Learning Lessons from Loss


Nelle, dearly missed.

May was a rough month for us here, Up on the Woof. On the tenth, we lost a beloved niece, who was much too young and vibrant, due to post-surgical complications. Seven days later, we lost D’s brother, whom you met in a comedic chapter of Circling the Waggins. Both of these losses hit us hard. But in addition to our grief were a series of repercussions that left me shaken and more than a little freaked out.

Before I tell you about those repercussions, let me first say that I’m not blaming anyone for what happened. When a person is dealing with profound loss, they can’t be expected to make the most cogent decisions. And if anyone involved is reading this, please don’t be upset with me, because this post isn’t meant to condemn, but is only meant to be a cautionary tale for others.
You pet owners out there…you can’t make other people care about your pets the way that you care about them. If you love your pets, you have to be one step ahead of the game, for their safety and your own peace of mind.
You rescuers and advocates out there…circumstances are sometimes beyond our control, and no matter how much we care, sometimes we fail, and as much faith as we have in our community to step up, I implore you to find somebody you can really trust.
If you were to die tomorrow, what would happen to your pets?
In our nieces case, here’s what happened…
gidget2She had three dogs whom she loved very much ; a very old beagle, a middle aged doxie, and a young pit bull/mastiff mix. She had always been an animal lover, though seldom in a financial position to vet them, and definitely never in the position to prepare a financial trust for them. When she died suddenly, the family was consumed with grief, and decisions had to be made quickly. She left behind three children in addition to the dogs. My sister-in-law, now in the throes of fighting her third battle with cancer– faced with the sudden death of her daughter and three displaced grandchildren–was in no condition to also take on the pet issue, so, because I am a dog advocate, she immediately tasked me with finding a home for Gidget, the youngest dog.

My reaction was immediate. I contacted a mastiff rescue, and a pit bull rescue in their area. The dog was in central Florida, and I am in Ohio…so I relied on my ability to network. I obtained a couple of photos of Gidget from our great niece, and I sent them to the rescues. I posted her on my Facebook page with an urgent plea for help. A number of rescue friends shared her.

The mastiff rescue responded immediately that they only accepted English Mastiffs, not mixes, like many breed rescues do. They suggested two other rescue groups in the area…whom I messaged immediately. One of them, and the pit rescue, never responded to my messages. The other, all- breed rescue, did. Although they didn’t have any foster homes available, they asked for more recent photos, and promised to network Gidget. That rescue was geographically very close to Gidget’s location. I asked family members to take some current photos and text them to me.  Because I knew that her unspayed status could hurt her chances of rescue, I secured a commitment from the Ohio rescue group I work with to fund her spay. I waited for photos.
Meanwhile, in Florida, our niece’s landlord went into the house, found dog messes, and opened the door and sent Gidget packing, and then an unidentified person called AC. Landlords will nearly always care more about their property than your pet. If you are a renter and a pet owner, don’t ever, ever, forget that.
Although Gidget’s human siblings were able to catch her and tie her out at Grandma’s, AC showed up and Gidget was surrendered. When I was informed of this series of events, I told another niece that Gidget might still be able to be saved if AC were called first thing in the a.m., but nobody had a redemption fee for a dog who had no place to go if she were redeemed.
My failure to find Gidget safe passage weighs very heavily on my heart. Bridget had 4 strikes against her: she was part pit bull, she was a surrender, she was black, and she was all of those things in Florida. A definite euth.

Buster Brown. Fate uknown.

No sooner had this happened with Gidget, our nieces ex drove down from Kentucky to take what he wanted from the house. Among those things, was Buster, the doxie our niece dearly loved. All of us were happy he was taking the doxie, because Buster would be with someone he knew. But that relief was short-lived, because the next day Buster was picked up as a stray by Kentucky AC, and it was Buster’s face who greeted family on Facebook the next morning from the pound. We all assume the ex, or his new woman, dumped him.

What ensued next, were days on the phone with Grant County Animal Shelter, who assured me that there was a line of people interested in adopting Buster, who assured me that they were no longer a kill shelter, unless health dictated it. A friend of the family was prepared to take Buster…but was told that AC released him to a Cincinnati rescue, Recycled Doggies, because they were better able to handle any health issues he might have had. However, Recycled Doggies told me that they never received Buster, and although I  have contacted Grant County Animal Shelter  I haven’t heard back from them…and Buster’s photo was removed from their Facebook page.

