Monday, November 30, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our friends and family. Enjoy the holiday!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

An Early Thanksgiving

A thing of beauty hangs in our hallway tonight. No, not Nigel - he's beautiful in his own way. And he's not hanging from anything.

A labor of love adorns the wall just next to the door of the dog room, and I can't believe I'm viewing it in person. When a parcel hold notice from the postal service was left on the door Friday I thought nothing of it. There has been a steady supply of packages arriving here over the past month after all: dog books, treats, collars - all of them for review. I've grown accustomed to receiving unexpected items, so another notice from the USPS is not something that would normally get my attention.

This time, I happened to notice who the sender was. Dim as I may be, a faint light bulb managed to illuminate the dark recesses of my noggin. I contained my excitement in order to avoid tipping my hat to Mrs. Author. We left the house Saturday morning to run errands, one of which was getting a package shipped out to a recent Life With Dogs contest winner. Perfect timing. I managed to sneak this new arrival in to the trunk of the car undetected. The rest of the day was spent hiding my desire to run back to the car and rip the box open while we completed such exciting tasks as dropping off movie rentals, gassing up the car, and the always enjoyable trip to the grocery store.

You'd think Mrs. Author would have caught on when she noticed that we were rocketing home from the grocery store at eighty-five miles per hour. Considering that the trip takes about fifteen minutes at legal speeds, you would have thought I had a trunk full of lobsters to haul a hundred miles on a ninety degree day by the blur of our silver sedan snaking through the mountains at breakneck speed. I heeded her request to let off the gas a little. I was like a kid on Christmas morning.

Once the dogs had greeted us and the car was unloaded, I smiled and put the box on the table. The shape gave it away. Between the two of us, I think it may have taken twenty seconds to unwrap the package and find our way to something we have both been admiring nonstop for days.

Were we blown away? Beyond description. Kathleen Coy was so sweet and selfless to offer to paint our boy, and to sell the painting online in order to raise funds for A Place to Bark. We had contacted her in order to be certain that we could acquire a print. She'd assured us that prints would be available after the auction, so we watched eBay with baited breath. When the auction closed I contacted her again and was told that we could work out print arrangements after the approaching holiday weekend. I thought nothing more of it until that little yellow note found its way into my hands Friday.

How did this wonderful, beautifully crafted work of art find its way to us? That's the other truly touching part of this story. Enclosed in the package was a letter, one that we'll never forget.

               (you'll want to click on this pic to make it legible)

More than twenty people had formulated a plan to win the auction and send the painting to us. For now I've maintained their privacy (I've not had time to contact all for their permission to disclose their identities) but we cannot thank them enough. It was a gesture of kindness and generosity that we'll never forget. Every time I pass that painting I grin - and not just because these wonderful people went out of their way to do this for us. It is what I learned after we had hung the painting that nearly reduced me to tears.

The Friends of Buggers Society (can you imagine what that secret decoder ring looks like?) had pooled their resources to buy the painting. Once the auction ended there was a pile of money left over, and rather than reclaim unspent dollars, the group decided to donate the remaining money (another two hundred dollars) to A Place to Bark in our names.

It's impossible to convey our heartfelt thanks adequately. In time, all will come to know how grateful we are as we find our way to each of them to offer our gratitude. Of course, we are thrilled to have this work in our home. Kathleen did such a good job that I can see no deviation from the picture I provided as the basis for the painting. It's simply perfect.

As much as it will thrill me to see this every day, it is the story behind the painting that will stay with me each time I pass it. These great people, their generosity, and the animals who benefited from this collective act of kindness stare back at me from a square of wood, stretched canvas and oil that will never leave this home. Our hearts are warmed by each brush stroke, every gesture made by those involved, and today we may say with certainty that we know who our friends are.

They are dog lovers.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Dairyland: The Real Story

Those who run in Greyhound circles have likely heard about the closing of the Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Many posts are to be found on discussion forums and Facebook, and I have received twenty three messages regarding the shutdown. A moron put a bogus post on Craigslist about 900 dogs in danger of being put down.

There are a few versions of the story, but the most accurate information available thus far is as follows:

•The track is indeed closing December 31st 2009.
•The exact number of dogs is not yet known, but is likely to be well below 900. Some will be moved to other tracks to continue to race. Exact numbers will be known in mid December.
•Relocation planning is already taking place. I would encourage anyone who wants to assist to contact the track directly (as I did) or to contact Greyhound adoption groups in Wisconsin and surrounding states.
•The facility will stay open until all dogs are relocated. They will not euthanize. 


Link to groups who are already arranging for adoption of these dogs:

If you are not affiliated with rescue groups, but have at some point considered adopting a Greyhound, this is a great time to do so. There are going to be a lot of newbies flooding the market.

Happy Friday dog lovers.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I met a broken dog last week, and I could not take her home.

Some of you are already nodding in quiet understanding, despite how little the above statement discloses. For those who are not, let me expound. This was not an injured dog. No scrapes, bruises or breaks were to be found. She was healthy and well fed, her deep black coat luxurious to the touch. A Border Collie/GSD mix, she cut an athletic figure standing at the side of the rescue organization representative who was handling her at our local pet shop this day, and my guess was that she would find her way around an agility course with aplomb. A fine canine specimen in every physical sense of the word.

