If you’re going to be a stray dog, you might want to be one in Oak Brook, Ill.
It’s one of Chicago’s wealthiest suburbs — the kind of place with well-manicured lawns to pee on, porches and gazebos offering some shade, and handouts from humans that might include pork tenderloin, or steak.
At least that was Rusty’s experience.
For four years, Rusty roamed the Forest Glen neighborhood of Oak Brook, keeping a certain distance from its residents, but happily accepting their offers of food.
“I would leave pieces of steak and pork tenderloin at the end of the driveway,” said one Forest Glen resident.
“We thought we were the only people taking care of him,” said another, who fed him steak and bacon.
Harry Peters, president of the Forest Glen Homeowners Association, said Rusty, a chow-sheltie mix, eventually developed some discriminating tastes: “I put a hot dog out there once — I’ll never forget it — and he lifted his leg and peed on it. My neighbor was giving him steak.”
Despite all the handouts, Rusty kept his distance. He’d play with neighborhood dogs, but avoided getting too close to humans. When residents walked their dogs, Rusty would follow behind — again at a distance.
While residents were enjoying his presence, and fattening him up, many of them worried about how he was able to survive the harsh winters, and able to avoid becoming a victim of street traffic.
For four years, any attempts to catch him were in vain, up until 2010 when he was captured in a back yard and turned over to the Hinsdale Humane Society.
There he was treated for a heartworm infestation, and thousands of dollars were donated to help pay for his care. Attempts were made to make him more sociable with humans, so that he could be adopted out to one of the many expressing interest in doing so.
But Rusty, who maintained a preference for living outside, never reached that point, shelter officials told the Chicago Tribune.
Instead he was sent to Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, where he’d have room to roam.
Before taking him to Utah, Jennifer Vlazny, operations manager for the humane society, brought Rusty back to the neighborhood he once roamed for one last visit. Residents petted him and photographed him, and some cried when he left.
After some time at Best Friends, Rusty was adopted by a Kanab resident, Kristine Kowal, a retired school nurse who once lived in the Chicago area.
Kowal made a Facebook page and posted regular updates on it about Rusty, by then renamed Rusty Redd.
Peters, the neighborhood association president, visited Rusty and Kowal in January, while on a business trip to Las Vegas. He mentioned to Kowal then that, if she was to ever come to Chicago for a visit, he’d arrange a gathering so residents could have a reunion with the dog.
That happened this past weekend.
Kowal drove Rusty 1,800 miles from Utah for the reunion.
“I just thought it was something that I needed to do — to take him back, and kind of make it a full circle,” Kowal said.
Residents gathered Sunday in a gazebo in the Forest Glen subdivision, where, for the first time, they were able to pet him.
Vlazny, the Tribune reported, was amazed at his transformation from feral dog to pet.
Rusty seemed to remember the old neighborhood, and residents — even some who had since moved out of state — came to the reunion to see an old friend.
“The closest Rusty would ever get to me was 40 feet,” said Frank Manas, feeding the dog a chunk of mozzarella cheese. His family had moved from Forest Glen to Wisconsin, but returned Sunday to see Rusty.
“We said, if Rusty can come all the way from Utah, we can come from Eau Claire,” said Julie Manas, his wife.
“Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh — I’m petting him!” said Julie Gleason, who used to feed Rusty when he visited the nearby office park where she works.
“It’s a real-life fairy tale.”
(Photo: Julie Gleason weeps as she pets Rusty; by Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 20th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, best friends animal society, bond, bonding, chicago, chow, dog, dogs, food, forest glen, handouts, hinsdale humane society, illinois, kindness, mix, mutt, mutts, neighborhood, oak brook, pets, reunion, rusty, rusty redd, sheltie, steak, stray dog, strays
Bella, the Maltese mix who mysteriously disappeared two weeks ago from a home in Durham, N.C., has been returned to her family — and in an equally mysterious manner.
Bella wandered away from home on March 11, and, minutes later, a neighbor saw the driver of a car stop and pick her up at an intersection.
A day later Scott and Kerry Holmes received a phone call from a person claiming to have found their dog. But when they didn’t specify a reward amount, the caller hung up without supplying any additional information.
The family contacted police, and began putting up “lost dog” flyers.
