The 10-Minute Luna Eclipse

If the name Luna also means moon and if yesterday was a full moon then it stands to reason that the squirreliest things would happen as we tried to rescue a German shepherd dog. Or does it? Here’s her story.

We have come to understand that there are some missing puzzle pieces to the story of this 2 year-old German shepherd named Luna. I found her on a pet rescue website and showed her to my husband, Steve. “There’s something in her eyes,” he noted and we both agreed with the ad that she is probably a “sweet dog.” But how could we know for sure? Our meeting of the owners in the parking lot of a frozen yogurt shop a 2-hour drive away from our home was largely uneventful. And cold! Luna was skiddish to meet us and the ad had already said this would be the case. D. and his wife just didn’t say much beyond the fact that she ate Pedigree dog food and sheepishly mentioned having taken her to a vet. But why wasn’t she chipped, registered, neutered, or vaccinated? All they said was that Luna was given to them around the same time as their AKC-registered GSD Lucian, a larger, black male. The pair both were described on the rescue site as “sweet dogs.”

The owners lived in the country until the landlord of their rental property had sold the house they were renting. Forced to move, the young family of five sought a new home in the city nearby that would accept their dogs. The new landlord said o.k. until his wife discovered that their insurance company considered GSDs an aggressive breed and instructed them to get rid of their dogs. This is all of the information we had until our meet-up. Then D explained before they left that “Luna just started her heat cycle.” He had told us earlier that she already had 1 litter of puppies when Luna and Lucian got together despite their best efforts to have their kids help to keep them separated. What would all of this mean for us? Steve and I would soon find out! We gave the couple our thank you gift of big chocolaty cranberry pecan cookies and parted ways with our FREE DOG . . .

Luna was shaking as she crouched down on the floor in the back seat of the truck cab. She accepted us touching her but also just stared at us. At times her nose was pressed into the door as far away from us as she could go. This is quite an accomplishment for a nearly 70-pound dog! She walked around the parking lot with us when we stopped at a pharmacy to use the rest room, albeit looking scared and hesitating to heel next to either of us. Back into the truck we all settled for the 2-hour drive home as the sun was sinking behind us. Steve and I made a plan for our first steps when we arrived home and had already prepared some things for her first night with us. What happened next was rather shocking!

Luna at her former home the morning before we met her.

Steve attempted to coax Luna out of the truck as she stared at him from the opposite side of the floor board. Once outside, she pulled this way and that on the leash then in a continued catty-wampas fashion, followed him into the darkness of the backyard. She did go to the bathroom once. Meanwhile, I cleaned up the vomit off the floor of the truck! Luna was very anxious so I offered to take her for a short walk to burn off some energy. Mistake! She pulled on her leash as I turned to face the driveway from the lawn where we were standing so I turned her in a circle to get control of the lead. By the time I had completed the circle, I lifted up the leash to shorten the slack only to find her collar dangling at the end of it . . . without Luna! She had slipped out of a snug collar without pulling on it at all! Like a bat outta hell she raced into the night and around the backside of the house. Steve tried to follow her but lost sight of her immediately in the moonlight. It all happened so fast! I headed towards the opposite side of the house in time to greet Luna racing towards me. She quickly turned around and zoomed back behind the house. Neither of us saw her after that moment. She was gone.

In just 10 minutes and before we could even get her into the house, Luna had escaped! First Steve then I slowly searched around outside in our backyard to no avail. She was hell-bent on getting away and sadly, succeeded. Where was she going to go? We live about 130 miles from her former home. More importantly, what were we going to do to try to find her? We looked at each other in shock as we continued to unload the truck from our day trip to get our supposedly “sweet dog.” We were only with her for just over 2 hours and now she was a LOST DOG. But why wasn’t she chipped, registered, neutered, or vaccinated? And how in the world do you go about finding a dog without any identification whatsoever?

Answer: you tap into social media, call the county sheriff and animal control, call the non-emergency number for the adjacent town, and start praying! We learned a lot right at the beginning from the Lost Dogs of Fort Wayne group on Facebook. We made public posts on our Facebook accounts and our local Next Door app. Then within hours the seemingly ill-fated post came through on Facebook: a young gal had driven by the scene of an accident in which a German shepherd dog was hit by a black sedan. She reported that the driver had stopped and was outside of her car with the dog; the dog was lying down then sat upright holding a front paw up in front of her. Our hero called her Mom, Lindsay, right away to check any “Lost Dog” posts on social media who in turn sent her daughter our picture of Luna. Yes, she said the GSD looked like Luna!

Immediately I contacted the authorities noted above and no one had a report of the accident yet. Within another hour I received a call from an officer who was covering for the officer who responded to the “crash” scene. The 2nd sheriff said that the dog had run off into the darkness once again. He didn’t specify into which direction she went. We later figured out that Luna was heading west and south, in exactly the direction of her former home. She had run 3 miles in that first hour before attempting to cross a 5-lane highway and got hit. Steve was already out looking for her but was unsuccessful. So was Dv, a family friend who felt a burden to find our new dog. Dv’s two kids had become friends with our former pup, Elle, and were heartbroken when we had to put her down very recently. To be honest, we were still missing her terribly as well. We love dogs! By midnight we were asking ourselves, “what have we done now? We should have known that a 2 year-old dog of the very loyal German shepherd breed could be difficult to separate from- and be relocated to another family. But what were we to do when that family passed her off to us when Luna was in heat? On the night of a full moon our GSD was a definite flight risk! Oh Luna, what is going to happen to you?

There was nothing more we could do until daylight returned. Steve came home and went off to bed while I tried to answer questions about Luna online and continue to spread the word on social media. Many folks were praying as we were too. Luna was alone and scared out in what would become a low temperature of 9 degrees by daybreak. What were the chances that our pup was going to make it? To her favor, Luna reportedly loved to be outside and evidently spent a lot of time outdoors. Perhaps she would bed down somewhere along the road in a place where we could find her the next day? What I didn’t realize until later is that there would be other people looking for her as well. There are a lot of dog lovers out there who jump into action when they find out about a lost dog. One gal in our neighborhood. Two gals in the Lost Dogs group. Our friend Dv. As soon as I got up that Sunday morning, I prepared myself to search for her myself wherever the Lord may lead me. Please Lord, which way did she go?

I decided to head to the wide open spaces of the county fairgrounds first, just west of where she was last spotted. Just as I started wolfing down some food before heading out the door, the doorbell rang. It was about 10:00 a.m. There was a county sheriff’s car in our driveway and a sheriff at the door. Oh no. What does this mean, I wondered? “We found your dog!” the officer reported. He then asked me for more identifying information as the facts seemed to line up that the GSD they found trapped in a fence about 3/4 mile from our home was indeed Luna. SHE WAS ALIVE!!! The officer expected me to jump into the squad car with him immediately but I needed to get dressed for the cold. He didn’t seem to understand this nor that my husband wasn’t home at the time and that I wasn’t feeling well. Then he said that he was the captain of the shift and called over to direct the Animal Control Officer holding Luna to bring her over to us from the scene where she had been located. Luna was discovered by someone who had seen her wedged into a fence when driving by along the same highway, albeit 2 miles north, as the night before. We are so grateful to both parties, last night and this morning, who had contacted the sheriff’s office to report these two sightings of Luna. The police got involved only because there was damage to the car that had hit her; the driver has called the police, to file a report. That report helped further link us to our anonymous, evasive, elusive, scared, and now injured GSD.

