The letter was in an envelope addressed to Moe, Doggie Heaven, First Cloud.
Coping with the death of the family beagle, a Norfolk mom encouraged her 3-1/2-year-old son, Luke, to express his feelings in crayon-drawn artworks and letters.
It was Luke’s idea to write to Moe in heaven, and Mary Westbrook said she figured it would be good therapy for her son who, after Moe died at 13, kept asking if and when Moe was coming back.
She’d put each letter, upon completion, in the mailbox, then, after Luke had gone to bed, she’d go out and retrieve them.
But one day she forgot, and the mailman picked it up.
“I figured someone would just throw it away once it got to the post office,” Westbrook told the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk.
“It didn’t even have a stamp.”
But last week, a letter from Moe — magically, it seemed — appeared in the Westbrook mailbox:
“I’m in Doggie Heaven,” it said. “I play all day. I am happy. Thank you 4 being my friend.
“I wuv you Luke.”
Postal worker Zina Owens, in her 25 years on the job, had taken the liberty of answering some mail to Santa before, but this was the first time she took on the persona of a deceased family pet, hoping to make a child happy.
Owens, a window clerk, had noticed the letter to Moe on a table at the post office. She opened it and found a card covered in crayon scribbles. With help from the address on the envelope, she was able to read between the lines.
“I felt it in my heart,” she said. “Here was a child who had lost his dog, and any time you love something and it goes away, it hurts.”
So Owens, as Moe, wrote back. Mary Westbrook was touched to find the reassuring letter from Moe in the mailbox and shared it with Luke.
She posted the response on Facebook, saying, “What a beautiful kindness from a stranger.”
Owens says seeing the letter from Luke “made my day … so I wanted to make his. It’s just love, plain and simple.”
“You see so much negativity in the world, so many bad headlines,” she added. “But we’re more than that.”
(Photos: By Bill Tiernan / Virginian-Pilot and courtesy of the Westbrook family)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 15th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, beagle, boy, children, coping, crayon, dead, death, dog heaven, doggie heaven, dogs, drawings, grieving, heaven, letter, luke, moe, mourning, norfolk, pets, postal worker, rainbow bridge, virginia, writes
A physician’s organization led a rally this week urging Wayne State University to end its long-running series of cardiac research experiments on dogs.
About 45 people joined in the protest, led by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
According to the nonprofit organization, the heart failure experiments have been going on for 20 years, at a cost to taxpayers of about $8 million, and have provided no information beneficial to treating human heart disease.
No dogs leave the program alive.
“These research experiments have not garnered anything that has advanced human health,” said Jennifer Giordano, a Detroit-area doctor representing the committee. “We want them to use human-relevant research methods.”
In the experiments, heart problems are induced in the dogs by the use of implanted electrodes, which cause their heart rates to more than double.
The dogs are then put through multiple surgeries and are required to run on treadmills. About 25 percent of the dogs die during or after the surgery. Those who do survive are euthanized when their participation is no longer needed.
The experiments are funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.
At the Wednesday rally the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine presented a letter signed by actress Lily Tomlin to Wayne State University officials, calling on them to end medical experiments on dogs. Tomlin is a Detroit native and attended the university.
In the letter, Tomlin wrote: “I understand that Wayne State is spending millions of taxpayer dollars using dogs in heart failure experiments that have not benefited human health in any way. I urge you to end these senseless experiments as soon as possible.”
A copy of the letter was given to Matt Lockwood, a university spokesman who came to the rally and a read a statement defending the experiments, the Detroit News reported.
“Almost every medical advance in the last 100 years was due to research on animals — chemotherapy, hip replacements, transfusions, dialysis — was all tested on dogs,” Lockwood said. “We need to continue to do research to advance science.”
He said the animals in the experiments are under the constant supervision of veterinarians.
“There’s a committee that’s sole purpose is to ensure the animals are as comfortable as possible,” he said. “We’re also under the oversight of the federal government and the state. Never once has any animal been found to have been mistreated at any time.”
He said the dogs are euthanized after taking part in the experiments, but he declined to provide numbers.
