Nissa and Svana’s Journey

Delta County Animal Shelter in Escanaba, Michigan

The importance of an involved breed rescue group was recently displayed in Michigan. Elderly Icelandic Sheepdogs Nissa, age 16, and Svana, age 13, found themselves in a shelter after the sudden death of their owner, Bill. Family was not close by, so the Delta County Animal Shelter in Escanaba, Michigan took the girls in until Bill’s family could make decisions about their future.

Orphaned in Michigan’s UP

Friend and former neighbor David Grote first made their plight known to the Icelandic Sheepdog community on Facebook. It was universally upsetting to think of these two old girls losing their owner and home and ending up in a shelter. That’s hard for any dog, but especially ones that are so elderly. Both girls are originally from breeders Cheryl and Bill Shelton of Sand Creek Icelandics. Breeder Bill Shelton heard about their plight and offered to help in any way he could. It’s especially difficult for him because of the tragic death of his wife and co-breeder Cheryl and being located in Idaho. These dogs were “orphaned” in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. What could be done for them?

NISRA Steps In

Our wonderful breed rescue NISRA stepped in. Many volunteers began figuring out the logistics of transporting the girls from Escanaba to their temporary foster home in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This is an 8 hour drive each way in good weather, so no small task. People began brainstorming and volunteering and NISRA President Loren Dribinsky helped to organize them.

It Takes a Village

Many thanks to Elise Butler, who drove to Escanaba, spent the night, picked the elderly Icies up from the shelter, and brought them back down state. The Delta County Animal shelter released them to NISRA with the permission of owner Bill’s family. They are to be commended for the great care they took of Nissa and Svana. Thanks also to volunteer Mark Kerschner who drove the girls from Muskegon to Kalamazoo. In Kalamazoo, Moriah Schmidt and Jordan Swinkunas welcomed them into their home and fostered them for over a month. While there, the girls came down with kennel cough but made a good recovery under the care of Moriah and Jordan and their vet.

Working Out the Details

During the initial days after their owner Bill’s death, conversations with the deceased’s family were taking place. Bill’s son Justin and daughter-in-law Emily were willing to take the girls. However, life had become complicated by their very recent move to Missouri for a new job. It was worked out that the Icie girls would stay with Moriah and Jordan in Kalamazoo until after the Memorial for Bill. Then, Moriah and Jordan drove halfway to Missouri and met Justin for the Icie exchange. The girls knew Justin and his family as they used to live in close proximity to Bill, and cared for the Icie girls during their owner’s ill health. They were very happy to see Justin!

Home with Family at Last

Reports from Justin and Emily are that Nissa and Svana are doing great in their home in Missouri. I think the pictures tell the story! Thanks again to all who made this happy ending possible, including everyone who donates to NISRA (National Icelandic Sheepdog Rescue Alliance).

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