Biscoe was no hero. He was just a dog, a gentle, ragged Brittany Spaniel who stumbled into my life ten years ago. My parents found him on the interstate outside the small town of Biscoe, North Carolina. He walked with a slant and his clipped tail wagged furiously whenever he saw a friendly face.
From the start, his life wasn’t perfect. Stricken with heartworm, his first days in our home didn’t go beyond the walls of our kitchen. Biscoe didn’t mind. As the years passed, his eyes marbleized to a cloudy blue and his life turned to darkness. His hearing disappeared and after an emergency tracheotomy his bark turned to a muffled woof. But Biscoe happily trudged on. Over time, he taught me that obstacles were to be overcome, that when asthma slowed me on the soccer field, I kept playing. Or when a judge gave my Odyssey of the Mind team an unfair point reduction, we kept competing.
Biscoe was a hunting dog without hunting instincts, yelping when he stepped on sharp twigs. But he loved to swim. His ears perked up as his paws first dipped into the water’s edge. Every chance he got, he’d follow my mother’s kayak, his nose navigating just above the water. A few years ago, all of that changed. Biscoe’s larynx had paralyzed, forcing him to gasp for air. After the surgery, Biscoe breathed through a hole in his neck, the size of a quarter. Swimming was no longer an option. He was already fifteen and his days were spent mostly sleeping. Now he was deaf and blind, his once magnificent bark muted. Biscoe didn’t mind. He still had his nose; smell was his GPS. And when my father carried him into the back yard, he’d rally like a puppy and proudly prance off wherever his nose took him.
I have grown up around dogs, most of them rescued like Biscoe. They have come and gone, always leaving a paw print on my life. But Biscoe was different. His needs were simple, happy with the occasional belly rub and his nightly meal. When the other dogs were in our faces, Biscoe was off in the corner sleeping, waiting patiently for his chance. He played a paternal figure. He was never annoyed when our rambunctious Golden Retriever, Caki, nipped at his ears wanting to play, or when Clancy, our wiry-haired, hole-digging terrier, growled, protecting his precious bone. From Biscoe I learned to appreciate the underdog: Everyone has a purpose and a contribution to make to society. Biscoe never got the attention he deserved, but he knew he was loved.
Last summer, I was at Virginia Commonwealth University in an intensive art program, when my father called. The sadness in his voice told me all I needed to know: Biscoe had passed away. Tears flowed, as I took a journey through memories of my beloved dog. Then I smiled, knowing that wherever death took Biscoe, he went with that noble, broken-tooth smile I always loved.
He will always have a spot on our family bench. No, he wasn’t the typical hero, but he was my hero. Biscoe has inspired me to confront problems in life with strong determination, purpose, and a smile.
(Ainslie Perlmutt, of Charlotte, N.C., is an incoming freshman at the University of North Carolina. She wrote this essay as part of her college application. The painting of Biscoe is also by her.)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 19th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ainslie perlmutt, animals, biscoe, brittany spaniel, caki, charlotte, clancy, death, dog, dogs, hero, heroes, loss, memories, north carolina, perlmutt, pets, remembering, rescue, underdog
Los Angeles authorities have responded to critics of the massive effort to save a German shepherd trapped in the Los Angeles River.
“All life is important,” fire department captain Steve Ruda said Monday.
About 50 firefighters, a helicopter and swift water rescue teams responded to assist the German shepherd stuck in the rising Los Angeles River, whose steep concrete banks kept the dog from getting out.
The dog, nicknamed Vernon after the city where he was rescued, remained in quarantine at the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority shelter in Downey, south of Los Angeles.
While the rescuers who saved the dog on Friday have been widely hailed as heroes, they have also been vilified by a few in blogs, on social networks and story comment sections, the Associated Press reported.
“You’re not going to please everybody. There’s always 10 percent, they either don’t like animals or think we are wasting taxpayer money,” said Ruda.
Joe St. Georges, 50, the 25-year firefighting veteran who hoisted Vernon to safety, lost a fingernail and fractured a thumb when the dog bit him during the rescue, video of which was televised nationally and shown on many Internet sites.
The dog, about 4 years old and 65 pounds, was eating everything given to him and sleeping well, said Capt. Aaron Reyes, director of operations for the shelter. If no owner shows up, Reyes said, “we do have a mile-long list of people who want him.”
If Vernon hadn’t been rescued, Reyes said, he would have likely died. “Do you just wait at the mouth of the river and wait for the carcass? Any way you slice it, that is unacceptable. They would not have been able to live that down,” Reyes said. “They made a decision and we support that decision.”
Posted by John Woestendiek January 26th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: critics, dog, firefighters, german shepherd, helicopter, heroes, heroic, joe st. georges, los angeles, los angeles river, quarantine, rescue, rescued, river, saved, shelter, vernon, video
The Humane Society of the United States has announced the winners of its second annual Dogs of Valor Awards.
A Great Dane named Baby was chosen by judges as the Valor Dog of the Year.