Her eyes told the rest of the story, and I will never be the same for having looked in to them. It took no more than three seconds to know all that she could not tell me. Fear, distrust and uncertainty poured from her expression, and you could almost sense that she was looking for her next place to hide. She flattened perceptibly as I approached her. I spoke softly and held her head in my hands as she averted her eyes, a reaction that I am not used to. Most canines seem to sense that I am a dog nut and tackle me as soon as they have the chance. Not so, this girl.

My wife and I exchanged knowing glances. These are the cases that kill us. I stepped aside to let Mrs. Author spend time with this shy, nervous girl, telling myself all of the while that the sooner we could distance ourselves from her, the better.

Do not think me cold or uncaring. You could not be more wrong. Instead, understand that we have lost three great dogs in the past six years, and two of those dogs came from deplorable conditions and had horrid histories. We committed fully to the challenge of helping these frightened animals feel safety. We put weight on them, trained them, showed them the way to true happiness and contentment. Our consistent love, patience and compassion taught them that they could expect good from humans, and that an outstretched hand did not indicate an impending strike. We gave them everything we had, as any who know us would attest. We helped each of them through prolonged medical battles until all was lost.

Nigel and Sola bore witness to the loss of our last great friend, an amazing male Border Collie. His story will wait for another day, but the pain we all feel from his passing will not. He was far too young when we lost him. Nigel and Sola were both impacted deeply, and never seemed to fully recover until Truffles came home with us. It hurt us as much to see them mourn as it did to lose the companion they were mourning. Our entire family was devastated.

I browsed the pet store that was hosting this rescue organization meet and greet. Mrs. Author found me, grabbed my arm and ushered me away after she had spent a few quiet moments with this sad and lovely girl. In her eyes I saw that familiar anguish. It pains us deeply to walk away from these cases.

We want to know that these hurting creatures will be cared for in a permanent home that allows them to find their way back to a place of peace. We want to see them thriving, fearless, healthy and well; and we wish that we could be the ones to shepherd them as they find their way. The disappointment that comes from denying ourselves the chance to do so leaves us feeling hollow. With each damaged dog that we walk away from, we leave behind a small, broken piece of ourselves.

I agonize over that dog each day, and she enters my thoughts with frequency. She nearly haunts me. I have looked at her online profile countless times, and imagined her frolicking in the river with our delightfully happy pack of dogs. I believe they would love her, as would we, and that they would not handle the loss well if (for any reason) things were to not work out. I know that this time, for many very good reasons, with the best intent, and my heart planted firmly in the right place, I must bid her farewell and hope.

I met a broken dog last week, and I could not take her home. Please share her story, so that the person who is meant to do so may find her. She waits patiently.


Mia is currently available for adoption at Good Karma rescue in Montpelier, Vermont. Her online profile is here. I rarely ask anything of our readers, but I implore you to retweet this story, share it on Facebook or anywhere dog lovers congregate. Help this girl find her forever home.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Freakshow

Have a freaky Friday the 13th, and a great weekend! For something truly frightening check out the link below.

I could never. You?

A surgical mute button for dogs?


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Usual Suspects

I live on the phone. Each work day finds me taking anywhere from forty to a hundred calls while voicemail piles up in the queue. It's a little much. In my line of work, many of these calls are about fires that have to be put out - not real fires mind you, but the typical business hassles: clients seeking urgent assistance, employees stressing over assignments, sales people who just can't wait to tell me about the best deal ever.

Due to the sheer volume of calls that I have fielded during the last decade, I have had my share of odd experiences. None of them had prepared me for the call I would receive one afternoon last week. I did not check caller ID before answering.



Mrs. Author: "It's me." She paused briefly as if to gather herself. "You know how my foot has been getting sore and looking bruised the past few days?"

I acknowledged the same. I'd urged her to get in to a doctor to have it looked at, because she did not recall having done anything to bring it on. She suspected her wood clogs, but I did not believe a pair of shoes could cause the pain and swelling she had experienced.

Mrs Author: "I managed to get in to a podiatrist. They shot x-rays. My f*cking foot is broken!"

"I don't get it. I just don't get it. Are you sure you didn't twist it or hit it on something?" I was shocked.

"No," she replied, and I could almost picture here furrowed brow before she continued, "I still can't think of a thing but this just sucks."

She was right. This is her new look:

We will never know what caused the fracture. The doctor explained that it was not unusual to see fractures that came with no real explanation, and that six weeks from now it will all be just a memory. Mrs. Author is not a happy camper.

Nigel requested that I update his Facebook status, and I obliged.

There was much speculation about the cause of this injury, but there is no need to expand upon the comment thread. The overwhelming majority suggested that Mrs. Author had fractured her foot delivering a well deserved kick to the south end of Nigel. Of course, that is not at all the case. I do wonder if the dogs were somehow involved. We have both suffered numerous injuries from our animal companions. Mystery bruises, aches and pains, and cuts and scrapes of assorted sizes are de rigeur. And we are stepped on with regularity. To be honest, I have do have three specific suspects in mind, but I guess we'll never know.

Or will we?