Near the end of last week, a third party contacted the family in an attempt to arrange the return of Bella. The family later met her at a nearby church and picked the dog up.
But neither the Holmes nor police, who have made an arrest in the case, are saying much more than that.
Scott Holmes, an attorney, said Bella was safely returned home Thursday night. “Our family is so happy she is home. We are celebrating her return. She has slept a lot and seems to be perking up today,” he said.
He declined to offer any specifics about the dog’s return, but did say that his family is collecting reward money for a single mother in Chapel Hill who provided information that led to Bella’s return.
Meanwhile, police arrested Amanda Shanese Bynum, 28, of Carrboro, and charged her with extortion, larceny of a dog and felony conspiracy, according to the Durham Herald-Sun. According to police, Bynum threatened not to return the dog unless she was paid $600.
According to WTVD, Bella traveled at least as far as Charlotte during the time she was missing. A photograph of her at a Charlotte pet supply store, wearing some new dog clothes, appeared on Bynum’s social media page, the Holmes family said.
Holmes said that after being returned Bella was lethargic over the weekend, but that she is bouncing back. He said she appeared to be in good shape physically.
“My wife and Bella are catching up on their sleep and are really, really glad to be reunited,” Holmes said. “They’re very close, and they’re doing really well. There’s been a lot of joy in our house since we got Bella home.”
Posted by John Woestendiek March 26th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arrest, bella, dogs, durham, home, kidnapped, larceny, maltese, missing, mix, north carolina, pets, ransom, returned, theft
Then the family got a phone call that indicated otherwise.
The caller, who claimed to have picked up their lost dog at a Durham, N.C., intersection, asked if there was a reward, and hung up when the answer didn’t please her.
The phone call was made six days ago, and the woman hasn’t called back since, according to the owners of Bella.
“She said she had the dog and asked about money and if we had a reward,” recalled Caroline Wilgen. “I said yes, but we hadn’t decided how much and she hung up.”
Bella, a white Maltese-poodle mix, wandered off last Wednesday as her owner unloaded groceries. She made it to the intersection of Cornwallis and Pickett Road.
“Several cars stopped when she tried to cross the road and the person who was closest to the dog scooped it up and then tried to put it in her car,” Wilgen told WTVD.
The next day Bella’s family received the phone call from a woman who said she had found the owner’s contact information on the dog’s collar.
“We received a call Thursday, around 8:00 pm, from the young woman who picked Bella up,” Wilgen’s husband wrote on his blog. “She said that Bella got into her car voluntarily. She sounded a little worried she may be in trouble. … We have hoped she would call back, but so far, nothing.
“We really hope she calls. We are not trying to get her in trouble, we just want Bella home. Maybe a neighbor or friend will recognize Bella and encourage her to do the right thing.”
Wilgen adopted Bella two years ago, driving seven hours to pick the dog up from a shelter in Tennessee, where she’d been dropped off with matted fur and rotting teeth.
Now Bella needs to be rescued again.
“She’s already been through a lot so if we could bring her home, that’d be great,” Wilgen said.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 19th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bella, car, dog, dognapped, dogs, durham, kidnapped, lost, maltese, missing, mix, n.c., north carolina, pets, phone call, picked up, poodle, ransom, reward, wandered
Eclipse knows where she wants to go. And she knows how to get there.
So maybe the fact that the black Lab-mastiff mix regularly boards a Seattle city bus — by herself — to get to the dog park shouldn’t be that surprising.
The 2-year-old dog often jumps on the bus alone — most of the drivers know her by now — roams the aisles, greets her fellow commuters, finds a seat, and watches for the bus stop near the dog park, where she gets off, about four stops later.
“All the bus drivers know her. She sits here just like a person does,” commuter Tiona Rainwater told KOMO as she rode the bus through downtown Monday. “She makes everybody happy. How could you not love this thing?”
Local radio host Miles Montgomery is among though who were dazzled when they figured out what the dog was doing.
“It doesn’t really appear to have an owner. The dog gets off at the dog park. I just look out the window and I’m like, ‘did that just happen?’” Montgomery asked. “She was most concerned about seeing out the window, and I couldn’t figure out what that was. It was really just about seeing where her stop was.”
As it happens, Eclipse does have an owner, Jeff Young, who lives with her in an apartment near the bus stop at 3 Ave. W. and W. Mercer Street in Belltown.
