HELP ME - CENTRAL

HELPING THOSE WHO CAN'T HELP THEMSELVES

Blog: Finding My Voice

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I am the voice of the voiceless

  Through me, the dumb shall speak;

Till the deaf world's ear be made to hear

  The cry of the wordless weak.

From street, from cage, and from kennel,

  From jungle and stall, the wail

Of my tortured kin proclaims the sin

  Of the mighty against the frail.

~Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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PLEASE NOTE:

     I am still discovering what I can and can’t do with this blog. I would like to add a side bar with a list of all the blog posts, but I haven’t figured out how to do that without adding a sidebar to the website - which I don’t want to do.

     People who are members of the website can make comments, but I don’t know how to add the membership sign up to the blog page...but it must be somewhere on the website (hidden from me) because 89 people are members of the website!

     Below is the list of blog “Topics." Until I add a sidebar, please search the subjects to find previous blog entries that might not appear on the page.  Thank you!

~ MUSINGS ~ RANTS ~ REMEMBRANCE ~

~ KNOWLEDGE IS POWER ~  SIMPLE PLEASURES~ 

~ TRANFORMATIONS ~ THE FORMATIVE YEARS

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view:  full / summary

Living With Hope

Posted on September 12, 2012 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (0)

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Yesterday my youngest son and I drove to the Veterinary Clinic at Ohio State University in Columbus for Ballantine's monthly checkup. We were hoping to receive good news so the monthly visits could be changed to quarterly visits. We had high expectations. Ballantine has been looking and acting healthy. She consumes her three daily meals with gusto, she plays with her fur siblings, she pulls on her leash when we go for walks, and she constantly monitors our back yard to ensure the "alligators" stay away. At the clinic, when I spoke with the fourth year veterinary student who greeted us and took a short history, I mentioned that my only concern was that Bally appeared to have lost a little weight. Her skin wasn't loose like it had been after her initial diagnosis, but when I lifted her up or rubbed her back she seemed a little leaner than usual.


     The examinations at the clinic generally take three to four hours. My son and I followed our usual routine. We ate lunch at the Garden Market, then went to see a movie at a nearby theater. When we returned to the clinic, I signed in at the reception desk and waited almost an hour before my name was called. As the time grew, so did my anxiety. As soon as Ballantine's oncologist walked out to greet me, I knew the news would be bad. Seven months ago, when Ballantine's cancer returned, the oncologist, not the veterinary student, had been the one to greet me.


     The news was good and bad. During the examination it was noted that Bally had a lump in her salivary gland near the location where cancerous lymph nodes had been removed seven months ago. The lump was aspirated and cancer cells were detected. Bally also had a small nodule, presumably cancer, near one of her lungs. A scan was performed. Unbeknownst to us, the nodule had been present during one of Ballantine's previous visits, but that information had not been disclosed to us. The "good" news was that the nodule had not grown in size.


     We talked about Ballantine's prognosis. The salivary gland could be removed without interfering with Bally's quality of life. The main risk of the surgery was that the salivary gland was near the nerve that controlled the tongue. If this was damaged during the procedure, Bally would no longer be able to eat. We had faced this risk when the original surgery to remove Bally's lower jaw was performed 15 months ago. The oncologist said eventually the cancer near the lung would spread and engulf the lungs, limiting Bally's ability to breathe. They still had some forms of chemotherapy that could be used to hopefully slow the progression. The oncologist was blunt. Ballantine had cancer and there was no cure. She softened this death sentence by stating that when she first examined Ballantine 15 months ago, Bally had little to no chance of survival. Ballantine had surprised everyone. She was a living miracle.


     We discussed the options further. We could wait and see, and hope that the cancer in Bally's neck did not spread and the nodule did not grow. The other option was to remove Bally's salivary gland immediately. The visit to the clinic was $400 and surgery would be an additional $800. I had to pay half now and the Balance when we picked up Bally after the surgery. I called my husband and shared the information. He said the choice was mine. For me, there was no choice. For fifteen months we had endured stress, scrimped, sacrificed, begged, and done without so Bally could have a chance at life. If I had to make the decision today about Bally's first surgery knowing what I do today, I would still make the same choice. Bally was given 15 months that she would not have had if I had taken the advice of the diagnosing veterinarian and euthanized her immediately. Because of the decisions we made, fourteen of those fifteen months have been pain free with a good quality of life.


     Several months ago I was working in my back yard with my five dogs nearby. My neighbor and three of her six grandchildren were kicking a ball around in their backyard. Some of my dogs poked their noses through the fence and barked, wanting to join in the game. My neighbor commented on the fact that I really loved my dogs. The first words that came out of my mouth were, "They are the grandchildren I don't have," and after I made the statement I realized that this was true. My dogs (and my cats) bring me joy. I love watching them play and enjoy their different personalities. They are my companions and they cheer me up when I feel stressed and sad. I live daily with the knowledge that like my fur companions of the past I will most likely outlive them, but that does not diminish the joy they bring me today.


     Bally will undergo surgery this afternoon. Words cannot express the sadness and anxiety I feel at the moment. All I can do is place my trust in Bally's surgeons and wait. Her fate is not in my hands. I am trying to stay optimistic, but I can't help thinking about worst case scenarios. When I spoke with Ballantine's oncologist yesterday, she said she could give me an approximate guess at the  progression of the disease and the time Bally had left. I said I didn't want to hear it because I wanted to live with hope. Every day of the past fifteen months I have tried to live in the present and be thankful for every good thing that comes my way, be it a butterfly, a flower blooming in my garden, a day when the sun shines, or one of my furry companions vying for my attention. Every day is a gift. Today I will live with hope.


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An Inconvenient Truth

Posted on July 24, 2012 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

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Several years ago I was a guest at a Christmas party at a neighbor’s home. During the evening the host’s mother, who obviously had never heard that you shouldn’t discuss religion and politics at social functions, began bashing Al Gore and his belief in global warming. No one disagreed with her or questioned her reasoning. I kept silent, but I wanted to ask her one question, ...“Haven’t you seen changes in your own backyard?”


Every year for as long as I can remember, the azaleas in my yard were in full bloom for Derby week, which is a big occasion in Louisville. The year of the Christmas party I had noticed that my azaleas bloomed two weeks before Derby, the robins in my yard had appeared earlier than usual, winter was drier with less snow, and spring was warmer than it had been in the past. Over the years the changes have accelerated. This year my azaleas bloomed five weeks before Derby. We had much more rain than usual (four inches in one hour during one spring storm), and the weather turned hot earlier, with record breaking temperatures - ten days over 100 degrees in late June and early July.


“You don’t need a weatherman

To know which way the wind blows.”

Bob Dylan (Subterranean Homesick Blues)


Many people still scoff at the idea of global warming and/or its causes. Some people believe that the recent phenomenons we have been experiencing...like melting glaciers, intense hurricanes, tornadoes, and rain storms, heavier snowfall, droughts, and raging wildfires...are part of the normal cyclical changes we should expect in nature. I don’t know what is causing the changes, but I do believe that charges are occurring. I have seen them with my own eyes. My gut feeling, that little voice inside me that on many occasions has led me to conclusions that have proven to be right, tell me that man is the cause or  a major factor.


Yesterday our newspaper was not on the front steps when my husband went out to to retrieve it. He took a short walk up and down the street to see if our neighbors had the same problem. Two houses down he saw a buck and a doe standing in our neighbor’s driveway. We don’t live in the country. We live in an area that is a short drive from the center of downtown Louisville. Those poor deer and other animals like them, who are forced to live in pockets of green that have not been paved over or turned into lawns, were foraging for food and water. They are the victims of human actions and decisions. Everything man touches, the changes and “improvements” we make in the name of progress or to benefit ourselves, has unintended consequences. For whatever reason, we believe we can do whatever we want to do. After all, aren’t we superior to every other creature on Earth?


The Earth does not belong to man; Man belongs to the Earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. ~Chief Seattle


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LEARNING NEW TRICKS

Posted on June 28, 2012 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

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Ballantine and Macallan when Macallan was a baby.


 

   Last night Ballantine played with a ball. Not a large one, but a small ball that, if she had a lower jaw, she could have picked up and chewed. This milestone is a small miracle. Thirteen months ago Bally was given a death sentence. She was diagnosed with a highly aggressive cancer of the lower jaw which, in a two week period, went from undetectable to the destruction of her lower jaw.

 

     Last night Bally searched for a toy in the toy basket, discovered the ball, and pushed it around with her nose. Macallan, our Wheaten Scottie who has malformed front legs, soon joined in. Despite his handicap, Macallan is highly mobile. Every evening he entertains us by streaking around the family room and dining room, sometimes with the others in pursuit, but most often all by himself. His walking gait is a little slow and wobbly, but he can run like the wind.


     The game between Bally and Macallan became  a battle of wits.  Macallan would grab the ball and run off and Bally would pursue him, nudge the ball with her nose, and roll it away. When the ball rolled behind the door, Bally pushed the door with her nose and retrieved it. The game continued back and forth with each dog momentarily getting the upper hand. When both dogs tired of the game, Bally the victor sat with the ball between her front legs.


     Watching Ballantine and Macallan play, I was reminded of the adaptability of animals and their strong will to live.  Humans complain and lose patience over the most trivial things...the red light is too long, the person in front of us in line has too many items or is taking too long to pay, our cell phone has lost reception.  We assume that we are superior to animals, but I believe that the ability of animals to adapt and overcome the seemingly impossible is a trait many humans lack. Instead of adapting, we change the world to suit us...which often harms others and causes more problems.


     Ohno and Walker, our two senior Scottish Terriers, came into our home as six year olds after they were displaced by the death of their elderly owner. They quickly become members of our family and found their place in our pack more easily than I had expected.  Macallan runs, plays, and dominates all of his fur siblings except for Bally even though he is the weakest member of the pack. And Ballantine, who lacks a lower jaw, has learned to bark, play, and enjoys life to the fullest.


