Last Updated: 24 February 2009
When Dixie’s litter was whelped, it was difficult to differentiate between most of the puppies. But, early on, I noticed Dixie had round little “cheek markings” that were dark tan.
(You can see one if you look in this early photo… a round tan spot under eye.)
(And here - her “wings” at both eyes)
When the litter was 10 days old, the pups began to open their eyes. Soon after, I noticed Dixie’s markings were more pronounced. They looked like little wing shaped markings on the outer corners of her eyes! I probed at them; they felt a bit raised. But, closer examination didn’t show me anything of concern. As the pups grew, I watched closely, and soon I noticed Dixie’s “wings” were comprised of longer than normal hairs, and the hair seemed almost to grow from her eyelid corners.
(That is Dixie, front right, ears almost up)
I took Dixie to the vet, to check her eyes. Our vet assured us that Dixie’s eyes were functioning normally and the “wings” were not causing a problem. She suggested we put ointment or false tears in Dixie’s eyes, just to be sure the cornea was protected from the long hairs if they should find a way into her eye.

We decided to take Dixie to see a Board Certified Ophthalmologist, Dr. Allan Bachrach. Dr. Bachrach had helped me in the past - first with a horse that had uveitis, then with a sheep who had poked herself in the eye with straw and ulcerated her cornea. He is the eye guru!

After consulting Dr. Bachrach and our regular vet, we decided that Dixie would see Dr. B at 7 ˝ weeks old. That way, if he felt Dixie needed corrective surgery, which meant 10 days of recuperating -with no puppy contact - she would have had the important formative weeks with her litter.
Dr. Bachrach assured me that Dixie’s condition was not genetic, but rather, was developmental. He also assured me that her eyes were clear, functioning normally, and she was in no discomfort.

For several weeks, Dixie & her siblings had a wonderful time playing, eating, sleeping… doing what puppies do! Dixie showed herself to be bright, bold, confident, and social. She had a particular footfall sound you could hear - a confident swaggery way of storming around. We grew accustomed to Dixie’s “wings”; they became her trademark.  Rick nicknamed Dixie the “X-Men” puppy after the mutants in the X Men movies/comic books.

I wondered what to do about finding Dixie a family. Should I wait until after her appointment with Dr. B? Should I wait until after her surgery, if she was going to  need it? I decided to put the word out that Dixie, our special X Men puppy, was looking for a family to love her for who she was.

It wasn’t long before several of our waiting families - families waiting for several different litters - responded with interest. Michelle Tierney was among the willing, and her family seemed like a good fit for Dixie. I invited Michelle & her family to come back to visit us again, and to come play with Dixie.

The Tierneys’ agreed unanimously - Dixie was going home with them when the time came! They loved her for WHO she was; “wings” didn’t diminish her in their eyes. I was very pleased; Dixie’s personality was so wonderful, and I was very enamored with her. I wanted her to be in the very best of homes.
Meanwhile, Rick’s “X-Men” label had struck the Tierney children, and they decided to call her STORM - an X-Men name.
Since we had already been calling her Dixie, she now became Dixie-Storm around here!

At almost 8 weeks old, Dixie -Storm went for her appointment, and Dr. Bachrach suggested we do the procedure. He felt she would then look like everyone else. (I was maybe a bit sad about that - we were accustomed to the cute little winged mask, but we went ahead.)
Dixie-Storm came through her surgery fine, and now I had to help her through her recovery for 10 days. She had to wear the dreaded E-collar. That was the worst part!

I had purchased a new “E-Collar Alternative”; a “donut” collar. I imagined Dixie would appreciate it, but Dr. B shook his head “No”. The old fashioned lamp shade E collar provided better protection to be sure she could rub her eyes on anything or bang in to anything.
Dixie-Storm learned to maneuver with this new appendage, but it mystified her. The first night, she was snuggly, and she complained if I didn’t hold her near me. She slept the night upside down against me on the sofa, while I laid awake, afraid to roll over on her!

Next day, she was ready for action. She was also ready to accept the crate again. (We start all our pups spending nap time and part of the night in crates at age 7 -8 weeks, so they are comfortable when they leave for their new homes and encounter a crate on their first night away!)

Dixie-Storm amazed me. She showed a buoyant, brave spirit. She was always happy, bouncy, ready to leap and play. And she was snuggly, and loved her belly rubbed. She quickly learned to sit, and then she voluntarily sat for everything she wanted - she looked at me as if thinking “This lady loves when I sit … so HERE… a sit! Now what do I get?”

To her lament, Dixie-Storm could not play with our 11 older pups and dogs. I could not risk her eye getting poked or her stitches scratched. But, our 1 year old puppy Brina and our 8 month old puppy Charlotte - half sisters to Dixie Storm - took to “babysitting”. They slept at her crate door, facing her.
And for much of the time, I put the other dogs out to play or in other rooms, and Dixie-Storm hung with me, running about the kitchen and great room. She was independent enough to grab toys or a chewie, and amuse herself when I stopped playing to do some work. And when she was tired, she always came back to sleep on my feet.
(The shaved area looked worse than her stitches)
She allowed me to administer her 4x a day eye drops with no fight. She agreed to use the outside as a bathroom - even though the inclement weather made it difficult. Dixie-Storm showed herself to be a wonderful puppy.  And, I thought it would be really great if Dixie-Storm ended up to look perfect, even after her family was ready to accept her as different.

