As my soon-to-be 89-year-old father continues on a long uphill road to recovery, there’s a dog helping him get there.
Somehow, that makes me — being, until last week, on the other side of the country – feel more comfortable.
More important, I’m guessing it makes him — being a hard core dog lover — feel more that way, too, as well as more motivated, and more at home in a strange place.
I’ve long argued that most every kind of facility where humans are gathered needs at least one dog — be it prison or school, be it office or shop, be it assisted living center, group home or skilled nursing center.
So I was thrilled when I learned my Dad was working with a therapist with a dog, and even more thrilled, when I arrived in Phoenix for a week-long visit, to get a chance to meet them in person and watch them in action.
My dad became ill last year, entering a hospital with stomach problems and suffering a heart attack while there that would lead to an induced coma of several weeks.
Once he came out of it, he had to relearn things like eating and walking, and — having a lot more fight in him than most people — he made great progress during his stay in a skilled nursing facility in Mesa called Mission Palms. His recovery was so quick and so surprising the facility did a write-up on him in its monthly newsletter: “William Woestendiek’s Success Story.”
After several weeks there, he moved on to an assisted living center.
There, unfortunately, he regressed, to the point he was returned to the same skilled nursing facility, where he was fortunate enough to be assigned to a therapist named Cristina, and her dog, Henry Higgins.
Henry, now about a year and half, has been working at Mission Palmsy since he was three months old, and the first thing I noticed about him was how he made everyone’s face light up upon seeing him, both patients and staff, and definitely my father’s.
For starters, they played some fetch, which required my father hoisting himself out of his wheelchair and throwing a tennis ball. My father did the work, but I think the anticipation on Henry’s face — as he sat there looking at him, patiently waiting — provided the encouragement.
After that, a putting green was hauled out and my father tried to sink some putts, as Henry looked on.
Henry is a pointer-setter mix, with long brown hair from his tail to the top of his head, but short hair on his muzzle. Cristina, who chose him from a friend’s litter, said “he was the biggest, ugliest one, just a big huge fur ball.” Out of all the pups, she said, he seemed the most sociable and interested in humans. You can see Henry’s Facebook page here.
I know surgeons and doctors probably deserve most of the thanks, and are the main reason my father is still around. I know too that nurses — and he’s been fortunate to have some exceptional ones — can make all the difference in the world in times like this.
But as for right now, amid all other uncertainties, as my father spends at least a couple more weeks at Mission Palms, I’m probably most grateful that he’s in the capable hands of a caring therapist and an encouraging dog
(Photos: Courtesy of Henry)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 28th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bill woestendiek, dogs, facility, health, henry, henry higgins, illness, medicine, pets, recovery, skilled nursing, therapy, therapy dogs, william woestendiek
OFF THE MARKET AT LAST
It was a long time and hundreds of dog deaths coming, but Del Monte and Nestle Purina announced this week that they will cease to market Chinese-made chicken jerky treats sold under their brand names.
Del Monte’s Milo’s Kitchen products and Nestle Purina’s Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch treats will all be pulled from the market after the New York State Department of Agriculture found possible contamination by an antibiotic that is illegal in the U.S.
The treats have been anecdotally linked to kidney failure, illness and death in hundreds of dogs, and the FDA — while never going so far as to recall them — has issued three different warnings to pet owners in the past five years about possible risks.
FDA tests for toxins and heavy metals have found no explanation for the alleged illnesses, and its unclear if the banned antibiotic is the culprit in the hundreds of dogs deaths in which the treats were suspected to be a factor.
Nevertheless, Nestle Purina and Del Monte decided to pull their products after New York officials announced they had found trace amounts of the banned antibiotic in tests of the products, ABC reported.
“Pet safety and consumer confidence in our products are our top priorities,” said Rob Leibowitz, Del Monte’s general manager for Pet Products. “While there is no known health risk, the presence of even trace amounts of these antibiotics does not meet our high quality standards. Therefore, today we decided to recall both products and asked retailers to remove the products from their shelves.”
Nestle Purina also stressed that “there is no indication that the trace amounts of antibiotic residue are linked to the FDA’s ongoing investigation of chicken jerky products.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 11th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, canyon creek ranch, chicken, china, chines, deaths, del monte, dog food, dogs, fda, gone, hazards, health, illness, investigation, jerky, kidneys, market, milos kitchen, nestle purina, off, pet food, pets, pulled, recalls, related, safety, suspected, tests, treats, waggin train
The company announced Saturday the recall of a limited supply of its “Nature’s Recipe Oven Baked Biscuits with Real Chicken,” which were manufactured at its plant in Topeka, Kan.
