The “K-9 Comfort Dogs” are part of a Lutheran Church Charities program in which the specially trained therapy dogs serve to calm and connect with injured survivors.
As was the case in Newtown, the comfort they provide tends to extend far beyond hospital room visits.
“We have people simply walking by on the sidewalk who see the dogs … and with the memory of Monday, they break into tears,” said Rev. Ingo Dutzmann, senior pastor of First Lutheran Church in downtown Boston, which is serving as home base for five of Lutheran Church Charities’ dogs.
“It’s the dog that allows them to express their emotions in that way,” he told NBC, “and if you’re hurting, you’ve got to let it go. With a dog, people are not afraid to do that.”
On Tuesday, three comfort dogs flew from Lutheran Church Charities’ headquarters near Chicago to Boston, where they joined two golden retrievers who had been working with grieving pupils and parents at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
The five dogs and their handlers will spend the rest of this week visiting bombing survivors at Tufts Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and they’ll keep making hospital rounds next week if needed. The dogs will also be present at First Lutheran Church of Boston at noon today for a memorial service and on Sunday morning for worship services.
“It’s relaxing — takes my mind off of what happened,” said David Yepez, 15, who is recovering from surgery at Tufts Medical Center after being hit in the leg by shrapnel in Monday’s blast. “It’s good to have my mind away from the accident, the doctors. To have a moment of peace. [I haven’t] had many moments of peace.”
The dogs paid a visit Wednesday to Lee Ann Yanni (seen above), just before she underwent surgery on her shattered leg.
“My stress level has gone way down,” said Meghan Bennett, a 25-year-old nursing student who has been caring for bombing victims. “I just love dogs … and this is a distraction from the reality. Patients’ faces light up when a dog walks into the room.”
(Photos: Lutheran Church Charities)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 19th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bombing, bombs, boston, boston marathon, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, calming, comfort dogs, community, david yepez, dogs, emotions, golden retrievers, goldens, grief, hospital, injuries, k-9 comfort dogs, lee ann yanni, lutheran church charities, marathon, Massachusetts General Hospital, newtown, pain, pets, sandy hook, school, staff, therapy dogs, tufts, Tufts Medical Center, victims, visits
A dog in Italy who attended his owner’s funeral has been showing up at the church where it was held everyday for two months.
Maria Margherita Lochi died late last year, and her funeral was held at the same church she regularly attended with her dog – Santa Maria Assunta church in San Donaci, Italy.
After her death, Tommy, her 7-year-old German shepherd, followed her coffin as it was carried into church and sat quietly through the funeral.
And ever since, Tommy, a stray who was taken in by Lochi, has been showing up when the bell rings out to mark the beginning of services, according to the Daily Mail.
“He’s there every time I celebrate mass and is very well behaved,” Father Donato Panna told the newspaper. “He doesn’t make a sound.”
None of the other parishioners has complained, Panna said, and villagers give the dog food and water.
“I’ve not heard one bark from him in all the time he has been coming in,” Panna added. “He waits patiently by the side of the altar and just sits there quietly. I didn’t have the heart to throw him out — I’ve just recently lost my own dog — so I leave him there until Mass finishes and then I let him out.”
(Photo: Tommy at Santa Maria Assunta church (Nikonarte Fotografia / Daily Mail)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 18th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopted, animals, church, daily, death, dog, dogs, funeral, german shepherd, italy, loyal, loyalty, Maria Margherita Lochi, master, owner, pets, San Donaci, Santa Maria Assunta, stray, tommy, visits
The dog whose only crime was resembling a pit bull was euthanized today, after a deadline for legal appeals expired.
His execution – despite 200,000 signatures supporting a reprieve — brings an end to an international effort to save him.
The BBC reports that the city council issued a statement that read:
“Whilst there is an exemption scheme to which dogs of this type (pit-bull terrier type) may be admitted as an alternative to destruction, there were no such measures that could be applied in this case that would address the concerns relating to public safety.”
“The council’s expert described the dog as one of the most unpredictable and dangerous dogs he had come across.”
In June, after two lower courts had already ruled that the dog should be put down, Northern Ireland’s highest court rejected Caroline Barnes’ legal bid to overturn an order calling for the destruction of her pet.
Ms. Barnes insisted that Lennox was not dangerous, and her battle to save Lennox snowballed into an often-heated international campaign to save his life.
One Belfast councillor has received a death threat over Lennox’s proposed destruction, the BBC reported, and workers in Belfast City Council have become the target of a fresh series of intimidating messages.