Dixie-Storm is almost ready to go to her new family. I wanted to be sure she was healed, stitches out, medicine finished when she left for her new adventures. I didn’t want her to have to careen around as a “cone head” in a new place. I know she will settle in well; she is always up for adventure. And I am happy for her… but, I sure will miss my little sidekick! She has stolen my heart!

I tell Dixie-Storm’s Story because it is a good story, with a happy ending. There are others who would have had this puppy put to sleep b/c she had a cosmetic “defect”. There are those who think I should have kept her out of sight, as if she somehow marred my breeding program. When anyone and everyone breeds a litter, occasionally, a puppy is born who is not 100% “normal”, but is otherwise healthy and can live a wonderful life. What we do about these puppies is a matter of personal ethics… at least for me - for some others, it is a matter of business sense only.

I believe in giving chances to puppies who have the potential to live a quality life.   I also don’t believe in hiding the occasional issue. EVERYONE has something come up at some point. (Think of this in terms of PEOPLE. How many people do you know that have NO health issue in their family? Not one allergy, or medical condition, or toothache, or elderly family member with cancer or diabetes… whatever you can think of. Not many. Apply this logic to families of dogs, and you see that SOME problem will show in every line, at some point.) This is a beautiful little puppy with strong pigment & good structure, excellent character & confidence, and athleticism. She has the potential to excel in a job, as well as to be a wonderful pet.

We will update Dixie-Storm’s story periodically as she grows up in her new family!
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In 2006, we lost our 14 yr. old German Shepherd Tara.  We were heartbroken. We decided that we would like a new pup, and with Ryan turning 4 in April, we thought is was a good time to get one.  I began my search in Nov. 2007, and I came across the Traumhof website.  I fell in love.  Not only were the dogs beautiful, I loved Karen's philosophy regarding the raising of the pups.  They weren't relegated to a backyard kennel, they were part of the family. 
 Karen's interview process showed me that she truly cared about the pups, and wasn't just looking to make money on them.  I filled out the application, and went with my oldest son, and friend up to Karen's shortly before Christmas.  We visited with Karen and all of the dogs for about 3 hrs.  We learned that one pup from each litter was named for a superhero, my son fell in love with Clark.  (Clark Kent).
At that time Kiddie was pregnant and was expecting around January, and Xenia was due to be bred to Sherry and was expected to whelp in March if all went well.  We decided we wanted a pup from the Xenia/Sherry litter.  Waiting was excruciating.  
Kiddie whelped her litter on New Year's Day 2008.  About a month later, I received an e-mail from Karen, she was looking for a home for a special little girl, Dixie.  Karen explained that she had tufts of hair in the corners of her eyes, and that she would probably never be able to show.  She went on to explain that she knew an eye doctor who could remove the tufts.  We were intrigued, and made an appt. to go see her.  My husband, and both sons, and I went up.  We spent time with all of the pups.  When I got into the car, I asked everyone what they thought, and they all said, "Let's get her."  It was decided.
We needed to wait a couple of extra weeks to get her.  (She was 10 weeks)  Karen brought her for her eye surgery, and took very good care of her afterwards.  Even with her cone on, Stormy was boisterous, happy pup.  Finally the day came when we could go get her.
We renamed her Storm.  (Another take on a superhero)  We have had her for almost a year, and haven't regretted it for even one second.  Storm is such a part of our family, and she is smart as a whip.  Karen had taught her to sit before eating, and Stormy knows that in order to get what she wants, she needs to sit nicely before eating, or going outside.
We love to hike in the woods, so Stormy can be off leash.  If Ryan, who is almost 5 is with us, he tends to dilly dally, and Storm is always circling back trying to herd him with the rest of us.  Sometimes Storm will just stop, and sit and wait for Ryan to catch up.  When Storm was a pup, Ryan would wake up in the morning, and lay down with his pillow outside Storm's crate, just waiting for us to let her out.  I love the relationship they have.  Ryan lies on the floor with her, hugs her and talks to her constantly.
Storm is very vocal, and "talks" to us all of the time.  She loves to have her belly rubbed.
Storm loves playing ball.  We have many balls of assorted sizes around here, but her favorite are the rubber chuck-it balls.  We either play in the back yard, or tromp through the woods to get to the field.  She would chase them and bring them back all day, if we could.  In the warmer weather, we either go to the lake, or over to the State Forest, and she loves to swim out after them. 
About the only thing she might love better than that is snow.  She gets so excited when it snows. I have a really large ball that I can throw and not lose in the snow, and she loves it.  A perfect day for Storm. 
All and all, we are thrilled with Storm, and she seems thrilled to be with us.  Below are pics of our beautiful girl.
by Michelle Tierney
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