A Few Yards Shy of Heaven

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Thanks for raising such healthy puppies, Kita is a delight. I took these pictures of Yukon today. He turned one year old yesterday. He has grown up to be quite handsome as you can see. My sister goes on to your Facebook page and gives me updates from time-to-time. I would love to see his other siblings. I am sure they are all gorgeous too.

Yukon has been the joy of our lives for these past 10 months. He is quite a character. He does everything he can to be funny. It is obvious he is doing his antics to make us laugh. He is also extremely observant. He notices anything that is out of place, whether it is in the house or outside.

If you can believe it, he also has a fascination with airplanes. He looks up and stares every time he hears or sees one. We have a place at the lake and he loves it there. He gets to run around in the yard, which is a treat, since when we are at the condo he is always on a leash. Yukon has a wonderful life and he has made our lives richer. He loves other dogs too. He is as good as gold. You did a great job with picking his parents, Sheba and Kody. I hope they are both doing well. We are so grateful you saved Yukon and all the other puppies that contracted Parvo.

You really were their guardian angel. I can only imagine how stressful and difficult dealing with that tragedy was for you, but you got them through it! We hope you had a very nice Thanksgiving and that you have a Merry Christmas too. I hope you have a few minutes to write and let us know how things are going. Hi Collene, This is Pete, who along with my girlfriend purchased a Keeshond puppy from you back in December.

Sorry that it took us so long to get back to you; we have just been extremely busy with work and having too much fun with Kenny, and we forgot to let you know that he's hearty and healthy and growing fast; already 26 lbs. He's had all his necessary shots and is beginning to lose his baby teeth this week, and the vet says that's he's doing great and is also one of the cutest dogs she's ever seen!

Attached to this email are some pictures of Kenny we took over the past few weeks; I hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed taking them. He's so adorable and brings so much happiness to our lives. Thank you again for selling him to us, and don't hesitate to contactus if you have any further questions or concerns. Take care! Dear Collene, Sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your letter. Mokea was born March of so she is almost 4 years old. She has been a wonderful addition to our family and loves our first dog KiWi who is 11 years old.

They however have very different personalities. Mokea is much bigger than KiWi and communicates more with her body language like placing her head on your lap when she wants something from us humans. She will bark to alert us someone is approaching or when she is communicating with neighbor dogs. KiWi has many different barks and we generally know what she wants by the tone of each one. Mokea does know that KiWi is the boss when it comes to the two of them.

He is soooooooooo good -- got a shot yesterday We have expanded his space, and now he pretty much goes where we go, except upstairs.. He is chewing everything.. I have wrestled twigs, leaves, branches, rocks out of his mouth.. He is able to hold his peeing at night for about 4 hours now, which is something, and he has found his voice barks Happy New Year!! How have you been? Did you have a nice Holiday Season? It has been a long time since I last wrote, so I'll get you caught up on things.

We had a great end of Summer and Autumn. Do you remember the snowstorm we had at Halloween?


I had a ball!! Gary, Deb and I played outside all day that day. They kept laughing at all the fun I was having. I was making "snow plows" You know, I would bury my face in the snow then run as fast as I could till I was completely covered. Then I would shake it off and do it over and over and over again. I can't wait till the next snow storm! Right now my favorite activity is playing Frisbee and boy am I good at it. The three of us play every night after dinner no matter what.

Gary and Deb must sure love me because sometimes they put on hoodies, parkas, scarves and gloves just so I can play outside. They even use a big umbrella if it is raining cuz that sure doesn't phase me one bit. LOL I have also learned to love going for long walks on my leash I even have a girlfriend! Her name is Emily. She is a Springer Spaniel I met one day during our walk.. She lives up the road by the next cornfield. Whenever we pass her house, if She is outside she always runs over to say hello.

We sniff each other for a while, then she goes back in. If she is not outside, she always runs to the front door and wags her tail when she sees me. I really like her, she is so cute! Gary and Deb still take me with them wherever they can. I even went to Christmas Dinner with them. They always make sure I have some kind of play date as often as possible. I won't be going to the doctor for about another 2 months, but we were guessing I weigh about 35 pounds by now. Believe me, it is all muscle, no fat. I get plenty of exercise everyday. I also, on a daily basis, get alot of love and affection.

I have a good life Collene. Everyday I am told how much I am loved. Everyday I am told I am a very good boy. Everyday I am so thankful for Deb and Gary. I have a great life! Well, that's about it for now. I will write sometime after my first birthday. I heard Gary and Deb talking about some kind of celebration for me. Can't wait!! I have enclosed a recent photo, just taken the other day, right after my bath. Ngata is doing very well. We wanted to thank you for your good upbringing. He is a joy to have.

He knows his commands and is well socialized. He definitely enjoys doggie daycare and chasing after our daughter Natalie. I wanted to attach some photos for you to see Ngata growing up with us. I will continue to send you photos over time. Hi Collene, Mr. He is in his prime and is as well-behaved as he is handsome, a credit to both his breed and his breeding. The ocean was wasted on him though, he hates getting his feet wet!

Although these pictures were taken almost a year ago, he looks pretty much the same, and the weather has not been good for taking pictures recently. I hope his sister, Misty, is doing well. Regards, Joanna. How are you!? Are you having a nice summer? Gary, Deb and I sure are. We have really taken advantage of the nice weather. They have taken me along to cookouts so I can play with other dogs, on the nice cool nights we have gone on long walks so I can learn how to behave with a leash not my favorite activity , and I have been learning to play with a Frisbee.

And get this My pool is so cool! I love to splat around my balls and toys and I even put my face to the bottom to retrieve the toys that sink. It is soooooo refreshing!! Earlier this month I went to the doctor. Gary and Deb were saying something about going to the beach that day Didn't let it slow me down though. The very next day I was back to chasing butterflies, guarding the house I've been told I'm very good at that playing tugs, playing ball, etc. I'm not quite sure who loves who more. I guess it really doesn't matter.

We are one close happy Family!! I really am adorable, aren't I? First let me apologize for such a late letter to you! Our Keeshond was part of Jerzey girls litter on October 19 He brings so much joy, love and laughter. He has the best personality of any dog that we have ever owned. He is incredibly friendly and loves to be around people.

Super Chunk is spoiled rotten, with a huge toy bucket, his favorite toy being a stuffed animal pony. He is so entertaining, and very smart! He loves to watch animal planet on tv, and will snoop around the back of the tv to see where those dogs are hiding! Super Chunk loves to have play dates with other dogs, and is very friendly towards them.

His favorite game is to be chased in circles around the house. He is very quick and agile! Next winter we want to enroll him in an agility class as he is quick to be able to run through chairs, under the table, and through obstacles. He is such a lovable puppy. We have bonded amazingly with him. He can be so fresh! We have an invisible fence for him, with a lot of property.

Super Chunk has been such a joy, and I thank you so very much for completing our family! Collene, Kona is doing great. Leslee and I have had Kees for 23 years and Kona is probably the most interactive Kees we have ever had. His personality is unbelievably friendly and outgoing. As you can see from the picture of him holding a ball over his head, he is also very cleaver. When we do not pay attention to him he goes and gets a ball, lays on his back and just plays with it, by himself. He gets along with his older brother Kayto 5 as if they were truly brothers. We will come home and find them laying next to each other sleeping.

They play together every day until they get sooo tired, they almost pass out. Whatever you do to your dogs, keep doing it. Like, I said earlier Kona is a fantastic Kees. Hope all is well. He has just returned from his second vacation- snowmobiling in northern Maine — or from his point of view, sitting in a crate in a strange cabin — It was a 10 hour trip up we spend the night at Paws Inn again both directions — Roosevelt was not there, but he showed Kip the ropes It amazes me how calm he is if he is sitting with me — 10 hours in the car!

