me.  This dog took a big chunk of my heart.  I fought hard for him – he knew it so he fought hard back and is hopefully going to be healthy for a while.

I hope you enjoy him – he has a funny personality.

Katsu in his foster home

Thank you, Bob and Ginger. This poor, long suffering soul will be loved because of you.  Without you, he would have had nowhere to go, except to the back room.  He would have lived for 12 years without feeling grass under his paws.  This is truly an amazing Thulani story.


Apollo T, A Gentle Giant


Apollo T was a gentle giant who was rescued by Karyn Sabin from a shelter in the Central Valley.  He was loved by the shelter staff, who gave him more of a chance than most dogs his age and in his condition get.  Karyn tended him, took him into her home, and gave him a great place to live both physically and mentally.  Unfortunately, life had dealt Apollo a really bad hand and we learned that he had cancer.  Although he passed away much too soon, as you will see below, Karyn and her dogs gave him as good a home as was possible.  His earlier life obviously was not good, but Karyn gave him happiness and a quality life for the time she had him.  Please read Apollo’s story below through Karyn’s eye and words.  Dogs live for the moment, and Apollo’s final chapter was a wonderful one.

Apollo T.

Apollo T.

In June I received a call from a small, overcrowded Valley Shelter about a ” huge, male German Shepherd about 6 years old, who was a favorite of the staff and they were extending his time day by day”. I agreed to look at him and was met by a sweet, old Gentle Giant. (Shelters love to underplay the age, to get people to look at a dog). Apollo was picked up as a stray, but at some point someone cared enough to have him neutered. He was at least 10 years old, over 100 pounds and had a large growth on his nose and one side of his face and a growth on his throat bigger than a grapefruit. I took him home with me, thinking that he may have cancer and could be a Thulani candidate. A biopsy showed Apollo did have cancer–bone cancer. Not the news I wanted to hear as it is very painful when it has spread. But, Apollo did not seem to be in pain and was enjoying life living with a pack of dogs, sleeping inside and going for walks. Apollo was accepted into the Thulani Program and while we waited for a foster home, Apollo remained with me. Soon, his favorite playmate became Mystique, a 9 month old GSD. They were very amusing to watch. Apollo was one of the sweetest, most affectionate GSD’s ever. After a life outdoors without much from his prior family (he had terrible flystrike and did not even know sit), the end of his life was a complete contrast and could not have been better. On Monday, July 30th,  Apollo was put to sleep due to failing health and lack of quality of life. This Gentle Giant crossed the Rainbow Bridge while lying side by side with me, with one of his paws across my shoulder. His time in Rescue was short, but having him at my house enriched both my and his life.


Gatlin T., You Left Us Way Too Soon


Gatlin was another of those incredible senior German Shepherds that Karen Barnes rescued from a shelter in the LA basin.  He had been surrendered to a shelter by his owners, with the full knowledge that he almost certainly would be put to sleep because almost no one will adopt a 13 yr old German Shepherd.  But Gatlin did fantastically in his evaluation by Karen, and we brought him into the Thulani Program.  He fit in smoothly where ever he went, both with people and with other dogs.  We had hoped to have him with us for a long time.

Gatlin T.

Gatlin went to live in the wine country of northern California, going to work each day with his mom and his fur sib.  He had lots of grass to relax on, a companion to play with, and loads of humans to dolt on him.  He blended seamlessly into his new home, the pictures we got from his new mom illustrated unequivocally that dogs can indeed smile.  Gatlin was living the good life.

Gatlin T

But a few days ago, he stopped eating, and his abdomen was swollen.  His foster mom Joan took him to a vet, and we found out that his spleen was riddled with tumors, and apparently one had ruptured.  We ended his suffering with Joan holding him until the end.

Gatlin died much too soon, but Joan and the Thulani Program did all we could, and we can say absolutely that his final months in the Thulani Program were wonderful.  Gatlin got the reward he deserved, even if it was only for three months.  Rest easy Gatlin, we will see you again.



Koby T., I Wish We Could Have Done More


Koby T. was one of those German Shepherds that you instantaneously fall in love with.  He was gentle, friendly, affectionate, and made it very clear that you were the most important person in the world.  He was a senior boy who was dumped at the Los Angeles East Valley Shelter with instructions to PTS.  Then his owners walked away.

