New England Old English Sheepdog Rescue

New England Old English Sheepdog Rescue, Inc.


Sebastian's Story

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Update:  Jan. 2008

Can you believe it has been 5 years since Sebby’s homecoming ? Looking back, we can honestly say it was one of the best decisions we made. He is such a huge part of our family that we can’t imagine life without him.

Sebastian was always a bit of a barker, but now he seems to bark as if he is talking to us. When Sir Sebastian is displeased, which can encompass a great many situations, he barks. When he is outside and wants in and has waited longer than 15 seconds, he barks. When he is inside and wants out, he barks. When He thinks it is dinner time, which is based on his internal stomach clock and not necessary on the number of hours, or light of day, he barks. He barks when Ken and I kiss, because he is being left out. He barks when Nikki is getting attention, because he is waiting for his. He has also developed the “whine” to a fine art. The whine generally happens when he knows we are in the house, but he can’t get to us. For example: we are in the bathroom, and really don’t need his assistance; we are changing in the bedroom, and would like to put on a pair of pants that at least started the day without dog hair. And you should hear him when I say, “Soup’s On..”

Funny thing though. When Ken feeds them, Sebby is as quiet as a mouse. Not even a whimper. He claims it is because he is Alpha and the dogs know it. They also know that I am not Alpha, and I am really okay with this.
Once in an email, I said that “he is a brat!” and it still stands. Yes Grannie Annie, your grand-dog is a brat!

But we love him dearly. During this time of year I work late and don’t always get to spend as much time around them and Sebbie becomes more clingy. The phrase “Velcro dog” was definitely written about this sheepie. He tends to lay at my feet wherever I am. Yes, you guessed it, I currently have a foot warmer. One weekend, I was sitting on the loveseat reading a book and couldn’t put the footrest up because His Highness was laying in front of the chair. So I got up and moved to a chair across the room. I hadn’t even gotten comfortable, when he got up and moved to lay against the chair. Then the phone rang and I was straddling the footrest and a very large dog in order to run to answer it.

Sebby does enjoy his lap-sitting time, both with Ken and me. When we are sitting down in the evenings, he will usually end up on one of our laps. It’s funny, any other dog I’ve had will sit on my lap for a few minutes, maybe 10 or 15 minutes if it is particularly cold. Sebby crawls up, makes himself comfortable, and then falls asleep. He has slept on my lap, snoring, dreaming, and chasing rabbits, for 2 hours and seems rather perturbed when I finally have to get him off to get my circulation back.

Sebastian is a healthy, normal dog. His sense of hearing and sense of smell has more than made up for his loss of eyesight. His dosage of phenobarb was increased to 100mg twice a day, and since then (almost 2 years ago), he has not (touch wood) had a seizure. Every now and then I think he might have one coming on, as I notice little changes in his personality, but they have not materialized. He runs and jumps and plays just like any dog, and seems to be quite contented as long as he has Nikki or his peoples nearby. He does love his affections … when I am sitting on the floor, he will walk over and basically fall on me to get my attention. No, not because he is blind and didn’t see me. He likes to fall on my lap and then lifts up one front paw as if to say, “Aw, ain’t I cute.” Of course he is, and He knows it.

I have discovered the miracle tooth cleaning tool, “Raw Bones,” and they each got a new one last Sunday. Sebby goes out and chews for hours. These have surpassed his other favourite treat ­ Snow Cones. When I call them in for bed, Sebby is sometimes reluctant to leave his bone, and has managed to “sneak” it into the house and onto the carpet a half dozen times. You would think I would catch on, wouldn’t you ? I check when he comes in but he sometimes holds his head down and I just don’t see it.

Life just wouldn’t be the same without Sebby’s sheepie antics. Thank-you NEOESR for this amazing gift.

Ken & Kathy Shumard

Update:  Dec. 2005

Well, in short, HE'S A BRAT.  This big love-bug is in his glory with the snow.  He goes outside and chomps on his own personal icicles (being the mounds of snow shovelled off the deck) and forgets to pee while he's out there.  On the weekend, I let them both out to do their thing and then went and folded laundry.  I went back to the door and called them both in.  Not a half hour later, Sebby's doing the "pee pee dance" and when I let him out, he created his own personal lake !

