Trina is back in foster

Trina was returned today (2/26). It seems that one of the other dogs (lab/mix) started resource guarding, and started several fights. Trina being the larger for the first time, stood her ground which she never did here (because all ours are bigger than her). She was doing very well with the family, especially the woman of the house. She was shy around the husband, which we expected. She was playing and seemed happy. They also have a small dachshund and she got hurt in one of the scuffles. The older dogs are of course going to take priority, and no one wanted to see things escalate.

Things might have resolved themselves in time, but all of us did not want to take a chance of a dog getting hurt, or it causing further damage to Trina’s shyness issue. We think that she still needs a predominantly female household as far as humans go, but maybe a male playmate would suit her best. Trina, we could see really liked Nancy in the new home and wanted her attention when she brought Trina back. They had made a great bond in the short week she was there. That part was very encouraging!

Part of our program ensures that if the placement does not work out for any reason, the dog can come back to rescue, in fact that is part of the adoption agreement. We are disappointed that it did not work out, because the home is a perfect home for her.

Trina has gone to her new home!!

Trina is spending her first night in Linwood with her new family. 2/18/09

We are keeping our fingers crossed that all works out OK. She has a big fenced yard in the woods, with 2 smaller buddies to play with, and a quiet setting way off the road. We were very proud of her on how she reacted to the new home. We took Colin and Bob (her best friends here) to show her thing were OK. We spent about 3 hours introducing her to the house and yard. She enjoyed running around as we checked out the whole fence. She took treats from Karen and Brian, her new parents. She would not take things from us when she first arrived.

She let both adults pet her before we left and was doing much better than we thought she would. We are waiting for an update to see how she did after we left. We hope she is a happy there as she was here.

Blizzzard Bash Rescue Reunion

On Saturday, February 6th, we attended the Heart of Michigan BMD Club’s Annual Berner Blizzzard Bash in Rockford, MI. There were in attendance about 60 beautiful Berners, 6 of which were dogs that we were fortunate enough to have had as part of our program.

Linda and I got to see Gus, Ripley, Lacy, Tasha, Zurich and Oscar
Linda and I got to see Gus, Ripley, Lacy, Tasha, Zurich and Oscar


It’s days like this one that gives us the strength to keep working to help these beautiful dogs and the family’s that want to share their lives with them. If you meet us, Linda and I are in the upper left corner with Orson and Colin

