The first time I saw Tater, it was a shelter photograph of a sweet-looking but confused German Shepherd at the Independence Animal Shelter.

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“Owner passed away.  Big boy who gets along well with other dogs, especially females. No issues with handling, loves attention and affection. Good with kids and does well on leash. Should make a wonderful family pet!!!”  I was hooked!! 

Tater had two siblings, a shiba inu and a doberman. They were found in a home 4 days after the owner passed away from heat stroke. All three dogs were very stressed out from that experience. Upon being found they were taken to the Independence Shelter. No family came forward for any of them. They each went into separate rescue with Tater being brought to my house by a shelter volunteer on a Friday evening because I couldn’t get there in time and we didn’t want him in the shelter over the weekend-especially when his siblings were rescued and out of the shelter. That is how Tater came to be a part of the MARQ family.

When I met him there were two things that I knew needed to change…. 1. He was the largest German Shepherd I have ever seen. I own a large male German Shepherd and he is a chunk at 85 pounds. Tater, he weighs 126 whopping pounds! 2. He needed a new name to start his new life-something more distinguished, I thought.
While I was discussing potential new names with people online, I found out that Tater was his given name not a shelter name. Tater was the name his beloved Daddy had called him, and that is what Erin and I decided to call him too! He had been through enough change. I could tell he loved to be called by his name, Tater he was and Tater he is today.
He settled right into my home, my pack and my heart. He was definitely used to living indoors. He likes soft spots to lay, he was polite with eating, and asked to go outside when he needed to.

I had him for less than a week when he was adopted by an adopter with large dog experience. I felt it was a good home for him. Before delivering Tater to his new home I had to get the number of his microchip. I live in Mission and instead of driving out to the lake for Erin’s chip reader, I decided to go up the street here to Unleashed. Erin works with Danielle and I knew they would read his microchip for me and save me a drive. Like I said, Tater is a big boy. He is a show stopper everywhere he goes and not only because of his size but the the sweetness in his face is irresistible! Danielle Reno of Unleashed came out in the lobby while we were there to say hello to the huge handsome boy I had brought in. As we were chatting she mentioned that she had previous adopters that were looking for a perfect German Shepherd to adopt because they had recently had to put their rescue shepherd to sleep. <pointing> “This room is dedicated to their daughter, they are great people” Danielle said. That was good news, I’m always stalking the shelter websites for shepherds in need and to have a potential adopter for one is always a good thing.

When I dropped Tater off at his new home he was comfortable and at ease in his new mom.  I left him there knowing he would know love and would have help with his diet.

Unfortunately it doesn’t always work out. Tater was there for 2 weeks before she called and said “he’s too big”. Tater was coming back to me. I was heartbroken for him. All the changes he’s been through and this meant it wasn’t over yet. When he came back to my house he was very nervous. He was irritable around my dogs. I believe he was so full of pent up energy and stress from all the changes that he really didn’t know what to do with himself. He settled in after a few days.

I posted his picture as available for adoption on Facebook. He had interested adopters outside of town, far enough that I needed to schedule their meet-and-greet on a Saturday. On the Thursday before his meeting on Saturday, I noticed a thread on Facebook about him. Andrea Knobbe of Unleashed and sent his picture to some people that were looking for a German Shepherd. I was instantly drawn to this husband and wife. Their pictures on Facebook showed Biker people, with tattoos, trains, and leather vests. But also a wedding kiss picture. I jumped into the conversation. My gut was talking to me. These people, they were the perfect adopters that had recently lost their shepherd girl, the same ones Danielle Reno had told me about 3 weeks before. That is not all there is to their story either. As we talked I discovered the reason the adoption room at Unleashed was dedicated to their daughter was because she had been killed in Afghanistan in July. A Soldier. A Hero.

It was a month after the loss of their daughter they had to make the hard decision to end the pain of their German Shepherd, Annie, who suffered from hip dysplasia. The losses they have suffered this summer left me speechless.

Gary Bailey took one look at Tater’s picture and it was a done deal. There was no way Tater was going to go anywhere else. Gary wanted to pick up Tater that minute. He was his dog. I talked him into waiting until I got home from work, his wife Deanna was out of town. I took Tater to Unleashed that night to meet his new Daddy. There was the instant connection that I look for, Gary wasn’t intimidated by Tater’s size or the fact that he’s a German Shepherd-that can be intimidating. Gary and Tater even look similar-rough and tough on the exterior and marshmallow softies on the inside. Maybe they understood each other? It was instant love between two men that had suffered such great losses. When Deanna got home 2 days later Tater was already part of the family. The two of them are spoiling Tater to pieces. He has good food, lots of toys and the safety and security to heal from the loss he has suffered. In return, he has unconditional love to give to his new Mama and Daddy that needed him as much as he needed them.

It really does always work out in the end. I was so disappointed in Tater’s failed adoption, but I can’t help but think it was fate. Deanna and Gary had been traveling for memorial services for their daughter until the day I got Tater back. The fact that I took Tater to Unleashed for his chip number, I’ve never done that before, and to have learned of these incredible people. And finally, that they happened to see a picture of Tater from a rescue that was not Unleashed and that they had to only look in the eyes of one goofy, overweight dog to know what he would mean to them….It’s an incredible story that I am blessed to have been involved in, even in a very small way.