Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bingley Report III

Tomorrow, it will be one week since Bingley's surgery. We are very encouraged with the progress he has made in that time. After his bandage was removed on Wednesday, his paw was bleeding from multiple sores and it sported a fresh incision with blood incrusted stitches surrounded by bruising. In spite of the fact that we have yet to go a full day without his finding a way to adjust his collar so that he can lick one of his wounds, the healing has been swift and remarkable. His incision looks very clean and there is little swelling left. The large, deep sore is actually closing slowly. Today, he is experimenting with putting weight on the paw. I'm guessing that within the week, he will be walking on it. As Mike Dougherty of Windsong has told me repeatedly, "Bingley is one tough dog.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


To all Friends of Portia, a Very Merry Christmas! From John, Judith, Magic, and Bingley, who is emerging from his post operative daze.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Bingley Report II

Bingley is now "resting comfortably", I believe is the standard phrase. We have a new regimen of meds, and it looks as if the bandage will have to come off Wednesday, so the healing will require constant monitoring. But otherwise, the bandage sores will become a serious problem and might compromise the surgical healing. Thank you to everyone who expressed concern and offered prayers and good thoughts. This evening, John and I are very relieved.

Bingley Report

Bingley is out of surgery and in recovery. The next few hours will be important while his system clears of anesthesia, but so far, so good. We are inching toward feeling relieved and waiting for the call to let us know he is ready to come home. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. All paws crossed.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Week Four: This Is The Week That Was

I have been marking off the weeks since Bingley broke his toe. Seven more weeks till normal. Six more weeks till normal. Today, I expected to say, Four more weeks till normal. But instead, we're looking at a New Normal--ominous words. Tuesday, when Bingley went in for a bandage change, he came out with no bandage, no splint. In spite of keeping the bandage absolutely dry, he had developed numerous sores under the bandage. To complicate matters, even the most gentle tape--paper tape--peels off the tissue thin skin that covers his ankle and paw. I brought home a dog with a paw bleeding from multiple sores, and a new medication in powder form to be applied twice a day--AND--the old nemesis of all Greyhound guardians--the e-collar. Show me a Greyhound guardian with any length of experience with the breed and I will show you a person with a collection of failed collars that their sleek canine companion has outwitted, resulting in the serious compromising of healing injuries or surgical incisions. Standard issue e-collars are designed proportionally. The longer the collar, the wider the neck. I'm guessing that the circumference of a Greyhound's neck is not much larger than that of a Miniature Poodle. AND, their heads narrow from ear to nose. That in combination with thin skin, short, fine fur, and no body fat, and you have a recipe for long, complicated recovery. It was no time at all before John and I concluded that Bingley could not be left alone for any extended time. I figured, four more weeks of this drill. HOWEVER, when we returned yesterday for an evaluation of Bingley's progress, having at least staunched the bleeding of his wounds, we were faced with another unwelcome development. An x-ray revealed that no healing had occurred to the broken bone. Poor Bingley had suffered all pain and no gain. This sad situation confronted us with an option of Plan B and Plan C--or I think, more accurately, Plan C and Plan D. (Plan A was splint and bandage. Plan B was Open Wound Healing) Plan C was an attempt at pinning or plating the toe in an intricate piece of canine orthopedic surgery, which involved extended time of recovery, including extensive bandaging and anti-biotics. (I am sparing you, dear reader, the details of the impact of anti-biotics on Bingley's sensitive digestive/elimination system.) Plan D was amputation of the little toe, which promises a speedier recovery time and restoration of the use of the paw.
Bandages and anti-biotics are still in the picture, but for a shorter period of time. It was a painful decision. We consulted with our Greyhound adviser. One of the advantages to adopting a Greyhound through a well organized, cautious rescue is that you are assigned an old Greyhound hand to help you through just this sort of problem. After considering all factors, we have decided on amputation of Bingley's little toe on his left front paw. Prognosis is excellent. The risk of general anesthesia to a Greyhound is always a factor, but the surgery we have chosen is briefer than the other surgery, so we are minimizing that risk as much as possible. The surgery is scheduled for shortly after 7am Pacific Time. If you are so inclined, whisper a prayer for our beloved Bingley, Dr. Pearson, and assisting vet techs. All paws crossed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Annual Christmas Downer Post

This morning I received an email from a friend whose dog just spent some quality time at the vet's--and still is not feeling up to par. The reason? Ingestion of a couple of Christmas Tree decorations. All paws crossed for Toki's speedy recovery. He's a lucky dog because the humans in his life are close observers of his health status and took quick action. But his misadventure reminded me that I am late with my Annual Christmas Warning Regarding Pets. Where to begin? At Christmastime, we bring all manner of novel and potentially toxic items into our homes. We are busy and preoccupied, and that forms a dangerous mix for dogs and cats. Right now I have seven Poinsettia plants arranged around my living and dining rooms. I am trying to keep them well-watered, so that leaves don't fall on the floor where Bingley and Magic might ingest them. I have no Mistletoe this year, but it, too, is a deadly poison. Then, there are substances like chocolate, which flood our homes during this season, but which can be deadly to our canine and feline companions. Every time you bring something novel into your home, think about its potential impact on your pets. And as cheery as a lighted Christmas Tree is in your front window, don't leave your tree lights on when you are away from home. Your pet can chew on a wire and create a hazard both to himself and to your house. And since I am deeply into Grinch territory, I might as well go all the way and remind you that it is not a good idea to give a live animal as a Christmas gift. Of course, you would never dream of "surprising" someone with a puppy or kitten, for whom the recipient is totally unprepared! But it is also true that most homes are too much out of regular routine during the holidays to provide a calm setting in which the new family member can make an optimal adjustment. Wait until "normal" is re-established after New Year's to bring your dog or cat, puppy or kitten home. Finally, a gift suggestion for the recipient who has everything. Why not make a donation in their name to a rescue. If you don't have a favorite rescue, consult the list on the right hand side of the screen. And that's not a "Grinchy" suggestion, but goes to the heart of giving. Do choose a rescue that is involved with the actual rescue and placement of homeless pets. (Hint: although their advertisements lead you to believe otherwise, the United States Humane Society does NOT act as an actual rescue.) Give to a local organization that you can check out personally.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Here She Is!

Wasn't I right? Isn't she the living, breathing definition of adorable? And she needs a home. Email me at portiasmom at live dot com if you have room in your heart and home for this little darling.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Absolutely Adorable!

If I figure out how to post her picture, I will do it. But believe me, this little dog who is looking for a home is the operational definition of adorable. Her rescuers think she is a Lhasa Apso Poodle mix. She is a soft cafe au lait color with fluffy hair that doesn't look like it sheds. Spayed and about six pounds. You couldn't find a sweeter companion. If you want to give this darling a home, email me. portiasmom at live dot com.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Week Two

It's never encouraging when you leave off a dog for what you think is a routine procedure, and when you return, the receptionist says, "The doctor wants to speak with you." That's what happened when we went to pick up Bingley from his bandage change on Saturday. The problem was that the skin on his paw under the bandage still looked "rough" and the possibility of an infection was high. So we needed to up the anti-biotic dosage and return for another bandage change on Monday (today). Just in case my anxiety over the possible side-effects of more anti-biotic was not sufficiently high, it was mentioned that if Bingley's skin under the bandage did not improve, we would be looking at an "open splint" healing. Visions of struggles with an e-collar, sleepless nights, waking repeatedly to check if Bingley was busy removing his splint, filled my fervid brain. To top it all, his new bandage--complete with festive Christmas Tree cutout-- was too large to fit into the wonderful heavy-duty IV drip baggie that had served us so well the prior week. I do envy positive thinkers. As we took Bingley home, I contemplated worst case scenarios. What if an infection got started in his paw? What if the infection moved into the broken toe? How would I cope with the intestinal fallout--my new euphemism for raging diarrhea--from the increased dosage of anti-biotic? How could I Jerry-rig a protective baggie that would last an entire walk? Over the weekend, we learned that conventional zip lock baggies barely last a walk, and a large amount of paper tape has to be used to keep them on. Bingley went from two anti-biotic capsules a day to three, with as much Pepto Bismol as I could force down his throat. I fretted a lot. Today, we returned for another bandage change.Thank Heavens, there is a noticeable improvement in the skin on Bingley's paw. I can keep him at three anti-biotic capsules--rather than upping the dosage to four, and we don't have to return for another bandage change until Friday--four days instead of the two or three that we were originally told. He wore a regular zip-lock baggie home from the vet's, but I have a new IV variety that I'm hoping will fit. I'll try it before his next outing. Rain is predicted for Thursday,which will bring its own challenges. But, as my mother used to say "Sufficient unto the day (is the evil thereof.)" So we have now ticked off the second week of Bingley's little toe recovery. (The only thing "little" about it is the identification of the toe he broke.) And I keep telling myself: This is a finite process.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Week One