      Living with my dogs has given me a different perspective on life. Things that we believe we cannot achieve and problems we think we cannot overcome should not stop us from trying. As stated by Daniel Pinkwater, “The old saw about old dogs and new tricks only applies to certain people.“


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Mortality and Remembrance

Posted on June 10, 2012 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (0)

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     This past week has been a roller coaster of emotions for me.  On Monday my son and I travelled to the veterinary clinic at OSU in Columbus for our dog Ballantine’s last chemotherapy treatment. At the moment Bally’s physical condition gives every indication that all is going well. She has gained weight, her skin is taut with muscle below the surface, her fur shines, her eyes are clear, and her appetite is good. Even better, Bally has returned to the dog I remember before the specter of cancer darkened our lives. She is physically active, playful, affectionate, curious, alert, and naughty...hunting for little creatures in the backyard late at night instead of coming in when I call.  At the clinic Bally took an interest in every new dog who entered the waiting room. For some unknown reason, Bally dislikes large dogs. Of course, 90% of the dogs at the clinic on Monday were large....a Great Dane, a Bullmastiff, a Pit Bull, a Boxer, a Hound/Lab Mix puppy, and two Golden Retrievers. When one of the Golden Retrievers dared to walk in front of us, Bally attempted to leap from my lap to challenge him. I had forgotten what the pre-cancer Bally was like.


     On Tuesday I began to despair and second guess myself.  Now that Bally’s chemotherapy at the clinic has ended  her oncologist has placed her on a chemotherapy drug called Palladia, which is the only cancer drug for dogs that has been approved by the FDA.  I was told that this drug has been successful in shrinking and, in some cases, destroying visible tumors in dogs with cancer.  Bally does not have, and never had, any visible tumors. Her oncologists hope that this drug will destroy any cancer cells that remain after Bally’s most recent surgery and chemotherapy treatments. Unfortunately, Palladia comes with many risks. The possible side effects are daunting - loss of appetite, loss of weight, lameness, liver and bone marrow problems, gastro-intestinal problems, internal bleeding, and in some cases death. Bally is doing so well at the moment. I spent the day regretting my decision and had a sleepless night imagining the worst. Was I doing the right thing by going forward with this course of treatment when the risks appeared to be almost as terrible as the disease we were fighting? I don't want to make a decision...every choice seems right and wrong.

 

     On Wednesday I buried one of our new koi under a large rose bush in our backyard. This was the fifth fish I have buried in the past few weeks. One, a comet, had been ill, while three others, all koi, died unexpectedly without any signs of illness. A fifth, a large beauty named Kabuki, apparently jumped out of the pond. I found him on the grass when my dogs and I went outside for our noon fish feeding. Today I buried Nishokki in my oriental garden. He was a white fish with a red spot on his head. He reminded me of a Japanese flag. My husband, youngest son and I dug the pond in our backyard several years ago and it has brought us much joy...and heartache. We name each new fish and spend hours watching all of the koi and comets as they explore the small circle that is their home. They fascinate and entertain us with their simplicity and beauty. Each time I bury one I feel a loss and experience regret and guilt because I chose them and as a result their lives ended far too soon.


     On Thursday several family members, including my daughter who lives in Nashville and other family members from Washington, Nevada, and Florida, gathered at my elderly mother-in-law’s house for dinner. My mother-in-law was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and it appears that her battle will end soon. Her birthday is in July, but we are afraid that she may not last that long, so family members were advised to visit now.  The evening was bittersweet. It was like being at a wake with the deceased loved one present. We shared stories, memories, and photographs. We enjoyed our time together and the meal prepared by my son (who is a chef) and my sister-in-law. For most of the evening my mother-in-law remained in her bedroom, too tired and weak to join us. After dinner she felt strong enough to sit with us in the living room. Sitting in her wheelchair, she was a shadow of her former self...both physically and mentally. She was extremely thin, weak, and seemed to be almost unaware of what was happening around her. She took a few bites of the food that was fed to her and when she spoke her words were soft and few.  When the cake my son had made was placed in front of her and we sang “Happy Birthday,”  my mother-in-law seemed to be focused on something none of us could see or understand.


     On Friday I posted the news that all the cats and kittens, including mamas and babies, who had been in danger at the Pulaski County Animal “Shelter” in Somerset, Kentucky had been killed. The “shelter” also euthanized several dogs and three to four month old pups for space. I can’t get their faces out of my mind. I keep trying to focus on other things, but I keep thinking about those poor, sweet, unwanted animals who were relinquished to a shelter that is always overcrowded and kills for space. I can’t justify the unjustifiable. Killing for space is not a solution. Next week the shelter and many others like it will be faced with the same problem.


     On Saturday my daughter returned to her apartment and life in Nashville. I have finally admitted to myself that Louisville is no longer her home. When she returns to our house it will be as a visitor who lives out of a suitcase and looks forward to returning to her own place.  During my daughter’s visit we talked, shopped, watched television, and shared meals and memories...and the whole time I kept thinking "This is all temporary. These oh so pleasant moments will soon come to an end."


     As I reflected upon this roller coaster week I acknowledged and accepted the fact that life passes much too quickly. I thought about how much I love my family, the human and non-human members, and how much I treasure the many good memories we share. I also thought about all of those lives that ended in shelters and how inexcusable it is for the continual killing to occur. The events of this past year and past week have lead my husband and I to discuss how we want to be remembered. I am not a religious person, so when I leave this world I don’t want a church service or comforting words said in front of a group of people standing over my grave. I don’t care where I am laid to rest. This morning I read an article/tribute to Ray Bradbury in the local newspaper.  Ray Bradbury’s epitaph might be in his own words in "Farrenheit 451."


     “Everyone must leave something in the room or left behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there.”


   I will be in my garden. Something I created with my own two hands that gave me much joy.  But what about the animals that were killed in shelters? What is their legacy? Where and by whom will they be remembered? Not by their former “owners”, who discarded them like trash, who didn’t look for them when they wandered off, who allowed their cat or dog to reproduce and then left them and their unwanted offspring to die by the hands of others.  You and I will not, cannot, forget them...their sad, pleading eyes, their confusion, their pain, their desire to love and be loved. I refuse to forget, cannot forget, those who have died because of poor decisions humans have made. They will be remembered.



     He took my heart and ran with it, and I hope he's running still, fast and strong, a piece of my heart bound up with his forever.  ~dog quote by Patricia McConne


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Failing Foster 101

Posted on November 14, 2011 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)

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Six years ago, after our two elderly dogs died ten days apart, my family adopted two Scottish Terrier puppies. Ballantine and Pinch had been rescued from a puppy mill. Nine months later we adopted a third puppy, a wheaton Scottie, from the same rescue. Macallan was a kennel release who had been auctioned to the highest bidder. Luckily, a rescuer had the winning bid and not the puppy mill operator who was bidding against her. The third addition to our family made our family complete...or so we thought. Two months after we adopted Macallan, I received a phone call from the rescuer asking for a favor. Two six-year-old Scottish Terriers were being surrendered to animal control because their elderly owner had died.  The rescuer needed someone to drive to Cincinnati, take possession of the dogs, and ultimately put them on an airplane so they could reach the rescue.

 

     My husband and I drove to Cincinnati that afternoon. The dogs were temporarily at the home of the deceased woman's son and daughter-in-law. We were invited inside the house to complete the transaction. As we talked, four Scottish Terriers stood in a row outside the house with their noses pressed against a sliding glass door and looked at us. It was late May, but very hot. One of the Scotties was the mother of the dogs being relinquished. The daughter-in-law pointed to the two dogs she wanted to surrender, describing them by the color of their collars. The son advised us that the dogs' names were Rocco and Yoko Ohno. He handed us a folder which contained vet records and “baby” photos of the siblings, walked us to our car, patted both dogs on the head, and walked away.


As we drove back to Louisville, the dogs sat silently in the back seat. They were much larger than our Scotties and both were muscular and beautiful. They had been recently groomed and both had muttonchop beards which gave them a menancing look. I was almost afraid to turn to look at them. These two dogs were strange to me and I was a stranger to them. Despite my initial wariness, we soon discovered that both dogs had sweet dispositions. I couldn't understand how anyone could give them away or why the son gave us the photo of him holding a very tiny Rocco or the one of the litter of puppies with their mother whom the son still had. 


     Our three dogs readily accepted the newcomers and Rocco and Ohno showed no aggression towards our dogs. Initially, we kept Macallan separate from the others as a precaution because he was still a puppy, but within a few days all of the dogs were roaming the backyard as a pack, sleeping together, and sharing their food bowls. The new dogs even began to play/fight with Macallan just as Ballantine had when we first brought him home.


Our plan to put Rocco and Ohno on a plane were thwarted by the continuing high temperatures which made flying unsafe. The drive to the rescue was an eight hour trip one way and the rescue was overflowing with unwanted dogs. The hot weather continued. I quickly became attached to Rocco and Ohno. They accepted us as their new family and looked to us for for affection and companionship. When I took the two dogs to a veterinarian for their health certificates, they both pressed close to my legs as we sat in the waiting room. Looking at them with their sad brown eyes, I could barely keep myself from crying. These poor trusting creatures had lost the only home they had ever known, the person who loved and cared for them had died, and they were to be transported from one temporary home to another in the hope that someone, somewhere would want to adopt an older bonded pair of siblings. At that moment I realized it wasn't going to be easy to part with them.


     As the days passed, my affection for the two homeless dogs grew. Within a short period of time, we became a foster family. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Rocco (whom we started calling Walker) and Ohno bonded with our family and we with them. We began calling the five dogs our "herd of puppies" and their antics kept us constantly entertained. At some point my husband and I realized that we would never be able to find a "suitable" forever home for Walker and Ohno because they were already home. They completed us. As a failed foster mom, I have to admit...they had me at hello.  


 

The dogs in our lives, the dogs we come to love and who (we fervently believe) love us in return, offer more than fidelity, consolation, and companionship. They offer comedy, irony, wit, and a wealth of anecdotes, the "shaggy dog stories" and "stupid pet tricks" that are commonplace pleasures of life. They offer, if we are wise enough or simple enough to take it, a model for what it means to give your heart with little thought of return. Both powerfully imaginary and comfortingly real, dogs act as mirrors for our own beliefs about what would constitute a truly humane society. Perhaps it is not too late for them to teach us some new tricks.  ~Marjorie Garber


 

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Be Thankful

Posted on November 12, 2011 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)

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For many years, when my daughter was still living at home and then when she came home on breaks from school, we had a nightly ritual - we would watch the Jay Leno Show together. We enjoyed his guests, his brand of humor, and his verbal exchanges with Kevin, the show's bandleader. However, our favorite part of the show was the regular feature before the guests were introduced. The ones that always made us laugh were Jaywalking, The Photo Booth, Headlines, Gas Pump News, and Favorite Finds at the Dollar Store. We could identify with Favorite Finds because we occasionally shopped at a local store that sold everything for a dollar. The items shown on the Jay Leno Show were always a little “off” which was what made them humorous and the reason why they were being sold at bargain basement prices at a dollar store.

