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
Houston’s homeless dogs are the subject of a photo exhibit opening this weekend.
The two-week exhibition, entitled, “No One’s Dog,” is aimed at bringing attention to the animal overpopulation crisis in Houston, where shelters generally operate at capacity and an estimated 1 million dogs and cats are living as strays.
Three non-profit agencies are supporting the project – DiverseWorks, Barrio Dogs and Box 13.
The public was invited — and supplied with disposable cameras — to capture images of homeless dogs. The images were uploaded to Flickr (you can see them all here) and the best were chosen for the exhibit, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The exhibit runs from July 26 to Aug. 9 at DiverseWorks, 4102 Fannin Street in Houston.
(Credits: Top photo by Emily Crossley; second photo by Page Moore; third and fourth photos by Gina Damian)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 22nd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal, art, Barrio Dogs, Box 13, cats, DiverseWorks, dogs, exhibit, homeless, houston, no one's dog, pets, photography, population, public, strays
Ten more Sochi strays — saved from the streets by rescue groups in Russia — arrived in the U.S. last week.
The dogs were among those rounded up by rescue organizations before and during the Winter Olympics in an effort to save them from being poisoned and killed by authorities who considered them a menace, or at least an embarassment.
“These 10 are representative of some of the dogs that have been removed from the streets and are now up for adoption in Sochi,” said Kelly O’Meara, director of companion animals and engagement for Humane Society International. “They’re the sweetest, most interactive, very friendly dogs, very adoptable, that just happen to be unfortunate enough to be living on the street.”
The dogs landed at Dulles Airport Thursday. They were taken to the Washington Animal Rescue League, which will be responsible for finding them new homes.
More are expected to be arriving in coming days.
HSI worked with PovoDog Animal Shelter in Sochi and two other organizations to arrange vaccination, documentation and travel for the dogs, who spent two days in transit.
“We are excited to make the connection for homeless Sochi dogs with loving homes in the United States, with our focus on helping street dogs in Russia and around the world,” O’Meara said. “Our goal is to protect street dogs from cruel and unnecessary killing programs — like the one employed by Sochi officials to ‘clean up’ in advance of the Olympics — by working with governments to create humane and effective dog population management programs.”
HSI had urged the International Olympic Committee and Sochi authorities last year not to conduct a pre-Olympic “cull” of street dogs, and got some assurances that would be the case.
When it was exposed before the Olympics started that the program was underway, HSI petitioned President Vladimir Putin to put an end to it. The organization has offered its assistance in creating a humane program to control the population of street dogs.
HSI assisted American skier Gus Kenworthy, an Olympic silver medalist, in bringing home four strays.
It is also pushing the International Olympic Committee to mandate humane animal control standards when identifying a host country for future Olympics.
Each of the arriving dogs will get a medical evaluation, and they could be available for adoption within weeks, said Bob Ramin, CEO of the Washington Animal Rescue League.
“These animals are seeing a lot of new things and experiencing a lot of new things, so they’re kind of stressed out,” Ramin said. “We want to make sure they know they’re in a safe place so we’ve got our staff working with them one on one.”
Posted by John Woestendiek March 31st, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopt, adopt sochi dogs, adoption, animals, dogs, Gus Kenworthy, hsi, humane society international, olympics, pets, rescue, rescued, russia, Sochi, sochi strays, strays, street, washington animal rescue league, winter
At least two Olympic athletes from the U.S. are reportedly planning to bring home stray dogs from the streets of Sochi — and that has prompted another chorus of grumbling from the “they-care-more-about-dogs-than-people” crowd.
You know the type — they assume that if you show compassion for dogs, you must have none for people, and they think that is some kind of disorder, and that they must inform the world about it
The truth is, people with compassion for dogs usually have more empathy for people too, and often dogs are the ones that taught them that.
Yet, to read recent pieces like this one in The Guardian, and this one in Slate – or at least their headlines — the writers make is sound like it’s an either/or proposition: One who rescues dogs must not give a whit about humans.
