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2 Aug 2021

4 Years Without Nitro

Author: Paula | Filed under: Uncategorized


July 25th was Nitro’s 4th angelversary….I didn’t have a post ready to go, but I had a VERY good reason – our annual Tripawd Tribe vacation started the day before. It was fitting that this sad anniversary occurred while I was in the company of my Tribe sisters; who better to reminisce and remember my Warrior than the people who helped me through one of the worst times of my life?



For the second year in a row, the gang gathered in Wisconsin – this time in the beautiful North Woods, in the town of Minocqua. We rented a cabin on a lake and spent a relaxing week floating, kayaking, pontoon cruising – laughing a LOT, crying a little – using the week to relax, re-set, remember and rejoice in the miracle of our friendship. An added activity this year  included a group tattoo. Two members were tattoo virgins, the others well-versed in the art of ink. When the newbie’s were apprehensive and a little nervous (with our angels watching down from The Bridge), I joked that Nitro was being razzed that his mom was the instigator of the impending pain.




I had gotten a helpline call on Thursday – I get very few calls, so didn’t think to get coverage for my hours;  as I’m chatting with the gal about her Greyhound’s post amp issues, it dawned on me that I had the mother lode of wisdom at my finger tips! A whole crew of people with experience and knowledge sitting right here with me! It then became a group call, and I also gave her the option of speaking with the sight-hound expert of our group (Lisa, who couldn’t be with us this year). The gal was overwhelmed with the support and care we gave her – I think it was a little “angel magic” at work.



It was a beautiful week spent catching up and remembering…there is always talk of the angels that brought us together, but also of the new pups in our lives – life goes on, after all. We also started preliminary plans for next year’s vacation….somewhere in the Outer Banks.



While I still grieve for, and miss Nitro, I feel I’ve moved forward and am in a good place today –  largely due to the friendship and love I’ve found in this special group of women. I am whole again, and happy; and I know Nitro approves and is with me always.

Right before our vacation started, I got my memorial diamond ring in the mail; I added the stone made from Kodi’s ashes/fur and my hair, to Nitro’s stone. What a beautiful symbol to wear while in the company of my friends.


Nitro dark blue, Kodi light blue

Nitro dark blue, Kodi light blue


Thank you, Tripawds, for saving my sanity when tragedy struck; for having my back and giving me knowledge and strength to fight; for giving me friends who are now my sisters; and for making me who I am today. The Ehlers’ Ranch is different these days, but it’s a happy and serene place knowing our 2 Warrior Angels watch over us – and the Terrorist Tots to keep things lively.



27 Dec 2020

And Then There Were Two…

Author: Paula | Filed under: Uncategorized



My Terrorist Trio has become a duo….it is with a heavy heart that I share that Kodi has joined his brother Nitro in heaven.




It really shouldn’t be that big of a shock, as he was dealing with multiple health issues along with being 3 months shy of 17 years old. He’d been living with Cushing’s Disease for 4+ years now, and handling THAT really well. His kidney values were starting to creep up – but nowhere near as bad as Nitro’s had been. In the wee hours of October 29th, he had a massive seizure (which was the worst way to start off our Anniversary of 32 years). We rushed him to the ER vet because we were scared out of our minds, never having witnessed a seizure before. The post-ictal stage was stressful for us as he paced for 5 hours straight. We took him to our regular vet in the morning, and the opinion was he was in congestive heart failure. His breathing was rapid, and strained, he had fluid in his chest/lungs, his heart was enlarged and he had a heart murmur (which he’d had for some time now). He was started on 3 heart meds, and time went on.


He did well up until about 1-2 weeks ago. Sure, he was quieter, and had a bit more mobility problems, but he was still engaged and alert, still loving car rides and walks in the stroller. This past Monday, he either jumped off of, or fell off our very tall bed. By this time he was stumbling frequently, seemed to be more confused, and started to walk in circles. My uneducated medical guess was brain tumor. He’d never been a good eater – his whole life – and was becoming a worse eater. Planner that I am, and with the long Christmas Holiday weekend approaching, I made “THE” appointment, just in case, for Wednesday afternoon. John was concerned his decreased mobility issues stemmed from the fall off the bed, maybe he was just “out of whack”. I was able to get him a chiropractic appointment Wednesday afternoon, to see if that was the case. While his back was “twisty from the fall”, she noted that he “just seemed tired” and that his heart rate and respirations were alarmingly slow. As the day wore on, and I realized he hadn’t even had one sip of water the entire day, the looming appointment seemed inevitable. We made the best of what would be our last day…we took one last walk – over 4 miles total. He seemed engaged, looking all around, even asking to get out and sniff in the park.