(Photo: Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 10th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, cardiac, cease, detroit, disease, dog, dogs, end, experimentation, experiments, failure, heart, induced, laboratory, letter, lily tomlin, medical, pets, physicians committee for responsible medicine, protest, rally, research, science, stop, surgery, wayne state university
A good year before I was born, my father wrote a letter while sitting in Korea, and sent it back home to friends in North Carolina.
A week ago, it came back to him — in Arizona.
“It’s so damn cold in here that I just about can make my fingers work,” the letter begins. “… Even so , it’s indoors, so I can imagine how really miserable the boys living in holes are tonight…”
Typewritten on flimsy stationary, the letter goes on to recount a weekend in Tokyo during which he enjoyed burgers and “Jap beer, which is very good.” He asks about what’s going on back home and wonders when he might return. “I’m supposed to come home in February. And now there is a rumor making the rounds that we’re supposed to be rotated to Japan after 10 months in Korea. So I don’t really know what’s going to happen.”
It was mailed to Lil and Roy Thompson, friends and co-workers at the Winston-Salem Journal, both now deceased.
Apparently Lil filed it away in a book, to be specific, an autobiography of William “Billy” Rose, the showman and lyricist who wrote, among other songs, “Me and My Shadow” and “It’s Only a Paper Moon.”
I don’t know whether Lil parted with the book long ago, or whether it was part of her estate when she died a few years ago, but somehow it ended up among the stock of a second-hand book dealer in Carrboro, N.C.
Robert Garni, once he opened the book, found the letter and read it, took to the Internet to locate my father, Bill Woestendiek, then mailed him the original, along with this note:
” … Quite coincidentally, the other day while sorting out some used books for sale, I came across an old letter that had apparently been tucked away in a hardcover copy of Billy Rose’s autobiography …
“Upon examination of the letter, I realized it may be of some sentimental value to someone and therefore I did a quick search of the Internet where I was able to locate your full name and current address. I am enclosing the letter herewith. I am hoping my information is correct and current so that this letter may finally return to its rightful owner.”
In my father’s letter, he mentions what turned out to be his most cherished memory of the war. He was a lieutenant in the Army, but he was also writing a weekly column for his newspaper back home called “Battle Lines.” The columns weren’t so much about the war as they were Korea and its people. Most of the stories he wrote focused on the children, often orphans of war, and the poverty in which they lived.
His stories led to an outpouring of support from back home in North Carolina — hundreds of pounds of clothing and toys were donated by readers, shipped overseas and distributed at a Christmas party.
“I am overwhelmed, no kidding,” he writes in the letter of the readers’ response. “We’ll have clothes for our party and still some extra to give to the orphanages around here which are also hurting for clothing.”
Reading over those articles, which I found amid my stuff, in a green scrapbook whose binding was falling apart, I understand a little better why he got so misty when, 19 years ago at Los Angeles International Airport, my father watched as my son arrived, a six-month-old, adopted from Korea.
In the faded old letter he thanks Lil for her support, and for keeping him up on the goings on at the newspaper. “You are one of the best morale builders I have,” he writes.
It took a little help from a thoughtful second-hand book dealer, but, judging from the joyful response my father, now 87, had to getting the letter back, it seems Lil — even though she’s no longer with us – did it again.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 7th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: army, bill woestendiek, book dealer, carrboro, children, friends, journalism, korea, korean war, letter, lil thompson, mail, newspapers, north carolina, orphans, poverty, returned, robert garni, roy thompson, second hand, soldiers, used, war, winston-salem journal
Will families of American military personnel in Japan be forced to leave their pets behind when they evacuate?
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is seeking the anwer to that question.
In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the non-profit organization asks for a clarification of the U.S. government’s policy on whether or not military families can bring their pets with them — or must be forced to choose between staying in harm’s way and abandoning a beloved companion.
Family members of military personnel stationed in Japan began evacuating today amid the increasing threat of radioactivity in the wake of last week’s earthquake and tsunami.
ALDF says it has received desperate emails from some of them, who say they’ve been informed pets will not be allowed on evacuation planes chartered by the U.S. Department of State.
