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Tag: humanity

Would you eat your dog to stay alive?

Marco Lavoie.jpg A hiker who was stranded in the Canadian wilderness for nearly three months after a bear destroyed his supplies had to eat his beloved dog to survive.  When Marco Lavoie was found by rescuers on Wednesday he was just days from death and had to be carried to a waiting helicopter.  The 44-year-old had been trapped with little food and survival equipment since July after a bear ransacked his campsite near the start of a planned three-month solo hike.Three days after his dog saved him from a bear in the Canadian wilderness, a stranded hiker ate his German shepherd to save himself from starvation.

Unable to find any food, Marco Lavoie, 44, killed his dog with a rock and ate him, according to the Canadian news agency QMI.

According to news reports, the first words the hiker uttered, after being found close to death by rescuers last week, were: “I want to get a new dog.”

Lavoie — after a bear destroyed his canoe and food supply — was stranded for three months in the wilderness about 500 miles outside Montreal. After the bear attack, he sprained his ankle and was unable to hunt or find any other source of food, according to reports.

Lavoie, an experienced hiker who often spent weeks in the wilderness by himself, was rescued by helicopter on Wednesday. He’d lost 90 pounds and was suffering from hypothermia. He was listed in critical condition in a hospital in Northern Quebec.

Survival expert Andre Francois Bourbeau told the Toronto Sun that Lavoie’s decision to eat his dog was a good one.

“He survived because he made good decisions. Eating his dog was one of them,” said Borbeau, the author of a survival guide. “You have to be desperate, but there’s no shame in (eating the dog),” said Bourbeau. “Hunger squeezes you so much that you would accept food that’s not normally possible,” said Bourbeau. “You can crave slugs and bugs.”

I’m sure there are many others who hold that view, and who’d point out that man – by virtue of that “dominion” he has over other animals, by virtue of being the superior, more developed being, by virtue of his position atop civilized society – has every right to chow down on his dog when trapped in the wilderness with no other options available.

But we don’t find much virtue at all in his actions.

We see more humanity in the dog, who loyally went along on his master’s silly wilderness trip, scared off a bear to protect him, and — despite any hunger pangs he might have been experiencing, despite his master’s hobbled condition – didn’t make a meal of Lavoie.

The art, and heart, of the dog park

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There’s a beautiful story in today’s New York Times that should resonate with dog park frequenters everywhere.

We wrack our brains to remember the names of dogs we’ve met before, then wrack them even harder to try and remember the name of the owner, and once in a while we stumble, calling the owner by the dog’s name, or vice versa.

Dick Sebastian resolved he would not make those kind of mistakes at the small-dog run in New York City’s Washington Square Park after he became a regular there a few years ago, along with his wife Susie, and his dog, Kitty.

After a visit, Sebastian, 71 and a retired surgeon, would return home, draw illustrations of the dog’s he had met and label them with their names. Later, he started bringing his chart with him to the dog run, where new dog owners started asking if he’d include their dogs on his ever-expanding artwork.

That led to Sebastian attempting less cartoony, more serious portraiture, sketching some of the dogs he had come to know. He started with a pug named Sidney, and in less than a year, he had drawn and presented, as gifts, 50 dog portraits to their owners.

The dog park crowd appreciated Sebastian’s efforts. Said one, “The fact that someone would care enough that he’d want to draw what’s unique about your dog for you …”

Sebastian was appreciated as well for his kindness, and his interest not just in other people’s dogs, but the people themselves.

He’d become a fixture, but now he’s leaving.  Sebastian and his wife plan to move back to their native Ohio this month, so that Sebastian, who has Parkinson’s disease, can get easy access to care at a retirement home.

Times reporter Susan Dominus writes:

“New York is full of ad-hoc communities based on proximity and built up around mutual affection — walk into any watering hole at 7:30 p.m. — but they often have a live-and-let-live looseness to them. While parental oversight can stifle, en loco parentis oversight can be a rare, welcome comfort in the circles of urban life,”

 ”For passionate dog people, the folks at the Washington Square Park dog run are also, it turns out, passionate people people, and there have been myriad parties scheduled in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Sebastian before they depart.”

It’s not the first time I’ve said it, and I’m not the first one to say it, but dogs — if they don’t just automatically make us better humans — certainly manage to open up the opportunities for us to be.

Dick Sebastian, it seems, recognized that — most artfully.

(Artwork: The small dogs of Washington Square Park, by Dick Sebastian)

Old dog brings out the charm in Charm City

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Stinky in the parking lot

From all appearances, the stray dog laying on his side in the parking lot was already acquainted with the cruel side of Baltimore: The scars on his face, a tattered ear, a pus-filled eye, the ribs visible through his fur were all signs of neglect, and possible use by dogfighters.

But before the day was over, he’d find Baltimore — despite the high profile stories of dogs set afire and tortured cats — has a sweet side, too.

An employee of Agora Publishing came across the dog Friday in a nearby parking lot on St. Paul Street.

Matthew Wagner took photos of the dog, posted them on Craigslist and his Facebook page, and put a call in to the city’s Animal Control office.

Meanwhile, Michelle Ingrodi, a receptionist at Boston Street Animal Hospital, logged on to Facebook before going to work. She’d been sent a link from a friend she hadn’t seen in 10 years, who happened to be a friend of Wagner’s. It was about the dog Wagner had found.

When Ingrodi arrived for work, one of her first calls of the day was — in true Smalltimore style — from Wagner.

