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Tag: animals

Dumping their dogs when they depart Dubai

dubai

The sort of people who go to live and work in Dubai are typically not seeking a forever home.

They’re generally not long-range planners; they’re more like get-rich-quick-ers and what’s in it for me-ers.

Given that, it’s not surprising that Dubai — a city where 90 percent of the population comes from somewhere else, and most of them move on after a few years, and many of them often leave their pets behind — there’s a growing homeless dog problem.

“I believe a lot of people just think, ‘I’m going to be in Dubai for three years so let’s get a dog for three years,'” Fiona Myers-Watson, a volunteer at the Stray Dogs Centre, told The Guardian.

“You see people coming here and buying into the lifestyle,” she added. “You get a nice villa that you’d never be able to afford at home, get a Porsche on credit because the bank will easily give you a loan, spend AED 600 on brunch every Friday, and get a cute little dog to go with it all.”

dubai2Despite the financial prosperity they’re enjoying, and the riches they may depart with, many of them don’t see fit to bring their dog along when they leave.

Some of these abandoned dogs end up in the Stray Dogs Centre, less than an hour’s drive from Dubai’s pristine gated communities.

The rudimentary shelter operates at maximum capacity, with 123 dogs, about a quarter of which are believed to be abandoned pets.

It’s not unusual, Myers-Watson said, for a dog to simply be left in the home being vacated, such as one left last year in a villa in Jumeriah Islands, where rentals cost about AED 250,000 a year.

As summer approaches, Dubai’s animal shelters brace for a seasonal surge in dumped pets.

“Summer is our worst period because there’s a mass exodus of expats,” said Alister Milne, manager of K9 Friends, the United Arab Emirate’s longest-established dog shelter. The rate of abandoned dogs doubles or even triples most summers.

Mahin Bahrami, founder of the Middle East Animal Foundation, estimates that at least 40 percent of Dubai’s dumped dogs, cats and small pets are the result of owners leaving the country.

“The expats here often don’t think or plan ahead,” she said. “It’s just about what they want right now: ‘I want a cat right now, and then we’ll see.'”

The Guardian reports that unwanted cats, dogs, rabbits and birds are often left to fend for themselves, locked in empty houses, dumped on the street, or driven out into the desert.

The Dubai government has taken steps to encourage expats to bring their pets with them or find them new homes when they relocate.

Dubai has effectively eradicated rabies, and pets can be exported to most countries, including the UK and the US without a lengthy quarantine.

(Photos by Hannah Bass / The Guardian)

Dog leasing: A deceptive and disgraceful practice that needs to come to an end

Historians debate whether P.T. Barnum ever really said there is a “sucker born every minute,” but never in history (I’d argue) has it been clearer than now how true that statement is.

Maybe that sucker birth rate has increased, and one is born every 10 seconds nowadays. Maybe, it’s the number of charlatans that has increased. Maybe it’s all the modern-day tools at the schemer’s disposal — Internet, infomercials, ever-slicker and more deceptive marketing techniques.

Maybe it’s our own increasing gullibility. Maybe, with our shortening attention spans, we more easily fall for double talk, and accept bald-faced lies as hard truths, and hear only what we want and have time to hear. Maybe it’s our own failure to investigate.

In any case, today, maybe more even than in Barnum’s day, you can sell anybody anything. And you can lease them even more — even a family member.

We’ve written about dog-leasing outfits several times before, going back to 2007 — when the unsavory concept first popped up.

They’ve been through many variations since then, some in the guise of do-gooders, some clearly sleazy, but all ugly at their core.

Why? Because they are all based on the concept that dogs are disposable, here to serve as many masters as we deem fit — not permanent family members, but beings to be passed around by us as need be and in the name of profit.

My earliest recollection of such a company was one called Flexpetz.

It was greeted in the media as a mostly cute idea when it debuted in 2007 — a way for people who weren’t in a position to own a dog to rent one for a few hours, a few days, or share one regularly with another client.

Making it more palatable was its claim to be hooking up dogs in need of humans with humans in need of dogs — albeit it on a temporary basis, and albeit it without much screening, of the dog or the human, or the environments they were headed into, or the reasons people needed to borrow a dog. And albeit for profit. Pretty big profits.

