Schipperhaven Rescue Services
SCHIPPERHAVEN is a service and fund-raising team supporting Schipperke rescue organizations throughout the US, especially the eastern half. We assist in rescuing, fostering and adoption of the wonderful Belgian Barge Dog, the “little captain.”
We travel extensively and bring our adopted Schips with us everywhere. Our ability to foster is limited, but we actively pickup and transport, handle referrals, act as intermediary in placements, and provide support services of many kinds. Dot has developed an encyclopedic knowledge of medical and nutritional issues for Schipperkes. She works closely on the internet with a league of owners, breeders, veterinarians, rescuers, aficionados . . . and strangers requiring help or information. During our travels, we rarely miss an opportunity to meet with other Schip owners and rescuers in a variety of environments: one-on-one, “Schipnics” and shows.
We encourage everyone to contact us about anything having to do with Schipperkes. We are always available via cell phone and wireless broadband.
What is a Schipperke?
We credit Breeder Retriever for this succinct description:
A descendant of the Leauvenaar, a Belgian sheepdog, the Schipperke was bred during the 17th century as a watchdog and ratter on Belgian riverboats. Before officially taking the name of Schipperke in 1888, the breed was known casually as the Spitzke, and has also been called the “Belgian barge dog.” Schipperke is commonly translated as Flemish for “little captain” or “little boatman” although some suggest it is actually a corruption of the Flemish for “little shepherd.” Perhaps the first breed ever to have a specialty show, the Schipperke made its debut as a show dog in 1690.
The Schipperke came into its own during the 19th century. By that time it had unquestionably become the most popular house dog in Belgium and was considered the national dog; this status was elevated in 1885 when Queen Marie Henriette adopted a Schipperke of her own. The Queen’s fondness sent the breed’s popularity spiraling ever upward, and in 1888 the Schipperke was introduced to the United States. It officially entered the ranks of American Kennel Club recognized breeds in 1904. Since then, it has enjoyed a period of popularity that was stifled by World War I, only to be revived in 1929, thanks to the hard work of a few fanciers.
Barnacle: The Schipperke Who Changed Our Lives Forever
Born: Spring, 1988 • Adopted: May 11, 1990 • Rainbow Bridge: June 5, 2002
While we were at anchor near Solomons Island, MD in 1989, a small, outboard skiff passed by. In the stern was a salty looking gentleman; in the bow, looking like a figurehead with his front legs up on the gunwales and barking at the wind, was the most beautiful little dog we had ever seen. We immediately knew that one had to be in our future.
But how? There was no Google yet, and newspapers have virtually no listings for them. Then we hit the bull’s-eye. Dot mentioned our interest to a co-worker who was also a dog show judge. A month or so later, he called to advise us that breeders in Westminster, MD had just rescued a two year old Schip in good health from a nearby pound – apparently given up because the owners found two Schips too much to deal with. On Friday, May 11, 1990, Dot left work early to pick up Pepper. Less than half an hour into the 90 minute trip home, he captured her heart. It was a dark, very rainy night; Dot concentrated hard on the road ahead. Pepper rode calmly on the passenger seat. Glancing right, she discovered, in the glare of a passing headlight, that he was sitting up on his close-cropped rear end, gently pat-a-caking and softly talking. She gasped, then began to laugh and reached over to give him the attention he wanted. During the rest of the trip, she stopped petting him only when driving demanded both her hands.
Thus began twelve years of consummate happiness for us. Our first order of business was a name change. We chose Barnacle because he stuck so tenaciously to us. In fact, to help him make the transition over the next year, we always said, “please pass the salt and barney.” .
Barn got to visit towns, cities, and secluded harbors from one end of the Chesapeake Bay to the other. When we anchored out, he would sense what was going on when Dot went forward to drop the hook. As soon as it was safely down, Don would put the outboard on the dinghy, and it took zero encouragement to get him to hop aboard for the ride to shore. Often we would “raft-up” with friends, sometimes as many as a dozen boats, and we were lucky that Barn was a “people” who was welcome anywhere–the Perry Como of Schipperkes.
His period of adjustment was virtually unnecessary. He was an excellent guard but not yippy–his bark was far more distinguished. He made friends very quickly, whether canine, feline or human. He didn’t mind being dressed up, owning, among other things, a yellow mariner’s slicker, a bomber jacket, holiday costumes including a warlock outfit for Halloween, and formal wear. In addition to performing his sitting-up act on a regular basis, Barn had another endearing trick: he smiled! He would curl his lips up in a smile so broad that it made him sneeze.