By the time John got home from work, even he had to admit “it was time”. I’d spoken to my vet earlier in the day, asking my many questions…to which she said “the best thing you can do is control the situation, not let it control you”. We spent the rest of the afternoon snuggling together, the four of us.



We brought Grizzly with us, since he was very bonded with Kodi. It took a bit to find a vein, as he was dehydrated, and they noted that his gums were very pale. It was indeed time. We sat on a love seat, with Grizz between us, and John holding Kodi in a blanket on his lap. It was over quickly and very peacefully; our vet stayed and talked to us for almost 45 min afterwards. We laughed some, and cried some, smiled through our tears. I asked for an inked pawprint so I can get a tattoo in remembrance…I also plan to have a diamond made from his ashes/fur/my hair like I did for Nitro – but smaller, for an earring.







As before, it feels like a weight has been lifted from my chest, while at the same time I feel so lost! Bedtime is the worst, as we had QUITE the ritual with all his meds and eye drops. The dynamic of our family/household has changed dramatically – I suspect I’m once again suffering from care-giver burnout.

But, like before, I feel we did it at exactly the right time with him, like we did with Nitro. And while our house (and hearts) will never be the same, life goes on. As we were waiting for the vet to come in, John was talking quietly to Kodi…telling him Nitro was waiting for him. At that exact moment, Kodi raised his head up and looked around the room. Yes, I believe Warrior Angel Nitro was with us, ready to welcome his buddy home.





Fly free, my Little Bear…until we meet again. Be good, mama loves you!

Kodi “Bear” Ehlers…March 15, 2004 – December 23, 2020

31 Oct 2020

Another Heavenly Birthday for Nitro

Author: Paula | Filed under: Uncategorized

Another Heavenly birthday for my Warrior, my Angel, my Heart-Dog. I don’t get on the site very often these days – life just seems to get in the way – but I still think of Nitro daily. I talk to him too…just a few days ago we had a heart-to-heart. You see, his brother Kodi was in a bad way; we didn’t know if he would make it, or if it was time for him to join his brother in heaven. Tears running down my face, I stood by Nitro’s corner of honor in our living room, begging him to whisper in Kodi’s ear and say “NOT YET”.


Kodi had had a Grand Mal seizure in the middle of the night. I’d never witnessed one before, and it terrified me; I was sure he was going to die before we got across town to the ER vet. He survived, but what a ruff night that was! When he came out of it (in the post-ictal stage), he was so restless, he paced for 6 hours straight! We got him in to our regular vet the next morning, and after examining him she said “it doesn’t look good”. He was just laying there, limp and barely moving. I suggested it was due to exhaustion, as he’d been up pretty much all night.  She kept him for the afternoon to administer IV Lasix and when she called with an update, she said I was correct – he WAS just tired….he was in the kennel barking and being a “Westie”. The next morning she saw him again, and was elated at the vast improvement in him. She did determine that due to his heart murmur, he is most likely in congestive heart failure; but with different drugs, it can be managed. THANK YOU NITRO! He’s still a little shaky on his feet, but he’s slowly returning to his “normal” self.




This was taken a day before the seizure…he knew it time for his nightly meds and wasn’t having it! He made me walk all the way out to the back of the yard to retrieve him.


Grizz and Kodi


Trio of Terrorists


Tot Bookends



Grizz’s autumn reflection

The best part of this awful year was that our Tripawd Tribe was able to get together for our annual vacation, this time in Wisconsin. We had a great time, with some ups and downs, but we’re so blessed to have had that time together.

our beach for the week


Cave Point, Door County WI


“Saint Sally” made the trip!

So we celebrate my brave Warrior Nitro, who changed my life, who is watching down from heaven, and who brought me my Tripawd Family. HAPPY BIRTHDAY sweet boy….be good, mama loves you!

25 Jul 2020

3 Years in Heaven…..Warrior Angel Nitro

Author: Paula | Filed under: Uncategorized


Another year has come and gone without my heart-dog by my side. He’s now been gone almost as long as he was a Tripawd; it’s hard to believe it’s been 6 years since his diagnosis. I still think of him EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Those days (years) seem like a dream now, a very distant memory…which, I suppose is not a bad thing. That stress and anguish is not something that can be sustained forever.



