Monday, November 30, 2009

Court Report

After a terrifying attack on her dog, Chantel, by a loose Pit Bull on July 5; after dropping her Small Claims Court case when the Pit's owner promised to pay; after re-instating her Small Claims Court case when the Pit's owner did not pay, Kathi finally got her day in court on November 20.

The attacking dog's owner agreed to make monthly payments until Chantel's veterinarian's bill is paid. But having been there, done that, I must add that Small Claims Court does not give the plaintiff any court costs. So, filing fees and fees for subpoena service are out of pocket. And since Kathi was forced to pay for subpoena service a second time, she will net significantly less than what she paid the vet to treat Chantel.

All the same, in spite of the bother and frustrations, it is important that owners of dogs who are attacked by loose dogs pursue appropriate legal remedies. In my opinion, owners of loose dogs who attack leashed dogs should receive significant fines and be required to attend Responsible Dog Ownership Classes. But, until that day arrives--at least in North San Diego County--the only deterrent to repeat offenses is for the owner of the injured dog to take legal action.

Thank you, Kathi, for hanging in there. You have done all you can to make your neighborhood a safer place for dogs on leash.

Correction: Although a plaintiff may not include filing and subpoena service charges in their claim, if awarded judgment, filing and subpoena service charges will be awarded in addition to the claim. However, since Kathi agreed to mediation, she not only will not be receiving the full amount of Chantal's vet bill, she also will not be reimbursed for the fees she has paid.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Some People Should Not Have Dogs

Wednesday morning I saw an email from an animal loving friend. The title was Emergency! Before I opened it, I knew that some domestic pet was in need of rescue. Sure enough. My friend had received an email from a friend who had received an email from a friend begging for a foster or permanent home for a four year old, male Pekingese. His owners had taken him to a vet who had told them that the little dog required eye surgery. They said they wouldn't pay and told the vet to euthanize the dog. Funds were found to pay for the surgery, but there was no point in performing the surgery if there was no one to give the dog a home.

I wracked my brain, thinking of everyone I knew who might take in this needy little dog. The sad fact is, most people I know who really care about domestic pets are right at the upper limit of the number of animals for which they can be responsible. Or they have a special needs animal as a friend of mine who rescued a very temperamental Rottweiler who will not tolerate another dog in the house. Then, I remembered a friend who always has toy dogs and had "only" two.

She was immediately touched by the little Peke's plight and agreed to "at least" foster, if not adopt him.

The surgery was performed late Wednesday afternoon and the Pekingese should be making his way to his new home by Saturday.

But I had little time to celebrate.

After we came in from our evening walk, Bingley and Magic became very agitated. They would not settle. Bingley started to bark at me with great urgency. So, thinking that a potty break was being requested, I took the dogs out on the back deck, where they became even more agitated. A dog--it sounded more like a puppy--in the next block up was crying pitifully. Bingley and Magic raced up and down the yard, trying to find a way to reach the distressed puppy.

Between attempts to reach the crying dog, Bingley and Magic came to me, looking up with their soulful eyes, clearly expecting me to "do something". But my husband was out and I did not feel safe yet leaving Magic alone, especially when she and Bingley were so agitated. The puppy continued to cry.

I called a neighbor who can always be depended upon in an emergency and explained the situation. He agreed to investigate.

What he found was a 4-6 month old Spitz type puppy attached to a pulley lead in a backyard of a darkened house. The puppy was crying and straining to get free.

I called the Sheriff, and miracle of miracles, the puppy managed to free itself before the Deputy arrived, making it eligible for an emergency rescue.

Bingley and Magic made one more trip to the deck, listening intently. Assured that the crying had stopped, they came into the house and curled up for a good night's sleep.

I know times are tough. Vet bills can be high. But most vets will accept some payment arrangement if surgery is really necessary. At my vet's it is not unusual to see a collection jar for funds for surgery for a needy dog or cat. We all chip in a dollar or two, and the animal gets the required treatment. There are also organizations that will assist with emergency vet bills for needy pets.

Thanksgiving through New Year's is a busy time for kennels and pet sitters. But if you have a pet and need or want to be away for extended periods, you are responsible for the care and welfare of your pet. That's part of the deal. Maybe an old dog can tolerate hours of being alone in a dark backyard, (I don't think ANY dog should EVER be asked to do that, but I am VERY opinionated)--but a puppy???

Some people should not have dogs. That's all there is to say.

But at this time of Thanksgiving, a Big Thank You goes out to all the people involved in rescuing a needy Peke and a distressed Spitz Puppy!

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

Special thanks to everyone who works for a better life for dogs.

Bingley and Magic send their very best wishes.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's Magic!

Even in the numbness of our grief after Portia's death, we knew that eventually we would get another dog. Bingley is not a natural "only" dog. His excitement over his walks with Marilyn's pack is poignant.

We began to talk about another dog seriously about two months ago. But our trip to England was a complication--particularly six weeks ago when we met Magic, a Scottish Deerhound/Greyhound mix. Magic was never a racer and had a history of kenneling difficulties. She was being fostered and was very attached to her foster mother and her foster mother's daughter, and was a functioning member of a pack, albeit at the bottom of the status order. So, in Magic's interests, we decided to wait until our return from England to adopt her.