The product is distributed nationally, primarily through pet specialty retailers, according to the Associated Press.
Nature’s Recipe officials say no illnesses have been reported in pets or humans, but suggest that pet owners monitor themselves and their dogs for signs of salmonella and seek medical care if symptoms worsen.
The company advises consumers who bought the recalled treats to discard them immediately.
The recalled treats were sold in 19-ounce stand-up resealable pouches.
The products included in the recall are marked with the Lot Codes 2199TP or 2200TP and a UPC Code of 30521 51549. The pouches also have a “Best If Used By Date” stamp of either 10/11/13 or 10/12/13.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 15th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, biscuits, chicken, discard, dog, dog food, health, illness, lot code, natures recipe, oven baked, pets, real chicken, recall, safety, salmonella, treats, urgent, warning
Topaz, the pit bull who lost a leg after being caught in a barrage of police gunfire in Inglewood more than three years ago, is in need of a home in the Los Angeles area.
The health of her human, a formerly homeless man named Michael Reed, has deteriorated to the point where he can no longer care for her, and can barely care for himself, say those trying to help out the once inseparable pair.
I met the two of them three years ago in Los Angeles, after spotting Reed, his shopping cart and his three-legged dog walking down the sidewalk.
They were homeless at the time, and just recently reunited.
He told me their story: how police opened fire on another homeless man they thought was pulling a gun in Inglewood. The gun turned out to be a toy, but that wasn’t discovered until, 47 shots later, Eddie Franco had been killed, and Topaz had been struck by four or five bullets.
Reed, by virtue of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, was taken into custody, and his possessions, Topaz included, were confiscated.
He was later released – but he was given no information about his dog. Having watched as she went down in the hail of gunfire, he presumed she was dead.
Two days later, though, a message was relayed to Reed that his dog was alive.
Months before the incident, Ingrid Hurel-Diourbel, founder of Streetsmarts Rescue, had seen Reed and his dog on the street, collecting recyclables, and stopped to talk to him. She placed one of her organization’s rescue tags on Topaz, who otherwise had no identification, and Reed gave her his stepmother’s phone number.
When the animal shelter in Carson — where Topaz was taken after the shooting — saw the tag, they called Ingrid and she relayed the news to Reed.
Ingrid started trying to raise money for the pair then, to cover the cost of Topaz’ veterinary care, and — because of their additional misfortunes – she hasn’t stopped since.
For a while, things were looking up. Michael got off the streets and moved into a trailer, but not long after that he learned he was terminally ill with cirrhosis of the liver, and that Topaz had cancer.
Topaz had surgery again, and Michael has been in and out of the hospital. During one recent stay, another member of the rescue was caring for Topaz when he noticed a mass around her vulva, which led to yet another operation for Topaz.
Ingrid – that’s her narrating the video at the top of this post — says that operation went well, and early signs, though biopsy results are still pending, indicate Topaz may be cancer free. Her hospital stay, surgery and treatment cost more than $3,500, which Ingrid is still trying to raise.
Michael, meanwhile, has continued to decline, mentally and physically – so much so that the man who so graciously let me take photos of him and his dog three years ago, isn’t allowing his photo to be taken anymore.
He gets incommunicative, and neglects to take his medications, friends say.
“We have no more money for rent for him,” Ingrid said, “and unless his SSI kicks in soon, he will need to move out of the trailer … He has no family and he really needs care every day to maintain him.”
That’s led the rescue to intensify its efforts to find Topaz a new home, preferably one that will allow the dog to continue to make visits to Reed.
It’s also still trying to pay off the veterinary bills. Donations can be made via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by jwoestendiek November 21st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, animals, california, cancer, care, cirrhosis, costs, dog, dogs, donations, expenses, health, home, homeless, illness, inglewood, ingrid hurel-diourbel, liver, los angeles, michael, michael and topaz, michael reed, needs, pets, pit bull, police, rescue, shooting, shot, streetsmarts rescue, surgeries, terminal, three-legged, topaz, update, veterinary
Lisa Ison was going through a rough time four years ago when she met Bella, a Pekingese-Pomeranian mix, at an animal shelter in Denver.
“I was depressed. I was lonely. It was a real hard time and she saved my life,” said Ison, who was recovering from a back injury, a divorce and getting laid off. “I live alone, so having her there, she is always happy to see me and she is so loving. My life would not be the same without her.”