Having dogs in one's home is much like having toddlers--especially with dogs like Bingley who enjoy toys and leave them scattered all over the living room and dining room floors. But, when a dog is sick or injured, the concept of dog as very young child can rise to a whole new level. It's always a little stunning to come home from the vet's with a dog woozy from sedation and a little bag full of medications to be given in precisely the proper amount at the proper times. For example, Bingley has a liquid anti-inflammatory that must be extracted from the bottle via syringe, with markings for weight on its side. Mastering how the top of this bottle opens was a challenge. But, after a few days, I have learned the drill and Bingley is receiving his anti-inflammatory in the proper amount at the proper time. "Bagging" his bandage for walks was another matter. I assumed (wrongly) that rain was the only moisture that required his bandage to be bagged in order to keep it dry. But, evidently, just walking on damp grass compromises the bandage's proper degree of dryness. This was discovered when his first bandage was changed on Saturday. But--bless my wonderful vet's team--Bingley was outfitted with a super strong plastic bag, complete with torn panty-hose tie, which he now sports every time he sticks his nose out of doors. It was also discovered that he had not been put on an anti-biotic, so that was rectified. And, with Bingley's delicate tummy, you can imagine the result. Diarrhea! I'm being generous with the Pepto, but it's very touch and go--mostly go. At 1:45 this morning, Bingley woke me up with a pleading whimper. I staggered around, pulled a long coat over my nighty, bagged his bandage, hooked up his harness and leash and discovered, yes, indeed, he was desperate. When we returned, Miss Magic was awake and made it clear that she, too, had to be walked. I really worked on trying to be grateful that my dogs let me know their needs rather than just relieving themselves in the house. The complication is that the recent rains have made the backyard a mud flat and I cannot let Bingley out there because I can't clean off his paws when he is lacking one paw to balance himself. Today, rain is predicted, but later in the week, we are supposed to start a sunny, dry period. Hope, hope hope. I'm marking off the weeks. Two weeks of anti-biotic. Seven more weeks of splint, bandage and bagging. As my research adviser kept reminding me when I was designing, running the study, and writing my dissertation, "This is a finite process." I keep reminding myself of that.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bingley The Patient

Remember when you went away to summer camp and came home with a broken arm, poison ivy, or the world's worst sunburn? For Bingley and Magic, going to Windsong is a lot like human children going to camp. That's really the only place where they can run free in a safe, spacious area. But late in his recent visit to Windsong, Bingley developed a limp--just didn't want to put weight on his front left paw. Because it is almost exactly five years ago since Zephyr developed a limp right after Thanksgiving and it was the first symptom of incurable osteo sarcoma, I was quite concerned. Mike,the proprietor of Windsong, who has seen many canine injuries, thought it looked like a soft tissue injury. I clung to that, all the while re-living our loss of Zephyr. So Saturday, after we unpacked, we took Bingley to the vet. She, too, diagnosed a soft tissue injury, but just to be on the safe side, we had x-rays taken to confirm the diagnosis. The results relieved my worst fears. No osteo sarcoma! However, we are very glad that we had x-rays. They revealed a break in the outside toe of the left front paw. So Bingley is sporting a splint covered by a heavy bandage that goes up halfway to his knee. He's on pain meds and anti-inflammatory meds and is learning a different way to walk. No long morning walks. No walks in the park with Marilyn's pack. We're looking at 6-8 weeks,poor lad. But as Mike says, Bingley is one tough dog, so he is adapting quite stoically.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Little Magic, Happy At Last

John and I were out of town for Thanksgiving week, so I was unable to post on the exact anniversary of Magic's arrival in our home: November 20, 2009.
Every rescue requires time and patience after adoption. Each has their own sad past and defensive behaviors they use to cope. Magic was a Girl With A Reputation at the rescue kennel. Volunteers and staff still talk about how she unlocked two gates and led a little band of escapees across the Greyhound Adoption Center property, until--thank heavens--they were spotted and returned to quarters. Magic was subsequently placed in a foster home that had super secure premises. And we have her insightful foster mother to thank for understanding that Magic was just "making do" as the seventh of seven dogs in her pack. Her foster mother understood that Magic craved much more individual attention than it was possible for her to receive as a member of a large pack. But finding a home for a sight hound mix with a reputation is not an easy thing to do For that little miracle, we have our good friend Marilyn to thank. Marilyn literally walked with me through the traumatic loss of Portia, knew and loved Bingley, and sensed the time when John and I would be able to adopt another companion for Bingley. After John and I visited the GAC kennel and didn't feel any connection to any of the girl dogs available for adoption, Marilyn called and said "Why not Magic?" Of course I knew who Magic was. After all, She was a Girl With A Reputation. But for some reason, I had always been attracted to "fuzzies"--Greyhound mixes with long or rough coated sight hound breeds. Magic, a Greyhound-Scottish Deerhound mix, was a "fuzzie". Her initial days with us were not auspicious. She was visibly mourning the loss of her foster mother and her foster mother's daughter--the first human bonds she had ever formed. She didn't trust men, and she didn't want to be near John--would move if he settled near her. Over the three years she has lived with us, we have seen ongoing blossoming. She loves John and seeks him out for attention. She has come to terms with Bingley's play and actually enjoys it. She is a good little walker on leash. AND, she occasionally, actually plays with a stuffed toy! Today when we picked up Bingley and Magic from the wonderful Windsong Resort for Pets, Mike Dougherty, who knows more about dogs--and especially sight hounds--than any other human, remarked on Magic's transformation. John and I glowed with pride in his compliment for our Grande Duchess. Yes. Adopting a rescued dog takes time--sometimes a very long time--and patience, patience, patience. And the realities of contemporary life seem to militate against the dog-human connection that is necessary for that process. But this Thanksgiving, I am thankful that John and I are in agreement about adopting rescued dogs and that we are able to adapt our way of life to their needs. The rewards are indescribable. So Happy Belated Gotcha Day, Miss Magic. We wouldn't have wanted to miss the pleasure of your company.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Beware Of Retractable Leashes!

For a long time, I have loathed retractable leashes. Walking two sight hounds who weigh eighty-one and seventy-eight pounds respectively, I must maintain control of my dogs at all times. I use four foot, reinforced velvet leashes with adjustable loops to wrap around my wrist. Any moving object will get my dogs' attention, and if I am not alert, I will be pulled along by two running machines that can reach forty-five miles per hour in a few strides. A sight I dread is a small dog being walked on a retractable leash. A small animal, dashing about erratically, is the most tantalizing prey for Bingley and Magic. Trying to control them under such circumstances is challenging, and, if I fail, serious injury can result. And I am not speaking only of the little dog. A friend of mine recently told me her story which illustrates a quite different, but equally serious, danger of retractable leashes. My friend is a tall, large-bone lady who is perfectly comfortable riding very large horses and jumping them over hurdles. She is at ease around both horses and dogs, and for years has always had an Australian Shepherd as her canine companion. Her Aussies are beautifully trained and well behaved. Recently, my friend was taking a walk with her sister and her dog. They were in the country-side, following along a gravel road. To give the Aussie a sense of freedom, my friend had her on a retractable leash let out to eighteen feet. What happened next is the intersection of innate dog behavior with physics. The Aussie saw a squirrel before my friend did. My friend does remember being lifted up in the air. Mercifully, she cannot remember the following seconds--or minutes. She came to her senses after having been dragged down the gravel road, her face, arms and one hand bleeding profusely. With help of her sister and husband, she was able to get to an emergency room for treatment. But the healing has been slow and painful. She will be consulting a plastic surgeon. If you are using a retractable leash, I hope I have frightened you.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Happy News

