Monday, October 25, 2010

Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday

In June 2008, Portia, Bingley and I began to walk on Tuesday mornings with Marilyn and her pack: Franklin, Hattie and Ruby. Ruby was the oldest of the hounds and by far the smallest. It wasn't long before I began to call her Ruby Tuesday. Even when our walk days changed to Monday, I still thought of her as Ruby Tuesday.

Until Marilyn adopted her, Ruby's life was not pleasant. But she wasn't one to protest her lot. She was quiet and unassuming. Portia insisted on deference. Franklin likes to show off. Bingley will suddenly race for a rabbit. Hattie can be a little touchy when her ailments are bothering her. Magic is exploring her Inner Princess and lets us all know if she is not receiving the attention she thinks she deserves. But Ruby was always sweet tempered, tolerated Bingley's persistent attention, never showed jealousy, and could be counted on to be a compliant member of the pack.

Ruby was in kidney failure for quite some time. Then about six weeks ago, her condition became acute, and the vet told Marilyn that Ruby's days were numbered. But even though she was desperately ill, Ruby still enjoyed her walks and insisted on going.

Over the last few weeks, we have watched as Ruby literally became skin and bones. Last week she wasn't the first dog to ask for a rest. She seemed determined to keep up with the pack. But we left early in order to spare her. We hoped to see her this week. We hoped that she would live until her eleventh birthday on November 1. But Sunday, October 25th, she was so ill, she clearly needed help to cross the Rainbow Bridge.

She has now joined Portia. I like to think that she and Portia are getting re-acquainted and that Portia is showing Ruby around her new home.

Our deepest condolences go out to Marilyn, Jerry, Franklin and Hattie. Thank you, Marilyn and Jerry for giving Ruby the best years of her life.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What We Do For Love

The song says It Never Rains In Southern California, which, of course is true some years and very untrue other years. I would have sworn that it never rains in October in Southern California, but this year is an exception. AND, we "never" have thunder storms in Southern California, but this year has been an exception. Last night we had a sustained thunder and lightening storm. Nothing by Kansas City or D.C. standards, but impressive for us.

And terrifying for poor Bingley. At 2am, he woke us up, whimpering and shaking. There is something profoundly sad about trying to comfort a powerful 80 pound dog who is pacing, panting and trembling with fear.

Bingley isn't a snuggler. He sometimes sits in front of me and asks to be petted. But even when he hops up on the sofa next to me, he maintains a little distance. Last night, he did let me rub his ears and head during the worst of the storm. But, mostly, he just wanted me to be close by. He finally agreed to settle down in his bed if I would sit on the floor next to him.

Magic has her own issues, but she shares none of Bingley's fears of thunder and lightening. She did stir herself to nose in for a little attention, but got bored and went back to sleep.

The storm finally passed about 3:15 this morning, when I was able to crawl back into bed until the alarm rang at 5:00.

Thunderstorms are in the forecast for today and tomorrow. I'm keeping a close watch on the radar map.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy Gottcha Day, Bingley!

Three years ago today, the Chief Rescuer of Greyhound Adoption Center opened the doors of a dog hauler and found five dogs. Two were dead. Three had survived. One of those dogs was Bingley.

He had begun his racing career winning a race in Florida before his second birthday. Eventually, he was shipped to Arizona. After Bingley had lost a few races, he was sold to a gambling man who thought he could make money running his own string of dogs. Five racing Greyhounds are not cheap to keep. Food costs money. Dogs need a lot of water to stay hydrated in a hot hauler being driven across the Arizona and California deserts.

The dogs were rescued just in time. Nine days later, fires swept through San Diego County. Greyhound Adoption Center's kennel had to be evacuated and rescues were put on hold.

Thank you, Chief Rescuer! Thank you all of the staff and volunteers of Greyhound Adoption Center. We wouldn't have wanted to miss having Bingley in our lives.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


It's strange, isn't it, how something will be outside one's range of awareness and interest, then it quickly comes to one's attention from more than one source?

Confession: I have never found the Chihuahua to be an appealing breed. My stereotype of them has been of a small, yapping dog who is more than likely to defy any attempt at training.

