Prom night wasn’t on the agenda for seniors Delaney Johnson and Nick Ackerman.
The two teens, both with disabilities, go to different high schools and hadn’t even met until their service dogs — in a way — brought them together.
Nick, who has a service dog named Troy, was interviewing Delaney, who has a service dog named Griffin, for a school video project on service dogs.
Making small talk, she asked him, “Are you all geared for prom?” When he told her he had no plans to go to his, she volunteered to go with him. He accepted.
With their service dogs along, they attended his school’s prom, then hers.
A Lansing State Journal columnist and photographer went along — and you can find their story and video here.
Delaney, 17, goes to Haslett High School, where, before she got her 2-year-old Dutch shepherd Griffin, she would faint or pass out up to 20 times a day due to narcolepsy.
Between medication and help from Griffin, that condition — and a second neurological condition called cataplexy — have been brought under control.
Her dog acts to distract her if she’s experiencing anxiety and, in case of an attack, he’s trained to stay with her, lying on top of her if she becomes incapacitated so that she feels protected.
“Since I got Griffin, I’ve not had any major cataplexy attacks at all,” said Johnson, a singer and songwriter who plans to take Griffin with her this fall to attend Grand Valley State University. “…He’s my own personal little bodyguard.”
Nick attends Forest Hills Central High School in Grand Rapids, where he’s a champion debater. His service dog Troy helps Nick, who was born without arms, do everything from carrying things to zipping up his coat.
Nick, who plans to attend Eastern Michigan University in the fall, met Delaney two weeks ago, when he interviewed her for a class project on service dogs and the subject of proms came up.
On May 2, they went to his prom. Last Saturday, they went to hers.
The columnist and photographer accompanied the foursome — from home, where they posed for family photos, to a sushi dinner and then to the prom itself.
“I was going to stay home and eat ice cream and watch movies,” Delaney said later. “I’m just so glad I went…It was an amazing time.”
(Photos by Matthew Dae Smith / Lansing State Journal)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 13th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, disabilities, disability, disabled, dogs, high school, michigan, pets, prom, prom night, schools, service dogs, students
Zeus, the world’s tallest dog, is dead.
The Great Dane passed away earlier this month — two months shy of his sixth birthday — from “symptoms of old age,” according to his owner.
Great Danes have shorter life spans than most dogs — most likely the result of breeders intent on making the breed larger yet, and the strain that size puts on their organs — which only makes the death of Zeus doubly sad.
“We’ll really miss him,” said Zeus’ owner, Kevin Doorlag, of Otsego, Michigan.
Doorlag and his wife, Denise say Zeus was a “wonderful dog” — famous both for Guinness World Record-setting size, and for his work as a therapy dog in their hometown.
He stood 44 inches at the shoulder — 7 feet, 4 inches on his hind legs. He claimed the Guinness World Record in 2012, and still held the title in the 2013 and 2014 editions.
The previous World’s Tallest Dog was Giant George, a Tuscon, Arizona, Great Dane. He died at age 7.
Kevin Doorlag said one of the things he will miss most is seeing the joy Zeus brought to others.
The death of Zeus is, first and foremost, a time to remember and celebrate Zeus.
But if it makes us question why, in the name of seeking extremes, we accept purebred breeding practices that lead to ill health and short lives, that’s fine, too. They’re in need of questioning.
What there’s less need for — whether it’s in pursuit of ribbons, world records, or sales — is making fluffy dogs fluffier, long and skinny dogs longer and skinnier, short snouted dogs even more shortly snouted.
We don’t need (sorry, Marmaduke) cartoonish dogs, or dogs that, through breeding them with close relatives, become exaggerated caricatures of their breed.
Healthy dogs will do just fine.
(Photo: Kalamazoo Gazette)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 13th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, big dogs, breeding, caricature, dead, death, dies, dogs, giant george, great dane, great danes, guinness, guinness world records, life span, michigan, old age, otsego, pets, practices, purebred, records, short, tallest, tallest dog, world, world's tallest dog, zeus
That police in St. Clair Shores in Michigan saw killing a dog as the preferable way to stop her barking has been pretty well documented in dash cam videos that have become public.
