The old dachshund abandoned with a note at a Los Angeles County shelter, then saved from euthanasia by a rescue group, then offered back to the “poor, sick and elderly” owners who wrote the note, won’t be reuniting with them after all.
Upon further reflection, Toby Wisneski, founder of Leave No Paws Behind, decided life with his original owners — two traveling ministers – might not be best for the 13-year-old dachshund, and apparently Otto’s owners have said they’re good with that decision.
The owners, initially anonymous, have now been identified as Chris Gonzales and his wife, Christine. That’s Rev. Chris in the video above, seemingly speaking in tongues at times, and not appearing too sick, poor or elderly. (Public access to the video was removed after this post appeared.)
The video, and some other interesting information, was unearthed by Mary Cummins, an animal advocate and wildlife rehabilitator who writes a blog in Los Angeles.
Cummins reported Sunday that Wisneski had decided that, in the dog’s best interest, “he will be remaining right here in our care and his humans agree.”
“We are both seniors, sick with no money. We cannot pay for vet bills, or to put him to sleep. He has never been away from us in all those years, he cannot function without us, please put him to sleep.”
Before euthanizing the dog, the shelter called a rescue group, Leave No Paws Behind, which agreed to take him in. They named him Harley, got him treatment for a skin condition and pronounced him healthy enough to be adopted.
Wisneski, the group’s founder, also held out hope, at the time, that she might find the anonymous owners and return the dog to them, along with an offer to pay for all his medical care and food.
When the couple learned of the offer, and about donations coming in to help them, they came forward and agreed to reclaim their dog, whose real name is Otto, when they returned to town at the end of the month.
In an interview with KTLA, Chris Gonzales — though he wasn’t identified by name – said he and his wife were out of town and planned to return to California and pick up the dog once they raised enough money to buy new tires for their car.
What seemed, up to then, a heartwarming story, was slowly getting squirrely — turning into the kind it’s hard to keep the faith in.
Cummins, who had publicized the dog’s story on her blog in an attempt to help reunite him with his owners, did some investigating, and came away less than impressed with the couple.
“They are not senior citizens. They are not disabled. They are merely obese. They are not poor. They are traveling ministers who give little talks then beg for money. They are not a legal church, corporation or non-profit. They make $60,000/year,” she wrote.
“He’s one of those faith healers that puts his hands on people and then everyone shakes like someone having a seizure,” she added. “He likes to spit out mumbo jumbo made up words while doing so. He invites people to meetings at Sizzler or the Old Country Buffet restaurants. People pay for their food, listen to him talk then he asks for money. He calls it a ‘love offering.’”
Cummins now feels, in case it’s not obvious, that returning Otto to his owners would be a mistake.
While that means a detour before Otto finds his happy ending, we think that’s the right choice, too — based on what we’ve heard about his owners and the fact that they abandoned him in the first place.
Despite all that faith they travel the country professing, the couple apparently didn’t have too much in their dog.
Wisneski has said all of Otto’s medical problems turned out to be minor and treatable, and that he’s in good health now.
Here’s hoping Otto finds the home he deserves.
And that the reverends find some tires.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 18th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, animals, baldwin park animal shelter, california, chris gonzales, christine gonzales, church, dachshund, dog, dogs, dumped, faith, gonzales, harley, leave no paws behind, los angeles, ministers, note, old, otto, owners, pets, religion, rescues, reunion, shelter, shelters, sick, traveling, traveling ministers
The elderly couple that abandoned their dog at a Los Angeles County shelter, asking that the sickly 13-year-old dachshund be put down because they couldn’t afford his medical care, has been identified.
But only loosely.
Apparently they are down-on-their-luck traveling ministers, currently out of town, and they say that they’d gladly reclaim their dog — once they get enough money to buy new tires for their car and get back home to California.
The dachshund was left tied to a basket at the Baldwin Park Animal Shelter on March 6, along with a note asking he be put to sleep because his anonymous elderly owners could no longer afford to care for him.
Before euthanizing the dog as requested, the shelter called Leave No Paws Behind, a rescue organization. It took the dog in, named him Harley, and got him the veterinary care he needed — primarily treatment for mange.
The organization’s founder and CEO, Toby Wisneski, sought to track down the owners to reunite them with the dog, and she offered to pay for Harley’s medical care and dog food for the rest of his life.
This week she made contact with the couple and learned Harley’s real name — Otto Wolfgang Maximus. A reunion is tentatively scheduled after the couple returns to California around March 28.
“We thought he was dead, but he lives,” the dog’s owner told a KTLA reporter. “He’s being well taken care of and, boy, we’re just so extremely grateful.”
