Everybody Needs a Little Help Sometimes


Recently, the PetPlace blog had an article entitled “Who Deserves a Pet? The Irreverent Vet Speaks Out“. It was about the controversial subject of whether or not a person should have a pet if they can’t afford to care for it properly.

The author wrote: “My first thought is that everyone deserves to have a pet. Pets provide an unconditional source of love, companionship and loyalty that we all need in our lives. But what if you can’t afford to properly care for the pet? Is that really fair to the pet? Pets are like our children. They need love, food, medical care and a responsible person to put that all in order. The person who owns a pet must be able to meet that pet’s needs. And the sad truth is that everyone is not equipped to do that.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an animal in need in my Facebook feed and dozens of comments underneath the photo that say things like “You shouldn’t have a pet if you can’t afford to spay or neuter it”, or “That person shouldn’t have a pet if she can’t afford_____”(surgery, flea and tick meds, heartworm preventative, emergency treatment, or whatever the pet is in need of) If only the world were that simple. While there may be a segment of the population who gets a pet without any thought as to how they will pay for maintenance care like pet food and vaccinations, there are also those who are prepared for those things when they get a pet until…. coasterdogsThey lose a job…or their pet becomes chronically ill…or a family member becomes ill…or they have an emergency auto repair…or some other tragedy or emergency throws their world and their finances all a-kilter. The truth is that anyone can find themselves in need of help, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to have their pet. Next time you see someone being crucified because they can’t afford something their pet needs, try to remember that there may be a circumstance that has sent things off the rails for them. I currently have a pack of five dogs. We do pretty well with them. Everyone is UTD on vaccinations – distemper, corona, rabies, leptospirosis, lyme disease, bordatella. The ones that need professional grooming, get it. Everyone gets a yearly wellness exam. Everyone is on heartworm preventative and on flea and tick meds. Waldo, who had double ACL surgery, takes a daily joint supplement. pet medsThey have an expensive fountain water dish so their water is always fresh. Our oldest dog, Lammy Lamb, takes an antibiotic one week every month. She has trouble with her balance and footing, so we bought her shoes. She found them so helpful she has already worn them out and we had to order her a new pair. Rocket Boy has a serious rawhide addiction that requires ridiculous quantities of rawhide for his monthly fix (to lick, not chew)…and of course, we feed them a healthy wholesome, not exactly cheap, food. Combined, this requires quite a substantial sum of money per year.  Honestly, if you ever looked at my monthly budget, you’d see all this stuff there…but what you wouldn’t see is an entry for entertainment, or clothing, or even food. So, even though we’re taking good care of our dogs, we’ve had to make certain sacrifices in order to do it. (No, we haven’t stopped eating, but it’s not something we can budget…what’s left over buys food) I won’t even discuss the expense of what’s needed to care for the hermit crabs. Well, we’ve finally hit an expense or two in dog care that has tipped the balance and is wreaking a bit of havoc on the budget. Lammy Lamb, now 17-1/2, requires certain things to get her (and me) through the day. One of these is diapers, and the other is increased PICT1799feedings.  We’ve had to switch her to soft food for her teeth and digestion. It’s way more expensive than kibble – especially since she is eating 4 times a day. And the diapers…well, she’s not so much incontinent as she is forgetful – so managing the messes is preferable to following her around with a dustpan and mop. I know, these sound like ridiculously simple things, but it’s been a hardship. 17 is a  nice long life for a dog, and some of you may be wondering why we haven’t put her down. Well, she doesn’t have any serious health concerns. She has a good, strong heart; her kidneys are functioning just fine, she has a great appetite, and she still enjoys and seeks out human interaction. She’s forgetful, but what grandma isn’t?  That’s not a dog you put down. So, I’ve been looking for paying projects and ways to earn the extra cash needed for her care. Here are my skills:

  • Graphic Design (flyers, menus, book covers, bookmarks, packaging, etc.)
  • Book formatting for print and kindle
  • Proofreading
  • Writing

If you have a project in one of those categories that you need help with, please email me. If you’ve been meaning to read one of my books for awhile, how about now? There are links where they can be purchased in the margin to the right. If you’ve been knocking around the idea of purchasing the 2nd (enhanced) edition of Born Without a Tail, you can buy it here for  1/3 off the cover price. bwatcoversamp_sm (2) Buy now button Or if you just want to be a benefactor to Lammy Lamb… PICT1439 donate buttonWish List:

  • Diapers: size 2 or 3. (we use regular baby diapers)
  • Diaper coupons.
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish coupons. (wet & dry)
  • Hills Science Diet or Evangers coupons (wet only)
  • Paper towels.
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Giveaway! “Born Without a Tail; The Making of an Animal Advocate”


I seldom write about my books here Up on the Woof. Images of the book covers just kind of lurk in the right margin of my blog, reminding you that they exist, and giving you a link where they can be purchased. As you might have guessed, I mostly write about dogs.

