Grey, creaky and 18 – pretty darned old for a black Lab mix of his size — Bear Dog is hanging around a little longer.
But then he’s always been a persistent sort.
Bear Dog is pretty well known around Castle Rock, Washington, at the western base of Mount St. Helens. For almost two decades, he has hung out at the town’s riverfront, the ball park — just about anywhere his owner, Don Caulfield, went, and a few places he didn’t.
At the North County Recreation Sports Complex, near Caulfield’s mobile home, there are signs, posted by the city, that read, ”No pets allowed inside baseball complex or on soccer fields, except Bear Dog.”
Since 1996, the highly social dog has been befriending workers — including those who built the sports complex — as well as tourists, hikers, students and fishermen.
Whenever anyone walked by Caulfield’s mobile home with a fishing pole, Bear Dog wanted to join them. He’d also swim out to fishing boats, leading anglers to drop what they were doing, haul him aboard and bring him ashore.
At the ball fields, Bear Dog would meet Janice Vinton, the concession stand manager, in the parking lot, walk her to the concession stand and then sit and wait for a hot dog. He’d always get one, at least until he had a heart attack and Vinton decided he should avoid them. When Vinton would close the concession stand at night, Bear would wait for her and walk her to her car.
At Caulfield’s home, visitors would frequently drop by to take Bear Dog for a hike on the trails, or drop off treats and presents. A Seattle man brought short ribs to him every weekend.
“How he got so popular, I don’t know,” Caulfield, a 62-year-old retired trucker, told the Daily News in Washington. “He done that himself.”
About two months ago, though, sightings of Bear Dog became more rare. His back legs had stopped working, and the only way he could walk was by Caulfield using a towel as a sling to lug him in and out of the house. Even as an invalid, Bear Dog still wanted to go out and meet any visitors that stopped by.
Given the dog’s age and condition, Caulfield’s veterinarian advised him it was time to put Bear down, but Caulfield didn’t have enough money to cover the $150 euthanization fee.
He went home and cried, and then he started digging a hole in the yard.
“I knew what had to be done,” he told the the Daily News, which published an article Sunday about Bear Dog.
But Caulfield couldn’t bring himself to shoot Bear, and when he called friends to ask they do the deed for him, they all declined.
Bear Dog was living out what appeared to be his final days until one day he dragged himself outside and promptly fell down the porch steps. Caulfield heard a pop and feared his dog had broken his back. Instead, Bear Dog got up, walked, and even tried to chase a rabbit.
“Every time I think it’s time, he bounces back somehow,” said Caulfield. “I don’t know how he does it.”
We have a theory: Maybe it’s because so many people are pulling for him — and even more since the newspaper story.
Since the article on Bear Dog appeared, he has received a slew of visitors, gifts and phone calls, the Daily News reported in a follow-up article.
Caulfield returned from church Sunday to find people parked in front of his trailer. One offered a new fishing pole. Another man brought over a top sirloin steak, a roast and a tub of dog bones for Bear. And one woman promised to pay for any medical treatment Bear needs, as well as – if and when it becomes necessary — the cost of putting him down.
“He’s quite the legend out there,” Castle Rock Mayor Paul Helenberg said last week of Bear Dog, who became the sports complex’s unofficial mascot by virtue of hanging ot there so much when it was being built.
Some dog-owning residents don’t understand why Bear Dog gets special privileges at the complex, and their dogs don’t, but Helenberg said Bear Dog is something of an institution. He even spoke of building a monument to the dog once he passes away.
“It’s going to be real sad,” the mayor said. “We’ll do something special.”
From the looks of things, Castle Rock, and the friends of Bear Dog, already have.
If you’re going to honor a dog, that’s really the best time to do it, before he’s a memory – not by building a sculpture when he’s dead and gone, but by pitching in and helping out and making him happy while he’s still alive.
Which is not to say a statue of Bear Dog isn’t appropriate — only that one honoring the friends of Bear Dog might be, too.
