Last week, the Humane Society of the United States released an undercover investigation documenting the connections between pet stores and puppy mills (above) — and it threw a little praise Ohio’s way for passing new measures to curb abuses among high volume dog breeders.
“The Humane Society of the United States applauds Ohio lawmakers for working to pass this commonsense law to protect dogs and address the worst problems at puppy mills,” said Melanie Kahn, senior director of the HSUS “Stop Puppy Mills” campaign.
“No dog should be forced to spend a lifetime in a small wire cage with no human companionship or comfort,” she added.
Ohio’s new law requires the licensure and annual inspection of high volume breeders that sell 60 dogs or produce at least nine litters in a single calendar year.
It creates a Commercial Dog Breeding Advisory Board to assist the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture in developing standards, including rules on housing, nutrition, exercise, waste management, grooming, whelping.
It also prohibits anyone convicted of animal cruelty in the last 20 years from obtaining a license – a provision designed to stop the influx into Ohio of puppy mill operators who have been forced to close their operations in other states.
“For too many years, the state of Ohio has been known as a haven for low-quality, high-volume breeders that we call ‘puppy mills.’ This is kind of careless treatment of animals is not a reputation that should be attached to our state,” said Ohio Sen. Jim Hughes, R-Columbus.
Ohio is home to 174 federally-licensed dog breeders and brokers – fifth most in the nation – and to at least another 1,000 additional high volume dog breeders, the HSUS says.
Puppy mills are commonly defined as breeding operations that mass-produce puppies for sale through pet stores, over the Internet and directly to the public. Dogs are often kept in crowded, filthy conditions where they receive little or no socialization, affection or exercise.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering applying minimum federal animal welfare standards to breeders who sell dogs directly to consumers. Such breeders are currently exempt.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 17th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, breeders, breeding, connection, department of agriculture, direct, dogs, hsus, humane society of the united states, internet, investigation, large scale, law, ohio, passed, pet stores, pets, puppy mills, regulations, sales, tougher
What happens when your seeing-eye dog’s eyes stop seeing?
Michael Nelson is in the process of finding out. His guide dog Molly has cataracts, and trading her in for a new model — in his opinion, at this point — is out of the question.
As columnist Scott Sexton explained in Sunday’s Winston-Salem Journal, Mike and Molly have a relationship that runs deeper than guided and guider — the yellow Lab, in addition to helping him get around for the last 10 years, has become his roommate and best friend.
A few months ago, while visiting with friends at Green Street United Methodist Church, someone pointed out to Mike that Molly appeared to have cataracts.
Mike, whose income is limited to a disability check, wasn’t sure where to turn. When news about the predicament spread, his friends at the YMCA, where he goes regularly to exercise while Molly patiently waits, got together and opened a bank fund in hopes of raising enough to cover the cost of Molly’s surgery.
Donations to it included proceeds from an elementary school art sale, and more from friends he has met in church and on outings with his dog at Hanes Park. The largest came from an unidentified man in California, who heard of the situation from a friend and sent a check.
Enough has been accumulated to cover the surgery and Molly’s other vet bills.
Her latest examination determined that, while she has cataracts, they’re not yet to the point of requiring surgery. She will need the operation eventually, though — and Mike is thankful he’ll now be able to afford it.
“It makes you feel really good to know there are people out there with that kind of heart,” Nelson said. “There is so much bad out there, so much ignorance about being visually impaired.”
Mike says that, over the years, he and Molly have run into their share of merchants who ask them to leave their shops. “Having people come to my assistance and Molly’s assistance has restored some of the confidence I’d lost in people. I’m truly thankful.”
Mike, now 51, moved to Winston-Salem from Virginia in the 1970s to attend Piedmont Bible College. He worked at the YMCA as a student, and up until 1991.
He went blind in 1998 as a result of what doctors would diagnose as polyarteritis nodosa (PAN), a rare auto-immune disease that weakens blood vessels and arteries. “It happened without any warning,” he said. “I just woke up and I was blind.”
