Stories of strength, courage, love and faith of some amazing Aussies who survived the unimaginable and the humans that came to love them.
Mark and I continued to correspond and work out the details until a flight was scheduled for him to come to the US with Logan. Mark and Logan arrived at my home on October 31, 2017. Foster mom Melody was also there as she would be fostering this little boy. It was during our meeting that we learned that Mark had end state Melanoma Cancer. He was originally from Australia but had spent the last 2 years in Mexico receiving experimental treatment. He explained that he was almost out of funds and his days were numbered and that he was going to return to Australia to be with family who could care for him until he passed. He said that there was a 6-month quarantine period to bring dogs into the country and that he would pass well before Logan could be with him.
For the Love of Logan
By Nancy Gonzalez
In July 2017 I was contacted via email by a gentleman who was living in Mexico by the name of Mark He stated that he had a mini Aussie that was 8 years old, that he had since he was 8 weeks old and he needed to find him a new home by October.
Mark was a business man and he and Logan literally traveled the world together for 8 years. During his 2 years in Mexico, Logan was kidnapped twice, for ransom, which Mark gladly paid each time to get his boy back. We spent hours at my home talking with Mark and assured him that Logan would be well cared for and that nothing less than a perfect home would be found for him. Mark cried many tears as he kissed and hugged Logan for the final time, and then drove off to catch a flight to New York to say good bye to family before his final flight to Australia.
Once returning to Australian Mark emailed me once for an update and I sent him photos of Logan with his foster mom melody to show him that Logan had settled in well and was being loved. A few weeks later I received an email from a man named John, he was emailing from Mark’s account and said that he was mark[s childhood friend and that Mark was too weak to write me himself. I let him know that we found the perfect family for Logan and that i would keep him posted. Below is his response:
Hi Nancy, Visited Mark to break the news of Logan’s pending adoption. He said “Prayers answered, he’s home.” I could see the strain lift from him. On pass your sentiments of thanks, he responded with a big thank you to you and Melody for achieving the best outcome. He feels for Melody, he said ‘she promised she would love Logan like he was her own' and because of that made Logan’s adjustment smooth. It be hard to say good bye. ‘
Logan's new family new of Mark's situation and quickly sent many photos to share including when they met logan for the first time.
Mark received the photos and his good friend John made an audio recording of Mark which was transcribed into the following text:
Hello Nancy and Melody.
Thank you very much for the pics and commentary over the past months. I Felt I was with you both going thru Logan’s adoption process. You both included me, words can’t express how much that meant to me. Tracy’s picture; I can see she is kind, caring and gentle. Tracey will be a good fit for Logan. I can see in her all the good that a mother brings.
I am forever grateful to Melody, when I started teeing up Logan’s adoption last June Nancy offered for myself to communicate with you directly. I prayed to God every night since then he brings people into Logan’s journey to find the prefect home. God sent an angel, you Melody, to be his foster mom. Couldn’t ask for a better person, could see the pics Nancy sent in November that Logan had bonded with you. Know it’s a double edge sword as well saying good bye to him is a hard landing, understand how you be feeling. Thank you for being there for him
Nancy, your organization has been wonderful to deal with, never put any pressure on me at any time. Words leave me of how much admiration and gratitude to get Logan into his next and last chapter of his life. Thank you.
There’s something about Logan that brings out the best, he taught me to love unconditional and made me a better person. He is gift from God.
My time is near, am waiting for the boarding call to St Peter’s Rendezvous. Nancy and Melody, you both have given the best Christmas present ever, a loving home for Logan in my life time. Thank You.
Merry Christmas Nancy and Melody and to your families. May God, you kept you both safe and happy Furever.
mark and logan spent their last two years together on the beach in mexico so i sent new photos and video of Logan at the Beach in hopes that they would get to Mark in time. On January 3rd we learned of Mark’s passing and received this email:
Dear Friends and Former Colleagues of Mark,
With sadness to advise that Mark passed away after a short illness
Thanks go to the staff and specialists at Star Medica Merida Mexico, Presbyterian Hospital Bronx New York and Australian Cancer Council New South Wales. Special thanks to Australian Shepherd Furever whom found a new home for Mark’s dog, Logan.
Private Funeral will take place next week in New South Wales, Australia.
And the final email from John:
Thank you for your words. Managed to get the video and the photo of Logan’s day at the beach to Mark while he was Conscious before he slipped away.
Jett's Story by Natalie Ripley
Jett is a 3-4 year old purebred black-tri Australian Shepherd. He ended up in dire straits in a kill shelter in Oklahoma that has made it clear they are not interested in working with rescue groups. The dogs are available first come, first serve to whomever presents the adoption fee of $20.
Fortunate for Jett, he was noticed by the national Australian Shepherd nonprofit rescue group, Australian Shepherds Furever (ASF). They have a representative in Oklahoma who went and got him out of the shelter. Once ASF got him out, they recognized many of the tell-tale signs of neglected dogs - covered in fleas and ticks and with a scared, broken disposition, and signs specific to double-coated dogs - tons of mats and a coat in horrible condition. But they also recognized something unusual - their vet confirmed that he had been shot in the mouth sometime previously. As a result, he is missing about 1/3 of his tongue and several teeth, including one of his bottom canines. The teeth were blown out on both sides of his mouth, both the left side where the bullet entered and the right side where it passed by. ASF paid for Jett to undergo dental surgery to remove one more tooth that was damaged but still intact in his mouth. They also found out he had three kinds of tick diseases as a result of his infestation and lack of preventative flea and tick medicines.
He stayed with a wonderful foster in Oklahoma who treated him for the tick diseases and worked on restoring him to health, both physically and emotionally. I had been following ASF on Facebook for some time and when they posted pictures of Jett, his face and eyes spoke to me, and I knew I wanted him to be part of our family. We were fortunate enough to make that happen in July of this year. He is such a joy to have around. He is the kindest, most gentle dog, who loves everyone and patiently tolerates all of our cats.
It is amazing to me how anyone could ever inflict upon him the horrible harm he endured. It is equally amazing to me that despite it all, he loves people. A dog's heart and level of forgiveness is unmatched. We are so very fortunate to have Jett as part of our family. We are forever thankful to ASF for making this happen for us and for helping so many other Aussies in need.
Ceasar's Story by Caitlin Phillips
Caesar spent the first two years of his life in a small cage. He was only allowed out to use the bathroom. He was poked, prodded, and abused. Caesar was crated while another smaller dog was allowed to roam free out of the crate and eat, while all Caesar could do was watch.
Eventually due to the neglect and abuse Caesar developed fear aggression. The emotional damage had put him in fight mode in the presence of anything new. The owners contacted ASF and despite the hopeless description of is behavior they took a chance on him. When I first met him he barked at me and lunged to bite me. He was very scared of new people and animals he would attack before he had they chance to see them hurt him.
For the first few months Caesar had to be leashed and treated when strangers came over and I was the mediator between many dog fights. Then after months of love and building a trusting relationship with him he was finally okay with visitors and made a loving connection with my dogs. He was adopted out to about two families who were just not the right fit. He needed a family who could take the time to build that trust. After being returned twice for reverting back to not liking visitors we began to believe he may need a professional trainer.
Then an application came through for him. I called the woman explaining his story and that we were going to send him to a trainer, but she was convinced they would be his forever home. When we went to meet his new family he walked right up to them with no worries. We spent about three hours there introducing him to their dog. He was very sassy at first but by the end of the trip he was playfully jumping wanting his new brother to play. It was the first introduction to a new dog that ended peacefully. His new mom was able to pet his belly on the first day a luxury I didn’t get for months
The new owners are retired living on a farm, so Caesar had acres of land to roam and plenty of time to bond with his new family. They were so patient with him and understanding of his behaviors. They truly wanted to work with him. They did not fault him but only helped him grow. They were his perfect match. He spends his days roaming the farm with his brother, eating watermelon, and running from the chickens (big “scary” Caesar scared of chickens).
Stoney's Story by Regina Theo-Thatcher
Stoney was an owner surrender to ASF in the fall of 2015. I was told that he was found in the yard, isolated and chained to a tree with an anti-bark collar around his neck. His owner at the time was happy to get rid of him because, “he’s a pain in the ass". He went to several different foster families that could not handle him and then to a “professional trainer” to help with his anxiety and fear aggression who did nothing but kept him crated and taught him simple commands.
I became acquainted with Stoney first by his picture and then the opportunity to foster him. For months I had seen Stoney’s sad picture on the ASF adoptions page and it broke my heart. He looked so sad and miserable in that picture and I wondered if he ever had a happy moment in his life. It is no wonder he was listed for months with no adoption. When Nancy asked for someone to foster him, I jumped at the chance. I wanted to be able to make this boy happy and smile.
When I met Stoney in June 2016, he head-butted me and nipped me several times. The “trainer” was not comfortable turning him over to me but I took him anyway. I must admit, I was quite apprehensive to take him. I was told he was aggressive and I had experienced it somewhat with his nipping. The “trainer” also told me he didn’t believe in medicating dogs, giving treats, or allowing them to play with toys. He also told me to keep him crated and away from other dogs and that he doesn’t need much exercise. I don’t prescribe to that way of thinking.
When we got to my home, I kept Stoney crated because I wasn’t sure how to introduce to my 5 dogs and 1 foster. I also started him on Prozac immediately. After 3 days, he was calm enough to interact with my dogs and I let him out of his crate. It was a stressful first week introducing him to my dogs and my routine, but he quickly learned and accepted his new home and new canine family.
It has been several months now since Stoney came to live with me. He gets along well with my 5 dogs and even plays with them. He gets plenty of exercise now and loves our daily hour long walks. He plays with toys, chews on bones, sleeps with me, enjoys treats, and especially loves getting petted and love from me. He really needed to be loved.
Stoney continues to have issues with fear aggression with strangers and unknown dogs. Recently, I‘ve been wondering if he has PTSD from his abusive and neglectful past. I am currently researching how best to deal with this and am considering taking him to a behavioral vet specialist to find solutions to further help him. He continues to be on Prozac.
Because of his continual issues and his past, I was fearful of adopting him out. He’s had many owners and fosters and I could not bear to uproot him again. I could not break his heart by removing him from a home and a person he so obviously loves. So I officially adopted him in August 2016. I am probably the only person who understands him and is willing to work with him.
The best thing is that Stoney smiles daily now. He has a beautifully warm smile! He also looks at me with love in his amazing bright blue eyes. I am so glad and thankful ASF chose not to euthanize this difficult dog. I am also thankful that I’ve been able to give him a life full of love and affection.
Bullet's Story - By Laurie Nuzzo
Our love story began in September of 1999 at a horrible pet store in the local mall. I worked at Sports Authority at the time. I used to go to this pet store everyday to visit all of the puppies. I always had a soft spot for Aussies because I had an Aussie mix named Max at home, along with 2 other dogs, a little Maltese named Misty, and a Rotty/Shep/Retriever mix named BJ. I saw this little tri-colored boy and fell in love. He was always sleeping so I swear they drugged him. I would go visit him everyday hoping someone would come rescue him, but no one did. His original price was over $800 but once he turned 5 months old his price would drop. I walked in to the pet store one day and he there was a sign on his cage "special $199". When I asked an employee in the store about him he said if he wasn't sold by next week his price would drop to $99.
I left and called my friend who worked for a major pet store chain and asked her what they did with the puppies that were 5 months old and hadn't been sold. I was told that sometimes they are sold to research labs. I said absolutely not. I decided at that moment that the only place he was going, was with me.
I went back to the pet store and asked the employee if they would take $99 for him today. He asked his manager who said yes and I said "sold!" My friend and I took him into a small meeting room in the pet store and played with him. He went from sleepy boy to crazy boy in a flash. He started off by peeing on my friend's foot.
Later we took him to Pets mart, which was on a busy highway. He got loose in the parking lot and a complete stranger helped me catch him. I finally got him home and as I walked into the house which I shared with my dad and 3 dogs. my dad asked," Whose dog is that?" I said, "ours" he then said, “No really, whose dog is that?" I said again, “He’s ours" The rest was history. I named him Bullet because he was so fast and he quickly became part of our large dog/human pack/family. He was very skittish with men (I believe he was abused by a man) so it took some time for him to warm up to my dad. Bullet and Max were my dogs, BJ was my Dads, and Misty was originally my mom's before she passed. Bullet always came running to me. He was focused on me more than anyone else. He was MY dog. Dad and Bullet did become buddies eventually as well.
Bullet faced many obstacles in his life. He was hit by a car, which tore his leg open two months after I got him. One day after a bandage change at the vet, my dad took him to his firehouse for a visit. When they arrived my dad opened the door and he jumped out of the car and took off running. We searched for hours recruiting people along the way. Once again we were close to a busy highway. We were just about to expand our search parameter when a gardener ran up to my car asking if I was looking for a dog because he found one under the bushes scared and growling. I ran to the bushes and much to my relief there he was. He growled at me until he realized who I was then came out butt wiggling with uncontrollable excitement.
In the following years the losses started with our other dogs. Max who was 13 1/2 and born with hip dysphasia had to be put down because of a bad reaction to a change in anti-inflammatory drugs. Then 1 1/2 years later at 16, Misty died of natural causes. Soon after I had to move away and didn't want to separate Bullet from BJ as they were the best of friends. I also didn't want to leave my dad alone, plus he had a yard for the dogs to run.
My move broke Bullet’s heart. Every time I came home he would sit on the porch (knowing he wasn't allowed to leave it) and just tremble with excitement. Finally, he would get to come and kiss me and jump all over me. While I was there he wouldn't leave my side. When I had to leave, I was told he would cry for a couple of days. It broke my heart. My dad would bring the dogs to visit me and it would be the same scenario, except now I was the one upset because they were leaving me.
On May 1, 2011 my dad passed away in the yard while BJ and Bullet watched from inside the house for 6 hours. People were usually scared to come into the house because Bullet was very protective, but on this night his whole demeanor changed. After 6 hours of driving, I walked through the door, stricken with grief and got the most wonderful greeting from my babies. We went through the funeral process and I cleaned out my dad's house with them both by my side.
It was during this time that I found out Bullet had Laryngeal Paralysis. My dad had told me Bullet had been coughing a lot. I took him to the vet and when they went to X-ray him he turned blue. He went in immediately for emergency tie-back surgery.
We then all moved to Virginia and the allergies began, but Bullet and BJ were very happy. We had BJ's 17th birthday party with friends and puppy friends. Everyone had a blast. Two months later BJ was having great difficulty walking. She kept falling and struggling and I had to put her down with Bullet and I by her side.
After BJ passed, Bullet fell into a severe depression. He would stand by her ashes that were placed with a lock of her fur and would proceed to howl and bark when I wasn’t home. It was heartbreaking. I had friends, neighbors and dog sitters all helping me. I didn't want him to cause more damage after his surgery, but the loss made matters worse. I thought he was going to die of a broken heart too. So I got him a kitten and I named her Ali. I wasn't sure it was going to work as Bullet was not fond of cats, but the minute Ali came into our lives he was happy again and boy did she love him. She was always climbing on his head kissing & cleaning him, sharing food and playing, They kept each other company.
Bullet continued to thrive and enjoy life up until December 2012. I dropped him off at the groomer who shared space at the vet's office and he had an anxiety attack. His anxiety level went from 0-60 in less then 10 seconds and he turned blue again. The Vet put him on a ventilator and called me to tell me he possibly might not make it and to come immediately. I raced over there and I was given the options of putting him down or putting in a trach if he couldn't breathe on his own when they pulled him off the ventilator. He was heavily sedated when I got there but the minute I spoke to him his eyes flickered and he started to move. He knew I was there. I told the Vet that if he couldn't breathe on his own to put him down because I couldn't bare for him have a trach. I then talked to Bullet telling him that if it was his time to go, Ali and I would be ok. The vet stopped the sedation and pulled the tube and Bullet was miraculously breathing fine on his own. I joyfully took my amazing Bullet home later that day. He stole the hearts of everyone in that vet's office.
Soon after this incident, Bullet started coughing and having trouble breathing again. I took him to a Veterinarian Specialist and they determined his original throat surgery failed and that he would need to have the other side of his larynx tied back as well. Then he developed chronic bronchitis, allergies, a heart murmur, arthritis and increased anxiety. I noticed how quickly he aged after the onset of all of his health problems, but he was still a happy boy. He just couldn't move as fast and I had to make sure to keep his anxiety level down. We started acupuncture and homeopathic meds, along with his Prozac and sometimes Xanax, and inhalers. All of this helped, but each day it was always a guessing game as to what he was going to need. He started having bad days every once in a while when the weather would change and I would have that talk with him again telling him we would be ok if he needed to go to heaven, but it wasn't his time. He endured it all. Light therapy, steam aromatherapy, humidifiers, medication etc and it all worked and helped him. He was such a good boy, always taking everything in stride.
Everyone that had the honor of meeting Bullet loved him so much! I have to say thank you to all of the doctors and techs, family and friends, co-workers and people who crossed his path and loved us enough to help him. In the next few months he started to get more and more anxious. I installed a camera at home so I could see when his anxiety peaked, as he was howling and barking again. This way I could get someone over there quickly. Bullet also became a Houdini that couldn't quite get the job done. He would get himself stuck in places you couldn't even imagine. He liked small spaces, probably for security, but couldn't get himself out of these spaces so someone always needed to be close by to assist him. I have to give a special thanks to my friend Maureen and her son Hunter because they were always there at a moments notice and would stay with him for hours until I got home. I couldn't have done it without them and I will always be so very grateful.
On Sunday December 15, 2013 I went out to dinner and a movie with my boyfriend. Bullet started panicking a bit. He ate some of his dinner but our cat Ali finished it. When I got home he was happy to see me. We went out to go potty and I noticed that he was walking sideways. I thought he was just loopy from his medication. Later on my friend Maureen and I did our usual walk with Bullet and her two girls. He went potty (which sometimes hurt his back) but then he couldn't stand up. He laid down on the pavement and I thought he was going to die right there. Maureen ran to get her son with the little dogs in tow and he carried Bullet back to the house. He continued to be so still and
quiet. I thought that this was the end. We petted him and told him it was ok to go to heaven.
Then he got up again and wanted to go out and pee. He came back in and I tried to give him a pain pill but he wouldn't take it. He wouldn't eat either, not even ham or prime rib. He went to sleep with no meds and he stayed quiet and calm all night. He drank some water and went outside to go potty but still wouldn't eat or take meds. He went back to sleep and I called the vet. I knew it was time. A week prior I had made the appointment but he was better after the weather settled so we just increased his medication.
Upon arriving at the vet's office Bullet walked into the exam room and peed. We always laughed because he always had this look on his face like he was saying "aaaahhhh". So he peed coming into my life and peed going out. It made me smile. My friend Maureen came with me and we sat with him for hours. He was so calm with no medication in him. He just laid there and let me hug and kiss him and tell him everything wonderful that I wanted to say. As he was crossing over we locked eyes and I told him how much I Ioved him and I could feel it right back through those eyes. Not long after the injection was administered he passed so very peacefully. It was hard on everyone that day, family, friends, vet staff, etc. I know I will see him again one day.
I have no doubt in my mind it was the right thing to do. He is up in heaven with his siblings, my dad and finally got to meet my mom. He is seated next to God, I know that. His death has been the hardest on me of course, more than anyone. He was the end of a chapter in my life, the last of that immediate family. He was my world. I absolutely loved and adored each and every pet including my little angel on earth Ali, but I realized after all of this that Bullet was my soul mate. I have always thought that since I have always gotten along so well with all dogs I met, that if there were something such as a past life, I may have been a dog. I know some people might think I am crazy for thinking a dog is my soul mate but the unconditional love between us was undeniable, the connection was undeniable. Bullet would look directly into my eyes. He was very intense. That is why people were afraid of him when he was younger.
I am so blessed to have had Bullet in my life. It has been so hard on me since he's been gone. After traveling I want to go home but when I get home the smallest things cause that hole in my heart to continue to open and bleed. I know time will help but I am not sure I will ever heal until we meet again. Eventually I may foster or adopt again. It's just so hard because I work a lot and travel. I have my sweet kitty Ali who developed a little bit of separation anxiety when Bullet and I would go out for a walk. I know Bullet's spirit will always be with me. I truly believe he is my guardian angel and will protect me, I think Ali still sees him. I don't think he would have ever left me on his own so I know I did the right thing. My wish for everyone is to have the amazing experience of the unconditional and genuine love like I shared with Bullet because there is nothing better in this world. I learned so much from him and I know he touched so many other lives as well. Rest in peace my baby "Boo". I love you with all my heart and soul. I miss you tremendously. I hope you are having fun herding your siblings! Hugs and kisses until we meet again.