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Our Pack

albus

Albus Severus A.K.A. Papoose

Standard Poodle - DOB March 2014

Meet the newest member of our pack! Young Albus comes from a long line of champion show dogs (his half sister Flame just finished her grand championship in fact) and this little creamy dream has been just the thing to cheer up sad mamas and sad pack members. He has brought a renewed energy to us all and keeps us on our toes (and chews on our toes too lol). His favorite past times include kissing us, wrestling with Cecile and Atticus, chewing bully sticks, and hassling Carma and Kate lol. He is currently in beginning obedience and will start his next training class at the end of June. We have no plans to show him in traditional conformation shows but we do hope to compete in Rally trials with him someday.

Update: Our once tiny beautiful little boy is now a nearly 3 year old full grown adult male and though competing in conformation shows was not our original intent at all, a very strange twist of events led us down that path after all and Al B is in fact a retired show champion now. He and mama Jen continue weekly training sessions for Rally now and hope to begin competing together soon. Al B is still full of vim and vigor and he still keeps all of us laughing with his antics, his sense of entitlement and the way he struts about like king of the manor. He and Cecile are the best, closest of friends and she lets him get away with anything and everything lol. He and Atticus are men friends and wrestle and act foolish together. Kate finally acknowledged his existence after he had been with the family for several months, and now she even gets in on playing with him occasionally but mostly she really enjoys barking at him and correcting him when he bounces around her and barks at her.

Katherine Oswalt Plunkett, A.K.A. Katie

Long Haired German Shepherd - DOB Jan 31, 2001

At two-and-a-half years old Kate was abandoned in a yard—her abusive owners moved and just left her behind. Jen and her mom and grandma rescued her and thus began the long journey of getting Katie healthy and helping her to trust people at all. Now, Katie still has some trust issues but is overall very affectionate with people once she knows them and has thoroughly sniffed their shoes. A Hypoglycemic like Mama Jen, Kate also has two serious auto immune disorders: Pemphigus and Lymphangiectasia. Mamas Gia and Jen continue to work closely with Kate’s vet to treat these largely holistically versus with steroids. Daily, Kate takes vitamins, fish oil, a probiotic, an amino acid, a liver detox that contains milk thistle, a low dose antibiotic, flagyl, a joint supplement and she receives monthly B12 shots. Between all this and a high quality kibble (she eats Orijen senior formula), most symptoms of her conditions remain minimal. Kate enjoys long walks, chasing the occasional deer, guarding her house and family, laying in the grass on sunny days, and the occasional dumping of the kitchen trash can. The largest member of our pack, she is loyal and strong and frequently very silly.

Update: Our sweet Kate just celebrated her 16th birthday! Yes…her 16th birthday! She moves much slower, but is still our pack alpha and is still going strong. We transitioned her (and the whole pack) to a totally raw diet and supplements about two years ago and now Kate’s auto immune conditions have moved into a nearly remission like status. She enjoys long naps, short wobbles up and down our long driveway, laying in the sun, eating, barking at her brother Albus and slow motion games of chase and toy keep away with mama Gia. She also enjoys good snuggles and ear rubs…both of which we happily provide! ❤️

Update: Our sweet Katie really began to slow down and began to have lots of trouble getting up and staying up shortly after we updated her info for this updated page. She was beginning to fall down a lot and be unable to rise. Her back legs would just go out in a splits like position. Just doing the barest minimum of going out to potty and eating were taking all her energy and will power. The pain meds we had her on and all her magical herbal joint supplements had ceased to bring her much if any relief at all and she was in chronic pain. So we made the intensely heart wrenching decision to help our grand dame across the proverbial rainbow bridge with dignity on March 29, 2017. Both mamas and Aunt Audi and her vet were with her surrounding her in love and cradling her to our bodies in a manner consistent for a dog as loyal and amazing as Kate. She was without a doubt the most regal, lion hearted dog I ever met and our entire house is just grieving and bereft without her. To describe this loss as anything less than utterly wrenching and absolutely life changing is a total lie. We miss her so. Each day without her seems…wrong. We will always love and miss our Katie, our own fairytale princess. She was the quiet strong glue to our entire pack. I hope you are able to chase bicycles again there at the bridge my sweet.

Phyllis

Phyllis Gladys

German Shepherd - DOB unknown (est. between 2009 & 2012)

Almost four weeks to the day of losing our Kate, there was a chance tagging of Gia in a neighborhood watch post about an older female German Shepherd thrown out onto the streets by her owner who “no longer wanted her” and animal control in Kansas City, Kansas refusing to pick her up as they were full. Something about her touched Gia, who had sworn no new dogs after losing Kate. She went and picked Phyllis Gladys up and took her straight to the vet for a check up, shots and boarding as we were going to be out of town for a few days. The testing at the vet revealed that she was infested with whipworms, has advanced heart worms, is anemic and most of her teeth are worn down and or broken from rock eating. So the best estimate of her age without the aid of examining teeth is 5-8. She was treated for whip worms and is currently undergoing supportive immune care, taking iron for her anemia and taking a pill to kill the baby heart worms in her bloodstream for three more weeks. After that point she will check into the vet for a three or four day period and receive her first treatment to kill the heart worms. Treatment itself is nearly as dangerous, as it is arsenic based. From now through successful treatment, she must be kept quiet as the risk of death by pulmonary embolism is high as the heart worms begin to die. We do not know what the future holds, but the now holds her being in a safe loving place where she is thriving and learning to be happy and to trust people. We feel that our Kate somehow had a paw in all this.

Carmalina

Carmalina Ileana A.K.A. Bug

American PitBull Terrier Mix - DOB Jan 31, 2000

At two months old, Carmalina and her four littermates were dumped at a vet where Gia’s ex worked. They had parvovirus and kennel cough and the owners did not want to pay to treat them. One puppy passed away and the other four were all given a poor prognosis. The only girl and the runt, Carmalina had the highest viral loads of all the puppies that lived, but she was stubborn and that stubbornness saved her life then and again recently when she beat bone cancer. Bug has always enjoyed life to the fullest—she loves long walks, time with her pack mates (especially Atticus), sleeping (she loves to spoon or to curl up in her stepmom Jen’s recliner), kissing anyone who will let her kiss them, tearing apart stuffed toys and scanning the kitchen floor for dropped bits of food. She is the oldest and smallest of our pack but don’t let age or size fool you. Her spirit is gigantic and her enthusiasm contagious.

Update: In January of 2015, our sweet gal celebrated her 15th birthday. Right around this time, both moms noticed a small pea sized bump on the top of the right side of her muzzle. Testing revealed our very worst fears…our sweet love had osteo facial sarcoma. Terminal. No treatment options. The news quite literally gutted us. She was given a mere few months tops. Through the entire process, both her mamas, Gia and her ex LeeAnn, worked hand in hand to provide quality over quantity for Carm. Every doctor appointment was jointly attended and every decision regarding her palliative care options was jointly made. In early July, with mama Gia’s full blessings, mama LeeAnn and Carma made a road trip to Carms favorite spot in all the world and the place where she learned to swim, LeeAnn’s family’s vacation cabin in Canada. It was a bittersweet trip and all Carma’s extended family got to say their goodbyes to her in person. The peace on Carma’s face in the pictures taken there is breath takingly beautiful even though it is also heart breaking. The cancer mass transformed our baby girls face but never changed her spirit. She fought a brave and valiant fight and when she was exhausted and ready to leave this plane, she was seen across the bridge with peace and dignity. She had a cheeseburger and fries for her last meal and that early sunny hot evening of July 24, 2015, most everyone who loved her gathered at her mama LeeAnns house. LeeAnn and Gia took Carma for a last stroll in the tall grass and when Carma’s lifelong vet arrived at the house, Carma settled down on her favorite bed bravely and being held by both Moms while surrounded by both Stepmoms, her favorite auntie and her grandma and grandpa, our sweet baby love was helped across the rainbow bridge. As was fitting for how she was shared and shared her love with us, each mama kept half her ashes and each one wears a blown glass necklace with some of her ashes blown into them. We miss her every single day. Not one day goes by where we don’t still acutely feel the loss of her. She is the dog who transformed everything about mama Gia’s interaction with dogs and helped lead to her extreme love of all dogs, led her to being a fierce advocate for pit bulls and led her in fact to a career with dogs. She was an amazing soul and an unequaled gift.

Atticus Leroy Sylvester Ignatius Sylvia Brown Finch, A.K.A. the Wolf King

Alaskan Malamute Mix - DOB April 2007

At five months of age Atticus was rescued from a neglectful owner. After potty training, gaining weight, and learning to play with toys, he transformed everyone in our house and learned to bat his white eyelashes when in trouble. Today a delicate and lean boy with a congenital eye problem and a slight limp (the result of a broken pelvis suffered before we adopted him), he continues to harass his sisters who, despite themselves, love him and he continues to love and charm everyone who meets him. He is gentle and sweet with an ornery and stubborn streak (he continues to bat his darling white eyelashes at his Moms, especially when all of his names are being called because he has been particularly naughty). He enjoys cookies (especially Fruitables), dancing to old swing records with his moms, strutting (he is especially proud when sporting a fresh Mohawk) and guarding his things. He loves getting new clothes, and when he sees a collar come out of the box, he sits, vibrates in anticipation, and prances around to show it off. He is our boy but if you ask him, he’s not a boy, he’s the Wolf King.

Update: Tuc is older but every bit still the wolf king legend he has always been in his own mind. He remains the sweetest, most reliably awesome boy. His congenital corneal dystrophy worsens a bit each passing year and he has some mild vision issues in bright sunlight, but other than that, he remains pretty darn healthy and happy. He still loves to dance with the mamas, rough house with his little brother Al B, and bat his white eyelashes at mamas or anyone else he wishes to charm.

cecile

Cecile Francesca de Volanges, A.K.A. Dat Baby or Moody

American Pit Bull Terrier /English Bulldog Mix - DOB May 2009

Meet our little girl who is the dog in both of our logos. When one of Gia’s grooming clients brought her new foster puppy in to meet Gia, it was love at first sight (for Jen, whom Gia texted a photo, it was love at first picture). Found in a yard in KCMO by a local rescue (she was one of five living puppies out of a litter of eleven), Cecile went home with Gia and Jen for a trial weekend and never left. She is the love of everyone in the household. She enjoys sleeping between her mamas, getting and giving kisses, sitting in laps, playing hide and seek with mama Jen, rough housing with her brother Atticus, eating, searching for cookies and being the shop greeter at the grooming shop. Like most pitties, Cecile is strong, silly, and sweet, and she is absolutely adored by all who get to know her.

Update: Cecile is still an utter delight. She was diagnosed with a low normal thyroid and continues to have multiple food allergies that are challenging and can lead to mild chronic pancreatic problems, but between her regular veterinarian, her holistic veterinarian and two very dedicated to her well being and super determined moms, her thyroid and food allergies remain navigable. She eats a raw diet, takes probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes and gets acupuncture weekly to address both her digestive issues and her arthritis in her knee and lower spine (an effect of having been spayed far too young). She loves to rough house with her brothers and to snuggle right in between both mamas wherever and whenever possible.

Waylon

Waylon Arthur AKA "Arty Party"

Bull Terrier/Jack Russell Mix - DOB unknown (estimated to be either summer 2009 or summer 2011)

One Sunday morning in October 2011, as Jen was headed to a pet sitting visit, she saw a man dressed as though going to church, pull over at 60th and Rockhill road, take something out of his trunk and drive away. That something was a little starved male dog that Jen subsequently lured over to her. Every bone was visible on this boy and He had the saddest country music eyes Gia had ever seen, hence his first name, Waylon. Since that fateful morn, we have had quite a roller coaster ride with our littlest man dog. At first his tests indicated he had early onset kidney disease. We treated for it though we were told that at any point he could die. After a year of treatment though, he suddenly no longer showed kidney problems at all. Talk about relief and joy. Then out of the blue in late October 2013, Way began having trouble walking–he was wobbly and would just fall over. Extensive tests revealed a debilitating syndrome commonly called “Wobblers Syndrome.” The maximum prognosis whether treated surgically or medically is 4 years. After absorbing this awful news, the Mamas were dealt a second blow when Arty Party began having neurological symptoms too. This news was worse: it is suspected that he has also a brain tumor or a rare degenerative central nervous system problem and either way the prognosis is 4 months. We have to treat medically as surgery is no longer optional nor preferable. It is our goal to make darned sure our Arty Party has quality rather than quantity. And he surprised us once before so who knows? Prayers, well wishes, positive energy and white light are all welcome as we embark on this latest journey with Way.

