A dog who grew up at an orphanage for rhinos, then left to pursue a career as a tracker, is back at the orphanage and has a new mission now — as an elephant’s best friend.
The German shepherd, named Duma, was still a pup when he arrived at the Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage in South Africa, where he was trained to help locate orphaned rhinos in the wild — before they became prey for poachers.
After three years, though, his tracking duties were required elsewhere, and rhino rehabilitation specialist Karen Trendler reluctantly said goodbye to Duma.
This past fall, Trendler gleefully announced on Facebook that Duma, after a year away, was back.
He arrived just in time to help deal with a young elephant named Ellie.
Ellie had been abandoned by his herd and arrived at the orphanage with several health issues. While those had improved, Ellie — the only elephant at the rhino orphanage — remained down in the dumps.
Until he met Duma.
On top of his other duties, Duma has brought Ellie out of her shell and the two have become inseparable, as shown in this report by EarthTouch News.
The Animal Rescue Corps, with help from local law enforcement, rescued more than 100 dogs in five different operations in Tennessee last week.
The rescues by the five-year-old non-profit group included 31 dogs being cared for by the homeless man pictured above, who was refusing to get needed medical treatment for himself until he knew all his dogs would be safe.
That was the fourth of five operations — all conducted over one week in rural areas of Tennessee.
The Animal Rescue Corps (ARC) assisted the Clay County Sheriff’s Office in rescuing 21 abandoned dogs on a dilapidated property in Whitleyville. It helped Hardeman County Animal Control remove 19 abandoned dogs from a run down home in a residential area of Bolivar. Next, they joined with officers from Hardin County Animal Control to remove 23 dogs and a cat from a home in Counce.
In the fourth, they helped rescued 31 dogs being cared for by a man who had been living for 16 in Natchez Trace State Park in Benton County, about 100 miles northeast of Memphis.
“Members of the community have been working with this man to improve his way of life and this rescue is part of it,” ARC President Scotlund Haisley told The Dodo. “He wasn’t going to abandon the dogs and accept the help for himself without first finding a group to take the dogs. We are very glad to be able to assist.”
Last Friday, a fifth rescue was scheduled after Macon County Animal Control learned about the work ARC was doing and contacted them about 21 dogs found abandoned in an old country store in Lafayette after a tenant was evicted.
“We take animal abuse and neglect very seriously but lack the resources to do rescues like this. We only have 11 runs in our shelter and we’re already full,” Macon County Animal Control Officer Corey Lawrence told Fox 17. “These animals desperately needed help so we didn’t hesitate to reach out to Animal Rescue Corps for assistance.”
Those dogs, like the others, were placed in shelters or with rescue organizations that will try to find forever homes for them.
Animal Rescue Corps was founded in Los Angeles by Scotlund Haisley. Its mission is to “end animal suffering through direct and compassionate action, and to inspire the highest ethical standards of humanity towards animals.”
With only three full-time staff members, the organization’s rescue operations are almost entirely run by volunteers.
It may be a dog in Japan who is most famous for demonstrating the true meaning of loyalty, but the vigil of a Montana dog, named Shep, is at least equally heart-wrenching.
The story of Shep’s vigil begins, almost eerily, the year after the death of Hachiko, the Akita who, after his master died, famously waited for him every day at a train station for nearly 10 years.
Hachiko would accompany his master, a university professor, to the train station every morning, and be waiting for him when he returned. When his master didn’t get off the train one day, having died while at work, Hachiko continued going to the train station every day for nine years and nine months, until he died in 1935.
In 1936, a sheep herder in Montana took ill and was taken to St. Clare Hospital in Fort Benton. His dog followed him into town, and waited outside the hospital.
A nun who ran the kitchen at the hospital brought the dog food as he stood vigil for the next several days, until the sheep herder, whose name has been lost to history, died.
His body was put into a coffin and taken to the train station in Fort Benton to be shipped to his family back east.
As it was loaded onto the train, Shep was there watching. Reportedly, he whimpered as the door slammed shut and the train pulled away,
The dog chased the train for a while, then turned back.
For the next five and a half years, Shep, believed to be a collie mix, never left the train station. He lived underneath the train platform, and would greet each train that stopped — about four a day — in hopes of seeing his master.
According to FortBenton.com, Shep “eyed each passenger hopefully, and was often chased off as a mongrel but never completely discouraged. Neither the heat of summer days nor the bitter Montana winter days prevented Shep from meeting the next train.
“As Shep’s fame spread, people came from everywhere to see him, to photograph him, and to try and make friends and possibly adopt him. All of the attention was somewhat unwelcome; after checking the train he often retired quickly to get away from those who came to see him. Most people missed the point that Shep was a one-man dog.”
Railroad employees fed Shep, and the story of his vigil was carried in the old “Believe it Or Not” newspaper feature, and picked up by other news media of the day.
As time went on, though, Shep was slowing down, probably arthritic, and he had grown hard of hearing.
