This blog is a tribute to Belle, and all the dogs who have come before and after. They are my friends, my companions, my teachers and my students. They bring me both joy and heartache, laughter and tears. There is nothing as sweet as the smell of puppy breathe, and nothing as sad as the final goodbye.

Monday, July 16, 2012

My Noah RIP

Sweet journey my sweet baby boy. I'll always love you.

I had to put Noah down this am. Burst tumor, internal bleeding. Very sudden. Very, very sad.
He was such a sweet, gentle, loving boy. 

From Suffolk Virginia, to the shores of Long Island, and finally to the Ohio Valley, he was my faithful companion, my special friend.

From the Spring/Summer 2003 LILRR Newsletter...

Why Rescue???
M. Knapp, LILRR
- From Spring/Summer 2003 Newsletter "Rescue Update" -
 Friends, family and well meaning acquaintances frequently ask me the question…why do you do rescue; how can you let them go after letting them into your home and more importantly, into your heart?  My answer has always been simple - they give me so much more than I could ever give back to them.  Each of the dogs I have fostered is special and unique.  Each owns a piece of my heart and will forever have a special hold on me.
The two Suffolk, Va. labs I am fostering now, Tar and Noah will, I imagine, have more of a hold on me than the others. While all the dogs entering rescue have a special, often sad story of betrayal attached to them, Tar and Noah, like all the Suffolk labs, have an even more compelling tale.  I was part of a three-woman group that made the first trip to VA that cold, snow stormy Friday in January.  We had a vague idea that what we were going to see would not be pretty but none of us were prepared for the horror that awaited us.  Dogs double chained to trees with no water or food, standing in mud; or the more unlucky ones, standing chest high in feces infested swamp water chained to trees with no escape.  The stench made me gag. I stayed back from the group, speaking to each dog I encountered, promising each that we would get them out of there.  

Tar was the first I saw on that endless walk down the long dirt driveway as we made our way to the hell we had yet discovered.  He was a sweetie, a genuine lover-boy.  I looked into his big brown eyes and promised him that he would not spend another night chained to that tree.  I took it upon myself to free a female almost too weak to stand, a bitch with sores covering her emaciated body.  Her eyes too, pleaded for help.  I found some kibble for her and again made her the promise that she would be going somewhere safe and warm.  I promised many dogs that they would be leaving.
At some point I think my brain shut down and instinct took over.  All focus was on getting the dogs to safety.  Safety meant getting those in high water onto knee-deep mud, getting those in the mud onto the truck.  Getting the starving bitches onto the truck … doing whatever was humanly possible to get those dogs out of immediate harms way.  We were tired, we were cold and wet and we were hungry.  The breeder had built pens in the rental truck large enough to accommodate 4-5 dogs each.  None of us realized some of these dogs would seriously harm each other if confined together.  They needed to be separated.  Other dogs were waiting at the bottom of the truck to be loaded on. We housed them the best we could but a few had to stay with us outside the pens if they were to leave.
I can still see the faces of the many other dogs we had to leave behind, and it still makes me cry.  It was getting late.  A man arrived and introduced himself to us as part of a VA rescue (A.R.T.).  His team would come back tomorrow morning to start moving dogs from the swamp to dry ground and safety.
We had originally intended to arrive NY that afternoon.  I don't think we left Va. until about 5pm and didn't arrive in NY until 5am.  Returning with a dozen fewer dogs than anticipated, plans for LILRR to accept Labs from this 1st transport were dropped.  LILRR was already orchestrating a 2nd trip to Va. and other rescues were waiting to accommodate these.

Over that one week, A.R.T. had gotten most of the others off that g-d-forsaken property and they were being housed safely in a sheltered barn.  We brought 19 back with us on the 2nd trip. These were dogs that were not accepted by any of the other Rescues.  These were the ones that had minimal if any human contact in their lives.  These had no names.  This was the group of dogs living way back in the deepest swamp, living in the worst filth, fending for what little food was thrown or floated their way.  These were the sickest and the meekest. Yet none has ever showed any signs of aggression - ever.
Since Tar was so easy (just a few minor necessary adjustments) I asked to foster one from the 2nd transport who required special care.  I had seen a young black male but never touched him, as he wouldn't let me near enough. He was skittish, timid and so very frightened of everything human, everything outside his former world in the swamp.  As I reached into his kennel I could smell the putrid odor that permeated the VA property and remembered how he had lived. I looked into his eyes, gave him my heart, and vowed to him that he will learn to feel safe, secure and confident with people.