So when Bella became severely ill earlier this week after eating a ham bone, Ison was understandably distraught when a vet told her that trying to save her dog was going to cost around $1,800, half of which would be required up front.
“She was dehydrated, vomiting and not eating,” Dr. Jeff Steen at the Alameda Vet Hospital told 9 News in Denver. “She could have gotten septic and died.”
Ison didn’t have that kind of money. “I live paycheck to paycheck … I was hysterical. I was crying,” she said.
Ison stepped into the rest room to compose herself, and when she came out, a middle-aged couple she had met in the lobby gave her a hug and told her not to worry.
When she went to the front desk, the $900 had been paid.
After a few days, Bella pulled through. Ison still has the other half of her bill to pay, which she plans to do over time. Her donors remain anonymous.
“I was so touched and so moved that somebody would randomly do something so kind and so giving in these hard times. It restored my belief in human kindness,” Ison said.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 9th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alameda veterinary hospital, bella, bill, costs, denver, donation, donors, emergency, ham bone, health, illness, kindness, lisa ison, mystery, pekingese, pomeranian, strangers, vet, veterinarian, veterinary
A dog friend we told you about during our travels was put down last week, at precisely 1:45 a.m. on Friday, after some long goodbyes from his family — George and Kathleen, who bid him farewell at the vet’s office in Virginia, and their daughter Elizabeth, who had a final talk with him via cellphone from California.
Puck was six weeks shy of turning 18.
Blind and deaf for the past two years, with one eye surgically removed, and diagnosed with congestive heart failure, Puck persevered — and did so with dignity, despite the diapers he wore and the daily shots he had to receive.
After months of wondering how they would know when it was time, they knew it was time.
The veterinary staff sent them to a room where they could say their goodbyes. They hugged him, cried a lot, and fed him turkey breast. He wagged his tail. They placed a call to their daughter in California and held the cell phone to Puck’s ear as she said goodbye.
Elizabeth was 7 when they got Puck, and she came up with the name — as in pucker up — because he liked to kiss. She’s 24 now.
A neighbor offered them the dog back then, describing the pup as a poodle. He didn’t look much like a poodle at all. That didn’t matter. They raised and taught Puck, and when he grew old, he, as dogs will do, taught them a thing or two, by example.
Puck was toted upstairs every night, carried downstairs every morning. Despite all his medical issues, the suspected strokes, the epilepsy, Puck was a stoic little guy. He never whined.
Despite all the inconveniences, the diapers, the shots, the veterinary bills, neither did Kathleen and George.
Near the end, Puck didn’t do much more than eat, sleep and cuddle.
Still, George noted, “It’s amazing the void there is now that he’s gone.”
Rest in peace, Puck.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 6th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aging dogs, america, animals, dead, death, dogs, dying, elderly dogs, goodbye, grieving, illness, in memory, medicine, mixed breed, old dogs, pets, poodle, puck, road trip, saying goodbye, terrier, travels with ace, veterinary, void
On the first morning of our camping trip, your intrepid trio — foursome counting Ace — decided to take an impromptu hike, just a slow and casual one, following the Davidson River upstream for a ways to see where it took us.
Our first stop was at a fishing/swimming hole, where a few campers were trying their luck, including a woman who had just learned to fly fish. She hadn’t had much luck that morning, but before that she’d caught some, and she whipped out her cellphone to prove it, clicking her way to the correct photo, then holding it up for us to see, as one might hold up a just-caught fish.
In it, she said, there appeared the ghostly image of a little girl that wasn’t there when the photo was taken.
Not having my glasses, I really couldn’t distinguish anything. But as my two friends seemed amazed, I pretended I was, too, nodding my head and saying ”wow.”
We walked on a bit, Ace being more than up to the task. This is his favorite part of camping — blazing a new, to him, trail.
At one point he clambered up a three-foot tall tree stump. At another he darted in and out of the water, then jumped atop a four foot wall. He showed absolutely no sign of his back bothering him. Despite his fear of the campfire, and the noises it produced, the night before, he was, after two long months, starting to act like himself again. Perhaps the camping trip — as camping trips can do — was curing what the drugs couldn’t.
He ran. He played. The stiffness that seemed to have been bothering him was gone. And when he shook, it was all out, with gusto — not that fearful tentative headshake he has been doing of late.
