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Tag: blog

Lollie Wonderdog finds her family

Lollie Wonderdog, the pit bull mix reclaimed from a Maryland trash bin and lovingly fostered for nearly five months in a Takoma Park home, has been adopted.

Lollie, whose experience as a foster dog was recounted in the blog Love and a Six-Foot Leash, was adopted by a family of four — a family (that’s part of it to the left) whose mom saw in Lollie a fellow survivor.

It’s a lovely ending to a tale well told by Aleksandra Gajdeczka, whose family took Lollie in temporarily and blogged about the experience — partly in an attempt to find a permanent home for the three-year-old dog, partly to tell the world about the joys of fostering.

Including, last week, the bittersweet and often tearful feeling that accompanies the successful conclusion of that experience.

In a letter to her departed foster dog, she wrote, “You pass through the world with a carefree grace that I have rarely seen in a dog, and have never seen in a person. Your ability to make everybody like you and the whole world smile, paired with your ability to overcome anything with a wagging tail and a flapping tongue is truly remarkable. I hope you don’t remember the specifics of how you ended up in that dumpster in September, bruised, half-starved, and filthy, but I hope you always remember that you have overcome so much — and come out a shooting star. An eternal firework.

“Lollie Wonderdog, it’s an amazing thing when a sad little dog can teach a bunch of humans so much about perseverance, patience, and overcoming the odds. You have touched our lives forever, and we love you very much.”

Emotions ran strong on the receiving end, too. After Lollie — whose new name is Lily Fireworks — was situated in her new home, her new owner wrote down her thoughts about it all, which were published on Love and a Leash this week:

“I had breast cancer at 24, had a few breast surgeries, lost all my hair, all that fun stuff … Fast forward six years, and we’re looking for a dog. We found Daisy, a beagle with giant “udders.” A breast cancer survivor finds a dog with udders…it was meant to be! Last year I went through chemo again when my cancer returned, and Daisy beagle was the sole reason I got up and got any exercise some days. She lay next to me on the couch when I felt pukey, she sniffed my head when my hair fell out again, she saw me through the whole year of chemo. That’s a lot of walks together … Sadly, we lost Daisy very unexpectedly a few months ago, and I didn’t want another dog …”

Then she came across Lollie’s blog, through the Montgomery County Humane Society website.

“We contacted Aleksandra and set up a time for John and me to meet her Lollie Wonderdog. If we thought she’d be a good family member, then we’d tell the little ones. We went to meet Lollie. I couldn’t get over her itty bitty waist. She was adorable. Those giant eyes … she licked my stinky shoelaces, and it was love. How could a dog who had been through so much still have so much love to give? I thought about it — Lollie and I are both survivors …”

(Photo by Aleksandra Gajdeczka, courtesy of Love and a Leash)

Out of a Dumpster, into your heart

Here’s a blog we’re hooked on, and one we hope comes to an end soon — for, when it does, that will mean Lollie, the 3-year-old pit bull whose adventures in foster care it chronicles, will have found a forever home.

The blog recounts the foster care experiences of Lollie — full name “Lollie Wonderdog” — who was discovered in September by animal control officers after they received a call about an animal making noise in a dumpster. When they arrived and opened the container, there was Lollie, filthy, half-starved, and covered in cuts and bruises.

Lollie licked the hand of the officer who reached in to scoop her up, and she’s been winning hearts ever since — first at the  Montgomery County Humane Society, where she was known as Lolita. She spent a month there before being taken in as a foster dog by Aleksandra Gajdeczka and family, in late October, at their home in Takoma Park, Md.

“She had clearly been bred for money, abused, and then thrown away — quite literally,” Gajdeczka writes on the blog, entitled ”Love and a Six-Foot Leash: One family’s quest to open minds, win hearts and save lives through the foster program.”

Lollie’s foster family took things slow, introducing her to their other dog, Chick. They taught her to walk on a leash, sit and cuddle — though that last one seemed to come pretty naturally once Lollie became less fearful and more playful.

Gajdeczka says the blog has multiple purposes, but it’s mainly aimed at finding Lollie a home.

“We have a few humble goals in this pursuit: to find our current foster a great ‘forever home’ by revealing her sweetness and her big personality; to encourage others to fostering by sharing our experience; and to show the gentle, loyal nature of pit bull type dogs when kept as family pets.”

Lollie, believed to be a pit bull-bulldog mix,  is available to families within a two hour drive of DC.

“Lollie comes to you with a heart full of love, a clean bill of health, all of her shots/vaccines up-to-date, and already spayed. She is housebroken, does not chew on furniture, shoes, or clothes, and is quiet and cuddly. She is a smart dog, an ultra-fast learner, and has a lot of energy– she would make a great running partner, and may excel in agility training … She is wonderful with adults and children alike, and fine with some dogs– though she would be happiest in a single-dog house. Per MCHS rules, she cannot be adopted by a family with small kids, small animals (cats, rabbits, hamsters . . .), or no prior dog experience.”

