Testimonial * Tita and Sierra her German Shepherd

Dear Laura,

If this little testimonial can in any way help you with clients, you have my permission to use it. You might also want to give them a word about my background so they will know I am a trustworthy person.

As you know I’m the granddaughter of J. Ogden Armour who was head of Armour and Co. Meat Packing. I was raised in Chicago and now own El Mirador Estate in Montecito, Ca. where I make my home. This property has been in my family for almost 100 years. After my mother, Lolita Armour Mitchell, died in 1976 a portion of El Mirador was sold to the film director, Ivan Reitman. He and his family have been my neighbors and friends. I attended his oldest daughter, Catherine’s wedding two years ago. I am sure Ivan would vouch for my integrity.

You have a gift that can help a lot of people care for their pets, even to saving the life of a well-loved companion dog a you did mine. It is my hope that you can reach many more people and be of service to them.

With great respect,

Tita
Lolita Mitchell Lanning

Tita, Sierra and Major

Today Sierra lies at my feet as I write. Occasionally she lifts her head to gaze at me, her melt-away chocolate brown eyes shining with love. Had it not been for Laura Stinchfield’s last minute intervention Sierra would be dead.

On Friday, June 24th, I was scheduled to leave Santa Barbara with my two German Shepherds for the three day drive to my summer house in Washington. My nephew and his wife would make the trip with me. But on Monday, June 20th, Sierra began to stagger when she walked. On Tuesday she was lurching to the right side, barely able to walk. By Wednesday my 12 year old dog was falling over. Two years ago x-rays of her spine had shown severe deterioration where the spine meets the hip. Was it fair to prolong her life?

On Thursday morning I made the heart wrenching phone call to my vet. My old friend could not get into my car, could hardly walk and was obviously suffering. Would he come to my house and put her out of her misery? The vet would come over at 12:15. Trying to hold back the tidal wave of tears that would break through my dam of reserve when my dog died, I turned to Laura and asked her to give Sierra permission to leave me.

Laura Stinchfield had entered my life nine years earlier when I rescued Sierra from an animal shelter. Bone poking thin, no hair on her tail and grief in her eyes; she obviously had lived through tragedy no one knew of. She’d been found on a mountain side, hunting for food and was lactating. Her puppies were never rescued. I needed to know more about her life. Four people, including my veterinarian told me about Laura and her ability to communicate with animals. I called her. She came to my home. With great skepticism I watched her “talk silently” to my dog. Up came Sierra’s head, her ears pricked and she stared into Laura’s face for a full five minutes. There was no doubt in my mind that Laura and my dog were communicating. But the story she told Laura was too sad to tell.

Laura and I became friends and have remained so for nine years. She has helped me with 3 dogs, 1 laying hen and a wild squirrel. So, on that sorrowful Thursday as I waited for the vet to come and end Sierra’s life, I spoke to Laura by phone and asked her to tell Sierra she had my permission to leave me. Laura does not need to be physically present to reach a dog. What Sierra “told” her astonished me. She “said”, “I don’t want to die today. It is not my time. My spine doesn’t hurt, I’m dizzy and I just need to rest and I want to go to Washington with mom”.

But, I was forward moving, had made up my mind that euthanasia was the humane thing for Sierra. I argued at length with Laura, even raised my voice. Laura spoke to my dog again. Sierra said “Please, please tell mom that if she lets me die today, she will have a troubled soul”.

That did it.

I cancelled the vet’s call and asked Laura to tell Sierra she was going with me. We left for Washington Friday morning. My nephew had to lift Sierra into and out of my van. On Saturday, my dog was getting in and out of the van by herself with difficulty. By Sunday she was doing it with ease and on Monday she was no longer staggering when she walked. We were dumbfounded. We went to our vet in Washington on Tuesday. After he examined Sierra and heard her symptoms and progress, the vet told me Sierra has Old Age Vestibular Syndrome. It is a condition common in elderly dogs that affects the inner ear and ruins their balance. Nothing had to be done as this syndrome corrects itself in time. He made this diagnosis one month ago. Had I learned of this syndrome after putting Sierra to sleep, can you imagine the troubled soul I would be carrying?

Yesterday, Sierra burst out of my house, raced across the deck and cleared two steps that lead to the lawn with ease. She didn’t even wobble. Last night she picked up a squeaky toy and played tug-o-war with me. She’s 90% recovered.

Today Sierra lies at my feet as I write. She is now sound asleep. Laura has been given the gift of communication with animals but she has given me a gift beyond belief: Sierra is going to wake up.


Sierra

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