Among the dogs we met in Charlotte during our visit to The Dog Bar, were Skyler and Pierce, two white Great Danes who — one being half blind, one being deaf, neither having the distinct black markings harlequin Great Danes are supposed to have — were headed to the kind of future “defective” dogs often face.
Namely, no future at all.
They were part of a larger litter that turned out to be unprofitable. All the pups were affected by a strain of distemper — but because of their additional handicaps, Skyler and Pierce, the breeder decided, couldn’t even be given away, and therefore should be put down.
That’s when Laura Moss and Fred Metzler stepped in. Laura was working at an animal emergency clinic at the time. The litter of Great Danes ended up there. She already had three dogs at home, so she asked Fred, her friend of several years, to adopt the two future-less siblings.
Fred, a sales manager for a company that makes automatic doors, agreed. But, because he traveled a lot, he often called upon Laura to pet sit the duo — Skyler, the deaf one, and Pierce, the blind one — when he was out of town.
At Fred’s house, Laura noticed, the two pups — as they did at the hospital — continued to stay at each others’ sides. When they went to sleep, Skyler would lay her head on top of Pierce.
“That way, if he hears something, he’ll react. Then she’ll be the police dog and go check it out. They’ve been that way since they were babies,” Laura said. “There’s no way we could separate them.”
Skyler, named for her sky blue eyes, is 106 pounds; Pierce, named, for his handsomeness, after actor Pierce Brosnan, is 175 pounds. Despite their handicaps, they manage, with help from each other, to do all that dogs do.
Fred and Laura have come up with a system of sign language to communicate with Skyler, including more than 20 commands. The two dogs have become a striking and familiar sight in Charlotte’s NoDa neighborhood. They even march in the local St. Patrick’s Day parade.
And they get along fine with Laura’s other dogs — a miniature pinscher named Jade, a Boston terrier named Halley and a dalmatian named Dax, who she also brought home from the animal hospital. His former owner dropped him off and, once learning he had heartworm, never picked him up.
Since she talked him into adopting the dogs, Laura and Fred have become a couple, and now share a residence with all five of their dogs.
Laura doesn’t give the Great Danes full credit for bringing two humans together — but maybe, on some level, the relationship between the two big white dogs represents a lesson to be learned: Having someone in your life you can turn to, and depend on, and whose strengths can compliment your weaknesses, has its advantages.
Or maybe that’s reading too much into it.
“The friendship is what brought us together,” Laura says, “but the Great Danes didn’t hurt.”
Posted by jwoestendiek August 20th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, animals, blind, breeders, charlotte, deaf, dependence, disabilities, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, fred metzler, great danes, handicaps, harlequin, laura moss, noda, pets, pierce, relationships, rescue, rescued, road trip, sign language, skyler, the dog bar, travel, traveling with dogs, white
And that’s why the dog she adopted — born with ectrodactyly, or “lobster claw syndrome” — no longer goes by “Claude.”
A 2-year-old, 60-pound pit bull mix, Claude’s now named Cody. He was left at a shelter as a pup, then rescued by Even Chance, a San Diego-based pit bull advocacy center, which paid for surgery to help correct the deformity by fusing his two toes together.
Now, Cody lives happily with what’s called a “mitten” paw. He’s found a forever home with Sulier. And he’s been certified as a therapy dog, PeoplePets reports.
Working with New Leash on Life Animal Rescue’s Lend a Paw program, he’s the first of his breed to be certified as a therapy dog through the organization, which Sulier hopes will set the record straight about other dogs of his kind.
“Pitties are sweet, loyal dogs, and the reason they become mean dogs is because they’re so loyal, they will do anything you ask them to,” she says. “People need to see that they really are extremely loving dogs.”
Every other week, Sulier and Cody head to the Jewish Home for the Aging in their hometown of Los Angeles. Sulier feels Cody, who walks with a slight limp, has a personal connection to those he comforts.
“He’s been pretty special ever since [I adopted him],” she says. “For some reason, from the bottom of my heart, I know I’m supposed to have Cody.”
Posted by jwoestendiek July 15th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animal, barbara sulier, claude, claw, clawed, cody, congenital, defect, deformity, disabilities, disability, dogs, electrodactyly, even chance, handicaps, lobster, lobster claw, new leash on life, ohmidog!, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, rescue, shelter, syndrome, therapy dog
Surf Dog Ricochet continues his amazing work in California, where he recently hit the waves with Ian McFarland, a 6-year-old boy who suffered a brain injury in a car accident that claimed the lives of his parents.
Ricochet, who we first showed you last year, was a service dog reject — he was just too prone to chasing birds — who went on to become a “surf-ice” dog, raising money for charities through surfing demonstrations and assisting people with disabilities in other ways.
Most recently, he helped Ian, who used to surf with his dad, overcome his fears and get back in the ocean.
On top of the individuals he has helped, Ricochet’s website says he has raised more than $30,000 in an 8-month period.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 3rd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adaptive, animals, california, charities, demonstrations, disabilities, disability, disabled, dog, dogs, ian mcfarland, pets, ricochet, service, surf, surf-ice, surfer, surfing, therapy, video
Rolling Dog Ranch, a Montana sanctuary for blind, deaf and maimed animals, is moving to New Hampshire.
Steve Smith and Alayne Marker, who founded the animal sanctuary 10 years ago after leaving jobs with Boeing in Seattle, say the 160-acre Montana ranch in Ovando will be put up for sale and that they will start moving horses, dogs and cats to a 120-acre ranch on the outskirts of Lancaster, N.H., on May 24..
Many in Montana are sad to see them go, according to The Missoulian
“My heart is breaking. I’m sobbing,” Heather Montana of Helena, wrote in a comment on the Rolling Dog Ranch blog, where the news was broken. “Part of my love of being in Montana has been knowing you made this State a better place. You and Alayne are simply the best. Montana is losing the best. The people and volunteers are losing the best. It is crushing.”
(The slideshow above is from my visit there three years ago, which led to a five-part series on the ranch in the “Mutts” blog, now known as “Unleashed,” in the Baltimore Sun.)
Marker and Smith were among 10 recipients of the 2009 Humane Award presented by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals — and that was just the latest in a stream of tributes they have received.
Last Christmas, the ranch received the $20,000 first prize in an online National Shelter Challenge.
Rising gas prices and the hour-plus drives to the closest cities of Missoula and Helena are among the reasons for the move. In Lancaster, they’ll be three miles from the city and minutes from their veterinary clinic.
Smith said on the ranch’s blog that he expects employees and volunteers will be easier to find. “It was always a major problem for us to hire employees here, because most people did not want to move to such a remote area,” Smith said. “And of the few who were willing to move out here, most quickly tired of living so far out.”
Property was cheaper in New Hampshire, too, he noted, and there’s no sales tax or personal income tax.
“I think the day Alayne and I finally decided to get serious about moving, back in December, it was 22 below zero here and 24 above back there (in New Hampshire). We had just finished scooping poop that morning, our hands were frozen, and we thought, we’ve had enough of this kind of cold!” Smith wrote.
(Photo: Blind Madison, rolling in the grass at Rolling Dog Ranch’s new property in New Hamsphire/courtesy of Rolling Dog Ranch)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 20th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adoption, alayne marker, animals, blind, deaf, disabilities, disabled, dogs, handicapped, horses, lancaster, maimed, montana, move, moving, new hampshire, news, ohmidog!, ovando, pets, rescue, rolling dog ranch, sanctuary, shelter, sick, steve smith
A Pennsylvania appeals court ruled Tuesday against a Bucks County man who had sought food stamps to help feed his dog.
James Douris, 55, a disabled and unemployed veteran who lives in the Philadelphia suburb of Newtown, said he relies on his dog to pull his wheelchair and fetch items for him. Because of the dog’s work on his behalf, it should be considered a dependent member of his household, he argued.
The appeals court didn’t buy it, upholding a decision by the state welfare agency denying him additional support, the Associated Press reported.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 8th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, appeals, benefits, bucks county, court, disabilities, disabled, dog, food stamps, james douris, news, newtown, ohmidog!, pennsylvania, pets, unemployed, veteran, welfare