Rettung’s Haus Shepherds, located in Kenosha, WI is a volunteer-based rescue that takes in German Shepherds who are left in high-kill shelters. Not only does she take them in but with some specialized training, many of these dogs go on to serve their community. Antoinette has also established a community outreach program for the youth, called Operation K9 Truth for Youth which is designed to teach fact from fiction regarding the bully breed nation. Please join us as she shares with us more about Rettung’s Haus Shepherds & Mega E.
Welcome to the Professionals and Animal Rescue podcast, where a goal is to introduce you two amazing people helping animals and share how you can get involved with animal rescue. This podcast is probably sponsored by do bert dot com. Do Bert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters and the only site that automates rescue relay transport. Now on with our show with more than 35 years of experience with German shepherds, our guest today is Antoinette Roger you guys, founder of Reading House Shepherds. The organization started back in 2009 and to date they’ve rescued hundreds of dogs from high kill shelters, the furthest one being from California. Internet not only rescues and trains German shepherds, but has also created a community outreach program called Operation Canine Truth for Youth, which offers Children in the community the chance to be in the leadership roles they may not otherwise been able to do. They partner to help the elderly and those less fortunate with food and clothing drives and community projects. Hey, and turn out. Welcome to the program. Hi, Chris. How are you? Great. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. Can you tell us a little bit about you and reading how shepherds. I’m sure. Well, thank you for having me. Um, so I’m the founder and president of Retinal Shepherds. And we are, Ah, German Shepherd. Read specific rescue. And I really do, like, rescue during the day. And at night we train, we offer all breed training to the public. Very cool. Now, is this something that you’ve always wanted to do? I mean, how did you get into this? Well, actually, um, so I’ve always been raised with German shepherds dating back to my grand parents from Germany. They’ve always So that’s where my love, um, for shepherds came from through my grandparent’s. And, um actually, I was working in the dental field the at the time when I really start to get into rescue. So I was I was on my lunch hour, and, uh, one of my assistants said, Hey, there’s a dog on cranks list. I was looking for a car for my son the time my oldest um, we’re looking for a car on craigslist and she found this German shepherd that was chained. And I still have a picture he was. He was chained to the ground, laying down, looked very sick. Said, Ah, free guard dog to home. So, um, we went to go that night I went, I took my son he thought were looking for cars. But I said, We have to stop because there’s a shepherd and I think that was like the first time I really didn’t know like that even existed because we always like we never rescued. We always had, you know, breeding dogs and whatnot. And I didn’t know that side of life. I would say that this really went on. And so when I went to see him, it was dark. It was cold. It was January and the ladies like we got him as a puppy from a breeder and he was three months old and he’s he’s a shop dog and he’s kept in the pole barn. And my son was like, What are we doing? What it’s like? I just want us Neil and I couldn’t see how I could hear him as she took him out of the pool, burn with the chain, and he was growling, and he was I was like, What did I get myself into and he came running up to us, and then he just collect at my feet, and I was like, Oh, my goodness. And that’s when I saw him. It was a really sad I’ve never seen anything like that in ever and dumb. I said to her, You know, I need to think about this cause I don’t know what I’m gonna do with it. I wasn’t looking for a dog. Already had two shepherds of my own at the time. Um, the next day, I went back to go get him, and I really didn’t have a plan, Chris. I just knew I had to get him out of there. He was in, Ah, Pole barn. It was cold. It was a scrap metal, you know? So if you could amend his toys were a helmet. Um, his water was frozen. He had open lacerations and wounds and ear mites, and his bones were so arthritic there like that of a 10 year old dog. Um, and, um, he was only four, I believe. So we took him home. I didn’t have a plan, was prayed about it. Looks like I’m gonna do it. This guy had never been in a house, so he didn’t have any House manners. He didn’t. He was sick, and that’s when I got him home. That’s when I learned about rescue, and I reached out thio some other, um rescues to see if they could help. And everybody said, No, we cannot help you. Um, and then one rescue said, Well, we can help you if you’re willing to keep him. So I think that was my really my intro to that