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Tag: norfolk

The curious case of the chewed up chaise

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Law enforcement authorities in Norfolk (the one in the UK) have a whodunit on their hands.

Well, more like a whichdogdidit.

Three police dogs who reside with the same trainer are under investigation to determine which one of them, or which combination of them, shredded an outdoor lounger.

“That used to be a sun bed,” their handler tweeted in a photo post of the crime scene.

In it, all three dogs are sitting obediently alongside the lounger looking innocent or guilty, depending on one’s point of view.

And humans, as usual, are only too willing to pass judgment based on that photo alone. Internet voting has “all three” leading the way, with 44 percent of the vote.

The Eastern Daily Press is tallying the votes.

Among those who don’t suspect a three-way conspiracy, the cocker spaniel is is getting the most guilty votes. And some are saying all the evidence is circumstantial and suspicions shouldn’t be cast on the dogs just because they were there and the ground around them strewn with foam bits.

It could have been a visiting dog, or intruding squirrels, some suggest.

“Being police dogs, I think they rumbled an attack by rogue squirrels and are now standing guard to make sure the miscreants do not return,” one dog-faithful reader tweeted.

There has been no mention of conducting DNA testing on the chewed up foam, and the dogs — named Shuck, Murphy and Gizmo — remain free on their own recognizance.

(Photo: Twitter)

Bemis and Kelly together again

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A former Army medic flew from California to North Carolina last weekend to reclaim the dog she lost more than six years ago.

Kelly Accettola reunited with her Italian greyhound, Bemis, on Saturday, according to the Gaston Gazette.

Accettola flew from San Diego, where she now lives, to Charlotte to get the dog that went missing while she lived in Norfolk, Virginia.

It’s unknown what happened with Bemis during the six years he was missing, but somehow he ended up 300 miles from Norfolk.

He was spotted on the streets of Gastonia by Tracy Tucker as she drove to work and taken to Wilkinson Animal Hospital.

“I opened up the car door and he just hopped right on in,” said Tucker, who says she often rescues and fosters animals in the area. “Right after work we came here and found his chip and everything.”

Accettola was notified last week that Bemis had been found.

Bemis is in good shape, but needs about $1,200 worth of dental work.

To help pay for her travel and veterinarian bills, Accettola started a Go Fund Me page, which has raised $575.

According to the Gazette, American Kennel Club Reunite, a Raleigh-based organization which helps connect lost animals with their owners each day, matched his microchip to an address in Sacramento, California — Kelly’s mother-in-law’s home.

The American Kennel Club has offered to pay for all of Bemis’ veterinary bills, the newspaper reported.

Bemis disappeared after being let out into the back yard one night, Accettola said. “I went out to the backyard to see what was going on and sure enough he wasn’t there. It was just like he vanished without a trace,” she said.

She adopted the dog about nine years ago while living in upstate New York with her husband, Donavon Both were in the military, Kelly was a combat medic in the Army and Donavon was a nuclear engineer in the Navy.

Upon reuniting with her dog, Accettola cried: “Oh, my gosh, Bemis. Hi sweetheart. You look just the same.”

“You know, you hear these miracle stories about people who get their missing pets back after years apart and you think, ‘That’ll never happen to me,'” she said later. “But my God, it has.”

(Photo: NBC26, Scripps Media, Inc.)

Yes, Luke, there is a Doggy Heaven

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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.

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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.

letter“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.

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“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)

Scenes from a Motel 6 bedspread

Here’s who I’m sleeping with:

A fisherman.

A snow skier.

A bear and a dog (not counting Ace).

Some eagles, a pink flamingo and a cactus.

They are all there on the Motel 6 bedspread — every Motel 6 bedspread (except at those Motel 6’s that have been remodeled, in a motif somewhere between Santa Fe chic and Homeless Shelter stark.)

Because I have stayed at so many — it being the only chain consistently cheap and dog friendly — the Motel 6 bedspread is now emblazoned, if not on my body, at least on my brain.

I am very, very weary of the Motel 6 bedspread, and I think, it being stuck in my mind like a bad song, it is influencing my dreams: The fisherman meets the snow skier and tells him this bedspread isn’t big enough for the both of them. The fisherman’s dog sits patiently as they argue. Eagles soar overhead. A pink flamingo wanders out from behind a cactus and, in John Waters’ voice, asks for directions. A bear comes out of his den and, in Tom Bodell’s voice, invites them all inside. They decline and pile into the pick up truck (also on the bedspread). The bear says, “We’ll leave the lights on for you.” But they are gone by then.

It is a dizzying sight. There is much going on atop the Motel 6 bedspread — perhaps a little too much. It’s about four shades of blue, with purple, pink, green, tan, red, yellow and orange. It is polyester; I’d guess 130 percent polyester. Luggage, your dog, and yourself all might slide off it if not careful. If there were a stain on it, you would never know; it would disappear amid all the colors and activity.

Weary, as I said, of that bedspread, and fearing I was falling into a routine — when this trip is all about avoiding that — I pulled into Hampton Roads, Virginia, which, like the Motel 6 bedspread, is a far too busy conglomeration, a confusing patchwork of individual towns.

I was determined to find something other than a Motel 6, maybe a cheap and independent motel. I must have stopped at five of them — being told at each that my dog wasn’t welcome. They had low weekly rates, likely hourly rates as well, but, empty and down at the heels as they appeared, each had a strict ban on dogs.

Frustrated, and getting a bit prickly, I got on the Internet and searched for dog friendly lodgings, but nearly all of them — except Motel 6 and La Quinta — charged pet fees, often in amounts that were more than the human fee, some as much as $125 for a single night.

I believe I went down every one of the roads in Hampton Roads — getting caught in traffic in many of them.