Dillon the "silver dog". Told me to quit complaining about his bark, because it didn't intimidate anyone.

Dillon the “silver dog”. Told me to quit complaining about his bark, because it didn’t intimidate anyone.

It was eight years ago today when I published my firsts book, Born Without a Tail.  It was a labor of love. My heart dog, Dillon, was about to turn seventeen, and it made me think about my time with him and with all the other pets in my life. I self-published that book because even though there were interested publishers, none of them were moving fast enough, and I was determined to see it in print before Dillon died. As it turned out, I didn’t need to be in such a hurry, because he still had 3 good  years in him. My subsequent books were all published by micro-publisher Barking Planet Productions, and it’s been a great partnership. This year, we decided to make Born Without a Tail a Barking Planet book, too.

The 2007 & and 2015 editions.

The 2007 & and 2015 editions.

Yesterday, the second edition hit print and is available on amazon, B&N, and other online retailers. It looks a little different from the first printing,and it contains some new material, too. The new edition has a foreword by Bob Tarte, the author of Enslaved by Ducks, Fowl Weather, Kitty Cornered, and a new book he is shopping around to publishers right now. I recommend Bob’s books to all animal lovers and rescuers, because they are a lot of fun, and he’s an excellent writer. The new edition also has a prologue about my journey into advocacy, and it also contains some photos that the first printing didn’t have. Here’s what some readers have said about it: “I can’t say too much about this book, it’s more than a ‘dog book’ it’s a people, animals, life book. I was hooked from the first page and read it straight through, and have re read it since, enjoying it just as much the second time around.  Anyone who’s ever had a heart dog, a misfit cat, ever been touched by the love of an animal should enjoy this book. It’s a keeper. “ A collection of funny and heartwarming tales that shaped the life of a young animal advocate. Inspiring and written from the heart. I was touched by this account of love, friendship, responsibility and true selflessness. If you love animals you will not be able to put this book down. . In celebration of the 8th anniversary of the book and the publication of the new edition this month, I’m giving away some copies. All you have to do to enter is to “like” my Facebook author page , find the image below and comment on it, and you will be automatically entered into the drawing. Winners will be randomly selected on April 3. Good luck, and please, tell your friends! entertowin

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DOGS. Because People Suck


I thought last winter was tough, but the blast after blast of arctic air this winter gave a new meaning to “cold”. One day in February, it was -16F here, and other places in the state were even colder, -26F, -39F.

Winter night time.

Winter night time.

We live in a log cabin in the National Forest, and we heat with a wood stove. Mornings can be pretty nippy, when the embers have burned down to nothing. If we can keep the cabin in the 60’s, we are doing well. Sometimes I feel the cold deep down inside me, like my ribs have ice cubes packed around them, and I just can’t get warm.

My normal day usually includes three, 1 mile walks with Waldo, our boxer/golden mix. When it gets down below zero though, we don’t walk. We barely let him peek his nose outdoors. For a dog that loves to be outside playing in the snow, this is very hard for him.

That -16 day here, I slathered the pads of his feet with Bag Balm, and I let him run up into the meadow to do his morning business. After only a couple of minutes, he was in distress. He had to do more than just pee, but it was too cold. He picked up one foot, then the other, and I could see how his legs were frosted with the crystalline snow. I called him, and he limped to me. When I brought him in and dried him off, there was blood on the towel after I’d wiped one of his feet. Only three minutes outdoors and his foot was bleeding…and that was after I had covered his pads with a protective coating!

Waldo was very upset. Not about his bleeding foot, but because it had been so uncomfor- table outside. Because it had been too cold for him to do the pacing and circling he needs to do before he poops. He buried his head in my lap asking for sympathy. After I had coddled him, I put a clean pee pad on the floor and instructed our little dogs to use it. Their tiny paws would have frozen before they were even off the front porch, so I would not subject them to even a minute outside.