Mike got Molly from The Seeing Eye organization, the oldest existing guide-dog school in the world, based in Morristown, N.J. Two earlier dogs they’d supplied didn’t work out — the first had allergies and the second wasn’t up to the task. The third time, though, was a charm. Molly had the skills, and the two had an instant connection.
Molly has the run of his apartment and an impressive collection of dog toys — though she prefers toilet tissue rolls. Nelson regularly takes her to Hanes Park, where romps with other dogs.
She consorts with humans, too, despite it being discouraged by guide dog experts. ”Molly is so good with people, so friendly,” he said, that it can’t be avoided.
All of which simply proves — at least in the case of Mike and Molly — that even dogs raised to serve as eyes have a way of getting into the heart.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 20th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, assistance, best friend, blind, blindness, bond, cataracts, connection, dogs, fund raising, green street united methodist church, guide dog, guiding, hanes park, help, labrador, losing sight, michael and molly, michael nelson, mike and molly, molly, north carolina, pets, polyarteritis nodosa, seeing eye dog, service, sight, support, surgery, the seeing eye, veterinarian, veterinary, winston-salem, ymca
I don’t do it often, but every now and then, when a dog I’ve had the fortune to connect with passes on, I post a little memorial, like this one for Butch, a pug who lived down the road.
Butch’s human, Martha, had to have him put down last week.
Ace and I would run into Butch pretty regularly on our walks around the block since we moved into the neighborhood a few months back.
Usually, we’d see them not far from their front yard, because Butch, at 15, stayed pretty close to home. In addition to possibly having had some strokes and other health problems, he was also blind. And deaf.
He still had life in him, though. A few times, I saw him get playful, with Ace and once with another dog. Even though he couldn’t see them, he’d do a slow spin and do his best to get into a play stance.
But he’d always stop, wagging his tail even before I reached down to scratch him, as if he somehow knew it was coming.
A while back, when she was having back problems, Martha let me take him for a walk along with Ace. She explained the basics to me: Pull up on his leash to support when when he’s going up or down a curb. Try not to let him walk into a telephone pole. But if he does, don’t worry. He’s a resilient little fellow who has gotten good at absorbing the bumps life brings our way.
That resiliency came to an end last week. Seeing her dog constantly panting, losing control of his bowels, getting right up into her face and staring at her as if to send a message, she knew the time had come.
Martha told me the news on Friday night.
I said the words we say at times like those — always inadequate, but even moreso in her case, for I’d seen the strong bond between them, the joy he brought her, and the fine home she provided for Butch.
Feeling not the least bit helpful, I went home and got a copy of my book, “DOG, INC.,” which, while it relates to dog death, is definitely not feel-good, Rainbow-Bridge, chicken-soup type reading.
Instead, it looks at the ever-strengthening bond between people and their dogs, and the extremes humans sometimes go to after they lose a pet — focusing on the newest and most technologically dazzling of those: cloning.
Martha, I know, would never clone her dog, and, if you’ve read the book, you know I would never suggest it. Martha, pained as she was by Butch’s death, didn’t seem to be going over the edge, and I guess I wanted to give her the book because I admired that.
From our short talk Friday night, she seemed to be handling it, probably better than I would. She seemed to have the right approach — focusing not on the loss, not on herself, but on the happy times the two shared. Happy memories beat a stuffed version of your dog, jewelry made from his ashes, or a laboratory-created genetic replica any day, at least as I see it.
It doesn’t make it easy, but I think that having experienced all you can with your dog, having fully appreciated your dog during his or her life, can somewhat blunt the pain of his or her death — knowing the two of you, and that bond, became all it could be. That seemed to be the case with Martha.
I signed the book, “In memory of Butch, a dog savored in life and lovingly remembered in death — as it should be.”
I rang her doorbell and yelled at Ace to sit down — for he tries to enter any door that opens — and when Martha saw him she said, “Oh perfect!”
When your dog dies, decisions have to be made about what to keep and what to jettison. A favorite toy might be comforting to hang on to, but there are some things painful to look at, like the lingering treats that he or she will never be served. It hurts to see it. It hurts to throw it away.