“In a context of terrifying natural and nuclear disasters, with military personnel and their families already being separated from each other, we would hope that the U.S. government would not place an additional burden on military families by disregarding the very real bonds they have with their animal companions” said Carter Dillard, ALDF’s director of litigation.
“It is our hope that the tragedy of people forced to abandon beloved pets in order to evacuate to safety, which we saw play out on a heartbreaking scale during Hurricane Katrina, is not replicated during the current crisis in Japan.”
ALDF says it has heard from numerous families who say they are hesitant to evacuate from the escalating radiation danger if they are required to leave their pets behind.
Some families have turned to Facebook for help, including Mariaelena Rodriguez Geoffray, shown above with her dog, Bella. Seeking a commercial flight, she has been told by two airlines that temperatures are too cold to fly a pet.
Her dilemma is recounted on the blog Two Little Cavaliers.
There are about 43,000 dependents of American military personnel living in Japan.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 18th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandon, aldf, animal legal defense fund, animals, danger, dangers, disaster, dogs, earthquake, evacuate, evacuation, families, hillary clinton, hurricane, japan, katrina, left behind, letter, military, nuclear plants, pets, radiation, robert gates, secretary of defense, secretary of state, tsunami
Perturbed by the praise Michael Vick has been receiving for his performance on the field, guitarist Nils Lofgren has written an open letter to sports reporters, arguing Vick doesn’t deserve all the cheerleading, an MVP award, or even a place in the NFL.
“I am so disheartened and disappointed by your collective, lopsided praise of Michael Vick due to his recent spectacular on-field performance,” Logfren, guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, begins.
“I support his right to earn a living. But, while I can’t fault him for taking great advantage of the opportunities afforded him by playing in the NFL, I feel he does not deserve that lofty a place in our society and culture. However repentant he may be, he committed acts whose vileness will resonate down the years. When you do what Vick did, a second chance should never include the rare gift of an NFL career and the potential bounty it offers.
“Shame on the NFL for not banning him permanently.”
Apparently the letter was prompted by a comment made by Jemele Hill on ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters,” that if Josh Hamilton could win one of baseball’s MVP awards after recovering from alcohol and drug abuse, why couldn’t Vick win the award in the NFL?
“Well, for one thing, Hamilton has neither tortured dozens of dogs nor murdered defenseless animals,” Lofgren wrote. “ … In Vick’s case, I believe his second chance should certainly allow him to be free and to love and raise his family. I think he should make speeches about the error of his ways and help animal groups. I understand that he is doing some of these things and I applaud that. He’s also admitted to being haunted by his dogfighting days. That growth is welcome and necessary, but comes too late for me and those dogs.
Vick, formerly quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, was convicted on dogfighting charges and served nearly two years in prison. After his release he was signed last year by the Philadelphia Eagles.
“How can we justify this saga to our children?” Lofgren asked in the letter. ” …Well kids, although doing those things is wrong, two years after you admit to doing them the NFL will let you have a job that may lead to an MVP award and many millions of dollars in a new contract.
Lofgren added, “…(T)he cynic in me thinks maybe if Vick were a third-string lineman, the NFL would have set an example and banned him for life. Maybe many of the other significant charges Vick was facing wouldn’t have gone away if he didn’t have the prestige of being an NFL quarterback who can afford high-priced lawyers to wrangle pleas and deals.
“For the NFL to be that forgiving of evil, vicious behavior is a terribly inappropriate act of forgiveness and has brought a sick, sad, dirty feeling to many of us fans who have loved the game for so long.
“And to you reporters, whom I enjoy and respect, the sentiments in this letter are suspiciously absent in your hundreds of hours of Vick coverage … Just because the NFL lost its spine and common sense on this matter doesn’t mean you reporters have to get in line and go along.”
Posted by John Woestendiek December 5th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, bruce springsteen, conviction, coverage, deaths, dogfighting, e street band, football, guitarist, letter, media, michael vick, musician, news, nfl, nils lofgren, open letter, performance, philadelphia eagles, praise, prison, quarterback, reporters, sports, torture, vick
The chairperson of the Mayor’s Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force says bestowing an Ed Block Courage Award on Michael Vick is “premature at best and disgraceful at its worst.”