You might look at Gus Kenworthy, the skier who’s bringing home four stray pups and their mother from Sochi, or Lindsey Jacobellis, the snowboarder who’s bringing a street mutt back to the U.S., and see people doing something heroic, good and noble.
But some people — and they’re not all journalists, more often they are nameless Internet commenters — have an innate need to find, or manufacture, a downside, and broadcast it, portraying an act of kindness toward a dog as proof that the world’s priorities have gone topsy-turvy.
It’s true that there are plenty of those in need of attention. It’s true there are people who find dogs easier to love, and easier to help, than humans. It’s true, too, there are millions of homeless dogs right here in America.
But where does one person get the right to question and critique another person’s charitable acts — to whom they should give, exactly what they should save or rescue, and where they should do it?
I may lack the appropriate Olympic fervor, but I am far more impressed by an athlete bringing home a stray dog than I am by how fast he or she can slide down a snowy hill; and I think the dogs will bring them, in the long run, far more joy (though fewer commercial endorsements) than a medal.
The athletes aren’t there to rescue dogs, and they aren’t there to solve human rights problems. Any action they might take regarding one or the other is bonus to be appreciated, as opposed to grounds for criticism.
Yet, a headline in Slate asks the question, ”Why are Olympians putting puppies before people in Sochi?”
(Maybe because the athletes aren’t finding people starving and sleeping in alleys, and couldn’t bring them home even if they wanted. Maybe because it’s easier to toss a dog a sandwich than it is to end government oppression. Maybe it’s because they know the city of Sochi has a contract out on strays, and a company is exterminating them.)
Josh Levin, Slate’s executive editor, wrote that, while he finds puppy-saving commendable, there are far bigger issues in Russia in need of addressing, such as:
“…the country’s 2013 passage of anti-gay propaganda laws, as well as a number of other disturbing transgressions: the fact that more than 50 journalists have been murdered in Russia in the last 22 years; that Sochi’s venues were built by more than 70,000 migrant laborers who toiled ceaselessly in violation of Russian law …”
I’m not sure your average bobsledder is equipped to single-handedly rectify issues like that — at least not during the couple of weeks he’s visiting.
A stray, hungry dog, on the other hand, is something a single person can do something about — whether it’s tossing him something to eat, or slaloming through enough red tape to bring him back to their home country.
So we say “Go Team!”
And good luck with those athletic events as well.
(Photo’s: Jacobellis with the dog she befriended in Sochi; Kenworthy with the four pups he plans to bring home /Twitter)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 19th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2014 olympics, animals, athletes, bringing home dogs, caring more about dogs than people, criticism, dogs, Gus Kenworthy, home, human rights, humans, Lindsey Jacobellis, olympians, olympic team, olympics, people, pets, rescue, rescuing, russia, slate, Sochi, stray dogs, strays, the guardian
Surely by now you’ve heard about all the inconveniences visiting journalists from the west are facing in Sochi — a town that in its rush to get ready for the Olympics didn’t quite get ready for the Olympics.
As a member of that breed, or at least a former journalist, I can’t help but have empathy for their plight.
They have an important job to do, and how can we expect them to do it when they are facing obstacles like hotel rooms with no Internet, fallen drapery rods, faulty doorknobs, or tap water so discolored one journalist reported she had to resort to washing her face with Evian?
Life can be so cruel sometimes.
Sochi’s shortcomings are being blasted all over the Internet — by journalists, by Tweeters, and by tweeting journalists.
Arriving early, and finding the amenities weren’t all they could be, journalists got the ball rolling, bellyaching about conditions and posting their complaints and photos online. Olympics guests picked up the ball, voicing their discontent; and even a few athletes — though they’re less likely than journalists to whine, or so we’d hope — have broadcast the problems they’ve encountered, including one who was forced to punch his way out of the hotel room bathroom he was locked in.
Others arrived to find that their rooms, despite being reserved and paid for, weren’t ready, or weren’t even there, forcing them to wait, bunk with someone else, or seek shelter elsewhere.
Fortunately, no journalists (to our knowledge) were forced to sleep in stairwells or alleyways.
Others tweeting their discontent have complained of unappealing food, and menus whose Russian to English translations are sometimes laughably off the mark, which leads us to worry whether journalists are getting the all-important nourishment they need to do their jobs.