“I’ve got some bacon I was saving for Butch,” she said. “I’d really appreciate it if Ace would eat it.”
I accepted the package, neatly wrapped in tin foil, and carried it down the sidewalk as Ace jumped up and down next to me, acting anything but mournful. I don’t think he paused for a millisecond to appreciate the significance of the bacon. To him, bacon needs no added significance. He gobbled all three strips down, barely chewing, and kept bouncing up and down beside me even when I told him it was gone.
From a dog who had dispensed much of it in his 15 years, it was like one final dose of joy, courtesy of Butch.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 20th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, blind, bond, butch, connection, deaf, death, dogs, euthanized, grieving, health, ill, in memory, losing a pet, love, memorial, mourning, neighbor, north carolina, old dogs, pets, pug, put down, sick dogs, strokes, winston-salem
The scientist behind the study, biology professor Ronald Oldfield, hopes his findings benefit the 182.9 million ornamental fishes in the United States. (Animal welfare proponents, he notes, often overlook our underwater friends.)
But, beyond that, the findings of his study could apply to other species as well.
Oldfield, according to a university press release, is the first to scientifically study how the environment of home aquariums affects the aggressive behavior of ornamental fishes. The results are published in the online edition of Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science.
Oldfield compared the behavior of Midas cichlids (Amphilophus citrinellus) in a variety of environments: within their native range in a crater lake in Nicaragua, in a large artificial stream in a zoo, and in small tanks of the sizes typically used to by pet owners.
The study focused on juvenile fish, so that aggressive behavior related to mating would not be a factor. Also, resources such as food and shelter were removed prior to observation to eliminate direct competition for those.
Along with environment size, Oldfield tested the complexity of an environment and the effects of number of fish within tanks.
The addition of obstacles and hiding places using rocks, plants, or other similar objects can increase the complexity of the aquarium environment. He found that an increase in tank size and complexity can reduce harmful aggressive behaviors, and make for healthier fish at home.
The aggressive behavior he monitored included flaring fins, bites, chasing or charging at another fish.
In environments sufficiently large and complex, fish spent less time exhibiting aggressive behavior. And a more natural environment elicits more natural behaviors, Oldfield said. “This study might help us to better understand how human behavior changes when people are placed in different social environments,” he said.
Among the species that could benefit from Oldfield’s findings, it seems to me, are America’s 2.3 million prisoners (prisonus inmatus) and others held in what are often stark, impersonal institutions that lack visual stimuli, mental challenges, or for that matter tiny treasure chests, mermaids and sunken ships.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 26th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: agression, animals, aquairums, behavior, biology, case western reserve university, connection, environment, fish, learn, research, ronald oldfield, science, species, study, surroundings, violence, welfare
That was in early May, and McClain was temporarily living in his car in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with his eight-year-old sheltie/collie mix named Yurt.
A few days after sending paramedics away, McClain slipped into unconsciousness and the ambulance crew returned.
McClain was taken to Mercy Medical Center, and later transferred to the Dennis & Donna Oldorf Hospice House of Mercy to receive end-of-life care. His dog was taken to Cedar Rapids Animal Care and Control.
As he was being taken to his room at the hospice, McClain told the paramedic accompanying him, Jan Erceg, that he was concerned about his dog, Yurt. Erceg, who also volunteers at Cedar Rapids Animal Care and Control, recognized the name.
“I told Kevin I knew his dog,” she told Eastern Iowa Health. ” I told him she was doing OK and I promised to bring Yurt to see him.”
Two days later the reunion took place in McClain’s room at the hospice.
“This dog, from the moment she got in the vehicle to the time we arrived, she was shrieking and howling. I think she sensed what was happening,” Erceg said. “When we got to the Hospice House she walked right through the doors and led us straight to his room as if she’d been there many times before.”
Yurt immediately jumped on McClain’s bed.
“Kevin was unconscious but I kept putting his hands on the dog’s head and guiding him to stroke her,” she said. Then Kevin started moving his fingers on his own, petting Yurt, who licked his face and neck and arms. Kevin’s eyes opened.