They started off going to the park on the bus together. Then one day, when Young was finishing up a cigarette, the bus pulled up and Eclipse ran and jumped aboard without him.
That has happened numerous times since — Eclipse being a somewhat impatient dog, and Young being a man who likes to finish the cigarettes he starts, apparently.
Apparently, too, the duo is not big on leashes.
“We get separated. She gets on the bus without me, and I catch up with her at the dog park,” said Young. “It’s not hard to get on. She gets on in front of her house and she gets off at the dog park, three or four stops later.”
“She’s been here the last two years, so she’s been urbanized, totally. She’s a bus-riding, sidewalk-walking dog,” he added. “Probably once a week I get a phone call. ‘Hi. I have your dog Eclipse here on 3rd and Bell,’” he recounted. “I have to tell them, ‘no. She’s fine.’ She knows what she’s doing.”
Posted by John Woestendiek January 14th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bus, city, commuter, dog, dog park, dog rides bus, dogs, eclipse, lab, mastiff, mix, pets, ride, rider, seattle, smart, travel
Out of work and out of money, Pete Buchmann could no longer pay his rent. So the Claymont, Del., man and his dog Buster moved to the back yard of a vacant home nearby and pitched a tent.
Even during the warmth of July, the novelty of that wore off pretty quick — perhaps quicker for Buster, who is nine and arthritic, than Pete, who is 54 and able-bodied.
“It was kind of fun for about a week,” Buchmann said, “but it wasn’t good for Buster.”
Buchmann moved to Delaware less than two years ago from Long Island, where he cared for an ailing mother and sister until their deaths. He got by on part-time jobs, but when even those ran out he was forced to sell his car, then give up his $800-a-month pet-friendly apartment.
Realizing life in a tent wasn’t going to be good for him or his dog, Buchmann asked police for the name of animal shelter where he could take Buster — and maybe get him back once he was on his feet and employed again.
He was given contact information for Faithful Friends Animal Society in Wilmington.
After leaving a couple of phone messages, and details on where he and Buster could be found, Buchmann received a visit from a shelter official.
“We drove out and found them,” Lou Henderson, manager of the shelter’s dog department told the Wilmington News Journal. ”We also took Pete a goodie bag with some food and things in it to help him.”
Buchmann said his goodbyes and Buster, a Rottweiler-boxer mix, was taken to the shelter.
But neither the story, nor Pete and Buster’s relationship, ended there.
While Buster is enjoying the hospitality of Faithful Friends, Buchmann is now residing (though not in a private room) at the Sunday Breakfast Mission.
And every day, he walks five miles to visit with and walk Buster.
He helps out with the shelter’s other dogs, too
“I am just amazed at his attitude,” Executive Director Jane Pierantozzi said. “He walks two-and-a-half miles each way every day to see Buster, and then he spends two or three hours helping us walk the dogs. Most people in his situation would be depressed and angry, but he isn’t.”
Pierantozzi says she has been so impressed with Buchmann, she’d hire him if the non-profit shelter had the money. Instead, she’s reaching out to her contacts in hopes of finding him a full-time job.
“Pete has been so resilient through all his trials,” she said. “It’s bad enough to lose your home, but to not know what’s going to happen to your pet is horrible. I just hope there are people out there that can help.”
While the organization commonly helps find new homes for pets surrendered by financially-pinched owners, Buster wasn’t adoption material.
“He’s old, he has arthritis, and he’s protective of and attached to Pete. Dogs like that can go down fast in a shelter. We knew if he went to a kill shelter he wouldn’t survive.”
Meanwhile, at the Sunday Breakfast Mission, Buchmann has been getting to know his fellow shelter dwellers — many of whom, like him, don’t fit the homeless person stereotype
“I don’t drink, and I don’t do drugs. There are a lot of very smart people living at the mission who are just down on their luck,” he said.
Buchmann said he’s grateful to be able to visit his dog, and looking forward to living together with him again.
“He’s my buddy; he’s been with me through everything,” he said. “He seems content here, and he knows now that I’m coming back, that he hasn’t been deserted.”
