He was a well-traveled dog who loved the road more than anything, except maybe you and me.
He was a survivor of Baltimore’s less tender side who was picked up as a stray, placed in a city shelter, found a home with some writer guy and went on to become a therapy dog and minor celebrity.
He was the subject of a five-part newspaper series examining his roots, a book (unpublished and unfinished), the inspiration for this website, and my reason for being.
And now the hardest words I’ve ever written: Ace is dead.
Last week, he was frolicking in the woods. This week, he slowed down to a state near lethargy and showed little interest in eating, and in the past two days he began swelling up — mostly in the belly region.
Having recovered from his recent bladder surgery, he was the same dog he always was — until Monday night when he came inside showing no interest in his nightly treat.
The vet’s diagnosis was congestive heart failure and possible tumors — hemangiosarcoma.
Blood was not getting to his liver, and fluids were pooling up inside.
Based on Ace’s age (nearly 12, a good 90 in human years for a dog of his size), based on the poor outlook in either case, or the even worse outlook in the case of both, and based on his apparent discomfort, the vet recommended putting him down.
When I asked for some time to think about it, the vet said that wasn’t a good idea. When I asked to take Ace home and bring him back today, he said that wasn’t a good idea, either.
So we took an hour before the deed was to be done. We started walking. It started raining. It was taking all of his effort to keep up with me, and I (being a fellow member of the congestive heart failure club) walk pretty darn slow.
We stopped at a Domino’s and sat on the pavement under an overhang. I bought him a small cheese pizza — his favorite food. He took two bites, but only because I insisted.
We stopped in the rain on the way back. I briefly debated whether I was doing the right thing. I held his head in my hands, rested my head on his and looked into his eyes. I could still see the love in them, but not the joy.
Back at the vet, on the floor with his head in my lap, the vet administered a sedative. Ace was soon snoring. Once the lethal injection was administered, his heartbeat slowed within minutes and then, around 6 p.m. Thursday, stopped.
I’ll get his ashes in a week or so, and I’ll spread them in Black Walnut Bottoms, the trail in Bethania he loved.
Having written a lot about dogs and death, I thought I’d be better prepared for this. But I’m a wreck.
In answer to one of the questions asked a lot over the years, no — a resounding NO! — he will not be cloned. Having written a book on dog cloning, people ask that of me. Clearly, they never read the book.
In 2011, Ace and I set off on a trip duplicating the route John Steinbeck took in “Travels with Charley.”
It ended up lasting a year, and covering 27,000 miles. I think I speak for both of us when I say it was the time of our lives.
“Travels with Ace” didn’t interest any publishers, but it will hang around on the Internet — at least until my time comes.
I still need to finish the last chapter, but I can promise you this:
In the book, Ace won’t die.
(Photos: Top, Ace at Salvation Mountain in California; Ace at the Bandera County Courier in Texas; Ace and John (photo by Brendan Finnerty); Ace with a bust of John Steinbeck in Monterey, California)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 20th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace is dead, animals, baltimore, baltimore sun, barcs, dead, death, died, dies, dog, dogs, goodbye, heart failure, hemangiosarcoma, inspiration, lethal injection, muse, obit, obituary, ohmidog!, pets, put down, stray, therapy dog, travels with ace, tumors, veterinary
What, if you’re a shelter, do you do with a dog who has been returned by seven different adopters, a dog who keeps running away from every home he’s placed in, a dog whose behavior — though never aggressive — makes him, to say the least, a handful?
If you’re the Charleston Animal Society in South Carolina, you conclude — after 11 tries — that maybe the shelter is where he wants to be.
Gumby, a 7-year-old hound with well-documented skills as an escape artist, has become a permanent resident of the no-kill Charleston Animal Society.
They view it not so much as giving up as giving in — to what Gumby seems to want.
A look at his record seems to support that view.
His first visit to the shelter came after he was picked up as a stray in September 2014.
He was adopted and stayed at his new home three days, before ending up at the shelter again. His second adoption lasted only six days.