Two days later, on Friday, May 13, McClain died.
Yurt spent another month in foster care before getting adopted.
At the hospice, they still talk about her, and the reunion between a man and his dog.
“It was just an awesome thing to see, something that made both Kevin and Yurt so happy,” says Brandi Garrett, patient care coordinator at the hospice. “It was obvious they had such a special connection to one another.”
(Photos: Eastern Iowa Health)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 13th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ambulance, animals, bond, car, cedar rapids, cedar rapis animal care and control, collie, connection, dog, dogs, emotional, end of life, health, homeless, hospice, hospital, iowa, jan erceg, kevin mcclain, lung cancer, mercy medical center, mixed breed, oldorf hospice house of Mercy, paramedics, pets, reunion, separation, sheltie, yurt
“My Dog Tulip” — J.R. Ackerley’s classic account of how a dog entered his life, stimulated his curiosity, broadened his horizons, and brightened his otherwise cranky golden years — is now out as an animated movie, and the book has been reissued in paperback.
“Unable to love each other, the English turn naturally to dogs,” the British writer wrote in what’s perhaps the most famous line of the 1956 book about the bond between dog and man.
“Sometimes love really is a bitch,” reads the tagline, updated for the times, of the new movie.
The movie came out late last summer, directed by Paul and Sandra Fierlinger, who are also responsible for the hand-drawn animations that, on screen, are like a New Yorker cartoon come to life.
The film is narrated by Christopher Plummer, in the role of Ackerley, and also features the voice of Lynn Redgrave, who died in May and to whom the movie is dedicated. One review called it “the most sophisticated dog movie ever made.”
It tells the story of a lonely gay man who has all but given up on finding a longtime companion and “ideal friend” in the human world.
Enter Tulip, or, as was her name in real life, Queenie, a German shepherd Ackerley acquired from his neighbors when he was “quite over 50,” and with whom he would spend the next 15 years.
“She offered me what I had never found in my life with humans: constant, single-hearted, incorruptible, uncritical devotion, which it is in the nature of dogs to offer.”
Ackerley died in 1967, and though the book is now 55 years old, it retains a sense of freshness attributable to the fact that Queenie was his first dog. His keen observation of inter-species interaction is that of someone who just landed on the planet, as opposed to being an old hand with dogs.
“It seemed to me both touching and strange,” he says at one point, “that she should find the world so wonderful.”
We long-time dog lovers know exactly what he means. It’s what makes dogs so lovable — they see the world as wonderful, and, no matter how curmudgeonly we may be, they help us see it that way too.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 30th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ackerley, animals, animated, animation, bond, books, books on dogs, connection, dog books, dogs, fierlinger, german shepherd, jr ackerley, literature, movie, movies, my dog tulip, paperback, paul, pets, queenie, relationships, sandra, tulip
The trailer in Arizona where Ace and I are spending December is just a mile from Carefree Highway. Maybe two miles. Possibly three. It doesn’t matter.
“Carefree Highway” is also a Gordon Lightfoot song — one, it seems to me, that’s more about the dangers of being carefree than the joy of being carefree, about how, if we’re too carefree, some important things might slip away. It happens to be one of my four, maybe five, possibly ten or 15 — let’s not sweat the details too much — favorite songs.
I’m a fan of the song, the highway, and Carefree itself, though the town — as with being truly carefree — is a place you can dwell only if you have a lot of money.
Being truly carefree, I realize — though the word is commonly used to market retirement communities, vacation packages and cemetery plots — requires great gobs of money and tuning out all that’s going on in the world, as in “I spend winters in Carefree and the rest of the year in the state of Blissful Ignorance.”
I’m not sure carefree — the state of mind — is a destination I want to reach, but it’s something to strive for.
I’d imagine being truly carefree is pretty close to boring. Yet, in seeking carefree, by losing some of the unnecessary baggage that’s making us go bald and get ulcers, we can perhaps find ourselves in a place where we’re not so burdened as to be unable to enjoy all the wonder and beauty life has to offer.