“We just are living week to week,” one of the owners said in the phone interview. “We can’t even go to the hospital to get our treatment.”
The dog was left at the shelter with a hand-written note that said he had recently gotten sick, was vomiting and had bloody stools.
“We are both seniors, sick with no money,” the note said. “We cannot pay for vet bills, or to put him to sleep. He has never been away from us in all those years, he cannot function without us, please put him to sleep.”
Posted by John Woestendiek March 14th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, animals, baldwin park, california, care, costs, dachshund, dog, dogs, elderly, expense, harley, leave no paws behind, mange, ministers, note, otto, pets, poor, poverty, rescues, reunion, shelters, surrendered, traveling, veterinary
A 36-year-old mother turned herself in Friday, but told reporters she was trying to help the German shepherd she took from a cemetery, thinking he’d been abandoned.
“I saw the dog almost get hit on the side of the road and I stopped to see if he was okay. And I picked him up thinking he didn’t have an owner. And I was trying to help. I took him to a vet to have him checked for a microchip. I was trying to help him, that’s all,” Dana Hartness told WCNC as she arrived at the Lincoln County courthouse with her lawyer.
Boh — wearing a collar, but no ID — was seen getting into a car on Feb. 28 at Forest Lawn Cemetery, which his owners live next door to. He became a social media sensation in the weeks after his disappearance as cemetery visitors posted remembrances online of how he had comforted them there.
He was found Thursday night wandering around Birkdale Village in Huntersville, about 25 miles away. Two sisters took him home from the shopping center and posted his photo on a Facebook page for lost German shepherds.
His owners, who had created their own Facebook page, Bring Boh Home, were told about the photo, checked it out, and knew immediately it was their missing dog. They picked him up Thursday night.
According to the Charlotte Observer, investigators had determined that Hartness, after stopping with Boh at an animal hospital, took the dog home — contrary to her claim that he ran away when she stopped her car to let him go to the bathroom.
“We know she took the dog home,” Lt. Tim Johnson said. “She had the dog there where she lives, then he got (away) the next day.”
The Observer reported that Hartness has been convicted in the past of larceny and attempted larceny, according to court records.
(Photo: Lincoln County sheriff’s office)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 8th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arrest, boh, cemetery, charlotte, comfort, dana hartness, dog, dogs, facebook, forest lawn, found, german shepherd, lincolnton, lost, north carolina, online, pets, returned, reunion, social media, stolen, surrender, visitors, warrant
Boh, the German shepherd who comforted visitors at a cemetery next door to his home, has been found — one week after his disappearance.
The dog was found Thursday night, safe and unharmed, about 25 miles away from his home in Lincolnton, according to the Bring Boh Home Facebook page.
His owners say it was a post on the Facebook page that led them to the dog, according to WCNC.
Boh was last seen at Forest Lawn Cemetery on E. Hwy 150 in Lincolnton, N.C., on Feb. 28, when a worker saw a woman wearing scrubs put the dog in her car and drive off.
His owners, Tina Kennedy and Brad Beal, had been looking for him ever since, and they turned to Facebook for help. While, at first, no definitive tips came in on the dog’s whereabouts, the couple learned, through responses to their posts, just how much Boh had come to mean to cemetery visitors.
“I can’t tell you how much he comforted me when I have been alone over there,” read one. “I remember him just sitting by me…I thought that was so cute. I will say a prayer he is returned.”
Another post called Boh “God’s shepherd watching over loved ones gone, but not forgotten.”
Many others shared personal stories on how Boh comforted them in their time of need.
After his disappearance, and through Facebook, his owners learned that Boh would escort cemetery staff members arriving for work to their offices. He’d greet those who arrived to visit departed loved ones, sometimes accompanying them to the graves.
“He just started going over to the graveyard and hanging out with the guys as they were working on the graves out here and he just kind of became a part,” Beal told WCNC in Charlotte. “He would walk the ladies from their cars to the office every morning. He’d console the families.”
“It is heartwarming to know what we knew was special to us has turned out to be, or maybe to be, more special to some other people because he’s helping them through a hard time,” said Kennedy.
It was also through Facebook that they managed to track Boh down.
The dog was reunited with his owners last night.
Police have questioned one suspect, WCNC reported today. She told officers she picked up the dog to take him to a shelter in Greensboro, but that the dog jumped out of the car in Cornelius. No charges have been filed.
Now that he’s back home, Boh might not be visiting the cemetery anymore, Beal said. He said he’s reluctant to let Boh go back there on his own, but added that Boh’s frequent visitors are welcome to come visit him.
