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A neighborhood reunites with a former stray

rusty

If you’re going to be a stray dog, you might want to be one in Oak Brook, Ill.

It’s one of Chicago’s wealthiest suburbs — the kind of place with well-manicured lawns to pee on, porches and gazebos offering some shade, and handouts from humans that might include pork tenderloin, or steak.

At least that was Rusty’s experience.

For four years, Rusty roamed the Forest Glen neighborhood of Oak Brook, keeping a certain distance from its residents, but happily accepting their offers of food.

“I would leave pieces of steak and pork tenderloin at the end of the driveway,” said one Forest Glen resident.

“We thought we were the only people taking care of him,” said another, who fed him steak and bacon.

Harry Peters, president of the Forest Glen Homeowners Association, said Rusty, a chow-sheltie mix, eventually developed some discriminating tastes: “I put a hot dog out there once — I’ll never forget it — and he lifted his leg and peed on it. My neighbor was giving him steak.”

Despite all the handouts, Rusty kept his distance. He’d play with neighborhood dogs, but avoided getting too close to humans. When residents walked their dogs, Rusty would follow behind — again at a distance.

While residents were enjoying his presence, and fattening him up, many of them worried about how he was able to survive the harsh winters, and able to avoid becoming a victim of street traffic.

For four years, any attempts to catch him were in vain, up until 2010 when he was captured in a back yard and turned over to the Hinsdale Humane Society.

There he was treated for a heartworm infestation, and thousands of dollars were donated to help pay for his care. Attempts were made to make him more sociable with humans, so that he could be adopted out to one of the many expressing interest in doing so.

But Rusty, who maintained a preference for living outside, never reached that point, shelter officials told the Chicago Tribune.

Instead he was sent to Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, where he’d have room to roam.

Before taking him to Utah, Jennifer Vlazny, operations manager for the humane society, brought Rusty back to the neighborhood he once roamed for one last visit. Residents petted him and photographed him, and some cried when he left.

After some time at Best Friends, Rusty was adopted by a Kanab resident, Kristine Kowal, a retired school nurse who once lived in the Chicago area.

Kowal made a Facebook page and posted regular updates on it about Rusty, by then renamed Rusty Redd.

Peters, the neighborhood association president, visited Rusty and Kowal in January, while on a business trip to Las Vegas. He mentioned to Kowal then that, if she was to ever come to Chicago for a visit, he’d arrange a gathering so residents could have a reunion with the dog.

That happened this past weekend.

Kowal drove Rusty 1,800 miles from Utah for the reunion.

“I just thought it was something that I needed to do — to take him back, and kind of make it a full circle,” Kowal said.

Residents gathered Sunday in a gazebo in the Forest Glen subdivision, where, for the first time, they were able to pet him.

Vlazny, the Tribune reported, was amazed at his transformation from feral dog to pet.

Rusty seemed to remember the old neighborhood, and residents — even some who had since moved out of state — came to the reunion to see an old friend.

“The closest Rusty would ever get to me was 40 feet,” said Frank Manas, feeding the dog a chunk of mozzarella cheese. His family had moved from Forest Glen to Wisconsin, but returned Sunday to see Rusty.

“We said, if Rusty can come all the way from Utah, we can come from Eau Claire,” said Julie Manas, his wife.

“Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh — I’m petting him!” said Julie Gleason, who used to feed Rusty when he visited the nearby office park where she works.

“It’s a real-life fairy tale.”

(Photo: Julie Gleason weeps as she pets Rusty; by Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)

Recognizing a gift when it lands in your lap

Nala isn’t an officially certified therapy dog.

Her presence at a Minnesota nursing home, apparently, didn’t require her owner to navigate a bureaucracy or fill out mounds of paperwork.

She was never trained to make people feel better. She just, like many a dog, magically does.

The tiny teacup poodle, who comes to work with her owner — medications assistant Doug Dawson — makes the rounds daily at the Lyngblomsten care center, somehow figuring out not just how to ride the elevator to get from room to room, but who at the nursing home might most need a visit from her.

It’s another one of those feel-good stories about a dog bringing comfort, hope and smiles to residents of an otherwise impersonal institution.

Let’s hope this one doesn’t get crushed.

On Wednesday, we told you about Ivy — a Siberian husky whose owner, a janitor at a University of Rhode Island dormitory, brings her to work with him everyday. And how Ivy, through bonding with the students who live there, has made it, in the view of most, a better place to be. And how the university, after the school newspaper ran a feature about the dog, banned Ivy from campus — even though she is certified as a therapy dog — citing things like rules and liability concerns.

