Memorials & Stories

Memorials & Stories

Abbey Capers



In Memory of a Friend at the Bridge
Raggs Monhart-Capers
May 18, 1986 (Gotcha Day) - December 16, 1998 (Bridge Day)

As written by Melinda in January 1999 after Raggs went to the Rainbow Bridge on December 16, 1998:

"On December 16, 1998 I sent the best friend I ever had to the Rainbow Bridge.  He will always hold the biggest spot in my heart.  He was the one constant in my  continually changing life.  

Raggs was a poodle/terrier mix that we brought home when I was in the sixth grade.  I still remember the first time I held him in my arms.  He was there when I moved from Cleveland to Brunswick, Ohio - a very traumatic move - all through my teenage years - the transition to life away at college - he was always there when I came home.  When I moved from Brunswick to Grove City, Ohio after graduating from college, Raggs came with me and lived here with me in our first apartment.  He was there when I got married, and then moved into the first home I have ever owned with my husband.  

While we were still living in our apartment, we adopted Maya, a red/white 10 month old basset hound female.  I was in love, and knew nothing about Bassets.  If only I knew then what I know now, however, the joys of learning about the basset mystique would not have been as adventurous.  Raggs hated Maya from day one.  After fourteen months of continually seperating both dogs day and night, I made the first most difficult decision of my life, to send Raggs back to live with my parents.  Their house was empty now because my brother was away at college and Raggs slid right back into his old routine.  I wanted to be selfish and keep him with me, however, that was not fair to him.

Raggs' health had slowly been deteriorating over the span of October - November.  I told my mom to get blood work, urinalysis and x-rays done to find out what was going on.  At age 14.5 yrs. old, we found out that Raggs was in the very beginning stages of kidney failure.  Everything they said would happen over the next year, happened within three weeks.  At 13 lbs. he dropped 3 lbs. in less than two weeks.  Continually sick, not eating, always going to the bathroom, we knew it was time.  This is the second most difficult decision I ever had to make.  It still pains my heart to think he's gone.  

Like someone said one time, even though something horribly upsetting has happened life still continues on as it was before, as if nothing had ever changed.  Christmas was very hard this year.  I was numb that day, I knew it had happened, and as I held him one last time, I wished him a swift journey to the bridge.  It didn't really hit me hard until the night I finally brought him home to be with me forever.  I went by myself and the rain was pouring down just as hard as the tears from my eyes.  I didn't want to let go, I just sat there and hugged him until my eyes were dry.

This was a very brave decision to make one vet told me.  I appreciated his honesty.  To all those of you who have someone at the bridge, there will be a terrier mix there now with a bark loud enough to wake them all up.  He learned to be a basset lover eventually.  Send an entra thought and bone cookie to him tonight, as bones were his favorite thing in the world.  If I could just hug him one more time."

Sexy Mabel

November 25, 1997 (Gotcha Day) - May 5, 1999 (Bridge Day) Sexy Mabel (stands for Mothers Always Bring Extra Love)

The following was written by Melinda C. Capers on Wednesday, May 5, 1999.

"She woke me up very early this morning to go outside, as she has done several times a night for the past couple of months.  Usually we wait for her on the futon that is by the back door because she will scratch on the door to let us know that she is ready to come in.  I must have fallen asleep right away because before I knew it, I heard my husband waking me up for work and I jumped up - realizing where I had fallen asleep and ran to the door to check on Mabel. She was curled up in her favorite spot on a rocking bench that we have on our back deck.  

She looked so very peaceful, and so comfortable at that very moment.  That was the very moment when I knew it was time.  She came into the house and only ate two bites of food, her eyes just stared straight through my heart.  
She looked so very tired, so tired, not sleepy tired, but the tired that said, "I don't have it in me to fight this battle any more."  I was always afraid that I wouldn't know when she was letting me know, but everyone was so right, I really believe that I did know.

As this is not an easy decision, I got in touch with my vet's office at 8 am.  I was told by the technician that our vet wouldn't be in until appointments started at 9 am and that there weren't any openings until 11:30 am.  They asked if I would mind waiting and could I come in then, I asked if there was any way I could come in now and they said no because they didn't want to push back any of the appointments that were already scheduled and they didn't want to have people see us coming and going (as they try to schedule any euthanasias with plenty of time around appointments).  I told her I would have to call back and I hung up.  

I called another vet whose office is right down the street from here and he also knows me personally because of the veterinary organization that I work for.  He was the first one that took care of Mabel when I first brought Sexy Mabel home from the pound in Greene County, Ohio where she was dumped in a night drop box at age seven.  Dr. Brick got her on her feet the first time around.  At 9:20 am she fell into eternal sleep in my arms.

