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Archive for July 19th, 2010

Giving dogs a brake in Madrid

Madrid — the one in New Mexico, pronounced MAD-rid — wants you to slow down.

It’s not just to make you less likely to run over a valued tourist; and it’s not just to make you, if you are a tourist, more likely to stop at one of the galleries in the funky artists’ colony and make a purchase.

No, the advice — to many, at least — is aimed at protecting dogs. Because, as the sign says, Madrid loves its dogs.

In addition to the official 25 mph speed limit signs posted throughout town, I spotted a couple of these — hand-painted pleas (it is an artists’ community, after all) reminding motorists to be on the lookout for dogs.

Madrid, which turned into a ghost town when the mines closed in the 1950s, has been enjoying a revival since the early 1970s, when artists began moving here and opening galleries and shops. It’s home to what’s purported to be the longest bar in New Mexico, at the Mine Shaft Tavern, and dozens of galleries featuring paintings, photography, sculpture, crafts, pottery, textiles and more. A haven for motorcyclists, it also served as the setting for the movie “Road Hogs.”

It’s also home to some road dogs — pooches who, though owned and loved, are of the free-range variety. I saw a couple of them walking alone along the road, and generally doing a better job of avoiding traffic than the tourists did.

I’m proud to report that I made it through Madrid — at 25 mph — without running over either.

Laboratory beagles nearly all adopted

The 120 beagles rescued from a bankrupt New Jersey laboratory earlier this month are learning life’s simple pleasures — chief among them, the joy of grass.

Having spent their entire lives in cages, the beagles were turned over to rescue groups on the 4th of July weekend. They had been left behind, along with 55 monkeys, when Aniclin Preclinical Services in Warren County, N.J., went out of business in April.

The beagles were taken to Pets Alive, where the video above was shot, and since then, in a joint effort by several rescue organizations — they’ve been taught how to be dogs, as opposed to specimens.

As of Friday, all but 15 had been adopted, and those were expected to be placed soon, Pets Alive reported on its website.

Some of the beagles have taken more quickly to freedom than others, according to this dispatch, on the Best Friends website:

“For the first few days, volunteers would show up at Pets Alive and want to walk the beagles. Ordinarily, this would be welcomed help. But before the Great Escape, the beagles had never been outside, so a common item like a leash is a foreign object from outer space. When everything is new, it’s important not to introduce too much at once because if the dogs become too overwhelmed they can withdraw and shock becomes an issue.

“But these dogs are resilient. Every day, they are increasingly curious and decreasingly timid. So after slow stepping it for a week, today, the walks began.

“With the help of wonderful volunteers, like John, the dogs were each walked more times today then all the days of their previous lives combined. For most of the dogs, it was a bit of a painstaking experience. Take a step. Stop. Look around. Step. Freeze. Move backward. Take a step.

“But one dog, Rex, took to walking like a fish to water. In fact, it wasn’t long before he was racing laps around the play yard. With those beagle ears flapping in the wind …

“But while Rex was at the head of the class, little Millie was sitting in the back of the room hoping nobody would notice her. Millie is a sweet little girl who has captured the heart of all of us involved with the rescue. She has struggled with all the changes, at times being outgoing and jovial and then quickly changing to withdrawn and timid.

“Today, when a young couple came in to find a female beagle to adopt, Millie didn’t give them much to work with. She was curled up tight in her kennel, with her back to all potential adopters and her face tucked under her legs. Motionless, she stayed like a ball. Trying to shut everyone out. But something about this family told me Millie was the perfect dog for them…

“It took a good 20 minutes before Millie and the couple were warming up to each other. An hour later? Millie was strutting, on a leash, down the driveway with her tail wagging, heading home with her new family.”

(Photo: Rex running, by Becky Tegze / Courtesy of Best Friends)