      

     One day while my daughter and I were shopping at our local dollar store we came upon a candidate for the Jay Leno Show: a three inch tall combination vase/magnet with the words "Be Thankful” written on it. What made this object so unique was the fact that the words had been applied upside down and backwards. To clearly read the message you had to hold the vase/magnet upside down in front of a mirror. The vase had to be mine. For a brief moment I thought about submitting it to the Jay Leno Show, but that would have meant sending it off to Los Angeles. Once the vase/magnet was in my possession I couldn’t bear to part with it. This “treasure” now sits on my desk next to my computer where it is a constant reminder for me to “Be Thankful."

     

     This week my husband and I drove to the veterinary clinic at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio for our dog Ballantine’s five month post-op visit. Bally underwent surgery to remove her cancerous lower jaw on June 14th of this year. At the time of diagnosis, Bally's prognosis was grim. The diagnosing veterinarian had recommended that Ballantine be immediately euthanized. Grasping at straws and searching for hope, I sought advice from others and ultimately received a referral to the OSU clinic. As a result, we have had five additional months with Bally that we had not thought possible. If I hadn’t listened to that little voice in my head that told me not to give up and had not taken a leap of faith based on my intuition, heart, advice from others, and in truth, plain stubbornness, Ballantine would not be with us today.

   

     The fact that Ballantine is living with cancer has changed my perspective on life. I have learned that we must take joy whenever and wherever we can find it. Having my five dogs greet me every morning, watching them play together, and seeing Ballantine as part of our “herd of puppies” are gifts I receive every day. I know that I made the right choice for Bally and that she enjoys each day she has been given despite the pain she has endured and the losses she has sustained. I can see it in her eyes, in the dirt on her nose after she digs somewhere in our backyard, in the way she eagerly laps up her food, by the fact that she has resumed her role as the alpha female, and in how she seeks me out and snuggles close to me on the sofa every evening.

     

      Both Bally and I have suffered losses and our new lives are different than our old lives. I no longer throw a ball in the backyard for my herd of five because Bally can’t participate since she has lost the ability to pick up a ball. Special treats like chew sticks are rare and handed out only if Ballantine is in another room having one on one time with us. The days when all five dogs would line up and patiently wait their turn while I handed each one a tidbit left over from a meal have become treasured memories. There are no more games of tug-of-war.

     

     Ballantine’s most recent checkup was not the clean bill of health we were hoping for and expecting, but we knew there would be good days and bad days when we chose life instead of death for Bally. On the dark days when I am on the brink of losing hope, I look at the little vase/magnet on my desk to remind me to “Be Thankful.”


 

The birds they sang

at the break of day

Start again

I heard them say

Don't dwell on what

has passed away

or what is yet to be...


Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That's how the light gets in.


From “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen


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Changing Minds & Lives One Step at a Time

Posted on November 8, 2011 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (0)

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Spaying is a compromise in terms of reverence for life, but perhaps a necessary one in a society which kills millions of dogs and cats a year in "animal shelters".  ~James Marcus


Five years ago my daughter left home to attend a state university.  During her first week at school she visited a tobacco farm in a rural area several miles from the university. The farm was owned by the grandparents of another student who lived in the same dorm as my daughter. While the girls were touring the farm, a scrawny kitten started following them. When my daughter asked about the kitten and others she had seen around the farm, the grandmother stated that she had two unwanted litters of kittens...and both litters and two mama cats would soon be “leaving” the farm. The grandmother explained that they had more cats than they needed, so she was planning on taking the cats and kittens to a local high kill shelter, placing them in a bag and dropping them off a nearby bridge, or taking them for a “ride” and abandoning them on the side of the road. She had used all three methods to dispose of previous unwanted litters.


     Of course, my daughter was horrified. As soon as she arrived back at her dorm, she called me. I told her I would try to find places for the unwanted cats and kittens. Over a period of several days I called and emailed every rescue I thought might be able to help. I received some suggestions, but no offers of help. The following week, my daughter drove back to the farm. The grandmother placed nine kittens in a cardboard box and handed it to my daughter. She then tried to force the two mama cats in the back seat of my daughter’s car. One of the cats jumped out and ran off.


Two hours later my daughter brought the one mama cat and nine kittens to me. All were dirty and flea infested. The mama cat was skinny and had a dislocated hip. I spent the next several hours washing all of the new arrivals twice with Dawn dishwashing liquid to remove the dirt and kill the fleas. I then handed each one to my youngest son who carefully dried them and used a fine tooth comb to remove the dead and dying fleas. The following day I took the mama cat and kittens to a veterinarian who weighed and examined all of them. Surprisingly, all were in good health. I was advised to feed them high quality cat/kitten food and that the mama cat's dislocation would resolve on its own. A few days thereafter a cat rescuer responded to my plea for help. My family fostered the mama and kittens and the rescue provided vet care. The kittens and cat were fully vetted and posted on the rescue’s Petfinder site. Several of the kittens were adopted. The remaining kittens and the mama cat are still with me.


     The story didn't end there. The week after the mama cat and kittens arrived at my house, the rescuer called the grandmother and offered to spay the remaining mama cat and any other cats on the farm for free. The grandmother refused the offer. She saw no need to have the remaining mama cat spayed even though she had planned to dispose of the cat and she had spayed her personal “house cat”. The remaining mama cat and any future offspring were of no value to the farm. They were considered to be disposable and easily replaceable...and that is one of the reasons why shelters and rescues are overflowing with unwanted cats and dogs. Too many people are set in their ways and are not open to change or new ideas, even if the cost or inconvenience to them is minimal and the benefits are long lasting and save lives.


A Cat's Prayer ~ I ask for the privilege of not being born...not to be born until you can assure me of a home and a master to protect me, and the right to live as long as I am physically able to enjoy life... not to be born until my body is precious and men have ceased to exploit it because it is cheap and plentiful.  ~Author Unknown


     So how do we solve a problem created by ignorance, indifference, and irresponsibility? How do we convert hearts and minds that are resistant to change? I wish there was one simple solution; one quick, easy fix that would prevent abuse, neglect, abandonment, and the constant killing, but more than one strategy is needed. We need new approaches, innovative ideas, and low-cost programs that reach and destroy the roots of the problem. I recently received an email with the message posted below. Please read, share, and donate if you can. Ideas like this will bring us one step closer to becoming a truly humane society where all life is valued.


Subject: Spay-A-Thon


Hey everyone,


     Please take time to go to our website and view our new video.  http://flemingregional.com/  or view it on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGvs5TKP1mM&feature=youtu.be


     We are beginning the journey of our lives and could really use your help spreading the word. We are on a mission to drastically reduce, and possibly even eliminate (yes, it's a lofty goal), the number of unwanted animals in this area of rural eastern KY.


     We have started by convincing owners of pets with litters to spay the mother and in return, we will alter the entire litter at no cost at the age of 7 weeks. It is working!


     We are working hard to stop the suffering, the feeling of being all alone, the gnawing hunger, the weariness of wandering, and the shear fear of what will happen next. We want to put it all to a stop, and we will with the help of others. We need funding immediately. If everyone who watches this video could give $1 to $10, and then passed it on to only 10 of their friends, imagine what that would do for these animals! Think of how many births we can prevent. Just think of how many lives will be saved!


     The animals you see in our video are the animals that we worked endless hours to save. We have been a shelter, a rescue, a transporter and now, a spay neuter clinic. These very animals, along with so many more, have brought us joy, despair, hope and heartbreak . And with it all, just when we feel we cannot continue, we look into their eyes, and once more, they inspire us to push on.


     We hope everyone who sees this video featuring these precious beings will find it in their hearts to give what they can. If you cannot give anything towards this goal, please pass this on to others, post it on your facebook pages, and help spread the word far and wide. Please help us prevent other animals from the fate they face if we do not stand up for them and make it stop!


     Please send this to every contact you have and ask them to do the same. We will need the continual support and funding to get a grip on this situation.


     Thank you to all who support us in this journey of saving thousands from suffering by one spay at a time.


     To see our inspirational video and/or to donate, go to flemingregional.com


     Thank You!


     Tim, Stephanie and Taylor Stamper


PLEASE CROSSPOST WIDELY!!!!!!

 

CONTACT: Tim Stamper flemingregional@yahoo.com with any questions


 For each CAT we spay and neuter, we prevent the birth of 74 unwanted kittens in ONE YEAR.  For each DOG we spay and neuter, we prevent the birth of 100 unwanted puppies in ONE YEAR. ~The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)


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A Failure to Communicate

Posted on October 26, 2011 at 11:55 PM Comments comments (0)

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Unseen they Suffer, Unheard they Cry, in Agony they Linger, in Loneliness they Die! ~Author Unknown


Dogs and cats died in shelters yesterday. Pleas were sent out asking people to help, to share, to cross-post, but the messages weren’t sent far enough, fast enough, or wide enough to reach the people who might have been able to help. At the moment I can’t bear to think of how many poor creatures were killed. I failed them; you failed them; we failed them. They were at shelters that don’t adopt out to the public, at shelters that are constantly overcrowded due to high intake, and at shelters that kill just because that is what they do every day or every week.


     At the moment I feel only sadness, but soon that will turn to anger. Why were these animals in shelters? Some were turned-in by their “owners” who knew or should have known that surrendering their dog or cat would probably result in a death sentence. Some of those who died were strays. Why didn’t the humans who previously fed, sheltered, and presumably cared for them make an effort to find their lost animals and bring them home? Shame on those poor excuses for humans who left their dogs and cats to die. Their actions were irresponsible, thoughtless, and, as far as I am concerned, criminal. By leaving their dog or cat at a kill shelter, they were an accessory to murder. Their photos should be plastered on telephone poles and pinned on bulletin boards in post offices where they post the “wanted” posters. Their names should be published in newspapers and posted on the internet. They should be held accountable for their actions.


What part of “Thou Shalt Not Kill” don’t you understand? Stop abandoning your pets at kill shelters - Keep your pet for life! ~Author Unknown


Innocent lives were lost yesterday and more will be lost today. These dogs, cats, kittens, and puppies are in unfamiliar places and suffer stress, fear, and loneliness before they are “humanely euthanized” - a nice euphemism for killed. Their “owners” are unaware of the moment when these poor helpless creatures take their last breathes...and probably they don’t care. Unfortunately, my rant will not be seen by the people who need to hear the truth. Their irresponsibility has caused misery and death...and they will feel no remorse while you and I lose sleep over those we couldn't help.


