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Gracie & Ruth - 2 GSDs from TN

14719 Views 130 Replies 31 Participants Last post by  PRoberts
A bit of an update on the two TN GSDs in bad shape last week.

This is taken from the blog of the kind lady that saved their lives!

Shannon writes:

Last Thursday afternoon, on 5/17/07, I signed on to Moose's myspace page as I usually do to see what all our other animal friends are up to. I glanced over at the bulletin section and quickly tried to look away, but I looked again and read it out loud:

"2 german shepards in TN DIE TODAY IF NO HELP IN A COUPLE HRS."

When I clicked on the bulletin link, the tears started streaming down my face… again, I tried to look away and occupy myself with something else. But those faces were in my mind and wouldn't go away.

In my adult life, I've not been a regular church-goer, but I've always held a strong faith in being kind and doing good things, especially for children, the elderly and animals of all kinds. The Sunday before I saw this bulletin, I went to church with my family on Mother's Day. We went to the church where my mother grew up, a small church located in the Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. The church and the people were simple but the message was important in regard to how it would impact me in the coming days. I can't recite the sermon, but I can say that it was about a man named Gideon, who was called to do God's work… a huge task was laid before him and he was just an individual trying to do the work of a large army. The message was about having faith in your mission and faith that you will have the strength to persevere despite the obstacles laid before you.

Unable to get the faces of the German Shepard dogs out of my mind after reading the bulletin, I realized that this was something that I needed to do. Some may argue that I am trying to find purpose in my own life and that may be true in some respect, I think everyone should find purpose in their passions… and if your passions just so happen to make the world a better place then you should consider yourself lucky. My passion is helping animals.

The first obstacle: Am I too late?

The bulletin read that the dogs were to be killed at end of business day on 5/17/07. I read the bulletin about 5:30pm on that same day. Was I too late? I emailed the shelter volunteer to inquire about the dogs, partially hoping that I wouldn't get a response at all because I didn't want to hear that it was too late. I received an email back from Peggy, the volunteer with Rutherford Co PAWS almost immediately letting me know the girls were still there, but it was an urgent situation as they were to be put down by the end of the day on Friday. I cried myself to sleep that night not knowing how I would do this… how would I care for them and keep my own animals safe? How would I pay for them if the medical needs are extensive? How am I going to do this by myself? Then I thought about the dogs… and faith, and strength and perseverance… this was now my mission.

The Leap of Faith:

I woke up early and made arrangements to take the day off. I work for a child foster care and adoption agency… my coworkers are caring, compassionate people and understand my need to do these kinds of things. For that, I am lucky.

I called my friend Connie at my vet's office, Companion Animal Hospital in Knoxville, TN. Connie is used to me bringing in strays to board temporarily, but being on the brink of the holiday weekend, they were already full. I explained that the dogs haven't received medical treatment and have been exposed to possible kennel cough; things weren't looking good. Connie told me to hold on for a minute, then she came back and said, "Bring 'em in, we'll work it out." Whew! Thank God for Connie and the nice folks at my vet's office. Things were beginning to come together and I began to pack up my Explorer with things that I might need to care for the dogs overnight, although I didn't expect to arrive back in Knoxville until evening, so I still had to work out a place to keep them overnight. Faith… strength… perseverance.

I took a few moments to post the blog on myspace about the upcoming journey… this made me feel like there was an extended support group out there… a spirit of community.

I stopped by my office to fax my adoption application to the shelter. I didn't even know if I would be approved for adoption since I already have 8 animals of my own. Then I told myself, "If I continue to dwell on the 'what if's' then I might as well go back home and crawl back in bed."

So I set sail toward Murfreesboro, TN. Since I graduated from MTSU years ago, I know the drive well… I knew exactly how long it would take and even knew how to get to the shelter. I arrived at 3:30pm central time… 2 ½ hours before their "put-down" time.