He was a perfect gentleman when we were home — it gets dark early up there, so we usually left around and returned around He played very well with the other dogs in the cabins in the same complex. He loves family cooking with relatives who are unacquainted with dog manners. I hope to extinguish that habit quickly. Amazingly, he waits for everyone to get up before he wants to leave the bed. Minimal barking he has just started barking to come in from outside if I am not at the door No accidents.

You should have seen him playing in the snow mounds with the neighbor kids maybe 3 and 6 as we all were shoveling out our parking spots. My brother even allowed him under the dining room table during diner. Comes when called along as I have a cookie , but most of all, likes to sit next to me on the sofa and be patted. He has gotten over fighting the leash, and walks without pulling not going to start heel until he is 6 months old. At his last vet appointment 14 weeks — he was only 20 lbs — far less than his litter mate — but his ribs feel well muscles, and a smaller dog is just fine.

He goes back for a weigh in in April to start heartworm thank goodness, the vet pronounced him round worm free.

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Only one ear is sort of up — again, he seems slow in comparison to his litter mate. His next vet trip is in August for- you know what, but I might delay that until after his September trip to Cape Cod for a week in yet another cabin. I know you sacrifice a lot to run your kennel — but I wanted you to know that I appreciate the work that you have done to ensure a healthy, happy companion.

We were not going to get anymore because it is so hard to lose something you have loved for 17 years. We met with you first and fell in love with the place. We were greeted with wagging tails, Kayz-honden kisses and a friendly face Collene Hamm.

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The place was sparkling clean, the boys and girls were very friendly and the atmosphere was just right beautiful babies. You answered every question we had and then some. I have to say we needed to look no further. We found our breeder Keeshond Heaven. We have known you since December , January and have become like family.

You have not changed a bit. You are still a clean-O- holic, you keep bettering the establishment and you are the best grandma of our boys, Simba Keez Born January 12, and Zeus Akee Born April 3, Every time we come down to visit, the closer we get the louder the boys get. Their radar or GPS must be kicking in. The boys are in training now and hoping to get them into shows by mid December, early January. We want to show off our boys.

We know you will be there to cheer on our boys when the time comes. As always, once a Kayz-Honden owner, always a Kayz-Honden owner…………………….


You may not remember us, but my husband Jeff and I bought our keeshond from you in June We named her Coco and have been enjoying her and loving her ever since! We now have two boys and she is absolutely wonderful with the kids. She is so patient and loves to play with them! Just wanted to let you know that one of your babies is doing very well, and if you ever need more testimonials for your website or anything I'd be more than happy to oblige.

I've attached some pictures as well : Thank you for raising such wonderful puppies! Hi Collene! Just wanted to give you an update on Rylie. She is such an adorable puppy and a joy to have around. She is now about 7 months old and weighs 27 pounds. During the summer, I have taught her how to swim in our pool and she has experienced her first full grooming at the kennel.

Also, at the beginning of August, she was spayed and had her hernia fixed. She loves going for car rides and taking trips to Petco to get new bones. Rylie is such a good girl and everyone in the family has fallen in love with her! Thank you again for letting us have one of your puppies!

The Pino Family. D'Arcy with my sister-in-law is a print, and he is looking away from the camera. The Interwoven mill, derelict and grand, still dominates the center of Martinsburg. One corner of it has been turned into a restaurant, but the rest sits empty. A police officer named Andrew Garcia has a plan, called Martinsburg Renew, which would turn most of the mill into a rehab facility. Maybe it will be drug rehab.

In the past several months, I have returned to Martinsburg many times, and spoken with many addicts there. Lori Swadley is a portrait and wedding photographer in Martinsburg. When I looked at her Web site, she seemed to be in demand all over the area, and her photographs were lovely: her brides glowed in afternoon light, her high-school seniors looked polished and confident.