The blog tells you all you need to know, should you be interested in adopting Lollie.

It has some great photos (Aleksandra is also a photographer, reachable at dcpetographer@gmail.com), some sweet videos, and nicely depicts not just Lollie’s growth during her time in foster care, but all the love she, like all dogs — even those spurned, ditched or dumped — has to give.

Even better yet, it shows that humans do, too.

(Photos and video by Aleksandra Gajdeczka)

Sound reasoning: What would Charley think?

With a deep bass toot, the ferry to Connecticut began churning across Long Island Sound. I leaned over the railing and, as the water rushed by, felt a deep sense of accomplishment — for the ground we’ve already covered and that which we will be covering in the second phase of our trip.

Ace not being around — he was inside the car in the ferry’s gut — I gave myself, figuratively, of course, a pat on the back. This was a good idea — my highly original plan to copy (more or less) John Steinbeck’s trip. Others have retraced the route, and written about it, but I had the foresight to be starting off exactly 50 years to the day after Steinbeck did.

I had just settled on a bench, and had stopped patting myself, when Bill Steigerwald walked by, camera around his neck, notepad at his side, taking it all in and looking at passengers that way reporters look at people — like they are cuts of meat that might be worth tasting — as he pursued his highly original plan … to copy John Steinbeck’s trip.

So we sat and talked, comparing notes about our highly original plans to copy John Steinbeck’s trip. We decided, I think, that we liked each other, and concluded that though our goals our similar — a book, somewhere down the road – we weren’t barking up, or peeing on, the same tree.

Steigerwald, like me, was a career newspaper guy. We both accepted buyout offers from our newspapers — he in 2009, from the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, me in 2008 from the Baltimore Sun — in hopes that, if we continued our writerly ways, we might survive in 21st Century America without having to become fast food cooks, Wal-Mart greeters, or strip club flaks. And both of us are now self-subsidizing our travels in hopes that some day, in some way, somebody might want to buy what we want to write.

We are both brilliant, in a stupid kind of way; or maybe we’re stupid, in a brilliant kind of way.

Steigerwald, who is traveling doglessly, is reporting on his trip — which will be a more precise retracing of Steinbeck’s route than mine — for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where he also once worked. He, like me, is blogging about it daily.

Bill is 62, five years older than me, but I think we’re both among a large group of once-and-maybe-still-somewhat-idealistic baby boomer former reporters who jumped ship amid the industry’s downward spiral. Now we’re seeking a flotation device. In my case, at least, I’ve continued doing what I’ve always done — write stories — even though I’m not paid (other than by my fine advertisers) for it. I wonder if people who have left other careers do that — keep plying their trade even though the salary and benefits have stopped.  To some extent, I think yes. One’s job gets in one’s blood. So retired lawyers probably keep arguing long after their last case closed. Former politicians probably continue to lie. TV weather reporters likely continue to make erroneous forecasts.

Possibly the whistling ferry loader in charge of getting cars aboard the boat yesterday will keep whistling, waving his arms, complaining about “f***in’ management” and saying things like, “Give me a couple of minutes, I’ll wave youse up,” for at least several months after he starts drawing a pension.

With writers, though, I think that runs even deeper — either because we see it as somehow noble, or because we don’t know how do do anything else. Like dogs, we tend to keep following and sniffing along the trail we are on. It’s not a totally mindless pursuit. We do what we know how to do. We know there might be something good ahead.

Not knowing, either, how to board a ferry, I just followed the shouted orders yesterday. I didn’t get a ticket in advance, so I paid $61 for my sound crossing; Bill, clearly a better planner than me, paid $49.

I took him down to the bowels of the ferry, and we compared vehicles. He has a red sport utility much like the one I’m in, but his backseat — because he’s not toting a dog — is open, with a large mattress he can sleep on. I showed him my dog, then took Ace up on the deck, which I had assumed wasn’t allowed, but actually was.

Bill fell for Ace, but, as he wrote today, was kind of glad – after seeing how much space my dog took up in my vehicle — that he didn’t have a dog along.

We parted ways — both intent on continuing our highly original plans to copy John Steinbeck’s trip — agreeing to try to meet up again in Maine or Michigan or Montana. As he plans to complete his trip in six weeks, I’ll probably be lagging behind, though.

As I waited my turn to pull off the ferry, I wondered what Charley — now buried behind John Steinbeck’s house in Sag Harbor – would make of it all: all these literary/scholarly/newspaper/blogging types who, over the years, have seen fit to repeat the trek that he made with his master.

Silly humans, he might think, following their so-called instincts, which aren’t very good in the first place.

My guess is he would get a good doggie chuckle out of it all. He’d probably break into a poodle smile.