     Animal shelters are enablers. They allow the irresponsible people in our society to dispose of animals without having to get their hands dirty. Some shelters make it convenient for irresponsible people to dispose of their unwanted dogs and cats by providing night “drop off” boxes. Those who are too lazy to drive to the shelter can allow their dog or cat to run loose or wander off. Someone will eventually call animal control if the dog or cat isn't killed by a car, predator, or miscreant who takes pleasure in harming animals.


When I tell people that I have a website to help animals, they usually ask me questions and I am ALWAYS astounded at how naive, uninformed, or oblivious the average person is about animal overpopulation, shelter overcrowding, and euthanasia. Many people don’t know the difference between a kill shelter, no kill shelter, and low kill shelter. They are unaware of the number of animals that are killed each year in shelters or the methods used to dispose of society’s unwanted. Many people don’t realize that the majority of kill shelters have a minimum hold time for stray animals or that owner surrenders can be killed immediately.


"What we've got here is a failure to communicate." ~The Captain/prison warden and Luke (the prisoner) in the movie “Cool Hand Luke.”


 

     One of the reasons we are constantly and continually confronted with the problem of shelter overcrowding is our failure to communicate. First, the victims - the animals who are being abandoned and left to die - can’t speak. They must rely on humans to communicate for them. Second, even with the internet, sites like Petfinder and Death Row Dogs, and 1000’s of people posting, cross-posting, sharing, and emailing, we are often unable to communicate the message to the people who are able to help - rescuers, adopters, and sponsors - within the small window of time often alloted to death row animals. Third, we aren’t reaching the people who need to hear the real message. If you are reading this, I am preaching to the choir. You are probably already aware of the problem and are doing something about it.  The people who fail or refuse to spay/neuter, who cannot or will not make a lifelong commitment, and who view animals as commodities to be sold, given away, or disposed of like inanimate objects are the ones who need to be educated and “converted.”  


     If more people were made aware of the facts, maybe more lives could be saved.  We need to speak for those who can’t speak, advocate for them, and educate others about their plight.  So, before you go to bed tonight, do something to help an unwanted animal: send an email, cross-post, share on Facebook, sponsor a shelter animal, volunteer to drive a leg of a transport, make a donation to a rescue, offer to foster, convince a friend, neighbor or family member to spay/neuter their dog or cat or to rehome an unwanted animal instead of dumping them at a shelter or on the street...do one small thing that will make tomorrow a better day.


Now take my hand and hold it tight.

I will not fail you here tonight,

For failing you, I fail myself

And place my soul upon a shelf

In Hell's library without light.

I will not fail you here tonight.

~ Dean Koontz


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The Crying Game

Posted on October 25, 2011 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)

 

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My daughter and I are criers. We cry at sad movies, we cry when we are stressed, and we cry when we are so angry that we need an outlet. And sometimes we find something so ridiculous and funny that we laugh until we cry.


     I have cried at the funerals of friends and relatives, for the young whose lives have ended too soon, and over the graves of our animal companions buried in our woodland garden. I cry in rage and anger over the ignorance of people who kill each other for a piece of land, in the name of their religion, or because of greed. I cry about the needless deaths of unwanted animals, about the destruction of habitat, and because we are destroying this planet that is our home.


     As I grow older, the world and the people in it seem to be getting worse. We have become self-centered, self-absorbed, and value our personal wealth and happiness over the welfare of others. Power, money and profit have become our gods. Everything and everyone is disposable. People think about themselves first and everything else is secondary.


     I have always been a "glass half empty" type of person. One of my former employers called me a cynic. I think of myself as a realist. When I became “involved” in animal rescue I cried every day for the animals that were dumped like trash in shelters, for the ones that were abused, neglected, and abandoned, and for the ones we could not save. Sometimes my sadness and helplessness were so overwhelming that crying was the only way to cope. After five years I still cry, but not as often. Crying helps when problems overwhelm us, but the release is only temporary.


     I always wondered how people who have suffered great losses survive and go on with their lives. I believe their "secret" is to make something positive come out of the negative, to find a purpose, to do some good, to create a legacy. Taking their lead, when a day is especially bad I try to focus on the animals that have been saved and the efforts others have made to help those in need and to bring about change. We need to channel our energy and anger into something positive. We need to act, to speak, to more forward and not let anger and sorrow stop us from doing something, no matter how small, to make a difference.


Mourn not the dead, that in the cool earth lie, dust unto dust; The calm, sweet earth, that mothers all who die, as all men must; But rather mourn the apathetic throng, the cowed and the meek, who see the world's great anguish and its wrong, and dare not speak! ~Ralph Chaplin


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First Do No Harm

Posted on October 22, 2011 at 11:25 PM Comments comments (0)

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The world is a dangerous place....especially if you are a child, an elderly person, someone with a disability, or an animal who has no rights. Members of these vulnerable groups rely on others to care for them, to advocate for them, and to protect them. Every day you hear a story that is terrible, but true. A man "adopted" cats that were posted as "free to good home" on Craigslist and subsequently tortured and killed them. A dog was thrown from a moving vehicle because the family "couldn’t afford to take care of an injury." A man beat his dog on the head with the butt of a gun and then took the dog to his parents' house and shot him in the head. Another supposedly civilized man "disciplined" his girlfriend’s puppy for having an accident in the house by choking him.


     People  who have committed acts that render themselves dangerous to animals are often designated by shelters and rescues as "Do Not Rescue; Do Not Adopt; Do Not Transport." There are good reasons why these people should not have access to animals. They are dogfighters, animal hoarders, people who sell animals to researchers, back yard breeders, puppy mill operators, people who abandon, neglect or mistreat animals, transporters who do not provide proper care for those they are transporting, and people who treat animals like disposable items.


     Unfortunately, not every person designated as DNR, DNA, or DNT poses a threat to animals. It is all too easy to label someone DNR, DNA, or DNT.  Far too many times someone gets angry with another person for whatever reason and then chooses to label them. They post defamatory statements to Yahoo groups, blogs, and forums, and encourage others to cross-post their posts to others. These messages and accusations, which sometimes have no basis in fact, go far beyond rescuers and shelters and take on a life of their own. Once the designator clicks on the “send” button on their computer, the message goes viral. Many people who receive these messages don't make an effort to verify the truthfulness of  the accusations, accept them as fact, and forward the messages to others or post to a group or on a forum without considering the consequences of their actions. When good people are labeled for petty reasons or based on misrepresentations of fact, animals, rescues, and shelters in need of help become collateral damage. It seems as if some "rescuers" have lost their focus and it is no longer about saving lives, but about their egos and "getting even."


     Seven month ago the KY-CENTRAL website and I were labeled DNR. We will probably never know the number of dogs and cats that were euthanized because of the posts and emails that were circulated telling people and groups to avoid the KY_CENTRAL website and its Facebook pages. I do know that if people boycott the website, animals in need get less exposure. All it takes is one person to save a life...and one person to do great harm.


     The next time you receive an email or see a post about someone labeled DNR, DNA, or DNT think a moment before you believe the accusations and pass on the message to others. Has an animal suffered harm because of the alleged actions? Does the individual or group deserve to be placed in the same category as dogfighters, animal abusers, and hoarders? Does the message (and related posts) seem more like a personal attack rather than an effort to protect animals? Will labeling and shunning this person or group cause more harm than good? Has the person or group been given an opportunity to defend themselves against the accusations? Even baby killers, rapists and animal abusers have their day in court.


     One thing I do know: WE ALL NEED TO WORK TOGETHER. One person can make a difference, but the number of animals in need is so overwhelming and the problems so great that only by helping one another can progress be made. Unfortunately, some people try to make themselves look better by dragging others down and trying to hinder the efforts of others.  How many shelter dogs and cats have died because people unjustly labeled DNR have had to defend themselves instead of helping those that needed help?


     I believe everyone involved in rescue, whether they be a rescuer, cross-poster, transporter or volunteer, should take an oath similar to the Hippocratic Oath: Primum non nocere - "First, do no harm." This includes abstaining from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. People involved in all aspects of rescue have chosen to dedicate their time and efforts to savings lives. Taking action sometimes has unintended consequences. Sometimes it may be better not to do something or to deal with a problem in a judicious manner rather than to risk causing more harm than good.


Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity. ~Edwin Hubbel Chapin


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Grave Matters

Posted on October 20, 2011 at 10:45 PM Comments comments (0)

 

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In our garden repose the remains of those that possess beauty without vanity, strength without insolence, courage without ferocity, and the virtues of man without his vices: our pets. ~Lord Byron


My backyard isn’t very large, so I have divided it into “rooms” with a central grassy area. Gardens hidden from view and pathways make the yard look much larger than its actual dimensions.  Over an extended period of time, I have created an oriental garden, a vegetable garden with two small raised beds and a grape arbor, an herb garden, a “French” garden planted with miniature fruit trees, a pond area, a berm planted with roses, annuals and perennials, a patio area, and an area reserved for a future tropical garden and hopefully, a bali-type deck. The yard also has a small woodland area with a bird feeder, pathways, and a bench where I can sit, read a book, reflect, or escape the heat when I work in the yard on a hot summer day. This area is also the final resting place for many of our dogs, cats, and other non-human family members. At least three dogs, five cats, a chameleon, two hamsters, two guinea pigs, several frogs, two hermit crabs, and 100 fish are buried under the shade of the trees and covered by hostas. When I sit on the bench I often think about those who are no longer with us and whose absence has left a tear in the fabric of our family. They were loved; they are missed; and they are remembered.


     Several years ago while my family was saying our last goodbyes to Windsor, our 13 year old West Highland White Terrier who died unexpectedly, the bells at a nearby church began to ring. This occurred at 6:00pm and was an unexpected source of comfort as if someone other than our family noted Windsor’s passing. This was the beginning of a family ritual. Every burial in our woodland garden is now held at 6:00pm. We say a few words over the grave, read a poem or quote, and always cry as the church bells ring. The lives of those little ones who are gone enriched our lives and their deaths have created a void that can’t be filled.


     The deaths of dogs and cats who are killed at shelters for the most part go unnoticed and unheralded except by a few shelter employees, volunteers, rescuers, and others who do all they can to save the lives of society's cast-offs. Instead of a memorial service with mourners and a final resting place, these poor unloved, unwanted creatures end up in trash cans, incinerators, landfills, or freezers where they await sale to a university or research facility.  


