If you’re going to be a stray dog, you might want to be one in Oak Brook, Ill.
It’s one of Chicago’s wealthiest suburbs — the kind of place with well-manicured lawns to pee on, porches and gazebos offering some shade, and handouts from humans that might include pork tenderloin, or steak.
At least that was Rusty’s experience.
For four years, Rusty roamed the Forest Glen neighborhood of Oak Brook, keeping a certain distance from its residents, but happily accepting their offers of food.
“I would leave pieces of steak and pork tenderloin at the end of the driveway,” said one Forest Glen resident.
“We thought we were the only people taking care of him,” said another, who fed him steak and bacon.
Harry Peters, president of the Forest Glen Homeowners Association, said Rusty, a chow-sheltie mix, eventually developed some discriminating tastes: “I put a hot dog out there once — I’ll never forget it — and he lifted his leg and peed on it. My neighbor was giving him steak.”
Despite all the handouts, Rusty kept his distance. He’d play with neighborhood dogs, but avoided getting too close to humans. When residents walked their dogs, Rusty would follow behind — again at a distance.
While residents were enjoying his presence, and fattening him up, many of them worried about how he was able to survive the harsh winters, and able to avoid becoming a victim of street traffic.
For four years, any attempts to catch him were in vain, up until 2010 when he was captured in a back yard and turned over to the Hinsdale Humane Society.
There he was treated for a heartworm infestation, and thousands of dollars were donated to help pay for his care. Attempts were made to make him more sociable with humans, so that he could be adopted out to one of the many expressing interest in doing so.
But Rusty, who maintained a preference for living outside, never reached that point, shelter officials told the Chicago Tribune.
Instead he was sent to Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, where he’d have room to roam.
Before taking him to Utah, Jennifer Vlazny, operations manager for the humane society, brought Rusty back to the neighborhood he once roamed for one last visit. Residents petted him and photographed him, and some cried when he left.
After some time at Best Friends, Rusty was adopted by a Kanab resident, Kristine Kowal, a retired school nurse who once lived in the Chicago area.
Kowal made a Facebook page and posted regular updates on it about Rusty, by then renamed Rusty Redd.
Peters, the neighborhood association president, visited Rusty and Kowal in January, while on a business trip to Las Vegas. He mentioned to Kowal then that, if she was to ever come to Chicago for a visit, he’d arrange a gathering so residents could have a reunion with the dog.
That happened this past weekend.
Kowal drove Rusty 1,800 miles from Utah for the reunion.
“I just thought it was something that I needed to do — to take him back, and kind of make it a full circle,” Kowal said.
Residents gathered Sunday in a gazebo in the Forest Glen subdivision, where they were able to pet him, many for the first time.
Vlazny, the Tribune reported, was amazed at his transformation from feral dog to pet.
Rusty seemed to remember the old neighborhood, and residents — even some who had since moved out of state — came to the reunion to see an old friend.
“The closest Rusty would ever get to me was 40 feet,” said Frank Manas, feeding the dog a chunk of mozzarella cheese. His family had moved from Forest Glen to Wisconsin, but returned Sunday to see Rusty.
“We said, if Rusty can come all the way from Utah, we can come from Eau Claire,” said Julie Manas, his wife.
“Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh — I’m petting him!” said Julie Gleason, who used to feed Rusty when he visited the nearby office park where she works.
“It’s a real-life fairy tale.”
(Photo: Julie Gleason weeps as she pets Rusty; by Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 20th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, best friends animal society, bond, bonding, chicago, chow, dog, dogs, food, forest glen, handouts, hinsdale humane society, illinois, kindness, mix, mutt, mutts, neighborhood, oak brook, pets, reunion, rusty, rusty redd, sheltie, steak, stray dog, strays
Ace and I have fully moved out of the mansion basement we spent more than a month living in — and while he’s not missing the stairs, and I’m not missing living underground, we are both missing Lord Barkley, the rescued sheltie who quietly watches over the manor.
Lord Barkley and Ace hit it off from the beginning — not in a jumping all over each other kind of way. From the moment they met, you could tell there was something similar to a quiet, mutual respect. They’re both mellow dogs; both can be a little aloof. And maybe something about the stately mansion setting evoked in them a sense that reserved and civilized behavior was to be followed.
Given Ace’s back problems, and the fact that Lord Barkley, according to his mistress, had never hung out with another dog since she rescued him, their co-existence was pretty low key. Only once or twice did they actually run around and play; more often they took turns following each other slowly around the yard, like a mini-pack.
Lord Barkley, when he was let out for his morning constitutional, and his afternoon and evening ones, would bark — though he’s normally not much of a barker — until I let Ace out of our subterranean quarters. Then they’d wander the yard, one behind the other.