When we came to a fork in the trail, we let Ace pick the direction, and he chose left — up a mountain, instead of following alongside the river. Not a rigorous climb, by any stretch, but I still felt it necessary to inform my two doctor friends that I had imaginary peripheral artery disease (IPAD).
Understand that once a disorder/disease/infirmity gets advertised on TV, I become convinced I have it — not enough to talk to my doctor about whatever drug the ad is for, not enough to submit to the numerous side effects the drug ads list, but enough to fret. That’s why I also have imaginary mesothelioma, though, according to advertisements, you want to talk to your lawyer about that, as opposed to your doctor. The cure for that, apparently, is a lawsuit.
(Disclaimer: These diseases are no laughing matter, even though the advertisements, in which drug companies and law firms feign great concern for your well-being, are.)
“Yes,” I explained to Dr. John, “that peripheral artery thing, I’m pretty sure I have it. My legs get tired when I walk uphill.”
This low grade climb didn’t seem to bother me, though. Perhaps Ace’s return to normal was putting a little more spring in my step. I’m convinced our dogs reflect us, and us them — both when it comes to personality and how we’re behaving at a moment in time. What’s harder to figure out, often, is who is doing the projecting and who is doing the reflecting. Am I, for instance, behaving lethargically/bufoonishly/fearfully because Ace is, or vice versa?
Am I low key because he’s low key, or is he low key because I’m low key, and are we both feeding off each other’s low keyedness and becoming more low keyed yet, and, if so, how low can we go before we’re both asleep?
We were both wide awake on this walk — me due to five or so cups of hearty campground coffee, Ace, I think, because of the newness and the nature. When we came to a weathered wooden sign that said “old cemetery,” we followed where it pointed.
After a couple of switchbacks we came to a hill from which a dozen or so gravestones protruded from the ferns. If the stones had names on them, few of them were legible anymore — except for the one pictured at the top of this post.
Buried beneath it was Avo Sentell, who had just turned five when she died — the same day in 1916 as her mother, Susan, who is buried next to her.
We paused, and grew more sober. Amid towering trees – some thriving, some rotting, some dead — we speculated on what it could have been that killed both mother and daughter on the same day.
I told myself I should stop joking about deadly diseases — even though that is how I cope with my own immortality. Call it a survival skill.
Back home after my camping trip with college buddies, I Googled Avo Sentell — Googling being a generally safe activity, whose only side effects are eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome and terminal frustration over all the garbage, pop-up and otherwise, that litters the Internet.
Through one of those grave-finding websites, I learned that Avo and her mother were killed in a landslide in Pisgah National Forest during the Great Flood of 1916.
Both were buried at the site of their deaths. I found a group photo that contained Avo — she’s the third from the left in the second row in this picture of the entire student body of English Chapel School. Seeing how tiny she was wrenched my heart a little more.
That mystery resolved, another remained.
It was not whether Avo was the image in the fisherwoman’s photo. We’re not, much, prone to believing in the supernatural, and I doubt Avo’s ghost is haunting the mossy, fern-studded hills — even though we were in Transylvania County.
What I was left wondering about was the tiny pink mitten that was draped over her tombstone. On the mitten are the words “Always Trouble.”
I doubt it was left there as a commentary on her – for the mitten was too modern, and who is left to remember a girl who died 95 years ago? Besides, Avo appears to have been too small to have caused a significant amount of trouble in her life, much less “always.”
Maybe it was dropped by a hiker. Maybe someone else picked it and placed it there so someone might find it. Maybe it was left there as a gift, or commentary on life, by a stranger, or a descendant of the Sentell family.
A bouquet of yellow plastic flowers was at the base of the stone, which was clearly an upgrade — it’s too clean and clear and modern to have been the one that was originally there.
To me, it was also a reminder. Life is fleeting, and sometimes unfair, and there is always — somewhere — trouble. We work. We laugh. We play. We cope. We die.
Sometimes, before the journey’s over, we tackle those troubles. Sometimes we ignore them. Sometimes we joke about them. Sometimes we’re too rushed to pay them any mind at all. Sometimes we let them weigh us down to an unhealthy degree.
At times like those, friends come in handy.
At times like those, a walk in the woods — with your dog — is good.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 27th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 1916, ace, america, avo sentell, campground, camping, coping, cures, davidson river, death, disease, doctors, dog's country, dogscountry, drugs, fears, flood, ghosts, grave, hike, hiking, illness, imagination, lawyers, life, mountains, nature, north carolina, pisgah national forest, road trip, symptoms, travels with ace, woods
A dog who was dragged behind a car in Kentucky seven years ago now helps people who are dealing with an illness in their family.
