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Mindy Shepler - Executive Vice President / Data Research Director

  After a bitter divorce and 6 months of living in my home with 2 cats, I decided to adopt a dog in need. Blondie came into my life as a 7.5 year old dog who had lost her family to a home foreclosure. On the way out to see my friends get married in Northern NJ, I drove out to Burlington County to meet Blondie and it was a match! A week later I made the 5 hour round trip to pick her up and bring her home. I later found out that I was the only person who had met her that she had liked. She had shied away from everyone else. It had been meant to be! She brought happiness to me after a bitter divorce and I found myself smiling again.

Only 3 months later, something became terribly wrong. Her rear feet started to turn under and I thought she'd injured herself while I was at work. After months of back and forth visits to the vet, she had an MRI that revealed 5 disc herniation's. Thinking that was her issue she underwent surgery. Fear turned to hope..then fear again as she suffered a setback. Then there was hope again as a second surgery was performed. She never recovered..and just kept declining. All hope was lost as a second neurologists diagnosed her with the one disease I truly feared. Blondie had DM.

Her Facebook page that had been set up to chronicle her recovery would now chronicle an insidious decline. Determined to not let her battle be in vain, I began videotaping some of the ways she and I coped with the disease so that others may benefit from what her and I were experiencing. I revamped and re-opened my DM awareness group and spent countless hours researching and adding links to a multitude of documents as a way to archive information. It was my way of coping with the disease as I watched what it did to Blondie.

Blondie lost her battle to DM on August 24, 2012 but her legacy lives on. The DM awareness group has over 1700 members. Both those who lost and as a support group for those who are fighting. I now foster special needs dogs who are suspected as having DM so they also may benefit from Blondie's supplies and the knowledge she gave to me. I made a promise to her as the final injection was being given that I'd fight for more funding of research..that I'd see the University of Florida's DM research funded again and that I'd spread awareness and education of DM to anyone and everyone. I'd never stop searching for the cure...her death would not be in vain. Handicapped Pets offered their wind -up toy to help raise awareness of DM with a portion of the proceeds going to DM research at the University of Florida and Blondie was featured in April 2013's issue of Life and Dogs magazine as #21 of 50 dogs who are changing the World for her help in raising awareness of DM. She also helped my local vet get her certification in Physical Therapy

About me : I am a divorced homeowner who lives in south central Pennsylvania with 2 cats, an adopted white GSD named Blanca, and a foster dog for Echo Dogs White Shepherd Rescue, Orion who is looking for his forever home.

I work full time, and am a part time college student on a break to recover from the loss of Blondie. I am training with Blanca in nose work and tracking. I lost my 13+ year old foster boy Bumble, on November 25, 2013 to cancer and complications from the possible DM that he had and on July 5, 2014, lost my special needs boy, Dakota James who had been DXed with DM, but had severe IVDD. I am often found on the DM Awareness Group, offering my tips and advice on how I dealt with and am dealing with DM, and special needs dogs. I am honored and proud to be asked to be on the Board in this momentous step forward on the road to finding a cure for the disease that shattered my life and stole my soulmate. I love you Blondie now and forever.

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