In Memoriam

Tonight, as President Obama represents the nation in mourning the tragedy in Newtown, CT, I am sharing a couple photos of the brave women who gave their lives to protect the children in their care.  Our public school teachers are national treasures and the 6 women who died on Friday in Newtown also happen to be heroes.

Rachel Davino in a screengrab from the Hartford Courant website.

Rachel Davino in a screengrab from the Hartford Courant website.

Victoria Soto in a screengrab from the Hartford Courant website

Victoria Soto in a screengrab from the Hartford Courant website.

Be Seeing You, Emily

Somehow our home became filled with old dogs. Flatcoats have a shorter than average lifespan due to a small gene pool that is riddled with cancer. In a few months, Linus and Patty will turn 7. Two of their littermates have already died of cancer. Their half-sibling Randi is 10. Surrey the Beagle is estimated to be about 8. At age 2, Mulder is our only dog who can genuinely be described as young.

Emily was already old, though still very spry, when we adopted her 9 years ago. Her health deteriorated in recent years with her heart murmur worsening as she grew blind and deaf. She lost the ability to navigate her way around the yard by following her normal paths. Then she lost the ability to find her way around the house. Finally, all she could manage was to walk in little circles.

We had to carry her to her food bowl twice each day, carry her outside to potty, carry her back inside where she had to wear a diaper since she would no longer ask to go outside to potty. Lately, I have searched her for any hint of recognition but found nothing. It was heartbreaking to hear her soft cries and to be unable to comfort her – not only was she terribly startled each time I tried to gently approach her, she did not seem to recognize me or take any comfort in my touch. She seemed like a vacant shell.

All my previous dogs have had cancer and I’ve had to euthanize them despite their appearance of otherwise good health. Emily was the first dog with whom I’ve ever experienced old age and dementia. It was not a situation where she was terminally ill but rather a quality of life issue that we had to consider. I feared that without some clear medical diagnosis, I would wait too long or decide too soon. But then, those are normal doubts which I know I’ve had with other dogs and I’m sure many of you have had as well.

With Graham, the decision was sudden and even though she was 13, I was vastly unprepared. With Emily, I feel like I’ve been preparing for some time. It was the first time I ever scheduled an appointment for euthanasia as opposed to the more usual trip to the emergency vet at 2 in the morning. But of course it’s still a very difficult thing.

Emily taught me so much, especially about the behavior of tiny dogs. She was fiercely independent until her mind failed her and even then, her body obstinately refused to be in harmony. We love her very much and I know she loved us in her own very special way. We will miss you Emily.

We buried Emily in the yard yesterday, next to the still fresh dirt from Graham’s grave. She looked very peaceful and sweet and it was a blessing to see her that way once more, even in death. She hadn’t been “present” in a long time and I am grateful to have seen her seemingly at peace one more time.

This is a photo from 2007, taken after we just woke up from a nap on the couch:


Thank You Marcial Rios-Aguilar

Cat #0952341 at NYC ACC Manhattan, as pictured on PetHarbor.

Cat #0952341 at NYC ACC Manhattan, as pictured on PetHarbor.

A 53 year old man named Marcial Rios-Aguilar risked and tragically lost his life trying to save this cat from a tree in the Bronx at 3 a.m. on Monday.  Mr. Rios-Aguilar fell from the tree and died before he could help the cat.  Firefighters arrived on the scene and got the kitty out the tree.  Sadly, the cat was sent to the Manhattan pound where, statistically speaking, he has a good chance of getting sick and/or getting killed.

This story is yet another example of why we need a safe haven for homeless pets.  And I really don’t want to hear about the so-called irresponsible public “forcing” pound workers to kill animals.  A member of the public died trying to save this cat.  I don’t think it’s too much to ask that public employees do their jobs and actually shelter pets in need.


A Death in the Family

After 13 beautiful years of love and laughter, we had to suddenly say goodbye to The Best Beagle today.  There was time for one final walk in the sun and lots of sniffing along the way.  She never suffered.

As Billy carefully placed Graham in the hole he had dug in the backyard for her, Randi laid down on the pile of earth and placed her head at the edge of the grave.  Surrey attempted to pull the blanket in which we had wrapped Graham’s body out of the hole.  We all grieve in our own ways.

My heart is broken but I am resolved to commit myself to remembering Graham with joy, which is what I believe she would want.

The Best Beagle, 2007.