(Photos: Jennifer Corbett / The News Journal)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 21st, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bond, boxer, buster, buster and pete, delaware, dogs, faithful friends animal society, homeless, homelessness, humans, mix, no-kill, pete and buster, pete buchmann, pets, reunion, rottweiler, sunday breakfast mission, visits, walks, wilmington
A 9-month-old collie mix found last week in a garbage can in New Stanton, Pa., is now enjoying the things her former owner failed to provide — food, shelter and kindness among them.
She’s less frightened, spunkier and has gained 8 pounds since she was discovered by a garbage truck driver on his route on Oct. 30, with her head sticking out of a trash bag.
State police say the dog’s former owner, Nicole L. Baker, 50, of Hempfield, tortured the dog by withholding food for about six weeks before leaving the dog in the trash can on Oct. 27, when she moved to Texas to be with her boyfriend.
She has been charged with a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty and a summary count of disorderly conduct.
Police say text messages sent by Baker indicate her actions went beyond neglect.
“Yeah, I am a bad person,” Baker wrote in a text-message response to a relative’s inquiry about the dog, who she called Mia, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
“By reading through the messages and things of that nature, she had intentionally misled people that were offering to help when it came to taking care of Mia, the dog,” Trooper Stephen Limani said. “She acknowledged the fact that at some point in time, she realized what she was doing, she fully knew it was wrong, and still she put a dog, her dog, in a garbage can,”
Fawna was taken to the Humane Society of Westmoreland County and is now in foster care, TribLive.com reported.
“She’ll grab my hand with her mouth and play,” said veterinary technician Megan Fritz, who is fostering Fawna. “She’s finally starting to act like a dog.”
At first, Fawna was fed beef and rice every three to four hours, then graduated to lamb and rice dog food. She weighed 17 pounds when found, instead of a normal weight of about 50. She’s living with a Great Dane and three cats, and was recently taken on a shopping spree at Burton’s Total Pet in Greensburg, and went home with donated toys, sweaters and treats.
“She needs to feel safe and secure for a little while,” Fritz said. “I’m blown away by the amount of support and love that people are sending her way.”
Among those horrified by the dog’s condition was Baker’s daughter, Brittany Prinkey, who lives next door to the trailer where her mother lived before moving to Texas.
“I’m super upset with her. I just don’t understand how someone could do that,” Prinkey said in an interview with WTAE. ”I was so upset, I felt like I was going to throw up. I was so sick to my stomach about everything. I couldn’t believe it. That garbage can is right over there. I didn’t hear anything. No one heard anything. No one knew. It’s disgusting.”
Prinkey said she seldom sees her mother, and that the dog was healthy when she last saw her in July.
Prinkey said she has been subjected to harassment and threats since the dog was found. ”People have been throwing stuff at my house, at my car, threatening me, telling me I should die. I should be put in a trash bag and left to suffocate without food and water,” she said.
Humane Society officials said it will probably be two months before Fawna becomes eligible for adoption.
Donations to Fawna’s care can be mailed to the Westmoreland Humane Society: PO Box 1552, Greensburg, PA 15601.
(Photos: At top, State Trooper Steve Limani comforts Fawna at the Humane Society of Westmoreland County in Greensburg, by Steph Chambers / Trib Total Media; lower photo from Humane Society of Westmoreland County)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 7th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, animal cruelty, animals, charged, collie, dog, dogs, emaciated, fawna, found, humane society, mia, mix, new stanton, nicole baker, pennsylvania, pets, pup, puppy, starvation, starved, trash can, westmoreland county
For more than a decade, they were a familiar sight around downtown Salisbury, Maryland — the homeless man and his silky white dog.
You could often find them stationed outside Benedict the Florist, or located in what was an even shrewder spot to panhandle — behind the Dunkin Donuts, where cars lined up at the drive-through.
Elwood, the homeless man, and Gladys, his dog, weren’t shooed away too often in Salisbury. That, likely, was in part because of Elwood’s friendly demeanor, maybe in larger part because of his highly sociable dog, who he found as a pup in a box by a Dumpster, or in a bag in the middle of Highway 13, depending on who’s telling the story
In any event, the troubled man and the Wheaton mix became partners in homelessness, and for more than a decade survived off the kindness of friends and strangers in Salisbury.
No one has seen Elwood since last May, though some people still think they see his dog at various locations around town.
Edna Walls had that feeling when she saw a silky white, mid-sized dog at a groomers recently, asked about it and learned it was — sure enough — Gladys.
