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Archive for June 7th, 2010

Cesar Millan and wife file for divorce

Cesar and Ilusion Millan have announced they are filing for divorce.

“We are sad to announce that after 16 years of marriage we have decided to file for divorce. The decision was made after much consideration and time. We remain caring friends, and are fully committed to the co-parenting of our two boys,” said a statement posted on Millan’s website Friday.

People magazine reports that Ilusion Millan filed for divorce at Los Angeles court Friday, citing irreconcilable differences. She is seeking primary physical custody of the kids with visitation for Cesar, 40, as well as spousal support from the longtime host of the National Geographic Channel’s “Dog Whisperer.”

Millan came to the U.S. from Mexico with $100 in his pocket and a dream of becoming a famous dog trainer. He succeeded – with the help of some famous Hollywood clients — establishing an empire that includes dog products, a television show, a new magazine and several best-selling books.

His show begins its sixth season Oct. 9 and his fourth book, “How to Raise the Perfect Dog,” is in stores now.

Millan and his wife also founded the nonprofit Cesar and Ilusion Millan Foundation, which promotes animal welfare by supporting the rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming of abused and abandoned dogs.

Paying respects at the Coon Dog Cemetery

 
Ace stepped lightly between the tombstones, paused to sniff a clump of artificial flowers, then moved on – past Flop, Train, Daisy, Black Ranger and Bear. He paused at the final resting places of Patches and Preacher and Bean Blossom Bomma, then sauntered by Smoky, Squeek and Easy Going Sam, whose rusting collar is looped over the cross marking his grave.

We were alone at the Coon Dog Cemetery in Cherokee, Alabama – except for the 215 dogs buried beneath us — on a hot and drizzly Friday, silent except for the chirps of birds and the whining hum of mosquitos sizing up my ears.

I’d long wanted to visit the Coon Dog Cemetery. We’ve featured it on this website before. But those were long distance, second hand dispatches. Being there, especially when no one else is, is another story.

Between the bursts of color provided by the fake flowers on almost every grave; the eclectic mix of memorials, ranging from engraved stone, to etched metal to carved wooden crosses, and the homey epitaphs and monikers, the cemetery is at once haunting and inspiring – a Southern icon, and a reminder of the powerful, difficult to relinquish, connection between dog and owner.

Especially when that dog and owner were hunting buddies.

Located in a grassy meadow in the wilderness of Freedom Hills, the cemetery permits only coon dogs – 215 of which are buried there, according to Susann Hamlin, executive director of the Colbert County Tourism & Convention Bureau, which now maintains the property.

The cemetery got its start when Key Underwood chose the spot – not far from where coon hunters gathered to share stories – to bury his faithful coon dog Troop. On a dreary Labor Day in 1937, Troop was wrapped in a cotton sack and buried three feet down. Underwood marked the grave with a rock from an old chimney. He used a hammer and screwdriver to chisel Troop’s name and date.

After that, other hunters started doing the same – first those from Alabama and Mississippi, later from all around the country.

 
We found it after driving 15 miles down a winding road through the gently rolling hills of northwest Alabama, and for an hour had it all to ourselves. Then another car pulled up, driven by Hamlin, who was escorting a photographer working on a project about Alabama for the National Archives.

Hamlin said about three dogs a year are buried at the cemetery nowadays – a reflection of the declining popularity of the sport, in which the dogs track raccoons and chase them up trees before the hunters … well, you know the rest.

How much pride those hunters took in their dogs still lingers though, in tall tales, folklore and, most of all, at the cemetery, where heartfelt tributes are hammered, carved and burned into grave markers:

“He wasn’t the best, but he was the best I ever had.”

“He was good as the best and better than the rest.”

“He was a joy to hunt with.”

Every year on Labor Day, a festival is held at the cemetery, hosted by the Tennessee Valley Coon Hunters Association. The cemetery is spruced up and decorated, and the event features bluegrass music, food and a liar’s contest.

For more information, visit Coondogcemetery.com and Colbertcountytourism.org. Caps and T-shirts can be purchased online, and proceeds help support the cemetery.

Better yet, check it out in person. Admission is free, but the mosquitos do take up donations. I added about a dozen more bites to my ongoing collection – a small price to pay for such a big, colorful and moving sampling of southern culture.


To read all of Dog’s Country, click here.

Speaking of coonhounds: Lovebug’s dilemma

 

Lovebug needs some love.

The 13-week old pup was struck by a car on a Missouri Interstate highway.

She suffered in the tall grass for a day, before working up the energy to lift her head. A firefighter and his wife,  passing by, saw her and  stopped, wrapping her in his firefighter’s jacket and taking her to a local veterinarian.

There she was found to have two fractured legs and a broken pelvis — injuries that will require the installation of pins and plates, and cost about $2,000.

“She has charmed everyone with her zest for life and determined attitude. We are a non-profit organization and any help you can give would be greatly appreciated,” writes Cheri Zaiger, of American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue. “I just know if other people could see her face and hear her story some donations would come in to help her out of this devastating situation,” Zaiger added. The website has a box that can be clicked on to make donations.

American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue helps all types of coonhounds – Black and Tans, Redbones, Blue Ticks, Red Ticks, Tennessee Tree Walkers. It rescues most of them from kill shelters, keeps them in foster care and seeks to find permanent homes for them.

A tribute to a dog named Cujo

While we’re on the subject of paying tribute to dogs passed on — here’s one man’s memorial to his dog that I came across Saturday.

It’s a plaque installed on a water fountain near the soccer fields at Rhodes College in Memphis.

David P. Granoff, a member of the school’s class of 1980, had the memorial installed after the death of his dog Cujo in 1993.

Rhodes College, with about 1,700 students, occupies a 100-acre wooded campus in an historic neighborhood near downtown Memphis.

Here’s a closer look at what the plaque says:

Beethoven is favorite movie dog, poll says

Too bad, Toto. Tough break, Scooby Doo. Boo hoo, Beverly Hills Chihuahua. None of you made the top five in a recent poll to determine the public’s favorite movie dog.

Neither did Marley, Benji, White Fang, Hachiko, Snoopy, Lady, Tramp or Air Bud.

With the debut of “Marmaduke” last week, MovieTickets.com polled moviegoers to see which doggy superstar reigns supreme — and no, Marmaduke didn’t make the list, either.

Beethoven was tapped as Hollywood’s top dog with 28 percent of the vote, while Old Yeller came in a close second with 24 percent. Also in the top five were Hooch, Lassie and Rin Tin Tin.

In case you’ve never visited, ohmidog! offers a fine selection of dog movies in our Amazon affiliate store.

We’ve got one for dog books, too.