Wish I’d had this shirt back then, I could’ve used the advice! I try to make this my attitude today, with every new challenge I face. Speaking of……


Having a dog who is 16+ years old is a new challenge! Besides his long-standing Cushing’s issue, Kodi now has a corneal ulcer in one eye. The cause is unknown, could be he just scratched it while sniffing a bush. We’re trying antibiotic eye drops for a week to see if there is improvement; if not, he may need to see an ophthalmologist at the referral vet. And of course, there is the arthritis that comes with being an old dude, but he can still “sprint” to the car for a ride.



Then there are the tots…..the joyfulness of youth! They continue to provide daily amusement for us all. Grizzly has been on a hunting mission of late – all hours, day or night. I’m not sure what’s out there, in our yard, but he insists on searching. And Tucker, is, well, Tucker. Always smiling, happy-go-lucky, clown of the household. Always has to be near someone, loves to cuddle. They are the perfect combo – playing, chasing, tormenting – each other….so much fun to watch.


Love Bug Grizzly




Tucker “T”



Three weeks from today will be the 4th annual Tripawd Family Vacation….Wisconsin-style! I can’t wait for my “Tribe” sisters to come visit us – and meet the family. We even have Angel Sally (Benny55) heading this way; a week in the beautiful Door Peninsula is just what the doctor ordered after the crazy, upside-down months of the pandemic.  Our rental house – on the shore of Lake Michigan – should prove to be a wonderful, relaxing, much-needed reset on life. I’m sure there will be some Cards Against Humanity in our near future. These special women (and a couple hubby’s) are the gift that Nitro keeps on giving!

So this is where I am today….time keeps moving forward as it is meant to do… the pain of losing Nitro has lessened, I have the love and friendship of some very wonderful women. My life at this point in time is pretty okay….and remember, “If your path leads you through Hell, walk as if you own the place!” Sending peace and love, from the Ehlers’ Ranch

P.S. As is my custom, I leave you with my tribute to the most beautiful Dobe on the planet…




17 Jun 2020

Nitro’s 6th Ampuversary…

Author: Paula | Filed under: Uncategorized


Hi friends – it’s been awhile since I posted on our blog. We’re all fine, and adjusting to “the new normal” – man, how I’ve come to despise that term! I thank God everyday that when we were going through the cancer journey with Nitro that started 6 years ago today,  we didn’t have THESE times to deal with. I couldn’t imagine having that added stress to one of the worst times of our lives. I couldn’t imagine not being able to go into to the vet’s office with him – having “curbside” service. But I guess we would’ve gotten through that too, what other option is there?

I can still vividly remember every detail leading up to surgery day; not sleeping the night before, just laying there looking at him, wondering/dreading all that was to come. Getting up early the day of surgery, to get him to the clinic for 7:3o AM; barely able to breathe during the day, worrying if he’d survive. Finally getting the call that surgery was done and he was in recovery, and that I could call later to see how he was. I’m so thankful he spent the night at the clinic so he could be carefully monitored – and that we could get some much needed rest! Then going to work the following afternoon, knowing I was leaving about 9pm to go get him and bring him home.



All of these memories are etched into my very being, yet I sometimes have trouble remembering little details about him. Sometimes I’m afraid he’s starting to really slip away from me – yet I remember vividly the sight of him hopping down the hall when we went to get him, and the horrible yelp he let out when we tried to get him in the back of my Rav4. Many things have become a blur, but what I remember most is my love for him – the way my heart swells even today whenever I think about him. Sometimes I think I’ve put him on a pedestal as the years pass, that he’s become this ultimate perfect companion – bigger than life,  never to be imitated or duplicated, if that makes any sense.


solar light


And yet, life goes on….meanwhile, back at the Ehlers’ ranch….Kodi turned 16 in March and continues to do well, in a doddering old man way. He sleeps a lot, but then he’ll bounce and run to the car to go for a ride. He has earned his spot as the patriarch of the pack, and gets spoiled shamelessly. Grizzly turned 3 in June, and has taken over the hunting job that was Kodi’s for over a decade; he obsessively gets us up at the crack of dawn to check out the back porch and walk the fence line, sniffing for critters. So far I haven’t seen any carcasses, but not for lack of trying. And finally, Tucker turned 2 in March; he is THE happiest dog I have ever encountered. He always has a toy in his mouth, is always smiling and wagging his little body, and follows me everywhere! The tots keep each other amused, and run and chase each other for hours a day. Weather pending, we take several walks a week, Kodi in his stroller at times, and all 3 of them walking (while I push the stroller) at others.