The Girls:

The shelter was clean and the staff was very nice and happy to see me. The female officer asked me if I wanted to meet the girls before completing the adoption papers. I hesitated a minute… I hadn't thought about what my reaction would be when I saw them. I work with abused and neglected children, but the sight of an emaciated, abused or tortured animal might make me throw up… can I keep it together? I took deep breaths on the walk to the kennels… in a weird way I felt like a death row prisoner walking toward the execution chamber. We reached Gracie first… she was timid as I knelt down to greet her, but after just a few moments she smiled at me as if to say, "Hello friend." I noticed Gracie hobbled a bit as she tried to stand up… she is missing part of her right back foot and also looks like she may be missing a toe on her left back foot. Was she caught in a trap? I don't want to know. After a few minutes with Gracie, we walked a few rows over and found Ruth. Ruth was lying on her bed and hardly able to lift her head as I knelt down. She was weak and grossly emaciated and her skin condition was indescribable. Then her tail wagged as I began to talk to her… she took every last bit of energy she had to scoot her body close to the bars for a bit of human contact… she was starved in so many ways.

As we walked back to the adoption desk, I promised the officer that I would make sure the girls would have a happy ending. I couldn't finish speaking because the emotions and tears became almost overwhelming at that point, so I just put my head down.

The adoption process was easy. I wrote a check for $210, signed my name a few times and they were mine. They hadn't been given any vaccinations and no medical treatment at all due to their looming death date, so I was given 6 little vaccination bottles and a couple of heartworm tests… luckily, I had packed a cooler full of ice, water and diet cokes so I could keep the vaccinations cold on the drive home.

Then it was time to get the girls.

The Journey:

With some old collars and leashes on hand, we went back to the kennels to get the girls. The adoption worker, Andrea helped me to walk them out and get them into my SUV. They were scared to go out the door… they were scared of everything. Andrea lifted Gracie into the car with no problem. Almost immediately, one of Gracie's ears perked right up as if to say "Woo hooo… I'm outta there!" Then I looked down at Ruth with her emaciated body and oozing sores all over her body… I was afraid she would break if I picked her up. So I closed my eyes, put my arms around her frail body and picked her up. Her legs were so shaky; she couldn't stand for long… so she laid down on the comforter that I had put there for them. The drive home was easy. Both girls laid together curled up in a little ball. I don't think they slept at all… they watched me the whole three hours home. They seemed relieved.

On the drive back to Knoxville, I was frantically trying to figure out what to do with them overnight… my vet didn't open until 7:30am the next morning. I didn't want to leave them in the back of my car overnight and exposing my animals was out of the question. Then I got a call from my dad, who reminded me that he was headed to Florida to go deep sea fishing. Perfect!! I have a key to his house; he doesn't have animals and has a nice, big garage. So we stopped in at the pet store and headed to my dad's. We got settled in to the garage and the girls were so happy… they had plenty of food and water, a nice comforter to sleep on and they had each other. Luckily, I had packed a few tubes of Frontline Plus for them which came in very handy because of the hundreds of ticks on them… the big, fat, juicy kind of ticks that I'm still having nightmares over. I spent most of the night with the girls… then caught a few hours sleep. They slept sound through the night. Early the next morning, my mom came over to help me get the girls ready to be boarded at the vet for the weekend. We washed their faces, removed ticks and gave them lots of love and attention.

Gracie & Ruth:

These two dogs have probably never had a name other than a shelter ID #. Normally, I don't name the strays that I find and place in adoptive homes… I think that should be the decision of the new pet owner. But I didn't want to keep referring to these sweet girls as "The one missing a back foot" and "The emaciated one." So, I gave them temporary names… they deserve that. I call her Gracie because she overcomes her disability with grace… strength… perseverance. I call her Ruth for several reasons that only make sense to me, but she was also found in Rutherford County.

On Saturday morning, 5/19/07 we arrived at Companion Animal Hospital. The vet staff immediately began to observe their conditions, help remove ticks and make them feel welcome. They were isolated from the other animals over the weekend due to their unknown health needs and began antibiotics.