“Ftt,” he’d say.

“Lost” actor reports death of his Chihuahua

Actor Jorge Garcia, who played Hurley on the hit series Lost, has reported the death of his Chihuahua, named Nunu.

Nunu was struck by a car and died in his arms, Garcia wrote Monday on his blog, “Dispatches from the Island.”

Garcia, according to People magazine, frequently chronicled the adventures of Nunu, purchased from a pet store in Hawaii five years ago.

“We are burying her in the Pet Garden at Valley of the Temple in Kaneohe,” Garcia wrote. “Nunu hated the water so we couldn’t bring ourselves to having her ashes scattered in the ocean. Three months from now you’ll be able to find a bronze plaque inscribed with just her name there. If you’d like to leave a flower or a toy, I’m sure she’d love it.”

You can’t get much lower than this

020910ALEXI1GPM.jpgA Westie left tied by his owner outside a New York supermarket was relieved of his winter wear — that’s right, somebody stole the coat off his back.

Donna McPherson, 42, says she tied up Lexie, her 10-year-old Westie, in front of Ace Supermarket in Park Slope “for two minutes” so she could buy milk.

When she returned, the $25 green wool coat with leather trim he’d been wearing was gone.

Here’s how McPherson relayed the facts to F—ed in Park Slope, a blog that isn’t nearly as dirty as its name:

I ran out of milk Sat night at 6.30pm so bundled Lexie up in his little green coat and walked down to Union & 7th to get some milk from Ace Supermarket. I tied Lexie to the door (where I could see him through the glass) and grabbed the milk. As anyone who’s been in Ace knows, the milk is located right inside the door, so I only had my back turned on Lexie for 10 seconds or so ( I know, I know: people will shout at me for leaving him alone outside and I  never normally do, but I needed some milk!). I was back outside within less than a minute, and when I came out someone had STOLEN THE GREEN COAT off of Lexie’s back!?.

WHAT. THE. F—??? I mean, who does that? 

I thank god the dog coat thief didn’t steal Lexie, but I never expected my friggin dog to get mugged!  Lexie is OK post traumatic incident, but I swear to God: if I see someone with a dog in Lexie‘s green coat you better run in the opposite direction!!”

McPherson, an investment banker, told the New York Post she attempted to make it up to Lexie by buying him two new coats.

(Photo: Gregory P. Mango/New York Post)

ohmidog! Having fun with Google Analytics

usa-map

 
Based on my Google Analytics — the service that tells me how many people are reading ohmidog!, where they come from and what they have in their refrigerators — I thought it might be fun to make some gross, unfair and highly non-scientific generalizations.

(I don’t really know what you have in your refrigerators, though a certain someone in Dayton, Ohio might want to check the expiration date on that raspberry yogurt on the lower left hand shelf, behind the dill pickles.)

Looking at the past two months, I see that ohmidog! has had 57,912 visits. Of those, 47,547 were “absolute unique visitors,” meaning, I figure, that more than 10,000 visitors who stopped by were not unique at all. That’s OK, you are welcome here, anyway.

Together, our unique visitors and our run of the mill ones perused 78,153 pages. Most of you landed on our main page. As for specific entries, Baxter the therapy dog (featured in our “best of” section, above) drew the most views.

Outside of the U.S., Canada (2,574) and the UK (1,097) sent the most visitors, along with some place called Not Set (1,434). More than 100 visitors each came from Australia, Japan, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Philippines, New Zealand and India.

As for the good old USA, looking at the last two months, I was surprised to see that Californians (5,394) are the most frequent visitors to ohmidog!, holding a slight edge over residents of Maryland (5,385), our home base.

After California and Maryland, the states most prone to visiting ohmidog! in the past two months were, in this order: Texas (3,398), New York (3,251), Pennsylvania (2,927), Florida (2,159), Virginia (2,089), Illinois (1,874), North Carolina (1,721, but most of those were probably my mother, who is absolutely unique) and Ohio (1,685, and, you in Dayton, don’t forget to check that yogurt.)

From our Google Analytics figures, we are able to extrapolate  (always keep an extrapolate, in case you lose your original polate) the following  conclusions about our readership:

Most loyal readers: Maryland.

Bounciest: Florida.

Most depth (meaning they stay on the website the longest, and I’m pretty sure it’s because they read more, as opposed to more slowly): Maryland.

Shortest attention span: California, New York, Florida.

Least likely to read ohmidog!: South Dakota.

Dirtiest refrigerators: South Dakota.

More animal emotions: Chimps mourn a friend

chimpdorothy

 
As a footnote to our discussion yesterday on animals and emotions, we bring you the story of Dorothy, a female chimpanzee in her late 40s when she died last year of congestive heart failure.

As the photo above shows, a crowd of fellow chimps gathered and watched solemnly as she was wheeled to her burial.