whole side of the world and rescue that I knew nothing about. Um, and in there what I did learn for me because when I was told, No, I can’t help you with Jonah that I wanted to change That’s when, like, I was like, what? We have to do something different. There has to be something better, and there has to be higher standards, you know, Um, and at that time, I did have an organization that said, You know, we we can take him, and we have a really good trainer for him, and at that time, because I was a single mom and Mike to Shepherd says that would maybe that’s the best thing for him and I took him there and I got a really bad feeling in my stomach. And I left him there and I called and I checked on him every day that week. And they said he won’t take his medicine. Nobody can touch him. He won’t let anybody in the kennel. And I said, Well, can I please just come give him his medicine? And they were like, Yes, just get over here and give him his medicine because he’s, you know, being just difficult. And I went after work with my kids reshape and for me at that place where they said that they were keeping him was not where they were keeping him. He was actually in a shed and it was cold and my heart just saying because I thought, Wow, So, um, the kennel hand went to go get him, and I heard all kinds of growling, and Jonah just busted out the cattle and actually, my jeep door was open. He went right into the jeep, and I was like and the guy was yelling and cursing at him and and I took Jonah and I drove off, and I never brought him back and And that, for me, was just a pivotal time for me. Like, these places really exist. And people really get, you know, lied to, like, show your dog will be OK. That is your dog. Really? Okay. And where’s your dog going? Um, that just opened up a whole new side that I I was shocked to see that point is, when we have to do something better, I think was the beginning of Rittenhouse. Okay, now, now, fast forward to today because I know over the years you’ve done a number of different things and you do a lot of training. But But you’ve also found your new passion. Now tell us a little bit about that. The magus Africa’s? Yep. We’ve taken in. You know, Isabella was our first mega a dog, and I didn’t know anything about my guest. Africa’s then, um, she’s taught me so much. He’s since, you know, outgrown it and doing really well. Um, we’ve had 13 dogs in in our rescue. Um, come through with mega SAfrica’s and we’ve learned so much about it through the years and through the medical and everything that we really want to be. Just a help in an outrage to the community and other rescues that maybe haven’t heard or dealt with this before. It’s a little bit about it for those people that may not be familiar with it. So Meg Assaf, Agus they’re born with the general. Generally, it’s congenital and it’s congenital and they’re born. It’s idiopathic they they’re not sure if it comes from the down the sire combination of both. So it’s always always recommended that the lines be eradicated on both sides because you just don’t know. You don’t want to breathe at into another dog. So if they’re born with it genetically the assassin of the esophagus, it’s almost as though it’s paralyzed. It doesn’t work, so there’s food cannot be moved to the stomach. There’s no motility there, Um, so the only way for food to reach the stomach is through gravity. And so that’s when the puppy eats upright. Oftentimes, using, you know, a Bailey chair that these dogs sit in for a certain amount of time for the food to reach the stomach. There’s also persistent right order arch magus Atticus, which is a different type, Um, and that persistent right order cart causes the mega esophagus. So what happens there is that the puppy is born with anomaly around the order of the Heart. And so as the puppy grows, so does the anomaly, which almost acts as a ligature, which will eventually strangulated puppy and the puppy will die. And by doing that, you know no food, no water passes, and I find that to be just one of the worst cases there is. Surgery is available, but it’s a risky surgery because it’s an open heart surgery. And then there’s aftercare and the puppy has to be pretty pretty stable in order to do that surgery and early enoughto to do that, we’ve had three puppies coming to our rescue with persistent right aortic arch to came to us too late and passed away. Thea other one we got from the university right after they did the surgery on dumb. He’s doing really well, and he’s actually a quarrel. New mega esophagus. So he’s living a full life. No Bailey chair eating normally. So he was a success story from that surgery. So those were given types. Yeah, um, and now we have no, with research there actually used in ah Senate Phil site trait, which is a generic form of Viagra for these puppies with maggots. Abacus. It’s kind of newer, but the studies that have been done have been really positive. Um, and it works just a kind of clothes that