After 1998, Don worked mostly from home, so Barn was his full-time companion. Barn always had joint problems and had ACL surgery in 1998 – that was the one night when he didn’t get either of us to sleep with. He lost 80% of both hearing and sight as the millennium turned; in late 2001 we had lens replacement performed to try to improve his waning year. He never stopped being adored, and he returned every affection. On June 5th, 2002, it was time. Barnacle’s ashes reside in a cherry box on our mantel or the dresser in our RV. On its brass plaque is engraved two lines from a beautiful poem by Edwin Arnold:
Teddy Bear Onyx: Learning a New Manner a Day
Born: October 20, 1996 • Adopted: July 24, 2002 • Rainbow Bridge: August 22, 2011
Teddy led us to the future. When he adopted us, he paved the way to our complete involvement with the breed.
We always thought Barnacle was a beautiful specimen. In fact, he was. But what did we know? We had only met one Schip before adopting him and met fewer than a dozen during his life. Barnacle’s death left us inconsolable; our grief was only assuaged by recognizing that we had to let another Schip adopt us.
A chance referral, by dear friends, to a couple with two Schip rescues led, in turn, to our connection to the regional Colonial Schipperke Club. Its president, Don Nielsen, also chair of the Lifeboat Rescue program, satisfied himself that we were qualified adopters and offered us several rescue contacts. A five year old on Maryland’s eastern shore was of greatest interest to us. The next weekend we went over to meet him and also attended the Club’s annual SchipNic, an event whose purpose should be self-explanatory. We met more than 70 of the little beauties that day.
Barnacle never needed a fenced yard, but Teddy did. He was very desperate–fearful and aggressive at the same time., so we had one up within three days of his arrival. Ever heard the expression, “I can make it to the gate in three seconds – can you?” When we got him, Teddy was its poster-child! Several days after he arrived, he was a split second ahead of me and took off down the street. The chase cost me a broken rib and torn ligaments in a finger – which remains permanently crooked to this day. He escaped again three weeks later, but by this time I could coax him back. His previous trachea damage required we use a harness on him, which prevented formal obedience training, but we made leagues of progress informally.
He loved his semi-rural neighborhood. He’d run and run and jump the drainage ditches. Spotting a dog going by outside, he’d run madly back and forth the length of our 45 foot porch, barking at the top of his lungs. But his aggressiveness waned as time went by. He loved his back yard, whether to guard or to sleep. He’d hide so we couldn’t bring him in. Despite his dislike of car travel, he adapted beautifully to our RV lifestyle, because he liked to go places and explore every nook and cranny at each stop. Reluctant to even be picked up at first, he later allowed us to cradle him upside down in our arms without complaint. Dot called it “learning a manner a day!” He shared October birthdays with Allie and Willie, so I made a special doggy cake, with strained baby meat, eggs, peanut butter, flour, lots of other goodies, yogurt frosting and Pup-peroni candles.
Time ran out for him nine years later, just a month short of his fifteenth birthday. We eased his pain in Bozeman, Montana; while the attending vet just met him that day, she was in tears along with us. Staying over a day or two allowed us to recover his ashes, giving us the honor of never moving our RV without him aboard.
The 602 Day Odyssey of Serena: Patron Saint of the Unadoptable Schipperke
Born: ?? • Rescued: May 16, 2005 • Rainbow Bridge: January 8, 2007
Be patient, folks, and grab a hankie. This is a long story!
In 1927, Don Marquis, a New York newspaper journalist, compiled a collection of his columns into a little book entitled archy and mehitabel. Archy was a cockroach who sneaked into Marquis’s office each night and typed stories in his typewriter about the city’s small life living in Shinbone Alley – in all lower case, since he couldn’t jump on a key and the shift key at the same time! Many of the stories focused on the Alley’s most notorious inhabitant, Mehitabel the Cat. Of Mehitabel, Archy wrote:
her left leg is ragged; there are lumps in her hide
and she limps when she walks on the starboard side
though life always treats her in the same ugly way
still she sings as she dances . . . toujours gai . . . toujours gai . . .