I visit some rescue sites quite often, partly to see what's out there--more bully dog mixes and chihuahua mixes than ever. But name a breed and you'll find it or a mix with the breed in it. One of my favorite rescues is Pet Orphans of Southern California. It's a beautifully run rescue for both dogs and cats, located in Van Nuys, California. It was the alma mater of our first rescued dog, the unforgettable Daphne. Ajay, a small, eleven year old spaniel mix has been on their adoptable list for months, waiting for a home. What a cute dog! Alas, he had the bad luck to lose his home at an advanced age. Eleven year old dogs are very hard to place. But, when I checked the Pet Orphan's site today, I discovered that Ajay has a new home. Congratulations Ajay! and Thank You Pet Orphans for all you do for homeless dogs and cats.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Another Needy Dog

A wonderful Rottweiler-Shepherd mix is in desperate need of a home. Another victim of the economy. His human had to downsize into an apartment that doesn't permit dogs. Our Rottie mix is well socialized, house trained, gets along well with other dogs and small animals, walks well on a leash and behaves himself in off-leash dog parks. Frankly, friends, I'm close to tears as I type, because so many of these sad stories come to my attention. And as I read of a new round of lay-offs, I know that things will only get worse for our domestic pets, and rescues will face grim fundraising times. All I can say is: If you are thinking of adding a new canine companion to your life, do not purchase a puppy from any sort of breeder. Show puppies will always find homes and pet stores support puppy mills that are dog concentration camps. Backyard and kitchen breeders need to be ignored until they stop their destructive practices. If you know of a home for this very deserving dog, please contact me at: portiasmom at live dot com.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Looking For A Home

This is a sad story that happens all too often: a senior dog with senior human companions. A twelve year old Shih Tzu is in need of a home. She is in good health and very sweet. If you or someone you know can take her in, please email me: portiasmom at live dot com.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sugar, R.I.P.

These past weeks have been a season of loss for my friends and family. A third dog, Sugar, a ten year old Rottweiler, passed away about ten days ago. Sugar joined my hairdresser's family when, as a year old, she was abandoned on the streets of Oceanside, California. She hung around the Starbuck's that my hairdresser's husband frequented, surviving on treats she begged from customers. My hairdresser's husband couldn't stand her plight and brought her home to join the canine family they already had: Rocco, a big, serious male Rottweiler, Ginger, a sweet Golden Retriever mix, and Klondike, a Newfoundland-Labrador mix. Sugar managed to let each dog know that she respected them and would not intrude on their territory. Somewhere along the line, two Rat Terriers, Tim and Jim, joined the pack. Rocco, Ginger, and Klondike crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and Sugar was left as the only "adult" with the little rascals, Tim and Jim. She was a quiet presence, wandering in and out of the hair studio, sunning by the pool, graciously greeting guests and then leaving them alone. Now she is gone and my deepest condolences go to her family.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lucy, R.I.P.

Lucy crossed the Rainbow Bridge yesterday in the company of those who loved her. I cannot write a better tribute to her than Barbara has. But I do treasure the memory of meeting her. It always amazes me how dogs who have suffered neglect and probably cruelty can decide to trust human beings again. They seem to have an inner compass that tells them, "These are good people." Please pray for Lucy's family as they grieve the loss of an exceptional canine companion.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lucy, A True Friend of Portia, by guest blogger, Barbara

July 2000. Stopping by my brother's house on the way home from work, I encountered the most neglected dog I have ever met. We are used to stray animals on the dead end road to our family home, but this one was different. She appeared to be a reddish black, midsized dog with dreadlocks that were two feet long. It took days to get her to come close enough to us so that she could accept a drink of water and we could leash her. My brother, Tom, fell in love with this somewhat frightening creature and took her to a vet. The doctor said she was a spayed Chow-Australian Shepherd mix who had spent most of her first two years living on the street. As expected, no one claimed her, nor was anyone interested in taking her on, except my brother. At the time, I lived in an apartment nearby with a Siamese princess. So her care was up to Tom, who named her Lucy. It was very difficult to find anyone willing to groom her, but a local mobile groomer took on the three hour chore of shaving away her long neglected double coat. Lucy's fur grew back glossy black with a Chow ruff and ears and with Aussie waves and tail. She looked like a black bear with shiny white teeth With her stiff legged Chow gait and boundless Aussie energy, she quickly began to fiercely protect her new home and yard. Tom became a devotee of Cesar Milan and Lucy became a successful rescue with one exception--Other Dogs. This aggression was never overcome and so we always walked her with a great deal of control and warned off other dog walkers. (Do not talk to me about retractable leashes!) She eventually learned to coexist with the inside cats, and became good friends with a stray white bunny, whom I also found on our road. Lucy accepted these animals as part of her pack and herded them, along with visitors to our home. She loved everyone if we said they were OK, but protected me against men in ball caps or uniforms. All our visitors grew to Love Lucy. As I write, Lucy is getting ready to leave us. She has a severe and fast growing cancer under her tongue. Tom is doing everything he can to keep her comfortable while there is still quality of life to maintain. How do you tell such a devoted creature that it is OK to leave us? My sweet Bella Lucia, please join Samantha. Chase each other, and wait for me like the devoted loving souls you are.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Catching Up

Sorry for the blogging hiatus. I've been recovering from cataract surgery, which went well, but I'm having to teach my brain how to use the spiffy, high tech lenses that are the replacements for my old, crusty lenses. Today I resumed my early morning dog walking. I can't say that I leap out of bed, brimming with enthusiasm and energy. But Bingley and Magic do. And I would have to be a totally different person from who I am if I could resist their eager expectation of a morning walk. John has been walking them while my eye healed, so they didn't go without their favorite treat. But this morning, I was back on the job. It's strange, but getting up at 5am and going out to walk all by myself is something that I would not contemplate. But with a dog or two, it's a wonderful way to start the day. And now that the season has turned, it's dark and the stars are still out and if there is a moon, it's still shining. It's all there when I open the front door and I think of Adam and Eve's duet from Hayden's Creation. On a different topic, I realized this morning that I had just missed Bingley's rescue date. It must have been October 9,10, or 11 2007. I'm guessing because he received his first inoculations on October 12. He was rescued just in time, just before he and his two surviving pals would have succumbed to starvation like the two dead dogs in the hauler, and just before the start of wildfires that would have made the rescue impossible. Indeed, he had barely been settled into the Greyhound Adoption Center's kennel when all the dogs had to be evacuated to a safer place because of the fires. So. Belated Happy Rescue Day, Bingley! Thank you to GAC for the tireless work they do, saving displaced Greyhounds and Greyhound mixes. We wouldn't have wanted to miss the joy of having Bingley in our lives.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Georgia R.I.P

A great dog's heart stopped beating today. Georgia, a true Doggie Angel, crossed the Rainbow Bridge Deepest condolences to Hilary, Thomas, James and Nicholas.

Monday, October 1, 2012


There is a beagle mix with a heart rending story who is in need of a home. Her name is Catalina. She was rescued and brought over the border from Tijuana after suffering extreme abuse which has cost her one eye. Good Samaritans are paying for spay and initial medical care. She is in a loving foster home at present, but cannot remain there indefinitely. If you want a loyal canine companion who will keep you company,Catalina is the dog for you. Please email me at portiasmom (at) live dot com if you have a place in your heart and home for this sweet dog.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pits In Need

I received an email about Pit Bull puppy sisters who need to be placed with a rescue. As I understand it, $1100.00 has been raised for their care, but the shelter will not release them unless experienced rescuers sign them out. If you know of a rescue or work with a rescue that can help, email me:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Georgia On My Mind

Georgia, my 'Grand Dog', is a six or seven year old Yellow Lab. We don't know her precise age because her first family dumped her at the local humane society where she stayed in a cage for quite a while until my daughter rescued her five years ago. Yesterday we received the news that every pet owner dreads. Georgia has cancer. Today she is having an ultra-sound to pin-point the location. The only hope is that the cancer is in the spleen, which can be removed. If not.... Please pray that the veterinarian will make an accurate diagnosis, that Georgia will receive the best treatment with as little pain as possible. And pray for my daughter and three grandsons who love Georgia and are facing the possibility of a great deal of emotional pain. UPDATE: The diagnosis is pulmonary hypertension and the prognosis is not hopeful. Please pray for Georgia and her family.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rescue Saints

