Blazer’s Guardian Angels
Honor or Memorialize A Beloved Pet
A few months after losing their first grey Blazer last year, Cher and Chip Imrie started Blazer’s Guardian Angels — a special program whereby donors cover all of the medical expenses required to get an Injured Reserve GALT grey fully healthy and available for adoption. They decided that Blazer would be the “guardian angel” for Victoria, and they hoped that he would inspire others to sponsor additional GALT greys.
Chip & Cher Imrie
Jim and Donna Johnson were deeply touched when they heard about the Blazer’s Guardian Angels program. All three of their GALT greys traveled to the Rainbow Bridge in 2014 – Jesse and Booker in January, just a week apart, and Alvarae in December.
“We have wonderful memories of our association with GALT and the greyhounds who became part of our life,” wrote Donna and Jim. They adopted Alvarae in 2004, and answered GALT’s pleas for fosters the following year. After fostering and adopting out several other GALT greys, they “foster failed” in 2006 with Jesse, a gentle boy who was a perfect match for his alpha sister. In 2011, Jesse’s litter mate Booker was returned to GALT at age 11 – so Jim and Donna discovered the joy of adopting a Super Senior. After hearing about the Blazer’s Guardian Angel program, they decided to sponsor three greys – George, Jena, and Jeff, in memory of their three Rainbow Bridge angels. They wrote that doing so “is our way of continuing the memory of our happy hounds and honoring the work of many to continue the mission No Grey Turned Away.”
Angel Alvarae, aka Ling Ling
George with adopter
Jim & Donna Johnson
Sandra Lyman was also inspired to join the Blazer’s Guardian Angels program recently. She has sponsored a couple of her former fosters, Dosey and Audrey, in memory of her beloved Adrienne and her Basset puppy Abby. All of the GALT greys in this program get a special GALT tag with the name and Rainbow Bridge date of his or her Blazer’s Angel on the back.
Anna adopted Zacchaeus (aka Zac) on May 5, 2012 — just after his first birthday. Zac had broken his leg on the greyhound farm and the repair had failed, which ultimately resulted in an amputation of the leg. Anna, a veterinarian with an affinity for special needs animals, was happy to give Zac a chance at a better life. It was love at first sight, and Zac quickly stole Anna’s heart. However, after just a year in her home, Zac developed some serious medical issues, resulting in two surgeries to remove tumors. When the symptoms returned after the second surgery, Anna knew it was time to say goodbye. “At 23 months old, I lost the dog I still call the love of my life,” she says. “He was the easiest dog to have and the hardest dog to say goodbye to.” Anna is proud to sponsor Lyza in memory of her precious angel Zacchaeus, who traveled to the Rainbow Bridge at such a tender age.
After previously sponsoring three greys in the Blazer’s Angels program in memory of their three Rainbow Bridge Angels (as noted above), Jim and Donna Johnson decided to sponsor two more hounds, in memory of GALT’s Cactus and Bobbi. Cactus and Bobbi were with GALT for very short periods, as they arrived in our care with very serious medical issues. They were loved briefly, but intensely, by the entire GALT family. We are truly grateful to Donna and Jim for honoring Cactus and Bobbi by paying for the medical expenses for Davis and Zelda.
Cher and Chip Imrie, who initiated the Blazer’s Angels Program (see beginning of this article), also decided to sponsor two more greys – Zibian and Pansy — in memory of their Bridge Angel Silvia. Sweet Silvia was one senior gal who could rock a hat! Deepest thanks to Cher and Chip for continuing to contribute to Blazer’s legacy.
Barb and Andy Berner have fostered numerous greys, starting even before GALT was founded in 2001. Many have touched their hearts, and several have become “foster failures.” But they knew that Leia was very special and that she deserved to be honored by their beloved Gaea in the Blazer’s Guardian Angel program. Leia came to GALT with some serious heart issues which required multiple surgeries, including several procedures at Texas A&M. The Berners helped GALT raise significant funds via Facebook, PayPal and other fundraisers, and they stepped up to personally match this amount, covering all of Leia’s medical expenses to date.