Did that last paragraph sound like a self-help book, or what?
Anyway, Carefree Highway is where I go for groceries (Shopping list? Who needs a list?), and where I got my hair trimmed (“However you want to cut it is just fine”), and where, when I walked into the Home Depot and was asked by an official greeter if I needed help finding anything, I went blank. (“To tell you the truth, I don’t remember what I came in for. I’ll just walk around until it comes back to me.”)
Perhaps it’s the power of suggestion, or the fact that the desert soothes me, but when, or after, driving down Carefree Highway, I tend to feel that way — at peace, worry-free and prone to not letting anything bother me.
Even with all my inner peace (and no, I’m not on the Prozac Expressway), one thing did get to nagging me: Was the Gordon Lightfoot song written about the actual 30-mile-long road that stretches east from U.S. Route 60, south of Wickenburg, to the town of Carefree? Or was it just a name the Canadian artist dreamed up?
I decided we all needed to know the answer to this question: Which came first the road or the song, and was there any connection between the two? Not knowing the answer was prohibiting me from being carefree. So I turned to where we all turn nowadays for answers: No, not God. The Internet.
Lightfoot’s song was released in 1974 — 10 years before the town of Carefree officially incorporated — but the area was already being called Carefree, and had been since not long after local entrepreneurs K.T. Palmer and Tom Darlington formed a partnership and acquired the land for the town they foresaw in the 1950s.
Carefree Highway, also known as State Route 74, was already being called that, as well — pre-Lightfoot.
According to Wikipedia, the song “Carefree Highway” is about the highway in Arizona, and Lightfoot wrote it after passing the exit sign for it on Interstate 17. Some other accounts say he wrote the song in a rental car, while others suggest he just wrote down the name of the road, thinking it would make a good song title. Some say he put his note in a glove compartment and almost forgot about it, but Lightfoot told Crawdaddy magazine that he put it in his suitcase and found it eight months later.
The Internet can be pretty carefree when it comes to facts.
The closest thing we could find to first-hand information was a Carefree Times blog item written by Nancy Westmoreland, who says she asked Lightfoot the question after a performance.
“The story goes that he was on the band’s bus, traveling for an engagement at the Gammage Auditorium, when he saw the large marquee freeway sign along Interstate 17. He actually had the bus driver pull over so he could get out and snap a close-up photo of the huge off-ramp sign. When he arrived home, he had the picture blown up and placed on his living room wall. He wrote the song while on the bus, and it became one of his biggest hits, exposing millions around the world to the Carefree Highway.”
That’s a lot of exposure for a town, according to the town’s website, of about 4,000 people.
Carefree, which adjoins Cave Creek, the town I’m staying in, is a highly upscale community. As if to live up to its name, it does not assess a property tax. It seems to not get too uppity, either, when it comes to people slapping mansions onto the side of mountains. Its street names bespeak mellow as well. There’s Easy Street, Tranquil Trail, Nonchalant Avenue and Nevermind Trail. One can even find the intersection of Ho and Hum, which then branches into Ho-Hum Road.
There is no Don’t Get Your Knickers in a Knot Boulevard, no Don’t Worry Be Happy Drive, but give Carefree time. It has lots of growth ahead, and — once our worries about the economy are over – there’ll likely be lots of new streets to name. I’d suggest Lightfoot, for then — in addition to the name having a nice, tread softly, tree-hugging feel to it – things would have come in a full and harmonious circle.
For, as it turns out, Carefree Highway, the road, was the inspiration for “Carefree Highway,” the song.
I know this not because I could read his mind, but because, after navigating the misinformation superhighway, I finally stumbled upon this — a video of Lightfoot performing two years ago in Hanford, California. “Here’s one that got written while I was driving from Flagstaff to Phoenix and I saw a sign that said Carefree,” he says in introducing the song.