His third adopter seemed committed to keeping him, but Gumby kept running off and was brought back to the shelter as a stray — once by a citizen, once by animal control. His third adopter surrendered him back to the shelter, worried that the dog’s continued escapes might lead to injuries or worse.
That adoption lasted four months, but ended when Gumby was brought back in as a stray.
In August of last year, he was adopted a fifth time.
But less than two months later, he showed up at a another shelter, about 30 miles away.
His sixth adoption didn’t last long, either. He was returned due to his irrepressible personality, to put it nicely.
In December, he was adopted a seventh time. In January he was returned to the shelter, according to a report in Barkpost. The adopter told staff that, on top of being difficult to housebreak, Gumby had escaped 3 times in less than a month — once running through the owner’s screen door.
Adding it all up, Gumby had been returned to the shelter 11 times and lived in seven different homes — all in less than a year and a half.
It was starting to seem that Gumby didn’t want to be anywhere but the shelter.
Not that his behavior has always been exemplary there.
On March 5, Kay Hyman, the director of community and engagement for the Charleston Animal Society, posted a photo of Gumby on the shelter’s Facebook page
He’s pictured lying contentedly next to a former feather pillow — one that he must have felt needed further investigation.
Staff at the shelter say hounds are known for having stubborn streaks, and often those raised as hunting dogs become bored when they have no hunting to do. It’s not unusual for those that haven’t made the grade as hunting dogs to be abandoned and show up as strays.
Given his record, the shelter finally decided in March to just keep Gumby. He seemed to adore the staff. He was good with other dogs. And it was the one place from which he hadn’t repeatedly tried to escape.
Staff members hope that Gumby, as a permanent resident, can continue to have a calming influence on new arrivals — especially fearful ones.
Donya Satriale, a behavior team leader at the shelter, may have put her finger on what was going on with Gumby.
Gumby, she suggested, might see the shelter as a place where “he knows he has work to do.”
(Photos: From the Charleston Animal Society Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 5th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adopted, adopters, adoption, animals, charleston, charleston animal society, difficult, dog, dogs, escape, gumby, hound, humane societies, pets, placements, rescues, returned, shelter, shelters, south carolina, stray
That Boston terrier who boarded a city bus and went on a 20-mile ride in Houston last month has landed in a forever home, according to news reports.
The dog, as you can see in the surveillance video above, hopped on the bus in northwest Houston with some other passengers, though he didn’t belong to any of them.
Twenty miles later, at Metro’s downtown transit center on Main Street, he exited the bus with other passengers — one of whom escorted him to the transit authority police station.
“He was a very friendly little guy. He was very sociable. But he was a gentleman,” Metro Police Officer Ida Schoener told KHOU.
Schoener, on her lunch break, took the dog to the Bayou City Veterinary Hospital, which agreed to care for the dog — by then nicknamed “Metro” — until an owner or foster family could be found.
“He’s pretty calm but also excited to go out on walks,” said Bayou City veterinarian Kristy Kyle. “He is not afraid of the world. We’ll put it that way.”
The transit authority released surveillance footage recorded on a camera on the bus of the dog being welcomed on board, as well as footage of the dog arriving at the transit center.
After no one called to claim the dog, a Boston terrier rescue group was called and a temporary home was found.
There, the dog’s long strange trip finally came to an end, the veterinary hospital reports, when the person serving as his foster parent decided to adopt him.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 13th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopted, animals, bayou city veterinary hospital, boarded, boston terrier, bus, dog, dogs, foster, houston, metro, news, passengers, pets, public transportation, rescue, shelter, stray, surveillance, transit, video
She was a truck stop dog — or at least that’s where she seemed to spend most of her time.
Having no real home, and no official owner, she could most often be found at a truck stop in Moses Lake, Wash., taking advantage of the kindness of truckers and others who would pat her on the head and toss some food her way.
Sometime in February, she appeared to have met the fate of many a wandering stray. She was hit by a car on the highway and injured so severely that someone thought it best to put her out of her misery.
She was struck on the head with a hammer and left in a ditch.
A few days later the white pit bull mix — dirty, limping and emaciated — showed up at a farm outside of town, with her tail wagging.
