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Detroit Tigers star Austin Jackson is a dog lover at heart
DogPrize Artist Martha Cares spreads the word about shelter animals through ArtPrize
Detroit Dog Rescue
Saving the cityâ€™s strays one dog at a time
dogsunleashedmag.com Vol.2, No.1
Neutering a male cat increases life expectancy by up to 62%. Sixty-two percent more boxes explored, insects stalked and naps in the sun. Easy decision.
Spay/Neuter. Cats. Dogs. csnip.org 616.455.8220 - 1675 Viewpond Dr. SE, Kentwood, MI 49508 2 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2013
Publisher: Steve Adams U.S.R. Services 3597 Henry St. Suite 103 Muskegon, MI 49441 Editor: Mary Ullmer Creative Director: Kevin Kyser kyserdesignwerks.com Dogs Unleashed is a bi-monthly magazine especially for dog lovers. At this time, it is available free of charge at more than 300 locations in Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties. To advertise or become a distribution location for Dogs Unleashed, contact Mary Ullmer at: email@example.com All material published is Dogs Unleashed is copyrighted © 2013 by Dogs Unleashed. All rights reserved. Reproduction of material presented in Dogs Unleashed is prohibited without written permission. Contents are for entertainment only. Publisher assumes no responsibility for the accuracy, safety, or performance of the information or products presented. The opinions presented are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or judgment of the publisher or advertisers. Send photos, questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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5 From Our Sponsor 6 Fetch! 8 Ask The Vet 10 The Doctor Is In 12 Good Grief 14 Cover story: Austin Jackson 17 Profile: Artist Martha Carès 20 Giving back: Detroit Dog Rescue 24 Doggy Destination: Chicago 28 Working Dogs: Water Rescue 32 Kid Stuff 34 The Tail End
on the cover
photo by jennifer waters
A DOG HAS HER DAY What to do when you have a professional athlete willing to chat about his four dogs for a story in Dogs Unleashed, but unable (or perhaps unwilling) to provide photos? In the case of our Play Ball! cover, you call for a stand-in. Beatrix (aka Trixie) the bulldog, owned by Barton and Lorena Deiters of Grand Rapids, was a willing model at Fifth Third Ballpark, home of the West Michigan Whitecaps. Big thank-yous to Trixie, who was rewarded with several treats, to the Detroit Tigers for arranging our chat with Austin Jackson, and to the Whitecaps organization for providing their beautiful ballpark.
September/October 2013 Dogs Unleashed 3
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Writers: Emma Fox (Kid Stuff), Susan Harrison-Wolfiss (Working Dogs, Tail End), Paul R. Kopenkoskey (Blessing of the Pets), Ginny Mikita (Good Grief), Linda Odette (Fetch), Ron Rop (From Our Sponsor), Dr. Wendy Swift (Ask the Vet), Dr. Shane Thellman (The Doctor is In), Jennifer Waters (Detroit Dog Rescue), Lara Weber (Doggy Destinaton: Chicago), Tricia Woolfenden (Profile: Martha Cares). Photographer: Glenn Kaupert (Doggy Destination: Chicago) Copy editor: Linda Odette
to subscibe: Order a one-year subscription (six issues) to have Dogs Unleashed delivered to your home for just $9.99. You also have the option to order it as a gift for a dog-loving friend.
HEATHER HASKINS, DVM KATHERYN APPLEGATE, DVM 456 Kinney NW ● Grand Rapids, MI 49534 p.616.453.0080 ● f.616.453.9825
Go to dogsunleashedmag.com, click on the SUBSCRIBE link and complete the payment information using our secure credit card form. For more information, write to email@example.com
who we are Mary Ullmer (Editor), is a former manager, editor, reporter and blogger who previously worked for the Grand Rapids Press, Chicago Tribune, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Springfield NewsLeader and Muskegon Chronicle. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org Kevin Kyser (Creative Director), owns Kyser Design Werks, (ad on p. 13) a full-service branding and marketing firm. Kevin and his wife Jody have four children: Courtney, Cameron, Collin and Caden. They also have three cats and a 150-pound Lab/Rottweiler/ Newfoundland mix named Gus. Email him at email@example.com. Jennifer Waters (Photographer), is a professional pet photographer at Grumpy Pups Pet Photography, (ad on p. 19) She also is a freelance writer and volunteer photographer at Harbor Humane Society. She credits her three boxers — the original “grumpy pups” — for her love of working with animals. View her work at grumpypups.com or contact Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Biggest Threat to Your Dog’s Health and the One Thing You Can Do About It. 41 million dogs in the U.S., or 53 percent, are classified by veterinarians as overweight or obese, taking 2 – 21/2 years off their life span.
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Caution, education key to dog bite prevention By RON ROP
It’s every dog owner’s nightmare. Your playful pooch has decided to sink his teeth into either another dog or a person. No dog owner wants to think about it, but let’s face it: As the dog population increases, so will dog bites. More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year. And about 800,000 of those incidents require medical attention. Children are the No. 1 target of biting dogs, followed by senior citizens. What causes dogs to bite and what are some ways to diminish the chances of getting bit? “Dogs can bite for a multitude of reasons,” said Mikay McKinnin, a pet expert from Pet Supplies Plus on Alpine Avenue in Grand Rapids. “Dogs can bite as a result of resource guarding (food and water, bedding, property or ‘space’ or toys). They may also bite as a result of being startled or frightened.” A new environment or situation also can lead to potential problems, McKinnin said. A dog can become overwhelmed by the new surroundings, get overly excited or frightened, or become extra protective of its owner. Playful dogs that get overly excited simply may not know the proper way to play or to get someone’s attention,
resulting in biting. Education is the No. 1 way to decrease the chance of getting bit. That education is especially true for young children. Half of all dog bites happen to children younger than 12, and 70 percent of dog bite fatalities involve children younger than 10, according to a report by Centers for Disease Control. Children who learn how to act around dogs, how to play with dogs, when to leave dogs alone and how to meet a dog for the first time are less likely to get bit. Another key to dog bite prevention is parental supervision. Unsupervised children can wander into a potentially dangerous situation when it comes to dogs. “People can become more aware of a dog’s body language,” McKinnin said. “Dogs can’t talk like people, but they say just as much with their body language. A happy dog will be wiggly, with relaxed ears, soft eyes and a relaxed mouth, often open with tongue hanging out. A tense dog will tense up. Their muscles will stiffen and their hair may stand up on end. “Should one of these dogs approach you, you should slowly and calmly walk away, try not to stare into its eyes and remain still and quiet.” Randy Kosters, manager of the Pet Supplies Plus store in Holland, reminds
If bitten by a dog:
To help prevent getting bitten by a dog, follow these simple precautions. They’re particularly useful when it comes to children and dogs.
• Responsible pet owners will first confine their dog, then offer assistance to the person who was bitten.
• Never slap, hit or kick a dog. Do not pull on ears or paws. • Never bother a dog with puppies or a dog that is sleeping, eating or guarding its toys. • Never approach a dog without asking permission from the dog’s owner. If the dog owner says it’s all right, hold out your hand in a fist for the dog to sniff. If the dog “approves,” give him a little scratch under the chin. • Never shout at a dog. Always talk in a whisper or quiet voice.
• Wash the area of the bite as soon as possible with warm, soapy water. • The dog’s veterinarian and local officials should be contacted. The dog’s owner will have to provide documentation on the dog, including history of rabies vaccinations.
us that all dogs have the ability to bite. “It is important to be cautious with every dog,” Kosters said. “As a rule of thumb, assume any dog will bite, so take the necessary precautions. If the dog is alone or in an unwanted place, it is best to avoid it, if possible, and call animal control. If the animal is in immediate danger, such as on a busy road, and you feel it necessary to approach the dog, do so slowly.” Not all dog bites can be prevented, but proper education for the public and proper training for dog and owner can diminish the number of dog bites.
Your Pets’ Personal Assistant! Call... (616) 633-9902
• It is the responsibility of the dog owner to ensure it doesn’t happen again. A trainer or a pet behavior specialist may need to get involved. • Quarantine and even euthanasia are required in some areas after a dog has bitten someone.
PRODUCTS FOR YOUR POOCH
That silly Franklin, he’s always hiding!
What it is: Where’s Franklin? is a 40-page hardcover book filled with amusing photos of Franklin, a sneaky Pembroke Welsh Corgi who lives in Northern California. He hides in the natural beauty outside his home and readers have to find him. Check out his Facebook page at facebook.com/FindFranklin. But wait there’s more: Being nice folks, the publishers are donating 20 percent of the book sale proceeds to CorgiPals, a non-profit organization helping Corgis who need veterinary care. Fetch it: Order online ($22.50) from wheres-franklin.myshopify.com/ products/wheres-franklin-hardcover.
Gorgeous gates > Turn the night light on
What is it: The Niteize PetLit LED collar light keeps your dog visible when it’s dark outside. Great for camping trips or nighttime walks or potty breaks. But wait, there’s more: Other products for dog lovers include an LED ball and light-up flying disc. Fetch it: Available at Bill and Paul’s Sporthaus, 1200 E. Paris Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, or online at niteize.com for $4.49.
What is it: Dog gates don’t have to be ugly. A Part of the Family makes several styles that will leave you wanting to move up to their impressive gates. The Majestic freestanding model is one example. It’s built with wood and wire, and you can buy it in cherry or white. But wait, there’s more: You don’t have to mount the gates to walls, thus avoiding damage to your home. Fetch it: Gates can be found at apartofthefamily.com and range in price from $86 to $329.
Putting the pieces together
What is it: Turn off the computer and have fun the old-fashioned way with jigsaw puzzles featuring dogs and puppies. Made by Simple Pastimes, there are dog portraits, dogs getting into trouble, dogs looking adorable and big groups of all types of dogs gathered together and more. But wait, there’s more: The site features all the top brands, including White Mountain and Ravensburger, so you’ve got a pretty good chance of finding a puzzle that resembles your dog. Fetch it: Most of the puzzles are less than $15 and can be found at simplepastimes.com.