I’m sure there will be much inspiration ahead in the 2014 Olympics, and perhaps even a few things to love about them. For the first few days though, it has been an embarrassment — for Sochi, for Russia, for Putin, and for all those journalists who came across as spoiled Westerners, partly because they are spoiled Westerners, partly because they have the modern-day need to self-broadcast every little bump in the road they encounter.
While most reporters are there to cover the sporting side of it all, and while many have been preoccupied by their lack of creature comforts, some have gotten around to writing about what we think is probably the most shameful Olympic-related story of all. In case you haven’t yet gotten our drift, it’s what the city is doing to stray dogs.
The city of Sochi has hired a pest control company to rid the streets of dogs, another piece in its failed plan to look good for the Olympics. Capturing and killing strays, as if that’s not bad enough, seems all the more cruel when you consider that many of the dogs are homeless because of all the new construction for the Olympics, some of which sent dog-owning families into apartments where dogs aren’t allowed.
Sochi promised it wouldn’t conduct the cull, then it did. The extermination was well underway by the time the media caught on, but eventually it was reported by, among others, the Boston Globe, Radio Free Europe, and, eventually, the New York Times. It took awhile, but the public outrage is, appropriately enough, snowballing now.
When that happens, the silly and tired old question always pops up, ”Does the world care more about dogs than it does humans?” That was pretty much the headline on an op-ed piece in The Guardian about Sochi’s strays this week — silly because it implies people can’t care, get outraged and fight for both species.
But, to answer it only for myself , yes, I sometimes care more about dogs than humans, depending on the circumstances, depending on the dogs, and the humans, and depending on the hardships at issue. Yes, I care more about a dog being exterminated for no good reason than I do about a TV reporter who has temporarily lost his or her access to hair conditioner.
The inconveniences reporters, guests and athletes might face in Sochi aren’t enough to cast a pall over the entire Olympics.
What’s happening to the dogs is.
(Photos: A dog checks out a trash can across from the Olympic stadium / Twitter; a dog drinks from an icy puddle outside of Sochi / Reuters; dogs and volunteers at a makeshift shelter / The New York Times; dogs napping on the street / Twitter; a starving street dog in Sochi / Getty Images/iStockphoto )
Posted by John Woestendiek February 11th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2014 olympics, amenities, animals, athletes, complaints, construction, contract, cull, displaced, dog, dogs, embarassment, exterminate, homeless, hotels, journalists, killing, killing dogs, lacking, olympics, pets, plumbing, preparations, problems, putin, reporters, russia, Sochi, sochi strays, spoiled westerners, stray dogs, strays, water
A Russian animal rights activist has been detained in central Moscow after he and two others protested the country’s policy of killing stray dogs in Sochi, according to an Associated Press report
Three activists unfurled a banner near Red Square on Saturday that read “Bloody Olympics.”
The banner depicted a puppy covered in blood.
According to the report, a policeman approached and pulled the banner out of the activists’ hands.
One man was detained while the other two fled.
A year before the Sochi Olympics, municipal authorities announced a contract to “catch and dispose” of strays.
Public pressure led authorities to announce they’d dropped the plan — but they didn’t. Companies have been hired to continue killing the dogs throughout the games, which started Friday and end Feb. 23.
(Photo: A stray dog walks past the Olympic rings during the official flag raising ceremony; by Nathan Denette, The Canadian Press / AP photo)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 8th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: activist, animal rights, animals, arrest, arrested, banner, bloody olympics, company, contract, cull, detained, dogs, killing, killing dogs, killing stray dogs, moscow, olympics, pets, police, protest, protester, russia, Sochi, stray, strays
It’s hardly the first time a city trying to put its best face forward has shown instead how ugly it can be.
Even as the opening ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi is choreographed — with its heartwarming message of peace, love and brotherhood — the city is trying to purge its streets of stray dogs, poisoning, capturing and killing them so it can project a clean, safe and pleasant image.