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But what drew me to her was a side project she had been pursuing, called 52 Addicts—a series of portraits that called attention to the drug epidemic in and around Martinsburg. It was clear that Swadley had a full life: her husband, Jon, worked with her in the photography business, and they had three small children, Juniper, Bastian, and Bodhi. Swadley is thirty-nine, tall and slender, and she looked elegant in jeans, a charcoal-colored turtleneck, and high boots.

She and her husband had moved to Martinsburg in , she told me, looking for an affordable place to raise children close to where she had grown up, in the Shenandoah Valley. Soon after they arrived, they settled into a subdivision outside town, and Swadley started reading the Martinsburg Journal online. Because at that time it seemed like everybody else wanted to hide it. And, to me, that seemed like the worst thing you could do. I said that it seemed like an extraordinarily high number, especially for someone who was not an addict. She agreed, but there it was.

All thirteen were young men—Swadley had met most of them when she was in her early twenties, and she had been a tomboy back then. The first time she heard that a friend had died, she had been photographing a wedding for some mutual friends. They were sitting around a bonfire at the end of the day.

When Swadley spoke of a crazy horror film that she and a guy named Jeremy had made in high school, somebody mentioned that he had recently died, from a heroin overdose. She threw up, and wrecked her car on the way home. At the time, Swadley was hanging out with her old crowd in bars and restaurants every weekend. One by one, the group dwindled. As the overdoses piled up, she was appalled to find that sometimes she had trouble keeping track of which friends were dead.

The funerals had a peculiar aspect. In January, , she started photographing addicts in recovery. For the first few portraits, Swadley reached out to her subjects, but soon people started coming to her. She took their pictures, asked them about their lives, and told their stories in a paragraph or so. There are now two dozen images in the series. In one of the portraits, an E.

A woman named Tiffany posed holding a snapshot of her younger sister, Tabby. Both women had started off on pills—Tabby had developed a problem after a gallbladder operation left her with a thirty-day supply of meds—and then became heroin addicts. Tiffany had received treatment, but Tabby had fatally overdosed while she was waiting for a rehab bed. Swadley took the portrait in a park where Tiffany had once begged Tabby to stop using. When I called Tiffany, she told me that she had recently lost a second sister to heroin.

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Swadley hopes that her photographs will someday be displayed all around town—in coffee shops, restaurants, perhaps the library. I want to show people they deserve a chance. One day, Swadley told me about a local effort against heroin addiction, called the Hope Dealer Project. It was run by three women: Tina Stride, who had a twenty-six-year-old son in recovery; Tara Mayson, whose close friend had gone through periods of addiction; and Lisa Melcher, whose son-in-law had died of an overdose, and whose thirty-two-year-old daughter, Christina, was struggling to overcome heroin addiction. All three had known addicts who wanted to get clean but had no place to go.

Last fall, like car-pool moms with a harrowing new mission, they had begun driving people to detox facilities all over the state—any place that could take them, sometimes as far as five hours away. The few with private insurance could get rehab anywhere in the country, and the Hope Dealer women were prepared to suggest options. But most people in town had Medicaid or no insurance at all, and such addicts had to receive treatment somewhere in the state. Currently, the detox facility closest to Martinsburg is about two hours away. Stride works full time at the General Services Administration, in Washington, but spends up to twenty-four hours a week giving rides to drug users.

The other two focus on reaching out to addicts and families. When Stride and her client arrive at a detox facility, nurses are waiting at the door. For them to walk in those doors, that takes a lot. After five to ten days in detox, patients are released. If beds are all full, a lot of times they come back here to Martinsburg, because they have nowhere else to go.

Stride usually drives clients to a detox center immediately after picking them up. I tried to stay up, but I knew I had to drive four hours to the detox place, and four hours back. So I slept some. We were up at 4 a. Stride, who is forty-seven, wore her hair in a ponytail and had curly bangs; Mayson, who is forty-six, had long, sparkly nails. They had spent the previous day working on behalf of a woman and her twenty-one-year-old son, a heroin addict. He had private insurance, so they had signed him up for rehab in New Hampshire.