Baby belonged to 82-year-old Elwood Cardon, who during an exhausting stretch of cancer treatment, slipped out of his daughter’s house with his dog.
On the way to his mountain home near Jemez Springs, New Mexico, Elwood became disoriented and took a wrong turn. As he turned the car around, his tires slipped off the road, and the car plummeted down a hill, becoming wedged upside down between two trees.
Pinned inside, Elwood honked the horn and screamed for help, but no one responded. Baby, a 5-year old Great Dane,snuggled with Elwood, keeping him warm and alert. Ten hours later, Baby crawled out of the car and got the attention of one of a nearby resident, who followed the dog back to the wreckage and called for help. Firefighters pulled Elwood to safety. He was treated for a cracked spine and recovered. Elwood Cardon passed away on January 28, 2009.
A pitbull named D-Boy, whose story we featured in December, won the People’s Hero award.
D-Boy was shot three times when he charged at a home intruder who busted through the front door of a home in Oklahoma City. When Roberta Trawick and her family were ordered to get down on the floor, D-Boy charged the gun-wielding intruder. Shot in the head, he continued to go after the intruder, who shot him two more times before fleeing from the home. D-boy survived the injuries.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 20th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: albuquerque, award, baby, d-boy, dog, dogs, dogs of valor, great dane, hero, heroes, hsus, humane society of the united states, new mexico, oklahoma city, people's hero, pit bull, recognition
The Humane Society of the United States has announced the 15 finalists in the Second Annual Dogs of Valor Awards, sponsored by PetPlan Pet Insurance. The awards honor dogs that have exhibited extraordinary courage.
The People’s Hero winner, chosen by online voting (it ends at 5 p.m. today), and the Valor Dog of the Year, chosen by a panel of celebrity judges, will be announced May 17.
Here are the contenders:
Aubrey (Millbury, Mass.) – Led owner from a running trail to a man who was lying unconscious on an overgrown path.
Baby C. (Albuquerque, N.M.) – Found help when owner’s SUV plummeted 20 feet off the side of a mountain and wedged upside down between two trees.
Baby W. (Charleston, W.Va.) – Awakened owner as a fire spread from the garage, eventually causing their car to explode and destroying their home.
Boo (renamed “Hero”) (Jim Thorpe, Pa.) – Barked to get attention and led police to his owner who had been knocked unconscious after falling between two isolated buildings.
Buster (Clarkridge, Ark.) – Alerted owner and led him to his wife who had collapsed and was unable to move after a severe stroke.
Butch (Poplar Bluff, Mo.) – Ran down to the basement, a place he greatly feared, and woke his owner’s son as a fire quickly spread.
Charley (Loganville, Ga.) – Begged to go outside and then led owner several houses down where a man had fallen off a ladder.
D-boy (Oklahoma City, Okla.) – Shot three times as he charged towards an armed man who had broken into his home.
Hank (Dublin, Ga.) – Roused his owner and helped him to his feet after a tractor ran over him, causing massive internal injuries.
Jake (Omaha, Neb.) – Pulled a boy to safety when he was swept away and pulled underwater by currents in the Platte River.
Julian (Reading, Pa.) – Barked until he got his owner’s attention, leading the man to find his wife in a diabetic coma.
Laney (Portage, Ind.) – Bit the foot of a boy to wake him and his two friends as fire spread throughout the house.
Piper (Garland, Texas) – Pawed at and roused her owner as she struggled to breathe during an asthma attack.
Tripod (Batesville, Ark.) – Awakened her owners as a fire spread through the home, igniting their bedding.
Tyson (Stuart, Fla.) – Barked and pawed at pool’s surface, alerting owners that their infant nephew was floating in the water.
Their complete stories can be viewed here.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 15th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: annual, bravery, canine, courage, dog, dogs, finalists, hero, heroes, hsus, humane society of the united states, online, online voting, people's hero, petplan pet insurance, second, valor dog of the year, vote, winner
“Spot. Josette. Lulu. Nipper. Paddy. Orly. Brownie. Bijou. Byng. Avery. Tiger. Barkley. Wiggins. Sidney. Those are some of the real-life dogs who’ve departed on my watch.”
Craig MacInnes, in an opinion piece for the Ottawa Citizen, says he, for one, has seen enough dogs die during his life. Why go to the movies to see it again?
“Figuratively speaking, dogs rarely make it to the end-credits of our human lifetimes, preceding us to the hereafter in what is surely Nature’s cruelest, most screwed-up plan. Innocent, loyal and trusting, they are rewarded for their blind devotion with a lousy 10 to 15 years, while we get to dither and careen through seven or eight full decades, a journey collectively freighted by the nagging ache of all our losses.”
Posted by John Woestendiek December 25th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, avoid, bereavement, book, boycott, column, death, dog, dog movies, dogs, heroes, loss, marley, marley & me, mourning, movie, opinion, pain, pet, yellow lab