     We criticize and demonize countries where dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and other animals are considered as food sources, yet many people find nothing wrong with the practice of killing unwanted animals as a “solution” for shelter overcrowding, overpopulation, and homelessness. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the first humane society in the United States, was founded in New York in 1866. The first animal shelter in America was created in 1869 by the Women’s SPCA of Pennsylvania. Over 145 years have passed and our society still hasn’t progressed beyond the warehousing and killing of unwanted animals. Why do we continue to believe that killing is a reasonable and acceptable solution? Why hasn’t our society embraced no kill and low kill shelters, spay/neuter, and creative solutions to a problem created by humans?


     We need to change our mindset. We need to think outside the box and convince others that killing unwanted, homeless animals is wrong, unjust, inhumane, and immoral. People who murder, rape, and commit other horrendous crimes are given shelter, food, health care, educational opportunities, and other benefits that many Americans can barely afford, yet we give a death sentence to innocent animals whose only “crime” is to be homeless. Animals don’t deserve to be warehoused and condemned. They don’t deserve to die alone, nameless, and unremembered. Killing is not a solution.


The bottom line is that as long as people believe that killing homeless pets is one of those "necessary evils" that can never be stopped,

then it will never be stopped.

~ Michael Mountain

 

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The Bully Syndrome

Posted on October 18, 2011 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

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First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me.  ~Martin Niemöller


     The word bully has many connotations, most of them negative. A bully is a person who purposely tries to hurt others. Bullying is when someone keeps doing or saying things to have power over another person. Bullies like to instill fear and trepidation in their targets. This gives them power and feeds their self-esteem. Cyber bullying is the misuse of email systems or Internet forums for sending aggressive flame mails.  And then there is the Bully breed dog which is any dog having bulldog lineage. Unfortunately, many people believe these dogs to be mean, aggressive and dangerous.


     We are becoming a nation of bullies. We are quick to attack and rush to judgment with little or no proof of wrongdoing. Once Pandora’s box has been opened, it is difficult to sort through all the fabrications and determine who is the perpetrator and who is the victim.


This dog is Dominic. DOMINIC WAS BEGGING FOR A CHANCE. He was a black dog and one of those “bully breeds”...and that meant a lot of people would not want him. He was a young boy, barely two years old. Dominic was euthanized.


     Dogs like Dominic are killed in shelters every day. They are demonized because of their breed, which is unrelated to their temperament, and they are the target of breed specific legislation. Previously, German Shepherd Dogs, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Chow Chows, Huskies, Great Danes, Boxers, St. Bernards, and many other breeds were declared to be dangerous and ownership was banned in cities throughout the country. The result of this stigmatization is that sweet, adoptable animals are being relinquished to shelters and killed. In cities where bully breeds are banned, these dogs cannot be adopted out and their only way out of a shelter other than a body bag or trash can is rescue.


     Animal behavior is learned...just as children are born innocent and are taught to hate. If people want to prevent dog attacks and aggressive behavior, they need to focus on the cause of the problem: humans. Banning specific breeds is punishing good dogs and good owners for the wrongful actions of others. The type of people who breed and own aggressive dogs are usually dog fighters and criminals...and they are not deterred by breed specific legislation.


     The media has to shoulder much of the blame for stigmatizing these dogs. There have been cases where a Pittie has been reported as involved in an incident when it was another breed. According to testing of 122 dog breeds by the American Temperament Testing Society, the American Pit Bull Terrier achieved a passing rate 85.3 percent of the time. Golden Retrievers 83.2 percent, Collies 79.4, Beagles at 78.2 percent, and Standard Schnauzers, a surprisingly low 63.5 percent. Check out this link to see how your breed did: http://www.atts.org/statistics.html


     A form of bullying can be seen in some animal shelters. Many small towns are controlled by people who act like mini-dictators because of their position or social status. Management of animal shelters is given to friends and/or relatives or their off-spring who have no background in animal care and who, in many cases, do not like animals. These shelters are poorly managed, the animals get minimal care, and there is little or no effort made to find homes or rescues. These shelters are warehouses for animals awaiting slaughter. Many people don’t realize that an animal relinquished to a shelter can be killed IMMEDIATELY or that their stray cat or dog will not be taken in by a Good Samaritan or find a forever home with a loving family. It is more likely that these animals will be held for the minimum time required by law and euthanized.


     Shelters are traumatic places for animals. They are noisy and crowded. Animals that in other circumstances would be adoptable become stressed, depressed or aggressive...which moves them to the unadoptable category. There are people who try to save shelter animals. In many cases, these people are from outside the community. Their efforts are often thwarted by politicians, dog wardens, and shelter managers who view outsiders as a threat to their authority. They use the helpless animals as leverage to intimidate those trying to help. They ban rescues at whim and refuse to make changes that would improve shelter conditions and reduce the number of animal intakes. These bullies seem to take pleasure in killing animals instead of finding solutions to the problems of animal overpopulation and shelter overcrowding.


     There are also bullies in the animal rescue community. Instead of working with others toward a common goal, there are some people who believe they are the sole authority on the subject. These self-appointed despots of rescue are constantly patting themselves on the back when something good has been accomplished and are quick to go on witch hunts when they perceive they are being threatened...without considering the consequences of their actions. Their usual course of action is to take a grain of truth and create a mountain of lies to demonize a group or individual, much like the accusers in Salem, MA so many years ago.


     It is too late for Dominic. The bullies of the world made him and others like him unadoptable. However, there are dogs and cats on the Help Me-CENTRAL website, posted on the website’s Facebook pages, and in shelters who are in danger of becoming another sad statistic. They need your help. Please don’t let the bullies of the world win. Become a voice for the voiceless.


All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.

~Edmund Burke


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Eaters of the Dead

Posted on October 16, 2011 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)

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A dead cow or sheep lying in a pasture is recognized as carrion. The same sort of a carcass dressed and hung up in a butcher's stall passes as food.

~John Harvey Kellogg, M.D.


We humans are cannibals. We might not eat our own kind, but many of us don’t think twice about eating non-human mammals and other animals. I am not a vegetarian, but not a day goes by when I don’t think about the dichotomy between my love for animals and the fact that I consume the flesh of a chicken, pig, or cow in some form every day. I don’t try to justify my actions. I know that my body does not require animal flesh to be healthy. Millions of people have chosen to remove meat, fish and fowl from their diets and this has not had a negative impact on their lives or health. In fact, studies consistently show that people who consume less meat and more fruits and vegetables have fewer health problems and live longer than their carnivorous counterparts. I know through personal experience that I can remove animal flesh from my diet and that it isn’t difficult to do.


     Every year I give up something for Lent, mostly out of habit because that is what I did when I was a child. Lent is supposed to be a time of repentance and self-examination. I usually choose something I constantly crave like ice cream, candy, and/or chocolate to give up. This year I thought I would be more creative and decided to stop eating anything that had eyes...except potatoes. Everyone in my family thought I would fail miserably.  For forty days I ate grains, pasta, pizza, veggie burgers, rice, beans, peanut butter, and other foods that contained no meat. I became more creative at planning and cooking meals - stir frying with no meat, making my own pizzas, and trying different versions of meatless pasta. I also added lentils and beans to our meals and  tried  grains like quinoa that are high in protein. As the weeks passed, I found that I actually enjoyed not eating animal flesh and lost my desire to consume my animal friends. When my husband and I went out for dinner at a local steak house, I ordered a vegetable platter and was very satisfied with my choice. Unfortunately, after Easter I gradually fell into the old pattern and at some point began to consume meat again. My lunches still mostly consist of peanut butter, yogurt and fruit, hummas with crackers, or a salad, but I am ashamed to admit that fish, beef, chicken, and pork are now part of my evening meals.


If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.

~ Sir Paul McCartney


     So why do humans eat animals? I think the answers are fairly simple. First of all, because we can. The animals that end up on our tables have no rights and no voice. They can't protect themselves from us. Second, humans are lazy. it is easier and more convenient not to be a vegetarian. When we are hungry, we can pick up something from the deli department at the local supermarket, order take out, go to a fast food restaurant, or put a hamburger on the grill or a chicken in the oven with very little thought or effort.  Third, we don’t  have to kill our own food. Their is a disconnect between a pig, cow, lamb, and fish...and what ends up on our plate. The majority of us don’t have to hunt or fish to put  food on our tables. We can go to a local store or market and purchase almost any kind of creature we would like to consume. The cellophane wrapped package that we bring home bears no resemblance to the living, breathing animal from which it was cut. The suffering of the animals being readied for market and their slaughter on the kill floors are far removed from us...out of sight and out of mind.


       Some things have changed at my house since I engaged in my Lenten experiment. My family no longer has meat, fish or fowl at every meal. More of the meals I prepare do not contain meat or meat is only a small part of the meal instead of the main focus. I have come to like quinoa and I try to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains in our meals. Now, when I look at the beef, pork, fish, chicken, and lamb in the meat aisle at my local supermarket I see beyond the packaging and acknowledge the fact that everything I am looking at was once as alive as you and me. At one time they all had eyes.


A hamburger stops a beating heart. ~Author Unknown


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Revelations in Black

Posted on October 14, 2011 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (0)

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I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down, / Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town, / I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime, / But is there because he's a victim of the times. ~Johnny Cash


LAST REPRIEVE FOR INKY! Inky is a black Lab mix who has been in the shelter for a month. He is a great dog, although his photos do not do him justice. He has a $100 sponsorship, as well. Please help him if you can. Inky will have to go on the Euth list, as he has been at the shelter so long. He is good with other dogs, handles well, no tricks, but very calm natured. He has handled the shelter environment and has actually gotten even sweeter, rather than deteriorating. About 4 years old. (Adoption Pending!)


     When I was in my early teens, I was an avid reader of mysteries, science fiction, and horror stories. While my friends were reading romance novels, I was being entertained by Agatha Christie, H.P. Lovecraft, and writers of scary stories published by Scholastic Books. I especially enjoyed collections of short stories of this genre. One short story that I clearly remember was titled “Revelations in Black." It was a gothic horror story. The main character, a young man, entered into a conversation with a mysterious woman he meets while sitting on a park bench at dusk. Whether by luck or plan they continued to meet at the same time and location every evening thereafter. The man was intrigued by this woman, who is always dressed in the same black gown with a veil covering her face. As time passed, the man began to notice that the woman was not quite what she appeared to be and, ultimately, realized that the woman in black was a vampire. Thus, the revelation. The story was dark and did not have a happy ending.

