The “K-9 Comfort Dogs” are part of a Lutheran Church Charities program in which the specially trained therapy dogs serve to calm and connect with injured survivors.
As was the case in Newtown, the comfort they provide tends to extend far beyond hospital room visits.
“We have people simply walking by on the sidewalk who see the dogs … and with the memory of Monday, they break into tears,” said Rev. Ingo Dutzmann, senior pastor of First Lutheran Church in downtown Boston, which is serving as home base for five of Lutheran Church Charities’ dogs.
“It’s the dog that allows them to express their emotions in that way,” he told NBC, “and if you’re hurting, you’ve got to let it go. With a dog, people are not afraid to do that.”
On Tuesday, three comfort dogs flew from Lutheran Church Charities’ headquarters near Chicago to Boston, where they joined two golden retrievers who had been working with grieving pupils and parents at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
The five dogs and their handlers will spend the rest of this week visiting bombing survivors at Tufts Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and they’ll keep making hospital rounds next week if needed. The dogs will also be present at First Lutheran Church of Boston at noon today for a memorial service and on Sunday morning for worship services.
“It’s relaxing — takes my mind off of what happened,” said David Yepez, 15, who is recovering from surgery at Tufts Medical Center after being hit in the leg by shrapnel in Monday’s blast. “It’s good to have my mind away from the accident, the doctors. To have a moment of peace. [I haven’t] had many moments of peace.”
The dogs paid a visit Wednesday to Lee Ann Yanni (seen above), just before she underwent surgery on her shattered leg.
“My stress level has gone way down,” said Meghan Bennett, a 25-year-old nursing student who has been caring for bombing victims. “I just love dogs … and this is a distraction from the reality. Patients’ faces light up when a dog walks into the room.”
(Photos: Lutheran Church Charities)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 19th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bombing, bombs, boston, boston marathon, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, calming, comfort dogs, community, david yepez, dogs, emotions, golden retrievers, goldens, grief, hospital, injuries, k-9 comfort dogs, lee ann yanni, lutheran church charities, marathon, Massachusetts General Hospital, newtown, pain, pets, sandy hook, school, staff, therapy dogs, tufts, Tufts Medical Center, victims, visits
Elephant Butte is going to let Blue continue to roam, at least within the one-acre confines of a wireless electric fence.
Officials in the New Mexico town voted Wednesday to make some amendments in their leash law.
As a result, Blue — an Australian heeler who was abandoned in town more than 10 years ago and has since become a mostly respected resident — can continue to hang out at the Butte General Store and watch the world go by.
Caretakers of the store, who feed Blue, initially sought an exemption from town leash laws for the dog, citing his friendly demeanor and long-time presence in the community.
After the town declined, a compromise was reached, and approved in a council vote, according to the Associated Press.
Invisible Fence of New Mexico donated a fence that gives Blue about an acre of territory to roam around the store. The system delivers an electric jolt when Blue crosses the perimeter, as he’s done once so far.
“They did a lot of training with him, but it’s going to take a while,” said Janice Conner, who owns the general store with husband Bob Owen.
Blue, who has repeatedly run away from homes that have tried to adopt him, has spent most of his time around the store since the death about two years ago of the owner of Casa Taco, Blue’s previous hangout.
Community members have built him an air-conditioned and heated dog house and store visitors regularly donate for his care.
The debate over what to do about Blue led to some positive changes in the town’s dog law. Under the new ordinance, pet owners must be given warnings before a dog can be picked up by animal control, and any complaints about a dog must be verified before pet owners are cited.
On top of that, Conner said, the controversy led to Blue making 3,700 Facebook friends.
“In his name, people have donated money to people with other dogs in need,” she said in a telephone interview. “Dogs have been adopted through his Facebook page. All around, it has been a real positive thing.”
While Blue has rarely exhibited aggressive behavior, some residents began complaining about Blue after a fatal pit bull attack in neighboring Truth or Consequences. Based on a complaint from a resident who said Blue was following her, Elephant Butte issued a citation for a leash law violation to Owen, even though he wasn’t the dog’s official owner.
Albuquerque attorney Hilary Noskin took up Blue’s cause and, in addition to representing Owen, negotiated with the city to grant Blue a leash law exemption.
(Photo: From Blue’s Facebook page)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 26th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, australian cattle dog, blue, bob owen, butte general store, city council, community, compromise, dog, electic, elephant butte, exemption, fence, heeler, invisible, janice conner, leash laws, new miexico, pets, wireless
For years, a husky mix named Annie quietly watched the world go by, lying beneath a tree in front of an apartment complex in the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood of Los Angeles.
A neighborhood fixture, she seemed perfectly content to observe and greet as dog walkers, strollers and anyone else went by — and the neighborhood found her a reassuring presence as well.