But Friday evening, our long awaited welcoming of Magic to our home finally arrived. We have our very own "Fuzzy" and Bingley, once more has a companion.

Special thanks to Lynnet and her daughter, Katie, for their loving care of Magic during six months of fostering.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bingley's Excellent Spa Experience

Eventually, every dog owner travels and faces the hard choice of how to guarantee the care and safety of their dog(s). Sometimes a friend can care for the dog. Sometimes a house/pet sitter is the answer. But for a high prey Greyhound with a recurring health problem like Bingley, kenneling is the only safe answer. However, finding just the right kennel is difficult. And to be really honest, having lost three beloved dogs in the past four years--Daphne, Zephyr and Portia--I am possibly a little overly anxious about the health and safety of Bingley. POSSIBLY??? I AM overly anxious.

I had made reservations for Bingley at a perfectly adequate kennel. But, while knitting at my local yarn shop, I was obsessing about my worries and fears for Bingley during our trip to England. A fellow dog lover--a Soft Coated Wheaten person!--recommended Windsong Resort for Pets. What a Godsend! It's all the thing to call boarding kennels "spas". But Windsong truly is a spa. Not only did Bingley have lovely accommodations, his special needs were understood and attended too. AND my anxieties were accepted and dealt with intelligently and compassionately.

These pictures were among a number of pictures of Bingley that Mike Dougherty, the owner and proprietor of Windsong, emailed me while I was in England. How's that for reassurance that one's beloved pet is thriving?

Thank you Mike and Michelle, and all Windsong staff.

Bingley says "hi".

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Day I Became A Dog Lover

In my personal notes, I have mentioned that my sister and I received our first dog for our sixth and third birthdays. We have both been dog lovers since that day.

It was autumn, 1945. Our father had been stationed at Will Rogers Army Air Force Base in Oklahoma City. In early spring of that year, he had received orders for Japan--what was thought would be the biggest, bloodiest battle, necessary to bring World War II to a close. In late spring or early summer--my memories are vague--he came home wearing his "overseas cap". Mother cried. Shortly thereafter, he left for a big air base in South Dakota--the staging area for deployment.

Mother, my sister and I remained in Oklahoma. Mother tried to be brave, but as I eagerly awaited my third birthday in August, I was aware that something else was more important to her than my Big Birthday. She never did mention Hiroshima or Nagasaki to me. But I might have heard those words whispered by other grown ups. I think it was my sister who told me that the war was over. But it did not really make an impression. That was four days before my Big Birthday.

Mother made me a cake. It was a "war cake". Rationing was still a fact of life. But a much more important fact of life was that my father was not going to be part of the Last Battle of the War. He was coming home.

I do not remember the day of his arrival. But I do remember that not long after he came home, our parents announced that my sister and I would be getting a puppy--a Cocker Spaniel puppy.

They took us to choose the puppy. I cannot remember how many puppies were in the litter. I do remember patting their silky coats and breathing in that (to me) wonderful puppy aroma. We chose the runt of the litter, a bright coppery female, and named her Lucky Penny. We knew that we were the two luckiest little girls in the whole world.

I want to thank my friend Zoe, whose technical and artistic skills translated two aging but beloved Kodak snapshots into usable form for an internet blog. I have no picture of my sister from that momentous day. I am pretty sure that my presence in the lower right of the top picture with my mother was unplanned. My parents believed I was too small to be trusted to hold a wriggly puppy, but I just could not stay away from Penny.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Sorry for the hiatus. John and I went for a quick trip to London and West Sussex. Bingley has been vacationing at a wonderful spa for dogs nearby. More about that later. England is engrossing. Being home is great.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Remembering Portia

Today Bingley and I were walking in the park with Marilyn and her pack--Franklin, Hattie and Ruby. From across the parking lot, a man who was preparing to play tennis shouted "Where's Portia?"

I told him that Portia had been killed. She had been attacked by a loose dog, had fought for her life for six days, but had lost the fight. He expressed his condolences and spoke of her beauty.

I was touched that he not only remembered that I had had another dog, but that he actually remembered her name.

As we walked away, Marilyn and I, both close to tears, agreed that Portia was one of those really unusual creatures who made a lasting impression on just about everyone who ever met her. If she had been human, Portia would have been a Supermodel or a Movie Star, an Audrey Hepburn or a Jacqueline Kennedy.

I will never forget a scene from a day or two after we adopted Portia. I was walking her about a block from my house, when two of my friends approached in their cars from opposite directions. Simultaneously, both slammed on their brakes, parked hurriedly, and came running over to Portia and me, and said--in unison--"She is beautiful!"

Portia didn't bat a lash. She thought that was how people said, "Hello."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Knitters for Critters

Just a reminder that Thanksgiving is fast approaching and if you knitters have not already sent something to Knitters for Critters, the time has come to get some yarn and start knitting.