I stayed with her for what seemed like forever."

Addendum to the above story:
On Friday, January 8, 1999, Mabel had a perianal mass removed from the left side of her hind end.  It was deep, inverted and pear shaped.  In the x-rays that were taken prior to this surgery, Mabel was found to have mild pulmonary edema (fluid near or around the heart) and mild congestive heart failure.  One week later, we received the biopsy results on the tumor that had been removed - "Histopathologic or Cytologic Diagnosis: Region of the left anal sac - moderately differentiated solid to acinar adenocarcinoma of the apocrine glands of the anal sac.  Biological Behavior/Comments:
Neoplastic cells extend to the margin of the section evaluated.  High chance
of recurrence if these represent the true surgical margins.   High chance of
metastasis.  These can cause hypercalcemia."

Mabel's fight for the next few months following that diagnosis was not an easy one, however, she continued to forge ahead while she still could.  On May 3 her condition took a bad turn.  That evening she was laying on the floor in her trademark Sexy Mabel pose with her freckled belly pointed to the sky.  We used to tell her to show us Sexy Mabel and she would roll over for a belly rub, just like that - which is how she got the "Sexy" part of her name.  I went to touch her stomach and it felt as hard as a rock.  We went to the vet first thing in the morning on May 4 and a tumor that had been suspected months ago had made its ugly appearance at 8" long and 6"
wide.  She also had a golf ball sized nodule growth by her spleen.

The experience of losing my childhood dog Raggs and Sexy Mabel in less than six months of each other was a very hard reality to face.  It reminded me of one of the largest animals I've ever bonded with and how he touched my life.  His name was Stosh and he was the Palomino horse that I rode through my beginning horseback riding lessons.  As a gift at Christmas in 1986, my Grandmother gave me a purple sweatshirt with Stosh's picture and name airbrushed on it.  I never felt so at one with Stosh as when I cantered with him bareback in an outdoor fenced arena.  That is true freedom.  My horse riding instructor always told me that she saw something in the way I was with animals and that I was one of the people that would never lose this.  
At 13 years old, I never thought much of that, but now I know exactly what she meant, and only wish that I will one day have as much wisdom as she bestowed upon me.

Raggs and Sexy Mabel started me on this path of learning from animals.  
After Mabel's journey to the Rainbow Bridge someone wrote to me and shared the following words, "Her eyes told you she loved you and you did love her, her eyes told you to be kind and you were kind....Mabel and you were joined at the hip - soul mates for a lifetime - you will meet again someday at that very special place called the Rainbow Bridge.....You will see her always in your dreams - coming to you with unconditional love!  Tonight the stars will shine extra brightly for there's a special little girl named Mabel who is the sexiest thing at the bridge.  The shooting star is in her honor so all basseteers will say another very sad Aroooo in her honor."

About a month after that another person sent me a message that said, "I believe that they are sent to the earth to teach us what it is to love.  
They are such great teachers that when they leave, the void they leave us is so great that we think that we cannot love again. Later, as the wound heals you realize even more what great teachers they are - we are ready to love again, but nonetheless, they are forever embedded in our heart....I bet that they are already scheming as to how they will greet us when it is our time to join them.  Until then...we wait and learn to love again."

These words gave me a lot of comfort at that time and still do to this day.
The one message that I can't find a copy of to this day, is the one message that had the absolute most profound effect.  This person told me that the dogs that we rescue only stay with us long enough to let us know that we have to go on and help the others.  Every time I think of those words, I get
goosebumps.   She was my greatest teacher, and she is the reason that I
continued to go on and help so many others.

This poem also was sent to me after Sexy Mabel went to the Rainbow Bridge:

"When somebody dies, a cloud turns into
an angel, and flies up to tell God
to put another flower on a pillow.
A bird gives the message back to
the world, and sings a silent prayer
that makes the rain cry.  People disappear, but they never really go away.
The spirits up there, put the sun to
bed, wake up grass, and spin the
earth in dizzy circles.  Sometimes you
can see them dancing in a cloud during
the day-time, when they're supposed
to be sleeping.  they paint the rainbows and also the sunsets and make waves splash and tug at the tide.
They toss shooting stars and listen to
wishes.  And when they sing wind-
songs, they whisper to us, don't
miss me too much.  The view is nice
and I'm doing just fine."

- Ashley

Sexy Mabel's time with us was all to short, but her impact was forever - from her stealing bagels from my backpack, to our very first trip ever to the Michigan Basset Rescue Waddle in May 1999 - she will forever be Sexy in my eyes and in my heart.