When Annie died over the weekend — of anaphylactic shock, caused by a bee sting — neighbors started coming together in a vigil not unlike the one she kept.
It started with a few notes tacked to the tree and grew into a full blown memorial, complete with candles, flowers and sympathy cards.
Since her death Saturday, some visitors to Annie’s shady spot at corner of 4th Street and Cochran Avenue have stood there and cried, said her owner, Jack Zurla, who rescued Annie 12 years ago after finding her foraging for food near the corner of Washington Boulevard and La Brea Avenue.
“I’ll remember Annie as a dog that was more human than dog,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “She had the capacity to understand people. She was a dog of compassion for everybody. She gave people comfort.”
“Annie was a staple in a lot of lives around here,” he added. “Annie was always ready to give someone some love.”
Other residents echoed those thoughts.
“She never ran off, never barked at anyone,” said actor Brian Savage, who lives nearby. “She was just a pillar of the neighborhood.”
“Annie was really a touchstone for all of us,” said Michael Moravek, also an actor. “It was nice to have her here. We might not know each other but we all knew Annie.”
“She was our neighborhood guardian. Even now, Annie is bringing us together,” he noted as he placed a snapshot he had taken of her on the shrine Tuesday.
Also leaving a hand-printed note was six-year-old Roman DiGiulio. With his mother at his side, he placed the note, written on a large red heart, on the tree. It read: “Have a good life in heaven, sweet doggie.”
(Photo: Jack Zurla stands in front of an impromptu memorial to his dog Annie; by Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 19th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: anaphylactic shock, animals, annie, apartment, bee, behavior, cochran avenue, community, complex, death, dog, dogs, fourth street, grief, husky, husky mix, jack zurla, los angeles, loss, memorial, mid-wilshire, mourning, neighborhood, neighbors, pets, relationships, sting, tree, tribute, vigil
The homeless and formerly homeless gathered on Skid Row in Los Angeles late last week to remember one of their own — Sheba, a shepherd mix who spent 17 years living on the streets.
On Tuesday, at about 11:30 p.m., Sheba was struck by a car and killed on Alameda Street.
About a dozen current and former street dwellers and animal activists showed up Thursday at a sidewalk memorial service for Sheba on Gladys Avenue.
Among those paying respects was Georgina Warren, who, homeless and addicted to drugs at the time, heard Sheba’s cries while living in a tent on a Skid Row parking lot 17 years ago.
She went to investigate and found a young German shepherd mix chained to a pole, unable to reach a bowl of water someone had left. Warren borrowed some bolt cutters from a nearby mechanic and freed the dog.
It was Warren who, noting how protective the dog was of her shopping cart, came up with the name Sheba, because she seemed to be respected like a queen.
Warren spent the next 10 years with the dog, Downtown News in Los Angeles reports — minus those periods she ended up in jail. When that happened, fellow street dwellers pitched in to take care of Sheba.
Warren left Skid Row in 2008 and is now in recovery. Sheba stayed.
“Sheba was the community’s dog,” said Lori Weise, founder of Downtown Dog Rescue, which provides services for low-income dog owners.
Weise helped care for Sheba, and arranged for the dog to be spayed and microchipped. She was registered on the microchip as the official contact, and there were 11 times that Weise was called to pick up Sheba from animal shelters, always returning her to the streets and the person who was taking care of her — if not always keeping her leashed — at the time.
Weise and others are making arrangements to have Sheba’s ashes buried in the garden at the Hippie Kitchen, a Gladys Avenue service center where Sheba often hung out.
(Top photo: Georgina Warren, left, and Catherine Harris of the nearby Hippie Kitchen, at the memorial service; by Gary Leonard, Downtown News)
(Bottom photo, of Warren and Sheba, courtesy of Lori Weise, Downtown Dog Rescue)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 2nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alameda street, animals, car, chained, community, dog, dogs, downtown dog rescue, freed, georgina warren, hippie kitchen, hit, homeless, killed, lori weise, los angeles, memorial, memory, mix, pets, queen, service, sheba, shepherd, skid row
Elicia Calhoun, an agility trainer, competitor and speaker, rolled her car while traveling through the Arizona desert last week.
All six dogs aboard were thrown from the vehicle.
What happened next — and you can read the full details at Petweekly.com – is equal parts sad and inspiring.
In the immediate aftermath, other motorists stopped and helped a bruised and battered Calhoun find three of the dogs, all alive – BreeSea and Iceman, both border collies, and Destiny, an Australian shepherd.
Three more were missing, including her 13-week-old Kelpi puppy named Tsunami, who had been secured in a crate in the front seat; another Australian shepherd named Nika; and Tobie, another border collie.
When the paramedics insisted Calhoun get in the ambulance, she refused until bystanders, including a border patrol agent, promised to keep looking for her dogs.
