Yesterday, in updating you on Ace’s miracle recovery, we acknowledged in a backhanded kind of way all the prayers and well wishes you sent his way.
Allow us to do it in a forehanded way, too: Thank you.
Ace remains, from all appearances, over whatever it was that seemed to make him lose control of half of his 130-pound body on Monday.
He’s raring to go, darting all over the place when I take him outside, grabbing my hand in his mouth to pull me along for what he’d like to be a long walk. He seems to have totally forgotten the condition he was in two days ago. I, on the other hand, have not, and so, like an over-protective parent, offer up the kind of buzzkill only humans can provide.
“Let’s wait one more day. Slow down. Be careful. Stop frolicking, dammit.”
It’s the main difference between dogs and people. He being a dog, doesn’t let his past, even recent-as-yesterday past, bring him down. He doesn’t let fears of the future dictate his behavior, or maybe he knows better than me that the possibility of being hobbled tomorrow is all the more reason to run your ass off today.
I don’t know if your responses made Ace better, but they absolutely served that purpose for me. (I have more friends than I thought — or at least he does — and lots of them are strangers.)
Through comments left on ohmidog! and Travels with Ace, through personal emails and phone calls, we heard from several dozen people, including a few of those we encountered during the past year as we criss-crossed America.
Our intent in Travels with Ace was not to bog you down with reports of our physical ailments, not to bemoan the obstacles we were confronted with, not to get all cantankerous about the small stuff life throws our way.
Just as we didn’t ignore the country’s warts, we shared our personal bad moments, too – not to evoke sympathy, not to tug at heartstrings, but to reflect reality. The same holds true of our financial condition. Being unemployed was one of things that sparked the trip; and traveling, with the dog, on a shoestring, was an exercise in frugality mandated by the times and my own personal economic situation.
I, like a lot of Americans, and like America, am having trouble paying my bills.
Embarassing as that may be, I’ve admitted it — far more often than my mother would like me to — and I acknowledged again during Ace’s trauma that, short of draining what little remains in the old 401 K and pulling off a heist of some sort, I’m likely not in a position to scrounge up what any surgery he needed would probably cost.
One of the people we heard from yesterday was a woman who offered to pay for any veterinary care Ace needed. We declined her kind offer, given Ace’s recovery. I wrote her back, thanking her, telling her Ace seemed to be doing fine now, and, for some reason, baring my soul. (Apparently, much like a stripper, I will bare my soul for tips, or even the offer of them.) I explained to her how, in selfish pursuit of doing what I want to do, I’ve decided to scrape by without a job, and in the process have become an insufficient provider.
Putting personal dreams above salary and health insurance may be noble, or it may just be stupid. In any event it’s a choice that, for me, leads to some feelings of guilt during times like this week — times that seem to say, “Get a job, doofus.”
I did suggest she buy my book, which would add several cents to my portfolio.
She wrote back: “That’s wonderful news about Ace, John! I bought your book long ago, it’s how I discovered your blog and “met” Ace. It’s a fascinating book, btw, you’re a compelling writer. I understand your reservations about the money – been there, done that, so to speak. Ace is your family though, and by virtue of your blog, he’s my friend, so I hope it will never be necessary but if it should become necessary, I hope you would let his friends help. And pursuing your dreams is a great way to spend a life. Give Ace a good belly rub for me!”
The belly rub has been given, her compliments have been read and re-read (they serve as a belly rub to me), and her email address has been put in a file marked guardian angels, in the second drawer of the file cabinet on the right. (I write that here in case I forget, should I ever need to find it.)
Wrote another total stranger, upon reading of Ace’s improvement, “ …Amen And Pass The Kibble that Ace is doing well this morning. Having read ohmidog! for the past few years, you and Ace are a couple o’ ramblers that I’ve come to care about in that funny internet way. You just about killed me when you described losing your composure when he leaned on you. I know, I know! I was with you, in that moment. I was with you yesterday in the midst of your nerve-wracking vet visit with an IV bag tied to your roof rack. That would be why you’re an award-winning journalist. Big hugs to both of you, and if you’re ever in the upstate NY area, give a holler on-blog beforehand. We would love to meet “our” sweet Ace. Oh, and you, too, of course. You know how it is.”