After a seizure earlier this year, he seemed to be walking stiff-legged and his hips were clicking.  I suspect he put something out of place when he was coming out of the seizure during the disorientation faze.  We didn't notice anything until a couple days afterwards.  We found a wonderful chiropractor and saw a difference after the first treatment.  Afterwards, she gave Sebby a treat and a hug.  I was really impressed and he really doesn't seem to mind the process either.

The people at work all think I'm crazy (not a completely inaccurate diagnosis) with my singing Christmas Sheepie on my desk.  I love it when someone comes by who hasn't seen him before because I get to make him sing. Then we get talking about real sheepdogs and I show them my computer desktop with Sebby's picture.

I don't know about any of you, but I have been to 2 Christmas functions at peoples homes this year.  In both cases, the ladies keep elegant, immaculate homes and they collect antiques and have beautiful crystal and knick knack collections.  Every table and stand has something on it.  The homes are beautiful, but the first thing I realized is that they don't have a dog (or a cat).  I came home and gave both my guys big hugs, and told them I wouldn't trade them for all the dust collectors in the world.

Ken, Kathy, Nikki, and Sebastian

Update:  May 2005

Hello.  Grannie Annie forwarded an e-mail enquiring about Sebastian (aka Sebby).  I wanted to respond personally as we have been so happy with this pup, and have been amazed over the last couple of years by the number of people who have been touched by his story.

    He is doing very well and is living a true "dog's life."  About a month before he was to come home to us, we were informed by Grannie Annie that Sebby had experienced a seizure.  She was very good at informing us of his condition and allowing us to "rethink" our adoption.  I am sure she was worried about our reaction, and really wanted him to find his furr-ever home -- once.  We talked about this and I did a lot of reading on seizures.  But our hearts were already given to this sweet bundle and there was no turning back.   We still comment on what a great addition to our family he has been

    He has had further seizures, and is on 60mg of phenobarb 2x per day (apparently a fairly low dose), which seems to have limited the seizures to once a year.  He is blind, but most people who meet him have no idea.  The way he moves around the house and tears around the back yard you would never know.  Every now and again he will bump into a wall or a piece of furniture in the house if he gets disoriented (usually in one of his round-and-round play sessions with his brother Nikki).  Otherwise, he is a perfectly normal (STUBBORN) clown.

    When he first came home, his stubby didn't move much, and he wasn't a very "kissy" dog -- at least compared to the Wigglebum we had previously.  We have discovered recently that yes, his wiggle does work and when we get a kiss, we know it is truly special (we must have been especially good.)

    Did I mention he is Stubborn ?  Yes, I know this is an OES trait, but this fellow has it in spades.  We have an "out of the kitchen" rule when I am working back and forth between the sink and stove, and usually in a hurry to get dinner on.  I don't want to step on him.  He has decided that as long as he leaves, he can come back in whenever he wants.  "Well, I did get out, you know !"  He will often stand just outside of the kitchen and then inch his way back into the kitchen until he is laying behind my heels.  He has got "the creep" down to a science.  He stretches and gains 2 feet each time until he is where he wants to be.

    When we go for a W-A-L-K, I swear he is training for the Yukon Quest (Canadian version of the Iditarod).  At times, I swear my arm disengages from my shoulder.  He loves walking but his nose and ears take over and he has to experience EVERYTHING.  We are working with a wonderful trainer and with a different collar and a different technique, we are improving.  I am waiting for the new Gentle Leader Easy Walk harness to be available -- should have it in a couple more weeks.  We have had great success with a similar one being borrowed from the trainer.

    I have attached recent picture of him being a "lap dog" with our daughter.

    It is wonderful that so many people have been so concerned about this guy.  He's truly a special pup.  And he is loved -- which is the most important thing.

Ken, Kathy, Nikki, and Sebastian

See 2005 video clip - N&S playing  Click for movie clip  (7,623KB)  
Need Quicktime?