On Monday, 5/21/07 they received their full physicals and blood chemistry panels. Some of my worries were alleviated after their exams… no signs of kennel cough; skin scrapes were negative for mange/mites, no major diagnosis thus far. I spent about 1 ½ hours with the girls on Monday afternoon… walking, taking pictures and resting under a shade tree. They really enjoyed being outside and learned very quickly how to walk on a leash.

On Tuesday, 5/22/07 we received the results of the blood tests. Amazingly, the girls were NEGATIVE for heart worms. Gracie's bloodwork tests were completely normal, but it was discovered that she has an ear infection which she is now being treated for. Ruth's blood work results were abnormal for blood platelets and something else that I can't pronounce and surely can't spell. But Ruth's abnormal results are more than likely due to her horrible bacterial skin infection (probably due to the ticks and sores.) After a few weeks of antibiotics for Ruth, we may have her checked for Lyme disease or Rocky Mtn Spotted fever if she continues to display any abnormalities.

Otherwise, these two girls have a very positive outlook ahead in regard to their health.

What's Next?

All along, their health issues have been huge concern. Now that they are cleared to be around other animals and have no major illness, I have to figure out what's next. I have 3 dogs and 5 cats already and my house is less than 900 sq ft. So I'm afraid that keeping the girls will be physically impossible for me.

Ideally, I am looking for a person or family who would take both girls… they are bonded and it would be nice to keep them together. But, understandably, that may not be possible. I think that the girls will bond very quickly to their new family and they've gotten along just fine being separated from each other over the last few days. The thing that matters most is that each dog goes to a person or family where they will be loved, well cared for and given the opportunities in life that they both deserve.


I am going to try to take the girls over the holiday weekend so they will not be kenneled. After the holiday, they will return to the vet to be boarded until other arrangements can be made… hopefully arrangements for a permanent home.

Friends, please put your thinking caps on… communicate with the people you know… do you know anyone who would be willing to take on this type of commitment?

I need your help now to make sure these to special dogs have a happy ending.

Thank you all for your expressions of support and encouragement!!!

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Re: Gracie & Ruth - 2 GSDs from TN

I have been in touch with Shannon over the last few days. She will be picking up the girls today from the vet and it looks like I will be helping her foster at least one of the girls. She wants to slowly introduce them to her gang at home and she thought it would be a lot easier to do one at a time. I will post later about which ever one I get to love on this weekend.

She emailed me tons of pictures but of course I don't know how to post them.
Re: Gracie & Ruth - 2 GSDs from TN

I followed these girls from the begining. Thank you for posting the update, it means alot.

jazzysmom: could you please tell Shannon how very thankful we all are here for what she has done? There have been many many tears shed over these girls. Alot of us wanted to help but for me I am in another Country, anyway just tell her she is an
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What a story!!!!!!! This lady is incredible!
I have tried to explain to her just how many people there were trying to save these girls. I will see her tonight and I am going to show her the thread from this board so she can read it all later for herself. And yes she is angel for doing all this.
I spelled your name wrong, sorry, it was all the tears. I am at work bawling my eyes out. Definitely let her see the thread.

There really are no words that I could find that would be adequate enough to describe how much I admire her and how blessed this world is to have her.

Yep still crying.
Jazy's mom - Tell Shannon thank you for saving these girls!

Please explain to her that in their condition...they are in no way shape or form ready for adoption. Routinely, when we take in dogs such as this...they are with us for the long haul...months...until they are healthy and ready for their new home. In addition...their true temperments cannot be assessed at this time due to their health and depleted condition. This is important as it is crucial to match up potential adopter with the right dog..i.e. temperment. As I know it would be a hardship on her to board them for this length of time...and also since this would not be in the best interest of the dogs to be boarded this long...maybe she would consider releasing to a rescue who can place them in foster for the necessary length of time needed for recuperation.

Thanks again...great save!
So glad they are getting all of those health issues addressed. Those two girls deserve the very best after whatever they went through.

I will ditto what Mary Ann has said.

Poor health masks true behavior. Can be in a good or bad way, but regardless, matches cannot be made without proper evaluation.

