Dear List: A Message From Tina



Thu, 27 Jan 2000 8:51:41 PM Eastern Standard Time





Dear List,

 I would like to thank everyone for their prayers and concern. I have been in a state of shock for the past two days, but Karen's calls telling me how much you all care has given me moments of sanity, that is why I want to provide you with as much of a report as I can. I still can't bring myself to talk about things easily.

Example, yesterday I stopped at my mom's to call Karen and ask her if she or Lyn could ship the pups and Girl out for me since we will be constantly going back and forth to take care of dogs, and drop off and pick up the boys because they can't ride the bus until we know where we will live. We do not have phones, or electric at the kennel, and have to fill large water jugs and go back and forth to take care of the dogs.

I was trying to focus on reality, things must be done--keep going. Karen asked about the health papers, and I said they were done and she could pick up copies at the vet as well as the eye medicine for Lilli. Then she asked about the shipping money and I told her I had taken that out on Monday, so I could give Lisa the $100 bill for the Vet and the rest was in my purse--and then it hit me, my purse was in my closet for safe keeping and I lost it again. Just like the first time I returned to the kennel yesterday morning, all I could do was throw up and my son had to force me in his car and take me away from there! Today I have been able to focus on the dogs and ignore the house--just pay attention to the dogs and it kept my mind occupied. This morning Lisa proudly announced that she had located the fire safe ISSR filing cabinet--that made me feel better, but then I thought of the papers that had not been processed yet that were in the IN box on top of the files, and I felt sick to my stomach again.

In the hospital all I could think about was the people I was responsible to. Last week's registry that had not been processed yet, the new membership applications sitting on my desk--I watched as my room burned and the flames shot out of the window. I knew it was all gone, and I felt numb.

On Tuesday Lisa was leaving to pick up David and knew how far I was behind in paperwork so she was going to take Josh. I said he could stay. I was upstairs in my room, working and he was playing.

Since the parvo hysteria and then the T-Rex disaster, I had fallen behind and was annoyed at his interruption asking me what I was cooking. I told him his mom would start supper when she got home, and to stop interrupting me! But Josh did it again, now he smelled smoke, so I told him to go out to the hall and see what it was. He came back yelling that there was a lot of smoke coming from the kitchen--I grabbed him and Izzy and yelled for them to go outside. As I got to the kitchen I saw the wall behind the stove burning and started filling a pot with water to pour on it--the smoke got worse, after 2 pots I called 911 and told them to hurry--I needed help--then the phone died.

I opened the kitchen door and put a chair there to let the smoke out and Josh kept yelling for the dogs--I told him to help me with the play yard gate as I carried each one outside. Poor Lilly was so small, I ran to the maternity ward to put her in there, then came back. The entire back wall was on fire--Josh was screaming for Izzy--I tried to go up the stairs but could not get past the smoke. Josh yelled they were here--help was here, as I came out my eyes and throat felt like they were on fire, I sat in the snow and begged them to help me. I kept telling him that Izzy ran upstairs to hide in my room--he said he could do nothing.  They took me away from the house and took Josh. Police officers were there, but where is the water? They could not get the trucks over the bridge--I was hysterical! I screamed at them to do something, and then an officer said that the kennel behind the house had dogs in it--I ran to let Tammy and Tippy out--they were freaked--I got them in the training center and came back to Kit and Wolfie who were in danger too--so I moved them and by then the entire house was in flames. They kept telling me "it's a goner" but I kept telling them that they HAD to save it, everything I had was in that house!

All of my pictures, tapes of the dogs that could never be replaced! I was sick inside, and had not noticed that my feet were frozen from walking in snow packed boots. I started to shiver and they took me away to the ambulance. That is where I first saw Lisa who was crying--and I said--"all of our paperwork, our pictures, everything I watched it burn in front of my eyes!"  But Lisa said, "Mom, you're still alive and so is my son, that is all that matters." Then she asked about our house dogs, and I told her that I couldn't get Izzy to come down, and we all cried---even the ambulance attendants.

My pastor had come to the house and then to the hospital, and so had the Red Cross--offering to help. My sons were there, and one said that the Maternity Ward window had blown out. My pastor assured me that they would go down and fix it. Ron tried to keep everyone's spirits up and some  plastic and a staple gun should do it for now. And they left to get water jugs so that the dogs would be cared for. I wanted to leave, but had to stay.