Today we bring you Nala, who, fortunately, is spreading her magic at a facility that — rather than fretting about pests, bites and liability — seems to recognize a gift when it sees one.

Dawson brings Nala to work with him each morning, then lets her go her own way.

She spends the day popping into the rooms of residents, hopping in their laps and getting petted and nuzzled before moving on to the next room, according to this report by KARE 11

“She’s an angel,” 90-year-old resident Ruth New said. “I love her and she loves me.”

Nala, Dawson says, seems to have an uncanny knack for knowing who needs a visit, and knowing how to get there, even when it involves riding the four-story building’s elevator.

nala“There’s something about her,” said Dawson, who inherited Nala after she failed in her debut as a potential therapy dog at another facility.

He says Nala was too young at the time, and had spent too much time in a kennel.

Now 5 years old, Nala has redeemed herself at Lyngblomsten.

“If you put her down she’ll pick out the person with Alzheimer’s,” said Dawson. “She has a way of picking the sick.”

After the recent death of one resident, Nala entered her room and stationed herself at her side.

“She had died earlier in the morning, but Nala knew and went and sat with her,” said Sandy Glomski, a Lyngblomsten staffer. “It was wonderful and we were all in tears.”

Dawson says he’s constantly amazed by both Nala’s compassion and her ability to navigate the nursing home’s floors on her own.

“She’s here for a purpose,” he said. “She really is doing God’s work.”

That’s kind of what dogs will do when humans — and especially bureaucrats — don’t get in the way,

Dog walker calls police about unleashed kids

This story may sound like it comes out of Bizarro World, but it actually happened in Silver Spring, Md., where a man who was walking his DOG (on a leash) called authorities to report two young, unaccompanied and unsupervised CHILDREN romping freely around a park.

The caller, a Navy corpsman, called the city’s non-emergency line Sunday evening when he saw the two young children walking alone. He followed them, as one might follow a stray dog, providing police with their location.

Officers picked up Rafi Meitiv, 10 and Dvora Meitiv, 6, in a parking lot and turned them over to Children’s Protective Services.

As it turned out, it wasn’t the first time the “stray” children had been picked up. They’ve been sighted as much as a mile away from their home.

Their parents, Danielle and Sasha Meitiv, practice “free-range parenting.” They allow their children to roam the neighborhood on their own because, they say, it instills independence. They’ve defended their parenting style in court at least once before.

Given this website is about dogs, not parenting, we’ll refrain from voicing an opinion on that. But the case does remind me of some of those unaccompanied dogs I used to see at Riverside Park in Baltimore. I’d assume they were lost, wandering strays when in reality they were “self-walkers” — dogs whose owners lived near the park who would let them out the door to take care of business.

They’d head to the park alone, socialize, pee, poop (without a human to clean up after them) and then head home.

How many calls to animal control they, and other unleashed dogs, prompted I don’t know. I admired the independence of those free-range dogs and fretted about their safety at the same time.

But back to those unleashed kids.

Montgomery County police found the brother and sister in a parking lot around 6 p.m. Sunday, less than a quarter mile from their Silver Spring home, and — without calling the parents — turned them over to Children’s Protective Services.

It wasn’t until after 8 p.m. that Children’s Protective Services contacting the Meitivs, who say they had begun to worry when their children didn’t return by 6 p.m. The Meitivs said they had taken the children to the park at around 4 and told them to be home by 6.

Their children were released to them at 10:30 p.m — but not until after the parents agreed to sign an agreement that prohibits them from leaving their children unattended, according to USA Today.

Maryland law prohibits children younger than age 8 from being unattended in a dwelling or car but makes no reference to outdoors. A person must be at least 13 years old to supervise a child younger than 8.

In December, the couple was accused of neglect for allowing the children to walk around their suburban Washington neighborhood unaccompanied by an adult.

In February, Children’s Protective Services found the Meitivs responsible for “unsubstantiated” child neglect, but the couple has appealed that decision.

When a feel good story has feel bad results

ivy

A heartwarming little story in the University of Rhode Island student newspaper — about a janitor who brings his dog to work — has apparently led to a cold-hearted response by administrators: Ivy must go.

Mike LaPolice, who keeps Peck Hall clean, started bringing  Ivy to work with him soon after he adopted her a year and a half ago.

The Siberian husky followed LaPolice, who has worked for the university for 25 years, as he performed his duties at the dormitory, and she quickly became popular among students, who enjoyed petting her and taking her picture.

LaPolice got Ivy certified as a therapy dog — though in reality she was probably bringing students comfort and relieving their stress even before she got her degree.

Then, last Thursday,  The Good 5 Cent Cigar, which is the student newspaper,  ran a story  about the janitor and his dog.

Almost immediately, LaPolice received word from the university’s Department of Housing and Residential Life that — if he wanted to keep his job — his dog needed to leave the campus and not come back.

“Nobody will tell me who has a problem with Ivy,” LaPolice told the student newspaper in a follow-up piece. “All of the … staff that I’ve talked to keep referring to some person who doesn’t like her being here, but I don’t know who that is.”

Even before Ivy got banned from campus, LaPolice was aware his dog’s presence was a concern among some administrators. That was part of the reason he got her certified as a therapy dog. Dorm residents knew the dog was an issue, too. Last year they presented a petition to school officials, urging she be allowed to stay in the residence hall.

But for the past seven months, the issue seemed to have subsided, and it appeared school officials were willing to overlook Ivy’s presence in the dormitory, which, technically, is a violation of school rules.

Somehow, the newspaper story reignited the drive to remove Ivy from campus.

“I’m trying not to regret running this piece, because we never could have anticipated this outcome,” the newspaper’s editor, Allison Farrelly, said in an interview with CollegeMediaMatters.com. ”I feel sick about it though, that we could have played a hand in negatively impacting not just this man’s life, but the lives of all the students Ivy touched.”

“It still doesn’t make sense to me that HRL could have reacted so strongly to our article, but I don’t feel defeated yet because I don’t think we’ve done everything we can to right this. I told my staff this, but I think there is a good chance if the student body gets behind our reporting, we can right this.”

LaPolice told the student newspaper he might talk to his doctor to figure out if he can be permitted to keep Ivy with him because of a medical need.

“I’ll go to a psychiatrist if I have to,” he said.

Another petition is being talked about among those students who want to keep Ivy in Peck Hall — many of whom say they’ve benefited from her presence.

The Department of Housing and Residential Life issued this statement yesterday:

“Staff members of the University’s Department of Housing and Residential Life became aware of an employee bringing a dog to Peck Hall late last summer. Since that time, housing staff has met repeatedly with the employee to ask him to leave the dog at home. The University does not permit its employees to bring their pets to work, unless they are service animals.

“While we understand the bond students may have formed with an animal brought into their residence hall, the University must consider the precedent that this sets and the welfare of the entire community, including potential liability in the event of a dog bite and issues around sanitation, pests and allergies.

“There are avenues for addressing employee accommodation requests under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the employee was referred to Human Resources for that process. To date, Human Resources has not received an official request from the employee for accommodations under the federal law.”

There are no reports of Ivy biting anyone, provoking any allergic reactions, or bringing any “pests” into the dorm.

Instead, students say she has brought comfort and cheer.

“In September, a relationship that I was in came to an end and hit me pretty hard with the feels,” said one. “Ivy jumped up on the couch and laid down next to me with her head on my chest because she could sense that I was upset.”

“On a particularly tough day, Ivy wandered into my office and just put her head on my leg,” said another, who serves as a resident assistant at Peck Hall. “How could I possibly stay focused on such negativity in my life with that beautiful, loving dog looking right up at me?”

(Photo: By Donald Reuker / The Good 5 Cent Cigar)

Interactive map shows where “dangerous” dogs live in Minneapolis

dogmap

The city of Minneapolis has taken protecting its residents from “dangerous dogs” to a whole new level with the publication of an interactive map on its website that pinpoints where dogs that have had run-ins with the law live.

The website lists each dog’s name, breed and their offense — everything from “killed a cat” to “muzzle violations” and bites to humans or other dogs, KARE 11 reported.

It also lists the full names and addresses of the owners, and photos of each dog.

Seems dogs deemed dangerous have about the same rights to privacy as a sex offender — that is, virtually none.

“In order to keep our residents safe, we post pictures of these animals and their addresses,” the website states, referring to dogs, of course.

To see the map and interact with it, click here.

Connie Bourque, of Minneapolis Animal Care and Control, says it’s all about public safety.

“If you live in a neighborhood, you have a visual that lets you know where animals that have had incidents in the past, who have been aggressive in the past. You have a sense of where you would maybe be more cautious based on the fact that you can see that information right on the website.”