Fall of 2003 - Update -  All is well.


Feb. 2, 2003 Update from Sebastian's Home

Sebastian has fallen into our routine very quickly.  He has figured out the house and where things generally are, and has, in one week, taught us to push chairs back and to close drawers and doors right away.  It is so nice to have a sheepie in the kitchen again!  When I am preparing dinner or washing dishes, he lays in the kitchen, often with his chin or his paw on one of my feet.  That way, he knows when I move, right?  He has freckles on his nose and thinks that everything that comes in a plastic bag is a treat.

We continue to put a sock on Sebby's back "scratching" foot so that he won't scratch his head where it is healing.  However, his human's are a little forgetful at times, and have taken him outside to play in the slush, with his sock on. Needless to say, Sebby has gone through my white cotton sock supply in less than a week.  Oh well, it's laundry time !

Sebastian and I had our first grooming session on Friday night.  I got all the grooming tools out, laid out a quilt on the floor, and Sebastian came and laid down beside me.  Initially, I planned to brush and comb his furr for as long as he would allow me, and we would work on it in sessions.  To my utter surprise, he laid there for a half hour, while I brushed and combed and cooed him (sheer agony, I am sure).  Nikki came and joined us for a bit, but tired of the activity and then went and laid about 3 feet from us and watched.

ig brother Nikki (older by only a few months) is showing Sebby the ropes.  Sebastian goes outside and walks over to the fence, and then walks around the entire fence-line, just to make sure everything is still in place.  Once he makes his way back into the middle of the yard, he finds Nikki and ... 

See video clip - N&S playing  Click for movie clip  (4,687KB)                   Need Quicktime?

After a play session like this, it's time for a nap.

A picture IS worth a thousand words!

Thanks to all for your care and concern over the last week. 

Ken, Kathy, Nikki, & Sebastian

Handsome Happy
Healing dog!


Sebastian, The Flight of Love

It's Saturday morning, 25 January, 2003. The eyes of the Old English Sheepdog world are glued to their computer monitors as a tiny white image crawls across the map from Dallas, Texas to Vancouver, B.C. Sebastian is flying home!

How could a dog seize the attention and emotions of so many in North and South America and around the world, from Australia to Europe? What could motivate so many to follow the story of one abused dog? What made so many become emotionally involved to the point of tears? How did tears of rage at the inhumanity of man to his dog and his human family turn now to tears of joy at Sebastian's rescue, and his journey to a loving, forever home?

Sebastian's story began in rural Kansas early in the fall of 2002, when this 18-month old OES puppy was brutally attacked with an axe by his owner in front of his wife and daughter. We don't know the full story of that atrocity, but his horrendous injuries, which came within millimetres of severing his spinal cord, nearly killed him outright. The blows failed to split his skull, but the force was so great that the internal structures of Sebastian's eyes were shattered. Somehow the owner's wife had the presence of mind to remember that there was a veterinary clinic at a nearby army base, and was able to rush the desperately injured dog to it before he bled to death. The army veterinarians and staff took Sebastian to their hearts, performed hours of surgery and nursed him through critical days and weeks of healing from his massive wounds. Sadly, Sebastian's sight could not be saved, but in all other respects his recovery has been remarkable.

We haven't learned the fate of the perpetrator of this atrocity. Charges of animal cruelty evidently go nowhere in Kansas. However, we are told that he faces other serious charges, and we hope he is fully prosecuted.

The owner’s wife could not care for a blind dog, and was persuaded to release Sebastian from the veterinary hospital to Rescue for continued rehabilitation and placement in a new home. Rescue stalwarts Allan Stewart and Nancy Halstead took him into foster care in their Oklahoma home while he received further veterinary care and optical examinations, sadly unsuccessful, to see if his sight could be restored. However, he has adapted wonderfully to sightlessness, seems not to miss his eyes, and in all other respects is again a happy, active dog.