Although I hold out hope that Buster has received any health care he might have needed and that he was adopted or will be up for adoption soon…not knowing what happened to him is kind of unbearable.
Three days after this multi-dog debacle, my lifemate’s brother, Ken, died suddenly.  He didn’t have a dog, but he did have Louy, a senior cat, and he had asked us multiple times if we would take Louy if something ever happened to him. We had promised Ken in no uncertain terms that we would. So, two days later, we drove the seven hour round trip to Michigan to pick up Ken’s cat. Louy is safe at our house until we can find a good home for him.
listSo, why am I relating all this sadness? Because as a pet guardian, as a rescuer, as an advocate, and as a human, these experiences greatly unsettled me, and made me think.  I started wondering: what will happen to my dogs if something happens to me? Who will help them? Who can I trust?  The list of people I trust with my pets is very very short. These experiences have made me realize that not only do I need to have a plan in place, I also need to have a back-up plan, and a back-up-back-up plan….and maybe even a trust for their continued care. None of us ever know how much time we’ve got, and if you leave the fate of your pets to chance, they won’t have one.

thanksThe last month has been tough, and we could really use a helping hand Up on the Woof. We are always looking for coupons for certain items we purchase for our dogs on a regular basis. If you have Rachael Ray Nutrish coupons (we are still trusting Ainsworth foods),  Cesar coupons, or milkbone coupons that  you will not be using, please save them for us. Contact me if you have some to send.

And if you come across an errant box of Purina Busy HeartyHides for sale on amazon or ebay, for God’s sake, send them to us!I also have a wishlist of items that we just can’t afford, but would make life a whole lot easier. It has recently been updated. Click the link below to view. Topping the list is Advantix Flea and Tick for Waldo. We are loaded with ticks here.

Things we need Up on the Woof

You can also donate to help us buy the stuff we need, if you are so inclined. (Donations can be sent via Paypal to: yelodoggie@yahoo.com

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Animal Advocacy: the End of Innocence

Last week, I saw a video on Facebook that a lot of people were outraged over — it was of a woman beating her dog with a frying pan — and I wasn’t horrified.

I watched the video three or four times, because there was an unevenness in the filming that made it appear like it was cut and looped. The first place my mind went as I watched was the weapon. I don’t think it’s all that unusual for a dog owner to smack a dog with a rolled up newspaper or perhaps a chewed up slipper. But what on earth made this woman grab a frying pan? I could only conclude that by grabbing something metal to hit the dog, clearly, she wanted to hurt the animal, not correct a bad behavior.

be kindLet’s just get this out of the way: you shouldn’t hit your dog. Hitting a dog will not teach him the difference between right and wrong, (no matter what is used). What it will do is teach the dog to be afraid of you. And that leads to more, and different, bad behavior like biting, failed recall, house soiling, and aggression. The frying pan was doing just that: the dog in the video was terrified.

My subsequent thoughts were “what an asshole” and “I hope whomever filmed this took the dog away from her.” And finally, “why aren’t I angrier?”

This last bit caused some introspective reflection.

Without a doubt, the dog in the video was being abused. But I realized that during the preceding two weeks, I had seen much worse. Truly horrific things. I had seen photos of dozens of dogs crammed into a single crate so tightly that surely they couldn’t breathe. I had seen a photo of a dog whose ears and nose had been cut off, and another whose four legs had been hacked off at the ankles. I had seen a photo of a dog that had been burned with acid. I had seen photos of half a dozen dogs starved until every bone was visible. And man, all of those things had so affected me that I wanted to stand on a hilltop and scream until I puked my heart and lungs up. By comparison, a dog being beaten with a frying pan seemed almost…tame.

That horrified me.

What on earth has happened? Has the continuous stream of appalling cases of cruelty I’ve encountered in advocacy served to desensitize me to all but the most outrageous atrocities?

And…is that good or bad? Helpful or harmful?

I grew up believing that it’s better to feel too much than too little. So the thought of being able to watch that video with such odd detachment makes me a whole different kind of uncomfortable.

courage-to-right-wrongs-on-their-behalfBut on the other hand, I know it’s not enough when you are working in advocacy or rescue to be outraged or empathetic. Having those feelings doesn’t change anything unless they motivate you to act. And you’ll never get anything done if you are paralyzed by fear or disgust or anger. You have to push past it.   You have to take those emotions, set them aside and focus on what action needs to be taken.

How much of ourselves do those of us in advocacy and rescue lose in the process?

While I mulled these questions over for the past couple of days, my friend, Tami, published a blog post addressing the challenges that sensitive people face in rescue. (maybe she saw the same cases of cruelty that I did last week.) You can read that post here.

Want to give us a helping hand Up on the Woof? We are always looking for coupons for certain items we purchase for our dogs on a regular basis. If you have Rachael Ray Nutrish coupons thanksdog(we are still trusting Ainsworth foods),  Cesar coupons, or milkbone coupons that  you will not be using, please save them for us. Contact me if you have some to send.