6 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2013
Nail polish to complement the costume
Tuck Tucker in with a teddy bear
live, love, bark
What is it: Frame-a-bear isn’t usually a dog thing, but we think it’d be pretty cute to make a teddy bear using pictures of your dog and watch Max sleep with his teddy bear. But wait, there’s more: You can make the bear yourself by downloading photos online. A program allows you to pick the large pictures for the center, back and front photos. Fetch it: Online at frameabear.com. The bear comes in 12-, 18- and 24inch sizes, for $59, $99 and $129.
What is it: “A spoiled dog lives here.” “Dogs are people, too.” “A house is not a home without a dog.” “Live, love, bark.” You’ll find these sayings and more on the sharp-looking, handmade ceramic dog bowls, tiles and magnets created by Grand Rapids artist Geri Mateus. But wait, there’s more: Get your bowl or tile personalized. And in the bottom of the bowls, Mutens will paint “thirsty” or “hungry” just to remind you what to do. Fetch it: Available in Michigan and 26 states. We found it at Mason Jones Paper Plus, 2213 Wealthy SE, East Grand Rapids, but at gerimateusstudios. com, several other West Michigan and northern Michigan sites are listed.
PREPARE TO HELP THE ONES YOU LOVE CALL:
What is it: With Halloween drawing near, it’s time to doll up your dogs with nail polish from I Love Pet Head. The creator of the product describes the polish as part of an “edgy fashion-forward line of pet products.” It comes in teal, pink, purple and red and is free of those nasty chemicals, toulene and formaldehyde. But wait, there’s more: The polish is made by the same company that makes Bed Head products for humans, and it works for humans, too, so you and your dog can match. Fetch it: Available via pethead.com and at Wal-Mart.
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Ask THE VET
wendy swift, DVM
Dr. Swift, What’s the best way to clean my dog’s ears? My golden retriever seems to accumulate a lot of “gunk” in his ears and my vet said he had an ear infection. But it happens all the time, and I want to keep his ears clean.
Dear Reader, The best and safest way to clean your dog’s ears is to use only a cotton
West Michigan Spay & Neuter Clinic
6130 Airline Road Fruitport, MI 49415 www.wmspayandneuter.org email@example.com
8 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2013
ball soaked in an ear-cleaning solution recommended by your veterinarian. Wipe the debris or “gunk” out of the ear canal as best as possible. Do not use cotton-tipped swabs as you can irritate the ear canal or damage the ear drum. If the debris continues to reappear, your dog may have an ear infection and should be seen by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam of the ears and probably take a swab of the ear debris to view under a microscope. Bacteria and yeast infections are the most common types of infections and can be caused by many things. The vet also will ask if your dog has been shaking its head, rubbing its head on the floor or furniture, scratching at the ears, licking its paws, or if you have any other concerns with its skin (dry, oily, rashes, etc.). If your golden retriever isn’t showing other signs of ear infection, anatomy may be playing a role. If he enjoys swimming during the summer, the moisture that collects under his floppy ears may be creating a perfect environment for infection. He also may be suffering from allergies, which are the most common cause of recurrent ear infections. Allergies may be seasonal, caused by outside-type allergens, or they may be related to your dog’s food. Dogs also can have a flea allergy, which causes them to scratch their ears and cause ear problems. Please ask your veterinarian if you believe allergies may be contributing to your dog’s constant “gunk” in his ears. There are many medications that can help treat allergies, including antihistamines, essential fatty acid supplements, various medicated shampoos/topicals, and other antiinflammatory drugs like steroids. Dogs also can be tested for allergies and be given allergy shots or oral drops. Other causes of recurrent ear infections include foreign bodies “stuck” in the ear canal such as grass awns, pieces of wood or even toys (Lego pieces and Barbie shoes are a few common ones). Dogs can even have masses (benign
or malignant) grow in their ear canals, and your veterinarian will make sure this is not a problem for your dog by using an otoscope to look down their ear canals to their ear drum. Low thyroid levels and some other internal illnesses can contribute to ear infections or constant debris/wax buildup, so you may be asked to run a blood test for your dog. Golden retrievers are one of the breeds known to have hypothyroidism (low thyroid levels) quite often. All the different causes of ear infections are treatable and usually can be prevented. Many options are available for ear medications, ranging from one-time applications that last up to three weeks to twice daily ear drops. Keep in mind that your veterinarian will want to see your canine companion for a recheck appointment or two just to make sure the infection is gone and that no preventative measures should be taken to deter reoccurrence. Remember, if the “gunk” in your dog’s ears keeps coming back, there is probably an underlying cause that should be looked into and treated. photo by jennifer waters
PHOTO BY TERPSTRA PHOTOGRAPHY
Ear issues may run deeper than ‘gunk’
Floppy ears can create an environment for infection, especially for swimming dogs.
OF THE ANIMALS
Celebrating (and blessing) our bond with animals By PAUL R. KOPENKOSKEY
Many consider the bond between people and their pets sacred. That’s why dogs and other creatures great and small will be given an honored place in the ensuing months when nonprofit organizations and churches hold their annual blessing of the animals. Such blessings have a way of keeping people’s egos in check, said the Rev. Fred Wooden, senior minister of Fountain Street Church in downtown Grand Rapids. “It’s always a tender-hearted service,” Wooden said. “You don’t get cocky about how important you are. Everybody is feeling pretty good and pretty tender about things. It’s not a time to rant and rave about anything. It’s one of my favorite Sundays of the year.” It’s also an opportunity for divisive denominational walls to crumble as people and animals join together as one, said Susan Evangelista of Instruments of Hope, a Grand Rapids-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting peace through artistic endeavors in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi. IOH is planning a barrier-free 10acre prayer and meditation trail dubbed St. Francis of Assisi Sculpture Garden on the campus of the Dominican Center at Marywood, 2025 East Fulton St. The trail includes statues of St. Francis, the patron saint to the animals and the environment, said Mic Carlson, a Grand Rapids artist and sculptor. IOH’s blessing of the animals (Oct. 5 at 11 a.m.) will include a pied piper procession led by flutist/composer Carmen Maret, a Blue Griffin Recording artist. Amid the St. Francis trail’s flora and fauna is a lesson humanity is still learning, said IOH president Mark Siegrist. “I think a lot of unconventional love is given and received,” he said. “The
BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS SERVICES Bluffton Church Sept. 29, 11 a.m. 3320 Thompson Ave., Muskegon Instruments of Hope Oct. 5, 11 a.m. The Dominican Center at Marywood, 2025 East Fulton Street, Grand Rapids Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd Oct. 6, 1 p.m. 101 North Walnut St., Allegan Holy Cross Episcopal Church Oct. 6, 2 p.m. 4252 Breton Road SE, Kentwood St. Thomas the Apostle Oct. 6, 3 p.m. 1449 Wilcox Park Drive SE, Grand Rapids Fountain Street Church April 27, 2014, 11 a.m. 24 Fountain St. NE, Grand Rapids
blessing is given to all things valued and loved. All things highly treasured have to be protected by the divine. It’s recognizing the unconditional love these pets give and receive.” This is the third year IOH’s blessing of the animals will be held at the sculpture garden. United Methodist pastor Ginny Mikita will officiate at this year’s blessing.
“It’s an opportunity to formally recognize the richness we have with the animals in our lives, whether they’re in our homes or in the natural world,” said Mikita, who also writes the “Good Grief ” column for Dogs Unleashed. “It’s an opportunity to recognize what they bring to our lives and express our gratitude to them.” The genesis of the IOH-sponsored blessing started when Carlson and Evangelista attended another blessing of the animals around eight years ago on Earth Day at Fountain Street Church. “My first thought was, these animals know more how to get along than we do because of the way they acted toward each other,” said Evangelista. “They were all so well-behaved. I was so taken with the peace that was there.” Fountain Street Church holds its blessings of the animals the Sunday before or after Earth Day each year. It began holding such services in the early 1970s. The service has a strong undercurrent of kindness to it, said Wooden. “Whether they know it or not, the humans become more humane when they are close by the animals they live with,” said Wooden. “It makes people think that we’d all be nicer, better people to each other if we lived closer to other living things other than just humans.” Evangelista said she wanted to spread what she experienced at Fountain Street Church to others. They held their first blessing in 2008 at St. Ann’s Home in Grand Rapids, then moved it to the lobby of the Waters Building downtown from 2009-10, then to the St. Francis trail. “In my mind, I love that all denominations are being a part, because the animals are of all denominations,” said Evangelista. “I think it’s very special to bring everybody together.”
September/October 2013 Dogs Unleashed 9
THE DOCTOR IS IN
SHANE THELLMAN, DVM
Restraints are the way to go on road trips with Rover Every day when I drive to work, my eyes are drawn to dogs in cars. Some dogs have their heads out the window, others are jumping from window to window in the back seat. More often than not, the smaller the dog, the greater chance that dog will be in the driver’s lap with his head out the window. Not only are these situations dangerous to our dogs, but by not having your dog correctly restrained in your car, you are putting everyone on the road at risk. Statistics show that more than 85 percent of people who travel with their
dogs in the car do so without a proper restraint harness. About 17 percent of those same owners admit to using their arms to restrain their dogs while applying the brakes, thus reducing their ability to respond to keeping their vehicle on the road. At around 35 mph, a 30-pound dog can cause an impact greater than 1,350 pounds slamming into your windshield, yourself or your passengers. Barrier systems also can be utilized in cars to help keep your dog in a more safe and confined area. Barrier systems may not protect your dog as well as seatbelt systems, but they will prevent him from being thrown forward into the driver’s seat if an accident should occur. Placing your dog in the bed of a pickup truck while driving, even if tethered, is a very dangerous practice
for your dog and other drivers. The best, most obedient dog can always be persuaded to jump out of a moving vehicle if given the right incentive. Unless a seatbelt or crate system is being used for travel, the same concern of jumping out can be said of convertibles and Jeeps. Everyone loves to watch those cars at traffic lights that have a happy Lab sticking his head out of the partially rolled-down window. The dog always seems so happy and excited to have the wind in his face, fur in the breeze, and paws halfway out the open window. Now picture that same dog, only he has now jumped out of the car at that same traffic light and has begun running across the traffic lanes. If you must have your dog feel the wind in his fur, never roll down the window more than an inch. And don’t
Modern Health Veterinary Hospital is a fully equipped pet care center utilizing the latest techniques and technology for the complete care of your dog or exotic pets. Dr. Shane Thellman is an experienced surgeon who, with his staff of pet health professionals, provides the animals you love with the finest, most advanced care available. Young or old, paws or claws... the experience and care you need is waiting for you here at Modern Health Veterinary Hospital.
