I generally dislike celebrities, often for no other reason than they are a celebrity.
Carrie Fisher was an exception — and an exceptional one.
Maybe it was her well-known compassion for dogs. Maybe it was her outspokenness and wry wit, or her droopy-tongued therapy dog, Gary, or the fact that she was batshit crazy.
(Batshit crazy isn’t a term you usually find in a remembrance, but somehow I don’t think she would mind.)
Fisher, who starred as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, died on Tuesday after a heart attack. She was 60.
Gary, the French bulldog, was at her side in the hospital during her last days.
His (fan-written) Twitter page contained the following post yesterday:
Gary, a therapy dog who helped Fisher cope with bipolar disorder, accompanied her just about everywhere in her later years. She brought the pet along on interviews, and he became something of a celebrity in his own right.
TMZ reports that Gary, now 4, will be cared for by Carrie’s daughter, Billie Lourd.
Gary also accompanied Fisher to what was her final appearance in behalf of a dog-related cause — a protest against China’s dog meat festival.
In June, Fisher and Gary joined a protest against the Yulin Dog Meat Festival outside the Chinese embassy in London, at which a petition signed by more than 11 million people was presented, demanding a ban on the annual event.
“There is so much animal suffering in the world, and much of it you feel helpless to end, but stopping the Yulin dog meat festival and ending all that suffering is easy,” Fisher said.
“All the Chinese authorities need to do is declare it shut down, and the killing stops … These poor dogs need us to fight for them. Every single one of them is as precious as my dear Gary.”
In 2013, when Gary was one year old, Fisher told the Herald Tribune, “Gary is like my heart. Gary is very devoted to me, and that calms me down. He’s anxious when he’s away from me.”
Clearly, the reverse was also true.
Fisher, who was the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and the actress Debbie Reynolds, was an actor, author and screenwriter, and was outspoken about animal welfare, mental health issues and pretty much anything else.
“I think in my mouth, so I don’t lie,” she said in one interview. Unlike most celebrities, she didn’t hide behind a glittery facade. She let the public see the real her — warts, troubles, wrinkles (when they arrived) and all
In her book, Wishful Drinking, she wrote that she wanted her obituary to report that “I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra” — a scenario inspired by director George Lucas telling her people didn’t wear underwear in space, for it would strangle them.
In interviews, she generally laid herself bare, held nothing back and spoke her mind in a manner both fearless and funny.
Here she is on a recent Good Morning America segment, with Gary of course:
Posted by John Woestendiek December 29th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, bipolar disorder, carrie fisher, celebrity, death, died, dog meat festival, dogs, french bulldog, gary, heart attack, mental health, pets, princess leia, remembering, star wars, therapy dog, yulin
(In memory of Gladys, who passed away Friday, we’re reprinting this story from two years ago about the fluffy white dog, the homeless man that took her in and the Maryland town that showed them both some love.)
For more than a decade, they were a familiar sight around downtown Salisbury, Maryland — the homeless man and his silky white dog.
You could often find them stationed outside Benedict the Florist, or located in what was an even shrewder spot to panhandle — behind the Dunkin Donuts, where cars lined up at the drive-through.
Elwood, the homeless man, and Gladys, his dog, weren’t shooed away too often in Salisbury. That, likely, was in part because of Elwood’s friendly demeanor, maybe in larger part because of his highly sociable dog, who he found as a pup in a box by a Dumpster, or in a bag in the middle of Highway 13, depending on who’s telling the story
In any event, the troubled man and the Wheaton mix became partners in homelessness, and for more than a decade survived off the kindness of friends and strangers in Salisbury.
No one saw Elwood, though some people were pretty sure they had spotted the dog at various locations around town.
Edna Walls had that feeling when she saw a silky white, mid-sized dog at a groomers recently, asked about it and learned it was — sure enough — Gladys.