While Calhoun was being treated for cuts bruises and a punctured lung, word of the accident hit the Internet, and, within a matter of hours, 3,000 people had joined in a newly created Facebook group, many of them offering to help.
Calhoun, against the advice of doctors, signed herself out of the hospital to continue searching for her dogs, and learned as she was leaving that Tsunami’s body had been found.
According to the Petweekly.com story, by Deborah Davidson Harpur, volunteers were showing up to help in the search by then, and others were offering their assistance from afar, including animal communicators, pilots, ranchers who lived in the surrounding area, and HAM and CB radio operators. Someone even volunteered a military heat-seeking device.
By then, the number of members of the Facebook group had grown to 6,000.
Sadly, Nika’s body was found in the median of the freeway. With the three surviving dogs found initially, and the two later found dead, that left only one unaccounted for — Tobie
Elicia slept outside that night, in case Tobie came to look for her, and other volunteers slept in their cars or camped alongside the road before resuming the search for the remaining dog the next day.
That morning, Tobie was spotted by a volunteer. Elicia rushed to the location, spotted the dog running down the highway in front of a truck and eventually got Tobie to come to her.
Iceman, Destiny, and Breesea have some minor injuries, but they, and Tobie, who had been hit by a car, are expected to fully recover in the coming months.
Calhoun, on Facebook, offered thanks to all those that helped:
“Words cannot express my gratitude. I have just been home a few nights and am finally starting to absorb the impact of what has transpired. Walking into my house that first night was indescribable. My life is changed in so many ways now. I realize how blessed I was in surviving this crash.”
Posted by jwoestendiek June 18th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, agility, agility dogs, animals, arizona, australian shepherds, border collies, breesea, car, community, competitor, crash, desert, destiny, dogs, ejected, elicia calhoun, facebook, group, iceman, lost, missing, pack, page, pets, rollover, search, speaker, thrown, tobie, trainer, tsunami, vehicle, volunteers
It was the monthly meeting of the Northern California chapter of Tripawds, an online community for canine amputees and their owners.
The members started getting together about three years ago, Ralph Kanz of Oakland, who cares for three, three-legged German Shepherds, told the Marin Independent Journal.
The dogs played, socialized and ate a cake made from peanut butter, bananas and bacon, brought along by one San Francisco member.
Referred to as tripods by many owners, some of the dogs had lost limbs due to accidents, others due to cancerous tumors.
Jim Nelson and Rene Agredano created Tripawds.com after their German Shepherd, Jerry, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2006 and had to have a front leg amputated.
“For a lot of people, it’s a shock to see a tripod,” Agredano said. “What we do is we try to change their reaction from pity to amazement and get them to see these dogs don’t care.”
“When you see these dogs getting along on three legs and not caring about anything except having a good time, it’s a great reminder that we should all live our lives like that,” Agredano added.
(Photo: Angie McGraw of Novato pets Lylee, a 12-year-old dog who lost a leg to bone cancer. McGraw’s dog. Sadie, stands behind her; by Alan Dep / Marin Independent Journal.)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 16th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accidents, amputate, amputations, amputees, animals, california, cancer, canine, club, community, dog park, dogs, health, jim nelson, legs, marin, mill valley, online, pets, rene agredano, resilience, surgery, three legs, three-legged, tripawd, tripod, website
Whether you’re looking for a homey environment in which to board your dog, or want to make some money by hosting one in your home, a new company called DogVacay.com is offering to help hook you up.
The site launched March 1 in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and will soon be adding other cities to its listings, through which dog owners and dog sitters can connect.
“Right now there are kennels and there are private pet sitters,” said Aaron Hirschhorn, who founded DogVacay.com with his wife, Karine Nissim Hirschhorn. “And we realized there was a need for a marketplace to bring together responsible dog lovers with causal and professional dog sitters who can provide a more affordable and better experience for dogs.”
Hirschhorn said that rates offered by hosts on DogVacay.com can be as little as half of those of boarding kennels.
On the site, each dog sitter sets his or her own prices with assistance from DogVacay.com. Listings are free. The site takes a 3 percent to 10 percent transaction fee from dog sitters, according to MSNBC.
For customers, fees include insurance coverage for veterinary emergencies. Pet sitters are vetted via reviews, social network connections and direct interviews by DogVacay.com staff.
Pet owners who take their dogs along on trips may also use the service to find sitters or host homes in cities they visit. “We think this will help free people up to travel because some people don’t want to kennel their dogs while they’re away and don’t want to bother their friends,” said Hirschhorn. “This way, more dogs can go along.”
Like Airbnb.com, the site allows customers to rate the hosts, and hosts are encouraged to go online after the stay and rate the behavior of their guest.
The Hirschhorns say the idea for the company came from experiences with their dogs.