“Whenever you visit my grave, say to yourselves with regret but also with happiness in your hearts at the remembrance of my long happy life with you: ‘Here lies one who loved us and whom we loved.’ No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you, and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail.” – Eugene O’Neill

1 Year Old Dog at MAS Plays Ball, Falls Over Dead in Her Cage Days Later

During the months of January through April of this year, 75 animals died in their cages at MAS.  This week, another pet was added to these atrocious statistics.  She was a young and happy black Lab who appeared healthy on Saturday when local advocates visited her at the pound.  They asked if the volunteer stalking escorting them would take her outside.  Once out in the fresh air, the young dog was happy to play ball with the strangers.  The play was supervised by both the volunteer and the interim director.  The 3 bags of treats bought for the dogs were not allowed to be given out.  One of the advocates asked if the treats in the MAS lobby could be fed to the dogs instead but that request was also denied.  The dog’s photo was taken so that she could be networked and within days, a rescue was lined up for her.  She was to be pulled today.  Instead, she was reportedly found dead in her cage on Wednesday morning.

Apparently more re-training is needed.

Happy young dog playing ball at MAS on June 9. She was found dead in her cage on June 13. (Photo by Jody Fisher.)

Be Seeing You, Charlie

In Loving Memory of Charlie – July 2000 – June 2011

"Paths that cross will cross again."

Just Plain Old Dogs Being Plain Old Killed at MAS

CNN is apparently going to pick up the story about the trash can family.  I am glad for the international exposure and hope it will further the efforts of no kill advocates in Memphis.  While I absolutely do not want to diminish the mistreatment and needless killing of those dogs in the slightest, part of me is sad that it takes a story like this to garner widespread media attention.

The reality of Memphis Animal Services is mistreatment and needless killing of pets.  But most of these pets aren’t caught by webcam watchers.  And the ones who are, sometimes get overlooked in favor of the sexier shots showing dogs being dragged by chokepoles or puppies being carried by a leg or, understandably – puppies in a trash can.  You know – if it bleeds, it leads.

But every day that MAS is open, I receive many shots of pets – usually dogs – being needlessly killed, in what appears to be an assembly line manner.  They were never offered for adoption.  They were forced to sleep and eat in an indoor kennel where they relieved themselves.  They got hosed down with piss water in their kennels.  They never even had names.  This to me, is the true heartbreak of MAS – the needless killing of healthy/treatable pets when there are enough homes for all of them and nobody at the shelter demanding they get there.

This post is a tribute to the thousands of pets killed every year by MAS – the ones we caught glimpses of on the webcams and the ones we did not:  You didn’t make the mainstream news but you should have.  Because each of you is the best pet in the world, even if no one at MAS saw the value in your life.  You are not alone.  We are not giving up on you.

Goodbye lovely black dog.

They should not have taken you.

Goodbye Beagley type dog.

I'm sorry we weren't able to see your face. I love your cow markings.

No new doggy friends for you.

Goodbye little one.

Waggy-tailed and willing to go anywhere with a stranger.

Beautiful yellow dog.

No comfort here.

The webcam caught just the tail of this dog as he was taken to the kill room on May 14. I'm sorry we never got to know you happy tailed dog.

Memphis, please – stop the killing.

Be Seeing You, Daddy

Daddy, Cesar Millan’s beloved Pitbull, has died at the age of 16. This is a time to pay respects to a truly awesome dog, the human-canine bond that was so evident to everyone and all the good public education Cesar and Daddy did for the breed. Shame on those who are using Daddy’s death to take jabs at Cesar Millan’s training techniques.

Thank you Cesar for sharing this special dog with us. Be seeing you, Daddy.

Be Seeing You MJ

Before we get too deeply mired in the legal fallout surrounding Michael Jackson’s death, I just wanted to say a few things:

Vigil for Wilkes Co Dogs in Raleigh on March 4

Ask not for whom the bell tolls HSUS:

Organizers of Wednesday’s candlelight vigil hope lawmakers will enact change to guarantee dogs seized from dog-fighting operations will have the opportunity to be individually evaluated, rather than being automatically deemed ‘dangerous’ and destroyed.

The vigil will be held 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 4 at Bicentennial Mall, 16 W. Jones St., in Raleigh, near the North Carolina General Assembly.
As a bell is rung 145 times –once for each of the Wildside Kennel dogs euthanized solely because they were seized from a dog-fighter’s breeding operation – a collar will be placed in a circle.

The dogs were put to death without individual evaluations after the judge heard testimony from two representatives from the HSUS urging that all the seized dogs, including 19 pups still nursing from their dams, be killed.