And if you come across an errant box of Purina Busy HeartyHides for sale on amazon or ebay, for God’s sake, send them to us!

I also have a wishlist of items that we just can’t afford, but would make life a whole lot easier. It has recently been updated. Click the link below to view. Topping the list is a Thundershirt for Maria.

Things we need Up on the Woof

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Bullying in the Animal Rescue Movement: Spotting a Bully and Removing Her from Your Life

Pressing this great article from Rescuer Tamira Ci Thayne, about bullying in the rescue community.

Who Chains You


Online bullying is a fact of life, and happens in every social movement and in every dusty corner of the web; however, it is particularly insidious in the animal rescue movement because it destroys the very protective fiber the animals depend on for their salvation.

Most legitimate rescuers enjoy a “honeymoon period” when first jumping into rescue…they’re full of excitement, high on the beauty of saving a life, and starting to build a reputation for themselves.

As long as they’re responsible and on the up and up, things go well for them—for a time. But sooner or later they gain enough visibility to attract a following, and within that following there lurks an element of surprise that most won’t see coming.

Beware the Sycophant

Let’s say a rescuer is deeply involved in a highly-visible dog rescue effort that brings a happy ending for some abused dogs. She (I will be…

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CALL TO ACTION: Change the World

If you have a phone and a couple of free minutes, I’m going to give you the opportunity to be a hero and change the world.

I know you’ve heard the saying “Saving one dog won’t change the world but surely, the world will change for that one dog”

I wish people would quit saying that, because it’s not true. Saving one dog changes EVERYTHING.

Take a look at the saying from the simplest, most common standpoint. Imagine for a moment that you advocate for a dog on death row in a shelter and then that dog gets rescued because of your actions.  Three things are immediately changed: you, the dog, and the people who have him now.

someone not somethingYou are changed because saving the dog made you feel good. You feel empowered, and most importantly – you believe you can make a difference. You advocate for another dog, and another. Each dog that is saved because of your actions gives you more confidence. You realize that it’s possible to affect change wherever you apply yourself. Who knows what the long-term effects of that will be? Maybe that empowerment will motivate you to take your advocacy to the streets; to foster a shelter dog, to volunteer as a rescue transporter, or to volunteer at a shelter. Maybe you will expand your efforts beyond animal advocacy and feed the hungry, or clothe the homeless, or fight for human rights. Whatever you do affects others, who undergo their own internal and external changes, who are able to make different choices and attain different goals because you helped them.

And what about that dog you saved? There is nothing more joyous and grateful than a dog who has been saved. Dogs don’t keep those sorts of feelings to themselves, they want to share them. That dog becomes the most loving, faithful companion you can imagine. He will protect his new family in times of danger and comfort them in times of sadness. He will teach the children in the family to love and respect animals. Maybe knowing him will inspire a child to grow up to be a vet, or a zoologist. The dog will bring hours of laughter and joy to his people. He will keep them healthier in body, mind and spirit.

But there are even more possibilities. The dog you advocated for may become a service dog, helping a handicapped person live a less stressful life.  Or maybe he’ll become a therapy dog, and bring comfort and joy to the sick and lonely in nursing homes and hospitals, or help children learn to read in library programs.  Maybe he’ll become a search and rescue dog and save lives. There’s just no way of knowing until he is saved. And you saved him, remember?

So, that brings me to today. A friend brought a cruelty case to my attention and asked me to spread the word. The case involves Alyssa Duvall, a young woman in Calhoun Georgia, who got mad at her dog and beat the cowering animal with a frying pan. I saw the video, which I won’t embed here, but here’s a link if you think you can stomach it.

duvall dog1She was arrested for animal abuse and has posted bond, but she hasn’t been formerly charged yet.

Everybody gets mad at their pet at one point or another, but beating the pet should never be an option. And beating the pet with an object, should unequivocally be condemned.

A frying pan?  Really? Need anger management counseling much?

According to the incident report, Duvall was punishing the dog after “it urinated on the floor” and then bit Duvall’s mom. Duvall’s own mother called the police to turn her in.

calhoun arrestedThe thing is, the frying pan incident is not the whole story. Duvall’s best friend, Marissa, is the one who videotaped it and released the recording. I think that speaks volumes. How awful would your best friend’s actions have to be for you to do that?  There is a history of Duvall committing animal abuse. Marissa stated that she’d seen Duvall abuse the dog before, but this was the first time with a frying pan. Duvall is the same woman who once reportedly gave her dogs so much liquor that they couldn’t walk, and one of the dogs died.  Clearly, she should not have a pet, and the poor dog who is repeatedly the target for her anger needs to be permanently removed from her home. The sheriff removed the dog from the premises, and he/she is currently in the custody of the Calhoun Sheriff Department, but that dog’s fate still hangs in the balance, and two more dogs remain in Duvall’s custody.