A farmhand took her to Moses Lake Veterinary Hospital, and the owner-less dog’s plight ended up being posted on Facebook.
When Sara Mellado, a Mose Lake resident, read the post, she offered to provide the dog a temporary home. Mellado, whose German shepherd had died just two weeks earlier, named the dog Theia.
“Considering everything that she’s been through, she’s incredibly gentle and loving,” Mellado said. “She’s a true miracle dog, and she deserves a good life.”
Since then, Mellado has made several trips to Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Pullman, where Theia has been treated for leg injuries, a dislocated jaw, and multiple fractures in her nasal bones that are believed to be a result of the hammer blows.
“When I brought her home, she hardly slept because breathing was such a chore,” said Mellado.
The veterinary hospital’s Good Samaritan Fund committee awarded $700 to help pay for Theia’s treatment, and a GoFundMe campaign started by Mellado has, as of today, raised $12,000 — $2,000 more than its goal.
The money will be used to pay for Theia’s nasal passage surgery which will inolve installing a stent to help reopen her nasal passages.
The surgery is scheduled for April 22, according to Washington State University News.
(Photo: Washington State University News)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 2nd, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, animals, breathing, campaign, car, dog, dogs, expense, foster, fractures, fundraising, hammer, head, highway, hit, killing, mercy, misery, moses lake, nasal, passages, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, sara mellado, sinus, stray, surgery, survival, survivor, theia, truck stop, veterinary, veterinary hospital, washington, washington state university
A new documentary takes an inside look at the kind of “win-win-win” program I think should exist in every state, if not every prison.
“Dogs on the Inside” follows the relationships between abused stray dogs and inmates at a Massachusetts prison who are training and caring for them, getting them prepared to be put up for adoption.
Under a program called “Don’t Throw Us Away,” shelter and rescued dogs from the southeastern U.S. are sent to the North Central Correctional Institution at Gardner, where a group of inmate trainers work to regain their trust and, in the process, get some lessons in resilience and empathy.
The program benefits dogs and inmates. The third winner? Society — the one to which those inmates eventually are returning.
It’s similar to programs in other states we’ve written about before, including Philadelphia’s New Leash on Life, and, in North Carolina, a program with the same name, operated by the Forsyth County Humane Society.
Given we’re a country with more two million inmates incarcerated, given six to eight million dogs and cats enter shelters each year, and given most of both spend that time unloved and idle, getting them together — given the benefits that can follow — makes good sense
“Dogs on the Inside” follows the relationships between neglected and abused stray dogs and prison inmates in Gardner, Mass., as they “work together for a second chance at a better life: a forever home for the dogs and a positive life outside prison for the inmates.”
“Connected by their troubled pasts, the dogs learn to have faith in people again while the inmates are reminded of their own humanity and capacity for love and empathy,” the filmmakers say.
Directed by Brean Cunningham and Douglas Seirup, the film shows “the timeless connection between man and dog, showing the resiliency of a dogs’ trust and the generosity of the human spirit in the unlikeliest of places … In the seemingly dark recesses of a prison, a spark of light emerges that is a reminder of the wonderful and timeless connection that exists between dog and man.”
(Photos: Courtesy of “Dogs on the Inside”)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 17th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abused, animals, documentary, dogs, dogs on the inside, don't throw us way, film, gardner, inmates, massachusetts, neglected, north central correctional institution, pets, prison, prisons, programs, rescue, second chance, shelter, stray, training
That Ecuadorian street dog who befriended a Swedish adventure racing team after they tossed him a meatball is an official resident of Sweden now.
Arthur, as the team named him, followed the extreme racers for the last 50 or so miles of the 430-mile race — slogging through mud, traipsing through jungle growth, climbing up mountainsides and at one point, after race officials advised the team to leave the dog behind, plunging into a river and swimming alongside their kayaks.
The team had stopped to eat before the final two stages of the race when member Mikael Lindnord noticed the scruffy yellow stray and tossed him a meatball from the can he was eating from.
It was a simple, nonchalant gesture — one Lindnord said he didn’t think too much of at the time.
Clearly, though, Arthur did.
