Tristan waiting to die.

I can’t really tell the story of how Tristan came into my life without telling you that my life was in a very dark place when I saw the picture of him cowering in the drain ditch at the Clinton County shelter. The fear seeped from him, his eyes saw no hope, his spirit was broken and his heart had been betrayed. In him I saw a manifestation of the pain I was feeling in my life. I connected with that and I could not get him out of my head. I checked back almost hourly to see if someone had stepped up to save him; surely someone would rescue this sweet dog. I couldn’t possibly take him, listing out loud all the reasons why it made no sense, running through them like a grocery list in my head over and over, yet I kept checking back. Refresh, refresh refreshing the web page. I kept looking at his eyes; the fear was undeniable, but what I saw beyond that was hope. I wanted to be the person that would not give up on him and who could show him that human hands could be for soft scratches and pats, not pain and abuse.

“Is Triste (the original name he was given) safe?” That was the question I wrote in an e-mail to
Shannon DeBra co-founder of Recycled Doggies late that night, the night before he was to be killed. The warden had already made the decision that he was “unadoptable”, and was heard saying “who would want a dog like this? Was he “unadoptable” because of his enormous fear? His looks? His heartbroken eyes?

“No” Shannon replied.

“I’ll foster him” was my response. It was a leap of faith, it was done with my heart not my head and it would prove to be one of the hardest things I have done.

I picked him up with my friend Ashley (god bless her heart!) from the animal hospital in the evening after work. I had no idea what to expect and what I expected could not have come close to what I found when I arrived. They warned me, they told me he was having a hard time and as they carried him into the room I was sitting in, he took one look at me and released his bowels and bladder out of sheer terror desperately trying to make himself melt into the wall not to be noticed. What had I gotten myself into?


Hopeless and alone



The power of love and kindness… what a difference!



The vet tech carried him to my car and once home Ashley and I managed to carry him from the car (he is about 70lbs) and up the stairs to a spare bedroom.  He was terrified, and made himself almost lifeless.  He would stay in that room for over a month. The first weeks he would not come out from the corner he shoved himself into with his head under the bed. I would have to crawl and shove my head under the other side of the bed to talk to him, so I could see him, try to comfort him. I would read to him (my favorite kids book “Tales of the 4th grade nothing”, and articles from the cooking magazine” Saveur” were some of his favorites…less howling during those selections) just to get him used to my voice.  The terrified look remained. He was not sleeping, (which meant no one was sleeping!) he was howling and boy did he excel at the howling.  Night after night I would drag myself into his room and lie with him.  Then one night I was drifting off to sleep lying on the floor about 4 feet from him. I was half awake and then I felt it on my hand.  It was that slobbery, kinda tickly feeling…I realized he was gently kissing my hand. I lie there motionless afraid to move, afraid to breath, with tears streaming down my face. That is the moment I fell in love with this dog.

The weeks turned into months which turned into years.  It has been over five years now and Tristan has made amazing strides.  He is part of our crazy family, he loves my schnauzer’s Maggie and Tully and they love him too!   He greets me every morning with a wiggly behind, kisses and LOVES his breakfast! He plays and romps like crazy. He has overcome his fear of going outside and I often watch him in the mornings just sitting in the middle of the yard looking up and taking it all in, this new life he has found.



Learning to spread his wings....

Learning to spread his wings….


He still struggles with anxiety, new people and changes are a struggle for him.  I am committed to making sure he lives a loving life with people who will never abuse or neglect him again. He is the reason I want so badly to succeed in this endeavor, he is the hope that I have for all dogs  who know only cruelty, rage and abuse.  He is the reason that we can no longer accept the reality that shelters across this area and most areas kill “adoptable” dogs that they deem unworthy for life simply because of lack of space or that they require a little more work. Tristan would have been killed in that shelter and no one would have cared had it not been for Recycled Doggies, loving volunteers and Carolyn Evans a professional photographer who volunteers her time to take pictures of shelter dogs in order to try to capture who they really are, which is so much more than just a number given to them as they enter the shelter. Had it not been for the picture of  Tristan she took that day, capturing his sorrow, and hopelessness I am not sure I would have connected or responded the way I did.

He has inspired and healed me beyond words.


I am forever indebted to Tristan…


I Love my sweet boy….



On October 28th 2011, the date of my late father’s Birthday, I officially adopted Tristan, in his honor. There is no one who could love him more then me and the schnauzers, we are so very blessed to have him with us! He will never know anything but love, kindness and treats from here on out!








Click here to learn more about Recycled Doggies.





Parent page: Tristan


  1. Heather Bedinghaus says:

    Hey Lori!
    I loved reading you blog posts! Your an amazing person and I’m so glad we got to meet one another! Tristan looks so good!

    • dogl2324 says:

      Hey Heather!
      Thank you for this note, and for being so good to me! I really appreciate all your kindness and awesome sense of humor getting me through the TKR! I agree, so lucky our paths crossed!


  2. Moody says:

    Hey Lori,

    Just saw your video.
    That puppy looks so happy and healthy!!!

    The things love can do!!!!

    Way to go!
    Both of you!!!!!

  3. Debbie Rasnick says:

    @Shannon – I was one of the volunteers at the shelter the day we found Tristan and Journey and learned about their story. Lori recently posted a video of Tristan running and playing in her house on her Facebook page. You wouldn’t believe the difference, he was a “normal” dog!!! She has done an amazing job with him which is why I know she’ll succeed in her current life change!

  4. Shannon says:

    I’m so overwhelmed right now, I can’t tell you. I was there the day Tristan came out of the shelter, doing transport for two other dogs (one the now-departed Jumping Jack). They managed to drag Tristan out of the shelter and they asked if I’d hold his leash while they went for the others. He was plastered to the ground outside, not moving a muscle, and more terrified than any dog I’ve ever seen. Snow was coming down and I tried to squat to his level and talk to him and stroke his head. He didn’t move, he was lifeless. It was so heart-breaking I couldn’t think straight. Now to read this story and know how far he’s come because somebody took a chance on him is just remarkable. You are an inspiration in so many ways and I can’t thank you enough for saving him.

    Best, best, BEST of luck on your weight loss. I’m in for $5 a pound in honor of Tristan. 🙂

    • dogl2324 says:

      Hi Shannon-

      You are one of the few people who can understand exactly where he started, and just how terrified he was. I try to explain it but I have never witnessed anything like that kind of terror. I can’t tell you how touched I am at your donation in honor of Tristan. It means so much to me that even though he was terrified, you showed him kindness and tried to comfort him that day. Again, your support means a great deal and I am very grateful! I will be blogging and posting video and pictures of Tristan so stay tuned!! 🙂


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