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THE DOCTOR IS IN
forget that your dog should be properly restrained when in the car, via seatbelt or crate, which will negate any window play to begin with! Before heading off on the open road for a long trip with your dog, make sure your dog has had a recent checkup with your veterinarian. The last thing you want on a road trip is a sick dog! At times, mild sedation, recommended by your vet, might also be needed to help your dog handle the stress of a car ride. If you’re on a long trip and will be utilizing a crate to house your dog when in the car, I would suggest covering at least part of the crate with a thin blanket to minimize motion sickness. Wherever you might be traveling with your canine companion, even if it’s just across town, it is crucial that you put safety — yours, your dog’s, and other drivers’ — first.
SHANE THELLMAN, DVM
DOGGY BAG If you travel with your dog, you should carry a first-aid kit. Many of the items to include are common items for first-aid kits for people. If you’re not sure of the use for certain items, check with your vet to learn how to use them. Suggested items: • Benadryl • Bandage material (vet wrap, Telfa pads, gauze, etc.) • Triple antibiotic ointment • Saline eye flush • 3x3 gauze pads presoaked with diluted Betadine antiseptic in a sealed baggie or container • Tweezers • Cold pack • List of local vet hospitals and emergency clinics • Hydrogen peroxide
• Number to poison control: (888) 426-4435 • Small hemostat • Comb (remove burrs and debris from fur) • Clippers, especially if you have a long-haired dog • Rubber gloves • Thermometer • Muzzle or muzzle gauze • Clean towel or towelettes • Blanket • Extra leash and collar • Portable water bowl
Save the Date:
Saturday, October 12 at 7 pm
This glow-in-the-dark 5K run/walk is a brand new event to benefit the animals at Humane Society of West Michigan! To register, visit www.hswestmi.org. Dogs are encouraged to attend. Dogs must be well-behaved (able to handle being around other dogs and people), up-to-date on vaccines and leashed. Hope to see you there! 3077 Wilson Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49534
September/October 2013 Dogs Unleashed 11
Children and the death of a pet: Teachable moments A veterinarian friend of mine recently shared two at-home euthanasia stories with me, both involving children. In the first, she arrived at the family’s home to find a distraught 10-year-old, an only child, curled up near her dog, Molly. Molly’s irremediable pain was so great, she had not been able to participate in any of her normal activities for weeks. Rather than allow Molly to suffer, the girl’s parents made the difficult decision to have Molly euthanized. The vet first injected a sedative to allow Molly to gently fall into a deep sleep. As Molly did so, the girl’s parents instructed her to go out and play. The girl, sobbing throughout, begged them to allow her to stay, but her parents — believing she shouldn’t witness her beloved companion’s death — insisted she leave the room. The second story involved a family with four children, ages 4 to 9. The family purposefully scheduled their dog’s euthanasia when all their children would be present. The four children served as pallbearers, lovingly carrying their dog in a box they had spent time as a family decorating to the vet’s car for transport to a local pet cemetery. For a child, a pet’s death is often the first experience of death — the first experience of heartbreak that no amount of hugs will make better. Children, unlike adults, generally have little understanding of death. Here are five tips to helping children cope with the death of a pet.
easier to convey for adults, according to one National Institutes of Health study, children do not generally think and speak in figurative terms until age 7 or, in many cases, older. Children, especially young children, hear and understand our words literally. Most of the above explanations are confusing and suggest Fido is still alive and could potentially return. Even if adults make it clear Fido will not return, a child may experience heightened anxiety and fear the next time she is told it is time to go to bed or is feeling ill. Finally, be cautious when making statements about how much better off or happier a pet is now that he’s died. In Surviving the Heartbreak of Choosing Death for Your Pet, author Linda Peterson suggests this clear and truthful explanation: “When [Fido] died, his body stopped working.” USE AGE-APPROPRIATE LANGUAGE
Above all, listen carefully to a child’s musings and questions and be honest. For many adults, discussing death with a child is the equivalent of discussing sex. Years ago, my then 6-year-old daughter looked up from the paper on which she was writing and asked, “What is sex?” I panicked. Without clarifying her question,
Many well-intentioned adults seek to soften the hard reality of death for children with euphemisms. Fido “was put to sleep,” “went to heaven,” “got sick and died,” or simply “went away.” While these explanations are
There is only one kindest dog in the world, and every child has him. — Greta Kruse
12 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2013
I launched into a thoughtful, ageappropriate and lengthy answer, to which she responded, “So, do I check M or F?” She was completing a form sent home from school. Being mindful of a child’s developmental maturity, answer questions about a pet’s death thoughtfully and simply. Do not overrespond, as I did in the example above, and do not hesitate to share there are some questions for which you do not have answers. For 2- or 3-year-olds, simply sharing that Fido has died and will not be returning may be sufficient. Heightened reassurance and routine is recommended. For 4- to 6-year-olds, the permanence of death may not yet be within their grasp. Children at this age are more likely to believe their own behavior toward their pet — angry words or actions — contributed to the pet’s death. It is essential a child be permitted to discuss his feelings through words and pictures as often as necessary and be reassured his behavior did not cause the death. For 7- to 9-year-olds, death’s finality is generally understood. Children at this age tend to be curious and may ask seemingly morbid questions. Grief at this age may manifest in school- or friend-related problems, withdrawal or excessive clinginess and, sometimes, aggression. For 10-year-olds through adolescents, a pet’s death and accompanying grief process is similar to that of adults. Teenagers may vacillate between seemingly mature handling of the death to regression to more childlike responses. In all cases, be especially tuned into children for whom a pet’s death may resurrect past losses. GRIEVE WITH YOUR CHILDREN
Allowing children to be witness to expressions of emotions — especially tears — by adults is essential to learning
how to healthily navigate through grief, something all of us experience at one time or another. Author Linda Peterson suggests saying something like, “Max has died and will never be alive again. We will miss Max. Right now we are feeling very sad. It will take time, but after a while, we will remember Max without feeling quite so sad. We will always love Max and remember how wonderful he was and the fun we had with him.” Memorial or funeral services, at home or in another sacred place, can be significant in the grieving process for most children, with the exception of toddlers. If possible, involve children in the planning and carrying out of a special time of remembrance. USE STORIES AND ART
Children often do not have developed vocabularies to fully express their feelings. Storybooks and art projects such as drawing can provide a window into a child’s heart and mind. There are a plethora of children’s books and online resources available for each age group. Judith Viorst’s, The Tenth
Good Thing About Barney, for example, invites children to recall and celebrate good things about their pets after they’ve died. GET PROFESSIONAL HELP, IF NECESSARY
If your child’s behaviors, statements or moods suggest she is not progressing healthily through the grieving process, do not hesitate to seek out the assistance of a professional counselor who specializes in working with children, a pastor or one of the many support groups now available for children. Children learn from adults. The death of a family pet can be an opportunity to answer their questions in truth and in an age-appropriate manner, to model healthy expressions of sadness and to provide a sacred space for children to express their feelings without judgment. Carefully observing and compassionately responding to children’s unfiltered responses to the death of a pet can be even greater teachable moments for adults.
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September/October 2013 Dogs Unleashed 13
is for DOG
Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson is a dog lover at heart Story by MARY ULLMER Photos by JENNIFER WATERS
As Detroit Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson was preparing for a recent game against the Chicago White Sox, he seemed relieved to talk about something other than baseball in general and his early summer stint on the disabled list in particular.
As the leadoff hitter, Austin Jackson helps set the table for the big hitters in Detroit’s lineup.
In fact, Jackson was all smiles when he learned the topic was not baseball, but rather one of his other loves: dogs. For those unfamiliar with Jackson, he’s the 26-year-old leadoff hitter for the Tigers. When he joined the Tigers in 2010, Detroit fans were skeptical. The Tigers gave up center fielder Curtis Granderson in a trade with the New York Yankees to get Jackson. Granderson was a fan favorite in his six seasons in Detroit, and Tigers fans knew little about the young player who was taking his place. In the years since, Jackson has won the hearts of Tigers fans. He’s a decent hitter, with a .279 career average in almost four seasons with Detroit, and in mid-August was named the American League’s co-player of the week, sharing the honor with his famous teammate, Miguel Cabrera. But it’s Jackson’s ability to make spectacular plays in center field that
14 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2013
has impressed the Tigers faithful. Time and again, Jackson has gotten to hard-hit balls in the vast outfield at Comerica Park, leaping fences, running down would-be doubles and triples and making diving catches. And while fans admire his play on the field, most probably aren’t aware that off the field, Jackson is a dog lover at heart. He and his girlfriend, Jonna Williams, have four dogs at their Garland, Texas, home: a 4-year-old English bulldog, Titus; a 4-year-old Yorkshire terrier, Chloe; and two French bulldogs, 3-year-old Mia and 2-year-old Roxy. The Yorkie was Williams’ choice, Jackson said, while he picked out the English bulldog. Both chose the two French bulldogs, who joined the family a couple of years later. Jackson said he had every intention of teaching Titus to skateboard, since he
gravitated to the English bulldog breed after seeing video of one skateboarding. But getting Titus to pull off the trick hasn’t quite worked out. “He doesn’t want to do any activities that involve him having to learn something,” Jackson said of Titus. “He just wants to play and have fun, so I kinda gave up on the skateboarding. He knows how to sit and roll, but other than that, he just wants to have fun. (Rolling over) is not something he’ll do every time, either. Treats are definitely involved.”