New Female Trina

trina11We took in a very shy intact female named Trina on Tuesday December 30th. So far I can tell she is a woman’s dog and is afraid of men. She responds great to Linda but hides from me. She even came out to meet Lynda Starkel and Martha yesterday when adopting Ripley, but will not make any advance towards me. She hides under the dining room table and watches whenever I am at home. She was initially looking to jump the fence when she first came so we had to resort to a long-line and just walk her. She has stopped looking to jump the fence and we have let go of the long line so she can run. But she is never left out unattended. She has started enjoying chasing and being chased by our gang and Gracie and Angel (who we are babysitting for until Tuesday) She tears around the yard having a blast. I think that she is having fun has reduced the need to run away in her mind. She is getting spayed tomorrow which will slow her down and if the girls leave she should be able to relax more, so we will see how thing work over the next week or so. She is very sweet withLinda and wants attention from her. I don’t know what Trina’s history is with men.  Her owner said she got along fine with her husband and son. I think someone was heavy handed during her life because she ducks from Linda when she moves over her head. We may have not gotten the full story about her past, especially because her early history at the Amish farm is unknown.
        So many surrenders we take in we only get part of the story, and have to piece the rest together through observation and speculation. For some reason people don’t tell us the whole story, maybe it is because they think we might not take them if we knew it all, is my guess.
       They give false information about shots, heartworm, training, temperment and more. They just don’t understand that if can get the whole story, it makes it easier to formulate a plan for their foster evaluation time.
       So far what Trina needs is a home that is quiet with a buddy to play with, a tall fence, preferably with over a 4 ft fence and minimal male presence. I will keep you post on how she progresses.
Update 1-10-09
Trina is doing much better and is playing again after her spay. She still is very shy of me and we have to make friends every timeI come home, but I don’t think I am the 3-headed giant to her any more. We have stopped using the long lead and she gets excited when Linda comes home and she wants attention from her. She has joined our gang during food prep time and her general demeanor has improved. We believe she has a lot of potential but will most likely always be shy of men. Something in her life so far has given her reason to have such a fear. For this reason we think she would do best is a relatively quiet home withminimal male presence. Another dog, that is outgoing would do her good as well as having a buddy to play with.
Update; 1/20/09
Trina is doing much better at allowing me (Bruce) to touch her. She still is selective of it and every time I come home after a shift, we have to make friends again. I think at some point she will accept me. She is the type of dog that you can not show your frustration around, even if it is not directed at her. She thinks some sore of repercussion is going to follow. She is a good girl and has not had any directed towards her, but if she thinks things are stressed she will not want to come in. That and the fact that she loves the snow! She goes tearing around in it, bury’s her head in it, and then runs some more. She plays rough and grabs the legs of some of the other dogs (poor Colin) because she has never had a playmate before. A confident “buddy” would do her good. It would allow her to see dog/people interactions as an example and helps her learn who is OK in her world.
Update 1/29/09
Trina is coming along very nicely and is ready for her new home. She will come to me and allow me to pet her. She has even sought me out a few times. I knew we were there when I had my foot hanging over the side of the chair and she put her paw on my foot. She is still wary and when I am gone for over a day, she needs to warm back up to me. She has even rolled on her back in the middle of the floor to relax and chew on a toy. She like the toys ans picks them up to pile in her spot. She likes to lay with our gang and chew on a bone each evening. Most of all she loves to play with any of the dogs, out in the snow.
For this reason we would like to see her go witha family that has 1 or more dogs for her to play with, along with the fenced yard. Since she has shown that she can warm up to men, we would consider a home where the male is home all the time like a retired couple, or a family where the male works out of the house. We still think a predominantlyfemale home will work best with few visits of strangers. She will need a place to go and feel safe during visits until she feels comfortable to join the gathering.
Update 2/08/09
       Trina has come a long way. She now stops to let me (Bruce) pet her when she comes in, she will lay beside my chair so I can pet her, we both even got some kisses this week!! She is still uncomfortable at times but she seems to show that she may be able to work through some of her shyness in the right home. Her old owners said whenever anyone came over she would hear either upstairs or downs stairs. Here we have both blocked off, and we expected her to go hide in the bedroom or master bath. But she surprised us by staying in the same room with the new people and even approached close, but not enough for them to pet her. So she is adjusting and I think will come even farther. She is now a happy girl and is having fun.

Ripley finds a new home.

Ripley in her new home
Ripley in her new home

Ripley has finally found a new home! She was here too long. We got very attached to her and became overly protective on where she would go. We were really close to just letting her stay because she fit in so well with our clan and she loved us very much. But we knew that 7 was too many since we want to travel some as we get closer to retirement, so we need to go the other way, not up. So we decided she needs a very special home, and would wait for it.
Our patience paid off, and a home did come along but not they way we like to see things happen. We received a note from Peter and Lynda Starkel about the passing of their special boy Polar whom had succumbed to cancer. We received a second note telling us that when they were ready they were going to continue to look into rescue since Oscar turned out to be such a wonderful dog when they adopted him a few years ago. I knew it was too soon but I mentioned about Ripley and they happened to be in our area in a few days. They came to meet her and fell in love but did not want to decide too quickly. So they left and would spend 24 hours to think about it.

I got a call the next day asking if we would allow Ripley to join their family. We instantly agreed because they are such a wonderful home. Lynda and Peter have 2 children that also came to meet her and wanted to take her right then, but cooler heads prevailed.
Lynda and Martha (their daughter) came to pick up Ripley yesterday and she was ready to go. We got an update and she is doing fine. Peter hopes to build Ripley up to be able to join him hiking and want to make an across state hike as part of an event, I don’t recall the name of. All I know is that if they make the trek, I want to see some pictures in the newsletter!!
Peter is helping (well, actually building for us) a web site for the rescue. We will be able to keep thing up to the minute to date without having to bother anyone with the constantly changing rescue pages.
Thank You Peter and Lynda for opening your hearts to Ripley, we know she is in great hands.

How is a dog turned over to rescue?

How is a dog turned over to the rescue

First you need to contact us via phone or e-mail.

We will need a detailed history of why the dog needs to be re-homed.

Is it due to the families change of lifestyle due to the economy or other financial changes?

Is it due to the dogs temperament or health?

Is it because life changes do not allow time that is fair to the dog and you are seeking a home that has more time?

As you can see there are many reasons that a dog is surrendered to rescue. The most important thing that helps us find the right home, is an accurate history of the dog. We do not judge about the reasons, we just need to know everything the dog is capable of. If he/she is shy, aggressive, hyper, a couch potato, or a combination of issues. We are not like the shelters in the fact that we have the ability to foster dogs with adverse temperament issues. We have the facilities to spend weeks with the dog to learn his/her true personality.