(Photo: Bill Wagner / The Daily News)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 28th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 18, animals, ball park, bear, bear dog, black lab, castle rock, concessions, daily news, dog, dogs, don caulfield, euthanasia, euthanize, everybodys dog, fishermen, friends, grey, help, helping, hikers, honor, honoring, institution, labrador, lame, mayor, memorial, money, north country recreation sports complex, old, paul helenberg, pets, put down, retriever, sick, statue, support, trucker, washington
As early as this summer, the Yamhill County District Attorney’s office may take possession of the state’s first “courthouse dog.”
District Attorney Brad Berry received word in December that the county is in line to receive the dog from Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit organization in Santa Rosa, California.
Courthouse dogs sit beside witnesses who might be reluctant or fearful, such as victims of child abuse, and help provide a calm and reassuring presence during stressful situations.
“It takes just a few minutes of observing one of these amazing dogs with a victim to understand what an extraordinary benefit it is,” Berry said. “Watching as the dog lays its head on a child’s lap — the child almost unconsciously stroking it — while talking about difficult topics, leaves no doubt as to the soothing effect this can have.”
Courthouse dogs are also on the job in several other states.
Berry said the county has been told it could receive a dog sometime between May and August.
“We have worked diligently to show CCI (Canine Companions for Independence) not only the need for such an amazing animal in Yamhill County, but that we are ready to receive one and immediately put it to use with victims of crime, especially the most vulnerable victims in our system.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 30th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, brad berry, calming, canine companions for independence, child abuse, court, courthouse dogs, district attorney, dogs, oregon, pets, support, testimony, therapy, victims, witnesses, yamhill county
The U.S. Senate has passed an anti-dogfighting measure that prohibits attendance at organized animal fights, and another bill that improves care for retired military dogs.
While it’s already a felony under federal law to stage animal fights, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, which the Senate passed unanimously yesterday, is aimed at cracking down on the spectators who finance animal fights through admission fees and making bets. It also impose additional penalties for bringing a child to those events.
Animal welfare groups commended the Senate’s passage of the act, which was introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, (D-CT). Blumenthal also introduced the measure calling for better care for retired military dogs.
“The U.S. Senate has recognized the canine heroes who serve in our military as well as dogs victimized in underground animal fighting rings, passing legislation for both,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “The ASPCA applauds Senator Blumenthal’s brilliant leadership in the twilight hours of this Congress, ensuring that animals in need will not be forgotten by federal lawmakers.”
The Senate passed a provision to help retired military dogs by streamlining the adoption process and authorizing veterinary care for the retired animals at no expense to taxpayers.
Both measures still need to be approved by the House.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: acts, adoption, animal fighting, animals, apsca, attendance, bets, bills, care, children, dog fighting, dog fights, dogfighting, dogfights, dogs, laws, measures, military dogs, pets, prohibits, retired, retirement, spectators, support, veterinary, wagers
In Colorado, victims and witnesses who might, for various reasons, have trouble sharing details of a crime with a police officer now have another option — Pella, a Labrador-golden retriever mix who is both kid-friendly and judgment-free.
Pella began her service with the Aurora Police Department this summer, and while she doesn’t track down criminals, the hope is she can help put them behind bars.
Her main role is to work with children and developmentally-disabled adults during the beginnings of investigations, providing some comfort and emotional support when they are interviewed by authorities.
“It’s hard for anyone regardless of their state in life, their age, their background, their ethnicity … to talk to police. It’s just an uncomfortable situation. Pella can just help that anxiety to lessen a bit,” Amber Urban, who’s behind the program, told 9 News in Denver.
Urban was working as a school-resource officer when she started pondering how dogs — outside of tracking suspects and detecting drugs — could help the legal system.
Through Paws Assisting the Legal System, she brought Pella to the Aurora Police Department to work with its Crimes Against Children Unit.
The program is similar to the Courthouse Dogs program that is already in place in other cities.
Pella works a lot at SungateKids, a center where forensic interviewers talk to kids and adults who have either witnessed a crime or been victims of one.
“They’re here to talk about things that are traumatic. They, depending on their age, may not have that recognition of it being traumatic, but they feel it,” Urban said.
Children often pet Pella and hold on to her leash while they’re talking.
