When singer-songwriter MadLyn filmed her latest music video she chose Salvation Mountain as the setting — a location that’s near the top of my list when it comes to American places of quirky and unnatural beauty.
And she brought her dog, Lucy, along to serve as the video’s co-star.
Salvation Mountain, built of trash, straw, adobe and and thousands of gallons of vibrantly colored paint, was one man’s tribute to his faith in God, and even though I’m not religious, I was fortunate enough to drop by and meet him twice (the mountain’s creator, not The Creator) when he was alive.
Once, for a magazine story, and once during my Travels with Ace, I spent some time with Leonard Knight — an admittedly reclusive and obsessive sort who let nothing stop him in his quest to fashion a mountain where there was none. Knight died in 2014 at age 82.
Salvation Mountain pops up like a colorful hallucination in the otherwise bleak, almost lunar, desert terrain around Niland, California.
MadLyn went there in July with her director/father and a cinematographer to film a video for her song “Will You Take Me Home” and she did all the things that people do in music videos — prance, skip, sing, twirl, look pensive, wear multiple outfits and toss her curly locks about.
In one scene, MadLyn was to stand in front of the mountain and hold her little dog as a camera-equipped drone zoomed in on them and passed overhead.
Lucy didn’t like that. She jumped out of MadLyn’s arms and took off.
Lucy had gone all day with no leash (she was playing the role of a stray), but when the drone approached for a close-up she “starts freaking out and jumps out of my arms and runs out into the desert,” MadLyn recounted.
As the sun went down, MadLyn, her father and the cinematographer searched for hours, on foot and by car, enlisting the help of Slab City’s other denizens, but Lucy could not be found and was not responding to their calls.
Because the cinematographer needed to get back to his family, they drove back to Los Angeles, a three and a half hour trip.
The next day, a Saturday, MadLyn called animal shelters located near Niland, printed up flyers, checked with the company Lucy’s microchip is registered with and sent out pleas on Facebook.
Then she and her father headed back to Niland to search some more for Lucy.
Sadly, and a bit ironicallly, what had happened in real life was exactly the opposite of what director Fred Fuster had in mind for the video.
While the song’s lyrics seemingly pertain to man-woman love, Fuster (being a father) envisioned a different, more innocent, interpretation of his daughter’s song.
“As director I insisted on having that story line — where this woman who has a hard time finding love meets this dog at Salvation Mountain and I guess falls in love,” he said.
But instead of finding a dog, Madlyn, in real life, lost one.
She later took her mother’s name, Madlyn, to honor her.
She has been active in raising money to fight breast cancer. Last year, she released the song, “I Call Her Mom,” with 100 percent of all digital sales going to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF).
No strangers to loss and dealing with dark times, Fuster and his daughter pulled into Salvation Mountain after nightfall to look for Lucy and seek out people who might have seen her.
They went a gathering spot in Slab City called The Range, where an open mic night was being held, and showed Lucy’s picture around.
One man told Fuster that it was unlikely a small dog like Lucy — given all the hawks and coyotes in the area — was still alive after 24 hours.
That’s when Fuster sat down and began to pray.
When he opened his eyes and looked down, there was Lucy.
After a tearful reunion, Fuster and MadLyn put Lucy in the car and gave her some water. The 18-pound dog drank 24 ounces, MadLyn says.
MadLyn, as you can see in the video at the end of this post, clearly considers what happened a miracle.
“Lucy was missing in the desert of Salvation Mountain for 24 hours completely by herself, and through the grace of God alone, she came back,” she wrote in an email to ohmidog!
She says the video is “dedicated to all shelter and foster animals looking for a loving home.”
I have a feeling Leonard Knight would like this story.
I know I do.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 20th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, california, dedication, dog, dogs, faith, filming, fred fuster, god, leonard knight, lost, lucy, madlyn, miracle, miracle dog, music, music video, niland, pets, rescue, salvation mountain, shelter, singer, songwriter, will you take me home
A dream decades in the making — one that is said to date back to the early 1900’s and a dog who rode a streetcar to deliver lunch to his owner — became a shiny new reality yesterday.
The Forsyth Humane Society opened its new shelter on Country Club Road in Winston-Salem — one with double the old shelter’s capacity, lots of space for dogs to romp and more than 10 times as much parking.
Even so, the new parking lot was overflowing within an hour of the grand opening, and FHS reported on its Facebook page that 26 animals were adopted before the day ended — 21 dogs and six cats.
