Sunday, September 11, 2011

Who Rescued Who-Sheila's Story

Who Rescued Who – Sheila’s Story

He was not supposed to survive. He had been hit by a car and in severe
shock. It took 6 hours to slowly warm
his body temperature back to normal and another week in ICU before we would
know if a broken hip was the extent of his injuries. He was a stray orange tabby we named
Lazarus. After a week we decided to
attempt surgery to repair the broken hip, knowing he might not survive the
operation. He did and after another week
in ICU he was released to my care. I
rearranged my life to fit his needs and became a “first name basis” patient
with Lazarus’ vet. Two months and many nights of worry, prayers
and emergency vet visits later Lazarus batted at a cat toy for the first
time. My heart soared. I knew he would live, walk and be
healthy. Six years later he is the 20
pound ruler of the house. Lazarus showed
me my nurturing side and the strength that animals have to live & overcome

We had reached the point in our relationship where we were supposed
to get a dog. We had bounced the idea
around for a few months when I received an email from a friend, she had rescued
a stray. I knew the moment I saw his
face staring back at me from the computer screen. We adopted him and built a fence. Max was too common of a name for him, he was
special, and he would be called Supermax!
He excelled at obedience and was the perfect dog. But we had no idea what breed he was--American
Eskimo, Shepherd, Collie, Spitz, Pyr—every day it was a different answer. He rarely leaves my side, sleeping with me at night. Supermax has been an A+ student but he has been my biggest teacher of the capacity and learning ability of canine
& human together. One of Supermax’s greatest joys was his “grandpa”. He
loved to see grandpa’s truck pull into the driveway, yelping with joy until he
could jump into his arms to a “You’re my buddy, Max!” The last photo taken of
my father a few weeks before his passing was of he & Supermax. If Supermax had been a human grandchild my father could not have been more pleased.
Supermax will always be my connection to my father.

Be careful what you wish for in life. Six months after adopting Supermax, we began
discussing getting a buddy for him.

The Great Pyrenees gods answered. My husband
found Zeus abandoned alongside an interstate, no response to trying to locate
his owners. I fell in love the moment my
eyes met those deep brown pools that said “I’m scared.” Zeus & Supermax hit it off immediately.
Their first day together was a rainstorm—you’ve never seen two happier, dirty
dogs in your life. We believe Zeus came
from a farm and was raised as a LGD. He
did not understand what a house was, a leash, a car or true love. The first few months were spent getting Zeus settled into being a “pet” not a “working dog”. Trust me; five years later, he’s got it mastered! Where Supermax is eager to please, Zeus is pure pyr stubborn! He’s a sweetie but
don’t expect him to get off the couch unless he wants to. Zeus is the epitome of a Great Pyrenees. He is also the reason I feel in love with the breed and will never be without one. My
pyr training began with Zeus—he taught me that I have more confidence than I
show and that I can also “fake it until I make it”. You never want to let a pyr see you doubt!

Jack-Jack was a 6 week old fearless kitten sitting in the
middle of a busy highway. Frantic I
turned my car around and headed back, knowing what I would find. Please God don’t let me be too late! There he was—cars flying past. I scooped him up, brought him home and
settled him in a recycle bin in the garage for the night. We learned the next morning that he was born
with a deformed front leg. It would
never be used. The decision was made to
amputate when he was old enough to be neutered.
After all I had been through with Lazarus; I knew I could care for Jack-Jack’s amputation needs. Jack-Jack is the most well-adjusted animal in my home.
He is spunky and fearless. At night he snuggles with me, during the day he challenges four pyrs who could easily swallow him whole. He is a true testament that an animal does not need four limbs to be happy and healthy. Jack-Jack taught me that humans could learn a great deal from an animal’s perspective on amputation, courage and seizing each day!

I took them both out of their shelter run to get pictures
and I knew my hands were going to be full!
One Golden-Pyr Mix, the other a Great Pyrenees. They were to be our foster dogs. We blame Supermax for deciding to keep them but really it was no surprise to anyone when we decided we did not want them split up and we could not bear to part with them. Two cats, two adult dogs and two 3 month old
puppies made for a very busy Sheila. They both turn three this month and have only spent 1 night apart since the day they meet at the animal shelter. They have a bond closer than blood brothers.
Clarence is a huge pyr with a bark that shakes the neighborhood. He is my gentle giant and the biggest

"mommy's boy” that I have! He loves his puppy
playdate buddies and takes excellent care of his little (by 2 weeks) “brother”, Bailey. I have enjoyed watching him and
Bailey grow and mature. I’ve learned so
much from them and I’ve had the opportunity to mold their behavior and personalities that I missed with Supermax and Zeus, who came to me closer to adulthood. Bailey wears my heart on his
fur. To say I love him does not do the feeling justice. Bailey is my heartdog! He is part Golden and keeps us on our toes
but how can you be angry with that face?

Bailey keeps me laughing even when I’m angry! Clarence has taught me to just be content in
the moment and how to ignore a booming bark that goes on for hours.

We have a full home with 6 rescues. I once thought that we rescued them but now I see that each of my pets rescued me in very specific ways. They have each come into my life at the exact moment I had a lesson to learn. They are
six individuals with strengths and weaknesses.
I have learned more about myself through their love than I ever would
have learned on my own.

We have also rescued and fostered many others in the
past. I have enjoyed each of them and while it is difficult to let them go to their forever families, I am grateful we have been able to help save one more life each time. And, again they & I were placed at an exact moment in time together to help one another.

My pets inspire me to study animal behavior, treatment, health care and training. If I could
turn back time I would study Animal Behavior and be Dr. Sheila Rinks but alas I am just a Mrs. I’ve learned that canines are more than dogs we share our homes with.
They are amazing creatures with amazing talents. And, sometimes I have to ask who rescued who?

Sheila Rinks is the editor of Finding Fuzzybutt Four, producer of the Raising Indiana podcast and shares her home with her husband, 4 Great Pyrenees and 2 very well-fed kitties.


  1. An amazing and beautifully written story. Thank you so much for sharing each of their experiences along with how they have fulfilled your life.


  2. You are so right when you say the dogs we get are the ones we are supposed to have because there are lessons we need to learn. Dogs and cats can be the most patient of all teachers. You are blessed to have 6 of the best! Of course, they are blessed to have you, too!

  3. A piece of paper and a title does not an expert make. Your real life experience and studies of animal behavior makes you a "Dr." in my book.