As soon as they pulled up at the scene, their dashboard camera recorded remarks they were making inside their patrol car, like “The only thing I’m going to do is shoot it” and “I don’t do snares. I don’t do dogs … I’ll shoot the f—ing thing.”
But why there were 15 bullet holes in Lexie, a dog police officers only admitted to shooting four times, is a question that may go unanswered — at least until a federal lawsuit filed by the dog’s owner comes to trial.
The lawsuit, filed earlier this month, stems from the November 2013 shooting of Lexie, a 44-pound mixed breed who was the subject of a barking dog complaint filed by a neighbor.
Lexie’s owner, Brittay Preston, filed the lawsuit against the city of St. Clair Shores, two police officers and an animal control officer, according to Fox News in Detroit. It alleges a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable seizure.
The lawsuit seeks money damages, and assurances that St. Clair Township police will “train their officers so that there’s not another incident where they respond to a barking dog complaint by killing it,” said Preston’s attorney, Chris Olson.
Preston was at work and the dog was under the care of a grandfather, who suffers from dementia and forgot to let Lexie back inside during a cold night.
Officers, after discussing their alternatives in the patrol car, approached the home and eventually persuaded the grandfather to let the dog in the house. After he agreed to do so, they shot the dog saying she lunged at them in a threatening manner.
Attorney Olson said the discussion recorded by the dash came shows the shooting was premeditated.
“Neighbors complained of a dog that was barking. [Police] showed up. The first thing that they said out of their mouths was they don’t like dogs; they don’t do dogs; they’re going to shoot the dog anyway. And that’s exactly what they did,” he said.
“Then they shot the dog again, instead of trying to take care of the dog, getting some care of the dog to prevent it from dying, they did what they intended to do. They made sure that the dog died. They shot it again, and then the dog walked into the animal control van and then when we picked up the dog it had extra bullet holes,” he added.
A necropsy conducted by a veterinarians found 15 bullet holes in Lexie.
Officers, after shooting and wounding the dog, can be heard discussing what to do next, including “choking it out” and “using a shovel,” according to the lawsuit.
One officer remarked that would be a bad idea because “you know this is going to be all over Facebook in about an hour.”
“We’re saddened when anyone loses a pet, but since the city and its employees are being sued, the city will certainly defend the lawsuit,” St. Clair Shores City Attorney Robert Ihrie said in a statement. “The complaint that was filed is filled with innuendo, speculation and half truths, and I have no doubt when it’s held up to the light of day, the truth will bear itself out in court.”
(Photo: from the Justice for Lexie Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 25th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 15 bullet holes, animals, barking, brittany preston, brittay preston, cam, complaint, conversation, dash, dashboard, dog, dogs, federal, Fourth amendment, justice 4 lexie, justice for lexie, killed, law enforcement, lawsuit, lexie, michigan, necropsy, nuisance, officers, pets, police, recorded, shooting, shot, st. clair shores
A four-pound dachshund is being credited with scaring off a 400-pound bear and keeping it from harming a group of friends on a trip through the woods in Michigan.
The dog, named Bradley, was killed in the effort, but he just might have saved the lives of the humans his owner believes he was protecting.
“I believe honestly the outcome would’ve been different if Brad had not been with them,” John Force, Bradley’s owner said. “If the bear had attacked Brad, it certainly would’ve attacked the men who were bigger than Brad.”
On Saturday, a group of friends visiting the Forces ventured into the woods in Oscoda County on a golf cart, taking Bradley along for the ride, according to Upnorthlive.com
When they came across a mother bear and her cubs they stopped. As the bear and men stared at each other, Bradley jumped out and ran at the bear.
“Brad jumped off the golf cart and attacked the big bear, they got into a scuffle,” Force said.
Bradley ran back to the golf cart, but his bite wounds were severe and he died an hour later.
“He was only four to five pounds, but in his mind I think he thought he was 100 pounds,” said Lisa Force, John’s wife.
“…He was a little fighter a little scrapper,” John Force said, “and he didn’t think twice about attacking a bear. I guarantee you, he would have did it again.”
But the odd part of this story came at the nine-day mark, when Lacy’s owner, Jamie Brill, who’d been searching for days with her boyfriend, spotted her dog in a field, through a pair of binoculars.
