Booger — the heart, soul and sturdy foundation of a streetside act that brought together dog, cat and rat for performances that amused millions (if you count online) — has died.
The 13-year-old dog — a Rottweiler-Labrador mix – died Monday night from kidney and liver failure at a veterinary clinic in her hometown of Telluride, said her owner, Greg Pike.
Pike brought together Booger, a cat named Kitty and a rat named Mousie, taught them to arrange themselves in a pyramid and showed that animals can buck their stereotypes and view each other as more than predator and prey.
The hopeful message behind the act — in which Mousie stood atop Kitty, who stood atop Booger, most often on the west end of Pearl Street in Boulder — was that maybe we humans could do a better job of getting along, too.
It all started off on a bet, though.
Pike began putting the act together soon after he was given Booger as a puppy, according to the Boulder Daily Camera:
One day in a Telluride park, Pike and some others were discussing the limits of what’s possible, and he bet that he could get a dog, cat and rat to get along.
After finding Kitty and her littermates in a box under a house, Pike said he introduced the cat to Booger. They hit it off immediately and were inseparable from that point. Over the years, several different rodents have been used in the act.
Pike didn’t limit his entertaining to Colorado. To counter the sadness he saw in people after 9/11, Pike took the animals across the U.S. He said he enjoyed seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they saw the animals walking around, stacked on one another.
“Everywhere I brought them, they made people smile, and it just made me feel really good inside,” Pike said.
The act appeared on the Animal Planet series “Must Love Cats” and a YouTube video of them has been viewed more than 9.75 million times.
Pike said Booger will be cremated, and in the spring he will climb to the top of Gold Hill in Telluride to spread her ashes.
“I think my eyes are drained. It really hurts,” Pike said Tuesday. “She didn’t die in pain at all. She passed away in comfort in Telluride, where she loved to be.”
Kitty seems to be missing Booger as much as he is, Pike noted.
“I’ve never seen her curl up to me this much.”
Posted by jwoestendiek October 31st, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: act, booger, boulder, cat, colorado, dead, died, dog, dog cat rat, getting along, greg pike, instincts, kitty, mousie, peace, performance, pyramid, rat, stereotypes, street, street performers, telluride, video, you tube, youtube
In court on Monday, Joan Renee Zalk said she was pet-sitting for the dog. She told police officers the dog, named Cooper, needs to walk at least three miles a day or he goes “ballistic.”
Zalk, 29, also faces a charge of felony menacing after a witness who confronted her about the dog told police she was threatened, the Boulder Daily Camera reported.
Zalk, who is also an acupuncturist, told the newspaper there was no abuse involved.
Several witnesses called police Friday after seeing the leashed dog running alongside the car.
“That poor dog was running its guts out trying to keep up,” said Elizabeth Whaley, who followed the car, pulled up alongside it and issued a scolding.
Another woman, Debra Baros, later confronted Zalk, who, according to police, told her, “Excuse me, I have a gun in my car. Do you want me to get it?”
Zalk told police she didn’t really have a gun, but made the remark because she felt threatened by Baros.
Zalk was taken to the Boulder County Jail. She was released on bond on Monday.
Officers observed cuts, scabs and blood on the neck of Cooper, who was taken to the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. He was later released to his owner.
Zalk told police that the owner, Erin Livers, knew that she sometimes ran the dog from her car or her bike. But police say Livers, when contacted, denied that was the case.
Zalk is scheduled to appear in court again today.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 21st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: acupuncture, alongside, animal cruelty, animals, boulder, car, chihuahua, colorado, cooper, dog walker, dogs, exercise, joan renee zalk, leash, pet sitter, pets, police, running, threats, yoga
A 7-year-old mutt who went missing in mid-November from his home in Colorado was reunited with his owner yesterday after being found in Salinas, Calif. — about 1,200 miles away.
Nobody knows where Buster Brown was for the past six months, or how he made it from Boulder to Salinas, but that’s all water under the bridge, or pavement under the paws, as the case may be.
Buster and his owner, Samantha Squires, reunited at Denver International Airport Friday.
“I never gave up on him and I thought about him every day,” she said as she awaited his arrival. “It wouldn’t be surprising to me that he was looking for us the whole time.”
Buster, who Squires rescued as a puppy, vanished from her back yard on Nov. 19 while she was out jogging, according to the Daily Camera.
Squires said she feared the worst – that a mountain lion might have attacked Buster. Three weeks ago, she adopted a new dog.
Meanwhile in Salinas, Peter Ochoa noticed a strange dog sitting on his front porch.
“He laid there staring at me like, ‘Are you going to take me in?’”