What do I do? Samantha Engelhardt right , a recovering addict, shows her newborn baby to the photographer Lori Swadley, who has been documenting the opioid epidemic in the Martinsburg area. Because I want to know he makes it. Mayson, who works at the Department of Veterans Affairs and has two adult children, said that the Hope Dealer women had become like sisters. As mothers, they felt that they had a particular ability to communicate with women who needed help with their addicted children. I was devastated. On May 21st, I received an e-mail from Melcher, informing me that Christina, her daughter, had fatally overdosed on heroin.

Christina, she said, had completed rehab several times, and had been clean for ninety days before relapsing. Aldis is a family practitioner with a background in public health and tropical medicine. His mother taught nursing, and his father was an obstetrician. He spent most of his career in Asia and Africa, as a U. Navy physician and as a medical officer with the State Department.

He retired in They filled it with art and antiques, acquired two Jack Russell terriers, and prepared for a quiet life filled with visits from their two daughters and the grandkids. He took a job at the New Life Clinic, in Martinsburg, where he could prescribe Suboxone, one of the long-term treatments for opioid addiction.

He found it enormously frustrating that addicts were often urged to quit heroin cold turkey or to stop taking Suboxone or methadone or naltrexone, the other drugs used to treat addiction and counteract withdrawal symptoms. In his view, this was wholly unrealistic. Most addicts needed what is known as medication-assisted treatment for a long time, if not the rest of their lives. You could actually prescribe it to your patients. That might seem self-evident, but at this point in the opioid epidemic many West Virginians feel too exhausted and resentful to help.

I remember one time, we had a kid who had O. A call came over the radio—someone about his age had just died from an overdose. Then again, Poe mused, when most of your neighbors—not to mention your mom and your grandma—already knew that you used heroin, shaming might have little effect. This past winter, I watched Aldis teach two classes in Berkeley Springs, an Eastern Panhandle town, at a storefront church between a convenience store and a pawnshop. The bare trees on the ridge above us were outlined like black lace against the twilight.

Inside, a few dozen people, mostly women, sipped coffee from Styrofoam cups in an unadorned room with a low ceiling, tan carpeting, and rows of tan chairs. Aldis touched briefly on what an overdose looks like, but acknowledged that the attendees probably already knew. At the first meeting I attended, in November, a few women began to cry when they heard that. At the second, in January, Aldis had some good news: the state had agreed to provide a hundred and eighty free kits.

Aldis had been invited to Berkeley Springs by Melody Stotler, who ran a local organization for recovering addicts. Aldis introduced Kathy Williams, a former patient of his and the mother of two little girls. She had twice saved people with Narcan. One time, while she was driving, she spotted a car on the side of the road, and a man lying on his back next to it. The other time, a neighbor in her apartment complex knocked on her door and said that a guy was overdosing in the parking lot.

She saw a woman tending to a man. A woman named Tara, who was at the January meeting with her teen-age stepdaughter, told me that she had revived a guy who lived in the trailer park where she did some babysitting. Someone called the police. She was a recovering addict herself—seven years now. She was studying to be a medical assistant. John Aldis, at his home office in Shepherdstown. In , he became the first doctor in West Virginia to offer free public classes to teach anybody—not just first responders and health professionals—how to reverse opioid overdoses with the drug Narcan.

Jason Chalmers loved his children, that was for sure. He crawled around on all fours, pretending to be a pony, to amuse his daughter, Jacey, and her younger brother, Liam. He submitted to Jacey whenever she wanted to cover his face with makeup. Liam was born in His mother, Angie, had struggled with an opioid problem, and had taken Suboxone to combat it during her pregnancy.

He was on morphine for two solid weeks in the hospital. Jason, who grew up in Martinsburg, was a heroin addict for most of his life, a fact that puzzled his family almost as deeply as it saddened them. He grew up in an attractive, wooded development on a country road, with horses and dogs, and a kindhearted mother. His grandparents lived in the development, too, and Jason and his two siblings waited for the school bus together on a wooden bench that a neighbor had carved for them. There were glimmers of an explanation here and there. But who knew, really?