Because we can foster a dog and interact in a 1 on 1 basis, we can work with dogs that others claim are unplaceable due to fear or a bite history. Many times we have found that dogs that have been labeled aggressive, are actually fear issues instead. Many times the problems are dogs that have been given up by breeders at too early of an age, inbred from poor breeders/pet stores and many time the dog never had the opportunity to be socialized at a very young age. Lack of basic training along with early socialization is a very common history with dogs that come into the rescue. Some things are genetic, some are environmental.

We also see dogs with health issues that have become overwhelming for their owners. Sometimes its health issues that are the underlying cause of the temperament issues.

The above are some of the reasons are why we need a detailed history of the dog that is being surrendered. If we know where to start, it makes it easier to work with known issues than evaluating from scratch. We have placed over 100 Berners and only another 3 or 4 were felt to be unplaceable. We have had many with aggression histories, some even had caused injury. We have discovered the underlying reasons and 2 of the dogs that were going to be put down by the owners, were rehabilitated and became certified therapy dogs. So don’t give up, we don’t.

We have also worked with many owners dealing with health or temperament issues, and directed them to resources that allowed them to keep their dog by solving the problems. There are many resources that can help. There are Internet groups that can help with health issues and there is a yahoo group for Shy and Aggressive Berners, with behaviorists, vets, holistic practitioners plus other owners that have been through what you may be dealing with.

We can direct you to these resources, please feel free to ask us.

We are here for more than just placing dogs.

Our favorite rescue is one that never has to loose it’s home.

Rescue Report October 08

Rescue Report October 08

                 After the last batch from the puppymill in the last quarter, we were hoping that things would slow down, but not a chance. We had about 2 weeks after finishing up placing the last 5 and more started coming in. Plus Toby got returned for an incident in his new home.

 Toby has a fear history and the new owners were supposedly experienced in having dogs with some fear problems. Well, they didn’t. Toby got scared one evening after being there a month and they were very happy with him. They wanted him to go outside, he apparently heard something and ran back inside. They grabbed at him to drag him out and he snapped at the son. He did break the skin, but it did not even need a bandage. Then 2 days later, he got a live chicken and brought it in and hid under the bed with it, protecting it. He was growling and would not come out. So what did the experienced new owners do? They called animal control and signed him over to be put down. We found out 2 days later that he was turned in. We had to do some fast talking and convincing to get the owners to sign him back out, but we got it done. April and Coral VanBuren met us in Kalamazoo at the shelter and they took Toby home with them to work on him. April spent many days working with Toby and found him to be the sweet dog we knew he was. So April spent over a month working with him and finding his strengths and how to control his fears. We were able to find him another home at have a Berner and are willing and looking forward to working with April to continue Toby’s training. We owe April a huge Thank You for taking on Toby and saving him from himself. Keep your fingers crossed that this is Toby’s “forever home”.

Toby, Swimming's COOL!!
Toby, Swimming's COOL!!

                 Within the 2 weeks of rest we got several calls from people having Berners that need homes. We took in Sadie and Ripley the same day and then drove to Traverse City to get Koda. Then a week ago Gracie #3 came to us.

 Sadie was gotten at 13 weeks by her owners and they never took her to the vets, not once in almost 16 months. When she was about 5 months old she started to chew on things (DUH!!, she was losing her puppy teeth and teething), so the put her outside where she spent the next year. The finally decided that she would do better in a new home. Sadie was intact and when they dropped her off she had blood on her neck, but they did not know from where. We found that her ear tips had been eaten raw by flies and were bleeding every time she shook her head. She was spraying the walls with blood, she was a mess. We are still working on getting them to heal. Sadie should be going to her new home mid October with another Berner. She is super sweet and wants all the attention she can get. She gives the very best hugs. She actually squeezes you with her paws. She has white socks almost up to her elbows and a shorter coat, but she is all Berner. She was from an Amish Breeder.