Dollar signs floated through my head much of Saturday night into Sunday. Steve even more so. This was all looking a little crazy for a FREE DOG from a RESCUE WEBSITE! By now every possible authority had our contact information and our willingness to help out the driver of the damaged vehicle as well, if needed. “The officer will call you,” said another dispatcher, if the driver needed anything more from us. Soon back at home, another squad car rolled into the courtyard in front of our home and opened the back hatch. I peered inside to find one extremely frightened Luna pup. Awwww. Oh you dear dog. “How are you puppers?” I said to the blank stare of her big brown eyes. The very young, weekend Animal Control Officer slowly coaxed Luna to come out. Luna jumped down about 2 1/2 feet without a whimper from her injuries. But when she started to walk she was limping. No blood or wounds were visible (until later after her bath) but that left back hind quarter looked exceedingly painful. “She just wanted to get warm” explained the AC officer at the scene. They didn’t have to convince her to get into the squad car and out of the freezing temperatures; “she just wants to get warm” he said again as Luna headed directly for the house. Did you catch that? She was heading directly for a house in which she had never been inside. Our house was now the refuge she was seeking. I was so very glad.

We went into the laundry room by way of the garage. I made sure to close the garage door behind us as the Officer continued walking through to the front door to leave. “God bless you!” was the most of what I could say, still emerging from more shock from the morning’s developments. Steve and I had no idea that we would ever see Luna again! Steve came home from church early and soon went off to Petsmart to purchase a proper harness for use outside. (A snout harness is on order per the recommendation of Misfit Shepherds rescue. We already had a clean and stronger leash to use.) By the afternoon Luna had gingerly agreed to a bath to check for wounds and diminish the dirt and scent of a cheap date, not to mention heavy pheromones as her heat cycle continued.

Our home wreaked of more noxious odors for the rest of the day than I could have ever tolerated in the past. Thank the Lord that for some reason I have been having fewer convulsive episodes the over the past 2 weeks! But by Sunday night I was pretty loopy and having a couple of tic attacks, albeit nothing like what I have experienced for a decade before this January. It’s pretty amazing that this change would emerge as 1) Elle passed away earlier this month and 2) I had increased a new supplement of a type that my Doctor prescribed for brain and joint health but struggled to tolerate in the past. (By the way, the new Omega 3 supp is made from the same kind of plants that I have grown in our garden!) I was able to help Steve care for Luna this past weekend and even take the road trip yesterday to go meet her, bring her home. For all of this I am amazed, exceedingly grateful. Praise the Lord!

So to our beautiful-perhaps-still-scared and precious Luna, we are beginning a new journey together. Tomorrow, Lord willing, Steve and I will take you to meet your new Vet who will get you fixed up properly and evaluate your wounds from your accident. The emergency vet hospital staff didn’t think that you broke any bones but we do think your tender spirit was damaged a bit by your unfortunate escapade. Maybe this first crazy night under a full moon will serve to bond us all together a little more? We are here to love you and care for you, our sweet fuzzy girl. More fun adventures than you can ever imagine await you if you but give us a chance. We will be patient. I already love you so.

The spot where Luna decided to camp out her first night with us. That’s an ice pack on her hip.

Torture, water-boarding and more: Part 2

This story began in Part 1 with how I landed at The Balance Center on the last day of the year for the conclusion of my hearing and vestibular system testing.  That was yesterday and I am still recovering . . .

My mood was in a major funk as I was running late for my appointment (struggling to function), trying to hold off any tic attacks whilst still getting ready and out the door.  I am back into a 2-part fractionated sleep schedule to try and manage:  1) an increase in the nightly and morning convulsive episodes and 2) getting enough sleep.  Usually there are at least 2 nights when the number of hours of unconsciousness barely exceeds FOUR; the night before the appointment was one of them!  Eeee gads.  But by the grace of God have I survived to tell the story so let us continue!

A very sweet technician named “M” was assigned to walk me through the procedures to be performed in three rooms, each equipped with various test equipment, computers, and some funny-looking masks.  I’ll include some stock photos here to bring you into my world:

The Balance Center, vestibular, training, testing, dizziness, therapy, light-headed, physical therapy, rehabilitation, audiology, mask

Generally each part of each test was completed three times.  Most of the time “M” warned me about the challenge that was about to happen (except for the water-boarding shock that came later, unfortunately!).  In the first room I stepped barefoot onto a cold, 3-walled compartment in which the floor moved independently of the walls that also moved.  She harnessed me in with the same number of straps usually employed with bungee jumping!  I remembered hearing professional dancers talk about focusing on one object as they spun around doing pirouettes so I decided that would be my strategy all afternoon to avoid up-chucking early in the game.  It helped for a little while and I guess I did o.k. during phase 2 (with phase 1 being the audiology testing in October) although the dizziness, uneasiness, queasiness, and feeling of being lost-in-space began quickly.  She allowed me to rest a short while afterwards and for this I was exceedingly grateful.  My feet eventually started to warm up  . . .