On May 16, 2005, Don picked up “Lady” from the Tri-County Shelter in Hughesville, Maryland at the request of the Colonial Schipperke Club’s Rescue Committee. Life, indeed, had treated her in a very ugly way. An anonymous “night drop” three days earlier, she was wretchedly smelly and filthy. Her coat was ragged, patches of it worn away by a chain. She was skin and bones at eleven pounds. He gave her a bath and a healthy meal and lots of love. She drank large amounts of water and was peeing constantly.
Our hospital took blood samples the next day. In 48 hours, she was hospitalized. In addition to raging diabetes, conjunctivitis and respiratory issues, she had Cushings disease, arthritis, cataracts and rotten teeth. After we brought her home two days later, she continued to go up and down–twice so severely that we expected to lose her. But then she stabilized. When she did, she ate like mad, drank water in normal amounts, went out multiple times, and even took a slow walk through the neighborhood with me. We put her in a crate while we went out to dinner, and when we returned and opened the crate door, she bolted from it and pranced excitedly, then trotted around the back yard! When she began to prance, we began to laugh. And cry. And fall ever so much more deeply in love with her.
But she continued through peaks and valleys. We needed help, so we asked Don and Mary Nielsen to put their decades of experience with the breed to work for us. The Nielsens (Don is a diabetic himself) helped her stabilize and saw her through two milestones. She couldn’t stand one morning, and a trip to the vet revealed a couple of badly degenerated discs in her rear leg which required a daily anti-inflammatory from then on to keep her pain under control. The same month, her cataracts overwhelmed what was left of her sight.
But none of this stopped her. As Mehitabel would often say, “There’s a dance in the old dame yet!” By September, when we brought her back home, her vet said “Serena just doesn’t seem to understand how sick she is; she just keeps on keeping on.” Her blood sugar continued to be high, but with increasing doses of insulin, her metabolism was able to serve her quite well. Although you could still feel her ribs and spine, she was up from 11 to almost 18 pounds. She had changed from a ragged, browning coat to a rich, filled-out black coat, and from an old lady to an active, middle-aged girl.
And as she came around, she began to dance . . . toujours gai. . . toujours gai . . .
Serena slept in our bedroom at night, but not in bed, for fear she’d fall off. Most nights she’d make it through; if not, she’d give a “woof-woof” and we’d be up in a heartbeat to treat her to a back yard outing. Most days, our other two Schips would have us up by 5 am. Dot would take them for their initial walk of the day. But first, she would deposit Serena in bed with me for a half hour or more of valuable cuddle time. She took three neighborhood walks with us daily. She trusted us to keep her safe and on track. This didn’t always happen, but if she took a detour into a ditch or a bump against a trash can, she’d take them completely in stride. Even sightless, she was as good a guard as any Schip we’ve ever had, sounding a raucous alarm whenever she heard the slightest perceived threat. Her enthusiasm was contagious and laughable; she’d run around with stiff front legs, barking at the top of her lungs at everything she “saw” with her ears.
When she was not sleeping or guarding, she was likely to be as playful as our other guys. She would come upon one of Allie’s toys and shake it wildly, or she’d settle down and chew on a discovered cow hoof or “Texas tooth-pick.” She continued to dance, and if she got excited enough, all four feet came off the ground! She knew immediately when treats were being served and raced to the kitchen with the rest of the pack to get her share. She rolled around on her back in joy, and she loved to be held that way. Both the house and the back yard were mapped perfectly. If we put something out of place, she simply found another route – some of them quite weird to us sighted animals. Despite daily joint medication, damp days would be especially hard on her starboard aft limb, but she would still climb the three back steps without complaint. Most of all, she was always there–never more than a foot or two from us. She clearly knew why she was still of this earth, and she was grateful.
Our life was quite different. Her special feeding and medication routines, including insulin injections, absorbed extra hours daily. There was never a period of more than five hours without at least one of us attending to her. She still had ups and downs, of course, but we learned to sense fluctuations in her glucose level and “tweak” dosage of her meds on our own, with less frequent testing. But none of that mattered. What mattered most was the opportunity to watch her thrive.
Through 2006, she settled down nicely into her new routines. She traveled over 6,000 miles with us, including the Greater St. Louis Specialty, where she marched in their Castaways Parade and earned a ribbon. She also attended the annual Schipnick hosted by Al and Barb Lewis in Valdosta, Georgia, visited her “grand-parents” (Dot’s mom and dad) in St. Augustine. spent two weeks on North Carolina’s Outer Banks in May, took a month-long tour of New England in August, and shined at two Colonial Schipperke Club Specialties.