 

     Just like the young man in the story, I am drawn to the color black. Black dogs mixed in with a few black and white cats here and there have always been members of my family. When I growing up we had a black Chow mix named Inky, a black Beagle/Terrier mix I named Lady, and Chivas Regal, a Scottish Terrier. After I married, my parents adopted several black Labs. My sister’s family also had a preference for black Labs and many years ago they had a black cat named Midnight. The first cat my husband and I adopted was a black and white female we named Charlie Chaplin. We currently have four black Scottish Terriers and a male Tuxedo cat named Papillon. All have been great companions.  

 

    At some point I realized that not everyone is a fan of black dogs and cats.  Of course, black cats are burdened by the superstition that having a black cat cross your path is bad luck...and how better to avoid bad luck than to not have a black cat in your home. Black cats and dogs who are unfortunate enough to end up at a shelter are at a great disadvantage. When I see a plea for a black dog, my first thought is, “Oh no... not another one,” and I know that this dog will have a difficult time finding a home or rescue.

 

If we have black dogs or cats they are the last to be adopted. It is a fact, people will take white or brighter colored dogs or cats before black ones. The only time black is popular is around Halloween.  ~Author Unknown

 

     For many dogs awaiting adoption, the speed with which they find a home may rest not on their breed, gender or age, but on one trait that has no bearing on their personality or temperament. Shelter officials have dubbed it “Black Dog Syndrome” -  the propensity of dark-coated animals to be passed over for adoption in favor of their lighter counterparts. Skeptics claim the syndrome is an urban legend, but those who work at shelters and in rescue know the phenomenon is very, very real. To complicate matters even further, black dogs aren’t as photogenic as other dogs and many have white facial hair that gives them the look of an older dog. Many of the black dogs in shelters are large dogs. All of these factors make black dogs less likely to be adopted. A dog whose attributes fade into the background of  an online photo does not make a good impression to potential adopters or rescuers; a senior dog in a shelter has little hope of salvation; and shelters are overflowing with unwanted large dogs.


PLEASE HELP! Isley Bombay Small Adult Male URGENT! Ever seen an owl's eyes? Well, this splendid feline is boasting a pair! She has the biggest, most gorgeous eyes we've ever seen on a cat! THIS CAT HAS BEEN HERE FOREVER! SAVE ISLEY TODAY! - CONTACT: dcacanimals@yahoo.com or call (270) 685-8275


     A large majority of the cats in shelters across the country that never find homes are black. Like black dogs, they are judged by the color of their fur - and not by their character or personality. These beautiful black creatures spend the end of their lives watching all the other animals being adopted into new homes. Ultimately, they are finally chosen for the one thing they do not want: euthanasia. Black cats are the last cats adopted from shelters and rescues because of old myths and superstitions linking them to witches, devils, and bad luck. That is their bad luck! More black cats are euthanized than non-black cats.

 

     In 2002, The Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science published a study that examined the factors that determine the adoption of an animal, including the color of the animal's coat. The study found that potential adopters considered a black cat less desirable and, therefore, increased the cat's risk of euthanasia. The study also revealed that black cats were half as likely to be adopted as tabby cats and two-thirds less likely than white cats. In total, only 20% of the black cats in the study who were offered for adoption were given a chance at a loving home. Sadly, the remaining cats were euthanized.


BEV This is Bev. She is on the e list at a local shelter. She has until Monday to find a home home. Bev was found with a flea collar and an invisible fence collar on her. She is so depressed at the shelter that she has stopped eating! Please help this baby. She is 5 to 6 years young and loves everyone!  ONLY HAS UNTIL MON!!!! She has given up. Let's show her that we haven't given up on her! (Adopted!)


     Black cats and dogs like Bev, Isley, and Inky should not become another statistic or part of a gothic horror story with an uphappy ending just because they were born the “wrong” color. Just like we hope that people will judge us by the content of our character and not by the color of our skin, eyes or hair, so too should we not judge animals by the color of their fur. All of the animals in shelters are equally deserving of finding a good home and having a long life. We need to find ways to change their bad luck.

 


Color contributes to beauty, but it is not beauty. Color should have a minor part in the consideration of beauty, because it is not color but the structure that constitutes its essence. ~Johann Joachim Winckelmann


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Expecting the Unexpected

Posted on October 12, 2011 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

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What can we take on trust in this uncertain life?

Happiness, greatness, pride - nothing is secure, nothing keeps.

~Euripides


Several years ago my youngest son, my husband, and I decided to dig a pond in our backyard on the site of our no-longer-used trampoline. The grass below the trampoline had died long ago and the location received sun for most of the day. The project was ongoing for several years. My son started the excavation and dug out roots from long dead trees that crisscrossed the area. As the work progressed, my daughter and her friends camped out by the site and my husband built a bonfire in the excavated area. After two years of stop-and-go efforts, we created a round pond 18 feet across. The pond was 3.5 feet deep at the deepest of its three levels, and included a small stream and waterfall.


     The first year we stocked the pond with a few fish. We purchased two 3 to 4 inch koi at a local pond store and named them Keiko and Hot Lips. We also purchased four comets and three shubunkins. Over the next few years the koi grew, the comets and shubunkins reproduced, and we added more small koi that we purchased at a pond store and at the Louisville Koi and Goldfish Club's annual koi show and fish auction.


     We were lucky. Our pond had few casualties and the fish were healthy. We took pride in the fact that we were so successful in keeping our fish safe and alive. Unfortunately, we failed to heed the axiom: expect the unexpected. One  day in midsummer we discovered that one of our fish, a large yellow koi named Sunshine, had become caught in the filter and had died when the water level had fallen. He was the first of our koi to die. Although we blamed ourselves, we realized that accidents do happen and some are not forseeable or preventable. Little did we know that the worst was yet to come.


     The following week the daily temperatures exceeded 100 degrees. My husband was out of town on business. Unbeknownst to me, my son put the hose in the pond because the water level had gotten low. My son became distracted and forgot about the hose. When Macallan, our wheaten Scottie, came into the house with wet feet, I was confused because we hadn't had any rain in weeks. My investigation led to the pond, which had overflowed its banks. Fish were floating on their sides. It was one of my nightmare's come true. I called some "experts" for advice and was instructed to drain some of the water and then add more water by spraying a hose on the pond, which would also cool it down. In our panic we failed to recognize that it wasn't the heat that was killing the fish, but the chlorine from the newly added water. Over a 24 hour period we lost 11 of our 13 koi and over 100 comets and shubunkins. They died a slow and agonizing death. All of our attempts to help them failed. As my son buried the fish in a mass grave in our garden, he measured Hot Lips who had grown from 3 inches to 22 inches in a few short years.


     We were devastated by the loss. I had blamed myself for playing a role in Sunshine’s untimely death, but in retrospect Sunshine would most likely have died with the others. Whatever luck we had enjoyed with our pond was gone. Having to accept that we killed over 100 of our fish was bad enough. What made it even worse was the knowledge that koi can live 100 years. I had assumed that our koi would outlive me.


The loss of almost all of our koi and 100 other fish within a few days time was unbearable. I kept reliving those awful days in my mind and wondering what I could have done to have prevented the tragedy. Trying to find answers and looking for solace, I thumbed through some photographs I had taken shortly before Sunshine had died. One of the photos had something in it that I had previously overlooked. A trick of the light or a reflection looked like the face of a demon floating on the water. If I was superstitious, I could almost believe it had been a warning or omen of bad things to come and I, in my ignorance and naievity, had overlooked it.


     For the next two years I lost interest in the pond. It was painful to look at the two koi and the few comets that had survived the holocaust. I no longer took joy in daily feedings and I had no desire to watch the fish which had previously enthralled me for hours. When I worked in the garden I missed hearing the smacking sound that Kieko used to make as he ate algae. As time passed and the ache lessened, we slowly restocked the pond. On Memorial Day weekend of the year following the accident, we attended the annual koi show and purchased four small koi and named them Jin, Sun, Akage-ru and Migoto. Unfortunately, Jin and Sun - named after two characters on the television show "Lost" - did not survive for long. I have come to understand that life is precarious and that our happiness hangs upon a thread that can be broken at any time.


     The pond currently has 13 Koi, including Noname and Sashimi - the two koi who survived the accident - one shubunkin, and many comets. Although I feed the fish every day and spend time watching them as they glide in the tranquility of the pond, it will never have the same attraction for me. In the back of my mind I can't help thinking of all that we lost one hot summer day and all who are buried in my garden.


I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. ~Gilda Radner


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Haunted By Ghosts

Posted on October 10, 2011 at 6:45 PM Comments comments (0)

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One need not be a chamber to be haunted; One need not be a house;

The brain has corridors surpassing Material place.

~Emily Dickinson


      I am haunted by ghosts. Not the kind that go bump in the night or send shivers up your spine, but memories of the unwanted and unloved in our society. They come late at night on silent paws and disturb my sleep. They are the ghosts of dogs and cats that never lived in my house or felt the touch of my hand, but their sad, hopeful, confused faces in photos posted online or sent to me in emails are permanently etched in my mind.

 

These two dogs, #149 and #347,  were in a rural high intake/high kill shelter. They had no names and were given numbers to identify them. They were not adopted, rescued, offered a foster home, sponsored, or given a reprieve within the small period of time allotted to them, so they were killed.


    Yesterday was like every other day at an animal shelter. Unwanted dogs and cats were euthanized due to lack of space or, in some cases, “because their time was up.” The HSUS estimates that animal shelters care for 6-8 million dogs and cats every year in the United States, of whom approximately 3-4 million are euthanized. At this time, there is no central data reporting agency for animal shelters, so these numbers are estimates.


     While some shelter employees were going about their work of selecting and dispatching the cast-offs of our society, others were sending out pleas and begging for help for the dogs and cats whose only crimes were to be unwanted and homeless. Last December #149 and #347 were two of those unwanted animals. More dogs and cats were coming into the shelter, so room had to be made. Several dogs and puppies were placed on “The Euth List” and messages were sent out that they had to be removed from the shelter IMMEDIATELY or they would be killed. Some of these dogs were eligible for euthanization the day they were available for adoption/rescue. No cats or kittens were mentioned, but presumably they too were in danger.


No other disease or condition of companion animals takes as many lives as euthanasia. In fact, no other disease comes close. ~Janet M. Scarlett


     Today, shelters euthanize around 4 million animals, while there are more than 135 million dogs and cats in homes.  An animal in a shelter is killed every 1.5 seconds. Only one animal in 10 born in the U.S. gets a good home that lasts a lifetime. In Kentucky alone, 285,000 animals are relinquished to shelters or are abandoned each year. Kentucky is ranked #1 as the state to be an animal abuser and #50 in animal protection laws.  Eighty-five percent of homeless animals in the state are euthanized. Kentucky has more than three times the average number of animals in shelters and the kill rate is 15% above the national average. Cats and kittens are the step-children of the rescue world and do not get the exposure given to dogs and puppies. Some shelters kill 90% or more of their cats and kittens.