Lennox was impounded by Belfast City Council’s dog wardens in May of 2010, when a new breed specific law went into effect, banning pit bull types in the UK.
Among those calling for Lennox to be spared were boxer Lennox Lewis, Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, and television dog training expert Victoria Stillwell, who had offered to have Lennox re-homed in America where he would not be in contact with the public.
Stillwell said she was “absolutely devastated” that Lennox had been put down. “I hoped Belfast City Council would realize that there were alternatives that provided a sanctuary for Lennox in the USA where he would be safe but they did not listen,” she said.
Stillwell said requests that the family be allowed to visit the dog one last time before he was put down were declined — as were requests to allow the family see the dog after he was euthanized.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: belfast, belfast city council, breed bans, breed-specific, breeds, campaign, dangerous, denied, dog, dogs, euthanized, executed, global, international, ireland, killed, laws, lennox, news, pit bull, pit bull type, put down, put to sleep, resemblance, uk, victoria stillwell, visits
That’s what most often leads owners of ailing pets to the veterinarian, according to Veterinary Pet Insurance.
VPI, which describes itself as the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, sorted its database of 485,000 insured pets to determine the top 10 dog and cat medical conditions in 2011.
Ear infections, skin allergies and skin infections were the most common reasons for dogs to visit the vet.
With cats, the top three were bladder infections, chronic kidney disease and over-active thyroids.
“The large number of claims received for these medical conditions attests to their common, often repetitive, and sometimes chronic nature,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI.
“While many pet owners fear major accidents and illnesses, which can cost thousands of dollars to treat for a single incident, repetitive and chronic conditions can be just as detrimental to a pet’s quality of life and financially burdensome to the pet owner.”
In 2011, VPI received more than 62,000 canine claims for ear infections. The average claim fee was $98 per office visit. For cats, bladder infections were most common, with an average claim amount of $233 per office visit.
The most expensive canine condition on the list (non-cancerous skin growth) cost an average of $220 per visit, while, for cats, the most expensive condition (lymphosarcoma) cost an average of $426 per visit
Here are the top 10 conditions dogs for which dogs were treated, according to the VPI study:
1. Ear Infection
2. Skin Allergies
3. Skin Infection
4. Non-cancerous Skin Growth
5. Upset Stomach
6. Intestinal Upset/Diarrhea
8. Bladder Infection
9. Bruise or Contusion
10. Underactive Thyroid
Posted by jwoestendiek March 30th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accidents, animals, arthritis, bladder infections, cats, chronic kidney disease, common, dogs, ear, expense, growth, health, illnesses, infection, insurance, insurance claims, list, most, over active thyroid, pets, reasons, skin allergies, skin infections, stomach, top ten, veterinarians, veterinary, veterinary pet insurance, vets, visits
It’s not often that I share the personal frustrations of being a dog-blogger — especially one who tries to stand out from the crowd by keeping a lid on the pablum and fluff, and presenting from time to time some stories of depth about important dog-related issues.
Yesterday was a case in point.
I posted three items — about the daily average for ohmidog!
One was a mention of an upcoming motorcycle ride, sponsored by a motorcycle club and Baltimore’s Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force, to raise money for abused and abandoned dogs.
One was a story about a day of global protest against eating dogs in South Korea.
One was an update on a story I wrote a few years back after meeting in Los Angeles a homeless man and his three legged pit bull (her fourth leg was lost as a result of a police shooting). Both have fallen ill and need help.
I was especially proud of the latter two, as they both contained some original reporting, and original photographs, and displayed a little first hand knowledge I had gathered, mostly during the year and a half I was working on my book.
Checking my Google Analytics, as I do from time to time, I saw this morning that the dog-eating post (of global significance) drew 116 views; the post on Michael and Topaz (of national significance) got 46 views; and the post on the fundraising motorcyle ride (of local significance) got 16 views.
What drew most readers to ohmidog! yesterday — 676 of them — was a post, nearly 50 days old, about Jennifer Aniston getting her dog Norman’s name tatooed on her foot.
Thereby showing you the significance of celebrities. It blows my mind.
How people try to remember and memorialize their dogs is a legitimate story — and a large part of the book I wrote — and the fact that more people are going the tattoo route, as the New York Post reported this week, is worthy of note.
But let’s face it, it was Jennifer Aniston that brought me those readers — and while I appreciate her, and those readers who dropped by, it bugs me that her foot tattoo so overshadowed two stories of deeper importance and deeper humanity. But, despite all that’s in the bowl, they chose only that.