brain testing, balance testing, vestibular, rehabilitation, Balance Center, dizziness, light headedness, physical therapy, audiology, ENTI hobbled to the next room labeled, “Rotational Chair.”  Holy crap.  I was doomed!  I never liked the Merry-Go-Round at the playground as a kid and now was the time to find out why.  You know what happens to the kids too scared to jump off, right?  This is probably why The Balance Center instructs you to eat only oatmeal in the hours before your appointment!  So with fear and trembling I stepped into what looked like the anti-gravity room at the Nassau Space Center.  The walls and chair in the “space capsule” were black, equipped with even more straps that comprised the harness and seat belt configuration.  This time my head was restrained as well with the mask pictured above affixed to my head.  Then she closed the door.  I was all alone in the darkness.

I wondered about trace specks of mold, fragrance, and other irritants from the travelers who had gone before me.  Should I have been wearing my carbon mask all along to avoid trace exposures?  My mind was so overwhelmed with the test procedures that day that I would not pull it out until the dire end.  For now, I was to spin in circles and watch the little red dot ahead of me, make the line straight using the “Play Station” controllers in each hand, and hope that the fraction of light peeking through the hinge of the door would re-orient me enough to go on . . .  My defenses were rapidly breaking down.

balance-testing rotational chair

“M” asked me probably 75 questions total that afternoon, spread throughout all of the test procedures.  Had I ever fallen?  Hit my head?  Gotten dizzy?  What about headaches?  Migraines?  Chemical exposures?  You get the idea.  In the chair of the Black Hole, those questions made it impossible to focus enough to use the ballerina strategy to keep my act together.  The nausea crept up inside me then miraculously never exceeded critical mass to prompt a return of my breakfast.  (I took the nausea medication I had with me later anyways!  It was the least I could do to calm things down!)  I am now getting dizzy and light headed just writing about this experience.

When “M” opened the Magic Door and set me free from my restraint, I slumped forward with my head plunging into my hands.  What the heck was happening to me?  Low grade tic attacks erupted.  I felt listless, unbalanced, disoriented, exhausted, sideways, unsteady even in my seat, like I was struggling to keep breathing (as if someone had pushed the air out of my chest), with increased ringing in my ears and a knife-like sub-occipital headache.  The sinus headache had returned as a bonus.  I asked if I could lie down.  She agreed since there would be supine positioning in the next room and testing anyways.  Great.  I strained to hold myself together long enough to make it to the torture chamber just around the corner . . .

balance testing, vestibular, lights, flashing lights, therapy, audiology, Balance Center, testing, dizziness, light headed, head injury, concussions

The usual nightmare met me on that treatment table.  Violent convulsive episodes displayed their wretched glory with deep vocalizations that I could not control.  On and on with no end in sight they came as I lain face down in the position I have discovered that causes the least amount of trauma to my banging neck and head.  My legs were cold.  My hands were cold.  The room was darkened yet the bright desk lamp next to the technician’s computer was too bright for my eyes just 4 feet away.  I struggled to raise my arm to shield my eyes and held on for dear life.

Why was I going through all of this anyways?  Would all of this trauma really yield anything useful beyond yet another human version of a “lab rat” experiment to tell me that something was very, very wrong.  NO KIDDING SOMETHING IS WRONG!!!  I asked for my purse and awkwardly donned my face-mask when I could get my hands to work together enough to do so.  Probably 20 minutes passed before the overt symptoms stopped:  the ones you can see, that is!  Inside I was seemingly beyond repair.  This was going to take a long time from which to recover.  I wept.  The more I write about it, the more I experience a slight flashback of symptoms.  I will pause here for a little cry.  More later . . .

Continued in Part 3