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Tag: chow

A neighborhood reunites with a former stray


If you’re going to be a stray dog, you might want to be one in Oak Brook, Ill.

It’s one of Chicago’s wealthiest suburbs — the kind of place with well-manicured lawns to pee on, porches and gazebos offering some shade, and handouts from humans that might include pork tenderloin, or steak.

At least that was Rusty’s experience.

For four years, Rusty roamed the Forest Glen neighborhood of Oak Brook, keeping a certain distance from its residents, but happily accepting their offers of food.

“I would leave pieces of steak and pork tenderloin at the end of the driveway,” said one Forest Glen resident.

“We thought we were the only people taking care of him,” said another, who fed him steak and bacon.

Harry Peters, president of the Forest Glen Homeowners Association, said Rusty, a chow-sheltie mix, eventually developed some discriminating tastes: “I put a hot dog out there once — I’ll never forget it — and he lifted his leg and peed on it. My neighbor was giving him steak.”

Despite all the handouts, Rusty kept his distance. He’d play with neighborhood dogs, but avoided getting too close to humans. When residents walked their dogs, Rusty would follow behind — again at a distance.

While residents were enjoying his presence, and fattening him up, many of them worried about how he was able to survive the harsh winters, and able to avoid becoming a victim of street traffic.

For four years, any attempts to catch him were in vain, up until 2010 when he was captured in a back yard and turned over to the Hinsdale Humane Society.

There he was treated for a heartworm infestation, and thousands of dollars were donated to help pay for his care. Attempts were made to make him more sociable with humans, so that he could be adopted out to one of the many expressing interest in doing so.

But Rusty, who maintained a preference for living outside, never reached that point, shelter officials told the Chicago Tribune.

Instead he was sent to Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, where he’d have room to roam.

Before taking him to Utah, Jennifer Vlazny, operations manager for the humane society, brought Rusty back to the neighborhood he once roamed for one last visit. Residents petted him and photographed him, and some cried when he left.

After some time at Best Friends, Rusty was adopted by a Kanab resident, Kristine Kowal, a retired school nurse who once lived in the Chicago area.

Kowal made a Facebook page and posted regular updates on it about Rusty, by then renamed Rusty Redd.

Peters, the neighborhood association president, visited Rusty and Kowal in January, while on a business trip to Las Vegas. He mentioned to Kowal then that, if she was to ever come to Chicago for a visit, he’d arrange a gathering so residents could have a reunion with the dog.

That happened this past weekend.

Kowal drove Rusty 1,800 miles from Utah for the reunion.

“I just thought it was something that I needed to do — to take him back, and kind of make it a full circle,” Kowal said.

Residents gathered Sunday in a gazebo in the Forest Glen subdivision, where they were able to pet him, many for the first time.

Vlazny, the Tribune reported, was amazed at his transformation from feral dog to pet.

Rusty seemed to remember the old neighborhood, and residents — even some who had since moved out of state — came to the reunion to see an old friend.

“The closest Rusty would ever get to me was 40 feet,” said Frank Manas, feeding the dog a chunk of mozzarella cheese. His family had moved from Forest Glen to Wisconsin, but returned Sunday to see Rusty.

“We said, if Rusty can come all the way from Utah, we can come from Eau Claire,” said Julie Manas, his wife.

“Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh — I’m petting him!” said Julie Gleason, who used to feed Rusty when he visited the nearby office park where she works.

“It’s a real-life fairy tale.”

(Photo: Julie Gleason weeps as she pets Rusty; by Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)

Another Ace doppelganger surfaces


From time to time, about once every couple of years, I hear from a reader who thinks their dog looks just like mine.

That’s my dog Ace above — one of a kind, I like to think, but a mix of four breeds according to repeated DNA testing conducted after I adopted him from a Baltimore animal shelter nearly 10 years ago.

And, no, one of them isn’t German shepherd, though that is the most common guess.

The guessing is one of the joys of mutt ownership, along with the fact that — unlike with, say, Golden retrievers — running into an exact replica of your dog is something you tend to get excited about.

bobby1So, naturally, when May Tayar in Florida stumbled across Ace on the Internet, and saw how much he resembled his mystery mutt, he got pretty excited.

Tayar, who lives in Florida, had assumed his dog Bobby (left), adopted from an animal shelter in Miami, was a German shepherd mix. After reading about Ace’s heritage, now he’s not so sure.

“Bobby looks exactly like Ace,” Max wrote me earlier this month in an email, with three Bobby photos attached.

“We always wondered what mix of breeds he is,” Tayar said of Bobby. “He sometimes looks like a German shepherd, but when he’s standing next to a real one he looks nothing like him. Also Bobby’s tail is clipped so we don’t know what his tail would have looked like.”

Whether Bobby’s tail would have curled up into a question mark, like Ace’s does when he’s in a good mood (we thank the Akita for that), will never be known.

While Bobby doesn’t have Ace’s tail, he has something Ace doesn’t have — pointy ears, or at least sometimes pointy ears. Not until I got to the third photo were they shown in the full upright position, suggesting to me that Bobby, unlike Ace, may have some shepherd in him.