Elwood Towers had died in May, 2013 of cancer, the groomer explained to her, and since then his dog has been living with the owner of the flower shop outside of which Elwood and Gladys once panhandled. She recounted the encounter in a reader-submitted column published on Delmarva Now.
The Lucky Dog Pet Salon never charged Elwood for grooming Gladys, Walls reported, just like some local veterinarians cut him a break when Gladys needed shots or medical treatment.
An obituary for Elwood on Legacy.com makes note of the kindness the two received. Submitted by his “adoptive family,” it thanks “the business and professional community and the thousands of people that took the time to help him, say a kind word, or give Gladys a pet. Those things are what made his life meaningful.”
The obituary continues, “He leaves behind his dearest and closest companion, Gladys. The ‘homeless man and his white dog’ were well recognized from their travels throughout the Salisbury area in the last 15 years. Elwood loved the outdoors and his ‘WORK;’ the proceeds of which were often shared with others in need.”
George Benedict, who took in Gladys after Elwood’s death, agrees that Elwood was known for being poor, but also for being a giving sort. Once, he got kicked out of an apartment for refusing to get rid of a stray bird he was nursing back to health.
“He was a generous man,” Benedict told ohmidog! “If he took in $100, he’d give half of it away or buy groceries for friends in need.”
Elwood, before he died, took steps to make sure Gladys would be cared for. He asked George Benedict to take ownership of Gladys.
In years of writing about homeless people, and homeless dogs, and homeless people with homeless dogs, it’s something I’ve noticed. A homeless person may not know where their next meal is coming from, but they know where their dog’s is. A homeless person may have no roof over his head, and no plan for tomorrow, but likely they’ve made contingency plans for what will happen to their dog when they’re gone.
Benedict, who had always been fond of Gladys — who’d never suggested the pair move on when they lingered outside his shop — agreed. He’s retired now, and the floral shop — a local institution for 130 years — closed in 2011. Benedict still works with homeless people, though, through an organization called Hope, Inc.
He knew Elwood for almost 15 years, and remembers when Elwood found Gladys — in a box by a Dumpster, he says — and decided to keep the pup. Some people told Elwood that was a mistake, Benedict recalls, pointing out to Elwood that he could barely take care of himself.
Elwood had spent much of his life in prison, including his teens. He looked down on drug use, and while he enjoyed a beer or two, he wasn’t a heavy drinker, Benedict said.
Still, after taking in Gladys, Elwood never had another drink, Benedict said. “She was pretty much his whole life.”
For a while, Benedict said, Elwood lived in an unheated garage, paying $300 a month for it. About the time city inspectors asked him to leave, Gladys had a litter of pups. Elwood gave them away, including one to Benedict.
Benedict said that dog died at age 6, from lymphoma.
“I never imagined I would actually wind up with Gladys,” Benedict said.
In his final years, Elwood was fighting cancer, too. His lower jaw had to rebuilt after one surgery. He called off the fight in 2012, deciding not to seek further treatment.
In Elwood’s final months, Benedict spent a lot of time with him. He died May 17, 2013, at age 75 at Coastal Hospice at the Lake.
Benedict took Gladys to the groomer just before Elwood’s funeral, and she attended the service, along with about 35 humans.
“They were sort of unique in Salisbury,” Benedict said. “I guess it was the combination of him and Gladys. People gave him a lot more tolerance than they might some other folks.”
Gladys is 14 now.
“She’s an amazing dog,” Benedict says. She just instinctively likes to be with people … My wife and I are convinced she has some sort of aura about her. She goes with me wherever I go, and all the stores let her in. Wherever I go, people get out of their car and say ‘what kind of dog is that?’ I tell them she’s a Wheaton mix.
“Some of them say ‘I used to give food to a man who had a dog like that.'”
Donations in memory of Elwood and Gladys can be made to the organization specified in his obituary: The Humane Society of Wicomico County, 5130 Citation Drive, Salisbury, MD 21804.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 28th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, benedict the florist, compassion, dead, death, dog, dogs, elwood, elwood towers, george benedict, gladys, gladys and elwood, homeless, homelessness, maryland, pets, salisbury
Before having his sick and elderly whippet put down, a UK man scheduled one last walk on the beach with his dog, and invited the world to come along.