Ochoa approached Buster Brown, told him to sit, and then shook his paw. Ochoa’s family gave Buster some water and called animal control, and volunteered to take Buster in if a new home couldn’t be found for him.
Staff at the Salinas Animal Shelter found a microchip in Buster Brown, but the numbers they called were no longer in service. Instead the shelter sent a certified letter to the last known address associated with the microchip.
That letter ended up at Squires’ current address. She called the shelter and confirmed they had Buster, who had somehow gained 13 pounds during his mysterious absence.
Squires was trying to arrange transportation home for Buster when Frontier Air Lines offered to fly him for free.
Squires suspects Buster probably got a ride to California — otherwise, she calculated, he would have had to travel about seven miles a day.
“My guess is he lived in a couple of homes and was a stray toward the end,” Squires said. “People would take care of him — he’s just a doggy you want to love.”
Posted by jwoestendiek June 6th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 1200 miles, animal welfare, animals, beagle, boulder, buster, buster brown, california, colorado, denver, dog, dogs, frontier, home, microchip, missing, mutt, pets, pit bull, recovered, retriever, reunion, reunited, salinas, samantha squires, shelter, stray, wanderer
The trial of Abby Toll, the former University of Colorado student accused of taping a dog to a refrigerator during a dispute with her boyfriend, came to a dramatic end last week, with a guilty verdict and protests from Toll that she didn’t act alone.
Minutes after a jury convicted her on a felony charge of animal cruelty for sticking her boyfriend’s shiba inu upside-down on the side of a refrigerator, Toll insisted she was not solely responsible for the abuse.
“Bryan Beck knows what he did to that dog,” the Boulder Daily Camera quoted Toll as saying, referring to her ex-boyfriend. When asked by a reporter if Beck taped the dog to the refrigerator, she answered, “Yes he did.”
Neither Beck nor Toll testified in the case.
The shiba inu — then named Rex — had his legs, snout and tail bound with hair ties and packing tape before being taped upside down to a refrigerator in a Boulder apartment last April.
The guilty verdict came after two hours of deliberation. Toll, who now lives in Chicago, faces up to 18 months in prison. She is scheduled to be sentenced May 28.
Her attorney, George Kokus, said Colorado’s felony animal cruelty statute was misapplied in the case. Before the law was put on the books in 2002, animal cruelty violations were treated as misdemeanors in Colorado.
“The legislature’s intent was that this law should be used on serial animal abusers,” Kokus said. “The serial murderers of cats and dogs, that has a systematic torture plan to it.” Kokus, in the interview in the video above, also seems to imply that Beck played a role in the taping.
During the trial, animal-rights advocates stood outside the Boulder County Justice Center with signs protesting animal abuse.
The dog has since been adopted and is living in a new home, under a new name.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 19th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abby toll, abuse, animal cruelty, argument, boulder, boyfriend, court, dispute, felony, packing tape, prosecutors, reaction, refrigerator, rex, shiba inu, taped, taping, torture, university of colorado, video
The sight of a puppy stuck to the side of a refrigerator with packing type left a Boulder police officer so “caught off-guard” that he momentarily lost control of the scene he was there to investigate.
“I see this thing and it doesn’t register as a dog to me. “I’m looking at it and I see it starts to move,” Officer Rick French testified during the first day of Abby Toll’s felony animal cruelty trial in Colorado.
French described the early-morning hours of April 14, 2009 — a year ago today — when he responded to a report of a couple fighting at a Boulder apartment.
He testified that he was in the middle of interviewing Toll’s boyfriend, Bryan Beck, when Toll began to pull the animal — then named Rex — off the fridge in a “brusque and abrupt” manner.
“I’m not going to have this dog torn down and hurt any more than it appeared it already was,” the officer said. He stopped her and took the dog down himself.
French was one of only two witnesses called by the prosecution Monday in what is expected to be a three-day trial, according to the Boulder Daily Camera. Prosecutors rested their case at the end of the day.
Toll, 21, a former University of Colorado student, is being tried on a felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals. Her attorney told the jury of seven men and six women that his client was a victim of domestic violence.
“This bizarre behavior by Abby was taking place at the same time Mr. Beck was not allowing her to leave the apartment,” he said.
Prosecutor David Cheval told the jury the case was one of deliberate animal abuse fueled by Toll’s jealous perception that her boyfriend cared more about his dog than he did about her.
Cheval said the defendant took her time gathering up hair ties, scissors and tape at Beck’s apartment in preparation for binding up the 8-month-old puppy.
“She collected her tools, her tools of torture,” Cheval said.
Toll systematically bound the dog’s feet, tail and snout with the hair ties and then wrapped the animal in packaging tape before taping him to the fridge upside-down, Cheval said.
