A Shetland sheepdog removed from the suburban New York home of a hoarder four years ago is back in town, and performing in a different kind of packed house — in a stage production of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.”
Colt was one of 23 dogs removed from the home of a woman in Wesley Hills in 2008, according to the Journal News.
Ramapo police and members of the SPCA wore gas masks to enter the home, the condition of which was described as squalid, and the homeowner was charged with hoarding and neglecting the animals.
At some point, before her trial, she got Colt back, and he quickly tried to escape, getting struck by a car in the process. The accident left him with a broken back that required surgery and a body cast.
The woman later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, relinquishing ownership of all but one of her dogs and paying a $125 fine.
Colt became the ward of the Hudson Valley Humane Society, living in the Manhattan and Stony Point homes of its acting president, Ann Marie Gaudio.
This spring, though, Gaudio got a call from the Antrim Playhouse — located about a half-mile from the house Colt had been hoarded in. They were looking for a canine to play the role of the bunkhouse dog in its production of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.”
Gaudio suggested the producer and director audition Colt.
“Colt has the best bio of all of us,” Director Brooke Malloy Ortiz told the “He’s real sweet, a retired therapy dog. He’s not old, so we changed the dialogue to talk about how he has this wound on his leg and his back is broken. And we wet down his fur to make him look a bit more worn.”
In Steinbeck’s story of two itinerant farm workers, an old handyman named Candy has an old dog that one of the men, Carlson, constantly berates and abuses, eventually persuading the boss to let him put the dog out of its misery — an act that foreshadows what’s ahead.
Candy is played by Gordon Wolotira, who, under the director’s orders, was the only one allowed to pet or feed Colt during rehearsals.
The actor who plays Carlson, who yells at the dog several times in the play, wasn’t allowed to bond with Colt at all.
As a result, “Every time that Carlson has to pull the dog away from Candy, Colt growls at him and sometimes sits down and will not budge,” the director said. “We didn’t even train him to do that. But there’s a lot of shouting on stage, so he just wants to stay with Gordon, who has treats for him.”
Colt spends about a dozen minutes onstage, but he provides “some of the most engrossing moments of the play and it certainly gets the audience’s attention,” Wolotria said. “By the time they drag him off, it’s heart-breaking.”
Posted by jwoestendiek June 21st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ann marie gaudio, antrim, antrim playhouse, book, candy, carson, colt, comebacks, dog, dogs, f mice and men, hoarded, hoarder, home, hudson valley humane society, john steinbeck, mercy killing, new york, of mice and men, pets, play, plays, production, role, seized, shetland sheepdog, stage, wesley hills
This year’s tips on how to ensure your pet has a safe Halloween are brought to you by PETA — the scariest animal welfare group of all.
And while some of them are a little over the top for us — such as handing out only vegan candy (Brocolli Bursts, anyone?) — they mostly make sense as, we’ll admit, PETA often does.
Keep your cats inside. For cats — especially black cats — the days leading up to Halloween can be dangerous. Pranksters often go on the prowl for roaming kitties. In fact, many animal shelters refuse to adopt out black cats during the entire month of October.
Keep your dogs indoors too. Some kids think that letting dogs out of their yards, or otherwise harassing them on Halloween is a great trick. Dogs can also get spooked by the noise and all the strangely dressed people.
Put animals in a secure room. Cats and dogs might try to sneak out when the front door’s constantly being opened. It’s best to keep animals inside a bedroom or family room, away from all the commotion.
Don’t take dogs trick-or-treating. Dogs can easily become frightened by the endless stream of laughing and screaming children and run off.
Keep candy out of reach of animals. All candy can cause animals to become sick, and chocolate can be poisonous to dogs. Give them a pet treat instead, and make sure children understand that, too.
Be careful with candles and other decorations. Jack-o’-lanterns lit up by candles can burn animals (and children) or start fires if tipped over. The ink that is used in some brightly colored decorations, such as orange streamers and paper pumpkins, is toxic to animals, and swallowed balloons or party favors can block an animal’s digestive tract.
Remember that animals aren’t party props. Many animals become upset if they are forced into clothing, and many pet owners sometimes take the concept too far. Costumes that are kept in place with tight rubber bands can cut off circulation.
PETA goes on to suggest using only cruelty-free make-up for your costume, and passing out vegan candy, or, in lieu of candy — and here’s where they really lose us – stickers with information on tooth decay.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 22nd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, black cats, candles, candy, cats, chocolate, costumes, dangers, dogs, halloween, indoors, inside, keep pets safe, lost, people for the ethical treatment of animals, peta, pets, pranksters, safety, tips, warnings
To find this one, I had to venture into the unfamiliar yet very tidy confines of marthastewart.com, where I came across this elaborate headless horsemen outfit that requires PVC pipe, children’s clothing, plenty of stuffing and lots of work.
Modeling it is Bob, who, according to his owner and the costume’s creator, is a Rottweiler-Lab mix that loves to get dressed up.
Keep in mind that not all dogs do. Some dogs enjoy the extra attention, and if the costume presents no hazards, go for it. If you dog resists efforts to put him in costume, don’t push it. On top of the other stress the night brings, putting him into something uncomfortable is asking too much.
Give him time to gradually get used to his costume — and your’s. Your dog may not immediately recognize family members when they’re disguised. Allow your dog to see and scent the costumes beforehand, and let him know who’s behind the mask.
And be wary of the other dangers the holiday poses for canines.
“We hear about more dogs dying or straying during Halloween than any other holiday,” said Liam Crowe, CEO and master dog behavioral therapist of Bark Busters USA. “…By being more sensitive to dogs’ fear-driven ‘fight or flight’ instincts, we can help keep our furry friends safe this Halloween.”
Bark Busters offers these tips:
– Don’t leave your dog outside. Even if you have a fenced yard, bring your dog inside where it is safe. If your dog is usually kept outside, bring him in a few times before the big night to get him used to being indoors. Your dog may be used to strangers, but remember that it is a natural instinct for dogs to protect the family from strangers, and on Halloween there are likely to be some pretty strange strangers.
– If your dog is timid or scared, or if he tends to love people a little too much, it is best to put him in a separate room away from the front door to limit his excitability, aggression, and chance of running outside and becoming lost.
– Reassure your dog. The best thing you can do for your dog when he is feeling unsettled by Halloween activities is to act as you normally would, and giving him a little extra reassurance and attention.
– Check your dog’s ID tag. Be sure identification tags are secure on your dog’s collar.– Keep candy away from your dog. Many candies — especially chocolate–are toxic to dogs.
– Protect dogs from candles and pumpkins. Excited or agitated dogs can easily knock over a lit candle or pumpkin. Be sure those items are away from your dog’s reach, or consider a battery-powered candle that does not burn.
– Be prepared. If you take your dog with you while trick-or-treating, be prepared at all times. Dogs do not understand that the person jumping out at you will not hurt you; they often think they can only help you by acting aggressively. Neither children nor adults in costumes should approach a dog without the owner’s consent.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 29th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bark busters, behavior, candles, candy, chocolate, costumes, dangers, dog, halloween, hazards, headless horseman, pet, preparedness, pumpkins, safety, tips, training