So here’s where you get to be a hero.

Please make a phone call. Call Rosemary Greene, the District Attorney of Gordon County and tell her that you think Duvall should be charged with animal abuse, and that her dogs should be permanently removed. We need to let lawmakers know that this sort of behavior is not OK, and should not be tolerated. Your voice really does make a difference!


Rosemary Greene,
District Attorney
Gordon County Courthouse Annex, Second Floor
101 South Piedmont Street
Calhoun, GA 30701

******Phone: 706-629-5651********
Fax: 706-625-4537

Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30 am Friday, 5:00 pm


Want to give us a helping hand Up on the Woof? We are always looking for coupons for certain items we purchase for our dogs on a regular basis. If you have Rachael Ray Nutrish coupons thanks(we are still trusting Ainsworth foods),  Cesar coupons, or milkbone coupons that  you will not be using, please save them for us. Contact me if you have some to send.

And if you come across an errant box of Purina Busy HeartyHides for sale on amazon or ebay, for God’s sake, send them to us!

I also have a wishlist of items that we just can’t afford, but would make life a whole lot easier. It has recently been updated. Click the link below to view. Topping the list is a Thundershirt for Maria.

Things we need Up on the Woof

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Free & Discounted Dog Books

Just a quick post to let you all know about a special that is running on two of my books this week, as well as a free giveaway for a third book!

misfits_smlowFrom Today, March 2 through Sunday, March 5, you can download a free copy of Parade of Misfits.

What happens when a group of the most irascible, insane, and ridiculously un-adoptable pets known to man end up being permanent residents in an animal rescuer’s home? Challenges abound and chaos reigns! This mini-book of selections from the memoir “Circling the Waggins: How 5 Misfit Dogs Saved Me from Bewilderness” is an introduction to the misfit dogs that make the author’s life worth living. Includes the chapters “Lobster Tales” and “Joyful Noise” sharing what it’s like to spend holidays with a pack of misfit dogs.

Also included in this mini ebook are never before published essays about the author’s dogs. Approx. 50 pages.

I am really in need of reviews for this title on amazon, so if you download a copy and post a review for me (be honest!!), please let me know in the comments here that you have done so, and I will enter you in a drawing to win a free paperback copy of Circling the Waggins. ($14.99 value).   Even if you don’t have a kindle, you can read the ebook on your phone, tablet, or computer using the Kindle app.

30sec_finalist_smFrom today through the 7th, amazon is running a countdown deal on How to Change the World in 30 Seconds; a Web Warrior’s Guide to Animal Advocacy Online. The deal starts today at only 99 cents for two days, then $1.99 for two days.

Do you love animals? Are you dismayed when you see stories of animal abuse and cruelty in the news? Did you ever wish you could do something about it, but you just didn’t know where to start? Just 30 seconds a day on the Internet can not only make a difference, but can also change the world. This inspiring, informative and highly useful resource is for novices as well as experienced animal rescuers. Combining case histories with practical tips, this guide demonstrates how to use the Internet to advocate for dogs; from simple clicks to more advanced methods. This guide will show you how just one person can put change in motion.

Award-Winning Finalist in the Animals/Pets category of The 2013 USA Best Book Awards, sponsored by USA Book News.

Readers have been loving this title, but not many have posted reviews. Reviews are important to authors! As a book gains reviews, it makes it more visible on amazon! So please take a moment after you read it to leave  a few words.

CTW cover flat june_low

Don’t forget to tell me in comments that you’ve posted a review so I can enter you in the drawing!  Drawing will be held on April 26, 2017.

I would appreciate it if you would share this blog post with your friends and contacts.


Posted in Animal Advocacy, Random Woofs, The Woof on Dog Products & Dog Books | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Angry Valentines on Behalf of Chained Dogs

(when Dogs Deserve Better was doing their annual valentine campaign for chained and penned dogs, I used to send them valentines I’d designed for them to use. It’s only right that I should share this blog post by DDB founder and former CEO Tamira Ci Thayne published today.)

I’ve been told that I’d be a good activist, if only I weren’t SO FUCKING ANGRY. Duly noted. So, in the spirit of embracing my faults, I’ve made up some #angryvalentines on b…

Source: Angry Valentines on Behalf of Chained Dogs

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How Can We Continue to Trust Commercial Dog Food?