Ripley, that’s the name we gave her. She was found somewhere in “northern Michigan”, but I can’t seem to get the story pinned down as to where. I kinda doubt the story but have no way to find out if she was missing from anywhere. I posted to the yahoo group and searched ads for a missing Berner but no one was looking for her. She was about 5 months old and supposedly found wondering. We estimated her to be about 5 month old due to her teeth and when she stared losing them it was confirmed. She has a blue eye and wide blaze, super outgoing, and a bit of an attitude. We think she will be more on the dominate side, and not afraid of anything, she will take on all the boys while playing.                 Koda, a 5 year old boy, was given up due to economics. His owners could no longer afford to care for him with the loss of her job and a 33% cut to her husband’s wages. So they decided to contact us. Koda is from the same miller/breeder as the last 4 and was sold at just 5 weeks old. He is a little shy of new people and has some storm issues which we have not seen yet. He has done very well with people coming to our house. He is attached to Linda and follows her up to bed each night to sleep beside the bed.

Ripley (aka,Rippers)
Ripley (aka,Rippers)




 Gracie #3 is the product of a divorce. We have been in contact with the owner for several months, and were waiting until she had to vacate the home before her coming here. Gracie is a little over 4 years old, spayed and was purchased at a pet store in Waterford. She is a very nice girl with no issues, well trained and friendly. She has however, become very clingy after a week being here, and will not go outside without one of us.  As of this writing, Gracie is going for home #3 (since she is Gracie #3, it might be a sign). She is going to be going to her new home in Grosse Pointe Farms with former Berners owners and currently have a 10 year old lab. Gracie will also have a new 8 year old boy of her own to share life with. We expect this one to go through this time, they came and met her. Gracie made a ham of herself and the woman fell in love with her. He was a little more restrained as Gracie tried to do her best to get his suit pants covered with Gracie fur! (They stopped in during lunch from work) Gracie, really liked them. So she will go with her luggage she came with.

Gracie #3
Gracie #3


                 We were contacted about 2 dogs at shelters, one in Monroe and one in Cheboygan. The one in Monroe we lost out on. The one up north we were able to help somewhat. She was rescued by a couple in Lewiston that have another Berner.  A big fenced yard and plenty of love to go around. They have named her Brooke, she is an old girl and very neglected. She had several skin tags that were removed and tested. Unfortunately they came back as cancer. So they will make Brooke comfortable and give her whatever time she has left to learn what life is supposed to be like. She and her new sister, Skye are already playing and Brooke is acting like a pup now that she is free. We hope that Brooke will have a long while to spend with her new family.                Things over the last month have been a little unusual as far as placements go. We have had several adoptive homes fall apart just prior to the adoption. This has been for various reasons. Gracie’s first home I mentioned last report, which it fell apart the morning of writing the article. It fell apart again with another home the day she was supposed to go. This time was because she was going to be a 2nd Berner for an elderly man that was hoping that Gracie would bring his Rocky out of his shell. Rocky is a BARC dog and has been very shy from day 1. Rocky has made great progress in the 2-1/2 years he has been with his owner. He has been here several times and shown a ton of improvement. His owner decided that he wanted to work with just Rocky and that 2 might be too much for him, so he decided not to adopt. Ripley had a home set up and was ready to go too. He home fell apart because it was just too soon after losing their last Berner, and felt that they were betraying their lost friend by getting another Berner. They decided a little more time for healing was needed. I think we all can understand the pain they are experiencing with their loss.

                 Although being a little frustrating for us, we would much rather things not work out BEFORE placement rather than after. Then feelings of failure and they may feel obligated to a situation that is not right for either the family or the dog.  Like Sadie, the 20 month from last month, we placed her in a home like Rocky above. They have a shy Berner they got from rescue in Ohio. Abby is not a people orientated dog. She likes other dogs and will interact with people, but would rather sit in her safe spot and watch the world. So they adopted Sadie, and unbelievable people loving girl! After seeing what a happy Berner is they realized how “damaged” Abby is. Sadie is the dog they dreamed about, friendly, outgoing, playful and very loving. The problem was compared to Abby she was too perfect (other than getting up several times a night to play) and Abby was getting pushed out. There was a point that they might consider keeping Sadie and giving up Abby. Yikes!! What have we done! I told them it was not fair to Abby to be replaced in such a way and would take Sadie back before I allowed them to give away Abby. Fortunately, they DO love Abby and want to give it more time to see if Sadie can teach Abby how to be more interactive. We also had to have some help in teaching the owners how to share their affections with both dogs at the same time. So as of now, everything is on a trial basis. We are keeping our fingers crossed that everyone learns to grow together for a happy family.

                 There have been several dogs listed recently on Craigslist list on the internet. Also some on from other rescues in Michigan. We have not taken any of those in. We have offered. Either the rescues wanted to place them themselves or the owners wanted money for the dogs. We offered finding them homes but they wanted to re-coop some of their costs.

                Bruce & Linda Whiteside, Rescue/Re-Home Committee