Told through the OES email lists, Sebastian's story caught the imagination and support of Old English Sheepdog people worldwide. Donations for his veterinary care and travel expenses poured in, supplementing the financial support of New England Old English Sheepdog Rescue Inc. Rescue guru Grannie Annie Raker of NEOESR orchestrated a search for a suitable home for Sebastian. The decision on an ideal home came down in favour of a family in British Columbia, who lost their beloved OES in mid-2002. Sebastian's travel was delayed by harsh winter weather until late January, when Allan drove him to Dallas, Texas, where they boarded a flight to Vancouver.


Allan and Sebastian were greeted in Vancouver by Darrel Smith and his adopting family, and on Sunday, after a time to rest and get to know each other, all gathered at Darrel and Judi's farm in Ladner, where Ann and I were privileged to meet them before Sebastian and his new family left for their home and Allan returned to Dallas and his home in Oklahoma. We were amazed and overwhelmed by this dog's happy attitude, curiosity and wonderful adaptation to his loss of sight.

Darrel and JudiDarrel and Judi are the heart and working nucleus of the small and struggling OES Rescue BC. They helped to arrange this continent-wide rescue effort. The story drew the attention of hundreds on the Old English Sheepdog email lists, perhaps fifty of whom confirmed that they followed the movement of Sebastian's flight on the internet and waited anxiously for the photos that Darrel and I posted within hours of his arrival. Links to Sebastian's story and photo albums may be found at <> (see Special Feature: Sebastian's Story).

What prompts so many people in distant corners of the world to come together and become emotionally involved in the story of a dog? Perhaps it's their innate goodness and sympathy for those defenseless beings - human or canine - who have been brutally treated. Sebastian is one of many abused dogs, but one whose abuse was especially vile and one whose rescue and recovery brought out the best in many dedicated individuals.

Sebastian's story, as it unfolded, depended on the internet. Without the internet, the nationwide and international contacts that made it take place could not have happened. Local rescue groups would have done what they could, but the OES email lists on the internet have made rescue into an international network of compassionate dog lovers who are ready to pitch in with encouragement, financial support, and physical action when needed to pick up, foster, nurse back to health or transport dogs to their new homes. Sebastian has a high profile, but he is only one of many dogs who have been helped by this great network. We work specifically for Old English Sheepdogs, but many other breeds have their own organised rescue groups and I am sure they also make full use of internet communications.

Ray Salmon and Ann Rambaud

Folks, the following story is tragic, and depicts the depth of human atrocities towards "man's best friend."  I send this warning. PLEASE DO NOT view the pictures if you are squeamish. Sebastian is in a wonderful foster home in Oklahoma until he goes to a permanent home. Such time will be determined after an ophthalmologist has reviewed the extent of the eye damage. Sebastian is probably permanently blind but we wish to determine what, if any, further care is needed. He will always need to be leashed and probably will do best with a seeing eye dog of his own to follow. We will not entertain homes with small children for the same reasons that we don't recommend them for deaf dogs. Handicapped dogs are special. They are needy beyond the usual neediness of the OES. Sebastian is no exception. He appears to be housebroken, and friendly. He isn't "spooky" and he has the usual goofiness characteristic of this breed. So, if you have a fenced yard, no small children, and are retired or work short hours, please consider adopting this very sweet innocent 18 mos. old pup who fortunately has no memory of man's unkind ways. He wants only to be loved.

      As NEOESR is underwriting all his medical expenses during his foster tenure, we ask that you fill out our adoption application as directed on the NEOESR web site. Tax deductible donations toward Sebastian's expenses, may be sent to NEOESR Inc. and mailed 49 Stonehedge Rd., Lincoln, MA 01773

       Fondly, Grannie Annie, who is deeply indebted to the vets who donated their services for two months, and to Allan Stewart and Nancy Halstead who will update us on Sebastian's progress.

      PS. The pictures of Sebastian injuries have been set apart from the rest of Sebastian's Story because they are very graphic. If you are squemish, be sure you don't click on the link that says "VERY GRAPHIC".

Click for Sebastian's  Oklahoma Website

Click for Darrell's Photo Album

Sunny Super Sebby Bowl Sunday   Sebastian arrives in Vancouver