Other dogs are not so lucky.

Chained in the snow in Warren Twp., Ohio.

Chained in the snow in Warren Twp., Ohio.

The month of February, I worked for the group Dogs Deserve Better. I fielded complaints about chained dogs around the country. I reported the cases to officials in the communities where those dogs were being forced to endure arctic temperatures outdoors, on chains,  without proper shelter.

I loved the job. Taking action made me feel like I was doing something to help those dogs.  Case after case, officials told me they checked on the dogs and that they were “fine”. I wondered how that could be possible; how a dog could survive an entire night outdoors in the cold, when my dog was clearly distressed, suffering, and hurt after just a few minutes.

It’s not possible. Those officials must have a really messed up idea of what “fine” is. And the owners of those dogs…well, there just aren’t enough profane words in the world to express how I feel about them.

Dogs Deserve Better CEO, Tamira Thayne, blogged about more than a decade of struggle with this same issue: I Care, and It Hurts. That Dogs are Dying Outside RIGHT NOW.DDB is a great group, and deserves your support. Like any 501c3, they are always in need of donations. You can even commit to a small monthly donation to sponsor one of the dogs at the center.

Stephen Wells from the Animal Legal Defense Fund says that

“The fundamental problem for animals is that the law considers them things.”

But it’s not just the laws…because the people breaking them have that same mindset. Take my sister-in-law’s husband, Glen, (please!) who thinks he knows how you should treat dogs

 NO CESAR!

NO CESAR!

because he watches Cesar Millan. Since my sister-in-law’s death three years ago, it’s fallen to Glen to take care of her dog, Chloe. Chloe is a rat terrier, who was very attached to her human mama. Chloe spent 9 out of every ten hours on her mama’s lap…but since she’s been gone, Chloe hardly gets any attention at all, and she spends way too many hours outdoors, alone. To Glen, a dog is “just an animal”.  The only reason Chloe stays vetted, is because I take her in and pay for her shots myself.

When Glen texted me to see how we were holding out in the brutal weather, I responded, then added that I hoped Chloe wasn’t spending any time outdoors. He texted back that she’d been out for an hour, and had another hour to go. This prompted a flurry of feverish texts, wherein I stated some facts, expressed my opinion, and asked if I should come and get her.  After the texts, I decided that I would be calling the local humane society to go out and check on her, just the way I had spent the past week calling officials in other states for other dogs – dogs I didn’t know. And along with that decision came the realization that deep down at the core of things, I didn’t care if calling the authorities would destroy my relationship with Glen. I’m not about to give a pass to somebody just because I know them.

My partner, D,  convinced me to call and talk to Glen before I called the police or HS, so I did; and he was angry – angry that I hadn’t known that he was just messing with me.

I need an entire wardrobe of these tshirts.

I need an entire wardrobe of these tshirts.

As if it isn’t obvious to everyone, even people I barely know, how seriously I take this stuff.

I’m not sure that even I was aware of how passionate I am about dogs, until I realized that I cared more about Chloe’s life and safety than I cared about maintaining a human relationship.

 

 

 

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A Dog Lady Walking the Thin Line of Crazy


Four years ago, my partner’s eldest nephew began calling me a “Crazy Dog Lady”. It wasn’t meant teasingly, but derisively, as a judgement… an insult. It was accompanied by the complaint that “all I ever talk about is dogs, and all I post about on social media is dogs”.

   You may ask yourself, How did I get here?

I am the author of five books about dogs. (see the margin at right). When you write a book, you don’t just write it and expect that people will discover it. You have to promote it. When you promote something, it involves building a certain reputation. I write a pet column for the Examiner and I have this blog, which is devoted to dogs, and I’ve written articles about animal welfare for animalsvote.org and pet pardons news. My yelodoggie artwork is all about funny dogs…and I founded the Lost & Found Ohio Pets service to help reunite lost pets with their families.

You may ask yourself, where does that highway lead to?

Sure, that means that among all the “normal” stuff on my Facebook feed, like comments about my day, or movies or what’s happening in the world, my feed is often peppered with links to my articles, or calls to action against animal abuse, or information about pet food recalls, or pet health issues, or just pictures of my dogs. This does not a “Crazy Dog Lady” make.

And anyway…isn’t my phone number the one he calls any time he has a pet care question?