Kodi, 16 years old


Grizzly, 3 years old


Tucker, 2 years old



getting ready for a walk


The Tots


In 2 short months, my Tripawd Tribe will be coming to Wisconsin for our annual vacation together. We’ve rented a house up on the beautiful Door Peninsula right on Lake Michigan. I’m so excited for them to meet “The Terrorist’s”, and spend a relaxing week together.


our private beach


our rental house


Until next time, wishing you peace and love from the Ehlers’ ranch.

5 Nov 2019

Birthday Present From Nitro

Author: Paula | Filed under: Uncategorized

Sally alluded to this on Nitro’s 2nd Birthday in Heaven post…..I’d ordered this necklace quite some time ago, and it was delivered on Nitro’s birthday, Oct 31.  I choose to believe it wasn’t a coincidence, but rather a sign from him, that he is watching over me <3 <3 <3





These words bring me much comfort, as I miss my boy, and look forward to seeing him again. Be good, mama loves you!


31 Oct 2019

Happy 2nd Birthday in Heaven Nitro

Author: Paula | Filed under: Uncategorized


Today is my Warrior’s 2nd birthday in heaven….he would’ve been 14 years old, and most likely would’ve passed on by now, but I still feel like I was robbed of precious time with him. I miss him every bit as much today as I did 2 years ago….the sorrow is never-ending. It’s no longer a sharp, stabbing pain, but rather  a dull, throbbing ache in my heart.


I feel even more melancholy this year, probably because we’ve been facing some trying times in our personal life as of late. You know those people who seem to live a fairy-tale  life, where everything just falls into place perfectly…….yeah, that’s not me. My whole life I’ve been a “glass-half-full” kind of person, but now that seems pointless; why set yourself up for disappointment? But I digress…our lives are so very different now; our house is now a Terrier house, the Dobe Days are most likely done forever. Nitro broke the Dobie mold –  ruined us for future Dobes. But I’m ok with that – why mess with perfection? I’ll see a Dobie walking down the street and briefly consider getting another one – but I don’t think that’s in the cards for us. Everything happens for a reason, and Nitro was the reason we found ourselves here, with this wonderful Tripawd Family.



The Terrorist Trio are doing well; Kodi seems to take cues from the tots, and is acting like a puppy again; at 15 1/2 years , this is a joy to see.



The tots are a non-stop whirlwind of energy, always underfoot. I find myself saying “watch out”,  “move it”,” go on”,” get”, “MOVE”, a thousand times a day. Tucker follows me EVERYWHERE, never lets me out of his sight. And he is a huge cuddle bug, always on someone’s lap. Grizzly still shows jealousy, but its not out of control anymore – he is my kisser, loves giving kisses. My sister ran into a man walking a 2 year old westie, and told him about my 3…..he said “now that’s a busy house!”


Pack Walk, Kodi leading the way


Tot Bookends

Next August brings our annual Tripawd- Family Vacation, and this time the gang is all coming to visit me in Wisconsin. We’ve reserved a beautiful house on Lake Michigan, with our own private beach. I’m so excited to have them here, where they can meet “The Terrorist’s”, and “The Voice Of Reason” – Sally’s pet name for John. The heartache and sorrow that came from losing my Warrior, also brought me these women who have become my sisters of the heart….and for that I will always be grateful. THANK YOU SWEET BOY!

And now I leave you once again with Nitro’s Tribute Video…..Happy Birthday in heaven, I hope you are having a blast! I miss you with all of my being….be good, Mama loves you!




25 Jul 2019

2 Years An Angel…..Remembering Nitro

Author: Paula | Filed under: Uncategorized

I MISS HIM! It’s as simple as that…..I miss Nitro as much today as I did the day he left our lives.

We said good-bye to our Warrior 2 years ago today.  I can still remember vividly  the moments leading up to that day, and THAT day will be forever etched into my memory. Sadly, other memories of Nitro are fading. They say in time, the sadness fades, to be replaced by memories of happier times.  The opposite seems to be true for me. The sadness and stress seem to be all I remember. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of him, usually several times a day.