     People have sent me angry emails and messages accusing me of making them feel guilty because they have relinquished a pet to a shelter or because they "can't afford" to have their dog or cat spayed/neutered, resulting in unwanted puppies and kittens. People have also criticized me because I post updates about animals that have been euthanized. Recently someone posted on the website's Facebook page and stated that they were "unfriending" me because I had posted an update for a dog that had been killed in a shelter. Someone came to my defense and posted the following:


     "Those of us who spend countless hours each day and each week sharing, posting and cross-posting to expose the urgency of the dire plight of these pets' situations - through NO fault of their own - NEED to have closure on the animals we spend so much time networking. We share and cross-post numerous times for each animal and we feel a connection with these precious creatures. We don't just click "Share" and don't give them another thought; we think of them each and every day and as we try to fall asleep at night their images are the ones we see before finally drifting off to sleep, only to have their pleading, soulful eyes haunt us in our dreams.


     NO, we don't and CAN'T forget them, and they stay in our minds and in our hearts until we know they are safe. And for the ones who aren't lucky enough to make it out alive and find their rescue angel or furever home...they never leave us and it is for them that we continue to do what we do, as heartbreaking as it all too often is. So, YES, we need to have these updates; as upsetting and disturbing as they may be.


     But, what is even MORE UPSETTING AND DISTURBING is that these precious innocent souls end up in these Hell holes in the first place! The more eyeballs that see what is really going on - the good and the evil, the happily-ever-after and those that never get their happy endings - the MORE precious innocent lives can be SAVED! We CANNOT filter out ONLY the happy endings and pretend they will all be saved."


(Thank you Kacie C. for expressing so eloquently what many of us feel.)


     The memories of dogs like #149 and #347 haunt me. They did not deserve to die abandoned and alone, cowering in corners of runs and cages, pleading for love and life with sad, frightened eyes. Euthanizing and warehousing animals in shelters is not a solution to over-population and overcrowding. The way these animals were treated was cruel, inhumane, and unconscionable. Until we take responsibility for our actions and find reasonable, rational solutions, the killing will continue...and my dreams will be disturbed.


       R.I.P. #149 and #347. We will not and cannot forget you.


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House of Horrors

Posted on October 8, 2011 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

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Imagine not ever being able to walk freely, touch the ground, enjoy a kind word and caring caress. Now imagine this lasts your entire life. The only contact you have is to be removed from your cage, ravished, then nothing more. When you’re no longer able to conceive, you’re thrown in the trash, literally. This is the life of a puppy mill dog.  ~Donna S


 What kind a person (other than a legitimate breeder - a subject for another day) breeds animals for profit? Puppy mill operators and backyard breeders view animals as products. They don’t care about the conditions of their "factory," if the product is good or shoddy, or what happens to their product once it leaves the premises. The bottom line is about making money. Human decency and common sense don’t enter into the equation.


     This week a plea was sent out - ”EMERGENCY - 118  dogs seized from puppy mill.” This is a terrible situation for many different reasons. The first responders had the unenviable task of  going into a situation that is incomprehensible to the average person. They had to evaulate the animals, help those who required immediate assistance, and transport all of them to safe places. Many of these dogs and puppies were probably in poor condition - overbred and interbred, no vet care, and no socialization. The terrible living conditions have probably caused a myriad of problems. Initially, these dogs required vet care, grooming, and temporary housing.


"I am a small breeder in eastern Kentucky. My grandchildren are a big help in getting the puppies ready for their new homes. They love playing with the new puppies, but like me they hate to see the puppies (to) leave."

~Pat B. posted on PuppyFind.com


     According to news accounts, the conditions at this puppy mill/breeding facility were deplorable. Adult dogs, puppies, newborns, and pregnant females were living in a single wide trailer. Some of the rescued dogs “had mold growing on them, rotted teeth and dead rats in their cages....some were found with broken bones...others malnourished...and some living with their own feces inside the crates.”  Three small dachshunds were unable to stand.  At least one dog died.


     The rescue of dogs from a puppy mill often has a negative impact on others. Many times rescued puppy mill dogs are taken to a local shelter. Since many shelters are always at capacity, the current residents are in danger of dying to make room for incoming animals. More pleas are sent out begging people to help. Lives are at stake. The rescuers are overwhelmed. They need volunteers to help take care of the rescued animals and donations for medical care, food, and medicine. The outcome at this stage depends upon the humanity of those involved in the initial rescue. Several years ago, when a puppy mill was closed, all of the animals were taken to a rural high kill shelter that accepted animals from several different counties. The shelter manager would only allow one dog per run. The intake of  many new animals to an already crowded shelter created a crisis situation. The shelter manager's solution was to kill the animals already in the shelter to make room for the new dogs. Since the puppy mill dogs were held until the court could make a determination, all subsequent intakes were killed.


     The dogs from the current situation have been taken to a rural shelter. Thanks to a rescue group that strives to make this shelter low kill, the current residents of the shelter have been moved to another county and are being temporarily boarded at a shelter that recently closed. The rescue is actively seeking foster homes and rescues, as well as volunteers and donations.


I have three rescued breeder dogs from Missouri puppy mills. Puppy mill dogs are the sweetest, most appreciative dogs on the planet. It’s like they know they’ve just been given a second chance at life! ~Karin T


Two of my dogs were rescued from a puppy mill in Missouri. They and their parents were kept in a trailer that had no air conditioner during a hot summer when temperatures exceeded 100 degrees. Ballantine and Pinch were lucky. They were relatively healthy and adopted within a month of rescue. My son and I drove 16 hours round trip to adopt them. Although they are siblings, Ballantine and Pinch are as different as night and day. They differ in looks, personality, temperament, fur texture, and body length. Truth be told, Bally is not a good example of the breed, which indicates the indifferent manner in which they were bred. Both dogs are small in size for Scottish Terriers, weighing less than 20 lbs each.  When the rescuer placed them in my hands, I thought they were the most beautiful puppies I had ever seen. I hate to think about what they and the other dogs in the trailer must have endured before they were rescued.


These are strong and resilient creatures. They don't need our pity, or our unproductive anger. They need for us to stand up, to speak up, and to act, because they can't. People are responsible for the horrors that are puppy mills; people must be responsible for the solution as well. ~Katherine R


~*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*~


More Information & Links:


Advertisement for puppies for sale (Ad has been removed):

http://www.puppyfind.com/view_listing/?list_id=uffc81707r&back=%2Fl%2F%3Facct_id%3D335023%26country%3D%26state%3D%26page%3D1%26order_by%3D%26back%3D&alert=sent&sid=1a7e4346676096e979e7415da7f2f338


118 Dogs Rescued From "Deplorable Conditions"

http://www.lex18.com/news/118-dogs-rescued-from-deplorable-conditions-/#.To56uhauEQs.facebook


This was not a new situation at this “small breeding facility.” A search online found that people were commenting about this puppy mill as far back as 2009. Puppy mill in Morehead > Comments from Dec 2009 & Jan 2010!!  http://www.topix.com/forum/city/morehead-ky/TV55USS8V2GQ2CLN4


HELP THE RESCUED DOGS & THE DOGS NEEDING RESCUE FROM THE SHELTER: To Donate, Foster, Rescue, Adopt, or Volunteer:

Saving The Animals of Rowan (STAR)

www.petfinder.com/shelters/KY251.html

Contacts: StarAdoptions@yahoo.com & cc juliatat@yahoo.com


More information about puppy mills: The Horrors of Puppy Mills

http://fortheloveofthedogblog.com/the-horrors-of-puppy-mills


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Paint It Black!

Posted on October 6, 2011 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)

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My dining room table was old and worn, a nightmare to look at and an embarrassment when we had visitors. It was originally part of a set owned by a second cousin’s mother-in-law and ended up in my cousin’s garage after her mother-in-law passed away. In the garage the table and chairs became the favorite resting place for cats. By the time my sister acquired the set, the table was in relatively good condition, but the legs of the six chairs were scratched and the seats in tatters. When I moved into my home, my sister gave me the dining room set. The chairs were dipped to remove the finish and I recovered the seats.


      Over the years my family has had a love-hate relationship with the table. We always considered it to be a temporary addition to our home until we could find a more suitable replacement. As the years passed by, we grew "accustomed to its face." The table was the location of all of our family meals, evening homework, and playing games. I used the table to lay out and cut patterns for Halloween costumes and to iron one item when I was too lazy to set up the ironing board. My children used the table to work on craft projects and as a temporary resting place for items when they didn’t have enough time or the inclination to put them away. The table played a role in every birthday, holiday, celebration, and party that we had in our house.


All of the use and abuse took its toll. At some point the table became an eyesore. The finish on the top became worn, scratched, and discolored. The legs were compromised when some of my poorly housebroken dogs decided to use the table as a makeshift fire hydrant. I tried to hide the ugliness with long tablecloths and started searching for a replacement table. However, none of the tables within my budget could compare with the one I was trying to replace. My table was manufactured by RWAY Northern Furniture Company sometime prior to 1950. It is constructed from mahogany and expands from 64 inches to 100 inches with the insertion of  four solid wood leaves that store under the table.


     One day I was flipping through channels on the television, trying to find some sort of entertainment while I ironed clothes, and came upon the Nate Berkus Show. One hour of viewing turned me into a fan. I soon discovered, with the help of Nate and some of his guests, that painting the table was a viable option. I searched online and found a blog that gave me step-by-step instructions to get the job completed. Clover Lane - How to Paint Your Dining Room Furniture - http://memoriesoncloverlane.blogspot.com/2009/03/dining-room-reveal.html


I see my red door and I want it painted black

No colors anymore I want them to turn black ...

I look inside myself and see my heart is black

I see my red door, I must have it painted black


     Paint It Black lyrics - Songwriters: Mick Jagger, Mick; and Keith Richards

 


     Selecting a color to paint the table was the first hurdle I had to overcome. I kept vacillating between white and black. Taking a suggestion from “Nate,” I looked at my choice in clothes (primarily black), the color of my car (also black), and the "things" around me that I love (four of my five dogs are black). The decision was made...I decided to paint the table black.