The world responded.
Hundreds showed up to accompany Mark Woods and his 18-ear-old dog, Walnut, on the walk Saturday. Later that morning, Walnut was euthanized.
“Sadly I am having to have Walnut euthanized on Saturday 12th November and so we will be having a last walk together on his beloved Porth Beach at 9.30am,” he wrote.
“I would love it if dog lovers/owners and friends would join us for a celebration of Walnut on his favourite Porth Beach,” Woods continued. “He has had an incredible life and having reached the grand age of 18 is ready for his final sleep.”
Supporters, many with dogs, showed up in droves. Words of encouragement came from around the world, some from people who took a long walk with their own dog in honor of Walnut.
“Thank you to the hundreds of people that attended the walk this morning and to all those that had their own walks with their beloved pets at 9.30am all around the world,” Woods later wrote on Facebook.
“I also want to thank the wonderful people of Newquay for their support which I will never forget as long as I live.”
Posted by John Woestendiek November 14th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, beach, death, dog, dogs, dying, elderly, facebook, invitation, loss, mark woods, newquay, pets, sick, tribute, uk, walk, walnut, walnut's last walk, whippet
A much beloved Internet celebrity has died.
He was part of a cooking team — the less shy half, the English-speaking half, the more comfortable in front of the camera half, the poodle half.
Francis the dog was the host and narrator of “Cooking with Dog,” which also featured the human he lived with, an unnamed Japanese housewife who had never been on camera before a producer friend proposed they put together a cooking show for the Internet.
She was hesitant, as she was a private sort, and felt alone and insecure in front of the camera.
With Francis at her side, though, she was up to the task and the duo went on, over the next 10 years, to rise to Internet stardom — Chef, as she is called, doing all the cooking and making an occasional comment in Japanese, Francis providing the narration, in English, with a French accent.
“Cooking with Dog” began in 2007 after the producer, who also likes to keep his name private, returned to Japan from Los Angeles, where he had spent several years working in the entertainment industry.
He said he wanted to keep working in film and television, and promote Japanese culture — in a way English-speaking audiences could follow.
“There are many cooking programs on TV and I just wanted to make our show look different and unique. And also I don’t know any celebrities or famous people and I didn’t have a large budget,” he told The Japan Times last year.
Having Francis narrate the show gave it a quirky edge, and opened it up to English-speaking audiences.
“Cooking With Dog” has over 1.2 million subscribers, making it one of the most popular food channels on YouTube. Nearly a third of the viewers come from the United States.
Over the years, its title has raised some eyebrows and led to a little confusion. Some who have stumbled across it thought it might be about cooking for your dog, or about recipes that used dog meat as an ingredient.
Dogs are, after all, raised for their meat and consumed by a small minority of the population in several Asian countries.
But anyone who watched a video quickly became aware nothing nefarious was afoot — it was a just a pure and simple cooking show in which a soft-spoken chef calmly puts together elaborate and often ornate Japanese dishes as her dog looks on.
It’s a refreshing change from American cooking shows, where there has been a distinct shift toward manic hosts, who are generally overseeing some sort of cut-throat competition.
Gizmodo reports it is uncertain if “Cooking with Dogs” will continue without Francis.
If not, we still have the more than 300 episodes that have been produced. You can watch them at the Cooking with Dog, YouTube channel.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 9th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: accent, animalss, cook, cooking, cooking with dog, cuisine, death, died, dies, dog, dogs, francis, french, host, internet, japan, japanese, narrator, pets, poodle, recipes, television, youtube
Jeb, a Belgian Malinois, had been in the custody of St.Clair County animal control since Aug. 24 after being accused of killing a neighbor dog.
He was released to his owners in Port Huron, Mich., yesterday.
We first told you about the case at the end of September.
That’s when the judge who had ordered Jeb put down agreed to hear a motion putting off his euthanization pending the results of a DNA test on the dog who was killed.
That dog, a Pomeranian named Vlad, was found dead in his yard Aug. 24, and his owner, St. Clair resident Christopher Sawa, says he saw Jeb standing over his dog’s body. Both dogs were inside his backyard.
Vlad was found with severe bruising over both shoulders and a puncture wound on his right front leg. There was another deep wound found on his left side that penetrated his chest and broke two ribs.
The veterinarian who examined Vlad said his injuries were consistent with being picked up and shaken by a larger animal.
Based on the circumstantial evidence, a district judge in Michigan ordered Jeb to be euthanized after hearing the evidence against him on Sept. 19.
Jeb’s owners, Pam and Kenneth Job, then asked the court to allow them time to have an independent lab conduct DNA tests on Vlad’s body — to see if traces of Jeb’s DNA could be found in his wounds.
In October, the judge issued a 30-day stay on the euthanization to allow the Jobs to conduct a DNA test.
DNA samples taken from Vlad did not match those of Jeb, according to a report issued by the University of Florida’s Maples Center for Forensic Medicine dated Oct. 24, the Detroit Free Press reported yesterday.
A consent judgment was signed yesterday that allowed the Jobs to take Jeb home.
He said community members and animal advocacy groups have helped the family meet those terms.
Friends and family also started a “Free Jeb” Facebook page, on which the family yesterday posted a photo of Jeb on the way home.
A a petition at change.org requesting Jeb’s release received more than 98,000 signatures.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 3rd, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accused, animal control, animals, backyard, belgian malinois, death, death row, dog, dogs, euthanasia, euthanization, freed, innocence, jeb, killed, killing, michigan, pets, pomeranian, port huron, scheduled, vlad
I try not to think about my own death too much, but I do have a general plan for the hereafter.
I want my cremated remains to spend eternity with my dog’s cremated remains — or at least those remains of him that remain after I, earlier this year, spread some of his ashes in his favorite ocean and some in his favorite creek.
I still have about half his ashes left (he was a big dog), and, if I revisit another place that was dear to us, I may spread a little more of him there.
But I’ll keep the rest so that they may join my own. As I see it, that should be my right as a dead man.
But it’s not always — at least when it comes to the rules of individual cemeteries, and the many local, state and federal laws, rules and regulations that govern how we dispose of our remains and those of our pets.
In most cases, state laws prohibits burying pets in human cemeteries, even just their ashes, but they are unenforceable laws — to be honest, needless laws — and they’re generally overlooked by funeral directors.
Most funeral directors go along with it when the family of the deceased requests their pet’s ashes be placed with the deceased — even when it’s technically against the rules.
Sometimes cemetery rules prohibit it; often state laws do. In recent years, though, some states have reexamined those laws.
Virginia passed a law in 2014 permitting cemeteries to have clearly marked sections where pets and humans may be buried alongside one another — as long as the animal has its own casket.
In New York, Gov. Cuomo signed legislation last month making it legal for the cremated remains of pets to be interred with their owners at any of the approximately 1,900 not-for-profit cemeteries regulated by the state.
“For many New Yorkers, their pets are members of the family,” Cuomo said. “This legislation will roll back this unnecessary regulation and give cemeteries the option to honor the last wishes of pet lovers across New York.”
The new law does not apply to cemeteries owned or operated by religious associations or societies, and any cemetery still has the right to say no.
But it’s a step closer to reasonable, and better than an interim measure passed three years ago, when New York made it permissible to bury the cremated remains of humans and their dogs together — but only in pet cemeteries.
State lawmakers approved the new bill during the final days of the legislature’s session June, according to The New York Daily News
“For years now, New Yorkers have desired to have their pets interred in their grave, and cemeteries will now be able to offer this burial option as a result of this new law,” said Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer (R-Erie County), who sponsored the law in the Senate.
One of those New Yorkers was Leona Helmsley, the hotel magnate who died in 2007 and specified in her will that she wanted her dog, Trouble, interred with her in the family mausoleum in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Westchester County.
Trouble died and was cremated in 2011, but could not be buried with her owner because of the state law prohibiting it.
Call me crazy (just don’t call me as crazy as her), but I want my ashes with Ace’s ashes, and not just in adjacent airtight containers.
I want them mixed, or at least — should I opt for my own to be spread — spread in the same location.
That could violate a law or two — because there are thousands of them governing how and where dogs and humans can be buried, cremation procedures, after-death mingling of species and where ashes can be spread.
According to Time.com scattering human ashes at sea must be done from a boat or plane three nautical miles from shore. That’s an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule.
The EPA says scattering a pet’s ashes in the sea is prohibited.
Woops, I already violated that rule.
Before it’s all over, or, more accurately, once it’s all over, I might violate some more. Blame my rebellious streak.
My advice is to check your city, county, state and federal laws, and then break them — at least as much as you, being dead, can.
Burying an entire dog or human body is one thing, and there should, for public health reasons, be some rules regulating that.
But ashes have no germs, no odor, no dangerous implications. What pet owners might have spread in rivers and streams over the centuries is non-toxic and only a drop in the bucket compared to, say, the coal ash Duke Energy unleashed in a day.
My plan to combine the ashes of myself and my dog still has some details in need of being worked out.
For one, I’ll need an accomplice to carry out my wishes and do the mixing, assuming the crematorium balks at my afterlife recipe — mix one part Ace with two parts John in a large Folgers Coffee can. Shake well.
After that it would be sent along to my designated spreader, to be named at a later date.
(I was joking about Folgers, any brand will do.)
When we leave the coffee can, we would like for it to be somewhere scenic and not too noisy.
Somewhere with a view of the sunset would be nice.
Someplace where I’m not in a neat row among other rows.
And somewhere free — in both meanings of the word.
Ace and I were thrifty in our travels, and our travels were all about feeling free and liberated as opposed to crated, coffined or cubicled.
I want our ashes to have that same freedom, together.
(Photos: Top and bottom, spreading Ace’s ashes in an unspecified ocean on the east coast, by Seth Effron and Glenn Edens; middle, more of Ace’s ashes being spread along a creek in Bethania, N.C., by Joe Woestendiek)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 19th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ashes, burials, cemeteries, cremains, death, dog, dogs, eternity, funeral directors, funerals, laws, leona helmsley, new york, oceans, pets, regulations, remains, rules, spread, spreading, spreading ashes, together, virginia
A UK man was gobsmacked to see his deceased dog’s image in a slice of ham.
You see it too, don’t you, there in the upper right quadrant?
George Hembry, 21, of Bath, told the British tabloids it’s the spitting image of his dog, Stink.
He saw the slice on the counter as his mother was making him a sandwich.
Hembry found an old photo of Stink and laid it next to the slice of Tesco British Crumbed ham. The resemblance freaked him out so much he refused to eat it.
Hembry said he had bought the meat himself, at a shop he and Stink used to frequent.
Adding to the strangeness of it all, he said, he and his mother, Sarah, had been talking about Stink earlier in the day.
“We’d been talking … about how much we missed him because an old photo memory popped up on my Facebook page,” he told the Daily Mail.
“It’s funny to think he’s maybe still looking over us somehow,” he is quoted as saying in The Mirror.
Hembry said he considered keeping the slice, but decided it would be unwise. “I suppose it would have gone off after a while.”
“I reckon mum’s probably eaten it,” he added, “but I couldn’t have done that.”
(Photos: Daily Mail)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 27th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bath, cold cuts, death, deceased, dog, dogs, england, george hembry, grief, ham, image, loss, perception, pet, sees, slice, slice of ham, stink, tabloids, uk