Shygirl Capers

Shygirl in the snow
Shygirl out having fun in the fresh new snow

Shygirl aka the Gummybear Princess aka Lars Shygirlmike’s story as told by her Mommy Melinda C. Capers

Shygirl (aka Lars Shygirlmike) was born April 1, 1992, the first born of seven pups, to Dark Eyed Girl and Emerald Blaze.

Baby Shygirl nursing from mumShygirl as a puppy
Shygirl as a baby

She was raised in Wisconsin where she had her first stellar career as a racing greyhound. A run in with a bad round of kennel cough in the kennel where she resided at the time brought about her first round of retirment at the age of four.

At seven years old, Shygirl and her brothers Tyler (ATB) and Nawty (ATB), decided a change of scenery was in order and with the help of Quad Cities Greyhound Adoption (formerly in Rock Island, Illinois), they relocated one at a time to the Buckeye state, Ohio. Shygirl was one of many "senior" aged greyhounds that were looking to relocate to foster homes throughout the midwest. I saw this note on the Greyhound-L and made arrangements with Kelly Graham to be a foster home for one of these seniors. Shygirl traveled with several other greyhounds on a GUR (Greyhound Underground Railroad) and arrived in northeast Ohio on Saturday, July 10, 1999. She then traveled to Grove City, Ohio where she remained in foster care just shy of two months.

On Monday, September 6, 1999, Ross told me that Shygirl wasn't going anywhere, that she was going to officially become part of the Capers family, although she already knew she wasn't going anywhere. Shygirl had Pele (ATB) worshiping the ground that she walked on. He adored her always.
Shygirl and Pele with mum
Shygirl, Pele, and Melinda

Shortly thereafter Shygirl started obedience classes once or twice, only to let me know that this trivial school stuff didn't amuse or entertain her in the least and she wanted nothing to do with it, so she dropped out to go onto other pursuits after she developed the keen attention span of a gnat. Shygirl was being asked to volunteer as the "test dog" on several occasions for the screening test administered by the Capital Area Humane Society to become a pet therapy dog with their group the Capital Canine Connection. Shygirl enjoyed the attention and meeting all the people and their dogs.

One day in fall of 2000, a dog didn't show up for their assigned testing time. Just to see how she would do, I asked if Shygirl could walk through a dry run of the test. After walking Shygirl through a "mock" test, she did well enough that they passed her on the spot for acceptance into their program at Children's Hospital. She went on to volunteer with Children's Hospital for nearly six years. In January 2004, Shygirl began a one and a half year period of volunteering with Odyssey Healthcare to visit with several hospice patients.

In September 2001, Shygirl & her adopted brother Pele, traveled with Shygirl's brother Tyler,and his greyt siblings Peanut and Jake, via RV with their humans to a greyhound reunion in Illinois. This was a very special reunion with the people that loved and cared for Shygirl and Tyler both. We also visited the place they called home during their days in Wisconsin. The Lazaris family will always hold a special place for us and what they share with us through both Shygirl and Tyler.

In April 2005, Shygirl celebrated her 13th birthday, while Pele celebrated his 12th birthday at a "by invitation only" birthday party at a privately owned dog park in central Ohio. This birthday gala invitation was designed by Shygirl's own Auntie Anne. My attire was provided by none other than Shygirl's own Auntie Anita, while Shygirl & Pele's bandana attire was designed by bandana seamstress extraordinaire Auntie Sharon. We paid a special silent tribute that day to Shygirl's brother Tyler, who is dearly missed.

From October 2005 through February 2006, Shygirl participated in a specially designed therapy/rehab program customized just to suit her special aging needs. Special thanks to Drs. Tod Beckett, Tami Shearer, and Amanda for taking such special care of our girl and assisting in keeping her flexible and mobile.
Shygirl's hydrotherapy
Shygirl's hydrotherapy to help keep her limber.

In the warm weather, Shygirl spent her Saturday afternoons taking a dip in the pond at BarkPark, the private dog park where she was a member for several years. She often came to work with me, and her food was delivered right to our front door by Kelly at Duke's Natural Products For Pets.

In March 2006, we celebrated Shygirl's Second Retirement with a nod to St. Patrick’s Day. Shygirl commissioned a special coloring book to commemorate this event complete with holiday related activities for the children and a photo spread of a few of her favorite outfits.

A very special volunteer greeted us at the door that evening, one whose presence we were not expecting. He was promptly greeted with a hug from me, and it was hard not to have his presence bring tears to my eyes. His name is Steve and for all of her years at Children's Hospital, he has been affectionately known as Shygirl's boyfriend. Steve told Shygirl that there was no way he would have missed it. From the first time she saw Steve, Shygirl was always tickled to see him. He always spoke to her in the most gentle voice, stroked her with a tender hand, and tended to her as the diva she knew she would always be.