“When we’re on Facetime on the computer, it’s fun to get to see (the dogs), and they can hear my voice and see me.” — Austin Jackson
The baseball season is a long grind, a seven-month marathon if a team is lucky enough to get to the World Series. Half of the 162 regular-season games scheduled are on the road, for three- or four-game stretches per city. Jackson spends most of each season away from Williams and their beloved dogs. He rarely gets back home to Garland, Texas, during the season, which starts with spring training in February and ends in October. “When I get to go home for the All-Star break, or if we go play Texas, or if I can somehow get away, I get to go there for an off day or something, that’s pretty much the only time I get to see them,” Jackson said. “My dad, he took care of the English bulldog for the first couple of years. Now, I have a house [in Texas], and [Williams] just has all four of them. It’s hard … it’s tough.” Jackson said he’s hopeful one day, perhaps soon, Williams and their furry “kids” will join him during the season in Detroit. “I would like to have them here eventually,” he said. “If we get married soon … and hopefully I can bring them all here, and they can be with me during the season.” Thanks to today’s technology, Jackson can visit with Williams and the dogs in a one-dimensional kind of way. The couple use Facetime to keep up, and Jackson even spends Facetime with the dogs. “When we’re on Facetime on the computer, it’s fun to get to see (the dogs), and they can hear my voice and
Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson rarely gets home to Texas during the long baseball season.
see me,” Jackson said. “Just last night we were doing that and Titus was all excited. He heard me talking, and he came into the bedroom and jumped on the bed. [Jonna] turned the screen around and he could see me, and he was all excited. I seen him waggin’ his tail real fast. It was cool.” Jackson said Mia, the French bulldog, isn’t as impressed with his face and voice on the computer. She’s too busy watching television. “Jonna turned the screen around to Mia and said ‘Look what your dog is
doing’ and Mia was sitting on the floor watching TV,” Jackson said. “I said her name, and she looked at me and then turned right back around to watch TV. Literally, she watches TV, it’s not a joke. She’ll memorize commercials. She knows when there’s some type of animal on a commercial by the sound. As soon as commercial comes on …” Jackson snaps his head in the other direction, mimicking Mia’s reaction when she hears a familiar commercial or show on TV. “We’ll be messing with her, and she’s laying down not paying attention, and as soon as that commercial comes on, she just snaps right to it,” Jackson said. “She looks at it and just waits for that dog or squirrel or something to run across, and she darts off the couch and she jumps up on the TV. “It’s funny ’cause one night we were looking for her, we hadn’t seen her with the other dogs, and she’s sitting on the couch. I walked in, she saw me, and she looked at me, and turned right back around and started watching her movie.
Catcher Brayan Pena jokes with Austin Jackson in the Tigers dugout during a recent game.
September/October 2013 Dogs Unleashed 15
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While he’s a good hitter, Austin Jackson’s stellar play in center field is what has made him a fan favorite in Detroit.
She would sit there for hours to watch TV. I’ve never seen anything like it.” PAMPERED POOCHES
Jackson and Williams aren’t much different from any other dog owners. While he doesn’t exactly approve, little Chloe, the Yorkie, does sleep in their bed. And as most English bulldog owners can attest, Titus’ snoring can be an issue. “Every once in a while, we have to put him in the cage so we can get some sleep because he gets loud,” Jackson said, chuckling at the thought. “He snores like a human.” And like many pet owners, Jackson and Williams – especially Williams – tend to spoil the dogs. “My girlfriend, she buys them outfits, and they have these special bowls to eat out of,” Jackson said. “They’re not just regular bowls, but nice bowls to eat their food out of. And their leashes and collars are nice and everything. “She came down here to the ballpark and went to the D Shop (the merchandise shop at Comerica Park, where the Tigers play),” Jackson said. “She sent me a picture of the two Frenchies and Chloe, and they had on Tigers shirts, and Chloe even had on a little ‘D’ hat. It was hilarious.” So, would Jackson go as far as saying his dogs are pampered? Well, not quite. “They’ve living the good life, put it like that,” he said, grinning. “They’re definitely living the good life.”
Vocalist and visual artist Martha Carés sings the praises of adoption Story by TRICIA WOOLFENDEN | Photos by JENNIFER WATERS
Poppy is bounding about her fenced-in yard like a bunny. Her white ears flop as she chases colorful plastic rings thrown for her, like Frisbees, by her owner, professional opera singer Martha Carés. The Glen of Imaal Terrier – a breed that originated in County Wicklow, Ireland – stops only to pick the rings up with her mouth. She then flips each circle, letting it fall around her neck. Some of the rings have worked their way down around her belly. The 22-pound terrier bounces on springlike feet, collecting rings on her compact body until she resembles a Slinky. Carés watches Poppy and smiles, speaking in the tone animal devotees reserve for their pets. “Come on Poppy,” she coos, before tossing another ring.
As Poppy navigates the grass and trees, Carés describes a few of the large stone sculptures made by her artist husband, Fritz Olsen. The fluid figures populate the garden area behind the Sawyer studio and gallery space they’ve established inside a former azalea nursery. Olsen and Carés restored the structure – originally built in 1939 – and converted it into a regional arts destination. Poppy, a daily visitor to the gallery, is in her element. The July evening air is heavy with humidity and mosquitoes, but neither Poppy’s nor Carés’ spirits flag. They’re a good match, and it is clear that Poppy has inspired Carés, both as an artist and as an animal lover. ART FOR THE SAKE OF ANIMALS
Those who made the trek last year to downtown Grand Rapids for the
fourth annual ArtPrize may very well be familiar with Poppy’s form. Carés used the dog as the model for her first-ever ArtPrize entry “My Rescue.” The largescale piece consisted of five inter-locked silhouettes of a dog. As is typical of Carés’ work, it struck a chord with audiences. “I had no idea how well-loved the sculpture would be,” Carés says of the piece. She frequently sells smaller versions in her gallery and through online sales. The simple steel sculptures of “My Rescue” were each painted in a primary color – red, orange, yellow, green, and blue – with no other details, save for three black dots to represent the eyes and nose. The four-foot-tall dogs – created from a sketch of Poppy and carved
September/October 2013 Dogs Unleashed 17
and cut by Olsen – were lined up in a neat row in front of the fountain at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. “I couldn’t have asked for nicer people to work with,” Carés says of the museum staff, including museum Deputy Director Jim Kratsas. Carés will return to the same venue for ArtPrize 2013. This time she will present “Homeward Bound – Happily Ever Rescued!” The piece is similar in size, scope and style to “My Rescue,” but uses larger-than-life cats in place of dogs. The animals have changed, but the message is the same. Carés aims to start a dialogue about pet rescue and welfare in the United States. To quote her artist statement from 2012: “In America, six to eight million animals are taken in by rescue organizations and shelters each year. Saving the precious life of an animal through volunteering, adoption or donations moves well beyond rescue of a fellow living creature, for through these generous acts of love, we too are rescued.” Carés became familiar with the issue of animal rescue and adoption when she met Kathryn and Jack Scott through Save A Stray in St. Joseph. The
Smaller versions of Martha Carés’ “My Rescue” sculptures are available for “adoption.”
couple (who now work with animals via Paws of Hope in Buchanan) had acted as Poppy’s foster parents. “Their dedication and commitment to finding the right homes for their animals and their love and care was inspiring and wonderful,” Carés says. Carés has teamed this year with Trudy Ender and Tammy Hagedorn with the Humane Society of West Michigan. She is working with the organization to promote animal rescue through her ArtPrize entry. She also hopes to raise funds for the organization. “There are some special things in the works for this,” Carés says. A LIFE IN ART (AND ANIMALS)
Ring toss is one of Poppy’s favorite activities.
Visual art is something of a new public platform for Carés, who is known professionally for her vocal talents. She appeared in more than a thousand performances of the national Broadway production of “Phantom of the Opera” and has loaned her voice to national commercial campaigns, including for McDonald’s and United Airlines. She still regularly performs in Michigan and beyond. But even as she made a career using her voice, Carés enjoyed painting during her downtime. She even occasionally contributed her works to charitable causes: “I liked to do something quiet.”
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“Art encompasses everything I do,” Carés says. “The arts enrich our lives, and they can change our lives.” Carés finds a parallel between what the arts can do for society and what an unwanted pet can do for an individual: “Rescue dogs can change our lives in a positive way.” Certainly, Poppy has been a force of change in Carés’ life. After losing her beloved Peachy more than a decade ago – the Lhasa Apso was 16 when she passed away – Carés was reluctant to get another dog. It took meeting Poppy to help her finally get past the pain of losing Peachy. “It took me eight years to be ready,” Carés says. Olsen and Carés have made their Sawyer gallery a dog-friendly place where people routinely stop in just to say “hi” – both to the couple and to Poppy. As Carés talks about art and animals, Poppy half-heartedly pursues a small flying insect that has followed her in from the yard. After a minute or two of chase, Poppy drops to the cool cement floor and relaxes into a pile of fur. “Poppy is surrounded by art, music, and good people,” Carés says. It’s the kind of life Carés would like to see for all of the unwanted, forgotten and otherwise overlooked pets in the country: safe, simple and forever.