“Think about the time, the effort, and the deliberate effort it would take to do that act,” he said to the jury. “Is that torture?”
Rex showed obvious signs of pain as he was set free from his “tomb of tape,” French testified.
The dog has since been adopted.
(Photo: Boulder Daily Camera / Paul Aiken)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 14th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abby toll, animal cruelty, animals, boulder, bryan beck, colorado, court, cruelty, david cheval, dog, dogs, ohmidog!, packing tape, pets, refrigerator, rex, stuck, student, tape, taped, testimony, torture, trial, university of colorado
Abby Toll, the former University of Colorado student accused of taping her boyfriend’s dog to a refrigerator, did not have an “impaired mental condition” at the time that would excuse her behavior, a state mental health doctor says.
Toll, 20, has entered a not guilty plea, claiming she suffered from an impaired mental condition as a result of being an “ongoing victim of domestic violence.”
Her case goes to trial April 12, according to the Boulder Daily Camera. The doctor’s conclusion came in a pre-trial report.
Toll, who now lives in Chicago and is no longer enrolled at the university, is accused of binding her boyfriend’s 2-year-old shiba inu, Rex, in hair bands and packing tape and sticking him upside-down to a refrigerator during a fight.
Her boyfriend, Bryan Beck, also was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty. In exchange for a guilty plea, he was given a one-year deferred sentence and 50 hours of community service.
The dog has since been adopted by another family.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 4th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abby toll, argument, boulder, boyfriend, bryan beck, colorado, court, defense, domestic violence, duct tape, impairment, mental condition, packing tape, plea, refrigerator, rex, shiba inu, stuck, taped, trial, university of colorado
A six-inch wide piece of steel pipe had sat in Kay Simmons backyard in Colorado for a long time, but only this week did her wolf-dog hybrid, Marina, decide, for reasons unknown, to stick her head in it.
The 3-year-old dog is recovering from cuts, scrapes and bruises after spending more than seven hours Tuesday with her skull wedged in the 8-foot-long pipe.
“It was a pretty terrible day,” Simmons, 73, told the Boulder Daily Camera Wednesday before leaving to pick up her pet from the veterinarian.
On Friday, though the Daily Camera reported that Simmons has had a lot of terrible days:
She has a lengthy history of animal violations, and last year authorities killed five of her wolf-dogs after they attacked neighborhood pets, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
Simmons, who lives on the Boulder County side of the border with Jefferson County, has at least four open “animal violation” cases in Jefferson County, into which her wolf hybrids sometimes wander.
“She has the largest file in the office,” said Camille Paczosa, animal control officer and supervisor.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office has taken more than 50 complaints about Simmons’ wolf-dogs and charged her dozens of times since 1985. The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office has taken at least 16 reports of “dangerous animals at large” and similar violations since 1986.
One neighbor said he’s glad the animal is OK, but he finds it “ironic, if not insulting,” that the Sheriff’s Office and firefighters spent so much time and money “to save one of these animals but let the documented hazard to humans go on for almost 15 years.”
Simmons told authorities this week that one of her dogs started “making a racket” about noon Tuesday. When she went outside she found Marina squirming to free herself from the pipe.
Nearly 20 people from the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, the Coal Creek Fire Department and the Boulder Emergency Squad tried to free her, using everything from vegetable oil to a spatula. Finally, one of the firefighters — who also works as a plumber — used a pipe saw to cut off most of the steel, leaving just one foot of pipe covering the dog’s head. That allowed crews to transport her safely to the veterinary clinic.
Once at the clinic, a “grinding tool” was used to cut a triangle out of the pipe. When Marina was finally freed from the pipe she “sprang up” and appeared to be fine. She’s expected to make a full recovery.
But Wednesday’s feel-good story took a turn later in the week.
Steve McAdoo, who has lived near Simmons for about six years, told the Daily Camera he’s afraid for his 3- and 5-year-old children’s lives after four of Simmons’ wolf-dogs “ripped to shreds and almost killed” his 35-pound spaniel, Molly, in August.
After the attack on that same night, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the wolf-dogs attacked other animals and caused property damage. As a result, the Sheriff’s Office killed five of the hybrids.
“Two weeks later, she got five more,” McAdoo said. “And she’s been doing this for years.”
In August 2003, Jefferson County animal control officers took three of Simmons’ wolf-dogs and charged her with having a dangerous dog. In 2000, authorities took a report of a dog being killed by wolves in that area, but they were unable to identify the wolves that attacked, according to Jefferson County officials.