(Photo: Boh reunites with owner, from the Bring Boh Home Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 7th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, boh, boh found, cemetery, charlotte, comfort, disappeared, dog, dogs, escort, facebook, forest lawn cemetery, found, god's shepherd, graves, graveyard, lincolnton, missing, north carolina, pets, reunion, reunited, search, shepherd, staff, stolen, visitors
If there are two things that melt the average American’s heart, they are dogs and returning soldiers.
Put them together — as in a soldier coming home and reuniting with his or her dog — and you have a slam dunk in terms of public appeal, as the plethora of real videos of that on YouTube, and the number of views they’ve received, attest.
This one, despite what many viewers think, isn’t real, but a staged presentation aimed at selling Iams dog food.
“Rocky the dog didn’t know why Dawn was gone for so long,” the commercial tells us. “But when she showed up in military camoflouge, he was there ready to greet her with the biggest welcome home. So, to keep Rocky strong and healthy, Dawn chooses Iams dog food.”
The ad features a magnificent Irish Wolfhound (whose real name is Monster) and his real owner, named Andrea. But it’s not capturing a real reunion. (Search YouTube for “dog” and “soldier” and “reunion” and you can find plenty of those.)
Before airing it on television, Procter & Gamble unveiled the ad, and others in its “Keep Love Strong” series, on Facebook, to let viewers share, like and comment on them.
The campaign, which started airing late last year, was created by the New York firm of Saatchi & Saatchi and showcases “the important role premium nutrition like Iams plays in keeping a dog or cat’s body as strong as their love.”
“At Iams, we trust our fans and value their opinions a great deal, so we wanted to give them an opportunity to participate in choosing our next commercial,” Iams brand general manager Ondrea Francy said in a press release about the ”Keep Love Strong” campaign. “…One of the most exciting things about our new campaign is that it was all inspired by real stories of unconditional love.”
Despite all that trust they have for us, Procter & Gamble didn’t go out of its way to point out that the commercial was made with actors, as opposed to depicting a real returning vet reuniting with their pet, leaving the issue subject to debate among online commenters.
Reading through the comments about the ad on YouTube, most seem to be from those smitten by the dog, and many are from viewers pointing out the ad made them cry.
One commenter insists he looked it up and determined that it was made with a real video of a dog and returning soldier. (Here’s some proof it wasn’t.)
Mostly, the ad is praised, but some question whether it’s using the military to sell dog food: “You’re doing a disservice to service members like my husband who wear the uniform PROUDLY,” said one.
Maybe, but the fact of the matter is that patriotism – like dogs, catchy tunes, scantily clad models and talking babies — can be a powerful sales tool, and not too much is out of bounds these days when it comes to advertising, including shamelessly blatant heartstring tugging.
That doesn’t mean (this being a free country, where we can speak our minds and buy the dog food of our choice) that we can’t criticize or pick nits.
Some commenters point out that the generic camouflage uniform worn by the “soldier” doesn’t pass muster.
“This is not real. She has no rank or anything on her uniform. No flag, no unit patch and her hair (is) completely wrong! This is probably a really well trained dog but she is not a real soldier … And she’s wearing Air Force boots with an army uniform! This would never fly in the military.”
A couple of commenters make the point that a dog as tall as an Irish Wolfhound should not be eating out of a bowl on the floor, but from a raised feeder: “You’d think the DOG FOOD company would know that…”
A handful of viewers seemed concerned, instead, that the dog and returning soldier are getting a little too intimate.
That was also the viewpoint of a post on the blog, Why I Hate Dogs, whose author says the ad “veers into the bestiality zone…”
“It shows a woman dressed in military fatigues, apparently just back from deployment somewhere. She is seen inside the house gushing over her huge Irish wolfhound (Russian wolfhound?), and walks outside, where she proceeds to lie flat on her back on the driveway, while the dog lowers itself on top of her, its legs splayed. The genital areas match up. Yes, it looks like this man-sized dog is having sex with her.”
How do you spell “Geesh?” (Is it two “E’s” or three — as in “geeesh” — and if so, might those naugbhty vowels be having an illicit threesome?)
As for me, it’s not the canine-human genital proximity that’s of concern, or the fact that the soldier’s uniform does or does not meet specs.
It’s that people don’t know whether the reunion video is real or staged. Some commenters, with whom I’d disagree, wrote that, as long as we are touched by it, that doesn’t matter.
Maybe I just need new glasses, but the line between truth and fiction seems to be getting awfully blurry these days. It doesn’t serve us well. And it would seem to me that it wouldn’t serve the dog food company well, either. If we don’t know whether the company is showing us a real event, or a staged generic re-creation, might we also wonder about how true the advertisement’s claims are, and how nutritious their product really is?