ARTPRIZE ANIMALS Interested in checking out Carés’ sculptures and other animal-inspired creations at the 2013 ArtPrize? Here’s a look at a few of the entries. ArtPrize is Sept. 18 - Oct. 6 throughout downtown Grand Rapids. “Homeward Bound – Happily Ever Rescued!” by Martha Carés: Steel sculptures of cat silhouettes designed to raise awareness of pet rescue in the U.S. Showing at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum (303 Pearl St. NW). “Dog Show” by Michele Anscombe: A large-scale acrylic painting featuring portraits of more than 150 dog breeds. Showing at Boardwalk GR Condominiums (940 Monroe Ave. NW). “The Underdog” by Peter Van Regenmorter: A 3-D piece that uses an “underdog” to make a comment about the challenges associated with ArtPrize. Showing at O’Tooles Public House (448 Bridge St. NW). “Monty, a dog gone dragon” by John Andrews: Sustainable sculpture made in memory of the artist’s friends’ dog. Showing at Barnes & Thornburg LLP (PNC Bank Building, 171 Monroe Ave. NW).
“Hope Dog” by Mercedes Keller: A sculpture of a dog covered in photographic collage. Showing at The Riverview Center (678 Front Ave. NW) “Miles Davis” by Abbey Adams: Acrylic and chalk pastel sketch of the artist’s Basset hound, Miles Davis. Showing at Fifth Third Bank/Warner Norcross & Judd LLP (111 Lyon St. NW). Additional details at artprize.org.
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September/October 2013 Dogs Unleashed 19
detroit dog rescue
Saving Detroit’s Dogs Daylight, Gizmo’s feral son, wanders through an empty lot on the east side of Detroit. Story and Photos by JENNIFER WATERS
t’s nearly midnight as the Detroit Dog Rescue team gathers outside an abandoned garage on the west side of the city. Acting on a tip, they hope to remove two dogs from reported neglect and abuse. They find a young boxer-terrier mix, possibly seven or eight months old, huddled in fear amid piles of trash. A deep, raw wound circles his neck from the collar that was left too tight as he grew and embedded in his skin. Scratches on his side and cuts in his ear tell a story of the misery he has endured. The team finds the other dog, but they won’t be saving him tonight. By all estimates, he has been dead for at least a month. His owner has never come to take care of the body. Just three hours from West
Photo courtesy Dante Dasaro, Detroit Dog Rescue.
Michigan, scenes like this are a daily reality. In Detroit, where humans have a hard enough time surviving, animals are often the silent victims. Detroit Dog Rescue (DDR), a small group of dedicated animal advocates, is working to speak up for the forgotten, homeless and stray dogs of their city, but the enormity of their task is hard to comprehend. In a place where hardships outnumber solutions, it may take an army of advocates to turn the situation around for Detroit’s dogs.
On another day, this time in broad daylight, the DDR team is worried about a dog named Gizmo. Gizmo lives on the streets, where he has learned to survive since being abandoned by his family. He now leads his own pack of stray and feral dogs, favoring
20 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2013
an impoverished neighborhood on the east side of Detroit. Residents here tolerate Gizmo — some even like him — because he is a constant, known presence. He patrols the territory, keeping his own pack in line and preventing even more strays from moving in. Gizmo is nowhere to be found today. Tips are coming in that Gizmo’s own son, Daylight, a wolf-like dog who was born feral, has challenged him for the role of alpha male. They fought, and Gizmo got the worst of it. He could be hurt or dead — or merely shaken and hiding. On these streets, there are plenty of places to hide. One of Gizmo’s favorite spots is nearby, a skeleton-like house with no windows. Glass is shattered on the floor in every room. Holes are punched in the walls where wires and
In truth, no one knows for sure how many homeless dogs are roaming the streets and neighborhoods. copper piping have been stripped for cash. Sheets of peeling paint hang from the damp ceiling. It won’t be long before vines climb the inside walls and tree branches grow through the windows. There is a pile of fresh feces on the floor, so hope rises that Gizmo is nearby. The house is checked for doors that have been blown shut by the wind — a normal occurrence that can quickly prove fatal to a stray dog taking shelter in one of the thousands of abandoned buildings in Detroit. A large bowl of wet dog food is placed on the sidewalk, creating a scent that usually is irresistible to Gizmo. As a former family pet, Gizmo still remembers that humans can be a source of food and attention. His pack, many of whom were born feral on the streets of Detroit, won’t come near humans. To them, people have nothing to offer but pain and fear. That’s what DDR is working to change. Even as Detroit plunges
into bankruptcy and its unknown after-effects, this group of streetwise employees and volunteers is spreading the word about humane treatment of animals, responsible pet ownership and the importance of population control. Fighting back against abuse, dogfighting, poverty and a lack of education about the humanity of animals, DDR is hitting the streets for the voiceless and severely neglected, one dog at a time.
9 According to city administrators, Detroit is home to 50,000 stray dogs. In truth, no one knows for sure how many homeless dogs are roaming the streets and neighborhoods. What is certain: The number is high, and it is quickly getting worse. “What you have is people losing their homes,” says David Rudolph, director of communications for DDR. “Then they move in with family. Not everyone can go. The family pet gets tossed out on the street. Dogs start breeding, creating a wild population. The problem just gets exponentially worse. “It’s a cyclical problem. If the city of Detroit didn’t have so many problems, the dogs wouldn’t be in the situation they are in.”
Rodney Stewart checks the street for signs of stray dogs before going inside to inspect.
Rodney Stewart uses his vantage point from one house to check for signs of strays in the next abandoned house.
The natural breeding cycle of unneutered and unspayed dogs is one problem; add to that the human component. According to Rodney Stewart, DDR’s director of field operations, in a city as economically challenged as Detroit, dogs can be viewed more as sources of income than as family pets. “The younger generation breeds dogs in hopes of selling the puppies for $20,” explains Stewart. “The ones they don’t want, they just discard. Or they have fighting dogs, and they dump the ones that don’t win.” In the worst cases, dogs are fed heroin or gunpowder to make them edgy for dogfighting — then let loose once they are too mentally unstable to have around. The result? Streets quickly become filled with a mix of domesticated dogs struggling to live in the wild; feral dogs that have never known life with humans and cannot be removed from the streets and adopted out; and abandoned dogs who have been neglected, abused or trained to be aggressive. “It’s a very cruel world,” says Stewart. He would know. In one afternoon, Stewart takes a call from a resident reporting a puppy who is chained to a
September/October 2013 Dogs Unleashed 21
detroit dog rescue
porch railing. The puppy, maybe four or five months old, is clearly starving and is terrified of people. A small blue bowl sits empty next to the puppy, no food or water in sight. Neighbors say the owner has refused offers to help; he has ordered everyone to stay away from his dog. Next door, two more puppies are locked inside a house. As they grow, they are becoming increasingly aggressive about barking and jumping at the windows. One of the back windows is cracking. The woman who lives on the other side of the house won’t let her kids play in their own backyard for fear the puppies will break through the glass and go on an attack. With temperatures soaring near 100 degrees for more than a week, Stewart is amazed the dogs have survived this long. According to neighbors, the dogs’ owners come every few weeks and drop off large bags of food and bowls of water. It’s likely the dogs were put there to guard something illegal, such as a stash of drugs or meth lab. Across the street, Stewart and Dante Dasaro, director of creative marketing and a frequent patrol officer for DDR, stop and talk to a teenage girl
Rodney Stewart looks inside a house where neighbors claim two young pit bulls are being kept for weeks at a time without any care.
Rodney Stewart and Dante Dasaro inspect an empty basement, looking for signs of abandoned dogs.
and her family. A month ago, the girl’s pet Chihuahua was shot to death by yet another neighbor, for barking too much. DDR helped diffuse the situation and arranged to have her dog cremated so they could return the ashes to her. Today they talk about the steps she needs to take before getting another dog, including pet ownership education and animal rescue volunteering. A more immediate problem is the girl’s house keeps getting firebombed. A fight over a dice game has resulted in several broken windows and fires, putting the entire family at risk. Plywood covers broken, charred glass, and the family has to replace the couch and dining room table that were burned in the bombings. A husband and wife spot the DDR truck and come over to report dogfighting in their neighborhood. The organizers have gotten so bold they are holding fights out in the open, in plain view of all the neighborhood’s kids “I wouldn’t say [Detroit] is lawless, but there is a lack of respect for the law here,” says Dasaro. With so much crime and poverty, it’s hard to get a grasp on who needs the most help. DDR has been criticized in social media for focusing on dogs when so much of the city’s human population is struggling. Dasaro admits there is validity to the argument. How can you remove a dog to a better life, yet leave
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the kids and family behind? What does that say about a person’s worth when the life they live isn’t even fit for a dog? To Dasaro, saving people is just as important to DDR’s mission as saving dogs. As he points out, if you have a dog in need, chances are you have a family in need, too. “This is not only a battle to save the stray dogs of Detroit. We’re standing up for the city of Detroit, and the people, too.” One thing everyone can agree on: There is no easy answer. In a city where so many things have gone wrong for so many years, both people and canines are going to struggle for years to come.
That’s not to say the situation can’t change. DDR was founded in 2011 by Dan “Hush” Carlisle, a hip-hop recording artist, and Monica Martino, a television series producer, after their Discovery Channel reality show about dogs on the streets of Detroit was shut down by the city. According to Rudolph, city officials were reluctant to draw attention to yet another embarrassing problem; they failed to see how awareness could create solutions. But Carlisle and Martino had already invested too much to just walk away. Together they created Detroit Dog Rescue, giving them a platform to educate, advocate and make a difference, one dog at a time.
Today, operations remain small and the job is as overwhelming as ever. With a staff of six employees, DDR patrols the streets checking on the welfare of strays, bringing food to people who are struggling to feed their pets and answering calls for assistance when residents report animal cruelty. Several key programs help them generate revenue and awareness, such as offering discounted spay, neuter and vaccination services to dog owners; building dog houses for animals without proper shelter; and distributing bundles of hay for dogs who are primarily kept outside. In reality, rescuing stray, neglected and abused dogs from the streets is just a small part of what DDR does. Without a facility to house dogs, DDR can only handle about 50 dogs at a time. They rely on a network of fosters, volunteers and veterinary offices to care for the dogs they rescue. Social media and adoption events help their animals find new homes. To increase capacity, DDR hopes to build a 15,000 square foot, no-kill animal rescue center in the next three years. Besides providing adoption services, space is being planned for an education center, microchipping clinic and public dog park. The estimated cost is $3.9 million. Plans are drawn, but the capital campaign to fund this dream still is not underway. In a city as financially
strapped as Detroit — where traffic lights can stay out for weeks after a minor storm and trash removal services can’t keep up with the everyday demand — raising the funds could be as daunting a challenge as saving the strays. “[Detroit is] every bit war torn,” says Rudolph. “We’re still in free fall.” Clearly, support from outside Detroit will be key — not only from financial supporters, but also from shelters and rescues across Michigan and the U.S. “We want to connect with shelters throughout the state and country,” says Rudolph. “We’re looking for that reciprocal relationship where we can call three or four shelters for help housing our dogs.” That’s because getting dogs off the streets of Detroit may mean removing them from the city altogether. DDR claims that nearly 90 percent of the animals picked up by City of Detroit Animal Control are euthanized (with pit bulls being euthanized “sooner rather than later,” according to Rudolph). The shrinking human population, faced with more budget cuts and questionable pensions, is in no shape to adopt all the animals that could be rescued. “Ideally, our dogs will leave Detroit and not come back.” Rudolph says. In a city as overburdened as Detroit, it may be the only way out.
Dante Dasaro and Rodney Stewart check a water-filled basement for signs of Gizmo. Fresh tap water has been flowing in this basement for more than three years, making it a popular watering hole for the area’s strays.
How to Help • Donate: Detroit Dog Rescue is a 501(c)3, so your monetary donations are tax-deductible. Funds are needed for normal operations as well as building Detroit’s first no-kill shelter in Detroit. • Share: Help DDR spread its story by sharing videos from its Facebook page and website with friends, animal lovers, shelters and news organizations. • Foster: Help move dogs out of Detroit so they have a better chance at adoption. If you are a foster or a shelter/rescue interested in partnering with DDR, contact info@detroitdogrescue. com. • Shop: DDR has a full range of jackets, t-shirts, car stickers, dog gear and more. Portions of the proceeds go to support DDR’s nokill shelter fund. • More: detroitdogrescue.com
One week after being rescued from an abandoned garage, Dante is healing from the restraint that embedded into the skin around his neck, as well as the scratches and tears on his side and ear. Despite his trauma, he has a great personality and will soon be up for adoption. September/October 2013 Dogs Unleashed 23
Chicago, doggy style Woofing it up in the Windy City STORY BY LARA WEBER PHOTOS BY GLENN KAUPERT
Like any good party, it began with gracious hosts, plentiful drinks and a beautiful setting. What made it a great
Bella, a Yorkie, got plenty of attention and belly rubs aboard the boat.
Dogs big (including Great Danes) and small are welcome on the Mercury Canine Cruise.
party was the public urination. Wait. What made it a great party was that the staff who run Chicago’s Mercury Canine Cruise are so easygoing that one boxer puppy’s accident elicited little more than a quick deck rinse and a reminder to the other guests about the “pet restroom” lined with newspapers. The Canine Cruise has room for about 20 dogs and their families, feels like a party and sells out most Sunday mornings. It is one of many attractions that have made Chicago dog-friendlier than ever in recent years. “Chicago understands that people have begun traveling more by car with their family and pets,” said Steve Dale, a certified animal behavior consultant (CABC) and a force behind many of the pet-friendly initiatives in Chicago. Some of Chicago’s canine amenities are the result of the economic roller coaster of the past 12 years coinciding with a rise in pet ownership. Hotels and apartment buildings have become more dog friendly to attract tenants and
24 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2013
visitors. Chicago passed a “dog-friendly dining” ordinance that took effect in 2008, allowing restaurants to open their outdoor spaces to dogs. Dale, who also writes a syndicated column about pets and has a weekly radio show on Chicago’s WGN 720 called “Steve Dale’s Pet World,” noted Chicago is unique in that so many residents live in the downtown area. He has noticed an increase in the number of dogs out for walks in areas such as the Riverwalk and Michigan Avenue, sharing the sidewalks with tourists. “Being a dog-friendly city not only benefits the tourists who come but everyone,” he said. “Having dogs on the street makes Chicago feel more relaxed, more approachable.” The Canine Cruise was created by Mercury in response to the sag in tourism experienced just after 9/11, Mercury’s Holly Agra said. Looking for ways to attract local residents, the Chicago River and Lake Michigan tour boat company determined that downtown dog owners needed more
ways to enjoy the outdoors. The Chicago Riverwalk – a revitalized stretch of walkways and green spaces along the Chicago River from Lake Shore Drive west to Franklin Street – was being developed at the same time, and within a few quick years a steady stream of tourists and residents were using the Riverfront for scenic walks, morning jogs and dog walks. The Canine Cruise has been a hit ever since. On the warm morning Scout -- my 9-year-old fearless blind Pomeranian mix -- and I went on the Canine Cruise, we arrived as instructed at 9:30 a.m. at the boat docks southeast of Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River. Waiting to board for a 10 a.m. launch, we mingled with the bevy of other dogs and humans – mingling quickened by the dogs’ propensity for sniffing and humping at the slightest of introduction.
“Having dogs on the street makes Chicago feel more relaxed, more approachable.” — Steve Dale
Scout and I boarded, took note of the water bowls filled with ice water for a hot day, and sat down behind Lola, a 2-year-old Cairn terrier, and Vicki Jones, both visiting from Kalamazoo, Mich., for the weekend. Jones had used bringfido.com to book a weekend with her fiancé, who was in Chicago for work, and found a room at the Hard Rock Hotel. “My fiancé was working on the Pearl Jam production at Wrigley so I got to go to the show,” Jones said. “The concierge set up a dog-walker for Lola while I was out, but the show was delayed [for rain] so I called, and they arranged for two walks. It was so easy.” She and Lola spent Saturday exploring Chicago’s dog parks, which include 18 official off-leash areas” around the city, but found the experience frustrating. “I wish there was a visitor’s pass,” she said. “The parks all required permits, and I couldn’t figure out how to get one.” (The city issues permits at
He can’t enjoy the view, but Scout, a 9-year-old blind Pomeranian, can enjoy the lake breeze.
the offices of participating veterinarians at a cost of $5 per dog.) The city’s first official off-leash dog beach is at the northwest corner of Montrose Beach, a few miles north of downtown and a nice excuse to get into some of Chicago’s less touristy neighborhoods. Known as Mondog, it’s already getting rave reviews, making at least two “top dog beaches in the U.S.” lists in 2013. Mondog (like all the dog parks) is free, but the $5 permit is required. Back on the Canine Cruise, dogs and owners settled in quickly for the 90-minute tour and started moving around the boat for better views, group photos, a visit to the ice bucket or a stop in the restroom. Dogs sniffed and lounged and roamed on-leash with their owners. None seemed sea sick, most napped in found patches of shade under seats or around the deck. The boat travels through downtown and around the south branch of the Chicago River as far as the Willis (Sears) Tower, then back to the locks and into Lake Michigan for a view of the city skyline. The tour guides do a fine job mixing information about Chicago’s most famous landmarks (the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, Merchandise Mart, etc.) with tips on which hotels and restaurants are dog friendly. The information isn’t as detailed as what you’d hear on similar tours offered by the Chicago Architecture Foundation,
but on those boats you wouldn’t get the added joy of having a Yorkie named Bella rolling over for belly rubs while you take in another Louis Sullivan façade. Or a pair of black goldendoodles named Cooper and Brinkley (news hounds?) holding court at the bow. And, except on some of the party boats that congregate out in Lake Michigan, you probably wouldn’t find another group so accepting of the boxer pup taking a wiz right in the middle of everyone.
Bear, a yellow Lab, is a veteran of the Canine Cruise. His owner works for the boat company.
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Mercury Canine Cruise: 10 a.m. Sundays through Sept.29. Tickets $29 for adults, $11 for children under 12 (free for children under 3), $8 for dogs. www.mercurycruises.com
Popular Chicago radio personality Steve Dale of Steve Dale’s Pet World has devoted a segment of each show this year to a feature called “Dining with Fido.” Some of the restaurants he has featured:
Bringfido.com lists 51 hotels in the downtown Chicago area that are pet friendly. Some have weight restrictions and charge additional fees for pets.
Harry Caray’s Tavern at Navy Pier, a spacious seating area makes for a welcome spot to eat and drink at Chicago’s tourist epicenter.
F. O’Mahony’s, 3701 N. Broadway (at Waveland), a corner bar in the Lakeview neighborhood not far from Wrigley Field.
Chicago’s dog parks and official “offleash areas,” permits are $5 per dog, available at participating veterinarian offices. Proof of current rabies vaccination required. For visitors staying downtown, the nearest vet is Gold Coast Animal Hospital, 225 W. Division St., 312-337-7387. www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/ facilities/dog-friendly-areas
Dogs chill out while waiting in line for the boat.
SHOPPING It’s no longer uncommon to see locals and tourists walking their dogs along the stretch of North Michigan Avenue known as the Magnificent Mile. Many posh shops welcome dogs, including Bloomingdale’s and the mall tucked behind the historic façade that announces Nordstrom called The Shops at North Bridge. The first two levels house Pet Comfort Stations that provide treats, fresh water and waste bags.
Old Town Social, 455 W. North Ave., a newer neighborhood bar/restaurant near The Second City with an extensive beer list for the humans and water and treat bowls for the dogs. Trattoria Gianni, 1711 N. Halsted St., a restaurant just across the street from Steppenwolf Theatre with a spacious patio, an old-world menu of pastas and an owner, Gianni Delisi, who adores dogs. Mrs. Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro, 3905 N. Lincoln Ave., a relaxed bar/ restaurant with a small sidewalk seating area known for its awardwinning ribs and an ambitious menu of Irish and American fare. The Dock at Montrose Beach, 200 W. Montrose Harbor Dr., a dog friendly full-service bar/restaurant (burgers, salads and tacos) with 3,300 square feet of space and live music most evenings. Bad Dog Tavern, 4535 N. Lincoln Ave., this Lincoln Square neighborhood bar/restaurant across the street from the Old Town School of Folk Music caters to dogs, too, and plays host to countless events for pups and their people.