“…It’s a little bit better of a connection for a lot of kids to be able to interact with the dog who has no judgment, no opinion. The kids see that and they’re like, ‘Wow, they just like me.’”
Posted by jwoestendiek November 9th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amber urban, aurora, aurora police department, children, colorado, comfort, courthouse dogs, courts, crimes, developmentally disabled, emotional, golden retriever, labrador retriever, law enforcement, pals, paws assisting the legal system, pella, sungate kids, support, victims, witnesses
What at least one doctor prescribed, a New York housing complex says must go — a Shih Tzu that helps a seven-year Army veteran cope with his post-traumatic stress.
Eugene Ovsishcher returned from a nine-month combat tour in Afghanistan suffering nightmares, flashbacks and anxiety, leading a psychiatrist and his family doctor to advise he get a dog.
Last August he did — a Shih Tzu puppy that he named Mickey because he crawled like a mouse. Mickey woke him from nightmares and served to calm him down when he was alone and anxious.
“Take a look at his face,” Ovsischcher told the New York Times. “You can’t stay anxious or angry or whatever. You look at that face and you start laughing.”
But those in charge at his housing complex, Trump Village in Coney Island, aren’t laughing. They’ve ordered him to get rid of the dog, in accordance with their no-pets policy, or leave.
Ovsishcher says he’d rather give up his home, where he lives with his wife, Galina, and their two children, Philip, 15, and Yaffa, 10.
“I can’t get rid of a family member,” said Ovsishcher, 42, who enlisted in the Army five years after immigrating from Moscow in 1994. “If they asked me which I want to keep, the kids or the apartment, I would keep the kids. Same thing with the dog.”
Ovsishcher says that the building staff has seen him with his dog since Mickey showed up in August and that nothing was done to remove him until February, when he received a warning letter. Under New York law, a loophole allows dog owners who don’t receive notification to get rid of a dog within 90 days to keep their dogs. He also says he applied to register Mickey with the building as a comfort dog, but he was turned down.
A subway repairman, Ovsishcher served with NATO troops in Kosovo, and then as a field artillery sergeant in Afghanistan, where enemy rocket fire took a toll on him psychologically.
Ovsishcher’s lawyer, Maddy Tarnofsky, has filed a federal housing discrimination complaint on his behalf.
“The heart of this story is that there is a guy who comes to this country and enlists and puts himself in harm’s way,” Ms. Tarnofsky said. “He didn’t have to do this, and he comes back damaged and they spit on him. A doctor recommends he have a support animal, and for some unknown reason they decide that they’re not doing this for him.”
(Photo: Ángel Franco / The New York Times)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: afghanistan, animals, army, brooklyn, co-op, comfort, coney island, doctors, dog, dogs, eugene ovsishcher, evict, eviction, health, housing, kosovo, new york, no pets allowed, pets, post traumatic stress, psychiatry, ptsd, service, shih-tzu, subway, support, therapy, trump village, veteran, worker
“Whispering” may suffice in his dealings with dogs, but, as some are reporting it, Cesar Millan is paying big bucks to ensure his now ex-wife’s silence.
“‘Dog Whisperer’ Cesar Millan silences canines with muzzles — and his ex-wife with cash,” is how the New York Post put it.
“It seems … Cesar Millan has been handed a slice of ruff justice by his former wife,” said the Daily Mail.
Under the terms of a divorce settlement, Millan will pay his ex-wife Illusion a lump sum of $400,000, $23,000 a month in spousal support and $10,000 per month in child support for their two sons, TMZ reports.
In return, Illusion agrees to keep confidential any “intimate, personal and/or private information about the other party . . . including details of their personal and/or sexual relationships” and any “photograph, film, videotape, recording.”
Millan and his wife of 16 years separated in June 2010.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 23rd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: agreement, cesar millan, child, confidential, divorce, dog, dog whisperer, illusion, national geographic channel, payments, photos, settlement, silence, spousal, support, television, terms, trainers, training, videos
What happens when your seeing-eye dog’s eyes stop seeing?
Michael Nelson is in the process of finding out. His guide dog Molly has cataracts, and trading her in for a new model — in his opinion, at this point — is out of the question.
