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It was a dark and stormy night... no seriously, it actually was. A big storm front had moved through the area that night with lots of rain, lightning, and even some tornado warnings. Steph (my fiance) and I were on our way home from having dinner at my parent's house across town. It was right around midnight when we got off the interstate and I almost immediately had to hit my brakes. Prancing through the intersection with no fear at all is a beautiful German Shepherd. I turn the car around instantly and find the dog about a half a block down the street. I pull over and get out of the car and she comes right over to me. I squat down to greet her and extend my hand in friendship. She responds by curling up between my thighs and starts licking my face. I fall in love instantly.

She's soaking wet and completely filthy. Her coat is matted and she has clumps of dirt stuck to the fur on her belly. She's wearing a collar, but has no tags. She's coming home with me for sure, but I'm not letting her in the house without a bath. At midnight on a Sunday, the 24 hr drug store is about the only thing open. We get her some food and doggy shampoo and head for home. While Steph sits in the car with her, I go into the garage to fashion a length of rope into a makeshift leash. We go for a brief walk and then go inside and straight into the bathtub. I did have to pick her up to get her in the bath and she did try to climb out a few times, but all in all it was a successful bonding experience. Once she was clean and dry I felt much better about giving her free roam of the house. And then the reality started to set in.

As Steph and I start talking, we quickly come to grips with the fact that this dog belongs to someone else. There is probably a little kid at home crying somewhere because his/her dog escaped. We try not to get attached and decide that we have to do everything we can to get her home. I have my reservations about this of course. Given the amount of dirt that came off of her I know she has been outside for a lot longer than a night or even a few days. And the fact that she got out on that particular night tells me that someone left her out in the storm and she probably got spooked by the thunder. Who could leave a dog out when there are tornado warnings in effect? But putting my doubts aside, I set out into the world of cyberspace to hopefully reunite a broken family.

My first google search brings me to a site called fidofinder.com. I post a found dog ad there. Next, I head to craigslist and put a few posts there. Then, onto facebook just in case a friend of a friend of a friend lost a dog. Lastly, I called the county animal services and file a found dog report with them. I know very little about this dog, and am wondering how I can confirm her ownership. I intentionally leave my posts as vague as possible, knowing that someone might try to pretend to be her owner just to get a free German Shepherd. I include a picture and the specific location that I found her, but I leave out her gender and the details about her collar. In the back of my mind I'm really hoping that no one responds to my efforts. The next day I take her to petsmart to get scanned for a microchip, which of course she doesn't have. But the girl there did notice that the dog had painted toenails. Another clue that I can use to verify her owner and a good indication that someone will definitely be looking for her.

Now its just a waiting game. I'm checking my email every 2 minutes. I'm hoping my phone doesn't ring. The more time I spend with this sweet girl, the harder its going to be for me to let her go. I'm trying to rationalize not giving her back in anyway that I can think of. Turns out, I didn't have to wait long. That afternoon, her owner found my craigslist ad. He confirmed everything immediately. Female, pink collar, pink toenails, he works a block away from where I found her, and her name is "Cookie." C'mon, Cookie? Seriously? This dog is totally not a Cookie, although she is a total sweetheart. We make arrangements for one of his staff to pick her up from me, as he is taking his kid to a sporting event that night. When the lady arrives, Cookie goes nuts. Cookie is so happy and so excited to see/smell a familiar family member. Even though I really wanted to keep her, I can now see that shes going to a place where she is happy. To me, that's all that matters.

After giving her back, Steph and I talk about adopting a different dog. We start looking for adoption events and checking out rescue wesites, but eventually we decide that maybe we should wait until we are a little more settled. We still have things to accomplish and places to see The last thing that we would ever want to do is have a dog and not be able to give it the love and attention it needs. For the time being, we gave up on our doggy dreams.

(Fast forward two weeks)

Its a Saturday morning, and Steph and I are sleeping in as we like to do on the weekends. Around 10 AM I awake to the sound of the doorbell. I'm not expecting anyone, and I think to myself that if this is someone trying to bring me to Jesus, I just might forget the fact that I was brought up with good Christian values and punch them in the face for ruining my lazy morning. I open the door and there is a guy there that I don't recognize, but in his car is a dog that I know well. It's Cookie! He's a bigger guy, looks kinda rough in a blue collar/tough guy kinda way. He goes on to tell me that the dog is living in a scrap yard (which is why she was so filthy) and no one there is taking care of her. He and the secretary (who picked her up two weeks earlier) are the only ones there that try to take care of her and they aren't there on the weekends. He tells me that she needs a good home and a loving family. He would be happy to take her, but he already has 2 dogs and his wife won't let him have any more. He asks me if I would be willing to take her in.

My heart says YES!!! but I ask him, "what about the owner?" I certainly don't want to be accused of stealing someones dog. He tells me that he talked to the owner's wife, and she doesn't want the dog and that its ok for him to find Cookie a new home. I decide that's good enough for now. As I walk up to the car, Cookie is looking at me curiously. I give her my hand to sniff and she immediately gets really excited and I can tell shes happy to see me again. We get her out of the car and I bring her back into my home. I still had the owner's email address from the craigslist ad, and I wanted to let him know where she was. I told him that someone brought her to me and asked me to take her in. I told him that she has a safe and loving home here with us. That was over a week ago now, and I haven't heard anything back. She's part of my family now, and I'm not letting her go this time.

Aside from a little submissive urination, she seems to be relatively housebroken. But she is otherwise untrained. She didn't even really respond to her name. Steph and I saw this as a good opportunity to give her a more appropriate name. We wanted something fitting for her personality. Something that could balance strength and toughness with love and femininity. We spent a whole day thinking of names, looking them up online, thinking of our favorite characters from books and movies and tv shows. Meanwhile, we kept talking about what good karma it was that we got her back. I could have kept her the first time (and really wanted to), but I tried to do the right thing in getting her back to her people. Finally Steph shouted out, "What about 'Karma' for a name?" I said I love it, and Karma seems to love it too.

Karma, Steph, and I have been having a blast together. Walking and playing and learning tricks and teaching her the rules of the house. She's learning very quickly, seems to be in good health (although I think shes a little skinny), and she has already learned her new name. After a day or two of reinforcing the name "Karma," she already responds to it better than she ever did to "Cookie." We are looking forward to getting her to the vet, some obedience training, and I'm hoping I can get her into playing frisbee for fun and good exercise.

Two's company, but three is a family. And we're now one big happy family.

With Love,
Phlip, Steph & Karma
 

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That is such a sweet story! (Well written, too!) Congrats on your new (and improved!) GSD!!!!

Pictures!! Please!!!
 

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what a wonderful story and even better ending! Welcome!
 

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Thanks for the love everybody! I get a little choked up just reading my own writing about how Karma came to live with us. To give some more details, she appears to be about a year old. I'll have a better idea of her age after we get to to the vet. She is currently about 55 lbs and 22-24" at the shoulder.

And now, PICS!!!
 

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She looks like she fits in completely. What a wonderful story!! I am sure that all of you will have many years of happiness. Karma is a pretty girl.
 

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Thanks for sharing your beautiful story about your beautiful new girl! You made my day!

May you have many, many, happy healthy years together!

Please give her a nice long scritch and kiss on the top of the head for me!
 

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That is a wonderful story that really made me tear up and laugh. Karma is truly yours.Cant wait to hear more stories as you guys continue your great adventure.
 

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Update! Karma and I went to the vet for the first time today. We got her up to date on her shots and she is heartworm free. I do have to acquire a fecal sample for them to test for parasites (ewww). No worries though, im used to cleaning up after her.

The doc said she is a full-bred GSD and that she looks just shy of a year old. Although she did chew one of my baseboards, so we might have to start crate training.
 

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Update!

So its been a few months, and must be time for an update. Karma is doing very well and we love having her as part of the family. She's a great dog with a good temperament. She's great with people and if very friendly with everyone she meets. We go to the dog park at least once a week to keep her socialized. She loves to chase and be chased. Her hackles will go up sometimes around other dogs and cats, but no other signs of aggression (growling, snarling, baring teeth, biting).

At the dog park, she seems to ignore/avoid aggressive dogs and the minor squabbles that occur. She simply just doesn't seem interested. She also tends to stick close to her humans. If she sees another dog to chase, she'll bolt after them. But she always comes right back to us and usually kind of orbits around us. We go on walks (off leash at the dog park) in the woods and she'll explore and chase squirrels, but is never away from our side for more than a minute or two. I can definitely see the herding instinct in her around other animals.

On the leash is a different issue altogether. She tends to pull quite a bit, and she is incredibly powerful. We've tried harnesses and the gentle leader to no avail. I'm tempted to get her a prong collar, although I consider that a last resort. While walking on the leash, if she sees another dog, she will yelp and pull, and bark like crazy. If i can get her close enough to sniff, she'll calm right down or start to play. But usually, the other dogs are too nervous or defensive to get her close enough to sniff. Same with cats and squirrels and pretty much anything that moves quickly, she just wants to chase and will pull/jump/bark until long after whatever furry critter is long forgotten. Basically, if something gets her attention, there is nothing I can do to get it back. :confused::(:eek::help:

Karma is our first dog and I know that we have neglected her training. Unfortunately, I feel that I am ill equipped to train her on my own. I am currently trying to find a good positive reinforcement trainer in the central florida area. My main focus with training is to get her more obedient on leash, less jumping, and no teeth when playing (especially on the feet).

Health-wise, she's had some gastrointestinal issues ever since we got her. Lots of intermittent diarrhea and sometimes not interested in food. Sometimes she wouldn't eat for a day or two. I originally was feeding her blue buffalo wilderness kibble. With her first trip to the vet for GI problems, we put her on prescription food until she stabilized. We then switched her to natures best which was fine for a while until her GI problems resurfaced, and this time with blood in her stool. Same thing, back to the vest, more tests, more fecal samples, and more prescription food. Last time the vet recommended we keep her on the Rx food, and thats when I asked about making my own dog food.

For the last 6 weeks, Karma has been getting custom made food from fresh ingredients. She seems to be doing great on her new diet. Her stools are more regular and much more consistent. She's always excited for breakfast and dinner and just devours every last taste within minutes. We haven't had any diarrhea, gas or hints of GI problems since we started her new diet. Ive been mixing 1/3 protein, 1/3 carbs, 1/3 veggies in the crockpot about once a week and feeding her 1 cup, twice a day.

Protein usually consists of ground beef chuck or chicken breasts. Carbs are sweet potatoes or white rice. Veggies include carrots, squash, zucchini, broccoli, gourds, and green peppers. I puree the veggies and carbs in the blender and then mix in the protein and cook the whole thing overnight in the crockpot. I top that off with a little fish oil and she just loves it.

My friends tell me that my dog eats better than they do. I tell them that she eats better than me, lol. She's spoiled for sure, but I just want the best for her. I like the idea of making my own dog food. I think of processed dog food, just like processed human food. Can you live off canned soups, pop-tarts, and hungry man meals your whole life? I suppose so, but don't be shocked when you have health problems down the road. Not to mention that making my own food is cheaper than the high end and Rx foods that I was feeding her.

Only other thing is the fleas. They've only become an issue in the last couple weeks. I see one or two on her belly and tail when petting her. I guess we're having a bad flea season here in FL. She's been on frontline since we got her and its been fine until recently. So I'm currently searching for better alternatives there as well.

I guess thats all for now. Thanks for all the great owners and dogs on this forum. There is a wealth of information here and we are always browsing the boards. We will keep you updated as we go...

Light and Love,
Phlip, Steph & Karma
 

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Great story. It seems like you have discovered the love of a German Shepherd. Frontline is not very effective for fleas as in the past. My animal skin allergist switched from frontline to trifectis and the fleas went away immediatly.
 

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Love your story! Beautiful girl ya got there. Regarding fleas, Frontline was at one time a great treatment but i'd say the last 10 years or so it's nowhere near as effective as it used to be. Not sure why but assume they changed chemical makeup somewhere down the road. Anyhow, I switched to Advantage II years ago and never looked back.
 
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