Flexpetz established offices in London, and had plans to open 120 locations in the U.S.

Fortunately, early on, some localities saw it for what it was — slave dogs on call to serve multiple masters. In 2008, after hearing Flexpetz planned to open a location in the city, the Boston City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting dog rentals.

Then the Massachusetts Senate passed a bill that would prevent companies like FlexPetz from setting up shop anywhere in the state.

Representative Paul Frost, a dog-owner who filed the bill, says the business model promoted the idea of “disposable pets .. I am not against business growth or the entrepreneurial spirit. But there is an ethical line you have to keep in mind.”

Flexpetz would go on to close in 2008, but the concept would live on, in numerous variations. And that ethical line Frost noticed seemed to become harder for people to see.

Hannah the Pet Society was founded in Oregon in 2010, and put a new twist on things. The society promised to match you up with a dog, and provide that dog with what it called “Total Lifetime Care” — from dog food to boarding, from veterinary care to funderal arrangements.

All for a start-up fee and “low” monthly payments.

But, contrary to what many thought, those signing up for dogs weren’t really becoming their new owners. Hannah retained ownership of all the dogs it placed, which meant that it could reclaim them, or reassign them, or even euthanize them, whenever it pleased.

In 2016, Seattle Dog Spot exposed some of the questionable practices at Hannah, and an investigation began into complaints against the company that included unnecessarily euthanizing three dogs.

Many of the shelters and rescues providing dogs to the outfit terminated their relationship with them, and the state Department of Justice began looking into the 10 complaints and two lawsuits filed against the company since 2012.

Hannah stopped sourcing and placing pets in 2016.

Today, the biggest name in dog leasing is Wags Lending, another company that’s been accused of not making it clear to customers that they were leasing dogs, and wouldn’t own them when the lease period expired.

As one customer complained, he and his wife signed up to make 27 monthly payments of $95.99 for their bichon frise — totaling $2,687 for the dog, whose store price was $495.

Upon closer inspection of the contract they’d signed, they also learned that, even then, they wouldn’t own the dog.

The dog, unless the San Diego couple forked over yet more money at the end of the lease period, would have to be returned to Oceanside Puppy — the store they leased it from.

Three years later, the horror stories keep coming. Bloomberg did an excellent piece on the seamy side of pet leasing earlier this year.

Here are two more from last week –one from WSB in Atlanta, one from WKMG in Orlando.

It has been well documented by now how Wags does business. But maybe enough repeated exposure will get the message across that this is bad business — not just for dogs, but for the customers who fall for it.

Much like dog cloning, dog leasing never took off in a big way, but it lingers, unfortunately, with new customers being duped, and dogs being placed, repossessed, reassigned and bounced around by a company that cares far more about financing than it does Fido.

No matter how respectable looking a front, or website, they put up, they are basically predators — loan sharks cloaking themselves in cute puppies.

And any pet store selling commercially bred dogs that promotes or refers customers to the service (as many do) is behaving in an equally scummy manner.

The problem is being scummy and doing something technically illegal are two different things.

If the laws aren’t there to drive these people out of business for good, or sue them for everything they are worth, then do what Boston and Massachusetts did nine years ago: Outlaw dog leasing.

Preferably now.

Trainer’s license revoked after racing greyhounds test positive for cocaine

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A well-known trainer in Florida has had his license pulled after five of his racing greyhounds tested positive for cocaine.

Malcolm McAllister, a 40-year veteran of the dog-racing circuit who has been called “a wonderful patiarch of the industry,” had his license revoked by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation on April 26.

The 70-year-old trainer at Derby Lane issued a written statement denying any knowledge of how the drugs wound up in the five dogs, underlining the last four words: “It was not me.”

He does not plan to dispute the findings and has waived his right to a hearing.

The Tampa Bay Times reported last week on the findings of an investigation by the Division of Pari-Mutuel Racing.

A sample collected from Flying Tidalwave on Jan. 11 later tested positive for cocaine and benzolecgonine, a compound created when cocaine is metabolized by the liver. A week later, a sample collected from P Kay Sweetmissy would later test positive for benzolecgonine and ecgonine ethyl ester, another cocaine metabolite, records show. Three days later, on Jan. 21, samples collected from four dogs — Kiowa Wellington, Roc A By Sevenup, Flying Microsoft, and another from Flying Tidalwave — would later test positive for cocaine metabolites.

mcallisterAll the dogs were from the kennels of McAllister, and he was listed as official trainer.