As columnist Scott Sexton explained in Sunday’s Winston-Salem Journal, Mike and Molly have a relationship that runs deeper than guided and guider — the yellow Lab, in addition to helping him get around for the last 10 years, has become his roommate and best friend.
A few months ago, while visiting with friends at Green Street United Methodist Church, someone pointed out to Mike that Molly appeared to have cataracts.
Mike, whose income is limited to a disability check, wasn’t sure where to turn. When news about the predicament spread, his friends at the YMCA, where he goes regularly to exercise while Molly patiently waits, got together and opened a bank fund in hopes of raising enough to cover the cost of Molly’s surgery.
Donations to it included proceeds from an elementary school art sale, and more from friends he has met in church and on outings with his dog at Hanes Park. The largest came from an unidentified man in California, who heard of the situation from a friend and sent a check.
Enough has been accumulated to cover the surgery and Molly’s other vet bills.
Her latest examination determined that, while she has cataracts, they’re not yet to the point of requiring surgery. She will need the operation eventually, though — and Mike is thankful he’ll now be able to afford it.
“It makes you feel really good to know there are people out there with that kind of heart,” Nelson said. “There is so much bad out there, so much ignorance about being visually impaired.”
Mike says that, over the years, he and Molly have run into their share of merchants who ask them to leave their shops. “Having people come to my assistance and Molly’s assistance has restored some of the confidence I’d lost in people. I’m truly thankful.”
Mike, now 51, moved to Winston-Salem from Virginia in the 1970s to attend Piedmont Bible College. He worked at the YMCA as a student, and up until 1991.
He went blind in 1998 as a result of what doctors would diagnose as polyarteritis nodosa (PAN), a rare auto-immune disease that weakens blood vessels and arteries. “It happened without any warning,” he said. “I just woke up and I was blind.”
Mike got Molly from The Seeing Eye organization, the oldest existing guide-dog school in the world, based in Morristown, N.J. Two earlier dogs they’d supplied didn’t work out — the first had allergies and the second wasn’t up to the task. The third time, though, was a charm. Molly had the skills, and the two had an instant connection.
Molly has the run of his apartment and an impressive collection of dog toys — though she prefers toilet tissue rolls. Nelson regularly takes her to Hanes Park, where romps with other dogs.
She consorts with humans, too, despite it being discouraged by guide dog experts. ”Molly is so good with people, so friendly,” he said, that it can’t be avoided.
All of which simply proves — at least in the case of Mike and Molly — that even dogs raised to serve as eyes have a way of getting into the heart.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 20th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, assistance, best friend, blind, blindness, bond, cataracts, connection, dogs, fund raising, green street united methodist church, guide dog, guiding, hanes park, help, labrador, losing sight, michael and molly, michael nelson, mike and molly, molly, north carolina, pets, polyarteritis nodosa, seeing eye dog, service, sight, support, surgery, the seeing eye, veterinarian, veterinary, winston-salem, ymca
The Maryland SPCA has launched a new television and radio campaign to promote pet adoptions and encourage support of its work on behalf of animals.
The campaign will run for a month on local television stations, and a radio version will be broadcast on WLIF-FM.
Everyone who signs up to make a monthly gift during the campaign will receive a ”Feel the warmth of a cold nose” bumper sticker and will be enrolled in the SPCA’s Faithful Friends group.
As a monthly donor, you choose the amount to have automatically withdrawn from your account or charged to your credit card. There is no transaction charge, and you can cancel at any time. To learn more about being a monthly donor, visit this page.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 13th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animals, campaign, dogs, donate, faithful friends, fundraising, maryland, maryland spca, monthly, pets, radio, spca, support, television
Yesterday, in updating you on Ace’s miracle recovery, we acknowledged in a backhanded kind of way all the prayers and well wishes you sent his way.
Allow us to do it in a forehanded way, too: Thank you.
Ace remains, from all appearances, over whatever it was that seemed to make him lose control of half of his 130-pound body on Monday.
He’s raring to go, darting all over the place when I take him outside, grabbing my hand in his mouth to pull me along for what he’d like to be a long walk. He seems to have totally forgotten the condition he was in two days ago. I, on the other hand, have not, and so, like an over-protective parent, offer up the kind of buzzkill only humans can provide.