It all started at 4 PM, but it was nearly midnight when I was finally dropped off at the motel room that the Red Cross had arranged for us. My son John said that Josh and I could stay with him and Lisa and David could sleep on my mother's couch in her trailer, but Lisa wanted us all together--that is all she had left now of her "home". Just me and her sons, and all of the dogs at the kennel. With the help of Shane, Jamie and her brothers she has been back and forth continuously. Last night she did not return until nearly 1 AM, yet had to get up at 6 to get the boys ready for school. I told her last night that I would drive them to school so she could get a little bit of sleep, since I haven't been able to sleep more than 2 hours either night. Yet this morning when I was getting them ready--and wanted to start the car, I realized that my glasses were on top of the computer desk, and I felt sick again. I cannot drive without them. I can read, but anything more than 10 feet away is just a blur. I didn't feel I could risk going nearly 20 miles without being able to see, so I had to wake her up. I have to admit, she is stronger than I am! Maybe it's because I feel like I lost a lifetime in that fire that makes me so ill that I cannot even eat. I am just so confused. I have always been a hard worker and take my responsibility for my family, animals and all the people that depended upon me very seriously. I always carried the load, but this one is just too heavy. Now it is Lisa that is helping me carry this load, and I am grateful for her and all my friends--because if not for them, I know I would not be able to write this letter.

Thank you for caring.


Note from Karen:

Tina's spirits do seem to be improving--she is starting to get that fighting spirit back although she specifically said she is not ready yet to receive phone calls. I took her to the Red Cross today and they are taking care of getting her glasses and bridgework (unfortunately not THE BRIDGE!) replaced. They do have enough clothes for now and food.  The big object continues to be finding a place to stay and getting the bridge across the creek in her yard repaired so that heavy trucks can get across it.  My husband brought down a generator tonight so now there will be power at the kennel.




Dear List Family From Tina (1/29/2000)



Sun, 30 Jan 2000 8:52:46 PM Eastern Standard Time





Dear List Family,

It is Saturday night, and I cannot believe that it has only been 5 days since this nightmare started!!

As I wait for Lisa to return from her last shift at the kennel, it helps me to be able to read your letters. Karen has been printing them off so that I can stay in touch.

Today we went through the last of the rubble. It has torn me apart that decades of personal accumulations can all be destroyed in just one hour! There have been a few moments of joy as a precious treasure was saved, like the picture of Shep and Lisa at the carnival in '92! Although Lisa's room (on the far corner of the house) suffered a lot of damage, that old dresser I had was still standing, and in the bottom drawers, a few memories (although charred) still survived. Isn't it strange that such small silly things can bring so much joy to us now? Lisa and Jamie along with my sons, and today Marc and Lyn have been carefully removing the top floor rubble, piece by piece, looking for anything that could possibly be saved. The fireproof files were partly destroyed, but yet a tiny key chain that held a picture of Josh when he was born was only slightly charred, etc. etc.

I am sorry that I have not been able to talk to anyone, please be patient! I need to read your letters, but I cannot talk yet. I am searching for spiritual answers to all of this. Lisa and I have talked well into the night, but I am still not in full control yet. I have not been able to sleep more than a few hours per night, nor eat, but the very little I force myself to.

I must focus on the kennel shifts-the dogs must be cared for properly, we have to bring water out in jugs (50 gallons daily) in three shifts because it freezes so quickly. So everyone is busy running back and forth to take care of the dogs. We have had several investigators inspecting the damage, and had to talk to town zoning officials, etc. This has all been extremely time consuming and emotionally devastating. We need to find a place to stay, and make plans for a future. We have to figure out our options and then proceed in the chosen direction, this too is often more than I can deal with at the moment. There are decisions that must be made and many factors to consider. Some choices are beyond difficult. Some we have no other option.

One of the first things we must do is to place nearly of our dogs into good homes ASAP! Lisa and I made out the list keeping only those that must stay in order for this breed to survive. Over the past decade I have learned many lessons. If we do not protect the heart of this gene pool completely, there will be no Shiloh Shepherd "breed" (or it will certainly not resemble the ideal that I had started out to develop) in the next decade. This is not a "political" war; it is just plain fact! I feel it in my heart, and I would get no joy in telling anyone 10 years from now, that "Gee, I told you so" because it would mean that I have not only lost my house-and my pictures, books, tapes, records, articles, mementos, etc., that I have accumulated for all of these decades-but I would have also lost my dream as well! In such a case we would all be losers!