Leia’s Angel Gaea, aka Gaea Gorgeous Girl Greyhound, was a beautiful fawn who “started it all” for the Berners many years ago. Gaea was severely thunder-phobic and very sensitive to light, sound and barometric changes. Fortunately, she loved car rides, and this was the best way to console her during thunderstorms. Barb says that Gaea was “the most loving, forgiving girl” who never met a stranger. When she and Andy returned home from an absence, they were always met by Gaea with a toy in her mouth. Even after long walks, Gaea would still run zoomies in the yard. This very special girl is the perfect Blazer’s Guardian Angel for her fawn sister Leia!
We asked, and you responded! Lori and Bill Elmer answered the call and kicked off Tag Team #1 for the Blazer’s Angel program – and they were soon joined by Cheryl and Greg Stephens, and Barb and Ron Christian. These three couples donated a total of $3,000 to help defray the medical expenses for GALT’s Atlas, who is recovering from surgery for his broken leg.
This GALT program was initiated by Cher and Chip Imrie several years ago in memory of their first grey, Blazer.
Rock Elmer — TGA Austin
(May 1987 – December 2000)
Striker Stephens – GALT #915
(July 2003 – December 2016)
Hondo Christian – GALT #902
(September 2002 – March 2013)
Rock “started it all” for Bill and Lori. A stunning black male and star athlete, Rock raced for five years and then headed straight for the Elmer couch. Bill and Lori wanted to participate in Blazer’s Angels because they know firsthand how expensive broken legs can be. One of their current GALT greys, Sage, recently went through a similar surgery. She is happily recovered now and enjoying life with her brother, GALT’s Marcus.
Stryker (aka GALT’s Striker) was also an accomplished athlete who won 8 of his 74 races and placed in many others. He immediately became the alpha dog when he joined two young Labradors in the Stephens pack. He was a perfect gentleman on a leash and an amazing companion for Greg and Cheryl for 9 years, leaving them with countless cherished memories.
Hondo (aka “Watch Your Mouth”) won 16 of his 125 races, but his biggest accomplishment was introducing Ron and Barb to the wonderful world of greyhounds. Hondo was one very laid-back grey who got along famously with a long parade of fosters, as long as they didn’t try to eat from his food bowl. Ron and Barb are proud to honor the memory of their special boy by joining Blazer’s Angels Tag Team #1 with Bill, Lori, Greg and Cheryl!
Sweet Penny is well known to the GALT family. She was found as a stray near Mansfield with a gunshot wound in one leg and another leg injury which required a very complicated surgery. Penny is thriving now as a “tripod” with her foster parents, Barb and Andy Berner. The Berners recently joined with two other couples — Neil & Joannie Alcorn and John & Susie McQuade – to form Blazer’s Guardian Angels Tag Team #2. This team of Penny fans donated a total of $3,000 to help defray her medical expenses. This GALT program was initiated by Cher and Chip Imrie several years ago in memory of their first grey, Blazer.
Radar Berner – GALT 1569
(July 2008 – July 2014)
Caroline Alcorn – GALT 1475
(April 2005 – March 2020)
(March 1995 – January 2009)
Radar (aka GALT’s Rod), affectionately known as Radar the Paintar, was a multi-talented boy, named for his extraordinary ears. Radar was the quintessential therapy dog – intuitive, sensitive and patient – bringing joy to many Assisted Living residents, and calming down a number of anxious college students during exam week. He loved to wear clothes, especially his signature red artist’s beret. The sale of Radar’s paintings raised significant funds for other greyhounds in need. He earned his Canine Good Citizenship and Therapy Dog certifications, and even attended free-style dance classes! The thing the Berners miss most about Radar is his nose peeking through the blinds anticipating their arrival home. This extraordinary grey was gone too soon, but he fit in a lot of living in six short years.
