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Tag: ginger

Columnist’s best friend?


In the old days, when a newspaper columnist started writing about his dog, it meant — at least in the eyes of your more crusty and jaundiced types — he or she had run out of things to write about.

Of course, it (usually) wasn’t true then. And it’s even less true now.

Newspapers, as they did with the Internet, have belatedly realized that dog stories are important, that dog stories draw readers, and that dog stories are actually human stories, in disguise. They’ve finally begun to catch on to dog’s new place on the social ladder, and the wonders within them, and the serious issues surrounding them, and that they are far more than just cute.

None of which probably mattered to Steve Lopez when he decided last week to tell the story of his family’s new rescue … rescue-me-again … rescue-me-one-more time … dog.

Who is also pretty cute.

Lopez, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, decided with his wife that their daughter, at age 9, was ready for a dog. Their search took them to Tailwaggers, a pet store in Hollywood, where adoption fairs are hosted by Dogs Without Borders. Though dogless for many years, Lopez knew rescuing a mutt — as opposed to purchasing a purebred — was the preferred route these days.

Canine ownership has gotten a lot more complicated than it was when he was a kid, noted Lopez, who definitely has a crusty side.

“First of all, unless you want a rescue dog, you face the withering judgment of do-gooders who have devoted their lives to saving pups from the boneyard,” he wrote. “…I live in Silver Lake, not far from a sprawling dog park. And if an abandoned infant were spotted on the curb of that busy corner, across the street from a dog with a thorn in its paw, I guarantee you dozens of people with porkpie hats and tattooed peace signs would rush to the aid of the dog instead of the child.”

At the adoption fair, his family became enchanted with a 3-year-old Corgi mixed named Hannah, who was described as “a very timid, shy and fearful little girl ” in need of “a home where she can blossom!”

(As Lopez, author of “The Soloist” and other books, may have noticed, those involved in the world of rescuing and rehoming dogs tend to use a lot of exclamation points!)

They then began the adoption process, which, he noted, required many forms: “As I recall, applying for a mortgage wasn’t quite as involved. And many of the agencies insist on a home inspection, as well as a donation fee of up to $450.”

They took Hannah home for a trial period, as a foster. There, unlike at the fair, she refused to walk on a leash.

To get her to go to the bathroom, Lopez says he carried the dog, who they renamed Ginger, to the bottom of the driveway. Given she didn’t move when he put her down, and to build some trust, he said, Lopez unhooked the leash.

Ginger took off.

Lopez ran to his car and began the search.

“My daughter had waited five years for this pup, and I’d lost her in five minutes.”

His wife called the adoption agency to report the escape and got a scolding for letting the dog off her leash. “I must admit, they had told us rescue dogs can be runners, and that we shouldn’t let them off the leash,” Lopez wrote. “On the other hand, if you’re going to call yourself Dogs Without Borders … what message are you sending?”

They searched all day, put up fliers, and posted Ginger on Craigslist as a missing dog. The next day, they found her on a neighbor’s patio and took her home.

The next day, a Monday, Lopez returned from work to learn Ginger had jerked away while being walked and disappeared again, this time dragging her leash. Reasoning that maybe Ginger didn’t want to be there, he and his wife agreed that — once they found her again — they might want to return her.

“Maybe she’d been abused, but it seemed unlikely she’d ever be the warm and cuddly family pet we wanted our daughter to have.”

On Tuesday morning, Lopez was awaked by a scratching sound on the front door. When he opened it, Ginger walked in, her leash still attached. That sight, it seems, cut right through the columnist’s crusty parts.

“We’re keeping this dog,” he said.

I’d be willing to bet they do, and that someday — when there’s nothing else to write about, or even when there is — we’ll be reading about her again.

(Photo of Ginger by Steve Lopez / Los Angeles Times)

Former Vick dog turned mentor dies of cancer

redRed, a pit bull seized from Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation who went on to become a sweet-tempered mascot at the Monterey County SPCA, died this week while battling cancer.

Red arrived  with scars on his face, chest, legs and torso — one of three pit bulls who came to the Monterey SPCA after federal authorities seized 47 dogs in a 2007 raid of Vick’s dog-fighting compound in Virginia.

He was adopted by SPCA pet behavior specialist Amanda Mouisset.

“He just really blossomed,” Beth Brookhouser, community outreach director for the SPCA for Monterey County, told the Monterey County Herald. “He was like a regular employee, a friend and a fellow staff member.”

Red made the daily rounds with Mouisset and helped her train other dogs by providing a calm example to the shelter’s more hyperactive residents.

Ginger and Bunny, the other Vick dogs that went to the Monterey SPCA, are both doing well, the Herald reported. One was adopted by a SPCA staff member and the other is with a foster family.

Red was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and underwent surgery and chemotherapy, which was paid for by Vick as part of his sentencing. He took a turn for the worse last week and tests showed the cancer, thought to be in remission, had returned. He was euthanized Monday.

Red was 8 years old, which is three years more than he would have lived if those recommending all the Vick dogs be put down had their way.

“Before this case, dogs from the kind of situation were automatically euthanized,” Brookhouser said. “Red is a stunning example why animals should be treated as individuals — not lumped as a breed. He was the best ambassador for that breed any of us have ever seen.”

(Photo: Red with Katie Mouisset, daughter of SPCA pet behavior specialist Amanda Mouisset.)

Another dog needlessly dyed

aubrey-dogSinger Aubrey O’Day says she thinks it’s perfectly OK to dye her dog.

The former Danity Kane singer regularly changes the color of her one-year-old Maltese, named Ginger.

“She likes to have looks,” O’Day, 25, explained to  Usmagazine.com. “It actually seems like such a taboo weird thing nowadays, but if you research online, you will see a whole underworld of dogs who are dyed.”

O’Day says she changes her dog’s appearance “for different occasions,” revealing that she recently dyed the pup green because she “loves the (Boston) Celtics.”

“She sits on my lap, and I have a brush, and I paint it on and use foils.” Ginger, she says, “loves attention and because she’s colored and has different outfits, she gets so much of it. She prefers it.”

I think it’s a safe bet that it’s not Ginger who’s seeking the attention here. And assuming the dog likes being dyed just because she doesn’t object makes about as much sense as O’Day’s if-it’s-on-the-Internet-it-must-be-ok philosophy.

What is it that makes celebrities think that the animal kingdom exists to provide them with fashion accessories?

(Photo: Joe Corrigan/Getty Images, via USMagazine.com)

Adopt-a-pet segment goes awry

This adopt a pet segment on “Global BC” in Vancouver, British Columbia, got a little out of control — then a lot out of control.

Noon  anchor Randene Neill tried to handle Ginger, while a shepherd mix kept a representative of the Surrey SPCA busy, prompting her to admit that what she said about the dogs being well-behaved may have been a bit of a stretch.

The segment  aired live on  August 11, 2009.

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