Friday, January 7, 2011


Yesterday I offered to print an article about anyone's German Shepherd Dog rescues as I believe the work that is done to even rescue one dog is a miracle in itself. True to his helpful nature and his love and dedication for the breed, Bruce McElmurray wrote to me and asked if I would like him to write an article about Connie Williams rescue in Central Colorado. She's also the owner of a rescue list that I send this blog to. I am delighted that Connie consented for Bruce to do her story and have me print it here. Thank you both for this article so the public can get a better understanding of what it is you do.  So the following is Bruce's article about Connie and her rescue efforts.

The face behind the rescue:  Connie Williams

This is about the rescue that I volunteer with, 'German Shepherd Rescue of Central Colorado Inc, a 501c3 state licensed corporation'. Connie Williams, Executive Director, lives on top of a mountain in central Colorado, where she runs the all volunteer rescue organization. Since I don't know about other rescue organizations I will write about the one I am familiar with and what it does from my viewpoint. Connie has several German Shepherd dogs of her own from when she used to show, train and breed German Shepherds. Rescue does not really allow time to do anything but rescue and eat and sleep, so those passions of hers to breed, show and train have presently taken a back seat to saving dogs in need.

Christmas puppy abandoned at 12 weeks and left with a neighbor:

So much goes into the actual rescue of a dog facing death that it is hard to find a starting place As Executive Director she usually starts her day off with reading e-mail, where she gets requests of owner surrender, or volunteers from shelters sending requests for rescue for dogs. Also adoption applications are reviewed and transports in progress and the other daily demands. There is also a web site sponsored by German Shepherd Rescue of Central Colorado that is an extensive network established for other rescues to communicate and facilitate rescues. The rescue also has its own page on Pet Finder for those looking to adopt a GSD. The rescue adopts out to Colorado and several surrounding States. I believe Connie's day starts out like most, where she has to tend to her GSD's as well as the rescues she has on hand. After being fed, watered, and attention given then she can grab a bite to eat while she does computer time and looks for dogs to rescue. Computer time can be exhaustive but there is no extensive time available as other things will not wait.

Another rescued dog - "Black Jack!"

Connie has been involved in rescue for several years and is the go to lady for questions from the various rescue sources due to her many years of experience with the breed. When a rescue is coming in Connie usually goes to pick the dog up. The information on the GSD is reviewed and a file started, the dog fed, watered and settled in. She usually allows a few days for the dog to adjust and settle down from the ordeal it has been through. Then there is the bath, clean up and nail trim where she examines the new rescue carefully. From day one she is silently evaluating the temperament, behavior and demeanor of the new rescue. What commands does the dog know, is it house trained, does it have any injury, deformity or illness. While doing all this the other rescues and her own dogs are competing to get her attention. Even though Connie has been a trainer, breeder and competitor for 40 years she has always rescued dogs in need during that extensive time period.

This is Stryker - before and after his rescue - tied up and left to die:

Then the new rescue has to be checked by a veterinary clinic and will be spayed or neutered if not already. She will then microchip the dog and if the new rescue is in need of training that process will be started. She has a master military trainer that comes on occasion to help her with this. By now this new rescue is her special dog. I'm sure she has some memorable dogs in her many years of doing rescue but from what I have observed, each dog when rescued becomes her very special dog. If the dog has infirmities or medical problems it goes on a special program which Connie then administers.
"Shadow" and Rob:

Often when I talk to Connie she is in bed with her feet up to relieve the pain in her back/neck from all the work required in taking care of so many dogs. Even though in frequent pain she does not stop tending to, feeding, cleaning up after, training and grooming these wonderful and extremely grateful dogs. She does this 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Add to this her lung problems, it is a personal sacrifice to function for the dogs. Vacations are the rare opportunity when she gets to watch a program on television all the way through. As you can see, being Executive Director is a hands on working position. The rescue has a few volunteers like myself that help where we can. I process her applications and investigate the potential adopters to make sure they are capable of providing a loving forever home for the rescue. The rescue has some volunteers who foster dogs, and some who manage the web site. One volunteer is a master trainer who volunteers also. When it comes down to the grunt work however, there is only Connie.

Once I complete the application investigation I send the information back to Connie with a recommendation and she then reviews it and if she has a dog that would suit the potential adopter she contacts them to arrange a meeting with that dog. She has much to consider as many adopters have small children, other dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, and specific traits, colors, size that they want in a dog. They live in private homes, apartments, mobile homes, etc. Many are likely not to get a dog because of their unreasonable requests and expectations but Connie strives to match dogs to adopters that are suitable.

About half of those wanting to adopt a GSD are qualified or suited to adopt a rescue dog. The dogs come from varied circumstances and some were severely abused, emaciated, some no longer wanted, some abandoned and left to die...and just about every conceivable condition and circumstance. Connie lovingly and with devotion tries to rescue as many as she can and make sure they get the loving homes they deserve. To be able to sleep at night this aspect requires a crystal ball to see into the future, an on site evaluation, and judgment. That dog's future rests in her hands.

So how do you describe someone like Connie who devotes her life to saving at need dogs? A woman with a neck/back problem that needs surgery along with serious asthma and lung scarring struggles through each day for the benefit of the dogs. I have heard her say many times that she will keep going as long as she can because there are GSD's that need saving. Words seem somewhat inadequate to express this type of devotion to the GSD breed.

I'm writing this instead of Connie because she would never see this from my perspective as a volunteer. She would relate to you the nuts and bolts of how rescue is done, and omit the personal sacrifice and daily struggles aspect. In the old west they used a term "born with the bark on". Well, Connie Williams was born with the bark on. She is tough as nails, sometimes harsh - probably because she has seen the result of the worst of human kind and what they can do to their 'pets'. Just from my limited exposure I have seen a little of it and it makes my blood boil. But take time to get to know her and once you scratch through that bark you find a compassionate heart, someone who can take the most abused dog and love it and nurture it back to health - both mental and physical. Doing what she does requires a tough exterior to preserve your sanity. As long as there is another dog out there in need, Connie and others very much like her grit through the pain, inconvenience, emotional drain and will do their very best to save that German Shepherd and put it in a loving home.

From the book:  "SEARCH AND RESCUE DOGS: TRAINING THE K-9 HERO"........ From the devastation of the World Trade Center to earthquakes in Central Asia, search and rescue dogs have proven invaluable in helping to find victims of disasters–whether man-made or natural. 
  • Clear, step-by-step lessons on training your dog for a variety of search and rescue operations
  • Ways to keep your dog–and yourself–safe in the face of disaster
  • Practical information on procedures and equipment for dogs, handlers, and human volunteers
  • The ultimate experience of the interdependence of Human and Dog

My rating:  GSD Rescues:  (4)


  1. Thank you Barbara for the lay out and for posting this. For a good woman who does this day in and day out Connie needs to be recognized and know how others see her which may be in a different light than she sees herself. It is a grinding, thankless job unless you can take some benefit from the aspect of helping one GSD at a time. If you ask me every dog lover should thank Connie and those just like her for what they do in the most unselfish manner. Thanks again Barbara