In a written statement included in the case file, McAllister expressed “great sadness and disbelief” and denied any knowledge of how the drugs wound up in the dogs’ systems.

Although he was listed as the trainer, he said he was in the process of hiring a new trainer for the kennel and had four “helpers” working for him when the incidents took place

“One of these undesirables had to have either dropped or administered the cocaine,” he wrote.

Greyhound racing is illegal in forty states, and four more have closed tracks and ceased live racing. Only six states still allow pari-mutuel dog racing. They are Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Iowa and West Virginia.

Racing greyhounds routinely receive random drug tests, and finding drugs in their systems is not unheard of. But so many positive tests over a short time span at one kennel at a single track marked a first, said Carey Theil, executive director of GREY2K USA, a nonprofit industry watchdog group that seeks to ban racing entirely.

“I’m not sure which is worse, that these were attempts to fix races or that individuals who are responsible for the dogs are doing cocaine,” Theil said. “Both of those are very grave scenarios and raise serious questions about the welfare of the dogs and the integrity of the races at Derby Lane.”

Theil said officials should investigate further to find out how the drugs got into the dogs’ systems.

McAllister began his career in 1980 in Phoenix. He and his wife Barbara, who died in 2014, came to Florida’s Derby Lane in 2005 and dominated for years. During his time at Derby Lane, McAllister has racked up more than 5,400 wins and more than $900,000 in stakes prize money, the Times reported.

Derby Lane issued a statement Friday, saying “Derby Lane promotes responsible racing and provides individual kennel facilities for each greyhound operation contracted to race in St. Petersburg … In a perfect world, there would be no need for rules, but those that don’t comply are dealt with and are not welcome to race at Derby Lane…

“For fans that celebrate the greyhound breed that truly is ‘born to run’ our track will continue to offer responsible racing despite efforts from animal extremists that champion not only the end of the sport, but the end of pet ownership as well.”

(Photos: Derby Lane, and McAllister, from Tampa Bay Times)

Crooning veterinarian in the spotlight

I’m sure there are other singing veterinarians in the world — and that some of them might even serenade their ailing canine patients — but none are getting the kind of attention that has befallen Ross Henderson.

According to the Internet, he is “melting hearts” left and right, going viral and prompting females to check out his ring finger as he strums guitar chords to see if he might be available.

As this 9News broadcaster tells us, “Sorry, ladies, he’s married.”

(If that phrase sounds hopelessly old-fashioned and perhaps a bit sexist, remember I’m not saying it — I’m only paraphrasing the broadcaster.)

Lavc53.61.100Anyway, Henderson is a veterinarian at Fox Hollow Animal Hospital in Lakewood, Colorado, and a part-time musician. He has been combining his passions for a while now — maybe not as scientifically as the musician we featured yesterday, but with apparent results.

(Do a YouTube search and you can find him singing a rap-style ode to the veterinary school he attended in Scotland.)

According to 9NEWS, Henderson often brings his guitar to work with him and will sit and sing to ailing or stressed out animals at the vet’s office. And, while I’m not sure how vital this is to the story, he is a strappy 6 foot 5.

Putting aside all the hyperbole about his hunkiness — he is reportedly making people on the Internet “weak-kneed” — I still have to say this is pretty cool, especially if he really is regularly taking time to serenade the dogs in his care, and that he’s doing it to further their comfort and recovery, as opposed to any desires he might have for a musical career.

Not that I’d wish him anything but the best in that as well.

You can see more of his music videos — many of them songs he has written for and about dogs — at 9NEWS.

Music to their ears: Musician’s song for edgy dogs seems to near instantly soothe them

A musician who calls himself “gnash” researched, composed and recorded a song he hoped would calm his own rescue dog’s restlessness, and he says it’s working — not just for Daisy, but for entire rooms of shelter dogs.

Daisy — the dog Garrett Nash, or gnash, shares with his girlfriend — is prone to becoming “super snippy when she’s not medicated,” he says, and at those time she’s prone to nipping almost anyone within reach.