Caroline (aka “Sweet Caroline”) immediately won the heart of anyone and everyone she met; she was the friendliest, sweetest girl imaginable. “Care” settled into her well-earned retirement from the very beginning and could always be counted on to bring a smile with her gentle spirit. She also became a teacher, big sister, and mentor to Lucy – one of the “Greyt 8” puppies — when she bounced into the Alcorn home. Caroline touched the souls and hearts of Neil and Joannie at the deepest level and will be missed greatly by them and their sweet Lucy. The Alcorns are honored to join the Berners and McQuades in sponsoring “Penny Precious” in the Blazer’s Guardian Angels program.
Bob (aka Dox Bob Wire) was GALT’s poster boy for many years as the ultimate “retired athlete.” His career prior to retirement consisted of 193 races in West Memphis, Arkansas and Corpus Christi, Texas. Bob’s original breeder and owner was Dr. Mike Herron, who was head of the orthopedic department at Texas A&M for many years. Mike loved Bob and spoke to the McQuades often about his special boy. Bob had the most expressive ears, and his personality was calm, friendly and engaging – the perfect “Ambassadog.” John and Susie have many cherished remembrances of Bob with GALT’s Honorary Chairman, Craig Ludwig.
Angel Shelby – aka GALT’s Rosa, #2322
(11/1/12 – 7/22/19)
Chris and Rita provided the following comments regarding their decision to honor Shelby by sponsoring Gumdrop:
“We adopted Shelby in 2015. She was our second GALT greyhound and came home with her housemate, Fleet. She was instantly the light of Chris’ life. She charmed everyone she met and never met a stranger. When we would go to the vet, she was “on” and all of the staff came running to see her.
Sadly, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2018. We immediately started an aggressive fight – radiation, chemo and finally amputation. After a protracted recovery from the amputation, we were ready to start another course of treatment. However, it had metastasized in her lungs and eventually spread to other organs. We lost her last year in July. And her presence is sorely missed.
We helped transport Gumdrop to a handoff with another driver. She was so sweet even though the pain must have been awful. We knew we could help her so we sponsored her in loving memory of Shelby.”
Shelby & Chris
An anonymous donor has stepped up to honor the memory of Jackie Pinson’s Rainbow Bridge Angel Princess Toolip, by sponsoring GALT’s Lydia in the Blazer’s Guardian Angels program. As of November 9, 2020, Lydia has been waiting for over three months for a foster home, and she cannot start her heartworm treatment until she finds that special foster family.
Comments from the anonymous donor family: “We have followed Vinny’s adventures on Facebook and through him came to know Princess Toolip. Along with so many, we were devastated by Toolip’s tragic snake encounter. Having gone through losing several pups as well as a kitty a few years ago, we understood the importance of wanting a special way to remember those babies. GALT’s Blazer’s Guardian Angels program seemed like a great way to honor Toolip’s memory while helping an injured reserve pup. With Princess Toolip watching over her, we hope that beautiful Lydia can find a foster home so she can begin heartworm treatment and move along on her journey to find her forever family.”
Angel Princess Toolip – GALT #2201
(2/24/12 – 10/19/20)
Jackie provided the following comments: “GALT’s Tulip came to us as a foster but eventually became a member of the family and morphed into Princess Toolip. Her history is unknown, as she was double tattooed and found in West Texas with a hip injury that plagued her throughout her life. Toolip developed a quirky side and lived up to the Princess part of her name. Treats were to be delivered to her slumber ball, while watching her brother Vinny do tricks for his treats. She LOVED car rides and taking naps outside under the stars, often with a stuffie for a pillow. At any greyhound gathering she would race like the wind and smile all the while.
Toolip suffered a stroke in May 2017. She fought like the warrior princess she was, and with a lot of work she made a full recovery. On October 17, 2020, my precious girl was bitten in the mouth by a copperhead snake. Her throat swelled and she was put on a ventilator. After two rounds of anti-venom we thought she had turned the corner, but she developed fluid around her heart. Princess Toolip made her way to the Rainbow Bridge on October 19th. Her humans and her beloved brother Vinny miss her terribly, but we are very touched that the memory of our precious Princess Toolip has been honored and preserved in such a meaningful way by such a thoughtful and generous donation.”
