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Archive for December 30th, 2009

One dog in pound, one dog impounded

ninowHere’s a story out of California that has Orange County written all over it.

Seems Don Ninow, 76, was returning home after picking up his dogs — Sassy Lassy and Mister Magoo — from the groomer, a place called Critter Clipper.

He placed his dogs, a Yorkshire terrier and a Maltese, in the car, a Jaguar of course.

On the way home, he rear-ended a car at a red light and the driver called police. Ninow was arrested by police in Huntington Beach on a charge of  driving under the influence of drugs — though he maintains he had only taken his diabetes, blood pressure and heart medications, according to the Orange County Register.

Ninow, released after the arrest, went to Orange County Animal Care to pick up his dogs, but only one was there — Mister Magoo. Ninow was able to get him back for a $136 fee, but Sassy Lassy was missing in action, and none of the various authorities knew anything about her.

Turns out the police officer  — perhaps a bit Magooish himself — never saw the second dog. Mister Magoo had been sitting in the car, but Sassy Lassy was in a carrier. Apparently the tow truck driver didn’t notice Sassy Lassy either, when he towed the Jaguar to an impound lot.

The dog was left in the car from about 4 p.m. July 3 to about 6 p.m. July 4.

Now Ninow has filed a claim seeking $9,999 for the impounding of his 12-year-old dog.

Police confirmed that one of the dogs was unintentionally left in the car. They are still investigating the claim, filed by Ninow Dec. 18, as well as the case against Ninow.

(Photo: Orange County Register)

Company for Christmas: The pack breaks up

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I’m thankful for my Christmas packages, but I’m more grateful yet for my Christmas pack.

For reasons I don’t fully understand, I volunteered to take in three canine guests over the holidays — all dogs of friends who were leaving town.

There was Darcy, the high-energy Boston terrier; Cheyenne, the blind Labrador who, ironically, was bred to be a seeing eye dog; and, just for Christmas day, Lucas, a big plodding, vocal, yellow Lab who, I guess because of the combination of his gruff exterior and his underlying sweetness, always reminds me of Lou Grant in the old TV show.

They all joined my dog Ace and I over the holidays. After the first chaotic day, I questioned my sanity. On the second day, things calmed down. By day three we’d become a well-oiled machine, having learned each others’ ways. We became synchronized, as pet and person do over time.

Perhaps the best example was on our walks to the park. The first trip resulted in a tangle of leashes, with one dog — the smallest one, of course — tugging me all the way, resulting in me not paying enough attention to the blind one so she could avoid bumping into trash cans, all while my own dog Ace added to the tangle by veering off to pee on every tree.

Once at the park, Darcy, the Boston terrier, not liking the cold and the snow so much, would hop up on every park bench and sit down, as if to say, “You guys go ahead, I’ll just wait here.”

Sensing she wasn’t the rugged outdoors type, I started taking Darcy along only on about every third park trip, leaving Ace and Cheyenne to work things out between them. It was an amazing thing to watch.  After a few trips Cheyenne took to walking directly alongside Ace, using him as a guide and buffer. By listening to the click clack of his claws on the cement, she was able to trot alongside, correcting herself when she would gently veer into him.

Ace seemed to realize he had a new job — instead of peeing on every tree, it was to serve as Cheyenne’s assistant, as a guide dog to the dog who was supposed to be a guide dog. And Cheyenne seemed to trust him fully, or at least more than she did me after I —  not paying attention — allowed her to walk into a stair rail. When that happened, though, she’d just back up, adjust and carry on.

Feeding time, complicated at first, became a breeze as well. Darcy would eat in the crate, and Ace and Cheyenne seemed content to stick with their own bowls. Since Cheyenne only eats once a day, she generally got a carrot — her favorite treat — in the evening.

DSC07751Cheyenne, noting I spend entirely too much time at the computer, took to curling up between my feet at the base of my desk, allowing her to keep track of me and get some rest and me to keep my feet warm.