“I’m a dog lover and I make music, so I was trying to connect the two,” he explained. “I was just thinking maybe, since Daisy was hanging out with me every day in the studio, well then maybe there’s a way that I could make her calm down a little bit.”

He talked to an animal behaviorist, then contacted the team at Glasgow University who had done a study on music that calms shelter dogs — one that found reggae seemed to work best.

He learned what sounds most appealed to dogs, what tempos and tones and repetitions showed evidence of calming them.

gnashThen he headed to studio with friends and got to work, ending up with Daisy’s Song — a soothing, restrained and not too reggae-like number that incorporated what he’d learned and, more important, seemed to work on Daisy.

When they tested it out, with Daisy seated next to a friend she’s always seemed particularly prone to nipping at, it was nearly magical.

You can view the results in the video at the end of this post. Suffice to say, before the song ended, Daisy was relaxed and nuzzling up against the chest of that friend she seemed so fearful of minutes earlier.

Exactly what Daisy’s condition is I can’t say. In the video below, gnash seems to be saying the dog has “a thing in her brain called a shiner (?) that makes her super snippy when she’s not medicated”

I’m no vet, though, and I couldn’t find any references to a disorder known by that name. (Those with a better grasp or understanding are welcome to comment and fill me in.) The closest I could come was progressive retinal atrophy, which can cause a shining to appear in a dog’s eyes, can affect behavior and can lead to eventual blindness.

After the song seemed to work on Daisy, gnash took the track to the adoption center of No Kill LA, a shelter operated by Best Friends Animal Society.

There, too, the song seemed to have a calming presence. During a listening session, the dogs in the room grew less frantic, seemed more restful and content.

The song, and the video about its making, were posted last week on YouTube last week, where those leaving comments are reporting varying results:

“Both of my dogs were anxious-one about a storm, and one tearing up a toilet paper tube,” wrote one. “I played this, and both are now peaceful, laying down and sleeping. I am impressed. I’m thinking of a nap myself.”

“My boxer went from licking everything in site to snoring in 4 minutes,” wrote another.

“My dog is really hyper he never sits for too long on my lap, but this actually made him sit for 10 minutes and I could tell he was listening… Loved this.”

Some dog-less comment leavers reported it put them asleep, some said they loved it whether it works or not, and one said all his dog did was lick his privates.

But weed out all the goons and trolls, and the response seems mostly to affirm that gnash achieved what he was trying to do, and more.

I played it for my dog Jinjja. He was lying down when it started. He lifted his head, his ears perked up, and he started gazing around the room and ceiling. His breathing seemed to slow down. He came over to be petted, looked out the window and laid back down, his muzzle between his paws. He lay still for the next eight minutes of the song, eyes closed and his ears periodically flicking back and forth, then finally got up and exited the room at the 12-minute mark.

“Going into this, my hopes were that I was gonna make the song, play it for Daisy and a couple of other dogs and hopefully they would react in a way that would make them a little more chill,” gnash said.

Already, the results seem to be going beyond that, and raise hopes that it could serve to calm dogs in shelters, which only increases their chances of adoption.

“It’s cool because maybe like humans will be able to find this on YouTube and show it to their friends, and then maybe they’ll play the song for their dogs and then maybe humans will love it and pets will love it too and it will make everybody smile a little bit more and that’s all I care about.”

Go ahead, make Eastwood’s day

eastwood

A statewide Empty the Shelters event Saturday was a huge success, with more than 2,500 dogs and cats being adopted from 65 shelters and rescues across Michigan.

Nearly 20 shelters managed to find homes for all their residents, including the Little Traverse Bay Humane Society — almost.

There, the only one not celebrating was Eastwood.

The red Labrador retriever, who has some vision problems and congenital leg deformities, found himself the only dog left in the shelter.

eastwood2“Poor Eastwood is so lonely now that all of his pals have been adopted,” the humane society said in a Facebook post.

“Eastwood is the only dog left at the shelter after Empty the Shelters on Saturday, but we know the perfect home is out there somewhere. This amazing boy has a few health issues that need to be addressed (which is why we think he was abandoned initially, poor guy!), but this boy is so sweet, we know it will be well worth it.”

The shelter estimated the future surgeries Eastwood may need could be more than $4,000.