The landmark day began with a flag raising, and saw a non-stop stream of visitors — some there to adopt, some there to check out what, thanks to a $3.8 million fundraising drive, the humane society had turned a former seafood restaurant into.
For 75 years, the Forsyth Humane Society has acted as an advocate for unwanted and uncared for dogs and cats.
It owes its start to money left in a will by Lydia Schouler for the purposes of establishing a fund in the name of her husband, department store owner D.D. Schouler, that would help prevent cruelty to animals.
The Schoulers wanted to honor the memory of their dog, who would catch a streetcar every day to bring Mr. Schouler his lunch.
The facility is the third to house the Forsyth Humane Society, which first took up residence in an old house, then built and moved into a larger building on Miller Street in the 1980’s.
They soon found themselves cramped there, and about five years ago began looking at raising funds needed for a new shelter.
“This has been a dream of the Forsyth Humane Society for decades,” Sarah Williamson, the center’s executive director, told the Winston-Salem Journal.
The new shelter has space for up to 100 animals. There’s a new, more accessible intake center, storage space for food donations and a gift shop named “Re-Tail,” that features Forsyth Humane Society labeled clothing.
It is named in honor of longtime donors Chris and Mike Morykwas, who helped fund the construction of the new building. The old building, after the family helped fund its expansion, was named in honor of their two bassett hounds, Franklin and Peabody Morykwas.
It’s intriguing how so many of the good things done for dogs can be traced back to dogs — and the inspiration they provide.
It is to me at least. That’s one of the reasons I’m teaming up with the Forsyth Humane Society, in a volunteer capacity, to serve as their historian and archivist.
As it steps into the future, I’m going to dig up what I can about its past.
You’re invited to help. Please contact me if you have any documents, memorabilia, scrapbook entries, photos, memories or reminiscences about its history — especially its early years, and that lunch-toting dog.
The email address is email@example.com.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 24th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adopted, adoption, animal welfare, animals, archivist, bus, cats, d.d. schouler, dd schouler, dogs, dream, facility, forsyth humane society, future, historian, lunch, lydia schouler, morykwas, new, north carolina, opening, opens, past, pets, rescues, shelter, shelters, streetcar, true, winston salem foundation, winston-salem
Nearly 50 deaf dogs evacuated from a shelter threatened by a raging wildfire north of Los Angeles have gotten a warm welcome at a state prison.
The owners of Deaf Dog Rescue of America decided to evacuate the animals from their Santa Clarita kennel Sunday night as the Sand fire started moving closer to the property.
“We knew if we had an issue in the middle of the night, we would be here alone with 45 dogs to load up,” Lisa Tipton posted on the rescue’s Facebook page.
Deaf Dog Rescue takes in deaf dogs from across the country, trains them and places them in new homes. It also provides assistance to new deaf dog owners who need training advice.
The rescue was debating where it might take the dogs when the state prison in Lancaster — where Lisa’s husband, Mark, operates a dog training program called Karma Rescue — offered all 50 of them shelter.
“We arrived to find the man-cages ready for the dogs,” Lisa Tipton said, with “food, water, beds, and igloos.”
The hospitality didn’t end there, NBC 4 in Los Angeles reported.
“The inmates had handled breakfast beautifully. They were getting the dogs out for exercise and cleaning their runs…
“I have never, ever seen anyone clean up dog poop with such glee.”
Even the dogs that aren’t always comfortable around strangers were coping well, Lisa Tipton added.
“To see incarcerated men of all races working so beautifully together to help others is a really amazing experience,” she said. “If they had turned us away, with 97 degree [heat], we would’ve had dead dogs in the trailer.”
She said the dogs will probably remain in the prison through the end of the week as efforts to contain the fire continue.
(Photos: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 28th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, california, deaf, deaf dogs, deaf dogs rescue of america, dogs, evacuate, evacuation, evacuees, fire, inmates, lancaster, pets, prison, prisoners, prisons, rescue, sand fire, shelter, state prison, wildfire
Bubba, a Jack Russell terrier-Chihuahua mix found high on methamphetamine in a seedy California hotel room four months ago, is headed to a new home.
No sooner was he pronounced healthy, drug free and available for adoption Wednesday than a couple walked into Orange County Animal Care and adopted the seven-month-old dog.
The couple, who had been following his story, asked not to be identified, though they did allow a photo to be taken of the new happy family.
Bubba had been at the shelter since March after being rescued by animal control officers from a drug-infested motel room in Tustin. He was only eight weeks old at the time.
Tests later show he had ingested methamphetamine and heroin.
His owner, Joshua West, 40, of Mission Viejo, was arrested on an outstanding warrant and suspicion of possession of methamphetamine, heroin and drug paraphernalia and booked into Orange County Jail.
Another southern California man was arrested last week after his Chihuahua, named Jack Sparrow, was found to have ingested methamphetamine.
After months of treatment, Bubba’s test results came back clear for the first time, prompting the shelter to put him up for adoption, according to Jennifer Hawkins, shelter director and chief veterinarian.
“They were a really nice couple and told us that Bubba would have a sister,” Katie Ingram, assistant director of OC Animal Care, told the Orange County Register. “Bubba bonded with them immediately.”
“It made it more meaningful that they were able to help him out because of his rough start in life,” Ingram added. “We were happy they are home quite a bit. It’s what he deserves.”
(Top photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register; bottom photo courtesy of Orange County Animal Care)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 22nd, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, animal welfare, animals, arrest, bubba, california, chihuahua, cruelty to animals, dog, dogs, drug, drugs, heroin, hotel, ingested, ingestion, jack russell, methamphetamine, motel, orange county, orange county animal care, pets, room, seized, shelter, tustin
The wife of a Philadelphia police officer is proving that police dogs don’t have to be expensive European imports.
Carol Skaziak, after seeing too many dogs languishing in shelters, started an organization called Throw Away Dogs.
Established two years ago and based outside Philadelphia, the program rescues neglected shelter dogs and works to rehabilitate and train them for police work like narcotics detection and patrolling.
Since beginning her work, nine out of 12 dogs she has rescued have been placed with police departments across the country.
“I pour my heart and soul into it and all I ask for these departments is to just give my dogs a chance,” she told NBC News.
Unlike most police dogs, who commonly are expensive purebreds purchased from Europe, these home-grown mutts are donated to departments in need.
Assisting her in the effort are K-9 handlers from area police departments.
The program puts the dogs through a three-month training period, and while not all will earn spots on police forces, Skaziak says all dogs that go through the program find a home — something they didn’t have before.
“I will follow through with every dog from start to finish. Not all dogs will make it through K-9 school and I am OK with that outcome. I will then find a perfect loving family for that dog that will love and treat them like part of their family. It’s just a different kind of badge they will be wearing,” she notes on the organization’s website.
While she doesn’t believe every dog can be trained to be a police dog, there are many in shelters who have the high play drive it takes for the job.
After a graduation ceremony this year, two “throwaway” dogs were placed with the Roanoke Police Department, and a third with the police department in Roanoke, Va.
Skaziak, who is married to a Philadelphia police traffic officer, came up with the idea for Throw Away Dogs in 2013, while doing public relations work for a shelter in Philadelphia.
“I was upset about it, because people were throwing these dogs away like trash,” Skaziak told the Roanoke Times.
(Photos: Officer Bill Tars and Throw Away Dog Kayos in Roanoke, by Heather Rosseau / The Roanoke Times)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 18th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, carol skaziak, dog, dogs, europe, imported, K-9, law enforcement, officers, pets, philadelphia, police, police dogs, rescue, roanoke, rocky mount, shelter, Throw Away Dogs, training, virginia
Whether Diggy is to be or not to be a pit bull will be decided by a judge.
The dog whose smiling face went viral — and led local officials to label him a pit bull and order him to leave town — is going to get his day in court.
Since we last reported on the case, Diggy has been proclaimed an American bulldog by a local veterinarian, but Waterford Township officials apparently didn’t buy the vet’s pronouncement.
Diggy is a pit bull, they say, based on how he looks — and those are banned in the Michigan township, under its dangerous dog ordinance.
Because Diggy’s owner, Dan Tillery, was cited by local authorities for having a pit bull, the final disposition of the case will be left up to the court.
It’s all a tremendous waste of time — first and foremost because pit bull bans are ill-conceived and just don’t work. On top of that, pit bull isn’t a breed at all. On top of that, a judge is likely to be even worse at determining breed than animal control officials, police, shelters, rescues and even veterinarians are, which is pretty bad to begin with.
And on top of all those things, does either side really want to know?
If they did, you’d think they’d have conducted a DNA test by now.
The media coverage led the Waterford Police Department to drop by a few days later, take a look at Diggy, proclaim him a pit bull, and tell his owner that he had three days to get the dog out of town.
The dog had been listed as an American bulldog when he was in Detroit’s city animal shelter. He was pulled from there by Detroit Dog Rescue, which, in at least one Facebook post, labeled him an American bulldog-pit bull mix. On the official adoption papers, though, Detroit Dog Rescue listed him as American bulldog.
After the police department’s ultimatum, Tillery had the dog assessed by a local veterinarian who judged him to be American bulldog — though he apparently did so without conducting a DNA test.
That wasn’t good enough for local authorities, who, though they relaxed that three days to get out of town part, are still insisting Diggy is a pit bull and must leave.
Tillery met Monday with Waterford Township officials, and posted on his Facebook page that the prosecutor was sticking to the decision to have Diggy removed from the community.
A hearing was scheduled for Aug. 11, at 2 p.m. in Waterford’s 51st District Court.
“My lawyer and I are going to do everything possible to make sure Diggy stays in his home with us, his family,” Tillery said in the post. “Thanks for all of your support, guys. I’m not a quitter.”
“We’re not going in and removing the dog, we’re not destroying the dog — it is a pending violation,” she told the Oakland Press.
Tillery and his dog have seen an outpouring of support from dog lovers and those opposed to Waterford’s breed-specific legislation. More than 50 supporters showed up at a Waterford Board of Trustees meeting to ask officials to remove the dangerous dog ordinance from its books.
More than 100,000 people have signed a petition asking the town to lift the ban.
Strangely, amid all the debate and national news coverage, DNA testing hasn’t been mentioned. If Tillery has pursued it, he’s staying quiet about it.
While some of the companies offering DNA tests — via blood samples or cheek swabs — skip around the pit bull question, a few of the tests do identify the breeds commonly associated with pit bulls.
One even offers a “pit bull exemption certificate” in cases where a dog is determined to be made up of 87 percent or more of non-pit bull breeds.
That may or not impress Waterford officials, or the judge, as such tests aren’t conclusive.
It’s still a possibility — that one side, or the other, or the judge, could pursue having the test done.
It would at least add some factual material to all the guesswork going on, at least a little foundation for the strident and unending Internet debate that is mostly — much like pit bull bans themselves — sound and fury, signifying nothing.
(Photos of Diggy by Dan Tillery)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 29th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adopted, adoption, american bulldog, animals, breed bans, breed identification, breed specific bans, breeds, dan tillery, dangerous dog, detroit, diggy, dna, dog, dogs, guesswork, identification, identifying, judge, michigan, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, police, rescue, shelter, testing, types, waterford
Three months after they had to put their dog Snickers down due to kidney problems a Charlotte family got a call from their local animal control office.
“Are you missing a dog?” the voice on the phone asked.
Emotionally speaking, they were — but John Dixon knew the caller had no way of knowing that, and suspected that’s not what the caller meant.
“No, not that I know of,” Dixon answered.
The animal control office representative then mentioned a name: “Marvin?”
Dixon said they’d had a dog named Marvin 10 years ago, but gave it to another family.
The office told Dixon that the dog had been picked up and identified based on a microchip — one placed in Marvin more than 10 years ago when he belonged to the Dixons, after he bit a girl at a baseball game.
The biting incident and Marvin’s rambunctious behavior were what led the Dixons — painful as it was — to find a new home for the Australian shepherd.
That he was back and in need of a home — so soon after they’d lost Snickers — struck the Dixons as fate.
“Don’t you kill that dog,” John Dixon said he told the animal shelter.
Dixon says Marvin is still playful, but much calmer now that he’s older.
Once home, even after 10 years, Marvin seemed to remember their house and even knew which door to use.
Dixon recalled it wasn’t easy giving him up then. His son and daughter, 6 and 8 at the time, both cried.
“It absolutely broke our hearts, but we couldn’t take care of him,” Dixon, told the Charlotte Observer.
After Marvin, the family adopted Snickers. Last year Snickers’ kidneys began to fail, and the family made the decision to the dog down.
A month and a half later, this past February, the Dixons got the call from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control.
(Photos by Davie Hinshaw / The Charlotte Observer)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 15th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, animals, australian shepherd, charlotte, charlotte-mecklenburg animal care and control, dog, dogs, identification, marvin, microchip, pets, reunion, shelter, snickers