Same as it ever was.

I was so offended by his comment that I took him off our Christmas card list. Why should we send him a copy of our annual hand-drawn card featuring our pets celebrating the holiday, when he clearly can’t appreciate it?

Letting the days go by…

dog house rules    I’ve been accused of treating my dogs like children, but I honestly see that as more of a badge of honor than a criticism. After all, the more science learns about dogs, the more apparent it is that they are like children. They are as bright as any toddler, and because they are completely dependent on us, it means they stay babies all their lives. That means it’s our responsibility as pet parents to make sure their physical (food, water, shelter, safety, hygiene, play, medical) and emotional (love, encouragement, comfort) needs are met. It means teaching them, and seeing that their lives are enriched and that they are intellectually stimulated.

If that means moving to a cabin in the woods so we’re not violating any quantity or noise ordinances…

You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack…

If it means driving a vehicle that’s larger than I prefer so there is room to cart all five dogs around…

You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile…

PICT1439      If it means keeping our oldest dog dressed in onesies – because she is ancient and thin and often shivering: in traction socks – because the bare floors have become a challenge in her old age: and in diapers – because I’m not always attentive to the frequent potty calls, and sometimes she can’t really remember where they are supposed to happen – then that’s what it means.

After the money’s gone…

If it means denying ourselves the extras, like new clothes or evenings out, so we can care for them properly – then that’s what it means. I’d do the same for a child, if I had one.

     You may ask yourself, “Am I right? Am I wrong?”

All of it qualifies me as Dog Mom, but I don’t think any of it qualifies me as “crazy”.   Just where is that line though?

Last weekend, our critical nephew came for a visit with his wife and toddlers. Dogs, wife, and toddlers all managed to interact and coexist. Indeed, the only one who had a problem, was the nephew.

At one point, I snapped leashes on two of our dogs to take them out, and the children began to follow me out the door. That’s when I turned, and without a second thought, held up my hand and told the kids to “STAY”.

You may say to yourself, “My God! What have I done?”crazy dog lady

That was when I saw my foot firmly planted over the line to “Crazy Dog Lady”. But is that really such a bad thing?

Once in a lifetime?


Lyrics to Once in a Lifetime: Writer(s): Mike Curb, Tina Weymouth, Phoebe Esprit, Jerry Harrison, Chris Frantz, Brian Eno, Jerry H. Styner, Guy Hemric, David Byrne
Copyright: Index Music Inc., E.G. Music Ltd., MCA Music Ltd., Warner-tamerlane Publishing Corp., WB Music Corp.

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A Cautionary Tale: When Caution Impedes the Mission


One night last year, my friend, Bobbie was sitting on her porch with her little Shih Tzu, Rosie. They were sitting quietly, enjoying the mild night when the neighbor’s dog came over. The much larger, stronger dog attacked Rosie. Bobbie shouted and struck at the attacking dog, and got his attention just long enough for Rosie to run off. Once the neighbor had his dog back under control, Bobbie enlisted the help of friends and went out looking for Rosie. They looked and called for her all around the neighborhood well into the early hours of the morning, but couldn’t find her. Dejected, Bobbie went home. After sunrise, Bobbie went out looking again, and found Rosie sitting on the back steps. Apparently, she had been so frightened by the attack that she had run off and hunkered down until daylight. Bobbie brought her in and Rosie drank some water and went to sleep. But she never woke up. She had suffered internal injuries in the attack, and although she looked all right, and was acting normal, she bled out in her sleep. Bobbie was devastated.

In rescue and advocacy, our message is "Adopt, Don't Shop".

In rescue and advocacy, our message is “Adopt, Don’t Shop”.

It took months before Bobbie felt emotionally ready to get another dog. When she started talking about the type she wanted, I made all the usual noises that animal advocates make: “Don’t buy from a pet store.” “Don’t buy from a backyard breeder.” “Rescues have all types of breeds, check the rescues in your area.” Bobbie listened, and today she has a beautiful little longhaired Chihuahua. I met him this past weekend. But he didn’t come from a rescue, and Bobbie was sure to tell me.

“I tried to adopt a dog from three different rescues and they all turned me down.”