After reading about Ace’s origins on ohmidog!, Max is now convinced Bobby, like Ace, is a Rottweiler, Akita, chow and pit bull mix. (Despite the bad reputation those breeds have, I generally share that information with everyone — except maybe landlords and insurers — because he shows how undeserved those reputations are.)

“We’ve been thinking about Ace a lot,” wrote Max, who owns Assara, a laser hair removal business in Manhattan. “… Every time Bobby’s ears go down and he gets a certain look on his face we call him Ace to see if he reacts.”

laikaNo sooner did I write the above then I came across, online, another Ace lookalike — really more of a Bobby lookalike, but with even bigger ears.

I was checking out the blog Puppy Leaks (I think you’d like it) when I saw a photo of Laika. That’s her to the left.

I went to the Puppy Leaks Facebook page, and sent a message to the blog’s author, Jen Gabbard, asking her if she knew what breeds were in Laika, and if it would be OK if I included Laika in this post as well, promising to poke only the gentlest fun at her highly impressive ears.

Laika, according to DNA tests Gabbard had conducted, is a mix of German shepherd, Rottweiler and pit bull.

Of course, what breeds are in a dog doesn’t define a dog — nor does the size of its ears.

It’s all relative. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and maybe even more so in the eye of the owner. Though some have pointed out they think Ace’s floppy ears are disproportionately small for his body, I’ve always seen them as just perfect.

I’m sure Max sees Bobby, and Jen sees Laika, the same way.

And the funny thing is, we’re all right.

(Photos: At top, Ace, by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!; second and third photos, Bobby, courtesy of Max Tayar; at bottom, Laika, courtesy of Jen Gabbard / Puppy Leaks)

How a dog named Scout avoided becoming dinner and became the life of the party


Talk about your culture shock.

One week, this chow mix appeared destined to become somebody’s dinner. The next — after being rescued from a dog meat market in Yulin, China — he was mingling with celebrities and members of congress at a Humane Society of the United States’s (HSUS) gala in Washington, D.C.

Just two nights after arriving in the U.S., the dog, since named Scout, was the life of the party at a fundraiser that brought in more than $100,000 in pledges for Humane Society International (HSI) to open an office in Vietnam that will work to end the custom of eating dogs, according to HSUS Chief Program and Policy Officer Mike Markarian

The event was part of last week’s Taking Action for Animals conference.

Dog meat for sale in a shop in Yulin city, Guangxi province June 20, 2014.Scout was one of 200 dogs recently rescued by Chinese animal protection activists from a dog meat market in Yulin.

Peter Li, Humane Society International’s China specialist, was in Yulin with other activists protesting a dog meat festival.

He came across Scout and another pup, sharing a small cage on the back of a motorcycle, and purchased them from a vendor, according to a Humane Society blog. Li kept one of the dogs and shipped the other to the U.S.

Days later, rather than being dinner, Scout attended one, where he was showered with attention, according to Animal Issues Reporter.

While the 12-week-old dog has landed in the lap of luxury, Scout will likely be earning his keep, becoming a poster boy in the campaign to end the consumption of dogs by some humans in some Asian countries

“I would really like to make sure he’s an ambassador to the community” said Leslie Barcus, HSI board member and executive director of VegFund, who adopted Scout. ”We could use his help for educational purposes about the plight of street dogs and of dogs used as food —  for human consumption –across Asia and other parts of the world. He’ll be in the community a lot, and he’ll be a friend of everybody.”

(Photos: HSUS)

For this Hachi, the wait is over

Rescued by firefighters, an Akita-chow mix named Hachi had burns over 60 percent of his body when he arrived at a southern California animal hospital.

That was back in the fall of 2009 when the dog was pulled from a Gardena auto shop that had been set ablaze in an apparent suicide.

Over the weeks he received treatment for his burns at the Affordable Animal Hospital in Torrance, dozens of people expressed interest in adopting him — but no one followed through. About a year ago, Hachi — after surviving the fire, after prolonged and costly medical treatment — appeared headed for a sadly ironic end.

When Faith Summerson, founder of Pal Rescue, heard Hachi was about to be euthanized by the county shelter due to lack of space, she stepped forward, and Hachi was rescued again.

She picked him up and sought to find him a forever home  – keeping him in one of her kennels and later at her own home.

Pal Rescue was founded in 1995 and has helped find homes for over 3,000 cats and dogs. Hachi, though — despite gaining notoriety on the Internet, because of his unusual appearnace, as the “Terminator” dog — didn’t appear destined to become one of them.

Until last month, when his year and a half wait ended.

After his story appeared on the news, Pal Rescue reports, they heard from a man who had recently lost his own dog. While many had offered him dogs to fill the void of his previous dog’s death, he had turned them all down, opting to wait instead for a dog  who truly needed him — one not everybody else would want.