Despite publicly backing off from plans to do so last year, the city of Sochi has hired a private company to kill as many of its stray dogs as possible before the games, according to an ABC News report, based on an interview with the owner of the company hired to kill the dogs
Alexei Sorokin, while declining to comment on how many strays have been exterminated so far, was more than willing to talk about the dangers they pose:
“Imagine, if during an Olympic games, a ski jumper landed at 130 kilometres an hour and a dog runs into him when he lands. It would be deadly for both a jumper and for the stray dog,” he said.
Yes, the odds for that happening — landing upon a dog upon completion of a ski jump — have got to be pretty high.
It’s not the first time a city has tried to purge its streets of all things unsightly and embarassing before international attention comes its way.
Stray dogs have been rounded up at previous Olympics, and soccer championships. In America, cities hosting political conventions have corraled their homeless to keep them out of the sight of visitors. And before yesterday’s hardly-worth-the-wait Super Bowl, officials in New York and New Jersey sought to crack down on packs of prostitutes they said were streaming into the area for the big event.
All those things cost money, often taxpayer money, so residents end up footing the bill for a city’s superficial makeover — all so a city can deceive the rest of the world for a week or two.
That’s what it really is, deception — covering up its real face, putting on enough make-up so we can’t see its pimples, disguising, erasing, incarcerating or restricting the movements of those who might embarass it. Instead of addressing real problems, the city spends money on temporarily covering them up.
Then, to justify it all, they have to spin some more, often turning to fear tactics to do so.
The strays in Sochi might bite people, or might have rabies, or might bump into ski jumpers falling from the sky, officials say. So they’re being “culled,” which means killed, but sounds better. The dogs have broken no laws – other than being unwanted and unloved – but they’re getting the death penalty anyway.
“I am for the right of people to walk the streets without fear of being attacked by packs of dogs … Dogs must be taken off the streets even if that means putting them to sleep,” said Sorokin, who says he is performing a needed public service. He described his company, which generally uses poisons and traps to rid the streets of dogs, as the largest of its kind in Russia.
What’s really behind such purgings – whether it’s killing stray dogs, rounding up hookers, or cordoning off the homeless – isn’t civic pride. If it were civic pride, we’d be working on fixing the problem. When we’re working only on the appearance, it’s civic vanity.
Just as stray dogs haven’t suddenly become a bigger problem in Sochi, there’s no proof — despite the pronouncements of city and state officials — that prostitution surges to dangerous proportions during Super Bowls. There might be more arrests during Super Bowls, but there generally are when law enforcement cracks down.
Even an advocate for victims of trafficking noted last week that New York and New Jersey, by cracking down on prostitution during the Super Bowl, weren’t solving any problems — and maybe were even doing a disservice.
“The annual oversimplification of the issue, in which we conflate all prostitution with trafficking, and then imply that arrest equals solution, does a disservice to year-round efforts to genuinely assist survivors of trafficking — with emergency housing, medical care and other crucial services,” Kate Mogulescu, founder and supervising attorney of the Trafficking Victims Advocacy Project at the Legal Aid Society, wrote in last week’s New York Times.
“When the discussion is dominated by fear-mongering, we fail to meaningfully address the actual causes of human trafficking. Remove the guise of ‘preventing’ human trafficking, and we are left with a cautionary tale of how efforts to clean up the town for a media event rely on criminalizing people, with long-lasting implications for those who are then trapped in the criminal justice system.”
There are better ways to fight crime, conquer homelessness and combat stray dog problems — none of which are quick fixes, none of which are simply cosmetic, all of which involve, as a first step, getting past the mindset expressed by Sorokin in Soshi.
“Let’s call things by their real name,” he said. “These dogs are biological trash.”
(Photo: A stray dog and its puppy outside Sochi; by Alexander Zemlianichenko / Associated Press)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 3rd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: attention, biological trash, capture, civic pride, civic vanity, clean up, cosmetic, crime, cull, culling, deception, dogs, extermination, hiding, homeless, kill, killing, law enforcement, new jersey, new york, olympics, poison, prostitutes, quick fix, russia, shelters, Sochi, spotlight, stray dogs, strays, super bowl, sweeps, trafficking