But shortly after Christmas, she had the first of an increasing number of seizures. The recovery was just a little weaker each time, and a full blood work-up evidenced major progression of all her challenges. We guided her across the Rainbow Bridge on January 8, 2007, to share her toujours gai with our first Schip, Barnacle and all the other worthy rescues who have gone before her.
In 602 bonus days in this world, Serena charmed hundreds of people with her tremendous courage and ever-present spirit–from breeders to exhibitors to rescuers to folks who had never met a Schip before. We greeted each day knowing how important we were to this beautiful woman and how much love and joy we were going to share with her. It didn’t take her death for us to realize that she was contributing far more to our lives than we ever could to hers.
Cameo Allegria of Midwatch: The Pat-A-Cake Queen
Born: October 9, 2002 • Adopted: OCTOBER 26, 2003 RAINBOW BRIDGE: AUGUST 22, 2016
After Barnacle and Teddy, Dot really yearned for a girl.
In 1999, Ellen Black, a member of our Schip club, purchased a Schip from the aforementioned Don Nielsen and named her Cameo Perkee Princess of Midwatch. Don and his wife Mary opened Midwatch Schipperkes in 1967, and in forty-plus years of breeding, they were responsible for dozens of champions and very strong lines.
Perkee, in turn, vacationed at Midwatch in 2002 to mate with Ch. Midwatch Mighty Oz. Oz was born in 1999 to champions Satchmo and Sable. The progeny from this mating included Cameo Andante of Midwatch (Dante), Adorra of Midwatch (Dora) and Allegria of Midwatch (Allie). You’ll learn more about Satchmo, Sable and Oz later on.
Perkee had a nasty attitude, and she passed it on to Dora. The two of them treated little Allie no better than Cinderella fared at the hands of her stepmother and sisters. Ellen realized that Allie’s inferiority complex would become progressively worse. So when Dot mused to her in October of 2003 that our next Schip would have to be a girl, Ellen jumped at the chance to send Allie to our salvation just before her first birthday. We classified Allie as a “boutique” rescue — rescued not from human dereliction but from the miserable existence she suffered in the hands of her canine family.
There are only one downside. It was Dot who wanted a female. And while Allie loved Dot, she very quickly became “Daddy’s girl!”
Allie and Teddy bonded almost at once. They shared toys, or had tugs of war with them. They played “chase me/chase you.” She loved to grab Teddy by the ruff while the two of them charge madly back and forth through the house or across the back yard. They napped close to each other.
We were entranced by Barnacle’s sitting up and smiling. Instead, Allie was a champion pat-a-cake-er – standing, sitting, lying on her side or back . . . she’d paw at the air at the drop of a hat! And whether we were gone for a few minutes or a few hours, we would return to a chorus of “76 Trombones” and the delivery of a favorite toy as a welcome home present.
When we lost Teddy in 2011, Allie took it hard. While she tussled with her new brother, Schip-Dude, she spent more and more time clinging to her dad – following him around and looking for him whenever he was away. Allie ate her dinner in Don’s home office and slept in sight of his recliner bed, in the doorway of his attached bathroom. But first, she would paw the rug into the required pile.
She suffered from a lifelong thyroid problem, but health issues never seemed to curtail her enthusiasm. At the beginning of the summer of 2016, however, it became harder and harder to get her to eat well. She refused to take disguised pills, and we had to force them down. In early August, we took her to the vet and discovered a massive growth that was impinging on her stomach. Doc declared her a short-timer, and a second opinion from her previous vet wasn’t much better. On August 22, while Don was in hospital having a stent inserted, she convulsed and breathed her last within half an hour. She was just about 6 weeks short of her 14th birthday. And it was exactly five years to the day since we said good-bye to Teddy.
Allie eclipsed Barnacle in longevity. While Barn was with us a previous record twelve years, Allie spent almost thirteen in our care. It’s very hard to think about life without her.
CH Hobbiton’s Saving Grace: Our Precious Gracie
Born: May 11, 1998 • Adopted: April 7, 2007 • RAINBOW BRIDGE May 26, 2013
Gracie was born to Ch. Hobbiton’s Lady in Red (Sunny); and illustrious father Ch. Raffinee’s Spirit of Chatelet (Tanner).