“He said he’d found a dog on the side of the parking lot and didn’t know what to do,” Ingrodi said. “He said he’d called animal  control and they hadn’t shown up. I told him, ‘You don’t want to call animal control.’  This dog was old and sick and they might put him down immediately due to lack of space and lack of funds.”

Wagner asked how much it would cost if he were to bring the dog in to be checked, but Ingrodi told him there was no way of knowing. It depended on how extensive his problems were. She suggested that Wagner bring the dog in and — through his friends and Internet connections — ask anyone who was willing to donate to the dog’s care to contact the animal hospital.

Wagner made an appointment for 4 p.m., then went back outside, got the dog, and brought him into the offices of Agora Publishing. He got back on the computer, revised his posts, including the veterinary office’s phone number; then he began asking co-workers if they might be willing to contribute.

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Stinky at the vet

At 4 p.m., when he walked into the vets office, Ingrodi told him what had happened, within just a few short hours: The animal hospital had received $1,325 in donations — some form Wagner’s co-workers, most from strangers who’d seen the account he’d posted and photos of the dog on Facebook and Craigslist.

The dog was malnourished, had a bad cut on his eye, and had several infected wounds. He was estimated to be 10 to 12 years old. X-rays showed nothing was broken. His cuts were treated, and the dog — initially dubbed Stinky Madison — was given a bath and, later, an assortment of food and supplies at Dogma. Wagner took the dog home and, after a $500-plus vet bill, still had $700-plus for future care and treatment.

“His co-workers started calling first, making $50 donations,” said Ingroti, who was answering the phones at the animal hospital. “Then people started sharing it on a Facebook, random people –  even someone from California. We had $325 within 25 minutes. Our phones have never rung like that. I had to turn down four or five donations.

“Here’s a dog who probably lay down in the gutter thinking ‘this is it.’  Then all these random people come together to save him — just complete strangers. I’m blown away, especially considering the way things are going in shelters now, with a lot of people giving up their pets. Something like this restores your faith in humanity.”

Wagner plans to care for the dog at least temporarily, she said.

Ingroti said the dog left the hospital looking tired but content. “He’s got some tired old bones, and he’s a little apprehensive.  You can see in his eyes that something has happened to him, and he’s  just not sure it’s a good idea to come near you. But he takes love if you give it.”

Baltimore, this time, gave it.

Unhappy ending predicted for “HAPPY Act”

Pet owners would get a $3,500 tax credit for owning a pet under legislation introduced by U.S Rep. Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan.

An NPR report on the legislation on All Things Considered Wednesday came close to taking the legislation seriously.

The bill  – dubbed the Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years or HAPPY Act — has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee where, NPR reported, it will most likely die of neglect.

NPR reported that the bill’s sponsor declined an interview — even though he had no problem granting a lengthy one to Doggy TV.  You can see it above.

You can see the proposed act here.

Karma and the angel in a paramedic’s uniform

Back in October, a registered nurse at a Memphis hospital handed a paramedic a folded-up note she had removed from the wallet of a patient whose identity she was trying to learn.

The patient had been hit by a car and was unconscious.

The note said: “I have two dogs that need to be taken care of. You will need animal control because one of the dogs is a Rottweiler. She is a good girl. Her name is Karma, six years old. The other dog’s name is Jasmine, 10 years old.”

The note also listed three contact names, and had a hand-drawn map showing how to get to his house. It concluded: “Thank you. Someone please take care of my babies.”

The patient’s name was Michael Short, a loner with no family in Memphis. His coma would last for weeks. And as it turned out, the note he scrawled on notebook paper and stuffed in his wallet couldn’t have landed in better hands.

Paramedic Pamey Hunter, 46, an animal lover, worked the nightshift at The Regional Medical Center at Memphis.

When her shift ended at 7 a.m., Hunter found Short’s home. She was greeted by Karma, the Rottweiler, who barked, snarled and lunged at the chain-link fence. Hunter left, returning a few minutes later with dog treats. At first she tossed them to Karma. Before too long, she had Karma eating out of her hand.

Then she ran out of treats and went to get some more food.

Karma greeted her with a wag of the nubby tail when she returned, let her in, and permitted her to go check on the other dog, Jasmine.

Hunter found the older dog in the hallway. She fed both dogs and promised to return that evening before she went to work.

And that’s exactly what she did — for two months.

She also  bought them dog beds, fresh hay for a doghouse and treats, took Jasmine to the vet for an ear infection, and gave her arthritis medicine every day. Hunter checked several times on Short, the 34-year-old man who spent weeks in a coma. It turned out to be his second major head injury, the first occuring when he was hit by a van at age 17. He couldn’t hear her, but Hunter assured him the dogs were being cared for.

When Short awoke from his coma, he asked about his dogs right away, and Hunter told him she’d bring them for a visit.

After Short went home, Hunter stayed in touch, and on Christmas, Short told her that Karma and Jasmine had been shopping and bought her a gift. She stopped by and Short handed her a small wrapped box. Inside was a necklace and a cross.

Hunter said she cared for Short’s dogs because didn’t want to call animal control. That’s what she told Cindy Wolff, the Memphis Commercial-Appeal reporter who unearthed this story – the kind we don’t hear about nearly often enough.  

“I knew because of the note that these dogs were the most important things to this man,” Hunter explained. “These dogs were all he had in the world and he wasn’t going to lose them if I could help it.”