Shygirl began the day after her retirement celebration with a bit of a rough start. She recuperated at home after having her remaining teeth (only five or six) removed. At this time, she was dubbed the "Gummybear Princess” by her dearest Auntie Anne and the name stuck.

She then won the April 2006 photo contest on, with a whopping 193 votes. Her prize was a “ruby” and “diamond” encrusted collar and lots of treats. Her photo was featured on their web site with her latest glamour accessory.
Shygirl wearing rubies
Shygirl modeling her new ruby necklace and hat

In 2006, we also learned that Children's Hospital would feature Shygirl's photo of her perfectly pink Jeanie costume in the "November 2006" section of their calendar.
Classic Shygirl... Pretty in Pink!!!

She was at the point in her life at which most greyhound people would refer to as a Golden Oldie. I read the following quote one day, "Everyone is the age of their heart". That's how I would always describe Shygirl's heart. The winter and cooler weather brought out her frisky playful side. The warmer weather brought days lounging on the deck for hours at a time. On one of the greyhound web sites that I frequent ( there is a section on senior and special needs dogs that included the following description, "With age comes sassiness, and silliness and sexiness; and these gals have that in abundance." Shygirl will forever and always be one of these girls.

I treasured each and every day with her, and continued to be bedazzled by her personality, heart and soul. Every moment is a gift and to have shared this gift with her, means more than I could ever explain in words. My special girl, with the heartfelt connection, and grace beyond any I've ever known.

As I said to her each and every evening when she started her nightly round of barking orders at us, "Who's sweet, sexy, sassy and fine?" and of course, she gave a resounding reply, as if to say, "Yes, that's me and don't you ever forget it."

As I said to her each night before we went to bed, and each morning before I went to work, when I bent over her head, looked into her eyes, and kissed the bridge of her nose, "Shygirl, I'll love you always."
Shygirl with mummy
Shygirl enjoying never ending love from mum

In May 2007, just six weeks after her 15th birthday, I wished a swift and peaceful journey on my angel's way to get her wings after a losing battle with laryngeal paralysis.

She graced our life with her presence, and commanded the attention of all that surrounded her. Remember with me, hug your hounds, light a candle, and do as I did each and every day, and as I held her in my arms for her final journey - kiss all your hounds, and look them in the eye and repeat the following as I did to Shygirl, "I'll love you always."

For me – Shygirl - my sweet grey girl, my heart aches for you until we are together once again, fly free sweet angel, for "I have seen beauty but none to match your living grace".


Please visit our Photo Gallery for more photos of Shygirl.

Tangerine Capers

Tangerine finally enjoying the good life in her new forever home

Tangerine came to the Capital Area Humane Society (CAHS) in July 2006 after she and eight other cats and one dog were rescued from an environment that was neither safe nor sanitary.

Tangerine was not very healthy when she arrived at the Humane Society. She had matted hair and sores around her face and eyes. After a few weeks to recuperate Tangerine became an office foster cat in the CAHS Animal Law Enforcement/Cruelty Investigations office and that is where she would soon meet her new adoptive mother.
Tangerine with mum
Tangerine was "honored" as the "Feature Cat" for the March 2007 CAHS Celebrity Chef event.

Melinda Capers was a committee member on a CAHS special event and became fascinated with Tangerine's personality and kind heart. "During the meetings she would jump onto the middle of the table and stroll around and if you weren't careful, you might find her climbing right into your purse or bag for a closer look," said Melinda. However, what really made Melinda fall in love with Tangerine was her desperation to be a mother to a litter of stuffed kittens. This was as a result of a fellow office mate who had a real litter of kittens that Tangerine was not allowed to care for, so Tangerine found her own litter to tend to. "She eventually began gathering her own brood of babies by gently removing and carrying a group of tuxedo beanie bagy stuffed kitties and nesting them as if they were her very own,"
said Melinda.

After the event was complete and the committee meetings were over, Melinda realized that she missed Tangerine's quirkiness. In November 2006, Melinda and her husband, Ross, decided to take Tangerine home as a foster kitty. They soon realized just how perfect she fit into the family. Tangerine became a permanent member of the Capers' clan in January 2007.

"The day I brought Tangerine home to foster her, I also brought her little brood of tuxedo kitty babies with her, and they remain with her to this day. We never know from one day to the next where she will move one of her babies within the house. It's fun to wake up or come home and find them in different random locations. It is always one at a time, and never the same one, or all of them at once. This is one of the traits about her that I find the most endearing of all," said Melinda.

"She sleeps in bed with us every night and purrs like she has a motor running," said Melinda. "I couldn't imagine our family without her."


Please visit our Photo Gallery for more photos of Tangerine.