Elwood Towers died last May of cancer, the groomer explained to her, and since then his dog has been living with the owner of the flower shop outside of which Elwood and Gladys once panhandled. She recounted the encounter in a reader-submitted column published on Delmarva Now.
The Lucky Dog Pet Salon never charged Towers for grooming Gladys, Walls reported, just like some local veterinarians cut him a break when Gladys needed shots or medical treatment.
An obituary on Legacy.com makes note of the kindness the two received. Submitted by his “adoptive family,” it thanks “the business and professional community and the thousands of people that took the time to help him, say a kind word, or give Gladys a pet. Those things are what made his life meaningful.”
The obituary continues, “He leaves behind his dearest and closest companion, Gladys. The ‘homeless man and his white dog’ were well recognized from their travels throughout the Salisbury area in the last 15 years. Elwood loved the outdoors and his ‘WORK;’ the proceeds of which were often shared with others in need.”
George Benedict, who took in Gladys after Elwood’s death, agrees that Elwood was known for being poor, but also for being a giving sort. Once, he got kicked out of an apartment for refusing to get rid of a stray bird he was nursing back to health.
“He was a generous man,” Benedict told ohmidog! ”If he took in $100, he’d give half of it away or buy groceries for friends in need.”
Elwood, before he died, took steps to make sure Gladys would be cared for. He asked George Benedict to take ownership of Gladys.
In years of writing about homeless people, and homeless dogs, and homeless people with homeless dogs, it’s something I’ve noticed. A homeless person may not know where their next meal is coming from, but they know where their dog’s is. A homeless person may have no roof over his head, and no plan for tomorrow, but likely they’ve made contingency plans for what will happen to their dog when they’re gone.
Benedict, who had always been fond of Gladys — who’d never suggested the pair move on when they lingered outside his shop — agreed. He’s retired now, and the floral shop — a local institution for 130 years — closed in 2011. Benedict still works with homeless people, though, through an organization called Hope, Inc.
He knew Elwood for almost 15 years, and remembers when Elwood found Gladys — in a box by a Dumpster, he says — and decided to keep the pup. Some people told Elwood that was a mistake, Benedict recalls, pointing out to Elwood that he could barely take care of himself.
Elwood had spent much of his life in prison, including his teens. He looked down on drug use, and while he enjoyed a beer or two, he wasn’t a heavy drinker, Benedict said.
Still, after taking in Gladys, Elwood never had another drink, Benedict said. “She was pretty much his whole life.”
For a while, Benedict said, Elwood lived in an unheated garage, paying $300 a month for it. About the time city inspectors asked him to leave, Gladys had a litter of pups. Elwood gave them away, including one to Benedict.
Benedict said that dog died at age 6, from lymphoma.
“I never imagined I would actually wind up with Gladys,” Benedict said.
In his final years, Elwood was fighting cancer, too. His lower jaw had to rebuilt after one surgery. He called off the fight in 2012, deciding not to seek further treatment.
In Elwood’s final months, Benedict spent a lot of time with him. He died May 17, 2013, at age 75 at Coastal Hospice at the Lake.
Benedict took Gladys to the groomer just before Elwood’s funeral, and she attended the service, along with about 35 humans.
“They were sort of unique in Salisbury,” Benedict said. “I guess it was the combination of him and Gladys. People gave him a lot more tolerance than they might some other folks.”
Gladys is 14 now.
“She’s an amazing dog,” Benedict says. She just instinctively likes to be with people … My wife and I are convinced she has some sort of aura about her. She goes with me wherever I go, and all the stores let her in. Wherever I go, people get out of their car and say ‘what kind of dog is that?’ I tell them she’s a Wheaton mix.
“Some of them say ‘I used to give food to a man who had a dog like that.’”
While Elwood has been dead for a year and a half, donations can still be made in his memory to the organization specified in his obituary: The Humane Society of Wicomico County, 5130 Citation Drive, Salisbury, MD 21804.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 25th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: benedict the florist, cancer, death, dunkin donuts, elwood, elwood and gladys, elwood towers, george benedict, gladys, homeless, homeless dogs, homeless people, homelessness, kindness, lucky dog pet salon, maryland, mix, new home, panhandling, salisbury, tolerance, wheaton