Given all the other restrictions those with dogs deemed dangerous face, it strikes me as a little heavy-handed, almost as if it is meant to shame the dog owners.

Under city law, residents whose dogs have been deemed “dangerous,” or “potentially dangerous,” already face a variety of measures, from having their dog exterminated to requirements like liability insurance, sterilization, eight foot tall fences, warning signs posted at the front and rear of their home; and, when their dogs go out, muzzles, three-foot leashes and collars that carry a warning tag.

The new website, as of yesterday, lists 35 dangerous dogs in Minneapolis (compared to 146 people on the map of sex offenders residing in the city).

Unlike sex offender maps, which don’t specify the offense or use photos of the offenders, canine offenders have their photos posted, as well as a brief summary of their dangerous behavior.

Sephy, for example, a beagle from Longfellow, bit a person; Briggs, a Lab mix from near Lake Nokomis, killed a cat; and Bernadette, an American Staffordshire terrier in Loring Park, bit another animal.

It is possible for a dog to be taken off the list, but first it must be proven by their owner that they have received training and have been rehabilitated. A home inspection is also required for that.

Terrier’s bus ride leads to a forever home

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

That Boston terrier who boarded a city bus and went on a 20-mile ride in Houston last month has landed in a forever home, according to news reports.

The dog, as you can see in the surveillance video above, hopped on the bus in northwest Houston with some other passengers, though he didn’t belong to any of them.

Twenty miles later, at Metro’s downtown transit center on Main Street, he exited the bus with other passengers — one of whom escorted him to the transit authority police station.

“He was a very friendly little guy. He was very sociable. But he was a gentleman,” Metro Police Officer Ida Schoener told KHOU.

Schoener, on her lunch break, took the dog to the Bayou City Veterinary Hospital, which agreed to care for the dog — by then nicknamed “Metro” — until an owner or foster family could be found.

“He’s pretty calm but also excited to go out on walks,” said Bayou City veterinarian Kristy Kyle. “He is not afraid of the world. We’ll put it that way.”

The transit authority released surveillance footage recorded on a camera on the bus of the dog being welcomed on board, as well as footage of the dog arriving at the transit center.

After no one called to claim the dog, a Boston terrier rescue group was called and a temporary home was found.

There, the dog’s long strange trip finally came to an end, the veterinary hospital reports, when the person serving as his foster parent decided to adopt him.

Wayne State urged to end dog experiments

wsurally

A physician’s organization led a rally this week urging Wayne State University to end its long-running series of cardiac research experiments on dogs.

About 45 people joined in the protest, led by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

According to the nonprofit organization, the heart failure experiments have been going on for 20 years, at a cost to taxpayers of about $8 million, and have provided no information beneficial to treating human heart disease.

No dogs leave the program alive.

“These research experiments have not garnered anything that has advanced human health,” said Jennifer Giordano, a Detroit-area doctor representing the committee. “We want them to use human-relevant research methods.”

In the experiments, heart problems are induced in the dogs by the use of implanted electrodes, which cause their heart rates to more than double.

The dogs are then put through multiple surgeries and are required to run on treadmills. About 25 percent of the dogs die during or after the surgery. Those who do survive are euthanized when their participation is no longer needed.

The experiments are funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.

At the Wednesday rally the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine presented a letter signed by actress Lily Tomlin to Wayne State University officials, calling on them to end medical experiments on dogs. Tomlin is a Detroit native and attended the university.

In the letter, Tomlin wrote: “I understand that Wayne State is spending millions of taxpayer dollars using dogs in heart failure experiments that have not benefited human health in any way. I urge you to end these senseless experiments as soon as possible.”

A copy of the letter was given to Matt Lockwood, a university spokesman who came to the rally and a read a statement defending the experiments, the Detroit News reported.

“Almost every medical advance in the last 100 years was due to research on animals — chemotherapy, hip replacements, transfusions, dialysis — was all tested on dogs,” Lockwood said. “We need to continue to do research to advance science.”

He said the animals in the experiments are under the constant supervision of veterinarians.

“There’s a committee that’s sole purpose is to ensure the animals are as comfortable as possible,” he said. “We’re also under the oversight of the federal government and the state. Never once has any animal been found to have been mistreated at any time.”

He said the dogs are euthanized after taking part in the experiments, but he declined to provide numbers.

(Photo: Daniel Mears / Detroit News)


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