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Tag: saint bernard

Roadside Encounters: Charlie

Name: Charlie

Breed: Saint Bernard

Age: 4

Encountered: At a rest area in western Montana, just a couple of miles before the Idaho state line.

Backstory: Charlie, a female with a sweet disposition, was headed back home to Seattle from a road trip to Wisconsin. She lumbered out of the car to meet Ace, but Ace was more interested in the treats her owner — a former Baltimore resident — had in her pocket. Ace and Charlie stared at each other, sniffed, and munched some more treats together before doing their business and climbing back into their respective cars and rolling through Idaho.

St. Bernard: The imperishable parish

If you don’t think dogs are being hurt by the BP oil spill, perhaps you need a lesson in the trickle down – or, in this case, ooze down – theory of disaster economics.

And there may be no better place to learn it than St. Bernard Parish, southeast of New Orleans, a community that was struggling to survive to begin with, left underwater by Hurricane Katrina and, with more than half of its families owing their incomes to fishing, is now feeling the rippling ramifications of the oil spill.

They evacuated during the hurricane, came back and have been rebuilding ever since. Now, the oil rig explosion and subsequent contamination of the gulf means a loss of work and more sacrificing.

Right down to the family dog.

This one statistic pretty much sums it up: The St. Bernard Parish animal shelter took in 60 dogs in May 2009; this May it saw 288 come in, many of them surrendered by owners who, having at least temporarily lost their livelihoods to the oil spill, said they could no longer afford to provide care for their dogs.

That sad-eyed girl above, named Abby, arrived at the shelter a week ago, surrendered by a family that subsisted on harvesting seafood from the gulf – only a few pockets of which are still open to shrimping, crabbing, and oyster harvesting.

While some fisherman have turned to working on the cleanup, “they’re not making nowhere near what they were making before,” said Shannon Asevedo, a St. Bernard Parish animal control officer.

Another occupant of the shelter, Sasha, was owned by a BP employee who turned her over to his mother-in-law because he was being called upon to travel so much. When Sasha had ten pups last month, it was more than she could handle. Now all 11 are at the shelter, where the BP employee’s ex-wife works as a volunteer – partly so she can see her former dog. Due to financial and legal problems, she’s unable to care for Sasha as well.

“Our intakes have probably doubled if not tripled since the oil spill,” Asevedo said. “They may not all be related to it. Most people just say they can’t afford to take care of them anymore. It’s a shame. More are here because their parents can’t take care of them. At the same time, adoption rates are down, too. So where do they go?”

St. Bernard Parish Animal Services Director Beth Brewster says the shelter attempts to place all dogs in adoptive homes, ships some to rescue groups and tries to put down only those deemed aggressive.

Interestingly, the shelter sees a large number of large dogs and pit bulls. Families returning to rebuild after Katrina often bought large dogs and left them at their homes at night to protect against the theft of construction materials.

Brewster, in the job for two years now, said the parish’s previous shelter, with a capacity of 26 dogs, “was a dump.” The parish opened its new facility this January, with financial help from the Humane Society of the United States and FEMA.

The old shelter had reopened shortly after Katrina, but went nearly two years without electricity or running water. It strung together hoses to bring in water, and used extension cords to supply electricity. It, unlike the new facility, had no air conditioning, which took a toll on dogs and humans alike.

The shelter was so shoddy that the shelter bought an old school bus and would load it with adoptable dogs, parking in front of the Home Depot and trying to find them homes.

Now they have a gleaming new shelter, and a new air-conditioned mobile unit. But they also have more dogs than even their new and expanded capacity can handle, with more and more dogs being surrendered for economic reasons.

“This is not a wealthy community to begin with,” Brewster said. “Most of these people grew up on the water and more than half make their living on it.”

Recognizing the parish’s problems, the Humane Society of the United States has sent a shipment of dog food to the area, to be distributed to pet owners facing hardships associated with the gulf oil spill. The food is also being distributed in Plaquemines Parish.

“The Humane Society of the United States was saddened to hear that animals inland from the shoreline are also suffering from this disaster,” said Julia Breaux, the organization’s Louisiana director.

St. Bernard Parish, as you’ve probably guessed, is not named after the dog breed, but after the actual saint — Saint Bernard, who devoted himself to the conversion of the people of the Alps and is known as the patron saint of mountaineering.

But the determined people of the parish may have more in common with the dog breed, which is named after St. Bernard’s Pass in the Alps (which is named after the Saint). The dogs were brought to a famous hospice there in the 1600s, where they developed their reputation for mountain rescues and where, it is said, rugged and adverse conditions honed their strong instinct for survival.

Why dogs are better than men — in song

norahjones-album

I have no statistics, just a hunch: Dogs — in addition to all the other places they’re appearing more often (books, TV and movies to name three) — are turning up more regularly on album covers.

The latest I’m aware of is the Saint Bernard who graces the cover of Norah Jones’ new album, ”The Fall.”

The dog on the cover isn’t her’s — just one of several model dogs that the photographer planned to use in a group shot.

“She wanted to use a bunch of dogs because she likes working with animals. I thought it sounded fun,” Jones said in an interview with Hulu’s blog “We ended up just loving the Saint Bernard so much that we got some shots with just him. He was so beautiful.”

Jones is a dog lover, doting in particular on her rescued poodle Ralph.

“My dogological clock started to tick. So I got a dog … I’m madly in love with him,” the songstress told NPR’s Morning Edition. “I like to say that he’s a scruffy, manly poodle, because you say poodle and people start rolling their eyes… ”

Ralph also served as the inspiration for the closing track of the album, “Man of the Hour,” whose lyrics recite the many advantages living with a dog has over living with a man.

Here’s her recent performance of the song on ”Good Morning America.”

Searching for Saint Bernard’s mystery owner

stbernard1Police in Massachussetts are hoping a Saint Bernard might help them solve the mystery of his owner’s disappearance.

Police are searching for an elderly man who walked the Saint Bernard every morning near Accord Pond, a reservoir that supplies water to several South Shore communities.

The dog showed up alone Wednesday at a Chili’s restaurant, where a manager called police.

Last week, police let the dog loose in the woods near the pond, hoping he would lead them to a house, according to a Boston Globe article. But he just wandered around the area. On Wednesday, divers searched Accord Pond for nearly four hours, but did not find anything.

Since then, Leslie Badger, an animal control officer in Hingam, Mass., has been taking the dog around town, in hopes somebody might recognize him and be able to provide some clues to his owner’s identity.

Many people in the area saw the man walking the dog early in the morning on streets near the pond. But authorities haven’t found any one who knows his name and address.

Police are considering the possibility that the man abandoned the dog. Authorities say the dog is visibly upset, and that many have called offering to adopt him.

Shih-what? Mispronounced dog breed names

    Here are my favorite mispronunciations of dog breeds, all of which I’ve actually heard.

    1. Akeeter. Because of his curly tail, my dog Ace is often suspected to have some of this Japanese breed in his mix. As in, “He got any Akeeter in ‘em?”

    2. Burmese Mountain Dog. Alas, these behemoths are not from Burma, but a section of Switzerland that is also home to the Bernese Alps. Not the Alpos, the Alps.

    3. Datsun. A few months back I saw a sign posted on a light pole by a family that was having to find a new home for their “Datsun,” which was good with children and up to date on its shots.

    4. Great Dames. I’ve known a few, and none were dogs. I don’t think they were Danes, either.

     5. Rock Wilder. I’ve had several people tell me that my dog appears to have some “Rock Wilder” in him. They’re correct about that part, at least — if not the porn star-sounding name of the breed.

    6. Saint Barnyard. Protectors of all the cows, pigs, goats and chickens? Hay, that can’t be right. 

  7. Snoozers. You’ve got your standard Snoozers and your miniature Snoozers. Most of the miniature ones I’ve known, however, don’t snooze much, or allow anyone else to, either.

shih (long pause) tzu

   8. Sharpie. It’s Shar-Pei, not Sharpie. Make a note of it.

    9. Rhyme-a-whiner/Wisenheimer. I had one of these sleek, silver-grey, highstrung dogs while growing up, and while she did sometimes whine, she was, bless her heart, anything but wise.

    10. Welch Corky.  No, it’s not what keeps the grape juice in the bottle. It’s the dog breed that got short-changed when they were handing out the legs — the Welsh Corgi.

Monday: The hardest-to-pronounce dog breed of all.