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Tag: seattle

How the therapy dog sees it

How do things look from a therapy dog’s point of view?

To see things from Hank’s perspective — maybe even better, given Hank’s shaggy bangs — his owner mounted a video camera on the back of the Old English sheepdog.

hankandwhalenThe five-year-old dog makes his rounds every other week at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital, with his owner, Tom Whalen, according to a hospital blog called “On the Pulse.”

Whalen said hospital stays — especially those lasting weeks or months — can be overwhelming for children. Hank helps bring them some joy and motivation.

“We are able to give them a new focus aside from what they are currently feeling. It’s amazing to see the positive shift in energy for both the patient and their family after Hank walks in,” Whalen says.

Hank and Tom are one of nine dog-human teams that take part in the hospital’s visiting dog program.

As a child, Whalen says, he spent a lot of time in a hospital when his brother was diagnosed with leukemia.

“I remember how my brother loved having visitors,” he said. “This is part of the reason why I love visiting kids at Seattle Children’s. I’m able to see the amazing affect Hank and I can have. I’ve even seen patients whose parents have told me that their child had not smiled or laughed in days or weeks, but as soon as Hank walked in, they lit up with sheer joy.”

Zelda-and-Hank7-croppedThe visits do require some preparation, though. The hospital insists visiting therapy dogs be bathed 24-48 hours prior to a visit. That’s no small task with a 78-pound sheepdog, but Hank (if not Tom) always looks forward to it.

He knows it means a visit to the hospital is coming — and he gets even more excited when Tom places a bright orange Seattle Children’s bandana around his neck.

“Some of the reactions I’ve witnessed are remarkable,” said Whalen. “We once visited a patient that had been unresponsive, but a gentle stroke of Hank’s hair encouraged movement and interaction that their family hadn’t seen in days…

“I am just in awe of Hank’s ability to help heal and I am honored to be on the other end of his leash, helping to brighten these kids’ day.”

(Photos: Seattle Children’s Hospital)

100 rescue dogs survive truck accident

They might not admit it, but sometimes even rescuers need to be rescued.

A truck from the rescue and transport organization Tall Tails jackknifed on Interstate 70 in Colorado Thursday, but no one — including the 100 dogs aboard — was injured.

The organization was transporting the dogs from high-kill shelters in Texas to animal rescue centers in the Seattle area, where they have a better chance of being adopted.

The truck jackknifed and ran off the highway on snowy Vail Pass, but what could have been a tragedy turned out to have a pretty happy ending.

Between Eagle County Animal Shelter and Services springing into action, and an outpouring of help from volunteers, all the dogs were kept warm and fed and exercised until a new truck arrived to transport 84 of the dogs to the final destination.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The others were adopted during the unexpected layover in Eagle County.

After the accident, the dogs were taken to the Eagle Fairgrounds’ Eagle River Center where 150 volunteers came out to care for the animals during their 36-hour stay.

Many more donated food, towels, and toys.

“The response was unbelievable when we put up a brief Facebook post asking for folks to come help,” Daniel Ettinger, manager of Eagle County Animal Shelter and Services told KOMO News. “We actually had a line out the door of people that wanted to come walk or clean. It was just unbelievable.”

At least 14 of dogs were adopted while at the fairgrounds.

The rest safely finished the journey to Seattle in a heated horse trailer.

(Photo: Eagle County Animal Shelter and Services)

Lost dog is found — even though dyed black

waffles afterA Cairn Terrier stolen from outside a grocery store in Seattle was tracked down by her owner — despite having been dyed black by the homeless woman suspected of the theft.

Waffles, a formerly blond and gray dog, is back home after police and a veterinarian determined she was indeed the same dog that Robert Lucier and his family had spent four days looking for.

“Thank goodness she had a microchip,” Lucier told the New York Daily News.

The family had put up posters and searched for the dogs since she was stolen last week, while briefly left tied up outside a grocery store.