(Photo: Paul Aiken/Boulder Daily Camera)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 29th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal control, animals, boulder, boulder county, boulder daily camera, colorado, complaints, cut, dog, dogs, emergency, fire department, freed, head, hybrid, jefferson county, kay simmons, killed, marina, pets, pipe, recovery, rescued, saved, saw, sheriff, steel, stuck, video, wolf, wolf hybrid
Abby Toll, the University of Colorado student accused of taping her boyfriend’s dog, Rex, to the refrigerator during an argument, entered a not guilty plea to animal cruelty and drug charges Friday.
Toll arrived at the Boulder County Justice Center to see animal-lovers, many with their pets, toting signs demanding justice for Rex.
Toll, 20, who is now is living in Chicago, had the drug charge filed against her after police said they found heroin on her when she was booked into Boulder County Jail on April 14, according to Coloradodaily.com.
Toll’s attorney, George Kokus, said he might file a change-of-venue request because “of the amount of hate mail we’ve received.” He said Toll’s case should be viewed as a “domestic violence” matter and said “she was the human victim.”
Her boyfriend, Brian Beck, 21, also faces misdemeanor animal-cruelty and false-imprisonment charges. Kokus said Beck wouldn’t let Toll leave their apartment and took away her cell phone.
“How would any woman react?” he said.
(Editorial comment: I can think of several alternatives that might be slightly more effective than taping a dog to the refrigerator.)
Beck is scheduled to accept a plea deal on his charges July 15. Toll is due back in court for a motions hearing Oct. 27.
Toll was arrested April 14 on suspicion of binding her boyfriend’s 2-year-old shiba inu, Rex, in packing tape and sticking him upside-down to the refrigerator during a fight. At the time of her arrest, Toll told police, “I know this looks bad. We were going to get rid of him anyway. We usually don’t do this.”
Rex is now in a new home in Castle Rock. Her new owners held a contest in May to rename the abused puppy. Online voters chose Yoshi — a Japanese word for “good luck.”
Posted by jwoestendiek June 27th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abby toll, animal cruelty, argument, boulder, boyfriend, brian beck, court, demonstrators, dog, drugs, fridge, hearing, justice, not guilty, ohmidog!. news, packing tape, plea, refrigerator, rex, shiba inu, signs, student, taped, taping, university of colorado, upside down, venue, yoshi
Police found an 8-month-old puppy taped to the side of a refrigerator in a Boulder, Colorado home Tuesday morning, the apparent subect and victim of a domestic dispute between his owner and his girlfriend.
Abby Toll, 20, was arrested on suspicion of felony animal cruelty after telling police she taped the puppy, a shiba inu named Rex, to the fridge because she was angry at her boyfriend for not getting rid of his pet after it had bitten her, the Colorado Daily reported.
“There’s a dog taped to the fridge,” she reportedly told an officer who responded to a call about a domestic incident at the apartment in the 2900 block of East Aurora Avenue around 5 a.m. Tuesday. “I know this looks bad. We were going to get rid of him anyway. We usually don’t do this.”
The dog’s feet, snout and tail were bound in clear packing tape, a plastic bag and elastic hair ties, and he was taped to the side of the refrigerator with more packing tape. He was taken to the Humane Society of Boulder Valley for safekeeping.
CEO Lisa Pedersen said Tuesday that Rex was doing fine and the Humane Society would take care of him until the legal case is resolved, at which time he may be put up for adoption.
Toll, a University of Colorado sophomore majoring in environmental design, faces felony charges of animal cruelty and domestic violence. She was being held at Boulder County Jail in lieu of a $12,500 bond.
Police said Toll slapped her boyfriend, 21-year-old Bryan Beck, in the face and threw several objects at him after taping the dog to the fridge.
Beck, who has been dating Toll for about a year, returned to his apartment Monday evening to find dog poop and urine throughout. Toll told Beck to get rid of Rex, saying he bit her a few days earlier. The couple argued, but made up. The next morning, Toll tried to apply cream to an old wound on Rex and he growled and bared his teeth at her. Upset, she decided to get back at her boyfriend and “teach the dog a lesson.”
When Beck saw the dog, he told Toll: “Take him down. You are so sick.” To which she replied: “No, you are sick for not caring enough about me to get rid of the dog.” A fight ensued, and the dog remained taped to the fridge for about 20 minutes, until police arrived in response to someone reporting the couple’s yells.
Toll’s Chihuahua, Peanut, was also taken to the Humane Society after the couple’s arrest.
(Photo: Police mug shot, via Colorado Daily)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 17th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abby toll, abuse, animal, argument, arrest, boulder, colorado, dog, dogs, domestic, fight, fridge, humane society, news, ohmidog!, packing tape, police, puppy, refrigerator, rex, shiba inu, taped