“Let’s wait one more day. Slow down. Be careful. Stop frolicking, dammit.”
It’s the main difference between dogs and people. He being a dog, doesn’t let his past, even recent-as-yesterday past, bring him down. He doesn’t let fears of the future dictate his behavior, or maybe he knows better than me that the possibility of being hobbled tomorrow is all the more reason to run your ass off today.
I don’t know if your responses made Ace better, but they absolutely served that purpose for me. (I have more friends than I thought — or at least he does — and lots of them are strangers.)
Through comments left on ohmidog! and Travels with Ace, through personal emails and phone calls, we heard from several dozen people, including a few of those we encountered during the past year as we criss-crossed America.
Our intent in Travels with Ace was not to bog you down with reports of our physical ailments, not to bemoan the obstacles we were confronted with, not to get all cantankerous about the small stuff life throws our way.
Just as we didn’t ignore the country’s warts, we shared our personal bad moments, too – not to evoke sympathy, not to tug at heartstrings, but to reflect reality. The same holds true of our financial condition. Being unemployed was one of things that sparked the trip; and traveling, with the dog, on a shoestring, was an exercise in frugality mandated by the times and my own personal economic situation.
I, like a lot of Americans, and like America, am having trouble paying my bills.
Embarassing as that may be, I’ve admitted it — far more often than my mother would like me to — and I acknowledged again during Ace’s trauma that, short of draining what little remains in the old 401 K and pulling off a heist of some sort, I’m likely not in a position to scrounge up what any surgery he needed would probably cost.
One of the people we heard from yesterday was a woman who offered to pay for any veterinary care Ace needed. We declined her kind offer, given Ace’s recovery. I wrote her back, thanking her, telling her Ace seemed to be doing fine now, and, for some reason, baring my soul. (Apparently, much like a stripper, I will bare my soul for tips, or even the offer of them.) I explained to her how, in selfish pursuit of doing what I want to do, I’ve decided to scrape by without a job, and in the process have become an insufficient provider.
Putting personal dreams above salary and health insurance may be noble, or it may just be stupid. In any event it’s a choice that, for me, leads to some feelings of guilt during times like this week — times that seem to say, “Get a job, doofus.”
I did suggest she buy my book, which would add several cents to my portfolio.
She wrote back: “That’s wonderful news about Ace, John! I bought your book long ago, it’s how I discovered your blog and “met” Ace. It’s a fascinating book, btw, you’re a compelling writer. I understand your reservations about the money – been there, done that, so to speak. Ace is your family though, and by virtue of your blog, he’s my friend, so I hope it will never be necessary but if it should become necessary, I hope you would let his friends help. And pursuing your dreams is a great way to spend a life. Give Ace a good belly rub for me!”
The belly rub has been given, her compliments have been read and re-read (they serve as a belly rub to me), and her email address has been put in a file marked guardian angels, in the second drawer of the file cabinet on the right. (I write that here in case I forget, should I ever need to find it.)
Wrote another total stranger, upon reading of Ace’s improvement, “ …Amen And Pass The Kibble that Ace is doing well this morning. Having read ohmidog! for the past few years, you and Ace are a couple o’ ramblers that I’ve come to care about in that funny internet way. You just about killed me when you described losing your composure when he leaned on you. I know, I know! I was with you, in that moment. I was with you yesterday in the midst of your nerve-wracking vet visit with an IV bag tied to your roof rack. That would be why you’re an award-winning journalist. Big hugs to both of you, and if you’re ever in the upstate NY area, give a holler on-blog beforehand. We would love to meet “our” sweet Ace. Oh, and you, too, of course. You know how it is.”
More belly rubs for me, but, more than that, it was another note that reinforced what we learned during our travels: However down America might be right now, its people, and its dogs, are a resilient bunch; and people still care about people, especially dog people.
Having invited any theories readers might have, I also heard from several people offering guesses on what it might have been that knocked Ace’s legs out from under him
“My vote still goes with ‘ate something that disagreed with him.’ I woke up absolutely dreading this day for a number of reasons. I checked here before I even looked at the news. Now I’m smiling. You guys stay cool, and we’ll keep rolling out those prayers and good thoughts.”
That one was from Anne, one of several from my friend, technical consultant on internetty issues and web space provider in Baltimore, who, though she lost her husband at the end of last month, though both she and her beagle are still working through the grieving process, took the time to pass on her best wishes.
Some thought it might be heat related, and another reader suspected tick paralysis.
“I’m so glad ACE seems to have had a spontaneous recovery! We had a situation eerily similar to what you described with a newfie mix of ours several years ago. Our vet diagnosed tick paralysis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tick_paralysis), which he had seen kill several dogs over the years. I had never heard of it, despite living in a state where Lyme and such are common. I thought I’d mention it since our vet said there are a lot of vets who aren’t familiar with it due to its rarity. Warm hugs to Ace!”
And, after our initial report on Ace’s affliction, there were many like this — both from people I know and people I’ve never met:
“I’m crying, and my own dogs are wondering why. Much love and all of our support to both Ace and you. Nothing scarier, for me at least, than a sick pup. Please keep us updated. You two are FAMILY.”
The pesky part of me wanted to write back and ask if my room is ready and what we were having for dinner tonight. Here’s the thing — some of my friends, possibly even some of those stranger friends I’ve never even met, would say come on over. However cash poor America is, it’s rich that way.
We send thanks, too, to Dr. Raymond Morrison, Ace’s vet at Ard-Vista Animal Hospital, here in Winston-Salem, who went beyond the call of duty — and didn’t charge for it — when I ran back into his office after our visit to inform him Ace was copiously vomiting in the back of my car. He strung an IV bag to my roof rack and had a technician adminster about 20 minutes worth of a subcutaneous drip that seemed to immediately improve both Ace’s panting and his legs.
Once he was back home and out of the car, the ailment seemed to disappear as quickly, and mysteriously, as it had arrived.
That we’re living a somewhat insulated life here — partly by choice, in pursuit of another dream, which is to turn our travels into a book — made all the comments and notes, from old friends and new ones alike, worth even more.
What restored Ace’s legs back to full power may be a mystery, but it’s no mystery what reconfirmed my faith in humanity.
It was you.
(Graphic: Pawprint thank you card available at Etsy.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ailment, america, americans, animals, belly rubs, control, dogs, dreams, economy, faith, finances, friends, heat, humanity, legs, letters, mystery, notes, ohmidog!, pets, recovery, resilience, road trip, strangers, support, thank you, thanks, tick paralysis, travels with ace, veterinarian, veterinary
The ruling, issued by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, pertained to a mutt named Kayla, who — though not a service dog or a certified therapy dog — provided emotional support to her owner.
The complaint was brought against the owners of the Brighton Gardens building by Richard M. Blake, who was diagnosed with HIV infection more than two decades ago, according to the Boston Globe.
After his diagnosis, Blake isolated himself and rarely left the house.
“He was depressed, basically lounging around the apartment all day long, and his weight rose and blood pressure got out of control,’’ said Denise McWilliams, general counsel for the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts.
Blake’s doctor recommended a dog to help lift Blake’s mood and improve his mental and physical health.
“She’s just given me sort of a routine in my life,’’ Blake said of the boxer mix he got in 2008. “She’s given me a lot of joy. Animals just seem to make it hard for you to be in a bad mood … Ever since I have had her, the walks and the tons of exercise I do with her have helped.’’
Blake said his landlord gave him permission to get the dog, but two months later tenants were notified that a no-pet policy in their leases would be enforced.
After unsuccessful attempts to get the landlords to make an exception, Blake filed a complaint with the state commission in December, 2008.
In its ruling, the commission said that evidence “supports a finding that requiring Complainant to give up his dog would seriously jeopardize his emotional and physical well-being.’’
Posted by jwoestendiek April 6th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aids, assistance, brighton gardens, commission, discrimination, dogs, emotional, health, hiv/aids, housing, kayla, landlords, massachusetts, richard blake, rules, service, support, tenants, therapy