“Vacations were always overshadowed with the guilt of leaving our dogs, Rocky and Rambo, in a caged kennel where they may not get the attention they need,” said Karine Nissim Hirschhorn. “We believed there was a better way of caring for dogs, so we tested out the concept for Dog Vacay in our own home, and before we knew it, we had more clients than we could handle and decided to launch the Dog Vacay platform.”
(Photo from MSNBC.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aaron hirschhorn, animals, boarding, care, community, connecting, dog sitting, Dog Vacay, dogs, dogvacay, homes, hosts, karine nissim hirschhorn, kennels, los angeles, marketplace, pet sitting, pets, private, providers, san francisco, sitting, travel, vacation
“A good shoot” is how police in Pembroke Pines, Florida, are describing the shooting of Baxter, an Australian shepherd officers opened fire on outside his owner’s home.
The 6-year-old Australian Shepherd was shot at least three times Friday night inside the gated Lido Isle neighborhood.
Police went to the house after receiving a call from a citizen who reported the dog was loose in front of the owner’s house.
The dog’s owner, Frank Jones, said Baxter was already back inside the house when police arrived, but the front door was open and the dog ran out.
His son, Cameron Jones, 13, went outside to get Baxter, who was barking at officers. “They said get your dog or we’re gonna shoot him,” the boy told Local 10 News. Two seconds later, according to the boy, they did.
Police officials said the dog bit an officer’s shoe.
Baxter was still alive Saturday (you can see video of him, not looking too ferocious, in this news report). He was being treated at a Cooper City animal clinic.
A Pembroke Pines police spokesman said the shooting was justified: “It was a good shoot,” said Pembroke Pines Police Sgt. Chris Chacon-Chang. “The officer was being attacked.”
Posted by jwoestendiek February 27th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, australian shepherd, baxter, community, dog, dogs, florida, force, gated, good shoot, guns, house, officers, outside, own yard, pembroke pines, pets, police, shoot, yard
Letting your dog ride on the back of your motorcycle may not be entirely responsible behavior, but we love this old video anyway, and the way it kind of oozes the Eighties.
It was a less politically correct era, when you could get away with something like this without amassing critics, a time when you didn’t have to be Tom Selleck or Wilford Brimley to get away with wearing a moustache.
This vintage video featured Gary, a student at a community college in Troy, N.C., and his dog, named Dog.
Gary was enrolled in gunsmith school, and his dog, Dog, went with him everywhere, holding on tight to the shoulders of his master.
Gary, who traded a beer for Dog in California, described him as a “good companion, easier to get along with than a girlfriend and a little less expensive.”
Posted by jwoestendiek October 9th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 1980s, animals, bond, college, community, companion, dog, dogs, gary, gary and dog, motorcycle, motorcycle dog, motorcycle riding dog, north carolina, pets, riding, traveling with dogs, troy, video
Those ducks I keep telling you about — the flock that’s experiencing a baby boom around the pond at the retirement community in which my mother lives?
They’ve finally got some big time press coverage:
The mainstream media (I started calling it that when I waded out of the newspaper business) made its way to the pond last week.
A reporter for the Winston-Salem Journal put together a story and video on the baby boom at the old folks home, which touched on what’s most interesting — to me, anyway — about the whole affair:
Ducks, like dogs, can unite us humans — in a way we can’t always manage to pull off on our own.
The Journal piece focused on Bo Bowers, the Arbor Acres resident who took it upon himself to restore the retirement community’s dwindling duck population.
Bowers bought a collection of ducklings, raised them at his home and released them around the Arbor Acres pond. After that, they took over and started reproducing on their own, under Bowers’ watchful eyes.
When the new generation started hatching, Bowers — to protect them from being harassed by cranky geese or eaten by turtles and other predators — snagged many of them up and took them home. There he raises them in cages, feeding them his special mix of beans, squash, corn, tomatoes and zucchini. When they are old enough to fend for themselves, he takes them back to the pond, where many residents delight in watching and feeding them.
“I think it’s interesting how the ducks have united a lot of people. Some people who have never talked to each other before will begin a conversation because they will be standing there looking at the ducks and start talking about them,” Bowers’ partner, Steven Dunn said.
Bowers said some residents have given him a hard time for taking the eggs from the mothers before they hatch.
“Many people worry about me stealing the babies, but I tell them it’s not like a mammal that gives milk or nurses them. With a duck, or any kind of bird, (if) you take their babies, they could care less. Thirty minutes later, they are going to be laying eggs again.”
All of the ducks at Arbor Acres are named after residents and staffers — including one, who recently hatched about a dozen babies, who’s named after my mother.
Bowers reintroduction program has been so successful that he’s now having to find new homes for some of the ducks. He has sold about 30, the Journal reported, with the money going into a fund for the residents.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 22nd, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, arbor acres, baby ducks, bo bowers, community, ducklings, ducks, eggs, nature, pets, retirement, unite, video, wildlife, winston-salem, winston-salem journal