When Barkley was called back in, Ace went as well — for our host, Miss Caroline, made it a practice to give Ace a treat everyday.
They’d both go into the kitchen and watch intently as Miss Caroline went to the dog treat jar.
“Manners!” she’d say. “Manners!”
Both dogs would lay down and wait for the treats.
Miss Caroline says, based on the information she received when she adopted him, Lord Barkley spent much of his early life in a crate and possibly was mistreated. Now, in addition to having run of the 22-room mansion, he follows her everywhere — grocery store, drug store, wherever she’s running errands.
In her late 80s, Miss Caroline has lived the kind of life of which books are written. She was a model, an actress, a writer, sculptor and painter, even a race car driver. She worked extensively in the Middle East, and was the star of several commercials made long ago for R.J. Reynolds cigarettes, produced in Arabic. She was a friend of shahs, sheiks and dictators.
She didn’t just tolerate having Ace at her home, she delighted in it, and Ace took an instant liking to her, even before the first treat was dispensed. As he does with those he deems friends for life, he took to sitting on her foot, which always made her smile. Or, with Ace being 130 pounds, was it a pained grimace? Either way, she let him get away with it.
Miss Caroline, who’s now working on a children’s book, has put the mansion up for sale several times. Unable to get her price, she has taken in guests, who live in the basement, the carriage house, or in some of the upstairs rooms, which she has decorated in themes. One of two men’s rooms, for instance, has a nautical theme. There are two rooms for women, too.
I enjoyed our month at the mansion; Ace, though he never seemed keen on the basement, or the stairs leading to it, preferred to spend his time in the yard, chilling with Barkley in the grass, or, better yet, upstairs in Miss Caroline’s house.
When Ace was diagnosed with a herniated disc last month, moving somewhere that didn’t have stairs was necessary. So we bid farewell to Lord Barkely and Miss Caroline, with the promise that we’d come back and visit often.
But, after reclaiming my stored stuff after 11 months on the road, and hauling it to North Carolina, almost all my time has been taken up by the seemingly endless task of unpacking.
With what appears to be a light at the end of that tunnel, next week we will pay a visit, renewing our ties with Miss Caroline, and our bond with Lord Barkley, all, of course, while observing the decorum that befits a stately southern mansion.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 29th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, adopt, america, animals, barkley, basement, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, friends, home, house, lord barkley, mansion, miss caroline, move, north carolina, pets, rescue, road trip, shelter, sheltie, south, travel, traveling with dogs, travels wth ace, winston-salem
It was a dark and stormy night. Really. The pouring rain had subsided, but a steady drizzle fell and the old trees swayed in the wind as I pulled my car around the circular driveway and parked in front of the mansion.
I left Ace in the car and walked up to the front door. As soon I knocked — as if the scene was being scripted by a horror movie director — a crack of thunder rattled the night sky.
Slowly, the door creaked open.
“This,” she said, “is Lord Barkley.”
Lord Barkley is short in stature, with stubby legs and a proud stance. He eyed me warily, keeping his distance — standing still but ever so slightly pushing his nose in my direction, as if to get a tiny whiff of me, but not my total essence.
Clearly, he was the cautious type. Slowly he approached me, his thick and fluffy, well-groomed hair – black, white and brown – flouncing as, stepping gingerly, he advanced. I held out my hand, and he gave me a fuller sniffing, seeming particularly interested in my left shoe.
He opted to stay upstairs as his lady showed me to what will be home base for Ace and me for a few months during this latest leg of our travels: the basement — or as the homeowner calls it, the wine cellar — of a stately old mansion in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
It’s a large room, with kitchen and living area, the centerpiece of which is big wood-burning stove, with a bedroom and bathroom and wine cellar off to the side. A fire was burning in the stove and a plate of brownies sat atop the extra-wide kitchen counter, which was built with wood salvaged from a burned-down house.
The TV doesn’t work, or the refrigerator, but those are minor details which, I’m assured, will be rectified in due time.
Details about our host, for now, shall remain vague – at least until I set up some ground rules with her. Just because I’m exposing my life, and Ace’s, as I recount our continuing travels doesn’t give me the right to, without some permissions, expose hers. Etiquette – we are in the south now, after all – demands I show some restraint, that I have some manners in the manor. I’m sure ya’ll understand.
Back upstairs – no, please, after you, I insist — the lady of the manor gave me a quick tour, showing me some of her most prized possessions. Then she encouraged me to bring Ace inside to meet Lord Barkley, something I had hoped to put off until the next day given the possibility of him tracking mud onto carpets, especially after learning at least one of them was a gift from Middle Eastern royalty.
Ace was eager to enter, and I attempted to keep him on a short leash. Lord Barkley gazed at him long and hard, a slightly surprised look on his face. He cautiously approached and, as he had done with me, gave him a slight sniff at first – as if at a wine tasting — followed by deeper sniffing.
His lordship — and 8-year-old Sheltie — remained totally calm about it all, his tail wagging rhythmically. He seemed unbothered by a strange dog entering a domain in which he has been the sole canine inhabitant, and where he, on the days the maid comes, enjoys breakfast in bed with his master.
Ace, who is used to smaller dogs excitedly jumping all over him, seemed to appreciate Lord Barkley’s sedate nature, and while I think he was eager to explore every nook and cranny of the mansion, Ace sat mostly still and behaved well.
In the weeks ahead we’ll be telling you more about Lord Barkley, his owner, and our cellar-dwelling lifestyle. For now though, the first thing we need to shine a light on is our living space, which, being underground, stays fairly dim. As a result, Ace and I – both normally early risers – are finding ourselves sleeping in. An alarm clock might be a good investment.
Still, those are minor details. As for the most major one – whether Ace and Lord Barkley would hit it off – I think they have. Both being calm and gentle types, I think they’re destined to become good friends during our days in the mansion.
My only worry is that Ace might start expecting breakfast in bed, too
Posted by John Woestendiek March 4th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, basement, cellar, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, lord barkley, mansion, north carolina, pets, road trip, sheltie, south, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, wine cellar
Penny, an 8-year-old sheltie, was one of 202 small dogs that Prairie Bark Kennels, a large commerical breeder of dogs in Colorado, needed to unload in connection with the company’s plan to relocate.
All breeding stock — Yorkies, papillons, dachshunds, pugs and Chihuahuas among them — Penny and the other dogs were crated, loaded on a truck and driven 788 miles from the Denver breeding operation to be put on the auction block in Missouri, where they were mostly likely to be bought by other commercial breeders.
But the little dogs weren’t the only ones headed for Missouri.
A group of animal welfare organizations, hearing of the Denver breeder’s plans and hoping to spare the dogs from continued lives in puppy mills, had contacted the company, offering to take the dogs and find them homes. The breeder declined the offer, so the animal welfare groups started a fund drive, raised $16,000, and sent a representative to Missouri to purchase as many of the dogs as their finances permitted.
As a result, 66 of the dogs, Penny included, ended up making the trip back to Denver — all tolled, a 1,500-mile journey to end up just 8 miles from where they’d started out a few days earlier.
USA Today’s Sharon Peters told the fascinating story in her “Pet Talk” column yesterday.
It started in early May, when Prairie Bark Kennels decided to sell many of its 250 dogs in advance of relocating, according to the seller statement filed with the auction company.
When Last Chance for Animals and Rocky Mountain Animal Defense heard the dogs would be sent to auction, they offered to pick them up. “The dogs are perpetually pregnant or nursing; they live their lives in cages,” Last Chance’s Julie Sarff says. “We wanted something better for them.” When the offer was turned down, Peters writes, the animal welfare groups flew into action.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 21st, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, auction, breeders, chihuahuas, cocker spaniel, colorado, colorado sheltie rescue, commercial breeders, dachsunds, denver, denver dumb friends league, dogs, last chance for animals, maltese, missouri, national mill dog rescue, papillons, penny, prairie bark kennels, pug, puppy mills, rescue, rocky mountain animal defense, sheltie, shih tzus, small dogs, yorkshire terrier
A five-month-old miniature Sheltie got a little too close to the action when his owners were playing Nintendo Wii bowling and was knocked out by a blow to the head from a handheld remote.
The owner of Ozzy, in Marquette, Michigan, initially thought she had killed the dog.
“We had just got the Wii for Christmas,” explained owner Kathy White, “so we were trying it out, and that’s when Alexis and I were bowling and Ozzy was standing by me and he jumped up and I hit him in the temple …”
White says Ozzy wasn’t moving or breathing, so she called a neighbor for help. The neighbor checked the dog’s pulse, sensed that it had stopped and blew into the dog’s nose. On the fourth or fifth breath Ozzy coughed and woke up.
The dog suffered brain swelling and was in cardiac arrest when he arrived at the vet, but is now almost back to normal, his family told WBBH-TV.
Ozzy is no longer allowed in the room when the family plays the game.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 14th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bowling, dog, health, injured, injury, marquette, michigan, news, nintendo, ozzy, pet, remote, safety, sheltie, video games, warning, wii