Update: Our brave little Waylon took a bad down turn around Thanksgiving and we made the heart breaking decision to see him over the Rainbow Bridge the day after Thanksgiving with peace and dignity. He was a brave little man all the way to the end. We held him close and whispered words of love to him and stroked his velvety soft rabbit ears as he drifted away. The ache of this loss was nearly unbearable. He left a huge hole in our hearts and home. We still look for him and miss him dearly. On St.Patrick’s Day Mama Gia had a memorial tattoo done of her boy. Not one day goes by where we don’t think of him.

Imogene

Imogene aka Fancy Pants

Pit Bull Terrier - DOB unknown

After the heart breaking loss of Waylon, we decided no more fostering—ever. Our hearts just hurt too much. And then someone on the board of a local pit rescue approached us about Imogene. She had been brought to them by a woman who found her wandering down a country road on a cold January morning. She was blind but appeared otherwise okay. So we hesitantly went to meet her and when we did we fell in love with her sweet ways. We agreed she needed a chance and a foster home. But the day we were scheduled to bring her home to foster, she began having massive seizures and it was to be three more days and many pills and tests later before we were able to bring her home. The prognosis was that she was having seizures for no reason the doctors initially saw but as an ER vet pointed out, something had caused her to be blind and have seizures as well as a host of other emerging neurological issues. Prognosis was poor and diagnostics out of reasonable price range. We knew from that point forward that she was likely a hospice case. So we adopted her and brought her home as a permanent family member because we believed in our hearts that she deserved to belong to a family for whatever time she had. What followed was the most intense month we have ever known. We scraped meager funds we had left after Way’s illnesses and we also received generous assistance from Friends of KC Animals so that we were able to go to MU vet school and have specialized tests run to find out exactly what was killing this girl and if there was any hope of saving her. Turns out she had a host of awful neurological crud–she had survived distemper at some point but it had left brain lesions. She also had 2 active tick born illnesses—rocky mountain spotted fever and ehrlichia. Neither curable and both causing more brain lesions. And any of the three illnesses could have been responsible for her blindness due to retinal bleeding. The seizures were a result of a weakened and scarred neural system. She had no stimulus response on the left side of her body. The last test they ran was for toxoplasmosis and the results would be a couple weeks away. We loaded her up and took her home. Due to her seizures and how she would mess herself when having them, she had to be diapered the first couple of weeks we had her thus earning her the nickname “Fancy Pants.” We consulted with a holistic vet as well as our regular vet and through it all, Imogene remained perky and happy. Once the anti seizure meds normalized in her system, we no longer had to carry her out to potty or hand feed her. She wobbled but stayed up and She ate her raw food and supplements with gusto. She learned to ask to go out to potty and even chewed bones, played with frisbees and occasionally dug in the trash. And us? Well, we got hopeful. Then we received the crushing news that on top of her surviving distemper and having two active tick borne viruses that she also in fact had toxoplasmosis. Our vet explained that the treatments to cure her would be extremely hard on a healthy dog let alone one with her already existent issues. But he like us knew this was her only chance at the possibility of a life. So we started her first on a sulpha based antibiotic and were set to start her on a powerful anti-parasitic four days later. But she took a sharp and sudden down turn two days into the sulpha drug and we took her to our vet for observation. There she went into seizures and had to be sedated and from there She lapsed into a coma that she never came out of. We opted to take her home that afternoon and see what happened. Somewhere mixed into the love we had for her was still an ember of hope. And of wanting her to be in what may have been the only home she had ever had and not at a vet when she passed. And she did hold on—she held on until we reached home and there, once inside, she passed peacefully with Mama Jen by her. Mama Jen then gently wiped her down with baby wipes and lavender oil dressed her in her jammies, and we then drove our baby Imogene aka Fancy Pants to our vet to have her cremated. The entire drive there I (Gia) held her and both Jen and I kept a hand on her. We told her of the wonderful ways in which she enriched us and our lives and how we loved her and knew that now she could run free without being hampered by a body so full of illness. We were beyond bereft to lose another so close after losing Way and we kept wondering what the lesson in it all was. Perhaps the universe just had a sick sense of humor. A friend’s touching message that day to us really stuck tho. She surmised that Waylon sent Imogene to us because he knew we were trying to close our hearts and “he knew you were made to love and be loved. So he arranged Miss Fancy Pants to remind you of that…She was here and she loved you and she reminded you that you can and should love.” Today, Imogene and Waylon’s ashes sit side by side in our home and because of what we went through with them, we know that yes, we can, should and do love no matter the potential for pain and heart ache. Because there is also the potential for joy every time we open ourselves to love.