is jail splinter and keep the food down in there, you know, post meals. So that is something that we’re trying with one of our mega you puppies, Josephina, at this point to see how that works for her. So tell us, how does a dog get diagnosed with this? I mean, how would somebody know if their dog head Maggie eso when the puppy as foreign, you know, when a soon as their weed from their mom you would know so that you don’t see any incidents while they’re still nursing? Because the puppies almost like elevated when you think about it and it’s it’s liquid. But when you move them, tow a Groll or or a solid food, they start thio regurgitate or vomit. Um, depending. And so that’s when the breeders generally should know, like it’s very hard for me to believe that they would sell a puppy and be like what? We didn’t know that happened very hard because this is their put on that food. They cannot keep it down because it just doesn’t go it. It just sits and pools in the esophagus. Almost. If you think of it like a wet sock, it just kind of sits there and flaps over. It doesn’t go anywhere, and that’s when the food comes back up and they’re very thin, emaciated. We’ve seen that when they’re that little, they almost sound like a bullfrog because of the aspiration. Pneumonia and the aspiration. Pneumonia is not just like a regular pneumonias when they ask great food and our water into their lungs and that food and the bacteria from it is what becomes dangerous for that puppy. Um, and and that’s what we could make it fatal. That’s really how it’s diagnosed a ce faras I mean, not diagnosis for a sec. Oh, then then, at that point, you would take the puppy to the vet, confirm with X rays. Um, we do a little bit more than just X rays. We do, ah, barium swallow with Barry and because it shows us what part of the esophagus is the maggots, abacus all the way. Go into the stomach or does it stop at a certain point? And what’s the severity of it? And how long does it take the barium to reach this stomach for us? Which helps us to, um, going a plan on how long that puppy is gonna be in a Billy chair, is it? 10 minutes is a 20 minutes, and then when they were a year of age, retest him again and take another set of X rays and another barium swallow to see there’s any improvement. And what we’ve seen over the years is that generally there are improvements and they can outgrow it. So that is something that that this pretty need and they can live normal, healthy lives. We have Bailey chairs, which we call our Luca chair, because our Luca Witten said he would always stand in his chair, Which for him I can you explain a little bit about what a Bailey terrorists of people understand. Yeah, but Billy shares like a high chair, um, for Children, because I hate sure for dogs, so they sit upright in it. They can’t get out of it. You let them out of the door, but it’s really just like a high chair for dogs. And they sit there while they eat their food and then post meals for however long they need to 10 20 minutes until the food reaches the stomach. And then we let them out of the chair because with the esophagus, you know, being paralyzed. Really no motility. That’s the only wave. Is the gravity for the food to reach the stomach? So that’s where those years come in handy and e no, like on the Internet that have sold for 400 up. And we actually had some wonderful volunteers here who have milled out over a dozen of them. So we we have him here, they work, We call them our Luca chair, and we do it on a borrowing system. So if anybody has a puppy, that sick or a rescue gets one puppy and were able to provide them on a borrowing basis, that chair for as long as they need and whatever size, because we have him. But all sizes for the babies, for the adolescents on them for their lifetime share. Very cool. Now I know you guys were located in Kenosha, Wisconsin, or their their organizations like yours that are around the country that do something similar. I’m sure there are other Mikey organizations or people that that help. I don’t know of anybody in this area right here. Andi don’t know that. Allow people are just familiar with it. You know what it is until they were faced with It s so we just, um you know, we’ve had a class open to the public, can teach him and go over everything with it. It’s something I certainly teach even and in my classes just to make people aware, because I think the more that we could get the word out there and make people aware maybe the less dogs we would actually have and rescue if people knew how it managed it. And it wasn’t so scary and know that these dogs can live. Ah, happy, normal, healthy life. Um, other than that, that really chair. So yeah. Yeah, I know. And that’s what’s interesting to me is you know what resource is We’re out there. I mean, if somebody finds or, you know, they take their dog to the vet and the vet confirms that the dog is Maggie. What then? Right What are the resources? It sounds like you guys are really