Darcy, who kept things lively, underwent a vast improvement in her toileting habits after the first two days  — partly due, I think, to my sphincter-sealing yell, partly because I insisted she go outside frequently — and we mostly avoided further accidents. Darcy and Ace continued to play the paw in mouth game — until Ace would get bored and go upstairs to be alone.

I’d try to give them each 30 minutes of individual attention a day, be it snuggling or wrestling. When I’d go upstairs to give Ace his time, and find him in the bed, I’d join him, and we’d generally fall asleep.

It was inspiring to me how well Ace handled the visitors — not a snarl or whine the whole week. To me, that’s the most impressive thing about dogs — how well they adjust, Cheyenne being a prime example of that. We adjust, too; we’re just not as good at it as dogs.

Now I need to adjust to my pack leaving. Today it shrinks to two dogs, with Cheyenne’s return home. And tomorrow Darcy will depart.

I expect, once we’re alone, Ace and I will both heave a big sigh — and it will only partly be one of relief.

(To read all of the Company for Christmas series, click here.)

Partner remembers his police dog, Blek

Harris County Deputy Constable Ted Dahlin, whose police dog, Blek, was strangled by a burglary suspect last week, says he shared a special bond with the five-year-old shepherd and considered him both his partner and best friend.

“It’s a big commitment, not just for the handler, but for the dog as well,” Dahlin said. “They say the dog picks the man. The personality of the handler is the dog’s and vice versa.”

Blek was trained to find people and sniff out explosives. Dahlin said his precinct spent about $13,000 for the dog and the training. Dahlin spent six weeks in Indiana learning how to handle the dog, including how to give commands in Czech.

Blek, on the job for more than three years, ran into a wooded marsh in North Houston in pursuit of a burglary suspect last week. When Blek did not come back, Dahlin and other officers began searching for him, according to a report in yesterday’s  Houston Chronicle.

“My lieutenant and sergeant found him,” said Dahlin, with whom the dog lived. “My sergeant met me before I got there, held me back, and gave me a hug. I knew at that point what happened.”

Cornelious Harrell, 17, is accused of choking the dog Dec. 22 after police interrupted a burglary. He has been charged with burglary and interference with a police service animal, a second-degree felony punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.

In court Monday, prosecutors said Harrell choked Blek from behind after the dog cornered his 15-year-old brother. Prosecutors said the brothers and three other suspects were fleeing the scene of a burglary.

Make sure your black Lab is YOUR black Lab

bella

lailaIt’s not an unheard of kind of mistake, especially with black Labs, who sometimes look so similar even their owners can’t tell them apart.

It was Christmas Day when the Peterson family of Maple Valley realized the black Lab returned to them after a stay in a Seattle pet hotel two weeks earlier wasn’t their dog, Bella. Instead, they were hosting LaiLa, another black Lab who had been boarding at the same kennel.

As it turned out, Bella (left), who belongs to Stacey and Rob Peterson, ended up spending a few weeks in Issaquah with Anne Galasso, the owner of LaiLa (right). Galasso’s dog, LaiLa, spent time in Canada near Stacey Peterson’s parents, and then in Maple Valley when the Petersons returned from a vacation in Europe, according to the Seattle Times.

PetSmart PetsHotel of Issaquah, where both dogs were boarded, is planning on refunding both families’ boarding fees.

Both families suspected something was amiss, the Times reports.

The Petersons had noted the dog they thought was Bella looked skinnier when they got home, barked a lot more and didn’t respond to her name the same way. They figured maybe she was just upset by their absence.

Galasso noted the dog she thought was LaiLa licked a lot more than normal, but she attributed it to a recent move, and her dog having lost her former playmates.

Eventually, the Petersons took a look inside the mouth of the dog they thought was Bella, and saw that her missing teeth were no longer missing.

“Clearly this dog had all her teeth,” Peterson said. “And that’s when things started to make sense.”

Peterson called PetSmart, and took her dog to a nearby veterinary hospital that scanned her microchip, where she found out the dog she was in possesion of was really LaiLa.

The hospital called Galasso and notified her she actually had Bella. Galasso noted Bella had been sleeping at the foot of her bed with her cats, just like LaiLa does.

The two dogs were reunited with their real owners the day after Christmas.