Remember to use non-animal based yarn.

The critters thank you.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rescue: Part I

Feeling too cheerful? Too upbeat? Try clicking on any one of the Rescues at the right of this blog. Still too cheerful? Go to the A.K.C. website; click on the various breeds and find their rescues and visit those sites. Or, if you really want to cry, visit your local humane society or animal control site and click on adoptable dogs. lists over 200,000 dogs in need of adoption. Some of those dogs are purebred. Most are mixed breeds. The fact is simple and undeniable: Too many, many too many dogs are being bred. The lot of homeless dogs in our country is a national disgrace. Humane Society and Animal Control staffs are overworked and close to burnout. Private shelters, whether long established and endowed, upstarts with a staff of one or two, or somewhere in between, do their best. But some dogs--actually many dogs--spend their final days in a cage before they are mercifully euthanized.

The newest trend is for "no-kill" shelters. Believe me. I am all for the end to euthanizing innocent dogs whose suffering and deaths are the price paid for human ignorance, negligence and greed. But what advantage is there in a "no-kill" policy for the dog if there is no home for it, if its life must be spent in a cage with limited human interaction and no opportunity to do the doggy things for which it was bred?

You have probably heard this before. But let me repeat. If you MUST, absolutely MUST have a purebred puppy, educate yourself on your chosen breed. Look honestly at your lifestyle and the demands you will make of a dog. Be ABSOLUTELY sure that you will be able to accommodate the predictable behaviors of the dog you have chosen.

Search your soul. Even small dogs are puppies well beyond their first birthday. Some dogs are puppies for at least THREE years. Some dogs are puppies their whole lives. If you cannot tolerate puppy behavior, DO NOT GET A PUPPY!!!

Ask yourself, "What would make me get rid of a dog?" Moving? A new love interest who isn't a "dog person?" DO NOT GET A DOG!!!

Look around your home. I promise you that if you bring a puppy or a dog into your home, SOMETHING that you now possess--perhaps even treasure--will be chewed, peed, pooped, or vomited on. If you cannot bear for that to happen, DO NOT GET A PUPPY!!! DO NOT GET A DOG!!!

If you have educated yourself on your chosen breed and know in your heart of hearts that you can tolerate puppy behavior for a VERY LONG TIME, find a breeder who is involved in showing the breed. This will not guarantee a responsible breeder, but it is a start. Expect the breeder to ask you many questions, the more, the better. The best breeders like to interview the entire family. At the very least, the puppy's mother should be on the premises for you to meet. The best breeders will take the puppy back if things don't work out.

In spite of what I have said and will say in the balance of this post, I am not opposed to breeders of purebred dogs who devote themselves to dogs that they love. Without them, the great variety of dog breeds would disappear--robbing us all of the fun and delight that the diverse dog breeds bring to our lives.


Some really, really BAD reasons to use a dog for breeding are:

1. To give the kids an appreciation for "the miracle of birth."

2. To make some money. Currently a sizable number of breeders in this category are breeding so-called "Designer Dogs." These breeders range from Totally Ignorant to Consciously Unscrupulous. "Designer Dogs" are mixed breeds, and if you want to own a mixed breed, look for one of many that are now up for adoption in various rescues and shelters. Yes. You will find both "Golden Doodles" and "Labradoodles" in shelters and rescues.

3. To give the dog the "experience" before being neutered.

4. To give the owner the experience of puppies.

Then, there is the issue of pet stores. DO NOT BUY A PUPPY FROM A PET STORE!!!!. Pet stores sell dogs from three sources.

1. Puppy Mills--i.e. Dog Hell. Any doubt? Have a strong stomach? Click here and read the information on the right hand column if you are thinking about buying a pet store puppy.

2. "Backyard Breeders" or "Kitchen Breeders" or "Basement Breeders"--See Some really, really BAD reasons to use your dog for breeding.

3. "Non-Show Quality Puppies" from show breeders who should--and do know better. These breeders know that they should neuter the dog in question and sell it for a pet. But it's easier and more profitable to sell the poor dog to a pet store that will, in turn, sell it at an inflated price.

The result of all this ignorance, negligence, and greed is ENORMOUS suffering of ENORMOUS numbers of dogs.

If people would stop buying dogs from pet stores and irresponsible breeders, the suffering of dogs could be greatly reduced.

Meantime, there are The Rescues. You want a purebred dog? Chances are good that, if you persist, you will be able to adopt the purebred of your choice who is in need of rescue--or "re-homing"--if euphemisms are more comfortable for you. If you want one of the better-known breeds, you will have many, many dogs from which to choose. Check out Labrador Rescues in your community, or Golden Retriever Rescues, or Chihuahua Rescues or Cocker Spaniel Rescues.

If a mixed breed is what you are looking for, your choices are almost limitless.

In another post, I will discuss some of what you might expect when you bring a rescued dog into your home. Hint: You will need to do some more Soul Searching. But keep the picture of the havoc even the best, highest quality purebred puppy can wreck on a house while you are doing that Soul Searching.

To Be Continued.