trying to act as that safety net for people. Yeah, you know, for us, it’s trial and error. So, um, we’re no experts by any means, But But through experience, we’ve got this pretty pretty well managed it. And just knowing the difference between the two, what to look for And, um, the symptoms with the dogs know for many years. And I can say this just from is a valid cause. I’ve had three personally that I’ve taken home with me and and just from Isabella on over the years allow the vats who are not familiar with it because they’re taught in medical school to euthanize. Because what are you gonna do and who wants toe take the time or has the resources to care for a puppy like this? But they’ve always believe that the puppy regurgitates. And so what we’ve learned over the years is there’s more than that so it can stem down to the Assaf Agiel splinter, which doesn’t close all the way. And then when we say these dogs are actually vomiting, they actually are, and it’s not regurgitation. So I think of it. That was something pretty cool that, you know, a couple years ago was really confirmed for me because we’ve been telling, you know, the doctors for many years. We don’t think it’s regurgitation. It’s like full, you know, they’re vomiting, it’s M asses. And when we do more studies learn that. Yes, the esophagus can clear the food and it’s in the stomach. But that’s Pinter is faulty or weak. And so with that opening, the food comes back up. So we’ve learned different things like that over the years, which has really helped and how we manage it. And what medicine do we use and what’s the best protocol for that dog? And I don’t know that every one dog is the same, because what one dog can tolerate, maybe another can’t. And so once we just kind of modify that for their schedule. Um, we have people that have donated blenders because we will blend and parade the food when they’re when they’re babies and kind of get them through it and different things and kind of gradually up their food. So we have blenders and Bailey chairs, medicine and nebulizer. Nebulizer is because people don’t realize so with the nebulizer sze that people don’t want. You know, we asked that they donate if they would tow us, because with a puppy with aspiration pneumonia, we would give them a nebulizer treatment with straight sailing, which will dry up the food particles in the lungs. I’m paired with antibiotics to help him get better. It’s very interesting to me, and it sounds like you’ve learned a lot over the last couple of years and probably still a lot more to learn what’s next for you. So where you taking this? So we really want to be an outrage of a free outrage for the for the community, not just for the community, for other rescues, and cities where ever you know if we can reach them will help them however we can. And just really educating the public and breeders, too. Um, you know, I’ve seen this from the top show lines to Puppy Mills, so it’s not something that anybody should like, take offense to. It’s just something that we need to eradicate so these puppies don’t suffer for the families that have them and care for the ones that we have without creating more of that heartache. So I think education is absolute p um, you know, from from a rescue standpoint to even these breeders, we won’t be able to take these puppies and help them if we can, how we can, um, in. And hopefully, by educating the public, more people will want a volunteer. So for us, we have forever Foster’s consider him that way and their families. That will care for these, these puppies. But these puppies will live with them for the rest of their life and always be carried under the umbrella of the rescue. Um, but I think once people are educated and realize it’s not such a scary thing. We have so many wonderful families that have come forward to to care for these dogs. Um and and I think that is the best part of it. So if we get more people who are willing to come and help and learn and educate, I think the last dogs that will end up in rescue, that’s that’s our goal. Always our goal with meaning or education, that’s always our goal is to keep them out of the shelter. Sure, So if somebody is listening to this and they wanted to get more involved or become a volunteer for this. Where would you recommend they start? Well, if they wanted to come by us, they could certainly they could contact us at Rittenhouse at yahoo dot com and reach out, and we would have them come in and we would go over everything with them and answer all their questions and concerns and have them meet some of our puppies. You know that our Meggie and and see what they look like and how they are because I think seeing is believing when you see that these air Wow, I would never have guessed that puppy eats And I hate you because they look normal. And all other accounts, Um, it just opens. I just think a whole new world off. What’s really possible out there s Oh, yeah, anybody that has any interest or that could