 As to the facts:

1. No, the computers are not salvageable. They melted into nothing. The top floor (mine) fell onto the bottom one. We hoped that enough of the hard drive in Lisa's computer (since all of the work she has been doing for years, plus all the club records and our kennel records were on that huge Compaq), would remain, but there's nothing left. [Karen's note--what was early thought to be Lisa's hard drive turned out to be part of the copier.]

2. Since I have spent most of my life doing things the "old fashioned" way I kept all of the "paper" records for Zion, the SSDCA, Inc., the ISSR, Inc., and the Shiloh Shepherd (Kennel) Archives. Much of this Lisa had on the computer-all is gone, and it feels like someone reached in and pulled my heart out!

P.S. I don't mean to sound uncaring. I fully appreciate all of the offers from all of you to help with the basic needs (clothes, food, etc.), but I can live with 2 pairs of slacks and 2 shirts (just do my little wash load daily). It tears me apart not to have my customer records. I feel lost and confused.

God forbid someone had sent me a deposit and I forgot-I no longer have my breeders books that I have counted on for all these years, and it makes me feel so lost! Lisa kept them on her computer, but my files were so important to me. I spent so much time these past few days beating myself up for not keeping them in a very expensive fire proof safe! I never want to be without one again.

 I need to rebuild my lost records desperately. I feel like someone is sitting on my chest, and often I can hardly breathe! Please help me with this! Karen has offered to keep everything that is sent in to her, and Steve promised to send duplicates of all of the records he has--this gives me much relief.

 I want to especially thank God for Steve and Barb Betcher. Because I know that if they had not kept such perfect records for the ISSR all of these years, I would not be able to emotionally survive this nightmare!

 Yes, the Lord has been preparing for this, and now I can see how His hand has never left this breed. He has been preserving the Shiloh Shepherd through people like Steve and Karen without me even realizing it! All of the pedigree data is safe, many pictures have been saved via our website--I have to keep my focus on what is left--not on what is lost. And on the wonderful people I have met over these years, people that truly care--I must focus on the positive.

 PS That is why I can't talk yet--I often cannot bring myself to look back—I am trying to find something--forward--to focus on, so I can keep going.

 3. a. On the positive side, I am thankful that Dawn did not breed. Lisa and I have talked about this, since Dawn is such a "slut" and Artus is--well, you know. Yet it did not happen, and we were all so deeply disappointed since I desperately wanted this litter. Now we realize that they would just be born, and would not have made it through Tuesday and Wednesday night without heat lamps since we had no electricity in the maternity ward, and temperatures went down below zero! I always have the heater full blast and 2 lamps to keep the pups warm at such times (plus checking on them each hour around the clock for the first few days). This would not have been possible.

  b. Yes, Eve and Goldie are due, but they will be whelped by Karen and Lyn, so I do not have the added stress to worry about, and we have time to prepare for those litters!

 c. I was able to foster my house pups into safe homes for the moment, and the ones here are doing fine. The LER's on the Tasha pups were done today, but I need my records to talk to the people on my list that are waiting for pups. If you were on my list PLEASE e-mail Lyn ( so we can reconstruct things and get these babies out to their new homes! Seems like every good thing has a charred part attached to it, like the few pictures we found, with the burned edges! But I am trying to press on. I am trying to focus on the positive. The puppies are adorable and showing so much personality, this feels good. The Beauty pups I evaluated today are getting fat and sassy, they will someday make their mark on this world. The one pup who was trying to fool me like Tang did--is he a bi-color or a black sable? This brought a smile to my face.

 It is now 1:20 and Lisa just arrived from doing night chores, all is well at the kennel, maybe I can sleep a few hours now? Karen brought me pens and a large packet of legal pads-so I will be writing more tomorrow! Please keep us all in your prayers.


Please follow Tina's progress by continuing to the next chapter.


Tina's Testimony (1987) | Tina's Testimony (1998) | Sharing (July 1999) | The Fire's Aftermath (Jan 2000) | TINA's OnELiST Letters Jan-Feb 2000 | Urgent Letter Feb 2000 | Sharing: April 2000 | Tina's Leap of Faith (April 2000) | Sharing: AUGUST 2000

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