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UPCOMING DOG FRIENDLY EVENTS Sept. 4 and Oct. 2: Dog-Friendly Fun Run, 6:30-7:30 p.m., 3415 N. Southport Ave., hosted by One Tail at a Time Dog Rescue. onetail.org Sept. 12: The Furry and Fabulous Wine & Cheese Mixer, 6-10 p.m., Chicago Party Animals, 1133 W. Fulton Market. chicagopartyanimals.com Sept. 14: Third Annual Ride Alive (a two-person team scavenger hunt on bicycles to benefit ALIVE Rescue), 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., race starts at 2227 W. Belmont in Roscoe Village and ends at 1616 N. Washtenaw in Humboldt Park. aliverescue.org Sept. 16: Dog Day at U.S. Cellular Field. This annual opportunity to enjoy a White Sox game with your pup from a special dog section is sold out, but email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 312-674-5244 for details about future Dog Days. Oct. 5: Ben & Curly’s Fall Pug Party, noon-5 p.m., Chicago Party Animals, 1133 W. Fulton Market. The Pug Party has been a Chicago institution since 1994. chicagopartyanimals.com Oct. 26: Howl-o-Ween Party, hosted by As Good as Gold (Golden Retriever Rescue of Northern Illinois), 4-6 p.m., Chicago Party Animals, 1133 W. Fulton Market. chicagopartyanimals.com Nov. 15: Fur Ball, hosted by PAWS Chicago, 6 p.m., Drake Hotel, 140 E. Walton Place. At this posh annual fundraiser, you and your pup can walk the red carpet with more than 700 other PAWS supporters. Features silent and live auctions, dinner, dancing and a doggie spa for pets. pawschicago.org
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Lulu (full name Kahlua), a 2-year-old brown Newfoundland, jumps in the water on command from Shan Carpenter. They were rowed out by Dawn Snider to simulate rescuing an overboard swimmer.
to the rescue It is a beautiful day on Big Blue Lake. Children play on sun-kissed beaches. Power boats and skiers jostle for space with more leisurely paced pontoon boats. Fishermen make a beeline for their favorite fishing holes. Sailboats follow the wind. Entire families head into the water for a quick dip to escape the summer heat and emerge refreshed, renewed, splashing each other, laughing, teasing, having fun. At first glance, it seems as if the whole world is at play. But look again. There, to the left of the boat launch at Deremo Park on Big Blue Lake in northern Muskegon County, just this side of that big group of people swimming, there are dogs at work. Serious work. Amazing work.
Great Lakes Newfoundland Club teaches dogs and owners the ropes in sport of water rescue
Impressive work. Water rescue work. Newfoundlands and a Labrador retriever. An Australian cattle dog, an Australian shepherd and German shepherd, a couple of “all-American” dogs whose heritage is clearly a mystery. One after another, the dogs — and their owners — practice the skills necessary to pass special water tests administered by the Great Lakes Newfoundland Club the first week of September at Camp Concordia in Gowen. What’s asked of these dogs is nothing less than remarkable. Nor is it for the faint-hearted. The most skilled are required to tow a disabled boat to shore, to rescue a drowning victim, to find a victim beneath a capsized boat and bring her to safety. That’s right. To earn the highest
honor given by the Newfoundland Club of America — that of Water Rescue Dog Excellent — a dog has to swim beneath an overturned boat and rescue someone. It is all simulated, of course. The person isn’t really drowning; she’s pretending. And she capsized the boat on purpose, for training sake. But on that idyllic day on Big Blue Lake, a 7-year-old Labrador retriever named Gizmo — owned by Dawn Snider, 49, of Walker — responded to a call for help as if the person’s life actually depended on it. She towed the pretend-victim — Shan Carpenter, 57, of Grandville — all the way to shore, swimming for the two of them. “Good girl!” Snider called out, praising Gizmo at the top of her lungs, and later with a few marshmallows —
Story by SUSAN HARRISON-WOLFFIS | Photos by JENNIFER WATERS
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The Dog The truth I do not stretch or shove When I state that the dog is full of love. I’ve also found, by actual test, A wet dog is the lovingest. — Ogden Nash
her favorite treat. “Good girl! You saved her.” Beginners start on a less-demanding scale, but get this: To earn a junior division, or Water Dog title, dogs have to retrieve a life jacket, tow in a boat and complete other tasks that take hours — and hours — of training for both the dogs and their owners. “These are very practical exercises,” says Barbara Grob of Muskegon, who has trained water rescue dogs since 1989. “Believe me, they can do it.” A quick caveat: Despite the title of water rescue, this is a sport — not a job. Grob compares it to agility, draft, obedience and other competitions in the dog world. Still, the tests are framed in history. For centuries, Newfoundlands have been known as the “saviors of the sea.” They worked with the commercial fishermen in the icy waters of Newfoundland, Canada, saving lives and laboring alongside them. They retrieved lost fishing gear, fetched the fishermen’s nets and hauled ropes ashore. Massively strong, Newfies — easier to say than Newfoundlands — are built for water work with their webbed feet and thick double-layered coat. Like Kahlua, a gorgeous 2-year-old brown Newfie nicknamed Lulu, who is training for the senior division, or Water Dog title. She is soaking wet. And going back for more. Three people are out in the water — stewards, in the parlance of water testing. One is shouting for help. Carpenter, who owns Lulu, sends her dog into the water with a life ring. Lulu has to determine which of the three is calling for help and bring her to shore. “Excellent job,” Grob says, complimenting both dog and owner. She reaches down to give Lulu a pat on the head, but just then, Lulu decides to shake herself dry. At 115 pounds,
Lulu brings a life ring to Dawn Snider during a swimmer rescue exercise, then tows her to shore while Sharon Whalen watches.
NEWFOUNDLAND WATER RESCUE TRIALS Exercises required for various divisions Junior division • Basic control/obedience. Dogs are tested on heeling, recall and down/stay. This first exercise is performed on land. The five remaining exercises are performed in the water: • • • • •
Retrieve a bumper. Retrieve a life jacket or cushion. Deliver a rope to a swimming steward. Tow a boat. Swim calmly with a handler.
If a dog accomplishes all six tasks, it will receive a Water Dog title from the Newfoundland Club of America. Senior division • Retrieve two articles in the proper order. • Leap from a boat to fetch a paddle. • Discriminate among three swimmers and then carry a life ring to the one in distress. • Retrieve under water. • Carry a line from shore to steward in a boat, then tow that boat to shore. • Leap from a boat to save its handler who has “fallen” overboard. Dogs who pass these six exercises add the title of Water Rescue Dog to its name.
In between tasks, Lulu rests on shore next to owner Shan Carpenter.
Water Rescue Dog Excellence • • • • • •
Search for an abandoned boat and return it to land. Rescue multiple victims from the side of a boat. Rescue an “unconscious” victim in the water. Rescue a victim under a capsized boat. Deliver a line to shore from a stranded boat. Take a line to multiple “drowning” victims.
Dogs who complete all six exercises earn the title of Water Rescue Dog Excellent (WRDX). Source: Newfoundland Club of America
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that’s a lot of wet dog. “Good girl,” Grob says quickly, moving just out of the shower. LEADER OF THE PACK
Grob is at the center of all things at these training sessions. She’s a member of the Newfoundland Club of America, its regional affiliate, the Great Lakes Newfoundland Club; and Muskegon Lakeshore Obedience Club. She started training water rescue dogs in 1989, inviting like-minded folks to join her at training sessions several times a week. Hers is a unique group, combining Newfies with “non-Newfies,” meaning all the other dogs. The Great Lakes Club is one of the few in the country that lets non-Newfies take the water dog test. Those who successfully pass receive certificates of completion. The dogs and owners work one at a time on the skills, everyone volunteering to act as pretend-drowning victims and the like. “You’ve heard ‘it takes a village?’ ’’ Grob says. “This really does.” Described as “old school,” Grob is all business during the practices. She looks for what she calls “teaching
Two-year-old Pippy is held by owner Sharon Whalen in between exercises as swimmers get in place.
Gizmo, a 7-year-old Labrador Retriever, leaps into the water to start his advanced water rescue training.
moments” at every turn, and her subjects aren’t always the dogs. She works just as much with the owners. This year, Terri Seastrom, 42, of North Muskegon and her 6-month-old Newfie pup, Fergus, are the new kids on the block. The learning curve is high, and it starts with obedience. Grob is a stickler for obedient dogs. “That’s where it all starts,” she says. It is the first requirement for Fergus and Seastrom, who plan on entering the junior division water test. “Practice,” Seastrom says. “Practice makes perfect.” Like so many who call West Michigan home, Seastrom’s family absolutely loves the water. They live on Bear Lake, a small inland lake in Muskegon County, plus they have a pool, three boats and a Jet Ski. Obviously, they needed a dog to fit into a water lifestyle. What better dog than a Newfie? “We wanted a dog who could be a true part of the family,” Seastrom says. Almost as soon as she brought Fergus — a gorgeous white-and-black Landseer Newfoundland puppy who weighed in at 82 pounds by the time he was 6 months old — home, she knew she wanted to begin water training. She even met with North Muskegon Fire Chief Steve Lague to talk about what role water rescue dogs could play in the department.
