Dogs have way of rescuing us in time of need

Paws up!

Since I last penned a column for the Gazette, a lot has happened in the Schiffel household and the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office, too. So bear with me, hopefully this hodgepodge of updates will make sense in the end.

If you keep up with me personally, you know that my family has two ornery Dobermans. We’ve raised Dobermans for more than 10 years, and my husband and I love them no matter how much of a PIA they can be. For example, you go to the bathroom, and there are two Dobermans following you. You’re eating dinner at the table, two Dobermans are staring at you. You try to walk two Dobermans, and there is a constant tug for whose nose gets to be out in front.

Well, recently my family and I found out some pretty devastating news — that our one Doberman, Flynn, has terminal lymphoma. If you have fur babies, you know how devastating it is to lose one of your fur-kids. Flynn is only 4, and losing him is a little extra painful. Flynn was my COVID puppy, a brown, 1.5-year-old Doberman we rescued through an organization called Doberman Underground in 2020. He came along with literally just a grin and a love of everything and everyone. He was a bright light in a time of such uncertainty and stress during COVID. As the saying goes with rescue pups, who rescued who? In 2020, Flynn certainly rescued me.

My experience with Flynn reminds me of all my furry friends at work, too. Franklin, Coco, and Otto are dogs who help just by existing by your side. I am so thankful for each of them and the visits they make to our office regularly for belly rubs and treats. Especially my Coco girl, she seems to always find me at moments I need a good puppy kiss! The human-animal bond also reminds me of a wonderful organization here in Delaware that helps serve our veterans: Veterans Companion Animal Services or VCAS.

VCAS has a mission to “enrich the lives of veterans, military families, and dogs through benefits of the human-animal bond.” It is a not-for-profit organization based right here in Delaware, and it was founded by Dr. Heather Lane. You can learn more about VCAS by visiting, and you can find them walking in the Veterans Day parade this Sunday, Nov. 6, in Delaware.

Even in his final months, Flynn is reminding my family and I something. He still runs the fence when the neighbor dog comes out (albeit not for hours on end). He still wags his nub of a tail anytime you open the fridge. He still wants to destroy toys in under a minute, and he will drop his prize (squeaker) that he found in the toy on your lap. He still has his silly dober grin. Nothing is stopping him, not even cancer, from enjoying every minute. So maybe Flynn can remind you to always be thankful. Thankful for each other. For our families, our work families, our leaders, and our furry friends. Thankful for the moments we spend together and the opportunities we get to make a difference.

I can’t talk about being thankful without thinking of every single person at the prosecutor’s office. The atrocities never seem to end for our criminal staff, and each one is felt by every single prosecutor. With our small staff of 31, nothing happens in the office that isn’t talked about or shared by everyone. We aren’t a big office like Franklin County or Lucas County. Our prosecutors don’t handle just one serious case a year. No, our prosecutors handle multiple, life-changing, violent felonies day in and day out, 365 days a year.

One such case recently involved the sexual abuse of a child over a three-year period. Absolutely heinous and disgusting acts that were played out in a courtroom during a four-day jury trial. Our special victims prosecutor Cory Goe achieved a guilty verdict and justice for the victim after several hours of deliberation by the jury. Then, just this week, the perpetrator was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences, plus 80 years, by visiting Judge Daniel Hogan. A juror wrote to the office after sentencing and said (among other things), “The community is a safer place because of people like you.”

Yes, the community is safer because of the efforts of the prosecutor’s office. I am so proud and thankful of all the work we do. I’m thankful for furry friends, who make the bad days not so bad, and I’m thankful for the families and furry friends like Flynn who are waiting at home for the prosecutors’ staff each day, too. I’m also thankful for the veterans who have protected — and are protecting — our great country. I’m thankful for all the organizations like VCAS who help support our veterans at home. Remember to show your gratitude every day for our veterans and come out and show your support at the parade on Sunday.

And finally, I’m thankful for all of you. I’m thankful for your emails, your handshakes, your hugs — all of it. So be safe, be well, and until next month, be like Flynn.

By Melissa A. Schiffel

Contributing columnist

Melissa A. Schiffel is Delaware County prosecutor.