     It took me a few weeks to get up enough courage to actually paint the table, but one day I got out the sand paper to start the prep work and there was no turning back. The table soon became a family project. My son and I sanded the table and then applied two coats of primer. I painted black oil base paint on the legs, while my son worked on the table top. The initial results were not what we had expected. Instead of a flat surface, the top of the table showed brush streaks. At some point my husband decided to get involved. He resanded the table, thinned the paint, and applied it with a foam brush. The results were better, but still not perfect. My husband purchased a foam roller, sanded again, made the paint even thinner, and reapplied the paint.


I now have a dining room table that no longer has to be hidden under a tablecloth. I think the table looks beautiful. I stop to admire it every time I pass through the dining room. Like many things in life, the finish isn’t perfect. The top has a slightly bumpy texture and, if you look close enough, you will find a dog hair here and there. My husband never really liked the table, but recently I heard him tell one of our children, "Your mother's table looks good." I now have a “new” table and all of the memories associated with the old one. Unfortunately, the chairs to the set can't be transformed with a coat of paint. The dipping process and many years of hard use have caused them to weaken and break. I think I will start haunting second hand stores to find "new" chairs and paint them black!


Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.  ~From the television show The Wonder Years


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Real Monsters

Posted on October 4, 2011 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (0)

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~GILLIGAN ~ R.I.P. This pitiful old boy was horribly abused, punctured, beaten, thrown over the fence at the pound, and died at the vet’s office.  His little body could not take anymore.


     October is one of my favorite months of the year. I love everything about the month: cooler weather and the almost too perfect days of Indian Summer, fresh cider, pumpkins, chrysanthemums, apples picked right from the tree, leaves changing to eye-catching hues or orange, yellow, brown and gold...and the crunching sound the fallen leaves make under my feet as I walk my dogs. The best part is that all of these sensory pleasures culminate in Halloween. Every day my anticipation grows as I decorate the house inside and outside, plan our annual Halloween party, bake cookies, and buy treats and candy to hand out to the trick or treaters who enjoy every eerie aspect of my yard as much as I do.



~ BULLET ~ GUNSHOTS! Dumped in a rural area and then found whimpering under a house. Shot by 3 different guns. A rifle, and 2 pistols. Unsure if one person used 3 guns or if 3 people had a shooting spree. Also had old fracture of  femur which had healed. This dog is incredibly sweet and was not a threat to anyone.


     My fondest childhood memories are of creating costumes from anything I could find around the house, going to Halloween parties, and trick or treating with friends. Vampires, werewolves, and Frankenstein’s monster were my companions. My mother and I shared a love for cheesy scary movies and I can clearly remember walking home from the neighborhood movie theater on a fall evening, in the days when local theaters existed and walking was a common practice, and discussing the attributes of Dracula in the movie we had just seen. He had been dashing and handsome... very much like Edward Cullen in the Twilight series. 


~ FRANCINE ~ PELVIS FRACTURE! The road department found this girl in the ditch while mowing. She appeared to have been there a couple days. Francine has a broken pelvis which needs to be plated.  She's only a year old and weighs 10lbs.


     I am not a fan of slasher movies. They show a lack of imagination. The blood and gore is gratuitous and only serves to desensitize people to cruelty. I don't understand why graphic violence is a source of entertainment. I can conjure up enough of my own horrors without having to view them on the wide screen or in my home. I had hoped humans would have evolved beyond the days when fighting to the death in arenas and watching public hangings were popular events.



Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human lives. 

~Albert Schweitzer

 

~ CARL ~ GUNSHOT! FRACTURED JAW & LEG! Half starved as well. Broken front leg needed plate. Upper and lower jaw broken. Tail was still wagging.


     When I was a child, my grandmother said to me, “The only real monsters in the world are people.”  At that time I understood her words based on my experiences as a child. I believed she was explaining to me that the monsters in movies and in my nightmares weren’t real. However, as I grew older I realized that my Grandmother’s words had many levels of meaning. Monsters are everywhere...and they are people. We only have to watch a local newscast, read a newspaper, or search online to see the horrors created by humans. We bully and intimidate others. We are neglectful, irresponsible, and cruel. And then there are those who abuse, torment, and kill - the monsters who take pleasure in the helplessness of others, especially animals and children.


~CAROLYN ~GUNSHOT! Carolyn was found on the side of a road in a rural area with a injured leg. She had been shot. She is a very sweet dog that was probably dumped. Her age is about a year old, as she still has one puppy canine tooth. Carolyn weighs about 12lbs.

 

     I am always shocked by how people treat animals, but the reality is that the most vulnerable members of our society are easy prey. Last year I started keeping track of the "reported" cases of animal abuse in Kentucky. I emphasize the word “reported” because many cases of abuse are undetected. The victims do not have a voice. 

 

~ DOT ~ EYE INJURY!  6 Year Old Chihuahua with Eye Hanging Out! Vet sewed it back in, but doubt she will see out of it again. She also has a fractured pelvis. Not sure if the trauma was from the end of a boot or from being hit by car. Owners didn't have the gas money to get her to vet. Neighbors told them to shoot Dot. The dark shading around her eye is bruising and the stitches are to hold the third eyelid over the eye to see if it will reattach. Dot's rear leg is just dangling.


     Every day brings another horror story. All of the dogs pictured here are from one county and all of the abuse occurred recently, within a very short period of time. There are 120 counties in Kentucky. I can only assume, but try not to imagine, that more atrocities have occurred. Studies have long shown the correlation between animal abuse, criminal behavior, and violence towards humans.  We need to acknowledge that cruelty to animals is wrong and unacceptable. We need to speak for those who can't speak for themselves and demand that cruelty be harshly punished. We need to confront the real monsters in the world and stop them.

 

Dr. Carbone told me "We can choose not to look at or hear about animal abuse, but that does not mean it's not happening."   So simple yet so true.  I used to be a "can't look coward".  That only helped me - did nothing for the animals. Dr. Carbone is right - if animal lovers don't look animal abuse in the eye and help, who will? 

~E. Reed

 

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Something Wicked This Way Comes

Posted on October 2, 2011 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

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On a Sunday morning three years ago, I sat at my computer and read my emails, as is my usual morning practice, and discovered a message from one of my “friends,” someone I had never met, but whose path I had crossed online while cross-posting to save unwanted animals. The message was unexpected. I had been accused of pulling four dogs from a high kill shelter, contacting someone’s veterinarian without permission with the intention of charging vet fees to this person's account, sending out emails asking people for money and threatening to return the four dogs to the shelter if the people did not comply, lying to a rescuer, and abandoning other dogs at a boarding facility. There were other accusations, all animal related. Some were lies. All were distortions of the truth and misrepresentations of fact.  My “friend” also informed me that I had been banned from a group to which both of us belonged and I had been labeled "Do Not Rescue." When I attempted to respond to the email, I discovered that I had been blocked from sending messages to this “friend.” That was the beginning of what was for me a nightmare.


A man's reputation is what other people think of him; his character is what he really is.  ~Author Unknown


     I am not an animal rescuer and have never claimed to be one. I am an animal lover and consider myself to be a resource, a facilitator, a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves. As far back as I can remember I have viewed every living creature, whether it be an ant, a mouse or a dog, as something of value who deserved to live as much as I did. I remember when I was a child feeding crushed crackers to ants, moving worms from the sidewalk after a rainfall so they wouldn’t dry up in the sun, and releasing a mouse that I trapped in my bedroom...many years before the practice of catch and release had ever been considered as an alternative to killing.


     The accusations against me were inaccurate, hurtful, and harmful to those I was trying to help. For two years I had been cross-posting animals in need,  driving legs of transports, and fostering unwanted cats and kittens. With the help of another woman, I had been trying to save the animals at a high intake/high kill rural shelter that listed only a handful of its animals on the shelter’s Petfinder site and killed every animal in the shelter every week. We were having great success. Even though neither of us lived near the shelter, with the miracle known as the internet, we were able to spread the word about the conditions at this shelter and the animals in need. Others joined in our efforts and within a short period of time the kill rate at the shelter decreased dramatically. All that changed in a moment.


By the pricking of my thumbs,

Something wicked this way comes.

~ William Shakespeare


      The allegations made by one person whom I had never met spread like wildfire via the internet that I had used to help save lives. I was not given an opportunity to defend myself and my efforts to help the animals who were on the shelter’s new kill list were greatly hindered. I was banned from other groups, people blocked my emails, and anyone who attempted to defend me was treated like pariah. The following week EVERY animal at the high kill shelter was killed - puppies, kittens, cats, and dogs - fifty-eight precious, innocent lives. Their only crime was being in the wrong shelter at the wrong time. They were collateral damage. All of those animals died needlessly because of the allegations made by one person who had never met me, knew nothing about me, and who chose to condemn me for reasons unknown based on her own preconceptions and misconceptions. There was no evidence to support the accusations and none of the people who read the posts and emails about me made any effort to substantiate the claims. I had never been to the shelter or town where it was located, had never been in contact with the boarding facility where I had supposedly abandoned dogs, never threatened anyone, never lied to anyone, and would never surrender or return an animal to a shelter.


A truth that's told with bad intent Beats all the lies you can invent. 

~ William Blake


     Every week I receive  emails about someone who has been designated “Do Not Rescue, Do Not Adopt, or Do Not Transport." I read the emails I receive and the messages posted to groups...and I put them in a personal file for future reference. I never cross-post them. I believe the majority of the people being accused probably deserve the designation...they were neglectful, irresponsible, abusive, or intentionally cruel. Because of their actions animals were placed in dangerous situations or died. Most of the time the person who sent out the initial warning had personal contact with the person being accused, included proof to support the facts alleged, and the victims, helpess animals, had suffered actual harm. Unfortunately, because of my experience, the messages sent to me will not be forwarded, posted or cross-posted. Others will have to pass on the warnings. Wickedness in the form of false accusations had come my way and, as a result, there are some things I will not do, even if it may prevent harm or save lives. I know firsthand that actions may have unintended consequences.


   And what was the fate of the four dogs pulled from the kill shelter? Were they returned to the shelter? Did I abandon them at a boarding facility? Were they harmed in any way? No. I fostered them for five days and then helped transport them. All went on to find rescues and forever homes. One of the dogs was pregnant and had her puppies in a safe place. The four dogs who were the subject of this tale had happy outcomes, unlike the fifty-eight who were forgotten and left to die in the kill shelter. No one made any effort to save them, least of all my accuser.


Your torments call us like dogs in the night. And we do feed, and feed well. To stuff ourselves on other people's torments. And butter our plain bread with delicious pain ~ Mr. Dark in Something Wicked This Way Comes

(Book by Ray Bradbury and movie with the same title)


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