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In Europe, Newfoundlands are highly trained, Grob says, and play important roles in water rescues. “Have you seen what those dogs can do?” a receptive Lague asks. “They are amazing.” ALL DOGS WELCOME
It’s not just Newfies that boggle the mind with their abilities. Meet Sharon Whalen of Muskegon and her Australian cattle dog, Pippy — new to the water. By nature, Pippy is a herding dog, born and bred to bring in cattle and sheep. So what’s she doing — and doing well — retrieving an abandoned life jacket and bringing it into shore? Even more impressive: You should see Pippy, by all rights a farm dog, tow Whalen to safety from water to land. “Beautiful,” Grob says approvingly from her spot on the shore. “Really good job.” Grob says the key is the bond between dog and owner. Add in time, trust and training. “I like to do a lot of things with my dog ... and this seemed like a good skill to have,” Whalen says. Soaking wet, Pippy weighs a mere 35 pounds, just a shadow of the 115-pound Kahlua or the 82-pound puppy, Fergus. Neither size nor breed matters in the world of water rescue trials, Grob says, not when dogs “find
out they enjoy it.” She should know. In 1989, Grob and her pint-sized long-haired Chihuahua, Banda, were the stars of the Great Lakes Newfoundland Club’s water test. Banda performed all of the Water Dog exercises, earning the title of “honorary demonstration dog.” And proving the point that size doesn’t always matter. Neither does age. Grob’s 13-year-old “all-American dog,” Callie, has earned her junior and senior division titles. She’s slow but steady, and most of all, eager to please Grob as she goes through her paces. The others in the group play their parts in the water, and wait on shore, cheering on Callie — the “old girl” of the crowd — like a bunch of soccer moms on the sidelines. They compare notes, note one another’s progress, promise to be there to help the next time. “It’s so cool,” Whalen says. “When that light bulb goes on, when your dog realizes: ‘Oh, that’s what you want,’ and then does it. Wow. What more could you want?”
(Above), Gizmo tows Shan Carpenter to shore as she pretends to be a dead or unconscious swimmer. (Right), Fergus, a 6-month-old Landseer Newfoundland, and Terri Seastrom share a fun moment in the water as Fergus finishes his training exercises for the day. GLNC WATER TEST What: The Great Lakes Newfoundland Club Water Test Where: Camp Concordia, Gowen When: Sept. 6-7, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information: www.ncanewfs.org/ working/water/index.htm
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September/October 2013 Dogs Unleashed 31
No oodles of poodles, but plenty of pups in Paris During summer vacation, my family and I spent three weeks in France. The first week was spent in Paris, in a small apartment above a tiny street crowded with bakeries, gelato stores and tea shops. There are plenty of dogs in France, the majority of which I saw in Paris. The general treatment of the dogs in Paris was lavish and posh. Many have studded collars and get spa treatments at one of the many doggie spas. They wear clothes regularly, and have daily grooming and done-up hair. Most of the dogs we saw in Paris were uniformly small, and mostly longhaired. They rule over their owners, and are just as much a fashion accessory as a pair of Gucci sunglasses or Jimmy Choo wedges. Larger dogs go off the leash, and live less lavish lives. Their owners tend to appear more down to earth, maybe because their dogs aren’t necessarily a fashion statement. The larger dogs, even though off leash, were well-behaved, never intruding on a person’s space or interfering with other dogs. The dogs know their place and maintain it well. They are quiet, and do not beg. They are polite and pay attention to their owners. Quite often, the small dogs took their owners for walks instead of vice versa. I took notes and made observations about some of the dogs – and people – we saw.
A woman with a sense of style walks her Yorkie in Paris. BAG DOG
As we walked back to our apartment in Paris one night, there were two women in front of us. One had what appeared to be a leather designer purse slung under her arm. Suddenly, the small head of a dog peeked out. I don’t really remember what it looked like, given that I only got a quick glance at it, but it yapped once to get its carrier’s attention. PARISIAN WOMAN
An elderly Parisian lady was walking her petite Yorkie. She wore a coat, the neckline rimmed with fur, a blue chiffon scarf, a plaid hat, sunglasses, leather loafers, black leather gloves, black tights, a long black skirt peeking just below where the coat ended, pearl earrings, red lipstick and a black leather handbag. She was clutching a nylon leash, which somehow matched her long brown coat.
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photo by emma fox
She walked with style, and one could tell she was very exclusive. She had her own distinct style, and wasn’t afraid to flaunt it about as if she were a model straight out of Vogue. THE HIPPY MARKET DOG
One day, we were in a boutique called the Hippy Market clothing store when a young woman and her friends walked into the store. On the end of a leather leash, a small, thin brown dog, maybe an Italian Greyhound, skittered shyly around her feet and obediently stayed at her side while she scanned the clothing racks. The dog bore an expensive looking crystal studded leather collar that matched perfectly with the leash. She was very much a fashion accessory, yet the young women fawned over the delicate pooch. At one point, the dog wandered over to where I stood in the
checkout line, and delicately sniffed my leg, giving it a small lick. The dog was shy and quickly retreated when I leaned down to pet it. THE DOG AT THE GLOBE
One night we were just finishing our meal in Tuchan when a woman walking an Irish setter walked by. There was a chalkboard announcing the specials of the day in front of the shop. When the dog walked by it, he lifted his leg and sprayed the entire sign. It was funny, and I laughed for a while. His handler didn’t even notice, or didn’t care. STRAY
When my mom and I were at Spar (France’s equivalent to D&W) shopping for groceries, a small red and white dog wandered through the propped-open door. The dog sniffed a display of juices before one of the employees noticed him and shooed the dog away with a flick of her hand. The dog waited in the doorway for some time before trotting away to find someone else who would feed him. The
dog wasn’t skinny by any means, and was pretty healthy looking. He even had a band around his neck, which I assume was his collar. Although I saw him several times again, there was never an owner, so I assumed he was a neighborhood stray. BARN DOG
At a horse barn where I went riding was a huge dog who was very hairy and was a sweetheart. His coat color was a dark brindle, and I think he was a Newfoundland. The owner said while the dog was very nice, if another dog came, he’d kill it, no second thought. When you scratched the dog, and found a good spot, his back leg would twitch, and he’d fall over on you, his eyes closed, tongue lolling out. And when you’d leave, he’d roll onto his back, tummy up, and stick his tongue out. He’d stay there until you came back and scratched his belly again. When we pulled in, he examined our car, and then trotted over to where we were talking, and promptly laid down, begging for us to pet him.
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September/October 2013 Dogs Unleashed 33
the tail end
Lassie, come home! And bring the other lost pets with you We weren’t allowed to watch Lassie when I was a kid. We cried too much. From the minute the theme song started at 7 p.m. on Sunday nights — that mournful whistle, Timmy calling forlornly for Lassie somewhere in the distance, violins weeping — my brother and I began to cry. And it only got worse. What if this was the week Lassie couldn’t rescue the kittens from the burning barn? What if no one understood Lassie when she raced home to tell them Timmy was in the well? By the time the plot thickened, we were sobbing. Bereft. But, Mom, what if Lassie can’t escape the cruel clutches of the circus master who stole her? Dad, what happens if Lassie can’t find her way home after rescuing the stranger from the flooding river? We reached for our pets — Tugboat, a dog who defies easy description; and our cats: Butterball for me; Herbert for my brother — and we cried because we loved them so much, and we knew Timmy loved Lassie, and what would he do if Lassie really did join the Foreign Legion out of a keen sense of duty? Well, I can tell you right now, my parents put an end to that nonsense after only so long. No crying allowed in our house. Not over some TV show. So they turned the channel to what I don’t know, except it wasn’t Lassie. Ever. I’m going to interrupt myself for just a minute to pass along this aside. A friend’s cousin also cried every Sunday when Lassie came on. Not because she was scared that this was the week that Lassie was a goner. She cried because Lassie on Sunday night meant school on
Monday morning. That wasn’t — as they say these days — our issue. In our house, we loved animals. We couldn’t bear the thought of them being hurt, abandoned, in danger, at risk. They were our best friends, always. When Lassie limped home, when she bravely raced through smoke and fire, when she protected Timmy even at risk of losing her own life, we projected ourselves and our pets into the plot, as wacky as it might sound. Our parents couldn’t stand to see us so upset, so they banned Lassie. It was the only way to spare our emotions. I have to admit, I’m beginning to feel a lot like that child in tears over Lassie these days. (You notice I haven’t brought up Old Yeller. I still can’t talk about that movie, except to ask: What were they thinking?) Maybe it’s the company I keep, but my friends on Facebook are forever posting pictures of lost and abandoned dogs. Abused dogs. Dogs whose paws were burned by sizzling hot sidewalks. Dogs who were starved. Dogs whose owners left them by the side of the road to fend for themselves. I know their intentions are good. These are wonderful people, pet owners
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who are responsible and devoted, and they want every lost animal to get home. But I’m telling you, this past summer, every time I log onto the computer, I get that same lump in my throat; the same dread. The dog who lies beside the flag-draped coffin of his owner, a young man killed in Afghanistan? The dogs rescued from puppy mills? And in July, when I heard that Schoep — the ancient, arthritic dog whose owner held him in his arms in the soothing waters of Lake Superior — had died, well, rest in peace. There are the miracle stories. The starving puppy rescued in Iraq brought home. The missing cats and dogs rescued weeks after the fire, the flood, the tornado or hurricane. The animals resuscitated by paramedics. Each story, each image serves a purpose. In the United States, about 62 percent of U.S. households have pets. We are a pet-crazy nation; there’s just no two ways about it, but there’s a flip side to all that joy. Of the six to eight million animals that enter shelters each year, only half are adopted. The rest, euthanized. Let’s see if you can read this statistic from the Humane Society of the United States without tearing up: Only 30 percent of shelter dogs are reclaimed by their owners. Cats in shelters have it much worse. Only 2 to 5 percent are reclaimed. Makes me weep. Still. Again. And yet, unlike the TV show of my long-ago youth, I can’t turn off the numbers, the pleas for rescue, the stories of need. It won’t make them go away. So keep posting those lost dog pictures, friends. And I’ll keep reading, through my tears. Just throw me a bone every now and again, won’t you? Send me a happy-ending story sometime, too.
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36 Dogs Unleashed September/October 2013