My little corner of the universe, or the Internet, serves it seems as a microcosm of what’s happened to the news media, which, to survive, has caved in to the pressure to give readers easily consumable, barely newsworthy bits of what they want, rather than fully fleshed out stories on topics of greater importance to the species, be it human or dog.
Looking at my Analytics — and I think it’s OK to share this proprietary information, given that I am the proprietor — a total of 435 pages and posts were viewed yesterday, 1,941 views in all.
The vast majority, though, were focused on Jennifer Aniston’s foot.
For those consumed with numbers, and getting them to increase, and paying the bills, the thinking would reasonably follow: We need more Jennifer Aniston, more tattoos, more feet, or more of whoever or whatever else is, at this given moment, “trending.”
Here’s one of the things that has happened. News organizations, and bloggers, see what’s “trending” and base their coverage on that, thereby making it “trend” even more, while items of higher significance — worth some digging up — fall unseen by the wayside.
Add to that the fact that those who write strictly for the Internet, often, are no longer writing for humans. Instead of writing for quality, instead of writing, even, for readers, they’re writing for robots — those search engine Peruse-a-trons that scan our words, mathematically determine their import and influence how many readers come our way.
Add to that the fact that average online writer now spends more time touting what he has written via social networks and elsewhere than actually writing what he has written. Time once spent on research and the craft of writing is now mostly absorbed by shouting about and hyping what one has written, even if that “writing” was little more than a cut and paste job.
We’ll even admit to doing some of that — what is now called “aggregating,” what was once called plagiarism. We’ll admit to touting stories we’re proud of on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll even admit to, once in a while, posting a story because we think it will draw a crowd.
Were ohmidog! a true money-making venture — which in some ways would make more sense than being poor and principled — we might follow the route that so many have, bringing you a steady diet of the cute, the happy, the adorable and the celebrity-related.
But, Jennifer Aniston aside, we plan to continue to vary our fare — presenting the cute, from time to time; the uplifting, as often as we can find it; but also the cruel and depraved acts of humans that lead to animal suffering.
If, in the three years we’ve existed (did I mention we’ve just turned 3?) and in the 3,000 posts we’ve posted, ohmidog! has shown anything, it is this: the depths to which humans can sink and the heights to which they can rise when it comes to dogs.
We’re going to keep doing that.
And you can tattoo that on your foot.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggregating, analytics, animal rights, animal welfare, animals, blogging, blogs, cute, dog, dog inc., dog stories, dogs, eating dogs, facebook, fluff, foot, google, internet, jennifer aniston, korea, michael, news, news media, newspapers, norman, ohmidog!, online, page views, pets, readers, robots, search engines, social networks, tattoo, topaz, tout, touting, trending, trends, twitter, visits, websites, writing
Unlike many a website, we don’t accept money — however much we might need it — for sneaking advertising links into our editorial matter. We don’t assault you with pop-ups. We don’t run advertising in disguise. All our ads are on our leftside rail (<—— ) over there. Blame it on my journalism background. I’m ethical, darn it.
That doesn’t mean we won’t write about or mention our advertisers, or other companies, when circumstances merit it — either as a news item or, as in this case, when thanks are due.
For every stop we’ve made as part of our continuing “Dog’s Country” tour, K-9 Kraving, Baltimore-based maker of raw diet dog food, has shipped a package of treats to our hosts — to those individuals who offered us lodging and to the shelters, sanctuaries and rescues we’ve reported on.
It’s my way of saying thank you, without actually paying for it.
What makes it even cooler, is that it was K-9 Kraving’s idea. I did offer to, in exchange, run their advertisement for free for the duration of my trip, but, as it turns out, they’re spending far more than that shipping a collection of treats to those place I’ve stopped.
So, from St. Bernard’s Parish in Louisiana, where the oil spill has led to an influx of shelter dogs, to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, where I spent two days as a volunteer, to Utopia Animal Rescue, Kinky Friedman’s Texas-based sanctuary (home of the dog shown above), shipments of K-9 Kraving treats have arrived.
Those individuals with dogs who have taken me in — including Judith Pannebaker in Bandera, Texas, Jen Walker in Albuquerque, and my brother in Phoenix — have also received treat packages, in thanks for their hospitality to ohmidog!
So now it’s my turn to thank K-9 Kraving, whose raw diet dog food was Ace’s food of choice — back when we had a freezer.
Now, as many of you know, we’re on the road, and have been for 50 days. Likely, as we’ve found we can travel for about the same amount of money we survived on back in Baltimore, while still doing our blog and seeking jobs, we’ll continue for a few months more – taking the pulse of America, its dogs, and its dog-friendliness in a journey made possible by my 401K, unemployment insurance and K-9 Kraving and all my other advertisers.