The November issue of National Geographic magazine features the photograph, which has since “gone viral,” turning up in websites, TV shows and newspapers around the world, according to a National Geographic blog

The photographer, Monica Szczupider, is a volunteer at Cameroon’s Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center, where Dorothy had lived for eight years. The center houses and rehabilitates chimps victimized by habitat loss and the illegal African bushmeat trade. 

After a hunter killed her mother, Dorothy was sold as a “mascot” to an amusement park in Cameroon, where she spent the next 25 years tethered by a chain around her neck, and was taught to drink beer and smoke cigarettes for the amusement of onlookers.

In May 2000, Dorothy was rescued and relocated along with ten other primates. As her health improved, she cared for an orphaned chimp named Bouboule and became a close friend to many others, including Jacky, the group’s alpha male, and Nama, another amusement-park refugee.

“Her presence, and loss, was palpable, and resonated throughout the group,” Szczupider said. “The management at Sanaga-Yong opted to let Dorothy’s chimpanzee family witness her burial, so that perhaps they would understand, in their own capacity, that Dorothy would not return. Some chimps displayed aggression while others barked in frustration. But perhaps the most stunning reaction was a recurring, almost tangible silence.”

Does a bear sulk in the woods?

bearDo animals, grieve? Love? Hate? Do they feel fear, rage, pride, remorse, happiness, shame, envy, jealousy, sadness and all those other emotions that add texture and confusion to our lives.

You betcha, Marc Bekoff says in his Psychology Today blog, Animal Emotions.

“There is no doubt that many animals experience rich and deep emotions. It’s not a matter of if emotions have evolved in animals but why they have evolved as they have,” he writes. “We must never forget that our emotions are the gifts of our ancestors, our animal kin. We have feelings and so do other animals.”

The piece goes on to present some compelling examples.

Sea lion mothers, watching their babies being eaten by killer whales, wail pitifully. Dolphins have been seen struggling to save a dead infant and mourn afterward. What appears to be grief has been observed in elephants when a member of the family, a non-relative, or even a member of another species succumbs.

 Bekoff cites the case of  Gana, a captive gorilla, clearly grieved the loss of her infant in the famous image of her carrying her dead baby. Jane Goodall observed Flint, a young chimpanzee, withdraw from his group, stop eating, and die of a broken heart after the death of his mother, Flo.

Gorillas are known to hold wakes for dead friends, Bekoff adds, recapping the story of a female gorilla, Babs, who died of cancer Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo ten years ago. Babs’ mate was observed howling and banging his chest, according to a zoo staff member, then picking up a piece of her favorite food — celery — putting it in her hand and trying to get her to wake up.

“Why do animals grieve and why do we see grief in different species of animals?” writes Bekoff , the author of “The Emotional Lives of Animals” and Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado. “… Some theorize that perhaps mourning strengthens social bonds among the survivors who band together to pay their last respects. This may enhance group cohesion at a time when it’s likely to be weakened.

“Grief itself is something of a mystery, for there doesn’t seem to be any obvious adaptive value to it in an evolutionary sense. It does not appear to increase an individual’s reproductive success. Whatever its value is, grief is the price of commitment, that wellspring of both happiness and sorrow.”

Vote for ME! Vote for ME! Vote for ME!

mobbiesI was honored to learn today that ohmidog! is in the running for a “Mobbie” — a new series of awards for the best blogs in Maryland, sponsored by the Baltimore Sun.

I’m even more honored to learn that we are in the category “misfits.”

Click the link on the top of our leftside rail to vote for us, though I should point out it does requiring logging in and setting up an account with the Sun – meaning not that you have to subscribe, only that they will probably bug you to later.

As I am a good week late learning of this competition, and as dogs don’t get to vote, I don’t hold out much hope of  besting the other “misfits.”

But a respectable showing would be nice — at least topping, say, “The Baltimore Sewing Examiner.”

Cecil County SPCA cleared in state probe

Investigations by a state’s attorney and the Maryland State Police into allegations against the Cecil County SPCA have concluded there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing and that fired employees lied about their accusations, the SPCA is reporting on its website.

The allegations were brought to light  by Del. Michael Smigiel, who published them on the Internet and still maintains on his blog that the they have not been fully investigated.

Caroline County State’s Attorney Jonathan G. Newell reported on his review of a detailed State Police investigation and report in a June 1, 2009 letter sent to Cecil County State’s Attorney Christopher Eastridge, who had asked for an independent review outside Cecil County.

“Despite a very thorough investigation … in my opinion none of the allegations of criminal animal cruelty on the part of current or past employees of the CCSPCA are credible enough to be prosecuted,”  Newell said. The State Police investigation began in January, 2009.

The State Police report concluded there was no credible evidence against the Cecil County SPCA. Read more »

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