Call it rescue No. 3 for Hachi, a dog named, after his first rescue, for the legendary Akita, Hachiko, who waited every day at a train station in Japan for his master to return from work — and continued to do so for another 10 years after his master’s death.

The rescue organization reports that  Hachi’s new dad is “a very dedicated and experienced dog owner that has had many beloved dogs in his lifetime, and always gravitated to the ones most in need.”

“The two hit it off immediately when we home delivered Hachi yesterday … Hachi was at ease the moment he walked in the door.”

You can find Hachi’s full story at

Blind Sinkhole Sam needs a home

The Arizona Humane Society is seeking a home for a blind dog who fell into a 20-foot sinkhole.

Now dubbed “Sinkhole Sam,” the dog was rescued from the hole in March after children heard his cries. Humane Society officials say that, other than being blind, Sam was found to be in good health.

An eye doctor confirmed his blindness and also diagnosed him with glaucoma. Both his eyes were removed by a veterinarian to ease pressure and avoid complications later in life, KTAR in Phoenix reported.

Sam, a four-year-old Australian shepherd-chow mix, will be available for adoption beginning at 11 a.m. today at the Sunnyslope Facility located at 9226 N. 13th Ave., Phoenix.

“Sam is a resilient dog who has persevered through a tough couple of months,” said Kimberly Searles, spokesperson for the AHS. “His sweet personality has won the hearts of our staff and we just know he’s going to make a great pet for someone.”

The adoption fee is $110 and includes neutering, the first set of vaccinations, leash, collar, ID tag and a free follow-up veterinary exam.

To view other animals available for adoption at the Arizona Humane Society, visit

Chow Hounds: Why our dogs are fatter

louie2If your dog is fat — and statistics indicate nearly half are — you might want to check Dr. Ernie Ward’s  recent online chat, sponsored by the Washington Post.

About 45 percent of all adult dogs and 58 percent of cats are overweight.  That’s 34 million fat dogs and 54 million fat cats — all at risk for diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease, cancer and more.

Ward recently published a book on the pet obesity epidemic, “Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter – A Vet’s Plan to Save Their Lives” (2010 HCI Publishing).

Here are a few excerpts from his online chat:  

“No one is getting enough physical activity in this country. This is why owning a dog is a great incentive for exercise. All dogs need at least 20-30 minutes of aerobic intensity walking per day. Larger breeds often need much more… 

“Neutering and spaying reduces a dog or cat’s metabolic rate by  25-35%. This is why you can not feed according to pet food labels. These guidelines are made for intact adult pets. In my book, I go into considerable detail on how to calculate the exact number of calories your pet needs each day based on its lifestyle…

“Most dogs eat until the are full and tend not to overeat. The reasons that dogs overeat are largely due to the changes in dog food formulation, hence the term ‘Kibble Crack’ I use in Chow Hounds. I go into great detail on how pet food companies have added sugar and fat to trick a dog’s normal appetite…”

Then there was this exchange, and I can only hope both were joking:

Q. ”I like to carry my little dog around in my purse. Is there anything I could get for the dog to exercise while in the purse? You know, like a wheel for him to run in?”

 A. “I recently patented the ‘pocket treadmill.’ I would be glad to sell you a prototype.”

Ward directs those wanting to learn more to the Association for Pet Obesity’s website, to visit his own website, or, of course, to read his book.

Gucci, the dog that changed Alabama’s law

gucciGucci, the dog who helped make animal abuse a felony in Alabama, died Wednesday.

Doug James — Gucci’s rescuer and owner — said he made the difficult decision to euthanize the dog, who recently turned 16.

“I had dreaded it, and put if off for two or three days,”  James, who lives in Mobile told the Times Daily. “His kidneys were failing him.”

James caught some youths torturing the chow-husky mix one night in 1994. The youths hanged the dog by his neck and set him on fire.

The incident triggered a campaign for animal rights that resulted in the Pet Protection Act, better known as the “Gucci Law,” in Alabama.

The act , making animal cruelty a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, was signed by then-Gov. Don Siegelman on May 19, 2000 – the sixth anniversary of the attack – as Gucci looked on.

Gucci’s celebrity continued after that, with appearances at schools, on ”The Maury Povich Show” and “Inside Edition.” He also played played “Sandy” in Mobile theatrical productions of “Little Orphan Annie.”

The dog was only 12 weeks old when he was beaten, hung in a tree by his neck, doused with lighter fluid and set on fire.  Two of the three abusers received sentences of community service, while a third — the lone adult — was sentenced to six months in jail.

“If ever there was a dog that should hate people it should be Gucci, but he loved everyone,” said Brenda Cashdollar, vice president of Friends of the Mobile Animal Shelter.

Cashdollar told that Gucci was unable to walk by the time of his 15th birthday, but still wagged his tail in response to those who greeted him. A party planned to mark his 16th birthday Saturday at B&B Pet Stop in Mobile will now serve as a memorial event, organizers said.

Gucci will be cremated, James said, and his ashes will be placed in a memorial garden planned at the Mobile Animal Shelter.