So thanks to them all. Now get back over there to the leftside rail, where you belong.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 15th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, advertisers, advertising, baltimore, best friends, dog food, dog's country, dogscountry, gifts, k-9 kraving, ohmidog!, raw diet, road trip, sponsors, st. bernard's parish, travel, traveling with dogs, treats, utopia animal rescue, visits
It’s probably the closest thing there is to heaven on earth for dogs (and a lot of other animals, too), a place where — despite abusive pasts, ill health or handicaps — dogs, cats, birds, horses, pigs and more can be rehabilitated enough to find new homes, or, if not, spend the rest of their days in the tranquil, sun-dappled canyons of southern Utah.
A lot of humans are coming to see Best Friends Animal Sanctuary as pretty close to paradise, too – they’re showing up in droves, not just for tours or visits, but to roll up their sleeves and do some work.
There’s something about Best Friends that seems to bring people who have visited once back again — myself included – and, refreshingly, they often return asking not what the animals can do for them, but what they can do for the animals.
My first visit to Best Friends was two years ago, and both the sanctuary and the terrain of southern Utah stuck with me — the way that few things, Mexican food included, do. Photos taken during that visit — while I was still a reporter for the Baltimore Sun –, helped inspire the look and color scheme of ohmidog!, the website I started after leaving the newspaper.
And the mission and staff of Best Friends inspired me as well, as they have millions of others — first with their response during Hurricane Katrina, more recently through the National Geographic Channel’s series, “Dogtown.”
Given that debt, it was only right that I — as about 100 people do every day — showed up at the sanctuary to work as a volunteer.
I was one of about 10 new volunteers going through orientation Tuesday, after making arrangements to do so — a simple matter — on the volunteer section of the Best Friends website.
Such was the case with Kenzie Wolff, an 11-year-old California girl who, when offered a trip to the location of her choice by her parents as a birthday present, chose to do volunteer work at Best Friends.
She and her parents were staying at one of the guest cottages available at Best Friends (there’s an RV park, too), and she and her mom showed up bright and early to go through the quick orientation.
Kenzie said she got the urge to visit and volunteer after watching “Dogtown.”
“We were watching Dogtown and it seemed really cool, and I went on their website a lot, and all the dogs and animals were really cool. I just really like animals.”
Kenzie, who has a 12-year-old Belgian Malinois named Sophie back home in Laguna Beach — and a cat named Gypsy — was scheduled for a full day of dog duty Tuesday, planned to work with cats today, and to work with dogs and bunnies on Thursday.
She was hoping to invite two animals back to the cottage for sleepovers. Permitting volunteers to take dogs and cats overnight, on trips through the canyon, or even into town, is another unusual aspect of Best Friends volunteer program — a massive operation that seems to run amazingly smoothly and without heavy layers of bureaucracy or bossiness.
For us new volunteers, we were equipped with nametags and orange whistles to blow in case of emergency — such as a dog we’re walking getting loose – and treated to a 10-minute safety video.
The video informed us of the color-coded collar system — green ones for safe and approachable dogs, purple ones for those requiring some caution and red ones for those dogs that staff only can handle.
We were provided with some common sense basics — don’t shout or run around the dogs, don’t throw toys without permission, or engage in tug of war games. Let the dogs approach you, sniff you and get to know you.
A brief talk followed in which we warned to watch out for, and back away from, rattlesnakes, and that, it being lizard season, to make sure to hold tight to leashes, because some dogs are prone to chasing them.
After the briefing, Kenzie and her mom, Peggy, headed for puppy class, where trainer Don Bain uses the volunteers to help socialize newly arrived puppies — generally at 12 weeks of age.
The session takes place in a room set up like a house — complete with refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave and a doorbell. The setting helps increase the chances that the puppies, once adopted, will feel more at home, and decrease the chances of them being returned.
Bain says as many as one in five pups were being returned at one point, but in the past two years, only two have been. “We’re sending out very well-adjusted, socialized puppies now.”
“We try to throw as many people in their puppy faces as we possibly can,” Bain said. In the class, volunteers worked with seven puppies, picking them up, poking and prodding them and getting them used to having humans play with their paws, mouths and ears.
The pups are taught their names, and to sit and lay down. Treats and consistency are the key. “If a puppy wins once, he wins forever,” Bain says.
Kenzie worked with a chocolate ball of fluff named Nike, who came from a rescue in Page, Arizona, and probably from an Indian reservation before that. A birth defect left him without the tip of one of his front paws. It had pads, but no toes or claws. None of which seemed to slow him down a bit.
Kenzie spent the rest of the morning walking dogs, including one with a neurological problem that caused him to go in circles.
After a vegetarian buffet in a dining hall that overlooks the canyons — sweet and sour sesame tofu was the entree — Kenzie spent some time with the old dogs.
When the battery on the family’s rental car died, Best Friends maintenance staff responded within minutes, charging it up and allowing Kenzie and her mom to get to their next assignment.
It’s astounding how so many volunteers can be so calmly and smoothly dispatched to their duties — even amid the pounding of a jackhammer in the front office (more expansion was underway). And it’s all done with kindness and flexibility. Volunteers can come and go from the sanctuary as they please and pursue their individual interests as long as they sign in and out and follow a few simple rules.
As with Kenzie, and as with me (more on my experiences tomorrow), volunteers get far more than they give. I hate to use the phrase “win-win,” but that’s exactly what the situation is. Dogs can grow more social, humans can grow more compassionate. Sure, poop gets scooped and dog bowls get washed, but in Best Friends’ volunteer program, far more than daily chores are getting accomplished.
(Tomorrow: More from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.)
(To read all of “Dog’s Country, from the beginning, click here.)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 30th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, animal sanctuary, animal welfare, animals, best friends, dog's country, dogs, dogtown, kanab, kenzie wolff, ohmidog!, pets, rehabilitation, rescue, sanctuary, shelter, tourism, tours, travel, traveling with dogs, utah, visits, volunteer, volunteering, volunteers
One pitfall of freeloading, I’ve learned – at least twice now – is that every person’s home has its own quirks, whether it’s a toilet that’s tricky to flush, water faucets in which the hot and cold are reversed, or doors that lock behind you when you step outside.
The latter caught me again this week.
After spending a week with my brother in Gilbert, I headed up Friday to spend a couple of days with my father in Scottsdale. Ace, who he and his wife Bonnie had met before, reconnected with the both of them, and so dazzled them with his good behavior that they felt okay about leaving him in the house when we all went out to eat some Mexican food.
A couple hours later, around 8 p.m., they went to bed, first showing me the ropes – like the light that, because of no off switch, must be unplugged, the switch to turn off the ceiling fan, how their TV remote (a device that has grown increasingly complex in recent years) worked.
I kicked off my shoes, hopped on the couch, started blogging, switched to watching TV and dozed off.
Around 11:30 I was awakened by a beeping. The burglar alarm, though not enabled, was spouting off. They were sleeping right through it, so I decided to check the perimeter of their home, and smoke a cigarette while I was at it. I slid open the sliding glass door to the backyard and called Ace, who stuck his head out, felt the temperature outside and pulled his head back in like a turtle.
Fine, stay inside, I said, pushing the sliding door closed to preserve the precious air conditioning.
And hearing an ominous click.
Exactly one month after locking myself out the first time on this trip, at my mother’s home, I’d locked myself out again, at my father’s home. (Please feel free to psychoanalyze that behavior.)
I briefly pondered sleeping outside, but with temperatures still feeling like they were in the 90s, I motioned for Ace to come to the door, thinking maybe by some miracle he could lift his paw up and hit the lock to let me back in. Instead he stared at me through the window with a look that said “What are you doing out there?” turned around, walked over to the couch and, always the opportunist, climbed into the spot where I was formerly dozing.
So much for a Lassie-esque rescue.
In my socks, I walked through gravel whose pieces felt like they’d been individually sharpened, and around to the front door, checking windows on the way. Everything was locked up tight, including the front door, which not even my nearly over-the-limit credit card could get open. I briefly worried about the alarm company showing up, seeing me trying to gain entry, and unloading on me. After all, this is Arizona.
I rang the doorbell, once, then twice, then a dozen times, knocked on the door until my knuckles ached, but no one awakened, not even Ace. Then I took to slamming on the door, hard, with my open hand. That got Ace to barking, which, combined with a few dozen more doorbell rings, finally brought my father downstairs to let me in.
“What are you doing out there?” he asked.
I explained the whole thing. He went back to bed. Stressed out by the whole ordeal, I stepped outside for a cigarette, this time insisting my hero dog come with me, and leaving the door open a crack.
(To go back to the beginning of “Dog’s Country,” click here.)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 26th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace does america, america, arizona, dog's country, dogscountry, family, freeloading, lassie, locked out, ohmidog!, parents, phoenix, reescue, road trip, travel, traveling with dogs, visiting, visits