Dozens of Desert Willow Australian Shepherd's extended family members from across the nation came together to help turn a tragedy into triumph

June 27, 2008 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
Kaitlin Connolly of Cass Lake, MN, a nursing home LPN in her early twenties, witnessed the death of Daphne, her Valentine Day's Australian Shepherd; and within days of her puppy's senseless slaughter, she received dozens of emails of encouragement, forty-two pounds of Gummi bears and a puppy fund started with donations from the Desert Willow Aussies (DWA) kennel family, the kennel, where Kaitlin's puppy was purchased.

Belén, NM-Desert Willow Aussie Mom Theresa told that extended family about the crisis with an email.

'Daphne was in her own yard minding her own business, when a car veered off the road onto the Connolly's property and hit this gorgeous puppy, never stopping the car to help. This happened in front of Kaitlin, and Daphne walked about ten steps towards Kaitlin, and then dropped down. She passed away in Kaitlin's arms.'

The DWA Family rallied in with support.

In one of those condolence emails to Connolly, Matt and Kati Coulter of Goodfield, IL, puppy parent of DWA Mona, explained the DWA kennel family. "You obviously know by now that by buying a dog from Theresa, you are not just buying a dog, you are becoming part of a family."

Gorduyn gave her perspective of the DWA kennel family, "The Kaitlin/Georgiana story came as a very unexpected and unforeseen gift to me personally on Mother's Day. Together as a family we've built a business that has not only profited our family spiritually, professionally, financially, and built character in us as a whole. This kennel actually changes lives through a community effort."

The sender of the Gummi bears and a generous portion of the puppy replacement money, Tom P. of Burr Ridge, IL, had not known it was a favorite of Kaitlin. That same roller-coaster-of-emotions week, his twenty-seven-year-old daughter died suddenly in her sleep. In the midst of all the pain, Theresa Gorduyn, Owner of DWA, had the privilege of facilitating the shared joy of a new pet and the attempt to comfort in death.

Georgiana Gift

Cherlyn Pettigrew, Apple Valley, CA, also a DWA puppy parent, wrote Gorduyn about the privilege of giving toward the replacement puppy. "It is important for those like you and me, and probably most of those on your (kennel email) list, to remember just how much we have and how lucky we are. It is important to give to those less fortunate. She deserves one of your best."

"I really feel blessed to have this opportunity again," Connolly declared. "I thank everyone at DWA for the new puppy and for the letters. I don't have a lot of money, but my animals are my life."

Gorduyn explained the choice of Georgiana and the impact of the kennel's gift to her. "I decided to try to pick from the litter of the gorgeous Duchess, because it had one red tri-colored female (the same type as Daphne). This is not my litter, but my Rocky was the stud (ours), and I place the puppies. Georgiana is really nice, and Kaitlin was very smitten with her… . She is very moved by all of you (in DWA). Everyday gets a bit easier on her as she is on the path of healing."

The Gummi bear gift of Georgiana, spawned from Daphne's death and the resurrection of Kaitlin's hope have special meaning for Gorduyn, since the week-long saga preceded Mother's Day. "The benefits of working together as a family make me see that my dream and desires to stay home with our children, to raise them in a home where they have me with them when they come home from school, has given me opportunity to help a young woman know there are some really great people in the world; and they just happen to be Desert Willow Aussie puppy parents! That just boggles my mind!"

The Future

Gorduyn summarized the future ramifications of this story, "This is and truly has been a very hard moment in a young woman's life; and, because of all of you in the kennel, I truly believe she is experiencing a special peek into good that can come out of a bad situation. We will never quite understand the 'whys' of something like this, but knowing God like I do, it's an awesome moment of realization and growth, as we see how privileged we are through such a wonderful (extended) family and of course God's provision through you. Thank you.

"I know that He has used this (and all of you) to touch Kaitlin's heart in a very deep and loving way. She feels cared for, heard, and understood by all of you who love your dogs and know the depth of loss we feel when we lose them."

What does the future hold for Desert Willow Aussie's? Gorduyn enumerated her family's ambitions, "We have plans to expand, and we've purchased twenty-two acres of land south of us to build "The Desert Willow" dream further. We're going to eventually have a bed and breakfast there along with fuzzy chickens, rabbits, ducks and possibly horses for folks to enjoy along with the puppies and kittens. That has been our dream. I'm not sure what God has in mind; but from what He's done through this current situation, I just cannot wait to see His dream for us and in His timing of course!"

This week, Connolly will receive the special delivery, with Georgiana, her new registered Australian Shepherd puppy.

For more information about Aussie's or Persian kittens, contact, For full story go to:

Deb Bunds is entrepreneur with Ti-Él-Sí (TLC-Tutoring, Editing, Singing Services) in Belén, New Mexico and may be reached at