A Complicated Life
And congratulations to Dr. Nelsen
— Edited by Diane Turner, President of NGWPR
My name is Leslie Dye and I have been the treasurer for National German Wirehaired Pointer Rescue for the past three years. I live on a 35-acre-farm between Dayton and Cincinnati Ohio with my husband, Brian and two GWPs, Neko and Ziggy.
The Early Years
I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and was lucky to grow up with my parents and my two older brothers on a 116 acre farm in southern Indiana.
While we did not need to farm the land to survive, we had cattle, horses, dogs, cats, a pond, ducks, a huge garden, and vineyards. I learned how to care for animals, fix fence, and can and freeze vegetables.
And although our home was in a rural area our parents made certain that we often went to Cincinnati to enjoy operas, plays, and nice dining. Our family was considered to be unusual because we traveled to other cities and states and made trips to Cincinnati often.
My father was a chemical engineer with an MBA. He was organized, good at math, and loved music. He was the best dancer I have ever danced with. He played the banjo, and sang in the community musical theater. Like him, I love to sing, like math, and am very organized most of the time. My father was one of my favorite people. He passed away in 2006.
My mother was a teacher with a degree in Botany. She recently turned 96 and is still mentally sharp, but her body is failing. My mother loves animals, sports, the outdoors, and is gifted with language. I have always had a surprising love for all animals and also a love for language. I love writing, editing and reading. But my mother was always very disorganized, she can’t do math, nor can she carry a tune.
Despite their differences they complimented each other and were a great match. My skills and view of the world reflect both of my parents.
Growing up, my brothers and I each had our own dogs and like us each of the dogs had a distinct personality. My dog was a German Shephard named “Puella,” Latin for girl. She was my best friend throughout my childhood. My mother still tells stories of me dressing her up and having tea parties with her. I had a cat and a horse and adored every animal on the farm. I can still think of each of the animals I had in the past and cry. I loved them all.
Today, if I see a dead animal on the side of the road it disturbs me so much that I’ll go out of my way to drive home another way to avoid seeing it again.
I had two uncles who were physicians and one who was a veterinarian. As long as I can remember, I wanted to be a physician. For a brief period, I considered becoming a veterinarian, but I can’t stand to see animals suffer. I know that sounds terrible! I think it is because I can explain to humans what is happening, but I can’t tell an animal why they are in pain.
Both of my brothers became physicians, so it seemed natural that I too would choose that path.
After my sophomore year in high school, my father was transferred to Kansas for a job as a plant manager of a Sherwin-Williams. We moved into the suburbs with a fenced yard.
My parents kept the farm and rented it to a woman who had children. At that time, Puella was older and I made one of the most difficult decisions of my life. I decided it would be better for my dog to stay on the farm. The woman who rented the farm happily agreed to care for Puella.
We did take one of our dogs with us to Kansas and he was miserable being confined to the a yard. So I knew that I had made the right decision.
It was in the days before the internet when a telegram arrived telling me that Puella had passed away. I still have that telegram and whenever I see it I become teary-eyed.
While I was devastated to change high schools, it turned out to be a good thing. The high school I attended in Kansas was much better and gave me many more opportunities.
Post high school
After high school graduation I attended the University of Kansas where I did my undergraduate and medical school studies. I still consider myself a Jayhawk, especially during basketball season! I’m sure everyone remembers the Jayhawks winning the NCAA championship in 2022. Rock chalk, Jayhawk!
I returned to Ohio to do my residency in Emergency Medicine in Cincinnati. I chose that specialty because in all of my other rotations I got too close to patients and too emotionally involved.
I completed a medical toxicology fellowship and still love anything to do with poisons, including snakes, spiders, poisonous plants and mushrooms. I became a faculty member in Dayton at a medical school in 1999.
I had married and was teaching there when my first husband, Michael, died in a car accident on his way to work. At that time, we had four dogs — two Norwegian Elkhounds, a black lab mix, and a Golden Retriever. The youngest of the dogs was a Norwegian Elkhound, Newton.
Michael had given Newton to me, and after Michael’s death I was so distraught that Newton became my constant companion. I had trouble going anywhere without Newton. He comforted me.
At that time, my world had been turned upside down. Although I was still actively involved with clinical medicine, I felt the need for a career shift and I moved into medical publishing, and eventually becoming the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Medical Toxicology. I wrote for local publications, and eventually published a toxicology textbook.
I began working in addiction medicine and eventually became board certified in that specialty too. Now I practice addiction medicine full time, which I love. However, I still get emotionally involved.
Often times people who are members of dog clubs or work with rescues become active with rescues after taking part in a dog activity or sport. Though we had several dogs growing up, our family was never involved with dog sports or any dog activities. However, several of my family members were avid polo players. My uncle was an excellent polo player and my cousin still plays, sometimes professionally. My father was a referee and announcer and my brother played. I enjoyed the games because polo is such an exciting sport to watch. I broke my wrist falling from a horse at age 5, so I was never an expert horsewoman.
During school I played many sports, but my primary sport in high school was tennis.
In 2001, I became friends with the cousin of my late husband’s best friend, Brian Dye. While we had different educational backgrounds and experiences, we had the same values and both came from close families.
Brian works in construction and painting and has his own business. Our friendship blossomed after several rides on his Harley-Davidson, and we started dating. Eighteen months after we met, we married in Rancho Mirage, California with nine people in attendance.
Our First GWP
It was at my aunt and uncle’s that we fell in love with their Wire. She had a litter and one of the female puppies, Emma, came home with us. We adored her. She either ran away or was stolen in 2006 (the year my father died) and we were heartbroken.
I didn’t really know much about purchasing dogs or dog breeding, but I looked on Petfinder. And through a Texas rescue group we found a young registered female GWP. The dog was owned by a Mexican couple who lived just over the border. They had gotten her as a puppy and she was well-cared for and well-loved. The wife was pregnant and they just didn’t feel they had enough room in their small house or enough time for the Wire so they had contacted the Texas rescue for help to find the dog a home.
I spoke with the rescue group and we arranged to have the dog flown to Ohio. When I picked her up at the airport, I said, “this is like going on a blind date to your wedding!”
The Wire had never been mistreated or neglected. The couple sent us puppy pictures and sent all of her vet records. Brian had never had his own dog. We named the young dog Heidi, and she immediately chose to become Brian’s special companion. They totally adored each other. Heidi was a typical bossy Wire, loving but strong-willed.
My First Real Rescue
In 2014 I was on Facebook and saw a pitiful photo of a GWP in Waverly, Tennessee that was 30 pounds underweight with sores on his feet, who spent his short life on a chain outside in all weather.
A small rescue group was able to get possession of him and started his healing. With just that photo and speaking to the rescue, I decided to drive three hours each way to get him.
When I arrived, I was shocked at how big this dog was, and he still needed to gain weight. I had a large crate with nice blankets and a dog bed inside. Instead, the dog rode next to me in the front passenger seat. On the way home, I stopped for gas and looked at his papers and his dam’s name was “Jayhawker!” I knew at that moment it was meant to be.
He was from a breeder in Kansas. He was 9 months old and it didn’t take long to know that he would become my soul dog. Neko is named after Neko Harbour in Antarctica. Today he is 10 years old, weighs 90 pounds, and I love him so much it hurts.
After we got Neko, I started looking at rescue sites and found the NGWPR page on Facebook and saw posts from Suzanne Oslander. I started donating and started communicating with her. I was totally amazed at how kind, smart and selfless Suzanne is and I wanted to help.
Suzanne posted on Facebook that NGWPR needed a treasurer, so I volunteered. Although I have volunteered and donated to other organizations, NGWPR is the closest to my heart and passion. I have learned so much from the board members about breeding, obedience, dog health, and more.
What I love about our organization is the ethical standards we keep and how we always do what is best for the dog, the fosters, and adopters. I love that we don’t turn away a dog because it is injured or sick.
I am happy to say that Suzanne has become one of my best friends.
The biggest rescue challenge for me is when I hear how horribly some people treat dogs, even though we understand that sometimes it’s a case of neglect from lack of knowledge. My first instinct is to just bury my head so I don’t have to hear about something that breaks my heart. But I know that action is the answer. In addition to doing the treasurer’s duty I help when I can with other tasks.
I suggested we do a blog and I oversee and often write it. The Doc story is one that I will never forget. I can’t think about it or look at his photo without crying, but writing that blog was an honor. The sad stories make me want to do more for this amazing breed and all dogs.
I donate and also help with the auction event NGWPR hosts during National Specialty week.
My future dream for the organization is to have a full-time, funded coordinator position. I can’t believe how much of the volunteer work that gets done by people who work full-time.
Something most people don’t know about me is that I am an Antarctica addict. I have done eight trips there. After my first trip as a tourist there in 2010, I have had the privilege to travel to Antarctica to support tourists as the physician on the ship. I also love true crime and attended Crimecon last year. With a wife who is a medical toxicologist and avid crime follower, my husband sleeps with one eye open!
Congratulations, Dr. Nelson!
Congratulations to Dr. Robin Nelson, who was named the 2022 Veterinarian of the Year by the Nebraska Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Nelson frequently helps NGWPR with veterinary questions, and she reviews the laboratory testing for Project Hope, our hypothyroidism screening project. Not only a great veterinarian, but a wonderful human!
National GWP Rescue is a nationwide rescue program whose volunteers work tirelessly to provide funding, foster homes, medical care and training for GWPs found in shelters, animal control facilities and to those GWPs whose current owners are unable to provide a suitable situation.
Working hand- in-hand with governmental and local shelters, NGWPR provides a safe and responsible home for GWP’s in need. Placed with an experienced GWPCA member, fostered GWPs that have been neglected, untrained or have medical issues quickly blossom as they are readied for their “forever” homes.
Prior to releasing our rescued GWPs for adoption, volunteers provide obedience, manners, and house training. We hold to the philosophy that a mannerly dog has a better chance of fitting into a new household.
NGWPR believes that Wires were designed to hunt and unlike some other rescue programs, we are happy to place dogs with field experience or bird instinct with potential owners who enjoy hunting behind a Wire. However, NGWPR insists that any rescue dog first be a house dog and companion, then a weekend hunting partner.
Please go to our website to learn more.