always come in Or they could you know, a studio where downtown in Kenosha or they can email us or call and we can set up a time to go over that and then any other forms that we would need to dio and questions we would need to answer for them. Okay, Now, I know you specialize, particularly with German shepherds, but it is mega be limited to just German shepherds. No, it’s like all I’ve seen. It all breeds. Um, we just, uh, had a puppy last year. That was a lab that, um, came to us too late, unfortunately. And, um, she had she was born with my guess, Atticus. So, no, I’m just German shepherd. Breed specific as far as my rescue. Although we’ve taken and others as need be, you know, for the extenuating circumstances. We will. I’m German Shepherd breed specific. Just because I know the breed on. And I think that’s why there’s only breed specific rescues out there that because they have a favoritism toward a dog because they’re familiar with their health issues and their behaviour and top temperament. So, if we were to, you know, if there was another rescue that had a lab puppy that have Maggie, um, you know, or any other breed? Of course. I mean, these chairs are here to help them. That’s not breed specific. So we will help them. However we can. Smart speckles. Yeah. Now we all definitely have to work together and rescue and I agree with you that, you know, breed specific rescuers find, because it’s it’s what you’re most familiar with and you can specialize in that. But I definitely agree through that. We need Thio work, the one another in support one another. We’ve covered a lot. I mean, is there other things about reading house or other programs that you wanted to mention before we start to wrap things up? Well, we have a youth program operation, Candid Truth for youth. Um, and and that program allows Children within our community to get their community service hours and to learn and work with the dogs. We work with the inner city kids and we really, you know, especially with the German shepherds. You know what if people see them as they seem as well, that’s a police dog, or that’s this and depending where your ad, that might be a good thing or a bad thing. So we wantto teach these Children that, um, these dogs are really great dogs, and, um and I think once they get to know them and then other people behind them, So we you we have officers senior that they get to meet police officers work with local military that will come in and just kind of be role models for these guys and give them examples. And I think with these dogs being broken, especially for like some of the inner city kids that come from broken homes with these dogs and their stories, you know they can really reach the Children best. I think because there’s just communication between those two, without words ever being spoken and the Children start to regulate. And so in there with that that we take on to our community with with her Children and what can they do to better the community? What can they do that would be hopeful and improving the community some way? So we have That’s part of our youth program. And then whatever they do, they would get their community service hours For that, Um, we have them, you know, volunteer here the shelters and just kind of work with the dogs, learn the body language, the proper way to greet a dog and not great, a jog and really look a dog’s body language because they tell us a lot of people. People miss it, though, and then things happen, so we teach the the kids that as well here. Very cool. It sounds like you guys have got a lot of really interesting programs, and it’s really it’s inspiring to hear what you’re trying to do to spread the word about Meggie dogs and how it’s not a death sentence. So is there anything else you want to share before we wrap things up? Just our programs were really just just geared to reach out to the public. We have a therapy dog program where those dogs will go into nursing homes. We have a couple day cares that we’re partnered with where we do reading programs with, um um, so it kind of just all is one big circle with these guys. Yeah, I think getting the dogs out of the shelter into a job or a home is is really good, and I think by training, because we offer Aubrey training, I think we’ve kept more dogs in homes with people that were exasperated, are ready to get up, give up then, and I think that’s just the other plucked in part of this. Is that working together, you know, in educating all the way around from medical to behavioral. Two Children teach them the right way to go for our next generation. That’s where we all work together. Here, a tow at Rittenhouse Toe. Try to help the community. Well, thank you so much Internet for coming on the program today and sharing it. Sounds like you guys were doing amazing work. Thank you. Thank you, Chris. Thanks for tuning into today’s podcast. If you’re not already a member, joined the Air p A. 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