At 71, Lightfoot’s voice is not quite as rich and mellifluous as it once was, but — given both he and the song are classics — that doesn’t matter. In other words:
I don’t care.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 15th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: arizona, baggage, burdens, carefree, carefree highway, cave creek, connection, dog's country, dogscountry, facts, gordon lightfoot, happiness, highway, inspiration, internet, lightfoot, music, name, road, road songs, sign, song, tourism, town, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, worries
Something old and something new sent two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Jon Franklin on a quest to document the transition of wild wolf to family pet.
The old thing was a photo — a man and puppy, exhumed from a 12,000-year-old grave. The new thing was a wife — he married a dog lover. Though he’d never been a dog person, Franklin gave in, and soon he and his wife were sharing their home with a clever poodle named Charlie.
Between watching his own dog evolve from puppy to family member, and his interviews and research, Franklin spent 10 years studying the origins and significance of the dog, and its peculiar attachment to humans.
The result is “The Wolf in the Parlor: The Eternal Connection Between Humans and Dogs.”
Franklin — a former science writer for Baltimore’s Evening Sun, now a journalism professor at the University of Maryland – builds on evolutionary science, archaeology, behavioral science and his firsthand experience, arriving at the conclusion that man and dog are more than just inseparable; they are part and parcel of the same creature.
(Learn more about the latest dog books at ohmidog’s book page, Good Dog Reads.)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 7th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: attachment, books, books on dogs, connection, dog, dog books, dogs, evolution, humans, jon franklin, journalism, link, science, the wolf in the parlor, university of maryland, wolf, wolves
When the Rev. Tom Eggebeen took over as interim pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church three years ago, attendance was dwindling.
So Eggebeen decided to make dogs welcome at God’s house — by way of a 30-minute service complete with individual doggie beds, canine prayers and an offering of dog treats.
According to an Associated Press report, he hopes it will reinvigorate the church’s connection with the community, provide solace to elderly members and attract new worshippers who are as crazy about dogs as they are about God.
Eggebeen said many Christians love their pets as much as human family members and grieve just as deeply when they suffer — but churches have been slow to recognize that love as the work of God.
“When we love a dog and a dog loves us, that’s a part of God and God is a part of that. So we honor that,” he explained.
Allowing dogs at services is a practice gaining a foothold nationwide — one that serves to boost attendance and address the spirituality of pets and the deeply felt bonds that owners form with their animals.
Laura Hobgood-Oster, a religion professor at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, says she’s found a growing number of congregations holding regular pet blessings, and more holding pet-friendly services as well.
“It’s the changing family structure, where pets are really central and religious communities are starting to recognize that people need various kinds of rituals that include their pets,” she said. “More and more people in mainline Christianity are considering them to have some kind of soul.”
Posted by jwoestendiek November 5th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, attendance, church, connection, covenant presbyterian church, dogs, dogs in church, god, pets, religion, reverend, services, tom eggebeen, worship
When Nikkie was diagnosed with cancer last month, Nevins told some of her many dog park friends that she couldn’t imagine life without her dog.
Last week Nevins, 74, died — just a few days after suffering a massive stroke.
Nikkie died the next day.
Dozens of friends – including an army of dachshunds, Shih Tzu’s, Chihuahuas and other small dogs - gathered at Nevins’ West Village apartment Thursday night to memorialize the well-loved duo, the New York Daily News reported.
Nevins rescued the long-haired dachshund when he was 1, after he’d been surrendered by a family with kids that burned him and tied cans to his legs.
Nevins was a regular at the Washington Square Park dog run, where she could often be found dispensing advice. She regularly cared for neighborhood dogs while their guardians were at work.
Nevins was much more than a dog nanny, though. A former singer and entertainer, she spent 3-1/2 years in the U.S. Air Force performing for troops during the Korean War. She worked, until retirement, as a gerontologist, was a founding member of Senior Action in a Gay Environment (SAGE), and the first woman on the board of directors of The Hetrick-Martin Institute, which provides safe havens for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 11th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abused, cancer, connection, dachsund, dead, death, died, dog, dog run, dogs, greenwich village, hetrick-martin institute, inseparable, memorial, natt nevins, nikkie, pets, rescued, sage, stroke, washingon square park, west villalge