In a letter to Sam Lamantia, Jr., CEO of the Baltimore-based Ed Block Courage Award Foundation, Caroline A. Griffin, head of a task force charged with reducing animal abuse in Baltimore, expresses “grave disappointment” with the decision to honor Vick with the reward. Vick was unanimously nominated by his Philadelphia Eagles teammates.
Here is Griffin’s letter, as it appears on Mayor Sheila Dixon’s website, in its entirety:
Dear Mr. Lamantia,
On behalf of the Mayor’s Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force, we wish to express our grave disappointment and concerns over the decision of the Philadelphia Eagles to nominate Michael Vick as the recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award.
We believe that this nomination is premature at best and disgraceful at its worst. It is ironic that Mr. Vick’s teammates have selected him to receive an award in honor of a man who extolled that mankind should “work toward alleviating suffering and especially to alleviate the suffering of those who cannot help themselves.” Yet in response to this nomination, Mr. Vick seemingly laments only the hardships that he has endured as a convicted felon rather than those he imposed on the many victims of his crimes.
Mr. Vick apparently acknowledged, by virtue of his guilty plea, that he engaged in a cowardly and sadistic criminal enterprise for more than six (6) years, which terminated not because he saw the errors of his ways, but because he got caught. To date, we believe that he has done nothing more than fulfill the terms of his federal sentence. Aside from demeaning the memory of Mr. Block, there is a risk that bestowing this award to Michael Vick may unwittingly glamorize the brutal crime of dogfighting rather than deter it.
While we question the wisdom of this decision, we commend the Philadelphia Eagles for initiating a Treat Animals With Kindness (TAWK) program, which educates children and adults concerning animal abuse and dogfighting. Mr. Vick has several teammates who have voluntarily advocated against violence and abuse and who would appear to be more suitable candidates for such an honor. We believe that Mr. Vick is neither courageous nor a role model and that he remains an inappropriate recipient of such a prestigious award.
Very truly yours,
Caroline A. Griffin
Chair, Mayor’s Anti-Animal
Abuse Task Force
Posted by John Woestendiek January 27th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: anti-animal abuse, award, caroline a. griffin, ceo, courage, dog fighting, dogfighting, ed block, foundation, j.r., letter, mayor's, michael vick, philadelphia eagles, sam lamantia, task force
South Carolina Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein’s habit of bringing her dogs to work was never a problem in the old courthouse, but since opening a spiffy new one, Dorchester County Council members are squawking about it.
Amid rumors that there have been doggie ”accidents” inside the shiny new $13 million courthouse in St. George, the county council — though it lacks the authority to set rules for the courthouse — has instructed the county attorney to draft a letter to the clerk of court “requesting” that animals not be allowed on the premises, except for service animals.
“The taxpayers paying for the building don’t bring their dogs to work. Other county employees don’t bring their dogs to work. Frankly, I’m surprised I’m having to make this request,” Council Chairman Jamie Feltner said.
The request leaves County Clerk of Court Cheryl Graham, a pet lover and board member of the local SPCA in an awkward spot, the Charleston Post and Courier reported. “That’s mighty nice of the council to put that on me,” she told the newspaper.
“It’s a little bit of an embarrassment that it would be an issue,” Judge Goodstein said. Her dogs are well-trained and haven’t soiled the courthouse’s hallowed halls, she said. She thinks the “accident” rumor might have stemmed from one day when she got down on her hands and knees to clean a construction worker’s mud tracks from the floor.
The judge, who routinely brought her Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Boykin spaniel and Airedale to work with her in the old courthouse — vacated earlier this year — says she’ll comply with whatever verdict the clerk of court reaches.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 11th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accidents, allowed, allowing, building, cheryl graham, circuit judge, clerk of court, council, county, courthouse, diane goodstein, dog, dogs, dorchester, jamie feltner, judge, letter, mess, new, request, rules, rumor, soiling, south carolina, st. george, workplace