At one motel in Portsmouth, a desk clerk behind bulletproof plastic told us to go to Chesapeake. The prices were so high there we went to Norfolk. Guess where we ended up?

At a Motel 6 — where, because it was the weekend and because it’s beach season, the prices were jacked up to $59 a night.

We had planned to spend the weekend in the area, and perhaps hit the beach, but between a scheduling conflict, the prices and the dog-unfriendly vibe, we decided to move on.

We did see a nice big empty mansion on our way north — one that once belonged to a guy named Michael Vick — but that’s a story for tomorrow.

(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America)

Roadside Encounters: Raj and Hug

Names: Raj and Hug

Age: Hug (the dog) is three.

Breed: Hug is a Rottweiller-German shepherd mix.

Encountered: In a trailer park in Norfolk, Virginia.

Backstory: I was taking Ace for his after dinner walk, when — as we passed through a parking lot, behind a mobile home park — a car slowly pulled up alongside us.

“He looks just like my dog,” the driver, speaking in a thick Indian accent, said. “He lives right over there,” he added, pointing at a mobile home that backed up to the parking lot.

He introduced himself as Raj, and we talked for five minutes as he petted Ace, who’d stuck his nose through the open car window.

After Raj pulled away, I circled the block, and walked back along busy Military Highway, headed  to my Motel 6. From out of nowhere, Raj pulled up alongside me again, this time with his daughter in the passenger seat. He stopped his car in the traffic so she could meet Ace, through the window, as well. Then he insisted I come see his dog.

“I’ll meet you there in two minutes,” he said as a long line of cars backed up behind him.

I went back to my room, grabbed my camera and returned to the mobile home park. As Ace and I walked up to his home, Hug came out, pulling the slightly built Raj behind him.

Ace and Hug hit it off fine. And they are remarkably similar in appearance — same eyes, same ears, same curly tail.

They both enjoyed some water and treats, supplied by Raj’s wife. She works at a nearby McDonalds. Raj, who moved to the U.S. 30 years ago from New Delhi, used to work at a McDonalds and drove a limousine until he got sick. He can’t work anymore, his wife explained.

Raj and his family adopted Hug from a local shelter about two years ago. Raj says he has always had dogs and can’t imagine life without one. He shook hands with Ace before we left and gave him a prolonged hug.

“I love dogs too much,” he said. “Yes, I love dogs too much.”

Roadside Encounters is a regular feature of “Dog’s Country,” the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America.

Norfolk SPCA offers cut rate dog flu vaccine

Concerned that cases of a highly contagious dog flu might be on the rise in Virginia, the Norfolk SPCA has vaccinated its shelter residents and is offering the two-shot vaccine series to local dogs for $45.

The H3N8 influenza virus is fatal to about 5 percent of dogs that catch it, the SPCA said in a news release. Symptoms include persistent sneezing and sniffling, coughing with a yellow discharge, and unusual fatigue.

The SPCA said suspected cases have been reported in Williamsburg and at the Norfolk Animal Care Center, the city’s animal shelter.

“If a dog sneezes and another dog walks by, he can catch it – that’s how contagious it is,” said Michelle Williams, SPCA director of donor and community relations.

All 70 dogs housed at the SPCA’s shelter have been given the vaccine, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

Barbara Hays, manager of the Animal Care Center, told the newspaper that tests haven’t come back yet on a dog in its care that died after being adopted. Although no other dogs have gotten sick, the shelter limited contact with outside dogs for about a week but isn’t vaccinating dogs, she said.

H3N8 is a type A influenza that is suspected to have started at a Florida greyhound track and has spread to 30 states. As of last year, 1,079 cases had been confirmed, Tampa Bay Online recently reported.

Virtually all dogs exposed to the virus become infected, though only about 80 percent will develop symptoms, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The AVMA recommends that people who work with dogs in shelters, kennels and dog day care centers wash their hands when they arrive, and before and after handing any dogs.

For an AVMA fact sheet about canine influenza, click here.

Bonnie & Clyde: A blind dog’s guide dog

bonnieandclydeWhen two stray border collies were taken in by Meadow Green Dog Rescue in England, operators of the shelter gave them names befitting a team — Bonnie and Clyde.

Then they found out just how special a team they are: Clyde, it turns out, is blind, and Bonnie is his unofficial guide dog.

The rescue has no idea where the duo came from, but reports that Bonnie stays  inches from Clyde’s side while guiding him on walks, or to food or water, and lets him rest his head on her haunches whenever he becomes disoriented.

When they are together, Clyde, estimated to be five years old, seems nearly as capable as any dog. But when Bonnie, believed to be two years old, is not at his side, Clyde refuses to move.

The inseparable pair were rescued as strays three weeks ago — found abandoned on a street in the middle of a storm, the Telegraph reported.

Meadow Green Dog Rescue in Loddon, Norfolk,  is trying to find them a new home, but officials there are insisting they be adopted as a team.

“If Clyde’s unsure where he is he will suddenly go behind her and put his face on her back so she can guide him where he is going,” said Cherie Cootes. “He totally relies on her the whole time. When she walks she tends to stop and make sure he’s there – she does look out for him.

“There’s absolutely no option of homing them separately – they have to go as a pair,” she added.

A citizen spotted the two dogs running through the rain in Blundeston, Norfolk. When she opened her car door they jumped right in. The dogs have no identification on their collars, and are not microchipped.

Cherie described the dogs as “typical high-spirited collies” and said they would make ideal pets in a home with a large, secure yard away from busy roads.

Sue Cootes, 59, who runs the rescue center with her daughter Cherie, said it was amazing to watch Bonnie assist Clyde.

 “It’s just instinctive with them to help each other and it’s marvelous to see animals doing this together,” she said. “Without Bonnie, Clyde would be lost. They can’t be separated, we need someone to take them both on.”