Plus I can't imagine that they could go from looking as they did to being healthy in this amount of time.

Thanks, Mary Ann for reading beyond the surface and seeing the needs of the dogs!
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Re: Gracie & Ruth - 2 GSDs from TN

As I type this Gracie is resting in my sunroom and Ruth is with Shannon at her home. Shannon felt more comfortable introducing one at a time to her pack. I have agreed to keep Gracie during the holiday weekend.

Gracie does well on her three legs and one stump. She has even figured out how to get up the few steps at my back door. I still can't tell for sure if her foot was cut off or if she was born this way. She does use it to steady herself when getting up or sitting down. Sometimes she will put it down, but does not put any weight on it. I wonder if she should have the rest of this leg removed or if she should just continue with it since she seems to have adapted. Any experience with this would be appreciated.

As mentioned by Shannon, Gracie is healthy other than an ear infection. She needs to gain some weight, but is no where near as skinny as Ruth. She doesn't seem to have any food aggression with humans and is very sweet. She is a barker and will let you know when she sees a new dog, a new person, etc. I am going to let her settle in for a day before I introduce her to any of my other dogs. We know she is good with Ruth, but it is to be determined how she is with strange dogs.

Ruth looks much better than her shelter pictures. Shannon says she can not believe the difference in just a few days. Her skin infection is mostly on her neck and chest. She has other places where her fur is thin, but that could also be due to poor nutrition. There is some thought that she may actually be Gracie's mom. It is so hard to guess at her age with her being so underweight. But this might actually explain why she is so skinny.

We took the girls on a short walk this afternoon, since they have not had a chance to be out a lot and get any exercise. Both girls need some leash manners and socialization. At the beggining of our walk they were both pulling on the leash and barking at every person, child, and dog. Especially anyone on a bike. By the end of the walk they had made a lot of improvements. When we saw someone walking, running or biking, we would step of the paved trail into the grass and stand there until the person had passed. I kept giving them the command "settle," which is what I use with my dogs, letting them know everything is ok and no need to get worked up. By the end of the walk they had gotten the hang of things and didn't even bark when someone went by on a bike or was jogging by.

Right now, the number one priority is getting these girls healthy. I agree that these girls are going to need some more time before they can go into forever homes. I have also explained to Shannon that they could be totally different dogs once they are healthy and feeling better. All final decisions are Shannon's, but I have talked with her a lot about home visits and reference checks and all that. She is very thankful to have any help in this area. She really wants to make sure that no matter what, they end up in good homes.
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Hi Jazy's Mom, you need to clean out your PM box - you're over your limit. I do have some photos of Gracie and Ruth from when Shannon had them out walking. I will be more than happy to post them for you if you like. Once your mail box is cleaned out some, I'll send you my email address if you have any others this weekend you would like posted.
Ok will try to clean out PMs.

Gracie did very well last night. No accidents and since she has not chewed on one thing or gotten into anything she is not suppose to, I am letting her have free roam of my sunroom instead of being crated. But she does like her crate and will go in on her own and sleep. She is just so cute.

All for now
So glad to hear an update on these two girls. What a sad story - now they are on to bigger and better things thanks to Shannon for pulling these two... especially knowing their medical issues. They sound like nice girls and hope they both recover quickly. Please keep us posted on their progress.

Hi everyone,
I'd like to thank you all for your support and prayers for Gracie & Ruth. I'd especially like to thank Jazy's Mom for all of her encouragement and advice, especially for helping board and care for Gracie at her home over the last week. I am happy to have found a new friend through this adventure, who is probably one of the most dedicated animal rescue advocates I've met in a long time. Thanks again, Jazy's Mom!!

I'm happy to report that both girls are doing very well. Gracie is still staying with Jazy's Mom and we are still working on a plan for her.
Ruth has been with me for almost a week now and she is growing stronger every day. What an amazing dog she is!! She has a super sweet disposition and my gang accepted her easily into my home (even the cats!) Ruth absolutely adores my cats and she is very easy with them. Ruth also has a fondness for stuffed babies. She has been getting into my other dog's gigantic toybox to pull out all the stuffed babies; she carefully licks them and carries them around the house. She places them in her crate, on the couches and in my bed. She often carries the babies to the couch for naptime and sleeps with them placed neatly around her. And when I clean up all the toys, she whines and takes them all back to their "beds". Maybe she was a young mother at some point? She definitely has a maternal instinct.
Ruth is also very good with children. Last week she participated in a therapy session with a 13 y/o foster child who has had a very severe history of physical and sexual abuse. The boy was able to use Ruth in his role-playing with the therapist and it was quite therapeutic for the boy. She has been invited back for the boy's therapy session tomorrow afternoon, and Ruth gladly accepted the invitation. She enjoys the attention and treats! Ruth isn't an official therapy dog, but she is a heroic survivor in the eyes of one little boy.
I will post some before and after pictures in a new post. You can also see all of Gracie and Ruth's pictures on my dog's myspace page at (You will have to be logged in to see the picture albums.)
I'll be sure to post updates and I'm sure Jazy's Mom will too.
Thanks again,
Shannon T
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Gracie & Ruth:

Shelter pics (approx 5/15/07)



Day of Rescue (5/18/07)

(The drive back to Knoxville)

Walking around the vet's office, 3 days after rescue (5/21/07)

Walking at the vet's office, 4 days after rescue (5/22/07)

After leaving the vet (5/24/07)

(Ruth meets her new friend, Chris)

(We meet up with Jazy's Mom for a walk in the park)

Home with Ruth

(Ruth meets Moose)

(Uh oh, did you say "Bath"?)

(Having fun at the swimming hole!)

(Ruth & Shannon)
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How awesome!! thank you for posting the pictures, so glad to hear it is going well...
Thanks Shannon for posting the pictures. I love the one with her ears straight up (right above the bath picture). It is night and day compared to her shelter picture. She looks so much better already. Keep up the good work and I would love to see a picture of her with all her "babies". LOL

Gracie is doing well except that she still wants nothing to do with my dogs. She has a bit of a napolean complex. She is just trying to act all big and bad to make up for only having three legs. It is pretty funny to watch this little sweet girl turn into a barking monster at the site of another dog. I have been letting her sniff noses with Buddy (my foster that is very good with other dogs)and she has finally stopped barking at him long enough to sniff him back. I keep telling myself baby steps, baby steps.

I also talked with my vet about if we should remove the rest of her leg. The vet explained that if the leg is "dead" and if she is dragging the limb around then yes it should be removed, but if she still has control of the leg and does not seem to be in any pain then there is no point in putting her through surgery to remove it. I was glad to hear that she will not need surgery, but I would still like to get another opinion on this to make sure.

We are still looking for a rescue to help get the word out about this girl and find her a foster home (I can only keep her short term) or forever home. Shannon can correct me if I am wrong, I believe she is UTD on all her shots, but has not been spayed. She is healthy other than an ear infection. She is housebroken and kennel trained. She has not gotten into one thing that she is not suppose to and is very sweet and loving. She needs to be socialized with other dogs obviously and we have not tested her with cats and children.
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Shannon, welcome to the board. Thank you so much for stepping up for Ruthie and Grace. They have truly touched a lot of people on this board and especially up north. Ruth is looking SO much HAPPIER and I love the photos with Moose. Keep up the good work and of course, we really love updates and pictures here, so keep them coming
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Wow, Shannon, woman after my own heart with a day by day photo diary of their journey home. I'll be watching the thread for more pictures, love to see the transitions. Thanks for helping them.
Hey Donna

Funny you say that, because I told Shannon about you and how you must walk around looking at the world through a camera lens. LOL
Hi everyone, just want to give an update on Ruth. She is doing terrific at my home. She is still on lots of medications for the bacterial skin infection but otherwise she seems to be feeling better. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here goes...

As you can see, Ruth still loves her stuffed babies and kitty cats.
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