By KELCIE PEGHER
The Carroll County Times
FINKSBURG, Md. (AP) — Around the same time Rosemary Schinzel had to put down her 14-year-old dog, Sammy, two German Shepherds were thrown off the back of a truck on a Maryland state highway.
“When we got home (from putting down Sammy), there was such a hole,” the Finksburg resident said. “A hole in the house; a hole in my heart.”
The two dogs were emaciated and hurt badly, said Rick Schinzel, Rosemary’s husband. According to the Mid-Atlantic German Shepherd Rescue, several witnesses saw the incident and called animal control. While the older dog was so ill that he ended up passing, Dolan, who was just under a year old, survived.
Rosemary, who volunteers for MAGSR, saw Dolan’s story on the MAGSR website and decided to see him on St. Patrick’s Day last year. While visiting Dolan, the dog looked up at her. It was love at first sight.
One year later, Dolan’s and Rosemary’s lives have changed for the better.
Taking Dolan in wasn’t easy at first, Rick said. He couldn’t eat dog food. He wouldn’t eat out of a dog bowl, he said. He was practically starving himself, Rick said. At one point, Rosemary was out of town and Dolan crawled into the backyard and laid by a tree — to die, Rick said.
That was when Rick had enough and brought Dolan to the veterinarian. The veterinarian took some food, put it on a plate and set it on the ground. Dolan immediately started eating. He had never been taught to eat out of a bowl or to eat dog food, Rick said.
While at the veterinarian, they took X-rays and discovered he had a .22 caliber bullet in his chest, Rick said. He also noticed a discoloration on his nose that was actually a cigarette burn, and not a light tuft of fur.
“I can’t imagine being more abused than what he was,” Rick said.
It took about two to three weeks for Dolan to adjust to eating out of a regular food bowl, Rosemary said. Rosemary took Dolan to obedience school, and since living with the Schinzels, has grown into a well-trained dog.
“He had to learn how to do everything. He didn’t know how to play,” Rick said.
Rick tried to teach Dolan how to fetch, but him raising a stick intimidated Dolan. Ultimately Rick’s dog, Sadie, would teach Dolan how to play with a bone or with a ball.
Rosemary said while Dolan was her first rescue dog, she will never adopt a dog that isn’t a rescue again.
“There are so many layers, it’s like a present that’s been wrapped and rewrapped. You need to unwrap each layer and deal with that layer because you don’t know psychologically where they’ve been. You need to get through all that and when you finally get to the present, it’s a wonderful gift,” she said.
Caroline Mandel, the president and intake coordinator at MAGSR, said it’s a misunderstanding that all rescue dogs come with behavioral or health issues. Since the economy took a downturn, there has been a rise in people dropping off well-loved dogs who they just can’t afford to keep anymore.
MAGSR is a volunteer-run organization that relies primarily on foster homes and renting out shelter space to house the German Shepherds. To rescue a dog is not only saving that dog’s life, but it also saves another dog’s life, Mandel said.
When a shelter is full, animals do have to be euthanized, she said. If a family adopts a dog, it opens up space for another dog to come into its spot.
“Rescuing is a wonderful thing to do, and helps with overpopulation,” Mandel said. “All shelter and rescue dogs are normally spayed and neutered.”
MAGSR currently has 53 dogs, Mandel said. They keep records of each dog which was adopted and list them all online. Because of volunteering with MAGSR, Rosemary is always trying to pair people up with German Shepherds.
Dolan accompanies her everywhere, she said, from taking a ride to the store to joining her while she works at the Pennsylvania Dutch Market in Cockeysville, which she owns.
For his first anniversary at his new home today, Rosemary and Rick will have a little party and invite their children and grandchildren over.
While dealing with the loss of her 14-year-old dog Sammy was a struggle, Dolan has filled the large hole left in her heart, she said.
“He rescued me,” Rosemary said. “I didn’t rescue him.”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)