It was the beginning of a self-destructive pattern. He got into using heroin, then into selling it. He introduced heroin to a girlfriend—a good student who had a scholarship to an excellent university. She dropped out, overdosed, and died. He went to jail dozens of times drug possession, credit-card theft and had a series of nearly fatal overdoses. Christine urged her father to press charges, both because she felt that Jason had to be held responsible and because she felt safest—and could actually sleep at night—when he was behind bars.

He lied to her, and stole from her, and after using heroin he would pass out on her deck, in her garage, at the end of her driveway. Jason did not go to college, and he could not keep a job for long; he worked for a few weeks at a mini-mart, but got fired when his background check came in. Michael moved to Chicago to start a career as an advertising copywriter, and their sister, Antonia, went to work for the school system. Christine Chalmers had struggled financially to raise three children as a single mother.

But in , when Jason was twenty-six, she was doing well as a real-estate agent, and she sent Jason to a monthlong rehab program in Colorado that cost ten thousand dollars. It was so worth it. If I never have anything else, he had a month, and I had a weekend, and he was my boy. On April 28, , Jason fatally overdosed.

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He was thirty-seven. His death did not come as a surprise: he had started telling Christine that the worst part of overdosing was waking up. After an overdose death, an autopsy is usually performed. Because of the epidemic, coroners in West Virginia are often backed up. Afterward, Christine thought about how consumed she had been by her attempts to save Jason and, later, to protect his children from him.

Such a simple thing. But I started crying, because I thought, What did we know about him as a person? When the man who sold Jason his final dose of heroin went on trial, Christine testified. And in some sense his life was saved, because he would have ended up the same as Jase. I mean, who knows who Jase sold to? Who knows who lived or died because he sold to them?

Christine, who is now sixty-four, and works full time as a secretary in the Berkeley County government, has found herself raising Jacey, who is in the third grade. Liam lives with his mother, in another state. One of the biggest collateral effects of the opioid crisis is the growing number of children being raised by people other than their parents, or being placed in foster care.

In West Virginia, the number of children removed from parental care because of drug abuse rose from nine hundred and seventy in to two thousand one hundred and seventy-one in Christine and Jacey live in Martinsburg, in a pretty bungalow with a porch swing and a glider, and a front door with bright-yellow trim. Their mother was a heroin addict, and lost custody of the kids two years ago. At the time, Melissa, who is a medical technician at a nursing home, was working and living in Maryland—she is divorced, and her own children are grown.

Christine served some brownies that she had baked. Jacey is a bright, curious kid, with pearly pink glasses and a sprinkling of freckles.

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  8. The first time I met her, she catalogued her accomplishments in gymnastics. I still have a lot more ahead of me. He often dropped into a state of suspended animation—still standing, bent over at the waist, head dangling near his knees. But you could also feel that he was breathing. We would put our hands up to his nose and we could feel the air coming in and out. Jason wanted so badly for people not to follow him.

    At one point, Jacey was lying on the porch floor, drawing a rainbow with some colored pencils, when Christine said she thought that it was wrong to send opioid addicts to prison. Jacey piped up. Also, get them help. Recently, Martinsburg has begun to treat the heroin crisis more openly as a public-health problem.

    The police chief, a Chicago transplant named Maurice Richards, had devised a progressive-sounding plan called the Martinsburg Initiative, which would direct support services toward children who appeared to be at risk for addiction, because their families were struggling socially or emotionally. In December, Tina Stride and several other local citizens stood up at a zoning meeting to proclaim the need for a detox center.

    They countered several residents who testified that such a center would bring more addicts, and more heroin, to their neighborhoods. Well, it starts here. That night, the Board of Zoning Appeals voted to allow a detox center, run by Peter Callahan, the psychotherapist, to occupy an unused commercial building in town.

    People in the hearing room cheered and cried and hugged one another.

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