As I have often said, dog rescue is not for the faint of heart. It is frequently heartbreaking. Too many dogs are being bred on purpose and too many dogs breed "accidentally" because their owners will not spay or neuter them. The only people who should even be thinking about breeding dogs are people who are devoted to a specific breed and who are active in the show world. That is a very limited number of people. These are interesting times for Greyhound rescue. Interesting in the sense of "May you live in interesting times." Tracks are closing down. The Greyhound racing industry is hitting hard financial times, and thousands of dogs are in need of rescue. The sad fact is, many thousands will not be rescued in time, but will be destroyed. Greyhound Adoption Center is unique among rescues in that it has kennel facilities for up to fifty dogs. And recently, the kennel has been operating at close to capacity. As racing kennels and breeding farms are being emptied, we are seeing some old dogs who had the bad luck to be chosen for breeding when their careers as racers were over. Eight and nine year old brood bitches and breeding studs are not at the top of the "adoptable" list. So when one of them finds a home, it is a cause for great joy. Yesterday, that happened. Some people are rescue saints. About four years ago Greyhound Adoption Center had a hard to place dog, a handsome dog with "issues". Then a couple, knowing his history, took him home, loved him, and gave him a wonderful life. Last week, while he was running around the backyard, one of his legs shattered. The nightmare of any Greyhound lover. It was bone cancer, and the dog had to be euthanized immediately to put him out of horrific pain. The couple was devastated with grief. But they knew that there would be another hard to place dog at GAC. So yesterday they went to the kennel and made friends with an eight year old who had been used as a brood. She also had a broken ankle that had not been attended to and so it healed incorrectly. She's a dark brindle with tuxedo markings and her face is beginning to turn grey. Against all odds, she has a wonderful new home and will live out her years as a treasured companion. The grief of losing a dog is unspeakable. People have to come to terms with that loss on their own timetable. But some people are able to reach out to another needy dog as a way to cope with their loss. Bless them.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 Plus 11

An alternate title for this post would be: How A Street-Wise, Mixed-Breed, Rescued Dog With Issues Helped Me Make It Through 9/11
The dog in question was Daphne, our first rescue. I always called her a Wheaten-Whippet, but she very well might have been a Wheaten-Greyhound. She was a Disney Dog, adorably scruffy, perfect for movies and advertisements. Perhaps she had been bred with that goal in mind. She was, after all, found wandering the streets of L.A. as a year old pup. Her adorable looks had been both her curse and salvation. Her looks proclaimed her Very Adoptable, so she was selected for rescue from L.A.Animal Control by the kind people of Pet Orphans of Southern California, located in Van Nuys. However, puppy time on the mean streets of L.A. had taught Daphne some pretty mean street ways, and her first two placements--who were really expecting a Disney Dog--fell through. When I saw her wonderful face, just pleading for John and me to drive up to Van Nuys and bring her home, she had been at the Pet Orphan's kennel for 2 years. She had not been happy to be kenneled. As the nice people at Pet Orphans explained, Daphne had issues. Talk about jumping in at the deep end of rescue! We brought Daphne home on a hot April Sunday in 2001. We had a steep learning curve. Daphne would fight another dog to the death for a tiny crumb of food. Lesson: Do NOT have another dog around in the presence of Daphne and food. Daphne was certain that noisy trucks and motorcycles were going to kill her, and so she would fight back with all her might. Lesson: Always take an ample supply of treats to stuff in her mouth during walks in case a truck or motorcycle was encountered. Daphne did not stop for screens if she saw something to chase outside. Lesson: Turn on the air conditioner. But Daphne also brought a joie de vivre with her that was contagious. Every morning, she woke me up, tail wagging, twisting side to side, saying, "It's a glorious day, Judith, and if you don't get up Right Now, you might miss one second of it and you won't want to risk that!" She also loved and really treasured her toys and tennis balls. Each morning, she would remove them one by one from their basket and during the day, she guarded them with love. On 9/11, John had left for work and I had gone back to sleep. Daphne was still asleep when the phone rang shortly after 6am, PDT. It was our daughter, who lives in Mountain Time. She was crying and close to hysterics. Which was only realistic for the mother of two little boys who was five months along with her third. "Mother! The twin towers have been hit! The Pentagon has been hit! Turn on the T.V.!" I really couldn't absorb what she was telling me. So I said, "I'm going to walk the dog first, and then I'll turn on the T.V." And that's what I did. As if I could somehow put off fate as long as I walked Daphne. But of course, we finally came home and I turned on the T.V. to witness the horror unfolding. I sat down and began to cry as I watched. In a little while, I felt a soft nudge against my leg. It was Daphne. She had brought me her favorite toy, a pink dolphin she had "chosen" on a trip to a pet supply store. "Here, Judith. Here is Dolphin. I've licked him as best I can and he always makes me feel better. I think he'll make you feel better, too." And on through the day, Daphne continued to comfort me with her toys. And when her toys were exhausted, she brought her tennis balls, one at a time. In times of trauma and fear, it is the little kindnesses that get us through. And for me, having a dog around at such a time is one of life's great comforts. Thank you, darling Daphne.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Happy Birthday, Bingley!

Today, Bingley is nine years old. He has lived with us for four and a half years, so pretty soon, he will have lived with us longer than he lived in any of his other living arrangements--mostly racing kennels.
There was never a sweeter dog. Bingley had to travel from Florida to Arizona and then to California to meet us. And if it hadn't been for Greyhound Adoption Center, we shudder to think of what might happened to our lad. Here's hoping you live to be a very old dog, Bingley!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Room At The Kennel--just

Last Saturday, twenty-two Greyhounds were given over to the care and protection of Greyhound Adoption Center. These are lucky dogs. They represent a tiny fraction of the thousands of Greyhounds who were bred--and are still being bred on a large scale--to provide grist for the gambling mill of dog racing. As Greyhound racing becomes less profitable and less socially acceptable, tracks are closing, which is a good thing. But for every closed track, there are hundreds of Greyhounds who are suddenly without a home. As I type, many of these elegant creatures are being destroyed. Greyhound Adoption Center is an exceptional rescue because it has kennel facilities with a capacity for many more dogs than rescues that depend entirely on foster homes. But the cost and the logistics of caring for almost fifty Greyhounds--the number of current residents of GAC--is formidable. And like all 501C3's of modest means, Greyhound Adoption Center is feeling the crunch of a slow economy. But, in spite of all the difficulties, there are people who not only care, but people who go out to Dehesa--where the kennel is located--and spend long hours on a hot Saturday afternoon and evening, bathing, dipping and comforting twenty-two Greyhounds: ten boys, twelve girls, of all colors, ages and physical conditions, who have endured a twenty-five hour journey to arrive at a strange new place. With clean coats, fleas and ticks removed, all twenty-two dogs are now settled in their own spaces with blankets and towels to soften their kennel floors, nutritious food in their tummies, and stuffed animals for companionship and amusement. Somewhere out there, we hope that there are twenty-two new homes, in addition to the thirty or so new homes for older GAC residents. It will take time. Dog rescue is not for the faint of heart. Nor for the impatient.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Today is my birthday. And just not any old birthday. Important birthdays are those that end in 5 and 0. But the MOST important birthdays end in 0. And so today, I am not just beginning a new year; I'm beginning a new decade. If you read the story about my first dog, a shared birthday gift for my sister and me who we named Penny, you won't have to be a math whiz to figure out which decade I'm entering. Or, if you have any knowledge of children's fashions, you will know when the picture of that little girl posing with her mother and brand new puppy was taken. Today, the recessional hymn was Now Thank We All Our God. It's a wonderful hymn to sing on one's birthday. My favorite line is, "Who from our mother's arms, has led us on our way, with countless gifts of love that still are ours today." One of the most memorable gifts of love that I received is literally in my mother's arms in the picture on the right of the screen: my first dog, the first in a line of ten that have comforted, amused, challenged and taught me. So on this birthday, I want to express my gratitude for all the canine companions of my life. Penny: a small, red female Cocker Spaniel, who wanted to please above everything. Midnight: a large, black male Cocker Spaniel, who knew how to make you laugh when he was naughty. Mame: a black, female Toy Poodle, who embodied the spirit of a Russian Grande Duchess. Champers: a male Soft Coated Wheaten, the model of what the breed was meant to be: merry, courageous, my Good Soldier. Britches: a female Soft Coated Wheaten, practically perfect confirmation, a canine ditzy blonde, but no dummy. Daphne: a female Wheaten/Whippet?/Greyhound? mix. Our first rescue, who changed our understanding of humans' responsibility for dogs and introduced us to the joys of sight hounds. Zephyr: a large female Greyhound--dark brindle with tuxedo markings. Tears are filling my eyes. Zephyr was incomparable. A Queen. A Diva. We were privileged to have had her with us, even for a brief time, and to have earned her trust. Portia: a female Greyhound of such beauty that she thought when people met her and said "She's beautiful", they were just saying hello. The naughtiest dog inside the house. The best behaved dog outside the house. A true Princess. Bingley: a red, male Greyhound. The sweetest tempered, highest prey dog of my life. He's growing older now and fading to tan. But his eyes are still warm brown. I treasure every moment with him. Magic: a dark brindle female Greyhound/Scottish Deerhound mix. I thought she was working on her inner princess, but I do believe we might have another Grande Duchess. She adopts YOU, not the other way around. Clever and patient. Always teaching Bingley new lessons. And yes, we have had one cat: Sterling. She was the Transitional Object (a little psychoanalytic shop talk here) after my mother and Mame died within a short time of each other. The. Most. Beautiful. Grey Tabby ever to have drawn breath. She is resting under a Sterling Silver rose in my friend's garden.

Monday, August 13, 2012


We're having our first serious heat spell here in San Diego County and I've been remembering a very hot night six years ago. I was walking Zephyr not too far from our house when she was attacked by a loose dog--the same dog who attacked John and Bingley and killed Portia less than three years later. Zephyr was badly chewed from her lower back, to her hindquarters and down her tail. Since our vet's office was closed, I headed for the 24 hour emergency vet's. They were swamped. We waited and waited and waited, Zephyr dripping blood all the while. Why was such a badly injured dog treated last? It was because, ahead of Zephyr was a line of dogs with heat exhaustion. Their irresponsible owners had decided to take their dogs for a jog in hot weather. Even after the sun had gone down, it was way too hot for a dog to be running. Although Zephyr was seriously enough injured to require four drains and more stitches than I could count, she was in less critical condition than the dogs with heat exhaustion. So. Remember. Think. Do NOT take your dog for runs--or even more than potty-break walks in the heat. Don't run your dog on hot cement--or even worse, hot asphalt. Don't put your dog in a hot car while you are waiting for the air conditioning to kick in. I trust I do not have to remind you to NEVER leave your dog in a car. Cracked windows do not help. I don't believe in "outside" dogs. But if you insist on leaving your dog outside, be sure to provide plenty of shade and a source of fresh water. Do not shave a long haired dog. Their coat provides protection from heat as well as cold. Some short-haired--and certainly hairless breeds can sunburn. Take precautions. Older or ailing dogs are particularly vulnerable. Since learning of Bingley's heart condition, we are leaving the air conditioning on a lower setting for him when we leave the house. As I type, we are experiencing an "energy flex", which is code for not very effective air conditioning. Bingley and Magic are resting in the coolest places they can find, and I'll keep an eye on their water dishes. I don't know why these are called the Dog Days of Summer. They really aren't very easy days for dogs.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Farewell To Alle

Not long ago, I asked for prayers for a wonderful dog, Alle. Alle was the long time companion of The Anchoress and her family. Alle has now crossed to rest in the loving arms of St. Francis. I can't give you a hotlink, but go to anchoress, and read a sublime tribute to an extraordinary dog. Two of my favorite bloggers have lost dogs this summer. I hope things to not come in threes.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cats! Cats! Cats!

This blog is dedicated to dogs and to dog rescue. Dog rescue can be a heartbreaking endeavor. But whenever I feel really down about all the dogs who need homes and all the thoughtless breeders who turn out puppies that have no hope for a decent life, I think about the challenges of cat rescue. So, with hope that Friends of Portia can lift the load of cat rescuers a tiny bit, please spread the word about some cats in need of homes. First cat is being well cared for, but he really needs a new home. He's a handsome white and black boy who isn't fond of other cats. He might be able to get along with a small dog or two. He is in good health and will be your devoted companion for years. Indoor cat only, please. Second cat is very likely more than one. She's a calico who appears to be pregnant. This is a cat who has suffered serious neglect and deserves a new start in life. Her rescue is being planned and she will be taken to a vet to determine if she is as pregnant as she appears to be. If so, before too long, there will be kittens looking for new homes. If you can open your home to one of these cats or kittens, please email me at

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bingley Report III

After all the concerns about Bingley,we are finally back to normal. Yesterday, Bingley had his dental and came through in great shape. He had only one extraction, which isn't bad for an ex-racing Greyhound who was nearly starved to death. He has resumed eating and has returned to his normal routine. This morning we took our walk with Marilyn, Hattie, Odie and Sophie and Bingley was fine. We did stay in the shade and left a little early. Dr. Pearson just called to check on Bingley. We are very grateful that we found such a competent, concerned veterinarian.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bingley Report II

Bingley had a full cardiology workup and it was discovered that the left side of his heart is enlarged and one of the valves isn't functioning properly. The cardiologist believes that with light anesthesia, the dental can be done, so that will be Monday morning. All paws crossed! Dr. Pearson believes that Bingley has some good years left and we are relieved about that. Will have to watch him carefully during the summer heat and not let him get over tired. But he's home now and acting like his normal self. What a great dog!

Bingley Report

Today, Bingley was supposed to have had his teeth cleaned. I had noticed recently that Bingley was panting at times that were not in any way associated with exercise, excitement or stress. I knew this was not a good sign and so I mentioned it to Dr. Pearson before she gave Bingley his pre-anesthesia examination. She found a heart murmur. So now, Bingley is having a cardiac work-up and we are anxiously waiting the results. The dental is postponed indefinitely. All paws are crossed.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Fourth!

The Fourth of July is just about the happiest holiday in the year. No stress of choosing gifts, no Lenten preparation. Just a big party. But if it's the best holiday for American humans, it's the most stressful for our pets. Every year, frightened dogs and cats do not survive the Fourth. They run and run in fear until they are struck by a car. Or they are picked up miles from home by an animal control authority, and if they are not claimed, they are euthanized. (How I hate the word "euthanized"). So think about your pets. If at all possible, make sure that they are not alone when the fireworks start. Right now might be a good time to check with your vet if you think a mild tranquilizer would help your nervous companion. Then enjoy the Fourth, knowing that on the Fifth, you will still have your faithful dog or cat by your side.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Farewell to Finn

For years now, I have gotten most of my news from the internet. I'm still amazed at the instant access to an infinite variety of information and opinion that is available with a few clicks. As I have mentioned, my husband, John, is English by birth, and since I am American to the marrow, I am acutely mindful that our countries of origin, while deceptively similar, are actually distinct and different. So I am always interested in reading English reaction to things American. My favorite English reporter of American events is Toby Harnden, who was writing for the Telegraph when I first encountered him, but has since moved to the Daily Mail. I learned yesterday that I like much more about Toby Harnden than just his excellent reporting. He is a very good human being. How do I know? I know because he rescued a scruffy dog, endured said dog's destructive expressions of separation anxiety, took the dog with him on his world travels, incorporated the dog into his new life when he married and became the father of two children. Believe me. In my work in dog rescue, I know all too well that there are all too many people who would have decided that any one of those life events posed too many challenges and would have given up the dog. Finn, the dog in question, lived a long and eventful life, fulfilling the role in Harnden's life, and then his wife's and childrens' lives that dogs were designed by our Creature to fulfill. But inevitably, since dogs' life spans are shorter than human's, Finn's life is now over. But Toby Harnden, being the great reporter that he is, has made an important contribution to the select body of literature about the unique and powerful bond between dogs and humans. I would love to provide a hot link to Harnden's tribute to Finn, but I continue to have technical problems doing that. So please, take the time to go to Harden's byline, and be sure to have your Kleenex handy. UDATE: Here is a cold link to cut and paste to access Harnden's tribute to Finn:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Four Years, Four Months: A Day To Celebrate

John and I adopted our first rescued dog, Daphne, in April, 2001. She died suddenly on August 5, 2005. She was just seven years old. We were in shock. Having only experienced puppies of well cared for, carefully planned pure-bred dogs, we considered fourteen to sixteen years to be a normal life span for a dog. Welcome to the world of adopting rescued dogs. In September of 2005, we adopted Zephyr, a stunning, dark brindle ex-racing Greyhound who eventually weighed in at ninety-seven pounds. I expected Zephyr to grow old with us. But Zephyr's genetic code said otherwise. Osteosarcoma--bone cancer--took her two years, four months after we adopted her. One month shy of her seventh birthday. The story of Portia is the story of this blog. We adopted her on February 10, 2008. She died in intensive care July 7, 2009, after fighting bravely to survive a cruel attack by an off-leash dog, who also attacked Bingley and John. Portia was four years, two months at the time of her death. She had lived with us for a year and five months. I don't think it's any wonder that I have become mindful of milestones in the lives of my canine companions. Today is just such a milestone. Bingley, our sweet-tempered ex-racer who cheated death before we even met him, is now not only the oldest rescued dog of our lives--he is eight years, nine months old--he has also lived with us longer than any other rescue we have had: a full four years, four months. We love you, Bingley, and pray that you live to be a very old dog. By the way, the picture is of Bingley, taken by Mike Dougherty at Windsong Resort for Pets.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

And Now There Are Two

Four years ago, Marilyn and I began walking our dogs in the park once a week. Hers were Franklin, Hattie and Ruby. Mine were Portia and Bingley. Portia, Ruby and Franklin have all crossed the Rainbow Bridge, so now there are only two of that original group: Marilyn's Hattie, and my Bingley. When you love dogs, you have to prepare yourself for loss. Sophie, the newest addition to our walking group is also the oldest. Then Hattie, Bingley, and Odie. Magic is the wild card. No one knows her age for sure and she's not telling. I would love to think that we have four more years with our current group intact. But if the past is is the best predictor of the future, I know that's not going to happen. Of all the lessons dogs teach us, one of the most important is: Treasure Today.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Welcome Sophie

In the month since Marilyn and I walked our Greyhounds in the park, we have had a major change. Wonderful Franklin crossed the Rainbow Bridge. He can never be replaced. But there are always Greyhounds in need, and Marilyn has provided a home for an older female whom she has named Sophie. In the last 18 months, Sophie has lost two homes: one because of the economy and the second because of the terminal illness of her human. Sophie will be eleven in October. I was expecting to meet a docile old gal, just grateful for having been given a secure place to live out her days. Was I in for a surprise! Sophie has declared herself Leader of the Pack. And both Hattie and Odie have deferred to her. She was clearly sizing up Bingley and Magic with an eye to bossing them, too. What amazing spirit! I look forward to all of our future walks with Sophie, Hattie and Odie. Bingley, of course, will accept Sophie with his sweet, easy going attitude, but will also let her know his limits. Magic is another story. She is a Princess. But Sophie is a Queen. We shall see how that works out.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Personal Note

Sorry for the blogging hiatus. I had eye surgery a few weeks ago and life got a little busy. Things are beginning to settle back to what passes for normal, so blogging will resume. Bingley and Magic send their very best. Or would if they both weren't snoozing away on their respective sofas.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Franklin, R.I.P.

Today is a day of mourning in our household. A great dog and good friend of Bingley and Magic has crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Franklin was the senior member of our walking group. Marilyn adopted him when he was a fifteen month old stray, covered with mange. She loved him and nursed him back to health. His mange-covered body was replaced by a beautiful red-tan coat. He turned eleven years old in February and tomorrow would have marked the tenth anniversary of his adoption. Franklin was a Greyhound mix--with what breed, it's hard to say. But he loved "passing" as a Greyhound, and until he became too ill, he was the star of Show and Tells. In spite of arthritis, Franklin loved his walks and was a real trouper right up to the end. But cancer of the liver put him into a steep decline over the past few days, and so Marilyn, Jerry and Josh, those who loved him best in the world, made the heartbreaking decision this morning and were with him at the end. Franklin is now free of pain, frolicking with Ariel, Ruby and Portia. We will miss you, Franklin. Deepest condolences to Marilyn, Jerry and Josh.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Good Intentions, Good Results, And A Challenge

For a number of converging reasons, Greyhound racing is becoming less and less of a money-making proposition. But Greyhound racing has continued in a number of states, including Arizona. Both Zephyr and Bingley raced at the track in Tuscon. If you want to read about how racing dogs live at the Tuscon track, go to the blog, savinggreyce, which is linked on the right hand side of the screen. I shudder when I think of my beloved dogs being subjected to those conditions. But today is a happy day for Greyhounds in Arizona. A law passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, will facilitate the winding down of racing in that state. Many people worked together to bring this about and it is a milestone toward ending an inhumane sport in the United States. However, we will now be entering a time of great jeopardy for many Greyhounds, because, as the racing kennels close, hundreds of sweet, sensitive dogs will become homeless. Greyhound Adoption Center has rescued hundreds of dogs from Arizona over the years, but the number of dogs needing to be rescued will soon multiply. In preparation for this day, GAC has enlarged its capacity, but even so, it will require all rescues in states bordering Arizona and even farther away, to redouble their efforts if all the dogs that will need to be rescued are rescued. If you have ever thought about donating to Greyhound Adoption Center, now would be a good time. A link to their website is on the right side of this screen. If you have ever thought of volunteering for a Greyhound rescue, now would be a good time. And, most importantly, if you have ever thought about adopting a Greyhound, now would be a good time to explore that possibility. There are going to be a lot of beautiful, funny, frightened dogs in need of loving homes.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Best Intentions

If you love dogs and care about their well being and you think you are too happy and really want to feel awful, start looking at advertisements for puppies for sale on the internet. One click on one of these advertisements reduces me to tears. To paraphrase Charles Dickens, Are there not enough pet stores? Are there not enough backyard breeders? I can barely understand someone who is so uninformed or impetuous that they purchase a puppy from a pet store or from an advertisement in the newspaper. But what possesses someone who buys a dog or puppy over the internet? How can they claim to have any knowledge about the dog's origins or care up to the time of purchase? Something clearly should be done to mitigate the suffering of pets marketed in this way. Enter the U.S. Congress. A bill is now working its way through those hallowed halls that would bring internet pet sales under the 1966 Animal Welfare Act. It will pass. Can you imagine any Congressperson, Representative or Senator, D or R who would wish to face a constituent and try to explain voting against such a bill? I pray that it will do no harm. But there are some reasons why I have little hope that it will do much good. Reason 1. Think very hard. Have you ever heard of the Animal Welfare Act of 1966? Reason 2. Do you have any reason to believe that the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 has mitigated the irresponsible breeding and marketing of dogs and the attendant suffering of said animals? Reason 3. What expertise do you think that the United States Department of Agriculture, the agency assigned the enforcement duties of the new law, has in detecting cyber crime? Reason 4. Given current harsh economic realities, how many new Animal and Plant Health Inspectors--the law-enforcement officers of the USDA--do you think can be hired to police the rampant internet marketing of puppies? To make matters worse, everyone who is involved in sponsoring the bill and everyone who votes for it, will believe that they have done all they can to mitigate untold suffering of puppies. But new generations of puppies will continue to suffer as will their poor, hapless parents. This blog was begun because our beautiful Greyhound, Portia, was killed by another dog, because the County of Sna Diego is too large and diverse a jurisdiction to adequately enforce reasonable county leash laws. After studying the problem carefully, I have come to the conclusion that animal welfare laws need to be made and enforced at a more local level. In the meantime, it would be a huge step forward if the laws already on the books would be enforced.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dogs Are NOT Interchangeable

After reading the wonderful Dog's Will that is the subject of the last post, I took time to click around the Aussie Rescue of Southern California site. What I read and saw broke my heart. I have never had an Aussie or any other Herding breed, for that matter, as my own companion. I do have a dear friend who is an Aussie Person, so I have had some exposure to Aussies. And, of course, I read about dogs and dog breeds because I think dogs are God's very specific gift to human beings. And like all of God's gifts, they are not just for our enjoyment; they are also for the growth of our character and moral development and discernment. Whenever The Smartest Breed is being discussed or argued, three breeds are included in the mix: Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, and German Shepherd Dogs. Notice any common denominator among these breeds? They all belong to the Herding Group. They have been selectively bred over generations for their ability to perceive and follow sometimes very subtle signals from humans. Their ability to learn new behaviors can be stunning. (Particularly to those of us who adore and share our lives with sight hounds, who are the canine equivalent of legacy college admissions.) But all that canine intelligence puts extraordinary demands on humans. A bored Aussie, Border Collie, or German Shepherd is a destructive force that can also be quite stunning. People who take one of these breeds into their homes need to be willing to spend the rest of the dog's life training and keeping the dog occupied and busy. The number of Aussies--particularly older Aussies--in shelters and rescues is testimony to the ignorance and callousness of many people who acquire one of these Top of the Class canines without researching the breed or ignoring the research they do. Aussies are gorgeous dogs and the idea of having an intelligent breed appeals to some people's ego. But it takes a particular type of person to provide a safe and happy life for one of these dogs. If you think you might have what it takes, please visit Read all the caveats and search your soul. If you still want an Aussie, you won't want for choice. There are many, many Australian Shepherds in need of homes.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Must Read!

I just read "A Dog's Will to Another Dog" at the the Australian Shepherd Rescue of Southern California site. (Sorry, I'm still not able to give you hot links in posts, although I'll add this link to the rescues on the right side of the screen.) I have never read a more beautiful, powerful expression of what I want to say to people who have just lost a canine companion. Give yourself the time you need to heal, but never say you don't have room in your heart and home for another needy dog. Now. Go read that wonderful post.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

When Will They Ever Learn?

Our daughter lives in a pretty residential area of a city in another Western state. She has a Yellow Lab, Georgia, whom she walks regularly. Yesterday, they encountered an off-leash Golden Retriever. What seemed to be an uneventful doggie meet and greet ended when the Retriever attacked Georgia. The Retriever's owner was shocked and distressed and has paid the vet bills. But we have a traumatized dog and human who will never again feel quite safe on their walks.

I hope that the Retriever's owner has learned NEVER to let her dog off leash unless she is in a dedicated off leash area.

I hope.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Today, has an article on The Crisis in American Walking! I. Kid. You. Not. (I would love to give you a hot link to the article, but I continue to have technical problems with hot links in text.)

So now, we will be deluged with nannies pushing us to get out and walk. Well. Nearly every morning, I get up between 5 and 5:30 am and take Bingley and Magic for a walk. Our route goes up a rather steep hill. Tomorrow, being Wednesday, Bingley, Magic, and I will meet Marilyn, Franklin, Hattie and Odie at a park and walk around for about an hour.

There are some pretty impressive studies that confirm that people who walk dogs are more likely to stick with their walking regimen than people who walk alone or with a human companion.

If this doesn't make sense to you, you've never gotten into a routine of dog walking. A friend of mine wanted to know how I managed to be so faithful in my walking of Bingley and Magic. Simple, I told her. Walk your dog three days in a row at the same time of day. (Actually, she could do with two days in a row. Her dog is an Aussie, and herding breeds are notoriously brilliant) That's all you have to do. The dog will take it from there. And unless you have a heart of stone, you will not be able to resist the bright, expectant eyes, the wagging tail, and, perhaps, the persistent following of your every step. No matter how busy or tired you are, it will be easier to get on your walking shoes, leash up the dog, and go for a walk.

I promise.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Time Passes

I have mentioned that John and I went through a patch when we lost three relatively young dogs in a relatively short time. The shock and grief was awful.

So when Bingley turned Eight in September, it was a cause for serious celebration. Eight is senior status for a Greyhound. Now, he's more than Eight and a half. And recently, I noticed that his muzzle and face are slowly turning white. Bingley is becoming a Senior Citizen.

He still wants to chase rabbits. He still patrols the back yard for critters. He is still determined to go after small canines, refusing to believe that they are, indeed, dogs. And forget about cats!

But some mornings, he stays in bed all the time I'm dressing, right up to the moment that I open the bedroom door. He still runs a few laps around the living room while I leash and harness Magic, but I think he's slowing down, ever so slightly.

Frequently, I take his head in my hands, look into his soft brown eyes, and remind him that he is to live to be a Very Old Man. I pray he does. Living with a senior dogs is one of the great joys of life.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Greyhound Chic

Through some strange circumstance, I became a subscriber to an upmarket shelter magazine. You know what I'm talking about: a super-glossy magazine that features "favorite things" of celebrities that run to $500.00 notebooks for writing down creative ideas, pages of jewelry for which a potential buyer must contact the jeweler in order to discover the price, AND page upon page of interiors designed for the very, very rich. None of which has a thing to do with the way I live.

A standard practice of some interior designers featured in this magazine is the inclusion of dogs. I have seen many Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, West Highland White Terriers, Boston Terriers, and, of course, the ever popular Standard Poodle. But recently, I have seen TWO Greyhounds featured. I'm wondering if this is the beginning of a trend. If so, it won't be the first time that Greyhounds have been fashion statements.

During the 1920's, Greyhounds were frequently used in advertisements for the spare, unstructured clothing that was called The Flapper Look. When Art Moderne architecture emerged in the 1930's, Greyhounds complemented its clean lines. During the 20's and 30's sculptures and porcelain figurines of Greyhounds of such fine artistic quality were produced, that their prices have held up even in the generally depressed current antiques and collectibles market.

Actually, high end settings are nothing new for Greyhounds. Until the invention of the mechanical rabbit in the first half of the twentieth century, Greyhounds were accustomed to lives of privilege. They were companions of the leisured class. It might sound a little crazy, but sometimes I wonder if they are born with memory of those halcyon days.

I have introduced three ex-racing Greyhounds and one Greyhound/Scottish Deerhound to my home. Every single one of those dogs has immediately let me know that they require full access to sofas and love seats. They drape themselves across cushions in the most elegant poses. They know that this is where they belong.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Welcome Saving Greyce!

I just discovered a blog entirely devoted to the rescue of retired racing Greyhounds: Saving Greyce. You can find the link on the right hand side of the screen. (I am still having problems providing hot links in the text of this blog.)

The proprietress of Saving Greyce is the mom of Molly, a Greyhound placed by Greyhound Adoption Center (see link at right of screen), the alma mater of Zephyr, Portia, Bingley and Magic.

Check in with Saving Greyce, not only to gain insights into life with an ex-racing Greyhound, but also for news about closing down Greyhound racing in the United States. The good news is that tracks are closing and states are outlawing Greyhound racing. The bad news is that every time a track closes, hundreds, sometimes thousands of dogs are displaced and need homes before they are killed. I am not going to say "euthanized". I don't want to sugar-coat the fate of these magnificent creatures.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

SOS for Poms

The clock is ticking for three Pomeranians who are in high kill shelters. If you, or someone you know, can foster one or more of these little dogs, please email me:

Pomeranians are just one of many Toy breeds that have been over-bred by people who are either ignorant or greedy. Sometimes both. The result of this irresponsible behavior is the suffering of many creatures whose only purpose in life is to provide love and companionship for human beings.

I repeat. Do NOT buy a dog or puppy from a pet store. Do NOT buy a dog or puppy from a breeder who is not actively showing the breed in question.

If you want a puppy or a dog, PLEASE consider rescue. You really can choose your breed, and with a little patience, you will find a member of that breed that needs to be rescued.

Unfortunately for Pomeranians, there are many of their breed who need homes, and not enough Pomeranian homes to go around.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

John's Home

For the third year in a row, John spent a healthy chunk of February in Turkey. That means it's Bingley, Magic and I. It also means some extra work for our intrepid dog sitter-dog walker.

Certainly, when I'm the only human, I do all the walks, all the poop patrols, all the mess clean-ups. But it is very comforting to have canine companionship when one's husband is thousands of miles away.

It's more than a thirteen hour plane trip from Ataturk Airport in Istanbul to LAX. I've learned to follow the trips on a flight tracker on my computer, watching the little plane on the screen make its way on a northerly arc, disappear over the Atlantic for a while, and finally land safely at its destination.

Yesterday a friend gave me a link to the LAX control tower. It's amazing to listen to the rapid fire communication that gets flights off the ground and safely back. I was intrigued that at the end of the stream of pilot code, each air traffic officer sent off departing planes with a "take care" or "see you soon."

I listened for a while to a variety of American accents of pilots of planes taking off and landing. And then a distinctively foreign accent--a Turkish accent--"Turkish Air, Flight 9" requesting landing instructions. How extraordinary to hear the voice of someone I'll never meet who played such an important role in preserving my well being and happiness--bringing John home safely once more.

That does sound a little dramatic, since thousands of pilots bring millions of passengers safely to their destinations routinely and we never give it a thought.

Perhaps I am marveling at such a common event because, in another part of my life, I am submerged in the early nineteenth century. More of that later.

Yes. There are dogs in the other part of my life, too.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Happy Happy Adoption Day, Bingley!

Four years ago today, February 16, 2008, we met Bingley at Greyhound Adoption Center, and brought him home. There was another dog that we considered, but Bingley looked up at me with pleading brown eyes and I actually heard, "Please take me home." That was it.

Bingley was the first dog we rescued who had had absolutely no experience of being in a human's house. Sweet as he was and eager to be our friend, he had no idea of what was expected of him. Need I say that house training proceeded slowly? And it took him some time to figure out that the dog he saw in the mirror on my closet doors was not going to play with him, and when the doors opened, the dog would disappear.

Then there were three months of hemorrhagic gastro-enteritis. We thought we might lose him. But Dr. Candy Lewis of Harmony Veterinary Hospital in San Diego, put us on the right track with the right food. Poor Bingley can't have treats, but he's healthy and happy.

I've had ten dogs in my life and have loved each one of them. But of all those dogs, Bingley is the sweetest tempered.

Happy Adoption Day, Bingley! John and I are very, very happy that you are our dog.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pekes Rule!

Congratulations to Malachy and all Peke aficionados everywhere. I know it sounds strange for one who shares her home with two large sight hounds, but I have always longed to have a Peke. Some of you might remember my extended search for a home for Brody, The Dashing One Eyed Peke. Well. Brody is safe and happy in his forever home, but there are many, many homeless Pekes, just waiting and longing for what Brody finally found.

The fact is that Pekes are high maintenance dogs. In these difficult financial times, many are being surrendered to rescues and all too many are just dumped in "shelters" because grooming and vet bills are too high for their humans.

If you are charmed by Pekes, please, please, please, adopt. This is a breed that is really suffering now, and I fear that the snob appeal of owning a breed that has just won Westminster will encourage over breeding and purchasing by people who do not have sufficient love of the breed to provide a true forever home for one of these Balls of Fluff With Attitude.

If you want to adopt a Peke, A&A Pekingese Rescue would be an excellent place to start. The link to their website is on the right side of the screen.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Fuzzy Valentines

Of course I have a human Valentine. Happy Valentine's Day, John.

But whenever I hear the song, "My Funny Valentine", I translate it to "My Fuzzy Valentine". This Valentine's Day, I am particularly happy to have Bingley and Magic in my life.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Hazzards Of A Dog's Life

John has been sorting, organizing and tossing miscellaneous contents of old boxes from the garage. Last Sunday, when I returned from church, I found a chewed box of staples! There was ample evidence that some of its contents had been ingested. Bingley was the prime suspect. He is also the dog with the really sensitive tummy. But he ate and pooped, so we were cautiously optimistic. On Monday morning, we awoke to the sounds of Bingley choking and vomiting. (A fabulous way to begin a new week, I must say.) Sure enough, there was a lump of half digested food with a bunch of acid-etched staples sticking out from all angles. Neither John nor I can remember seeing that box of staples before discovering it after Bingley did. We're breathing a deep sigh of relief that our boy escaped a really bad episode.

Today I had occasion to spend some time in a crowded parking lot waiting for a group of students to depart on a trip abroad. Cars were coming and going, dropping off people and luggage. An enormous coach bus threaded its way between people and cars. And. There was a woman walking around the parking lot with her Boston Terrier off leash!! I really wanted to say something to her. But I was lost for words.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Should You Really Have A Dog?

Today I took an inquiry about Greyhound adoption. Nothing unusual for a Thursday. I answer the phone every Thursday for a Greyhound rescue.

Usually, prospective adopters have done a little bit of research and want confirmation or refutation of what they have heard or read about Greyhounds.

Do they need to run miles every day? No. They really enjoy a daily walk and if there is a safe, enclosed area convenient for you, they enjoy a run. But mine have made do with running in the backyard and making a circuit of the living room.

Do they really have to live indoors? Yes.

What is their life expectancy? That's not an easy question to answer. Our Greyhound, Zephyr, died a month before her 7th birthday because of aggressive bone cancer. I have heard of some Greyhounds living to 14 or even beyond. 12 is a really good lifespan for a greyhound.

These are the sorts of questions one expects. There are other questions that make me glad that I'm not screening the caller's final eligibility for adoption.

Can I get a rescued dog for free?

When can I see the dogs and choose what color I want?

My teenage sons have been nagging me for a dog. Do you think I can depend on them to look after it?

I responded to just such a call today, becoming more and more concerned about my caller's potential to provide an adequate home for a retired racing Greyhound.

Then came a surprise. The caller was particularly interested in Italian Greyhounds! She assumed that, in addition to offering Greyhounds in different colors, we would also offer them in different sizes! Something like Nordstrom for Greyhounds. "May I see that same dog in dark brindle in a ten pound size?"

I hastened to explain that the dogs we rescue and place are BIG, FULL-SIZED GREYHOUNDS and that Italian Greyhounds are a completely different breed with their own breed rescues. I encouraged her to contact her local Italian Greyhound Rescue.

Forgive me, gentle reader, for forwarding this prospective adopter to another rescue. But I did so with full knowledge that Italian Greyhound rescuers are very exacting in their requirements of prospective adopters. I think their dogs are safe.

I really am eager to see all needy, homeless dogs find a forever home. But, some people shouldn't have dogs.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Adopt Your Next Dog!

Last night I met two friends for dinner. All three of us are involved in dog rescue, with special interest in Greyhounds. As I walked through the restaurant parking lot, I noticed a bright red minivan decorated with white paw marks and a sign that read, "Adopt Your Next Dog". I assumed that the van belonged to one of my friends. When I asked, they both laughed. It didn't belong to either of them. We agreed that it was encouraging to know that someone else in the restaurant was also deeply involved in dog rescue.

I understand that the fascinating diversity of dog breeds would disappear if it weren't for dog fanciers who breed and show. However. Show-breeders are vastly outnumbered by puppy mills and backyard breeders. If you absolutely, positively must have a pure-bred puppy, do your research and find the most responsible breeder who is active in the show world. Otherwise, there is no excuse for contributing to the misery of innocent dogs by purchasing a puppy from a pet store or a breeder who has no real knowledge about the breed they are selling.

I am constantly amazed at dogs that turn up at shelters and rescues. A gorgeous Belgian Tervuren was recently placed for adoption by Pet Orphans of Southern California. (Sorry. I am having difficulty providing hot links. However, there is a link to Pet Orphans under "Rescues" on the right side of the screen.) Anyone willing to take a little time can find just about any pure-bred dog that needs a home.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hello Again

As a writer, I pride myself in being able to switch from one mode of writing to another without too much effort. But my absence from Friends of Portia is eloquent testimony to my failure to do so in recent weeks.

However, you will be relieved to know that even in a totally different mode of writing, I was not dog-less. I have been spending quality time with Trinket the Red Setter and Princess the black-and-white Spaniel. I hope to introduce you to them before too long.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

About Your New Dog

The Twelve Days of Christmas are not over, but I'm guessing that already, shelters and rescues are being given canine Christmas gifts--not the monetary gifts that they need and deserve, but puppies and dogs who were given as gifts and have now been found to have inconvenient needs.

The more hurried our lives become, the less time there is for the consistent, routine care that domestic pets require in order to thrive and become the faithful companions they were meant to be. Because of their natural affiliation with people, dogs suffer especially from inconsistency and neglect. And dogs are capable of expressing their distress in particularly destructive ways.

Every dog person I know has their tale of doggie destruction. These are people who love and understand dogs and do all they can to ease the adjustment of a newly acquired canine into their home. But in spite of their best efforts, disaster happens. It's always the freshly upholstered chair with designer fabric out of which the new dog eats a gaping hole. Dogs aren't fools. They know designer fabric tastes better than bargain stuff. Our living room coffee table still sports Portia's teeth marks. It's made of fine pear wood. My mother purchased it in July, 1957.

It really is best to come to terms with the fact that a new dog--no matter how well behaved, no matter how diligent you are in training--will spoil something that you treasure. So be realistic. Expect it.

Any dog, be it show-stock pure-bred or Animal Control rescue, will require time and patience. Dogs love routine. Do all you can to keep your household calm. Choose a positive training method. Read all you can about the breed(s) of your dog. A terrier has very different inbred behavioral tendencies from a spaniel, retriever or setter. Toys are notoriously difficult to house train. Some dogs are highly food motivated. Some aren't. Go slowly with introductions to new people and new dogs that aren't already part of your household.

Rescues have issues. Count on it.

Give your dog six months.

They're worth it.