This isn’t to say my life is only about sadness…..we have the “Trio” after all. It’s hard to stay sad when the tots make it their mission to make me laugh, while Kodi with his calm, chill self evens things out. Life is just so different than it was 5 years ago, when our journey started. While I would never want to re-live those days, I can’t seem to let them go either. Maybe its wrong to want to.


Kodi, with a "stogie"

Kodi. with a “stogie”


the “tots” on a hot summer day


Tucker…think he watches me drink too much wine?


swinging with the tots

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason….I guess that’s what I need to believe now; the cancer diagnosis, the surgery, the difficult recovery, the stress, the incredible new life on 3 legs, the unexpectedly wonderful new Tripawd Family, the kidney failure and old age, the peaceful transition to The Bridge. All of that has brought me here –  because the journey happened for a reason.

Like others have mentioned, its hard to be on the site these days; I still try to check in regularly, but its difficult to “invest” in new members just starting this journey. Five years ago, I poured my heart and soul into Tripawds.  All of us back then  were lifelines for each other, and thankfully we still chat every day. I’m so lucky to have these friends, who became family. I’m the person I am today because of this site, what we went through, and  the kind souls who helped me survive what was undoubtedly one of the worst times of my life.

And now  I leave you with  Nitro’s tribute video….please share in my memories of this magnificent warrior who took a big piece of my heart to heaven <3 <3 <3

— peace and love, from the Ehlers’ ranch






















17 Jun 2019

5 Year Ampuversary for Warrior Nitro

Author: Paula | Filed under: Uncategorized


It’s so hard to believe that 5 years ago today was Nitro’s amputation. I still remember everything leading up to that day…getting up early to have him at the clinic by 7:30 am; worrying the whole day until I’d heard he safely survived surgery. Going home after work, to (hopefully) get one last night of sleep before he came home. Working the next night till 9pm, then leaving work early to get him from the clinic. Scared sh*tless to go get him, soooo afraid of what lie in store for us. Looking down the hallway, dreading that first glimpse of a 3-legged dog….my heart swelling with joy to see my Warrior hopping towards me for all he was worth. Falling to my knees, tears in my eyes, hugging him and  telling him he was beautiful, and that I loved him! Beginning the next unchartered chapter of our lives….terrified we’d made the wrong decision, not having a clue what we were in for. Not knowing what the future held, for him, or for us. Never dreaming that I would find a family here, a family who helped me through the worst time of my life, who I would come to love. Our lives were forever changed that fateful day; the day we knew we had to give him a chance at life. I’m so glad that I was blissfully ignorant of all that we were facing, otherwise I might not have had the courage to fight, and help him fight, for a beautiful and fulfilling life. Thank you all for sharing this ride.

And to my brave Warrior…..”Be good, mama loves you”!

first day home

my Tiny Devil, reminding me of Nitro







3 Jun 2019

3rd (Tripawd) Family Reunion

Author: Paula | Filed under: Uncategorized

The shirts Michelle made for us says it all

I just got home from a week in Virginia with my Tripawd Family. It always amazes me how close we’ve grown…what started with faceless strangers in Tripawds chat, and blossomed into love for each other. We all come from such different places, both literally and figuratively….New Mexico, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, and Germany! We all have very different tripawd journeys as well…some had very short times, and some of the luckier ones had years with their angels. We never tire of sharing and listening to our various tripawd journeys, from the very beginning of a diagnosis, thru recovery, to saying our good-byes. We reminisce and remember some of the hardest things we’ve ever lived through….our highest highs and our lowest lows. And I think we heal, a little more each time we experience this family time. I love these ladies with all my heart, and I’m so grateful I got to meet them and be part of their lives. We are forever bonded, thanks to our Tripawd Warriors. Here are some pictures of our week together:

our rental house in the country

the beautiful back yard

my German “sister”; Sally learned what “AF” means, and used it often all week long

my “twin”, Donna

the sign down by the river on our property…unnecessary really when you see what the water looked like:

beautiful from afar

the road to our rental house – so fitting

cards against humanity night

Karma and I at Virginia Beach

lunch at the beach….seafood joint that I ate a lettuce salad at

Sally and Blind Rock Star Myrtle

Sally with Myrtle and Frankie

picture that Michelle had commissioned for Sally

the band is back together

saying good-bye to Tina

proof of life pictures from home

As always, sending you peace and love from the Ehlers’ ranch