Jackie with Lydia and Vinny
New Milestones in Blazer’s Guardian Angels Program!
When Cher & Chip Imrie started the Blazer’s Guardian Angels (BGA) program in memory of their Rainbow Bridge angel Blazer in September 2016, they had no idea how well the idea would spread in the GALT community, and how much money would be raised to cover medical expenses for Injured Reserve greys. This month, less than five years from inception, the program hit a special milestone — a cumulative donation total of over $40K! Most of the participants in the BGA program are individuals or couples, but a few GALT donors have pooled their efforts to form “Tag Teams” to sponsor GALT greys with significant medical expenses.
Chip and Cher Imrie (in back with Andy Berner) are joined by Barb Berner, Hope Kahan and Suri at a recent party celebrating the BGA program.
Hope Kahan recently initiated BGA Tag Team #3 in memory of her sweet Princess Leia, and she was quickly joined on the team by Leia’s foster parents, Barb & Andy Berner. The Berners had previously honored their angels Gaea and Radar in the program, and now they are honoring the memory of their foster Aspen. Their current foster, Suri, is being sponsored by BGA Tag Team #3.
Angel Leia – GALT #2806
(4/16 est. – 6/10/21)
Angel Aspen – GALT #3358
(10/14/17 – 5/21/21)
The BGA celebration included another milestone. All three of Hope’s GALT greys – Leia, Penny Precious and Lyza June were sponsored in the BGA program. Leia is the first BGA recipient to give back to the program by becoming a Blazer’s Guardian Angel for another GALT grey. The Imries were very touched by this special milestone, saying “It has always been our hope to see the BGA program create a perpetual cycle of giving. We are thrilled that Hope and the Berners are honoring the memories of Leia and Aspen, two very special GALT greys.” Hope Kahan provided the following comments:
“The Princess Leia is one of three GALT saluki-grey girls I adopted, all of whom have Blazer’s Guardian Angels and all of whom were fostered and lovingly cared for by Barbara and Andy Berner. Leia helped shy Lyza June build her confidence and she was Penny’s best friend as Penny recovered from surgeries. She showed them both how to be light and joyful with her gentle sweetness. The decision to join together with the Berners to sponsor their latest foster, Suri, in honor of angels Leia and Aspen, was easy. The joy these girls have brought to my life is immeasurable and I am so grateful to Cher and Chip Imrie for starting this program and to GALT and the Berners for taking such wonderful care of these girls!”
Barb and Andy Berner added some additional insight into their decision to join Hope on Tag Team #3:
“Such a gentle, happy soul was Aspen. She was so full of enthusiasm that she got tangled in the lure wire at the track. The lines of the wire were clearly visible around her leg. Apparently the damage was so great that the track vet amputated her leg, but just above her ankle. She was left constantly trying to put it down, to no avail. That didn’t stop her from prancing around the yard, however! It was apparent that the leg was not doing well, even before it was obvious that the rest of the leg would require amputation. Despite complete bloodwork a week prior to surgery, she was apparently incubating a systemic infection. As a result, Aspen never recovered from the amputation surgery. It is quite clear that Heaven was in need of a young, happy, enthusiastic angel. She was only in a foster home for a week, but so dearly loved and missed. Her memory is a blessing and her life is honored by being a Blazer’s Guardian Angel to another foster, Suri, whose racing career was cut short by a compound leg fracture.”
Jill has a Blazer’s Guardian Angel!
Slate fka GALT’s Corpus, beloved grey of Rita and Chris Wulke, passed away suddenly on 9/6/21. In the midst of their grief, the Wulkes focused on assisting another grey as a way to honor the memory of their special boy. When Rita and Chris heard the story of Jill, they knew she was the Injured Reserve grey they wanted to sponsor in GALT’s Blazer’s Guardian Angels program. Jill was in poor health when she was dumped in a rural property in Wharton, TX. She has been in GALT’s care since early November 2020, and she is still undergoing heartworm treatment after almost ten months.
