OUR BEST FRIENDS

whs-logo

The Sergei Foundation

shelterpet_logo

B-more Dog

aldflogo

Pinups for Pitbulls

philadoptables

TFPF_Logo

Mid Atlantic Pug Rescue

Our Pack, Inc.

Maine Coonhound Rescue

Saving Shelter Pets, Inc.

mabb

LD Logo Color

Tag: orphans

Speaking of curious routes …

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.

Labrador has served as mom to many

Lisha, a nine-year-old Labrador, is helping raise three month-old tiger cubs whose mother rejected them — and that’s just the latest in the long line of species she has suckled.

A resident of the Cango Wildlife Reserve in the Oudsthoorn area of South Africa, Lisha has served as a substitute mom for more than 30 orprhaned animals, including a porcupine and a hippo.

“We have had Lisha since she was a puppy,” said owner Nadine Hall. “‘It is all about her conditioning and fear. We noticed early on that she didn’t care if it was a cat or a porcupine. She would just walk up and lick the creature she was caring for. Although in the case of the porcupine that was more amusing.”

Mrs. Hall and her husband Rob, who is director of the Cango park, realized their dog had a unique gift and started bringing orphaned animals home for her to raise.

“If Lisha sees an animal being brought back in a box, she automatically assumes that it is to be cared for,” Mrs Hall said.

Lisha has never had her own litter.

You can see the family’s other photos in yesterday’s Daily Mail.

“Hotel for Dogs:” Like a lick in the face

On Saturday, I got a chance to see “Hotel for Dogs” at a special screening to benefit the Maryland SPCA, and  I highly recommend it, whether you’re 8 or 80.

The SPCA, which runs its own sort of hotel for dogs on Falls Road, brought three up-for-adoption dogs to the fundraiser at the Regal Cinema in Hunt Valley, including the pup above (whose attempt to relieve me of my camera was unsuccessful).

The movie was cute, and funny, and elicited at least a dozen prolonged “awwwwwws” from the capacity crowd as the story unfolded — two orphans take in a New York neighborhood’s strays dogs, using an abandoned hotel to provide a contraption-filled haven for them.

It’s a movie that brings out the child in you, makes you wonder where you’ve been hiding it, and ponder whether you might ought to let it — and the idealism that went along with it — out once in a while.

“Hotel for Dogs” takes grown-up cynicism and gives it a big sloppy lick in the face.

Hotel for Dogs opens Jan. 16.