Roadie, an 8-year-old beagle and a certified therapy dog, greets guests at the Hospital Hospitality House of Lexington, WKYT-TV reports. The facility provides temporary overnight accommodations to family and friends of patients in Lexington area hospitals.
“Everybody loves Roadie,” said Hospital Hospitality House Executive Director Lynn Morgan. “Roadie knows people very well and she knows how to make them feel comfortable.”
In July of 2004, the beagle was dragged on the street behind a car in Pulaski County, losing an eye and nearly her life. Dennis Wayne Fitzpatrick, of Somerset, pled guilty to cruelty to animals and was fined
After the accident, volunteers at Hospitality House put in an application to adopt her. Morgan said that initially he wasn’t sure the house was the place for a dog.
“To my surprise I was wrong, it was a very good place for a therapy dog. Roadie has been a companion and a caring counselor to our guests,” he said. “She is so much like the people who stay with us — she’s been through a very difficult medical situation and she survived it.”
Posted by jwoestendiek February 23rd, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, beagle, car, dogs, dragged, dragging, families, health, hospital hospitality house, hospitality, hospitals, illness, injured, kentucky, lexington, one-eyed, patients, pets, recovery, roadie, therapy, therapy dogs, video
When Hudson, a 10-year-old chocolate Labrador was diagnosed with cancer, the Piper family of Irvine, California, put together a “bucket list” of his favorite things — from eating popcorn to riding in the car with his head out the window.
Their vet had predicted the dog had only a month to live, but Hudson survived three more months — long enough for the Pipers to check off every item.
Jenny and David Piper got Hudson the day they moved into their first home. After that, they moved on to children — four girls, including a set of twins, according to a story in yesterday’s Orange County Register.
After notifying their children of Hudson’s pending demise, the family came up with a plan to make the most of the time he had left — a bucket list.
The first item on it was a popcorn movie night, Hudson got his own sleeping bag on the floor with the kids to watch “Hotel For Dogs” and eat a bowl of buttered popcorn.
Next came a pancake dinner – a bowl of cheerios and pancakes. They would check off the list as they went. He had the car ride with his head out the window, more walks around the neighborhood, and extra hugs and kisses.
On the night it became clear that the end was near, the family all said their goodbyes, and the next morning David Piper stopped and got Hudson some doughnuts on the way to the vet’s office, where he was put down.
In addition to fulfilling all the items on the bucket list, the Piper family left a gift in his name for canine cancer research.
Daughter Maggie, 8, after hearing a story at school about Terry Fox, who attempted to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research — and decided to something similar.
She asked the school if she could sell bracelets on campus for animal cancer research. In all, she earned $1,300. The family dropped the money off at the veterinary school at UC Davis last week.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 13th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bucket list, california, cancer, canine, car, chocolate, david piper, death, dog, dogs, donation, dying, family, goodbye, grief, hudson, illness, irvine, jenny piper, labrador, movie, news, ohmidog!, pancakes, parting, pets, popcorn, research, window
Real Ham Bone for Dogs — dog treats made in Missouri from the femurs of pigs — are under review by the Food and Drug Administration after complaints of them causing serious injury and death in dogs.
If warranted, an FDA spokesman said, the FDA will take appropriate action and notify the public, the Associated Press reported.
The product — a smoked pig femur sold as a dog treat or chew bone — is distributed nationally under the Dynamic Pet Products label of Frick’s Quality Meats in Washington, Mo.
The company said Thursday it was saddened to learn of the illnesses and deaths of customers’ pets, and that quality and safety remain priorities. The packaging contains a warning about the product not being for all dogs, and the possibility that it could splinter.”
“That is why every package contains a label that provides detailed instructions to owners on how they can help their pets best enjoy our products,” the company said in a statement. “We strongly encourage owners to supervise their pets with any treats or snacks.”
The Better Business Bureau of St. Louis said consumers have complained about the bones splintering, and pieces obstructing dogs’ intestines. Consumers reported their dogs had become lethargic or were vomiting. One man came home to find his dog dead, bleeding from the mouth.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 12th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alert, animals, better business bureau, bone, chew, choking, complaints, consumer, consumers, danger, death, dogs, fda, femur, food and drug administration, frick's quality meats, hazard, health, illness, investigation, missouri, news, pets, pig, real ham bone for dogs, recall, review, st. louis, treat