What is clear is this: Advertisers, while they may have a hard time finding unconditional love, are quick to seize upon the theme — especially if it might sell some dog food.
(“Woof in Advertising” is an occasional ohmidog! feature that looks at how dogs are used to sell stuff.)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 8th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: advertisement, advertising, air force, animals, army, commercial, commercials, dawn, dog food, dogs in advertising, iams, irish wolfhound, marines, marketing, media, navy, pets, procter & gamble, returning, reunion, reunions, rocky, saatchi & saatchi, soldier, television, unspoken, veteran, welcome home, woof in advertising
The only real piece of his previous life the homeless Florida man still had was his dog, a blue pit bull named Handover.
On the morning of May 8, he woke up — along U.S. 19 in Hudson — to find Handover was gone, too.
The dog was gift, five years ago, from his now ex-wife. She was holding the dog and asked Bryan what they should name him. Bryan said, “Hand him over.”
“He is my best friend. He’s my heart and soul,” Bryan told ABC Action News, which last week picked up on the story about the missing dog. “If anybody sees him, please bring him home.”
As word spread about the missing dog, Carolyn Texter, who knew Handover and Bryan from her work with animal rescues, decided to help.
Texter started a Facebook page to find Handover, and a reward fund established for his safe return grew to $1,000. Yesterday, Handover was found and, after a visit to a vet for a check-up and microchipping, reunited with Bryan.
Texter described him as “speechless” and thankful for all the help he’d received.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 23rd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, carolyn texter, dog, dogs, dogs and homeless, facebook, florida, hand him over, handover, homeless, hudson, james bryan, pets, pit bull, pitbull, rescue, returned, reunion
Marine Sgt. Ross Gundlach, while serving in Afghanistan, made a promise to Casey, the explosive-detecting yellow Lab who worked alongside him.
“I promised her if we made it out of alive, I’d do whatever it took to find her,” Gundlach said.
Gundlach, after completing his military service and enrolling at the University of Wisconsin, managed to find out that Casey had finished her military service and been sent to work for the state of the Iowa, detecting explosives.
Knowing it was probably just the first round of a long bureaucratic battle, Gundlach wrote to State Fire Marshal Director Ray Reynolds, explaining the connection he felt with the four-year-old dog who’d been both lifesaver and companion. Gundlach wears a tattoo on his right forearm depicting Casey with angel wings and a halo.
But, as reported by the Associated Press, things happened quickly.
“He’s been putting a case together for the last two months, sending me pictures,” Reynolds said. “ … It just tugged on your heart.”
Reynolds got in touch with the Iowa Elk’s Association, and it agreed to donate $8,500 to buy another dog for the fire marshal’s office.
Then, he got in touch with Gundlach, telling him that he needed to come to the state Capitol in Des Moines on Friday to plead his case before a “bureaucratic oversight committee.”
Gundlach, 25, showed up with his parents.
Reynolds told Gundlach the meeting had been delayed, but invited he and his parents to attend an Armed Services Day celebration in the rotunda.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers, military personnel and civilians were already there, and knew — unlike Gundlach — what was about to happen.
That’s when Casey appeared.
A ceremony was held in which Gov. Terry Branstad officially retired Casey from active duty, thanking her for “a job well done.”
Casey was given to Gundlach, who put his head in his hands and cried.
“It was a total surprise,” he said. “I owe her. I’ll just try to give her the best life I can.” During the 150 missions they performed together, Gundlach said Casey never missed an explosive. He credits her for making it back home safely. “I wouldn’t be here … any kids I ever had wouldn’t exist if Casey hadn’t been here,” he said.
His father, Glen Gundlach, seemed just as surprised.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “The state of Iowa, I love ‘em.”
(Photos: Charlie Neibergall / AP)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 20th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, armed services day, bureaucracy, capitol, casey, des moines, detecting, dog, dogs, explosives, fire, government, iowa, marine, marshal, military, pets, ray reynolds, reunion, reunited, ross gundlach, state
A lost dog, stuck in train tracks.
An oncoming N.J. Transit train, in a hurry to make Hoboken.
Not the ingredients for a happy ending.
But there was one, anyway.
The engineer and conductors spotted Sparky, an American Eskimo dog, on the tracks Tuesday morning, on the Bergen county Line in Garfield. He was stuck between the rails and a bridge joint.
Passengers, despite the six-minute delay, approved and brok into applause when the crew and dog reboarded.
“When we came in, they all came, their camera phones out, taking pictures, they were all in good spirits,” train conductor Paul Bowen told CBS in New York.
In another fortunate twist of fate, Sparky’s owner called police in Garfield to report her dog missing about the time NJ Transit reported the one they’d found.
“I was so scared, because I didn’t know where he was,” owner Yvette Osorio said. “I’m very happy and I’m thankful to all of them for saving my dog.”
Posted by John Woestendiek May 16th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: american eskimo dog, bergen county, commuters, conductors, delay, dog, engineer, found, garfield, happy ending, hoboken, lost dog, new jersey, nj transit, reunion, sparky, train
Excited dogs greeting returning soldiers have become an Internet staple, but here’s one with a special twist.
Emma, a pitbull mix who suffers from a congenital anomaly that affects her spine — leaving her front legs only partially functioning and her back legs useless — didn’t let that stop her when her human returned from a six-month deployment.
She pulled and slid herself across the floor to greet him, along with the other two family dogs.
Melissa Swanson uploaded the video of her returning husband and excited dogs on YouTube.
“Emma and her daddy were very close! It broke her heart when he left,” she wrote. “When I come in the door, she normally sits at the end of the hallway and waits for me to pick her up. This time, when her daddy came in, she went to him … Gotta love homecomings!”
The Swansons heard of Emma through SNARR (Special Needs Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation), and became her foster parents. They’ve since decided to adopt her. They’re still trying to find the perfect cart for Emma — one that will require her to keep using her front legs without putting too much pressure on them.
You can learn more about Emma on her Facebook page.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 26th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopt, animals, congenital, deployment, dog, dogs, emma, family, foster, greeting, hemivertebrae, homecoming, homecomings, pets, returning, reunion, snarr, soldier, soldiers, special needs animal rescue and rehabilitation, spinal, swanson, video, war
It’s the one-year anniversary for 120 beagles who, around this time last year, learned the true meaning of independence.
Up until then, even here in the land of the free, they weren’t.
Instead, like thousands of other beagles bred and born for the sole purpose of laboratory use, they’d never experienced what most dogs take for granted — things like grass and dirt and running — and were destined, once their use in testing was complete, for something quite contrary to a loving home.
The beagles had been left locked in a research facility operated by Aniclin Preclinical Services in Warren County, N.J. after its parent pharmaceutical company went bankrupt. When their situation came to light, a judge order the dogs turned over to rescue groups.
One year ago, a group of them were welcomed to Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary in New York, where work began on socializing them so they could be adopted out as family pets.
This coming Sunday, some of them will gather for a reunion.
About 35 of the adopters stay in touch on Facebook, offering support and following each others progress through photos and stories.
They — and any of the others who adopted a “freegle,” as they are prone to calling the dogs rescued from the laboratory — are gathering July 10, from 12:30 to 4 p.m., at Kennedy Dells Park, 355 North Main Street in New City, New York.
Among those attending will be a beagle named Grace, who has her own Facebook page, called Saving Grace. Grace’s owner said that while word of the reunion has gotten out among those who stay in touch, other beagles adopted from the group are also invited, as well as everyone else who participated in rescuing them.
Shelters, sanctuaries, volunteers and staff are “most welcome to attend and meet the families and hear the stories of how the Freegles have been adjusting to the good life.”
(For questions or to RSVP, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
I met several lab beagles while researching my book — including some flourescent beagle clones in South Korea. In Texas, I interviewed the woman who cared for the beagles used in attempting to clone a dog at Texas A&M University.
Jessica Harrison, a graduate student at the time, was in charge of socializing the beagles and finding adoptive homes for them — not usually the case or fate of laboratory beagles — after their services in the lab were no longer required.
“What they teach them is to be still,” she told me. “As puppies, they teach them to just freeze when a person messes with them. We had to kindo of undo that and say, ‘No,we want you to move around and be excited.’
“We slowly exposed them to all the things they’d be exposed to in a family home — like TVs, mirrors, grass, trees, flowers, birds and bees. These dogs had never seen any of that. You put them down on the grass, and they’re like, ‘What’s this?’ It was kind of overwheliming. You get used to it, but at first it’s like, these are dogs, how can they not know these things?”
The use of dogs in laboratory research was declining, but it has jumped up in recent years, with much of the increase due to advancements in, and the promise of, gene therapy.
(Photos: Top photo from the Facebook page of Freegles Justice and Skipper; bottom photo by John Woestendiek)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 4th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adopted, aniclin, animal sanctuary, beagles, best freinds, cloning, dog inc., dogs, experiments, flourescent, freed, freegle reunion, freegles, kennedy dells park, lab animals, lab beagles, laboratory, medical, new city, new jersey, new york, pets, pets alive, pharmaceuticals, rescue, research, reunion, sanctuary, science, shelter, warren county