Koby T.

Karen Barnes rescued him from the shelter and fell for him as she does for so many of these deserving dogs.  She and her vet worked to  get past his medical difficulties, and things seemed to be looking up when he came up to the Bay area.  I took him in and continued the vet work, while simultaneously appreciating what a fantastic dog he was and what a great personality he had.  He would follow me all over the yard, just wanting to interact.  He was friendly to my other dogs and to everyone who came around.  He was just a pleasure to be around.

But despite our efforts for more than a couple of weeks up here, he was not improving.  He was clearly in pain and discomfort, so I took him into my vet.  To our horror, we found that Koby had a massive colo-rectal tumor that basically blocked his colon and severely impacted his urinary tract.  He could not eliminate.  His condition was untreatable,he was in pain, and there was no life quality left, so we made the decision to have him put to sleep.  Koby died quietly in my arms.

Koby T.

Koby deserved much better than he got, but we gave him as good a final chapter as we could, and stayed with him as he passed to the Rainbow Bridge.  I will look for him when I get there.


Tribute to Ziggy


Ziggy, along with his companion, Misty, came to German Shepherd Rescue when his owner, Brian, suffered serious medical difficulties and could no longer care for the dogs.  Both Ziggy and Misty were older dogs when we got them.  According to Brian:

Ziggy was rescued from a local farmer after he was found in a little kennel being eaten alive by fleas and flies.  We were told he was 12 weeks old.  We took him, cleaned him up, and took him to the vet  the next day.  He weighed 18 lbs, and the vet said he was closer to 6-8 months old and that we were too late to save him.  But due to our pleading, the vet filled him up with vitamins and antibiotics, and bam, he lived and has been with us ever since.  He’s very shy and has a hard time warming up to men, but most of it is bluff.  If it wasn’t for Misty, our female, he probably would never have fit in.  Ziggy and Misty were brought to Mike Walker and Jancey Thompson Walker–Mike’s tribute to Ziggy is given below.


Misty and Ziggy were brought to us and they never left.

This is our first Thulani dog to pass, and these are our first Thulani dogs period. We have had them for over a year now and I am having a hard time typing this. Ziggy was not a great dog, he was not a loving / want to be social with you and be in your lap dog. He was an old impatient dog who was shy of people in general but liked to stand with his feet in the pool with the breeze in his face and just stand there. He would play chase with other dogs…sometimes in a fun way, sometimes not.

Ziggy V.

He loved to lay in his kennel with Misty and would follow her in the yard where ever she went. In the beginning if I wanted him to come, I normally did not call for him, I called for her and he would follow. After several months I could call for him and he would come to the general area I was in. Once every 10-15 occasions he would come allow us to pet him, but not for long…then he was off to go sniff and wander. As he became more and more used to us we could pet him in the kennel which would end with him licking his lips and laying his head down. I don’t know if it was that he decided to like it or decided to allow it…but either way we all enjoyed it on some level I think. I know we did.

Toward the end, he would follow us around the yard without Misty…but always just out of reach. If you stopped, so would he. If you reached for him, he moved away. If you walked on, he followed. Now and again you could feel him brush against you, but not long enough to pet him…he did not allow that luxury often. hahaha. He learned that by barking we would allow him in or out of the back yard, and so began a life of “requesting” to be inside, outside, in the kennel, out of the kennel, and other things. This was allowed because…well after all he had earned it at his age, and he was “Grandpa Ziggy”.

Ziggy V.

Grandpa Ziggy kept other dogs in-line. He was good with all other dogs, the dominant male for sure, but never fighting…just giving warnings and needed discipline to the “whipper snappers” when needed (sometimes when not needed, but hey he was old haha)

2 days ago, Ziggy could no longer stand on his own without his back legs falling out from under him. He would try and balance, but would fall on the grass and then just lay there. We took the opportunity to pet him…which I am sure he was not too pleased about since he had no choice in the matter 🙂 but he accepted it and we helped him back to his kennel.

In the end, Ziggy was not a well bred dog, was not a great dog, was not a loving social dog……but he was our dog, he became our family’s dog and we loved him. We will miss him very much.

Michael Walker

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