But, slowly, over the past five years or so, I have become more and more aware of their serious plight, of the great suffering of many Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes.

At least once a week, I check out the dogs available for adoption at Pet Orphans of Southern California.

It's a sentimental thing with me. Pet Orphans was Daphne's, our first rescue's, Alma Mater. I hold the kind, caring people there in high esteem and I cheer every time one of their rescues finds a forever home.

Pet Orphans takes dogs of all breeds and mixes. But what I began to observe over the past few years was the comparatively high proportion of Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes among their dogs available for adoption. It also seemed to me that many of these dogs waited an appreciable length of time before finding homes. I began to realize that Chihuahuas were a breed in considerable distress.

Then, about a year ago, a kind animal lover sent me the picture of a particularly beautiful long haired, blue merle Chihuahua. This lovely, carefully bred creature was in desperate need of a home asap. Another indication of Chihuahua distress.

Then, just this past Sunday, John called my attention to a book mentioned in the San Diego Union Tribune: A Small Furry Prayer: Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life. The author, Steven Kotler, was signing books at Warwick's in La Jolla last night. There was no way I could go, so I did the next best thing and looked Kotler up on the net. It turns out that he and his wife run a dog rescue in New Mexico: Rancho de Chihuahua. These are people who are serious about doing something for the Chihuahua's plight. I urge you to click around their site and educate yourself about the special needs of these tiny, indomitable dogs.

Then, in case I wasn't getting the message, it was underlined for me last night as I was walking Bingley and Magic just before bedtime. A car was moving slowly down the street. When it came opposite us, the driver stopped and rolled down his window.

"Excuse me, m'am. Have you seen a very small dog?"

My immediate reaction was Thank Heavens I have not seen a loose, very small dog! It's one of my biggest nightmares as I walk two high prey sight hounds.

But I didn't share that reaction. I asked for a description.

Surprise, Surprise. The lost, loose dog was a Chihuahua.


But, gentle reader, I restrained myself. I asked how the little dog had gotten loose.

It seems the the man was "dog sitting" three Chihuahuas. He had left them alone in his backyard for a sufficiently lengthy time that they had dug under his fence and wandered off. The other two had been found, but one little girl was still loose. The last sighting had been down the hill along the edge of a busy four lane street.

All paws are crossed this morning, hoping and praying that the little dog was found, that the owner has now learned to screen his "dog sitter" more carefully, and that the "dog sitter" now knows better than to leave a dog unattended in his back yard.

Meanwhile, lovers of this beleaguered breed are doing all they can. A local rescue is: Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego Friends of Portia send you a Big Thank You!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pleasant News Break

The worlds of rescue and leash laws are sometimes satisfying, but too often they are frustrating and unhappy.

But loving owners and caring "dog people" are bright spots.

Not long ago, the owner of the fabulous knit shop, Yarning for You, the one and only Diva Debra, suffered a family loss that required an extended trip Back East. She was fretting about what to do with the family's beloved Lab, Molly, who is getting on in years and is not accustomed to change--much less being without family members.

Debra had heard me rave about Windsong and decided to board Molly there. As anyone who loves and cares for a closely attached dog, Debra was worried about how Molly would adjust in new surroundings.

Well. It turns out that Molly had a wonderful time romping and playing with some new found friends at Windsong under the supervision of Mike, Michelle and Jessica.

The physical surroundings of Windsong make it possible for them to provide the quality of care that they do for their boarders, but the most important factor is that they really know and understand dogs' behavior and needs. Mike's family were "dog people"--breeding and showing Whippets and running a boarding kennel. So when Mike takes your dog(s) into his care, you can relax, knowing that a true "dog person" is looking after your beloved companion.

Mike judges Hounds and Terriers in A.K.C shows. If you get a chance, you can catch him in this role at the Oklahoma City Kennel Club Dog Show, San Diego Channel 6, XETV, Sunday, October 10 at 2p.m. Just wait about 10 minutes until the Hounds take the ring.

He'll also be judging the Terriers at the National Dog Show/Philadelphia Kennel Club, which will air on November 25 on NBC TV at 12pm

I wonder if Bingley and Magic will recognize Mike on TV?