Hobbiton is the kennel of Laura Gilbert. When she’s not raising and showing Schips, she brings other breeds of dogs — and cats — to championship. Chatelet is owned and operated by Tom and Carol Luke, prolific breeders themselves. Their Tanner is also the father of Diane Harris’s veteran champ, Thumper, whose awards line an entire room.
Gracie earned her own championship in 2001. She successfully produced offspring, but then developed a serious uterine infection and was spayed. She also carried a genetic disease called “MPS-3B,” a degenerative condition that affects human children as well as Schips, but no other dog breed. (For more information on MPS-IIIB, please go to this website: Bonchien Schipperkes.)
Gracie lived in Connecticut with another breeder who often partnered with Laura. Once spayed, she was put up for adoption. But it didn’t work, and she was back living in a cage in Guilford at about the time we lost Serena. Timing was again the key–Laura contacted us and asked if we’d rescue Gracie from her confined life and perhaps soothe our sadness at the same time. We hooked up with Gracie at the 2007 National Specialty Show and immediately fell in love. Laura showed her as a veteran in two categories and then delivered both the little girl and her newest ribbons to us.
Gracie has no symptoms of the disease that would have destroyed her offspring by the age of four. She was generally as healthy as a horse, though she lost her girly figure after retirement. Laura didn’t warn us that she tended toward plumpness; she was not even upset with us when she saw her in 2009.
Gracie was all Dot’s–she favored her like Velcro. At the same time, she sought attention from everyone she met by dropping to the ground, rolling over and waiting for her belly to be rubbed. It doesn’t matter where or who the target is – over she goes in the street, in the store, in the house …. everywhere! She was the best mannered — an ambassador for the breed.
We definitely classified Gracie as a rescue, since she had been adopted out, failed, and had to find a new home. But we classified her as a boutique rescue, and only once did we enter her in a Castaway parade.
Gracie turned 15 on May 11, 2013. A week later, she was pronounced in good health. Yet she died quickly on May 26. We are certain she had an undetected colon cancer, a frequent diagnosis. Dot was totally crushed, having now lost the second of her heart dogs. Don suffered despair almost equal to Dot’s.
Seriously concerned about Dot’s well being, he took an action that mitigated the problem. You’ll find more details in Melody’s story below.
Midwatch Willie Wonka: Dot’s Other Old Man
Born: October 20, 1994 • Adopted: May 29, 2007 • Rainbow Bridge: April 15, 2010
Willie Wonka joined this world, along with a sister and brother, in October of 1994 at Don and Mary Nielsen’s Midwatch Kennels. His parents were Satchmo and Sable — who were also Allie’s grandparents! His brother was Waylon, and his sister was Winnie (Ch. Winnie the Pooh).
Willie belonged to Joan Ames in northern New Jersey. When her life was cut short in 2006, her daughter Jennifer took in all four of her animals. Overloaded with pets, she sought a way to ensure Willy’s welfare by contacting the Schip Rescue Network in Pennsylvania. He was picked up, transferred to Lancaster, then brought to us for the next leg of his journey to a foster home in Tidewater Virginia.
But something happened overnight. Willie sneaked into our bedroom and stole our hearts.
Willie was in fine shape for an older guy. A thyroid condition, a slight limp, and eyes getting a touch cloudy were all harbingers—but not issues at that time. He ran around the back yard and barked at every dog he saw or heard. He loved to be loved—needed lots of affection and reassurance. He also loved to ride in the car, a plus for our wanderlust life. He looked big, but it was his long, soft, silky hair—a “demi-fluff.”
Willie had Barnacle’s sociability; Teddy’s guarding ability, Allie’s beauty, Gracie’s grace, and Serena’s wisdom. He was an ideal fit, and he rounded out our family perfectly. When on a leash, he loved to run endlessly in circles, prancing along like a Lipizzaner horse. Like Gracie, he clearly was Dot’s dog–the best bedtime companion one could want, snuggling close to her and staying in one place all night.
He succumbed to his fifteen years on April 15, 2010. Blind and mostly deaf by that time, he nevertheless kept up his spirit until near the end. Hand fed by Dot for over six months, he finally ended his interest in food altogether. After spending a night yelping in obvious pain, we eased it, to the devastating increase of our own. We stayed in touch with Jennifer until his demise.
Schip-Dude: Our Miracle Boy
Born: April 27, 2005 • Adopted: October 3, 2010
We’ve had a long-standing close relationship with Michele Kasten, president of the Greater St. Louis Schipperke Club and co-founder of Midwest Schipperke Rescue. In her “spare time” she serves as liaison for the SCA National Schipperke Rescue Trust. Michele and the club as a whole were very strong supporters of Serena.
In 2010, Michele gained custody of a badly maltreated boy from a Missouri shelter. They felt her strong Schip knowledge was his only chance of survival. He had broken his leg at least a year earlier; it had healed incorrectly and he didn’t use it. And someone poured a caustic substance on his back that left a vicious burn.
What Michele discovered was that his personality was undaunted. He was a love sponge, and he worked at being as active as he could. Michele set about finding what could be done to save him. An orthopedic vet agreed to take on his leg issue for a low price, and two other orthopedic volunteers assisted on the surgery. After lots of pins and grafts, he moved on to the University of Illinois Vet School for two weeks of PT. Meanwhile, Michele’s vets did what they could for his burned back.
We settled awhile in eastern Missouri In May of that year to visit with Michele and with Dot’s aunt and cousins in Wentzville, MO. We met Michele for a fun evening in downtown St. Louis, and it’s not hard to figure out the main topic of conversation. Michele said Skip wasn’t ready to be placed; he had a long way to go before she’d let him out of her sight. As she cared for him over the summer, she kept us posted. In September, she said that he was going east to be fostered. Dot and I looked at each other. “Should we?” said I. “Yes,” said she. When we contacted Michele, she said, “I’ve been waiting for you two to step forward!” We completed our exploration of eastern Nebraska and Kansas and then headed back east. Once he came to live with us, we stayed nearby for two weeks to make sure the adoption would take. Skipper (officially now “Schip-Dude”) works hard at being alpha. He sticks his nose into everything. Teddy was quite miffed at first, but they eventually co-existed.
About this character: He’s a demon! He loves to play—empties the toy box repeatedly. He loves tennis balls, but his real favorites are empty half liter water bottles with the cap tightly screwed back on. We kept up his physical therapy for a year, but he has never used the repaired leg. Vets have several theories why, but they are consistent in telling us not to remove it and put him through additional grief. His back is healed, but large sections of it have to have a “comb-over.” He is energy personified; he walks, runs, jumps and plays as though he had no handicap. He loves hugs, gives constant kisses, and snuggles next to Dot’s heart every night.
And his alertness became an amazing bonus. Between the time that Teddy started showing early symptoms of his slide in February, 2011. Schip-Dude became his watchdog. He would not only run to Teddy’s side; he would raise the alarm, day or night, to any anomaly.
Thomas: Big Blue
Born: ?? • Adopted: July 2, 2012
Our itinerary in 2012, the last year of our three-year Journey, took stopped back in the St. Louis area to see Michele and Tom Kasten. Michele added an extra incentive — a July 4th party at their lakefront summer cottage.
It was almost a year since we’d lost “The Tedster,” and we were willing to take on a new rescue challenge. Michele had a number of candidates for us to consider, and she began by bringing two very different guys to our campground in Cahokia. One was Max, a beautiful two year old who was very active and joyful. He was still intact and we soon found out why – he wasn’t a rescue but rather a young man of Michele’s own breeding. The other was Phantom. His first distinguishing characteristic was that he wasn’t black! Instead, his color is “blue,” a designation in several breeds where the hair appears blue at the roots when brushed backward. As you can see from the adjacent picture, he is a medium grey-brown, with the prettiest silver-tipped ears and designs on his back that we’ve ever seen. The second thing that struck our attention was the fact that he was either terribly frightened or painfully shy. You could see it not only in his body movements but in his eyes.
Max lost, in large part because he was not a rescue. But in all fairness, Phantom really won. There was a je ne sais quoi that endeared us to him. He’s a large boy, like most of our males have been, and his silky coat shines, We accepted the challenge of loving the fear out of him. Michele left him behind for a “test drive,” and we followed her down to her lake house on the 4th. Satisfied with the match, Michele signed him over to us the next day.
Dot balked at the name Phantom, knowing of several other blues named that. It was like naming any Schip “Skipper!” We ran through a litany of ideas before arriving at Thomas, — just dropping the “Phan!” It took him about three weeks to respond to both Thomas and Tom, He didn’t mind travel at all, and he doesn’t seem to mind the concept that his house stays the same while his yard changes.