On Saturday, Lusicer received a tip from someone saying he saw a homeless woman “washing the paint” out of his dog in a public bathroom at Seattle Center. Lucier hopped on his bike and began searching the area.

He saw a woman with a dog that strongly resembled Waffles — except for being solid black.

He confronted the woman, who insisted it was her dog.

Lucier remained suspicious, especially after he got close enough to the dog to detect the scent of chemicals.

He said he and the woman wrestled a bit, and that’s when three police cars pulled up.

wafflesbeforeBoth sides insisted the dog was their’s and a veterinarian was called in to check for a microchip.

Sure enough, the dog had one, identifying her as Waffles and Lucier as the owner.

She is back home now, and, after a few baths, still mostly black — but Lucier expects the coloring will fade away over time.

“She’s still shocked. She’s normally such a friendly, outgoing dog. She’s still walking around with her tail between her legs,” he said. “It’s going to take a little time for her to get adjusted.”

Waffle’s family decided not to press charges against the woman who he said “has bigger problems” to deal with.

The case of the grieving Rottweiler

I eschew anthropomorphism. I eat meat. I am neither touchy nor feely. Yet even I, a (mostly) cynical and unemotional sort, couldn’t help feeling some emotions rise up in me when watching this video of a Rottweiler seemingly grieving the death of his litter mate.

It was posted on YouTube last month, by a Seattle man who says he awoke to find one of his Rottweilers dead, and the other resting his head atop the deceased dog, refusing to move.

“Clearly you can see in his eyes, he is crying for his brother who had passed as his world around him just crumbled. We both grieve and cry for our brother … This is proof that animals DO have emotions and feel pain just like we do,” Brett Bennett wrote in the YouTube post.

I, being a cynic, question some of that, particularly the crying — I’m not sure dogs shed actual tears of emotion. But I do believe dogs have emotions, and can feel sadness. 

What I question much more than whether Brutus is truly grieving, though, is how Bennett is using the video to get online donations to buy himself a house in the country.

On the post, he provides a link to an Indiegogo page he created, seeking donations he says will be used to provide housing for himself (he says he’s homeless) and his dogs (he says he has four).

In fairness, he began the campaign before Hank died in late January, initially seeking enough money for a security deposit and first and last month’s rent required to rent a home.

Since reaching that goal, and since the death of Hank, he has apparently set his sights higher:

Under the headline “Help Grieving Rottweiler Buy a New Home ,” he explains, “before Hank passed, we had started a fundraiser to help us into a nice warm home and off the streets … We have succeeded in our goal, but have been approached by animal lovers from around the world to reach for the stars and to ask for donations to not rent, but to own a home.

“As everyone knows, it is very hard to rent a place with a Rottweiler or with several rescue animals. It would give us the option to rescue as many animals in need or as possible. Our mission goal, our dream, is to buy a house out in the country, on some acreage, with the ability to freely rescue and foster as many animals that we can…”

I applaud his stated intentions — to rescue more animals — and I have no problem with people who are experiencing hard times seeking the public’s help, or with the public providing it.

But even assuming Bennett and his plea are all on the up and up, it still strikes me as a rather bold request. Asking for help to pay for a life-saving veterinary procedure is one thing; asking us to help buy a house in the country for him and his dogs is quite another. And recording and broadcasting the heartstring-tugging reaction of Brutus to the death of Hank may be laying it on so thick as to border, in my opinion, on exploitation.

(Then again, the same could be said of those ultra-sad ads some animal welfare organizations use in their quests to raise funds.)

“Don’t let Hanks passing die in vein (sic )with him,” Bennett asks, “Please share our story.”

So I’m kind of doing that, with obvious reservations.

Being cynical, I’m a little wary of pleas by dog owners appealing to the public for financial help via crowdfunding websites like Indiegogo. There’s really no way to know — short of playing detective yourself  — which ones are legit, and which ones are scams.

With his video of Brutus going viral — more than 2.5 million views as of last weekend — and with it bringing in advertising revenue as well, I suspect Bennett is on his way to amassing a decent down payment, and he’s definitely showing some initiative.

But as with another dog-related story I’ve covered at length, pet cloning, there’s something distasteful about turning people’s tears and grief into big bucks.

Bennett says on his Facebook page for the dogs that he suspects Hank died of a broken heart.

“I’m so sorry you guys … I wasn’t strong enough and had a breakdown in front of the dogs. Hank was right by my side with his Therapy Dog service and grieved with me as I was so upset. He looked so sad. I noticed Hank never came out of his grievance and stopped eating. He was still drinking and nibbling on food so I thought he was okay. A week later Brutus and I awoke to his peaceful body next to us as he passed in the night in his sleep.”

He says the video was shot “about 30 minutes after we woke up and were missing our baby. I normally don’t video record my real life catastrophes or share but decided I needed to send a message to the world and show how much pain my dog was in as he loved his Twin so much.”

Bennett says Brutus is weeping on the video. And, in it, you can hear Bennett sobbing himself. I’m not suggesting any of it is fake. I’m no expert on human emotions, or animal emotions. Is there really any difference between the two? I don’t know, but my hunch is, based on how the video is so blatantly being used to raise money, that it’s the reaction of Brutus that may be more sincere.

Seattle dog takes the bus to the dog park — by herself

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.

But, damn.

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?”

eclipse

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.

eclipse2

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.”

(Photos: KOMO)

A rowboat is home for Three Stars and Lulu

You know we can’t pass up a homeless person and dog story — whether it’s one we stumble upon, or one somebody else has.

Erik Lacitis, of the Seattle Times, came across such a pair living in a 14-foot aluminum rowboat, anchored in a foot of water, under the pillars of the Highway 520 bridge.

There, William Kaphaem — who prefers his Mohawk name, “Three Stars” — lives, cocoon-like, with his  dog, Lulu, under a brown plastic tarp that, inside, affords a few feet of headroom and, outside, blends in with the muddy shore.

The story appeared in the Times yesterday.

Inside his rowboat home, Three Stars, who is 51, reads by lantern light and listens to baseball games on a battery-powered radio. Across the boat’s benches, he has laid a sheet of plywood that serves as his bed. Three Stars has five spinning rods he uses to catch perch, bass and the occasional trout, and a collapsible trap for catching crawdads.

Among the some 2,400 homeless counted living outside this January in the Seattle area, the newspaper says, his one of the more unusual living arrangements.

Three Stars told the reporter he moved onto the rowboat because he needed someplace to store his stuff.

“I’ve got a lot of stuff. I didn’t want to schlep it around town like some tramp,” he said. “I’ve got more dignity than that.”

He lives on $636 a month SSI, and until last year he was renting a room. But when the owner of the home died, he had to look for a new place.

Three Stars told Lacitis he’s prone to talking too much. He said he has held “40 jobs in two years, and I got fired in all of them … Burger King, grocery store … sometimes I can’t shut my face.”

He grew up in Massachusetts and Florida, and came to Seattle to be a street musician. He used to play, with Lulu at his side, on the sidewalk outside of Pacific Place in downtown Seattle — until his wrist started falling asleep. Three Stars says Lulu is a mixture of wolf and husky, and is almost 10 years old.

Three Stars says he likes the solitude of the living arrangement he shares with Lulu.

“It’s a very peaceful experience.”

(Photo by Mark Harrison / Seattle Times)

Ace Hotel: Shaggy dogs and shabby chic

Here’s the good news: There’s a chain of hipster, dog-friendly hotels bearing the same name as my dog.

Here’s the bad: Much as we’d have liked to stay in one of them, much as we are — in our own view — “hipsters,” Ace and I can’t even afford “Bohemian.”

“Minimalist,” it seems, is beyond our means.

We dropped in at the Ace Hotel in Seattle, where the chain got started, and checked out the one in Portland, where it’s now headquartered, but — even with the sliding scale it offers, with lower prices if you share a bathroom — it was out of our league.

So here, I’ve decided, is what America needs — a level of lodging slightly below Bohemian, but slightly above the YMCA, a motel chain that’s dog friendly and mostly free of germs, crawling bugs and psychos. Motel 6  probably comes closest — hopelessly unhip as it is.

The Ace Hotels, from what I saw of them, do minimalist much better, except for the price part. All four are in old buildings with rich histories, and the furnishings– from hotel to hotel and from room to room — are varied and eclectic, as opposed to going the cheap motel route of putting the same cookie-cutter formica furniture in every room across the  nation.

Therein lies the difference between Bohemian and Institutional, and who wouldn’t rather spend the night in a place that makes you feel like a beatnik, as opposed to an inmate.

Depending on your own personal economic condition, Ace Hotels are worth checking into if you’re traveling to New York, Palm Springs, Portland or Seattle, because, on top of their dog friendliness, they have some character, which the big chains always lack.

There is another solution to this issue — this issue being getting accurate information on lodging that has character, and is both dog and wallet friendly — and it doesn’t involve chains at all. Instead it involves looking at the world through something other than a corporate lens.

There are some otherwise fine guide books and websites out there that can help one find dog-friendly hotels and motels. The problem is, most of them don’t make much effort to include the non-chains, the mom-and-pop, small independent motels — many of them dog friendly — that don’t charge exorbitant prices for a room. And still have character.

Perhaps it would be too much work for the guidemakers. Perhaps mom and pop aren’t Internet-savvy enough to get their establishments listed. In any case, the result is, from AAA to bringfido.com, the options presented are almost always the big boys — Motel 6, Super 8, Best Western, La Quinta, Holiday Inn, Sheraton, Hilton, Hyatt and on up the ladder of chains.

As a result, pup-friendly mom and pop — who are probably much more in need of the boost in business that comes with being known as dog-friendly — are ignored, because they own one motel instead of 500 of them.

Ranting aside, we stopped by the Ace Hotel in Seattle to take a look, and considered staying at the one in Portland. Both, in the parlance of the trade, are considered “boutique” hotels — which is basically a term meaning it hasn’t grown into full chainhood yet and is still small enough to be charming

While both qualified for our hipster seal of approval, both were beyond our budget, even if we shared a bathroom.

The desk clerk at the Ace in Seattle explained that the name was chosen because aces can be both high and low, and the hotel strives to provide lodgings at both ends of the spectrum, as well as provide high quality at low price.

The hotel in Seattle is in a former Salvation Army halfway house located in the Belltown neighborhood. In Portland, the Ace moved into what was the Clyde Hotel, the lobby of which served as a setting for scene in the movie, “Drugstore Cowboy.” The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In Palm Springs, the Ace Hotel is in a converted Howard Johnson’s; and in New York it occupies the Breslin, a former single-room-occupancy hotel at the corner of 29th Street and Broadway. Transforming it meant displacing some longtime residents.

A New York Times review of the hotel called it “shabby chic” before snottily adding, “a bit too redolent of the past.”

Ace Hotels got their start when Seattle native Alex Calderwood and some friends decided to create a hip yet minimalist hotel. The Ace Hotel in Seattle opened in 1999; and in 2007 they opened one in Portland.

Calderwood’s hipsterness went back even further than that. He used to throw warehouse parties for the grunge set, later moving up to hosting events for Microsoft. Today, he holds four Aces, and, at last report, had his sights set on a fifth.

Given that growth, I think it’s time the chain start considering some advertising, and perhaps a spokesdog. I have one in particular in mind, whose services can be obtained for a reasonable fee — a sliding scale even. I’ve got some other promotional ideas, too, such as complimentary slightly used flannel pajamas for all guests, and even a slogan to help get across the message that the hotels are dog friendly:

“We’ll leave the bowl out for you.”