One day in 1942, unable to hear an arriving train and too slow and frail to get off the icy tracks, Shep was struck and killed.
His death made headlines and thousands of people sent in condolences.
Hundreds attended his funeral, at which a boy scout troop carried Shep in his coffin up to a bluff and buried him.
An obelisk and sign mark the spot of his burial, and 50 years after his death the town of Fort Benton commissioned a statue memorializing Shep, which now sits alongside the Missouri River.
There are only two possible explanations for this stand I am about to take:
One, I have come around to my dog’s way of thinking on the matter of fireworks, which is that they are to be feared, freaked out by, and avoided at all costs, even if it means hiding in the bathtub.
Two, I have become a certifiable old fart.
Oh wait, there’s a third possibility: Maybe it’s a combination of the two.
I am speaking here of the entire gamut of fireworks, from big sanctioned municipal events to small backyard displays to solo performances by those who feel the need to mindlessly fire a gun into the air while intoxicated.
With New Year’s behind us, and the Fourth of July ahead, I pose the question: Do we really need any of it? And, if so, is it possible to have the spectacle without the noise?
There’s a town in Italy, called Collecchio, that has reportedly introduced legislation requiring people to use “silent fireworks” out of respect to animals, for whom the noise causes some serious stress.
That’s an idea worth importing.
Other than a reference on a travel website, I couldn’t find a lot of information about the proposal on the Internet. Then again, on the Internet, good and quiet ideas tend to get buried by loud, stupid and flashy ones.
Nor could I find any truly “silent” fireworks. There are a few videos on YouTube that claim to feature “silent” or “quiet” fireworks, but the companies behind them seem to be promising more than they are delivering.
In the UK, this past November, Birmingham Botanical Gardens offered a silent fireworks show they promised would be “ideal for the little ones,” but it was followed by complaints from parents who said they were forced to leave because the loud noises frightened their children, according to a BBC report.
Why is it society has been able to come up with the technology to put silencers on guns, but not on fireworks?
Fireworks have been an American tradition for more than 200 years, and any voice calling for putting a muzzle on them — much like any voice calling for gun control — is likely to be blasted as unpatriotic.
For dogs, they are more than just annoying. They confuse and stress out many dogs, often leading them to run away, sometimes getting hit by cars in the process. They have negative effects on birds and other animals, too, not to mention air quality and all the injuries to humans the do-it-yourself variety cause.
But the spectacle, and the tenuous link to patriotism, somehow rate as more important than all that.
Even in an age of heightened fears over terrorists, we still feel the need to see and hear the rockets red glare and the bombs bursting in air. We need to see and hear what is, in effect, a re-creation of war.
Fireworks displays are like Donald Trump — big and loud and in your face, full of bangs, booms and bombast, a spewing spectacle that prides itself in being outrageous and pushing the limits.
I would not mind in the least if they both went away. But neither is likely to, even though there are quieter, saner alternatives.
Laser light shows are one, but they don’t seem to have wowed us like traditional fireworks displays.
When an air pollution control district in California offered three towns $10,000 to call off their fireworks shows and replace them with laser light shows in 2012, none of the towns accepted the offer.
“You can’t have a Fourth of July show with just light beams,” one fair official said. “It would have been two minutes and the kids would have been done and gone.”
Another California town, Morro Bay, tried a light show in 2009 — due to predictions of a foggy night — but says it won’t do it again.
“It was like a bad Pink Floyd concert,” one official said.
I’m not sure there is such a thing as silent fireworks or, for that matter, such a thing as a bad Pink Floyd concert. But both my dog and I — while not being so brash as to suggest celebrating peace instead of war — cast a vote for quieter celebrations.
Here’s a not entirely quiet example, from a company that provides “quiet” fireworks for weddings and other events:
The American Kennel Club has announced full recognition of two new breeds — the American hairless terrier and the Sloughi.
The additions bring the total number of dog breeds recognized by the AKC to 189.
Joining the terrier group, the American hairless terrier is small to medium sized and very active — basically a bald (often) rat terrier.
The breed comes in both a hairless and a coated variety, although the coated dogs still carry the hairless gene.
According to the American Hairless Terrier Club, their rise began when a hairless puppy emerged in a litter of rat terriers in the 1970s, leading a Louisiana couple to begin breeding it to produce other hairless pups.
The Sloughi is an ancient breed that originated in North Africa, where it is treasured for its hunting skills, speed, endurance and agility.
Also known as the Arabian greyhound, it is a medium to large-sized dog, with short hair, a smooth coat and a sleek and graceful appearance.
Both breeds became eligible to compete in their respective AKC groups on Jan. 1, 2016, but will not be eligible for Westminster until next year.
To become an AKC-recognized breed there must be a minimum number of dogs geographically distributed throughout the U.S., as well as an established breed club of responsible owners and breeders.
(Photos: An American hairless terrier (at top) and a Sloughi, courtesy of American Kennel Club)