Thomas was a stud in a puppy mill, with no human interaction. Michele was told he was 9 years old, but we–and our vet–peg him at closer to six. Frightened of his own shadow at first, he’d jump and run at any sound or sudden movement. We suspect he was abused as well as ignored, more likely by a male. But he would let us both hold him, and overbearing attention has served to soften his eyes and demeanor. He would take nothing from our hands for several months, and, within six months, he started taking most anything. Don often finds Thomas scratching at his side when he sits at his desk — in the RV and in our home — and he stops immediately to provide the demanded attention (and often a treat). Even more, he’s blossomed a lot and now, while still reserved, even warms to human strangers. He and the other canines generally ignore each other, but from time to time, much to our chagrin, Skipper gets jealous and picks on him.
He’s adapted to his new home in Florida, where he has full time access to the fenced back yard. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with consumptive heart failure in late 2015. At first, the only symptom was coughing, but when we took a brief RV trip in March, 2016, he began to have “episodes, where he would collapse and cry. They would last less than 15 minutes, but his heart actually stops sending oxygen to his brain during them. So in addition to more medication, we are keeping him home and calm to preserve his quality of life for as long as possible.
CH Sheradin’s Summer Rhapsody: Melody to the Rescue
Born: July 30, 2006 • Adopted: June 11, 2013
Gracie’s formal name was Saving Grace. It is most appropriate that Melody became Dot’s saving grace after Gracie’s demise. Several days after we lost her, Dot went into dangerous despair. I sent a plea to my three favorite rescuers and three favorite breeders, asking them to help me find a new Schip to adopt Dot to ease her pain and, at the same time, become our new ambassador of Schipdom.
Three of the six quickly offered support and promised to extend the search with my criteria in mind. One was Laura Gilbert, who had given us Gracie six years earlier. But it was another of the group who provided us with a quick solution. Diane and Woody Harris have operated Sheradin Kennels in Tennessee for many years, with estimable success. They have had champions galore, including one of the most consistent winners ever, CH Sheradin’s When Spirits Talk, a.k.a. Thumper. Diane contacted me within 48 hours to suggest that her Melody might just fill the hole in Dot’s heart. Melody was almost seven. She was intact but infertile through multiple attempts, and Diane wanted her to have he benefits of a less crowded environment. I immediately made Dot aware of my clandestine search, and she and Diane struck a deal. Ten days later, Dot drove an overnight excursion to Tennessee pick her up.
Melody was fearful for a brief time, but she soon attached herself to Dot. While she was characterized as unfavorable toward males. She and I are very good friends; she’s been known to come to my bedside (now a recliner because of my back) and wake me up for attention. But if she spies me suddenly, she’ll instinctively make sure I know, with barking and a snarl, hat it’s her job is to protect Dot!
So we again had a full house — four “bunk” crates in the back of our dually for travel now filled again. Melody’s took very well to our nomadic life She may not be the the gracious lady that Gracie was, but she is very endearing.
Younger than Gracie was even when we got her, Melody and she share common ancestry:
- Melody’s great grandfather was the famous champion named Tanner.
- Tanner was Gracie’s father!
- The famous Thumper is Melody’s grandfather and Gracie’s step-brother
So you can see why we are so pleased to have her!
CH Chatelet-Hobbiton’s Samwise: our Big Fluffy Gentleman
BORN: SEPTEMBER, 2001 • ADOPTED: MARCH, 2015
Sami had a very happy home, first in Lake Anna, Virginia and later in Daytona Beach, Florida. His mistress was Hope Johnson, one of our dearest friends. Hope showed Schips to championships, but her main fortes were agility, rally and obedience. More than one occasion, she claimed best-in-the-nation status in these disciplines. Hope was also host-extraordinaire when it came to SchipNics. Her huge spread on the lake, along with super facilities, attracted as many as 100+ Schips and companions each September from hundreds of miles around to “Hope’s Heaven.”
Learning in 2012 that she had cancer, Hope planned her remaining time with care. Part of that plan was to ask us to take care of Sami should she predecease him. We immediately said yes, of course, privileged that we were were entrusted with this responsibility. In March, 2015, she called an said it was time. We had an opportunity to send her some pics of Sami with his new family and get her favorable response, but she succumbed two months thereafter.
A precious big boy, he reminds us of our Willie Wonka (above). He sleeps much of his time on the a/c vent in the laundry, coming out to seek treats and dinner every day. Both hearing and sight are diminished, but not lost. To pick him up and cradle him is love personified.