Angel Slate – aka GALT’s Corpus, #2153
(11/1/10 – 9/6/21)
Jill – GALT #3269
Chris and Rita provided the following comments:
Slate was our first GALT dog. Our male greyhound, Hawk, had passed away the year before, and we decided the house needed another male to go with our Ava. We were very lucky that Jennifer and David Vilches were fostering him and could attest to his demeanor. We adopted him at the GALT birthday party in 2014. He slotted right in and even tolerated the addition of more hounds, including his nephew Chill (GALT’s Armani) last year. We asked the trainer what he could tell us about Slate, and he replied that he was just always the sweetest boy. He definitely was. Slate loved his food, a good car ride with a stop at Dairy Queen, and playing with Chris. He is missed in so many ways especially by his little buddy, Fleet. Rest well, sweet Slate. You’ve certainly earned it.
Another New Milestone for Blazer’s Guardian Angels — $60K!
GALT’s Injured Reserve (IR) greys with significant medical expenses often tug at the heartstrings of our generous donors. Three of GALT’s IR dogs (pictured above) – Bernadette, Emma, and Sophia – recently caught the eyes of Nicholas Cook & Ryan Zhang – and also Rick & Linda Vayo. Within a day of each other, Nicholas, Ryan and the Vayos formed Blazer’s Guardian Angels Tag Team #4 and submitted enough funds to cover all of the medical costs for these three special hounds. . With these gifts, the Blazer’s Guardian Angels (BGA) program has now raised over $60,000 to help GALT’s IR greys!
Nicholas and Ryan are honoring the memory of their first grey Jane, and the Vayos made their donation in memory of their Rainbow Bridge Angels Amanda and Emmet. The Vayos had previously initiated the Amanda and Emmet Golden Years Fund to help GALT raise money for senior greys, who are often difficult to place for adoption.
Nicholas Cook and Cher & Chip Imrie pose with Sophia, Bernadette and Emma.
Foster Moms Julie Waller, Theresa Barnett and Melody McLaughlin are pictured with the three guests of honor!
Bernadette, Emma and Sophia were presented with their special pink “Angel Tags” at a Houn House celebration on December 2nd. Ryan and the Vayos could not be present, but they were represented by Cher and Chip Imrie, who initiated the BGA program in 2016 in memory of their first grey, Blazer. Also in attendance were the wonderful foster moms for these three special IR greys.
The donors provided the following comments in conjunction with joining the BGA team:
Nicholas Cook and Ryan Zhang: “Jane was a gentle and goofy soul who touched the hearts of everyone she met. She loved car rides, stealing cookies and donuts (anything sweet), knocking over all the pillows on the bed until she was comfortable, and hunting for possums in the backyard. When she was diagnosed with lymphoma in March 2021 our hearts broke, even more when she was given one to three months to live. She beat the odds and lived for nineteen months before succumbing to the cancer in Oct 2022. She was the light of our lives and soulmate in dog form. We were so thankful for the extra time and the bond we formed that will forever be a part of our hearts. RIP, Grey Lady – get those possums of the sky!”
Linda and Rick Vayo: “We started GALT’s Amanda and Emmet Golden Years Fund in honor of our amazing senior greys. We subscribe to the mantra of many others in GALT: Adopting a senior greyhound is the best kept secret in the greyhound world. Sadly, both Amanda and Emmet traveled to the Rainbow Bridge in 2019/2020. We have fallen in love via cyberspace with many of GALT’s IR greys, and Bernadette in particular stole our hearts! We are proud to honor the memory of our Super Seniors by joining the Blazer’s Guardian Angels team and helping provide for the medical expenses of Bernadette, Emma and Sophia.”
Who will step up to help form Blazer’s Angels Tag Team #5?
GALT deeply appreciates these special donors who have covered the extensive medical expenses of GALT greys in need. If you would like to join Blazer’s Guardian Angels and honor the memory of a Rainbow Bridge grey in this special program, please contact Susie McQuade, firstname.lastname@example.org or Barbara Christian email@example.com. We are sincerely thankful for all of our friends and supporters who make donations of any size. We literally could not do our work without you! To make a regular donation, please click here to donate.