“Although we understand this is a lot to take on for most families, we are committed to finding the perfect fit for Eastwood.”

Saturday’s Empty the Shelters event was sponsored by the Bissell Pet Foundation in hopes of reducing the number of animals euthanized each year. During the event, the foundation covers the adoption fees, which run about $150 per dog on average.

The late-breaking good news? After Eastwood’s lonesome mug appeared in a Facebook post, more than 80 people applied to adopt him.

Humane society staff picked the one that appeared to be the best fit, and Eastwood will soon be moving to his new home.

It was a few days later than every other dog in the shelter got adopted, but, happily, somebody made Eastwood’s day.

(Photos courtesy of Little Traverse Bay Humane Society)

Jinjja escapes, and superheroes emerge

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For the third time since I adopted my Korean “meat dog,” he decided to run off and explore more of the world than his leash normally permits.

On Sunday afternoon, Jinjja and I went on what has become our abbreviated walk, due to health issues (mine, not his).

We went down to the the grassy area at the end of my street, where he does his business and we sit for a while on a bench before heading back.

He sat on the ground on the side of the bench and I was absent-mindedly scratching his head with one hand, holding his leash with the other.

jin3Somehow, the clasp on the leash mysteriously opened up and I looked up to see him standing, unhooked, a few feet in front of me. I called him, trying to sound casual and playful and upbeat and using the high-pitched voice his obedience class teacher recommends.

He took a few more steps away. I stood up and called him again. He playfully scooted a few more feet away. I lied about having a treat. (He hasn’t mastered the “come” command without bribes.) He didn’t fall for it. I took a few steps in the opposite direction. He didn’t follow.

Then I stepped in his direction and he was off to the races, and I followed trying to keep up. (I’m not setting any speed records these days.) He stopped to poop, then lengthened his lead on me by trotting at a faster clip, down one street, then another.

Jinjja was heading in the direction he’d gone the two earlier times he has scooted — down to a creek that leads into some woods, that lead to busier roads and other neighborhoods.

The first time was entirely my fault. I was stupid. We’d been up to the tennis courts many of us use as a dog park, and he had exhausted himself running with some other dogs from my block. On the way home, he was walking in lockstep with them, right in stride with the pack. I unleashed him to see if he’d keep doing that in the short distance back to my door.

He didn’t, and I should have known better, given his past and given what I’ve read about his breed (Jindo) — namely, that some of them never are able to be off leash because of their hunting, exploring, wandering tendencies.

That time, my neighbor Trish took off after him with a couple of her dogs. I lagged behind.

Fortunately that first time, Jinjja stopped in the shallow creek, and once I caught up with Trish, who had caught up with him, he obeyed my stay command until I was able to go down the bank, attach his leash, and haul him out.

I vowed then it would be years before I tried letting him off the leash again — if ever.

A few weeks later, back at the tennis court, he managed to slip through the gate as other dogs were coming in and out. Again he took off. Again Trish pitched in for the chase, as did two other neighbors, Nick and Margaret.

They managed to corner him down near where he was the first time and get a leash around him — which is no easy task.

jin1Jinjja is still shy and skittish around strangers, still might run the other way when called. On Sunday, as I was pursuing him, and his trail, on foot and in car, knowing he was that way — not likely to approach anyone for longer than the times it takes to snag any treat they might be offering — I was feeling less hopeful with every passing minute.

When he disappeared behind a row of homes that backs up to the creek and woods, I stopped to make my first plea for help.

I’d met Victor a couple of months ago, while I was walking Jinjja and he was walking his new dog, Gracie, a Belgian Malinois. We ended up enrolled in the same dog obedience class. Victor — in his lower 60s, like me — has a bad back, and had to get up from his heating pad to answer the door.

But he sprang into action, pressed Gracie into service and we followed Jinjja down the poison ivy-filled path that runs into the woods behind his house. Jinjja had crossed the creek and was zig-zagging toward a briar-filled meadow at the end of the path. Unfortunately, Victor was wearing shorts, and we both ended up bloody by the time we spotted Jinjja in the clearing ahead.

Jinjja spotted Gracie and came running in our direction. He greeted Gracie and I was within three feet of him. That was as close as I got, and he took off again. Jinjja disappeared into the horizon and the briars became a little too much for both of us.