When the four-member team finished lunch and resumed the race — beginning a 24-mile hike through the rainforest — Arthur, named after the legendary King Arthur, got up and followed.
Adventure Racing is a form of extreme sport that combines continuous hiking, trekking, mountain biking and kayaking.
At a checkpoint before the final segment of the race — a 36-mile stretch of river — race organizers warned the team that taking Arthur along was inadvisable and posed a risk to both the dog’s safety and their’s.
Team members agreed to push on without him, but after their kayaks pulled away Arthur jumped into the river, caught up with them and swam alongside.
When Lindnord saw the dog was struggling to keep up, he pulled Arthur aboard.
Spectators standing on shore applauded.
By the end of the race, Lindnord said he had decided to try and adopt the dog and take him back to Sweden.
He admitted in a Daily Mail article that Arthur — due to living a harsh life on the streets — was in pretty bad shape even before accompanying the team on the last two legs of the race.
Once the race was over, Arthur was taken to a vet in Ecuador, and Lindnor applied to Sweden’s board of agriculture, or Jordbruksverket for permission to bring Arthur home. Arthur had already become a media star by then.
“I almost cried in front of the computer, when receiving the decision from in Sweden,” Lindnord wrote on the Facebook page of Team Peak Performance.
They flew home together this week.
“I came to Ecuador to win the World Championship,” he said. “Instead, I got a new friend.”
(Photos: Krister Göransson)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 25th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adventure, animals, arthur, bicycles, bonds, can, dog, dogs, ecuador, extreme, follows, hiking, jungle, kayaks, loyalty, meatball, mikael lindnord, pack, pets, race, racers, rainforest, river, stray, strays, sweden, team, team peak performance, trekking
There are plenty of rescue groups that likely do as good a job saving, rehabilitating and re-homing stray dogs as Hope For Paws.
But there is probably none better than that Los Angeles-based non-profit at documenting what they do on video.
Above is their latest rescue video — that of a pit bull, since named Bunny, found abandoned on some government property. Shy, skittish and — even we’d admit — looking a little intimidating, she was lured in with hamburgers and trapped in a crate.
Not until she’s transported to safety and let out of the crate do we get the answer to the question that — in addition to the beautiful camera work — keeps us watching: How is she going to react, close up, with a member of the species that treated her so rudely?
Therein lies the beauty of the Hope For Paws videos, and the beauty of dogs.
Bunny, who apparently experienced little kindness in life — with the exception of one good Samaritan who would drop her off some food while she was living in the wild — doesn’t just give humans a second chance, she becomes an instant, gentle, trusting and tail-wagging friend.
After a few shy sniffs, she was resting her head on the laps of her rescuers.
Bunny is now up for adoption through Sevadog, an Oregon organization that helps dogs find forever homes. Hope For Paws often teams up with other rescues. In Bunny’s case, three were involved, including the group Rescue From the Hart, which notified Hope For Paws about the dog’s situation.
Hope For Paws went to the site, found the dog and got her veterinary care — shooting video the whole time.
The videos, which get millions of views on YouTube, help raise funds for the organization, and melt our hearts in the process. But they also bring attention to the issue of stray and homeless dogs, and remind us that, no matter how rough shape a being might be in, hope and love can conquer all.
The Internet age has seen us all become more adept at touting ourselves — as individuals, as non-profit organizations, as corporations. There are downsides to that. One is how easy it has become to mislead the masses. Another is the danger that we all end up spending 10 percent of our time on a project, and 90 percent of our time touting what we’ve done.
On the other hand, for a non-profit organization, showing the public what it does, in a way that touches the heart, can be a key to survival.
So, all things considered, we hope the Hope For Paws videos keep coming, and we urge you to take at some of the others by clicking the link in this paragraph.
You’ll see some dogs in pretty horrid shape, like this one found living in a landfill, but you’ll also get transported from sad to happy on your way to the final destination — hope.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 17th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, animal welfare, animals, bunny, documenting, dog, dogs, fundraising, helpless, homeless, hope for paws, internet, los angeles, pets, public relations, rescue, rescue from the hart, rescue videos, rescues, sevadog, shelter, stray, touting, video, videos