More belly rubs for me, but, more than that, it was another note that reinforced what we learned during our travels: However down America might be right now, its people, and its dogs, are a resilient bunch; and people still care about people, especially dog people.
Having invited any theories readers might have, I also heard from several people offering guesses on what it might have been that knocked Ace’s legs out from under him
“My vote still goes with ‘ate something that disagreed with him.’ I woke up absolutely dreading this day for a number of reasons. I checked here before I even looked at the news. Now I’m smiling. You guys stay cool, and we’ll keep rolling out those prayers and good thoughts.”
That one was from Anne, one of several from my friend, technical consultant on internetty issues and web space provider in Baltimore, who, though she lost her husband at the end of last month, though both she and her beagle are still working through the grieving process, took the time to pass on her best wishes.
Some thought it might be heat related, and another reader suspected tick paralysis.
“I’m so glad ACE seems to have had a spontaneous recovery! We had a situation eerily similar to what you described with a newfie mix of ours several years ago. Our vet diagnosed tick paralysis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tick_paralysis), which he had seen kill several dogs over the years. I had never heard of it, despite living in a state where Lyme and such are common. I thought I’d mention it since our vet said there are a lot of vets who aren’t familiar with it due to its rarity. Warm hugs to Ace!”
And, after our initial report on Ace’s affliction, there were many like this — both from people I know and people I’ve never met:
“I’m crying, and my own dogs are wondering why. Much love and all of our support to both Ace and you. Nothing scarier, for me at least, than a sick pup. Please keep us updated. You two are FAMILY.”
The pesky part of me wanted to write back and ask if my room is ready and what we were having for dinner tonight. Here’s the thing — some of my friends, possibly even some of those stranger friends I’ve never even met, would say come on over. However cash poor America is, it’s rich that way.
We send thanks, too, to Dr. Raymond Morrison, Ace’s vet at Ard-Vista Animal Hospital, here in Winston-Salem, who went beyond the call of duty — and didn’t charge for it — when I ran back into his office after our visit to inform him Ace was copiously vomiting in the back of my car. He strung an IV bag to my roof rack and had a technician adminster about 20 minutes worth of a subcutaneous drip that seemed to immediately improve both Ace’s panting and his legs.
Once he was back home and out of the car, the ailment seemed to disappear as quickly, and mysteriously, as it had arrived.
That we’re living a somewhat insulated life here — partly by choice, in pursuit of another dream, which is to turn our travels into a book — made all the comments and notes, from old friends and new ones alike, worth even more.
What restored Ace’s legs back to full power may be a mystery, but it’s no mystery what reconfirmed my faith in humanity.
It was you.
(Graphic: Pawprint thank you card available at Etsy.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ailment, america, americans, animals, belly rubs, control, dogs, dreams, economy, faith, finances, friends, heat, humanity, legs, letters, mystery, notes, ohmidog!, pets, recovery, resilience, road trip, strangers, support, thank you, thanks, tick paralysis, travels with ace, veterinarian, veterinary
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)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 7th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: art, behavior, dick sebastian, dog art, dog park, dog run, dogs, drawings, frequenting, friends, gifts, humanity, humans, leaving, moving, names, new york times, ohio, painting, parkinson's, people, portraits, portraiture, regular, relationships, small dog run, walking, washington square park
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.
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.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 24th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, abused, agora publishing, animal welfare, animals, balitmore, boston street animal hospital, dog, dogfighting, donations, downtown, humanity, injuries, madison, matthew wagner, michelle ingrodi, neglected, parking lot, pets, rescue, rescued, save, saved, scars, stinky, stray, streets
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.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 17th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: credit, dogs, happy act, house, humanity, legislation, npr, partnered, pets, politics, proposal, tax, thaddeus mccotter, washington
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.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 4th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: angel, animals, care, coma, compassion, dog, dogs, dogsitting, emergency, friend, head injury, help, hospital, humanitarian, humanity, jasmine, karma, loner, memphis, michael short, note, pamey hunter, paramedic, pets, regional medical center, rescue, rottweiler, tennessee, treats, wallet