We headed back to the neighborhood, and I went home to get my car and head over to the adjoining neighborhood whose direction Jinjja seemed headed for. I grabbed a pack of bologna, an extra leash and my cell phone. I stopped to inform Trish what had happened and took off. I told Victor, who had changed into some long pants, my plan. I gave him a piece of bologna, which he stuffed in his pocket. With Gracie at his side, he walked back down the path to the meadow where we had last seen Jinjja.

Victor went back to the clearing, saw no sight of Jinjja, and headed back home, but not before rubbing bologna on his shoes. He dropped little pieces of it along the trail back to his house.

I pulled out for my car search, and Victor walked all the way back to the meadow, and into the next neighborhood. Trish, meanwhile, had hopped into her car and was heading there, too. All three of us were stopping to ask anyone we saw to see if they had sighted him and hand out phone numbers.

Victor found one home where Jinjja had stopped for a while. And Trish ran into a couple who said Jinjja stopped to play with their dog, and the dogs next door, but scooted off when they tried to beckon him.

About 30 minutes later, riding around back in my own neighborhood, a friend said she had seen him, just minutes earlier, walking through her front yard and stopping to poop.

(Pretty much everyone who had sighted him, in either neighborhood, mentioned he had stopped to poop in their yard.)

For the next hour I drove through one neighborhood then the other, then a couple of other nearby ones, periodically checking back home to see if he had returned.

I told my across-the-street neighbor Rita what had happened. I informed neighbor Nick (who helped snag Jinjja during Escape No. 2) what had happened and he took off on foot — roaming our neighborhood and then hopping a fence into the adjacent one that, while right next door, is more than a mile away by road.

I kept driving around, spotting Rita on patrol in her car, Trish on patrol in hers’, and picking up a sweat-soaked Victor and a panting Gracie from the other neighborhood and taking them home.

Stopping at my house again, I ran into a sweat-soaked Nick, who had hopped back over the fence and was going to get in his car and go check out a nearby apartment complex that sits across the creek.

We were both headed out again when, down the main road into our townhome development, came a woman with Jinjja, on a four-foot purple lead.

I didn’t recognize her, though she lives just around the corner, but she was the same woman whose dog had escaped (and was recovered) a couple of weeks ago. One of my recruits, or maybe it was me, had stopped her earlier and asked if she’d seen a medium sized yellow-white dog with a curly tail. She hadn’t.

But apparently this complete stranger got in her car and drove to the area where her dog had been found. She spotted Jinjja, got out of her car and called him. He went the other way. She followed on foot. Another person saw her trying to catch Jinjja and lent a hand. Between the two of them, they managed to get Jinjja to accept a treat and get that purple lead around his collar.

Victory? Not quite yet. She tried to get Jinjja into her car, but he snapped at her when touched, as he’s prone to do when a hand reaches out to him, especially when he’s not on a leash and is unfamiliar with the owner of that hand. Thinking the better of it, she decided to walk him the mile-plus back to our neighborhood.

So, if you’re counting, that’s seven superheroes — Victor, Gracie, Trish, Nick, Rita, the anonymous supplier of the purple lead, and the neighbor who, while I hugged and thanked her profusely, I still don’t know her name.

Back home, Jinjja drank a gallon of water and, as I write this, has been sleeping now for about 12 straight hours.

Which is good, because we have lots of work ahead.

While he excelled at his first obedience class, yet-to-be-resolved health issues have prevented my return. Let’s just say I’m in that whole-lot-of-testing phase that precedes doctors taking their best guess at what the problem is, or (hopefully better yet) was.

If Sunday was anything, it was a lesson in hope, and a reminder that —
in good times and bad — friends and family and superhero neighbors are good to have.

***

murphy(Jinjja — then Jindol — was one of four dogs that ended up at Watauga Humane Society in October after being saved from a Korean meat farm by Humane Society International. We’re pleased to report that all four have now been adopted — most recently Murphy who went to a new home last week. Murphy took a little longer to become social than the others, but after lots of work and time, he started gaining trust in humans, and bonded with one visiting couple who wanted him but were unable to take him. Later, that couple came back, and they’re now his parents.)

(Top photos of Jinjja by John Woestendiek, bottom photo of Murphy courtesy of Watauga Humane Society)