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think that pet owners should have to be concerned that the dog food they buy is going to kill their dogs. I thought the industry had learned their lesson in 2007 when every dog food manufactured in China was recalled because it was tainted with Melamine.

But still, there’s the ongoing situation with chicken jerky treats produced in China, and now there’s something new that is absolutely mind blowing, and deeply disturbing.

On February 3, Evangers announced a voluntary recall for their Hunks of Beef canned dog food, because it tested positive for pentobarbital. Pentobarbital is the drug used to euthanize pets.


(photo: Evangers)

I know what you’re thinking. What? How did Pentobarbital get into cans of dog food? Good question. I’m hoping that Evangers will be able to provide an answer, and I’m hoping they get to the bottom of it pretty fast. I can only think of two ways this chemical could logically have ended up in cans of dog food: either someone tainted the food purposely, or the food was rendered from euthanized animals. Whatever the case may be, there’s no excuse for it.

Here are the lot numbers affected and the states where they were distributed:

Washington, California, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

The food was manufactured the week of June 6 – June 13, 2016 with lot numbers that start with 1816E03HB, 1816E04HB, 1816E06HB, 1816E07HB, and 1816E13HB, and have an expiration date of June 2020. The second half of the barcode reads 20109, which can be found on the back of the product label.

Evangers dog food has consistently been rated among the best dog foods on the market.

When D. and I went on the defensive in 2007 after the melamine recall and searched for a food we could trust, Evangers was one of the foods we looked at. It had a reputation for being high quality and trustworthy. In 2003, Evanger’s was the first pet food company to create a food that was packed by hand instead of machine by putting whole pieces of fresh meat and vegetables into the cans. This process started a new trend in pet food, Evangers called it “People Food for Pets™.” They claim that it is made of human grade ingredients.

But things were already going wrong for the company and the public just didn’t know about it. Between 2006 and 2008, things had started getting weird at Evangers. Health inspectors found rotting carcasses and maggot-infested grease traps on the property of their Wheeling plant. The village fined them in excess of 300,000 dollars, and Evangers took the decision to court, in a case that lasted until 2012. (the court upheld the decision).

In December 2012, the FDA discovered that Evangers Lamb and Rice food and their Grain Free Duck food for dogs and cats didn’t have lamb or duck in it. Not even a little — it was just plain old beef. Then the company posted test results defending themselves that turned out to be the test results from a entirely different brand of duck food for dogs.

Then, in September of 2012, Evangers was cited and fined again for “foul and offensive odors” causing a public nuisance to neighboring properties to their Wheeling plant. tThe stench was apparently, unbearable.

In January of this year, the president of Evangers was arrested and charged with bribing a witness in a court case against his company regarding the theft of gas and electric to his food plant. Obviously, there are some financial problems going on over at Evangers, and I’m not buying their “our supplier disappointed us” excuse for this month’s recall. In simple language, all their statement means is that they don’t know with 100% certainty what their meat supplier is giving them…and that’s no way to run a business where the lives of our most vulnerable family members are at stake.

Evangers has also been accused of patent infringement, and had a recall last year because there were metal tags in their chicken food for dogs.
(Picture Credit: WILX 10 NBC News)


The Mael family. Their pug, Talula died from eating Evangers, and their other three dogs are sick.   

Should we, as pet owners, really have to follow the lives of pet food manufacturers and executives so closely?   Shouldn’t we, as consumers, expect that the product we are buying is what it is advertised to be? Whom can we trust?

I’ll tell you exactly whom you can trust. YOU. That’s it. As the Trump administration begins to roll back regulations for businesses and manufacturers, things are only likely to get worse. If we can’t count on safe food from commercial suppliers now, how will we be able to count on it after plant regulations are relaxed?
If you can cook for your pets, do it! If you already cook for your pets, please share a recipe in the comments here so we can all join you.

Additional reading about the recall:
Poisoned Pets
Dog Food Advisor

We are also always looking for coupons for certain items we purchase for our dogs on a regular basis. If you have Rachael Ray Nutrish coupons thanks(we are still trusting Ainsworth foods),  Cesar coupons, or milkbone coupons that  you will not be using, please save them for us. Contact me if you have some to send.

And if you come across an errant box of Purina Busy HeartyHides for sale on amazon or ebay, for God’s sake, send them to us!

I also have a wishlist of items that we just can’t afford, but would make life a whole lot easier. It has recently been updated. Click the link below to view. Topping the list is a Thundershirt for Maria.

Things we need Up on the Woof






Posted in Animal Advocacy, SPECIAL WOOF REPORTS, The Woof on Dog Products & Dog Books | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments