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Tag: death

FDA investigating legume-based dog foods

legumes

Pet food containing potatoes, peas, lentils and other legumes might be causing heart disease in dogs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a warning to pet owners.

Citing “highly unusual” reports about canine dilated cardiomyopathy, the FDA said last week it is investigating a link between the food and cases in which dogs have been diagnosed with the disease, which can cause an enlarged, weakened heart and eventual heart failure.

Large breeds have always been prone to the disease, but the new cases include a Shih Tzu, a bulldog, and a miniature schnauzer.

Canine DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle and results in having an enlarged heart. As the dog’s heart and chambers become dilated, the heart becomes unable to pump normally, leading valves to leak and a buildup of fluids in the chest and abdomen.

It often results in heart failure, but can be improved if caught early.

Breeds more prone to the disease include larger breeds like Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards and Doberman Pinschers.

Among those reported cases, the dog’s diets frequently included potatoes, multiple legumes like peas, lentils, other seeds of legumes, as main ingredients, the FDA said.

Foods labeled “grain-free” typically have higher levels of legumes or potatoes, but it is not yet known how the ingredients are linked to the heart disease.

Medical records for four atypical DCM cases revealed three Golden Retrievers and one Labrador Retriever, showed low whole blood levels of the amino acid taurine. Taurine deficiency is well-documented as a possible leading factor in the disease.

Other cases include a mini Schnauzer, Shih Tzu, and two Labrador Retrievers. The FDA is working with the Veterinary Response Network, a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories investigate the potential association between these ingredients and DCM.

The FDA said it is in contact with pet food manufacturers that make the foods.

The FDA is encouraging pet owners and veterinary professionals to report any cases of DCM in dogs that are suspected of having a link to diet. To report a case, click here.

Newest “World’s Ugliest Dog” dies at age 9

Sixteen days after winning the title of “World’s Ugliest Dog,” Zsa Zsa, a 9-year-old English bulldog, has died.

Zsa Zsa won the 30th annual contest on June 23. She passed way in her sleep Monday night, her owner, Megan Brainard, told the Star Tribune.

With her floppy tongue, crooked teeth, pronounced underbite and squished in face, Zsa Zsa captured the hearts of the judges at the annual contest at the Sonoma-Marin County Fair in Petaluma, California, which bestows the dubious honor annually.

zsa-zsa-today-tease-180625_f6982e248fea6a466e6e3f64763a2512.fit-560wThe contest describes itself as “all in fun,” and a way to promote dog adoption.

It has some hard core fans, some hard core contestants, and some critics, too, who say the competition has become a little too cut-throat, and too often features unhealthy, sickly and deformed dogs.

Some years, winning dogs have been expected abuse victims, or been given points for an “oozing sore.”

Nevertheless, it is greeted every year by the news media with puns and laughs.

After winning the annual contest in California, Zsa Zsa was flown to New York for an appearance on the morning shows, including NBC’s “Today Show” and “Fox & Friends.”

Brainard, of Anoka, Minnesota, adopted Zsa Zsa after spotting her on Petfinder. The dog had previously been rescued from a puppy mill in Missouri when she was five years old.

Brainard said she named Zsa Zsa after the Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, as the pup enjoyed lounging on the couch “like a beautiful model.”

Dog who played Duke, that sarcastic golden retriever in Bush’s beans commercials, dies

Duke, the Bush’s Baked Beans dog, has died — one of them, anyway.

Just before the July 4 holiday, Sam, a golden retriever from Florida, passed away. He was one of several dogs that appeared as “Duke” in television ads.

His death became known when a neighbor of his owner, in Apopka, posted the news on Facebook.

Subsequently, the bean company expressed its sadness on social media.

“We continue to be overwhelmed by fan interest and their love of Duke. The relationship between Jay and his beloved dog Duke is the embodiment of the BUSH’S brand, and has been a part of our family story for more than 20 years,” the company wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “During that time, we’ve worked closely with several dogs who portrayed Duke in our commercials, including Sam. While Sam has not worked with us in years, we are saddened by the news of his passing and are grateful to have had him depict Duke. Because Duke is iconic to BUSH’S and so adored by our fans, we will continue to use him in our ads.”

Sam’s owner, Susan, who trains animals to work in commercials, had him put down. He was suffering from cancer, CBS reported.

dukeOdom shared a photo of Sam sitting in the grass, with an American flag flying behind him. “Here is a photo from his better days. He was a very special dog to all who ever knew or had the pleasure of meeting him. He is and will be missed,” Odom wrote.

Sam’s character “Duke” is known for making sarcastic comments to his “owner,” Jay, in the company’s commercials. A human voices his lines in the ads, many of which deal with dog’s seeming willingness to divulge the the Bush’s secret family recipe.

Give the Fourth of July is a major bean-eating holiday, his death hit home with many, who took to social media to express their sorrow.

Ace, and a few hundred other friends, surface during my fundraiser to honor Joe


My quest to honor my son’s memory by having a kennel in my local humane society named after him has almost reached its goal, thanks to the kindness of friends, family and a lot of people I’ve never known.

Sure it’s only a plaque, just like a condolence card is only a card, and words are only words, and, from the giver’s point of view, none of them really seem sufficient to honor a loved one who has passed — especially one who dies such an early death.

But people do what they can at times like these. And the $10,000 (maybe more) donation Joe will be making posthumously to the Forsyth Humane Society will go a long way in terms of caring and finding homes for the dogs who end up there.

thermometer-red-90-percent-hiThe plaque is one of several commemorative opportunities the shelter, like most, offers to those wishing to make a donation in the name of a loved one lost, be they cat, dog or human.

Forsyth Humane Society, in North Carolina, offers commemorative bricks, engraved with the loved one’s name, from $100 to $250, based on their size; bench plaques, for $750; annual sponsorships of individual kennels for $300 a year; and the big one — sponsoring a kennel for a lifetime — for $10,000. As part of the kennel sponsorships, the Humane Society sends you the stories of three of the dogs that occupy the kennel each year.

(You can check the website of your local humane society or SPCA to see the commemorative opportunities it might offer.)

For my son Joe, 26, who died two weeks after an accident on an Interstate highway in Mississippi, I had to shoot for the perpetual sponsorship.

When Joe visited me in the summer, he volunteered at the Forsyth Humane Society a few days a week, and at special events, where he most enjoyed donning the dog costume of its mascot.

So the choice for a memorial to him seemed a good fit — and a much-needed something to keep me busy.

I started a Facebook fundraising campaign, which is now more than 90 percent of the way to its goal and has left me marveling at the kindness and generosity of my friends, most of whom I’ve done a poor job of staying in touch with over the years.

Former colleagues at the Philadelphia Inquirer responded, as well as many from the Baltimore Sun. College friends kicked in. Dog park buddies came through, as did lots of you ohmidog! readers, some I know and some I don’t.

And I can’t remember ever being so touched. Thanks to you, Joe, who was adopted from Korea as an infant, will soon have his name on a kennel that, over the course of each year, will probably house one or two dozen homeless dogs (one at a time) awaiting that happy outcome.

Each and every donation, large or small, has lifted my spirits.

One of the gestures that moved me most came from a friend in Baltimore who was mourning the death of her dog.

Carey Hughes once fell really hard for me, but let me explain.

bm3We’d met when we were both out with our dogs at some sort of function in the Inner Harbor. We got together a few times after that, since our dogs hit it off so well — usually at a dog park, or a bar that allowed dogs.

Once at an outdoor restaurant near the harbor, I asked her to hold Ace’s leash for me while I went inside for more beer. Her dog, Bimini was tied to the table, but given Ace, at 140 pounds, could drag a table pretty far, I asked Carey to hold on to him.

When I came back outside, Ace bolted toward me, toppling Carey’s chair and dragging her a foot or two across the pavement (something he’d done with me a few times, so I knew it hurt, despite her assurances).

The fact that she didn’t let go of the leash says something about her. So does what she did this week. Bimini died last week, and friends were asking Carey how they might contribute to some sort of memorial for him.

Instead, she asked those friends to donate to Joe’s fundraiser, in a Facebook post, and many of them did.

She’s planning gathering in Bimini’s honor in the days ahead during which she will bury Bimini’s ashes in a whiskey barrel behind her house, then plant flowers on top.

bim2Having some of Ace’s ashes still remaining from my two spreadings of his ashes — one in the Atlantic Ocean, the other in a creek along a trail we used to hike regularly — I asked her if I could send some of those to be in the whiskey barrel with Bimini.

Given Bimini never liked to be alone (neither did Ace, who died two years ago), she thought it was a great idea.

Unless postal authorities became suspicious of the powdery substance inside and tore the package open, the ashes should have arrived yesterday.

Little things like that, all piled on top of each other — the reuniting with friends, the generosity people have shown, the support I’ve received — have, along with keeping myself as busy as possible, have made this week tolerable.

I posted a remembrance of Joe on ohmidog! Monday. On Tuesday, my local paper, the Winston-Salem Journal, ran a beautiful front page story by columnist Scott Sexton about Joe and the fundraising campaign. Those, combined with the Facebook fundraising campaign, have led to it nearing it’s $10,000 goal.

As Sexton noted, say what you will about all the cons of Facebook — and I frequently bash it — it leads to some pretty marvelous things.

“Facebook has earned every last bit of criticism leveled at it for helping to sow discord and divide people through dissemination of fake news and paid manipulations by bad actors overseas. It, and other outlets, are easily manipulated and should be viewed in many cases with healthy skepticism and an eye toward fact (and source) checking.

“The flip side is that social media can be extremely useful. It can help connect lives, share news and has the power to bring people (and communities) together. It also has the ability to pass word of tragedy, and spare people from having to repeat over and over and over the unfathomable.”

Joe WoestendiekIt is mainly through Facebook that old friends have gotten in touch and complete strangers have decided to donate. Thanks to those who shared the posts, and to all those who sent comforting words.

My friends are mostly fellow writers, many of whom pointed out that words just aren’t sufficient at times like this.

But they tried anyway and, for the record, they do help. A lot. Words, gestures, hugs — they mean everything right now.

So will Joe’s plaque. It will probably take a while before it goes up on one of the kennels at the humane society, which opened its new facility two years ago. It takes time for the donations to be funneled through and for the actual making of the plaque.

I can’t wait to see it.

And if that last name isn’t spelled right, as often happens, believe me I will let them know.

(Photos: Joe Woestendiek and Ace, by John Woestendiek; Bimini and Ace, courtesy of Carey Hughes)

Remembering my son, Joe

babyjoe2leashes1

On May 13, 1992, a flight arrived at LAX from Seoul and three Korean babies, orphans all, were carried off the plane by their escorts to be handed to their new adoptive parents.

My wife and I were there to meet one of them, our new son whom we’d decided, based on photos, would be named either Sam or Joe, depending on which seemed the better fit after seeing him in person.

He was the last one off the plane, a tiny thing with an unruly shock of jet black hair that was shooting in every direction after the 11-hour flight. For a moment, we debated whether he might be an “Elvis.” But we opted for Joe.

Joe WoestendiekFast forward 26 years — and God, did it ever go too fast — and Joe (full name Joseph Yoon Tae Woestendiek) was lying in a coma in a Memphis hospital, his hair shaved off, and parts of his skull removed to accommodate the swelling of his severely damaged brain. The outlook was bleak, at best.

He was on his way home from work when his car rear-ended a dump truck on the interstate near Holly Springs, Miss. The truck grinded to a halt. The truck driver pulled Joe out of his burning car. And he was airlifted by helicopter from Mississippi to Memphis — to, ironically, the Elvis Presley Trauma Center.

He died 13 days later. For nearly two weeks doctors kept him sedated and fought to relieve his cranial pressure even while warning that, if he came out of his coma at all, he would likely have little to no brain function due to the extent of the brain damage. They warned, too, that lung problems had developed, and that those and the strain on his heart, were more likely to take his life. His heart came to a stop on June 18.

joefishing

I write this another week later, partly to explain why our ohmidog! posts came to a halt, but more to keep his memory alive, and in hopes that writing about it will be cathartic and make some of the numbness and emptiness inside me go away.

joetromboneJoe grew up in Orange County, Calif.; Yardley, Pa., Anderson, S.C., and Florence, Ala. He lived in recent years with his mom and stepdad in New Albany, Miss. He attended the University of Mississippi, where he earned a B.S. in computer science from the School of Engineering.

He’d recently started a job he loved — in the information technology department of Automated Conveyor Systems, Inc., of West Memphis, Ark.

His visits to my home, in Winston-Salem, N.C., had dwindled, but up until he finished college he’d come here regularly on holidays and in the summer. He loved guitars, and video games and, of course, dogs. He’d always get teary on his last day visiting; I was never sure if it was because he was leaving me, or leaving my dog Ace. He’d yet to meet my new dog, Jinjja, also adopted from Korea.

SONY DSCWhile here, Joe would volunteer with the Forsyth Humane Society, an organization I’ve also done some work with as a volunteer. He’d walk dogs at the shelter, and help out at events, his favorite role being donning the mascot costume — a swelteringly hot furry dog outfit — and working the crowd.

He had three dogs of his own at home.

Because of his love of dogs, and the joy working with humane society brought him, I’ve decided a fitting tribute would be to make a donation to the humane society in his name — one significant enough to merit a plaque with his name on it.

His name on a brick paver is one option, but I, for what are probably selfish reasons, want more.

I want to try to make a donation large enough to make him a lifetime sponsor of one of the shelter’s kennels.

That way, everyone who walks in to look at the many dogs available for adoption will see his name, and maybe more importantly, I will. I like the idea of a kid once in need of adoption sponsoring a kennel that will house dog after dog after dog in need of adoption — forever.

That requires a $10,000 donation, not an amount I have handy, or can even dream of obtaining. But, unachievable as that might be — and needing something to do right now — that’s what I’m working on.

So here is my plan.

I’ve started a Facebook fundraiser aimed at donating $10,000 to the Forsyth Humane Society in his memory.

SONY DSCA memorial service for him will be held in Mississippi this week.

But I want to do something here in Winston-Salem — perhaps a mini-concert featuring some musician friends of his and mine. I’m working now on setting that up.

I want it to be a simple and joyful hour or so, nothing somber, nothing speech-filled — just a chance for local friends to come together and say goodbye, maybe at the Muddy Creek Cafe in Bethania. We always enjoyed going there.

When Joe arrived in the U.S., my then-wife Jenny and I were living in Orange County, California. The riots that Rodney King’s beating sparked in Los Angeles were only starting to settle down. I was covering those for the newspaper I worked for at the time, the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Every morning, I would cruise through the most devastated areas, returning to a hotel in the evening to write. It was a bleak couple of weeks, the kind that make you worry about humanity and its future. Nearly every day, my rental car was pelted by rocks and chunks of concrete. At nearly every stoplight, I’d receive hateful stares and threatening gestures.

I remember wondering as I drove those streets how, and why, complete strangers could hate me so much.

Amid all that, we got the call that our adoptee was on his way. We were supposed to pick him up in Korea, but somebody goofed. My boss was kind enough to give me some time off, away from the riots, to bond with my new son.

And in the ensuing weeks, and years, I remember wondering how a complete stranger could love me so much.

And me him.

SONY DSC

That’s what he taught me, and it’s not unlike the lesson anyone who adopts a dog learns. Show a creature love and respect and loyalty and you’ll get it back — unconditionally and exponentially. Oppress, abuse and disrespect it and you’ll get … what you deserve.

As abruptly and prematurely as Joe’s life ended, I will always be thankful for the joy he brought me and the lessons he taught me.

I’m thankful, too, for all the prayers and expressions of support I’ve received from friends (and even strangers). I am overwhelmed by the response to the Facebook fundraiser. I posted it three days ago, and it’s already more than halfway to its goal.

Thanks also to the caring staff at Regional One’s Elvis Presley Trauma Center, and to that truck driver, Michael Simpson of Memphis, whose actions gave Joe a fighting chance.

Those wishing to contribute to Joe’s plaque can do so through the Facebook fundraiser.

Contributions can also be made through ohmidog!, or directly to Forsyth Humane Society. Please specify they are for Joe Woestendiek’s memorial plaque.

Miss Babe Ruth, the Greensboro Grasshoppers beloved bat dog, dies of cancer

missbaberuth

Miss Babe Ruth, the popular black Lab who served as the Greensboro Grasshoppers bat dog for nearly 10 years, died Friday night of cancer.

“Our hearts are broken,” said Donald Moore, Grasshoppers president and general manager. “She had an incredible life. She was all you could want from a dog and more. She loved people, loved kids. She was very loyal. That dog knew she was putting on a show, and she did it with such dignity. There will never be another Babe.”

The Moore family owned Babe, as they did her brother, Master Yogi Berra, who died last year, also of cancer, at age 9.

Miss Babe Ruth retired in 2015, taking a final lap around the bases even though she was having difficulty walking by then.

The two dogs were fixtures at Hoppers games. The dogs delivered buckets of baseballs to the umpire, retrieved Grasshopper bats and ran the bases when the game is over.

Babe was diagnosed with inoperable cancer but to the surprise of everyone, veterinarians included, lived another two years.

Babe came out of retirement late in the 2016 season and worked eight final games while her niece, current Hoppers batdog Miss Lou Lou Gehrig, recovered from an illness. The team estimates Babe delivered more than 3,500 baseballs and fetched more than 4,600 bats.

“She fought an incredible fight,” Moore said. “We didn’t think she would see opening day, but we had her for four more months. You try to prepare for this. But as hard as you try to prepare, no matter what you do, when it comes it devastates you.”

Babe’s health deteriorated rapidly in the last two days, the Greensboro News & Record reported.

“Up until (Thursday) night, she seemed to be OK,” Moore said. “She was taking her medicine, eating well, barking and talking junk like she always did. She was happy. But all of a sudden, it was like a switch flipped. She told us in her own way, ‘I can’t do it anymore.’ She stopped eating. She didn’t want to drink anything. It was clear she was ready to go.”

Memorial contributions can be made to either the Babe and Yogi Scholarship Endowment at N.C. State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, 1060 William Moore Drive, Raleigh, N.C. 27607 or to Greensboro Grasshoppers Charities, c/o the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, 330 S. Greene St., Suite 100, Greensboro, N.C. 27401.

The scholarship at N.C. State is earmarked for Guilford County residents who are veterinary students at the university.

Funds from the Grasshoppers Charities donations will go to establishing permanent memorials of Babe and Yogi at First National Bank Field.

(Photo by Jack Horan / Charlotte Observer)

Tiny Texas town’s barbecue eating dog, Jake, passes away on Easter

The Circle H Bar-B-Q & Grill in the tiny east Texas town of Emory has lost its best non-paying customer.

Like clockwork, an elderly yellow Lab named Jake would show up daily at the restaurant’s drive-thru window, take a seat and patiently wait for handouts.

Why? Because it was convenient for one thing. Jake lived at an auto repair shop right next door. Plus, he just flat out loved barbecue.

jake“Everybody else does too, he just gets his for free,” said Tyson Thompson, a waiter at Circle H.

“Everybody knows Jake,” said Josh Hines, the man who provided Jake with all his favorite food at the drive-thru. “He’s definitely the town mascot.”

He may have gotten all sorts of treats from customers, but Hines knew to provide him only with rib bones,according to EastTexasMatters.com.

“He loves the rib bones … I think that’s all he’s allowed to have cause all of the other stuff is bad for him,” said Thompson.

Jake would station himself just underneath the drive thru window and take a seat. When a customer pulled up, he would limp out of the way, resuming his position as soon as the car pulled out.

Jake’s owners operate Parmer’s Automotive, where he serves as shop mascot too.

jake2“Everyone loves Jake. In the parking lots, they’ll come up and pet him, they’ll just talk to him and give him treats. One person even bought him a whole sandwich,” said Keldon Parmer, the son of the auto shop’s operator.

After downing some barbecue, Jake would traipse back to the auto shop and wash it down with some toilet water before climbing into the back of a truck bed for his nap.

The Parmers say Jake died on Easter, at age 13. He’d been diagnosed with cancer in January. Surgery was performed, KXAN reported, but he was diagnosed with only months to live.