I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt, that whichever those rescues were, they made a mistake. If any of them would’ve let Bobbie adopt one of their dogs, that dog would have been adored and very well taken care of. I asked why they had refused her, and she said that one said she couldn’t keep a dog safe, because of what had happened to Rosie. Another said that her disability would keep her from being able to run after the dog if it got loose (Bobbie has chronic pain and walks with a pronounced limp). Another said that she didn’t have a fenced in yard.

This brought back memories of when my partner and I wanted to adopt a dog from a local rescue. We’ve had dozens of animals and taken very good care of all of them. All but two have lived into the 16-20 year range. But our application was denied because when they had called our vet for a reference and asked about heartworm preventative, our vet said we didn’t buy it from them. So the rescue wanted to know where we got it. Well, we didn’t have our dogs on heartworm preventative, because they were 19 and 20 years old and we felt like the fewer chemicals they ingested at that age, the better. I assured the rescue that we would put the new dog on heartworm preventative, but the representative told me that “wouldn’t be fair to our other dogs”.

Any rescue can make up their own guidelines and requirements when adopting one of their dogs out, but more and more, I’m seeing cases where the caution they are exercising is impeding their mission. The whole point of rescue is to save a dog from death or abuse, and place the animal in a loving, permanent home. Yet too many potential adopters are discounted because the cautionary requirements of the rescue are too stringent.

Nobody, but nobody, is a perfect pet guardian. We all do the best we can do, and we all make mistakes, even those of us who work in advocacy and rescue. The search for a “perfect home” is a dubious quest at best.

How many other potential adopters have those rescues turned down? How many animals

But only if you jump through enough hoops and meet every requirement.

But only if you jump through enough hoops and meet every requirement.

could have been placed — leaving openings to rescue more pets in danger? What do these experiences do to the message we spread of how important it is to “adopt, not shop” from shelters and rescues?

Bobbie got another dog. She bought him from someone whose dog had a litter. Based on her experience, I doubt she’ll ever try to adopt a rescue dog again.

In rescue and advocacy, our actions and requirements shouldn’t be at odds with our message. It would serve most rescues well to regularly evaluate whether any of their adoption requirements are keeping their animals from loving homes.

 

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Rescue 1:1, Forget the Lip Service.


This post if probably going to be offensive to some people…but there’s something that’s been bothering me for a while now, when advocating for animals via social media.

It’s that person. The one that sees the photo of the dog just hours away from euthanization, or the photo of the dog that’s lost, or the photo of the dog that’s been so terribly abused that she needs medical help immediately– and writes in the comments “Praying for this baby”.

I’m not really sure what that means. Does it mean “praying” as in “hoping”? Or is the person really petitioning a spiritual deity to intercede on the dog’s behalf? Because, if it’s the first type of praying, that’s useless; and if it’s the second type of praying, it’s unnecessary.

The dogs who are in danger and in need of help don’t need a spiritual being to intercede on their behalf. They need PEOPLE to intercede on their behalf.

In less time than it takes to type “Praying for this baby”, that person could do something really useful and click the share button, or donate a few dollars to the rescue.

There are no divine miracles in rescue — just the practical miracles that result from hard work. People willing to do whatever they can do, no matter how big or how small. People who will step up and take action to achieve a goal.

So, a note to you pray-ers: If you want to pray, then pray. But praying doesn’t preclude taking practical action, does it? There’s more than one means to an end. Some of the most powerful stories in the bible are about people stepping outside of their comfort zone and taking action. The story of the Good Samaritan is one of them.

Luke 10:29

29  But wanting to prove himself righteous,+ the man said to Jesus: “Who really is my neighbor?” 30  In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jer′i·cho and fell victim to robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went off, leaving him half-dead. 31  Now by coincidence a priest was going down on that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. 32  Likewise, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the opposite side. 33  But a certain Sa·mar′i·tan+ traveling the road came upon him, and at seeing him, he was moved with pity. 34  So he approached him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. Then he mounted him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35  The next day he took out two de·nar′i·i,* gave them to the innkeeper, and said: ‘Take care of him, and whatever you spend besides this, I will repay you when I return.’ 36  Who of these three seems to you to have made himself neighbor+ to the man who fell victim to the robbers?” 37  He said: “The one who acted mercifully toward him.”+ Jesus then said to him: “Go and do the same yourself.”+

I suppose it’s possible that the priest and the Levite both prayed for the unfortunate man, but the Samaritan took action.

So, forget the lip service and get those fingers clicking!

funny-dog-sleepy-eyes

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