Lacy was standing next to two adult whitetail does and two fawns.
“Mark handed me the binoculars and said, ‘Do you believe this?’ I looked, and Lacy was licking the head of one of the fawns,” Brill told Lansing State Journal columnist John Schneider.
When Brill tried calling Lacy from afar, she didn’t budge, remaining instead with the deer.
Brill, stationed with the U.S. Navy in Grand Rapids, rolled her Mini Cooper on Interstate 96 on Aug. 11. Her two dogs – Lacy and Koko – were in the car. Brill was taken to the hospital. Koko was taken to a veterinarian, and Lacy ran off.
Two days after Lacy was spotted hobnobbing with the deer, Schneider, the newspaper columnist, got a call from a man who had spotted Lacy — whose disappearance by then had become a big story.
Schneider called Brill in Grand Rapids, and she called a Lansing veterinarian who had been involved in the search and agreed to check out the sighting.
Veterinarian Leslie Ortlieb drove to the vacant house and on its porch saw Lacy, who was described as being a skittish sort even before the accident.
But Ortlieb apparently said the right words: “Do you want to go see Koko?”
The Great Dane walked up to her and got into her car.
Lacy was emaciated and had a small cut on her leg, but otherwise appeared in good health.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 26th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, animals, columnist, deer, dogs, found, great dane, jamie brill, john schneider, lacy, lansing state journal, lost, michigan, pets, returned, reunited, search
No late fees will be charged.
In 1934, McKee, then a 13-year-old, checked out “A Dog of Flanders” by English author Marie Louise de la Ramee, from the Mount Clemens Public Library in Michigan.
Seventy-six years later, he found it among his possesions and mailed it back, according to an Associated Press report.
McKee, now 89, said in a letter to the library that he was initially “entranced by the book and kept it with my prized possession.” Later, it got lost in the shuffle of life until he recently discovered it.
“My conscience took over,” wrote McKee, who is former publisher of The Macomb Daily in Michigan, and now a winter resident of Chandler, Arizona.
“A Dog of Flanders,” an 1872 novel published under the pseudonym “Ouida,” is about a Flemish orphan named Nello who befriends an abused dog named Patrasche.
Library Director Donald Worrell Jr. said he was thrilled to get the book back.
In his letter, McKee said he estimated the fine on a book overdue for 76 years could total thousands of dollars. But Worrell said there won’t be a fine.
“We figure the story is better than the money,” Worrell said.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 22nd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: a dog of flanders, arizona, book, books, donald worrell, fines, found, late fees, libraries, library, lost, macomb daily, marie louise de la ramee, mark mckee, michigan, mount clemens, novel, ouida, overdue, penalties, returned
We didn’t know the whole story behind this, but sometime this summer a motel changed names in Lansing, Michigan.
With the simple switch of one gigantic yellow plastic backlit letter, what was once a Days Inn, became Dads Inn.
We guessed that the Days Inn franchise shut down, leaving a multi-story motel vacant. We guessed that some guy — likely a dad — stepped in and took over, and either didn’t want to be a Days Inn or wasn’t accepted by the chain.
In any case, “Days” became “Dads.” Maybe the “Y” was already missing or damaged. Maybe the new owner spent some time reviewing the possibilities: Dabs Inn, Dags Inn, Dals Inn, Dans Inn, Dars Inn, Dats Inn.
He opted for another “D” though, not quite the same width as the first “D,” and a little brighter yellow.
After having some fun conjecturing, we looked up the facts — as initially reported the Lansing Journal.
Seems the Parsippany, N.J.-based hotel chain parted ways with its south Lansing franchisee, Frank Yaldoo, after Yaldoo declined to spruce up the place. The chain wanted him to spend more than $200,000 to replace beds, update computers and — of all things — change its signs.
The article didn’t mention where the new “D” came from, or whether Yaldoo is a dad, but we’re guessing he’s a thrifty guy.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 23rd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, chain, change, dads inn, days inn, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, franchise, franchisee, frank yaldoo, lansing, letters, lodging, michigan, motels, name, pets, road trip, sign, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace