Wading Barefoot

Rediscovering my barefoot-self

At First Sight

In May of 2008 I brought Sally home. She’s my canine companion, a beautiful and very sweet German Shepherd. She was only 6 weeks old when she came to live with me and I haven’t been the same since. She was so little that she was still on a weaning diet of oatmeal, milk and chicken. That’s right, I boiled chicken and made sure her food was tepid and not too cold. Oh yes, she’s my baby and if reincarnation turns out to be reality, then I wish to return as MY dog. She’s a well-loved friend.

At only four weeks of age her survival instincts were put to the test. She and her eight litter mates were just old enough to be weaned from their mother, a process that is always difficult for both mom and the pups. This night however, when mom was removed, raccoons were able to get into the whelping pen through a break in the chain link. The raccoons ravaged the four-week old puppies, killing all but one: Sally! She hid under one of their bodies and just stayed quiet.

During the attack, the other dogs on the property were barking wildly and woke the house. Her breeder ran to the barn, only to find the horrible scene. He said it was unimaginable! He looked over the carnage and located a couple of broken links in the fence where the raccoons were able to get in. He said he stood there for the longest time and just cried. There was nothing in his 30 years as a police officer that could have prepared him for this awful scene. He turned to leave and as he closed the gate he heard a whimper. Sally popped her little head out from under the pile. She was covered in blood but had only a minor injury. The tip of one of her ears was bitten off but other than that, she was healthy and alive!

He called us to let us know the bad news. Since Sally was already picked out for someone else and he knew I was looking for a service dog as soon as possible, he asked if I’d like to come by and take a look at a six month old male that he was training. Considering another litter was several more months away I agreed to come look, but wasn’t keen on a male. I’ve had male shepherds and they are just different. They tend to be a little more of a handful than their female counterparts, but all bets on that are off since I met Sally. She is a quite a little handful.

I showed up at his house mid afternoon on a Saturday. Jerry was out working in the yard and saw me drive up. The barn is between the driveway and the house and since the whelping pen is in the barn I stopped to see the brave little girl he’d nicknamed, Miracle. Now, I am not usually such a pushover but I took one look at that face and those eyes and melted on the spot. I have to tell you, it was sooo hard to walk away from her, I stood there long after I’d taken her picture. With tears in my eyes I looked up at Jerry and saw he was choked up as well. “She’s a beautiful girl” I told him and with that we went into the house to see the boy we’d come to meet.

To come to the point, I chose not to bring home the male puppy, although he was most handsome and very well-behaved. I wanted to go home and ‘think’ it over. I like spontaneity but decisions that add a new member to the family must be considered carefully. I took pictures of both Sally and Picaw and spent the following weeks staring at her sweet face.

I called a couple of weeks later and told him that I just couldn’t get her out of my mind and although I appreciated his offer, I would wait for another litter. Now sometimes things happen to us that make no sense, but often in the end they work out as if they were meant to be that way all along. This must have been one of those times because, as it turned out, the people who were supposed to come for Sally had been given terrible news by their vet. Their older dog diagnosed with cancer and would need extensive care and they were no longer prepared to take on a puppy under those circumstances. They were apologetic but Jerry said that it wouldn’t be a problem, he already had a home lined up: Mine! He told me that he knew the minute he looked at my face standing there by the barn that ‘Miracle’ was going home with me. He just didn’t know how.

She will be four years old March 17th and is my constant companion & the best friend I’ve ever had!

*A note as to my opinion regarding the breeding of dogs: I am not blind to the problem of the overpopulation of homeless canines. I feel strongly that the only reason a dog should be bred is to improve the particular breed. The irresponsible over breeding of dogs by idiots, thinking only of financial gain has harmed more dogs than anyone could fathom. Whether it’s backyard breeders or full on puppy mills, the dogs they produce, are typically unsound physically and mentally.

I have purchased my last two dogs from the same breeder. He breeds for various police departments, port authority, service work, search & rescue and has a thirty year history breeding and working these dogs. He guarantees all his dogs for the life of the dog. Now, I don’t mean that if your dog dies at age 10 you’re going to get a refund but he will take back your ten year-old dog if you didn’t want it any longer.
*For reference I’ve added the following link to the German Shepherd Dog Club of America, clearly outlining their minimum requirements for ethical breeding.

© Kathleen Ryan-McCullough, 2012

February 29, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

On The Passing Of A Friend

Since December 19th 2011 a friend of mine has been missing. He was in a bad place emotionally and we worried he was suicidal. His roommates found his door left open and all of his belongings, including his bank cards, keys to his truck and the title left out on a table. News of it barely made the 4am early show.

“…Man missing presumed suicidal. Call 911 if you have info.”

It included an old mug shot that made him look positively insane. Sadly, after being missing for sixty-five days, his body was found yesterday morning in Vancouver, WA, in a vacant lot. I have no further details about how he died, just that he was positively identified.
We knew Keith and loved him through many troubled times. We adored the person he was and in spite of his addictions and pain, he was a kind and generous soul with a sharp wit and huge heart. We also know how he loved us, all of us: his friends ~ brothers and sisters ~ his PACT. I am sad that we couldn’t reach him during those last dark days. I hope that wherever his soul may be that he has found peace.

In loving memory of Keith Fitzgerald …to be continued.

Keith Fitzgerald

© Kathleen Ryan-McCullough, 2012

February 22, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments


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