I am pleased to report that he, now called Noah, has learned to ignore the every-day sound of the television, radio and coffee maker.  His tail wags and his rear shakes into a dance when he sees me.  He's been on my bed and snuggles regularly with Mr. Kitty.  He doesn't bolt from the room anymore when my daughter's walk in.  He hates the mop, the vacuum but is OK with the dishwasher.  We have taken a few baby steps and have so far to go.  That is OK too.  I get kisses from him and he gets long, long hours of massage.  He adores being touched and I adore rubbing his soft, sweet smelling coat.  He rests his head on my leg and I hold him tight, with Tar and my own Labs at my side, and I promise them again, that they will always be safe and loved. 
Editor's note:  delayed to completion of necessary repeat medical tests,
a healthy & happy Tar will become available for adoption consideration late June.
Noah will remain in Foster assessment and rehabilitation awhile longer.


K-9 Heroes of 9-11

These are the dogs that worked the trade center that are still alive but retired. 

They are heroes too…

Their eyes say everything you need to know about them. Just amazing creatures.
True heroes of 9/11 that are still with us today...

Moxie, 13, from Winthrop, Massachusetts, arrived with her handler, Mark Aliberti,
at the World Trade Center on the evening of September 11 and searched the site for eight days.

Tara, 16, from Ipswich, Massachusetts, arrived at the
World Trade Center on the night of the 11th.
The dog and her handler, Lee Prentiss, were there for eight days.

Kaiser, 12, pictured at home in Indianapolis, Indiana, was deployed to the World Trade Center
on September 11 and searched tirelessly for people in the rubble.

Bretagne and his owner Denise Corliss from Cypress, Texas,
arrived at the site in New York on September 17, remaining there for ten days.

Guinness, 15, from Highland, California, started work at the site with Sheila McKee
on the morning of September 13 and was deployed at the site for 11 days.

Merlyn and his handler Matt Claussen were deployed to Ground Zero
on September 24, working the night shift for five days.

Red, 11, from Annapolis, Maryland, went with Heather Roche to the Pentagon from September 16 
until the 27th as part of the Bay Area Recovery Canines.

Abigail, above, was deployed on the evening of September 17, searching for 10 days
while Tuff arrived in New York at 11:00 PM on the day of attack to start working early the next day.

Handler Julie Noyes and Hoke were deployed to the World Trade Center
from their home in Denver on September 24, and searched for five days.

Scout and another unknown dog lie among the rubble at Ground Zero,
just two of nearly 100 search and rescue animals who helped to search for survivors.

During the chaos of the 9/11 attacks, where almost 3,000 people died, nearly 100 loyal search and rescue dogs and their brave owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years later, just 12 of these heroic canines survive, and they have been commemorated in a touching series of portraits entitled 'Retrieved.' The dogs worked tirelessly to search for anyone trapped alive in the rubble, along with countless emergency service workers and members of the public.
Traveling across nine states in the U.S. From Texas to Maryland, Dutch photographer, Charlotte Dumas, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade beyond 9/11. Their stories have now been compiled in a book, called "Retrieved," which will be published on the tenth anniversary of the attacks.
Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted "Retrieved" to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. "I felt this was a turning point, especially for the dogs, who although are not forgotten, are not as prominent as the human stories involved," explained Charlotte, who splits her time between New York and Amsterdam. "They speak to us as a different species and animals are greatly important for our sense of empathy and to put things into perspective."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Happy Memorial Day from Ain't Misbehavin'

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wishing You a Safe and Happy Memorial Day 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ohio's new law in effect

Ohio, at least, will no longer call all pit bulls 'vicious
By Rene Lynch
May 22, 2012, 9:33 a.m.
Pit bulls have a new best friend in Ohio: lawmakers. Elsewhere, some officials are on the other side of the fence.
A new Ohio law went into effect this week that protects pit bulls from being labeled as "vicious" dogs simply because they're pit bulls. From now on, dogs in Ohio can be labeled "vicious" only if they do something to warrant it.
It's a hard-fought distinction waged by animal rights activists who say it will protect the controversial breed from discrimination. However, the new law does not overturn the rights of local communities to ban the breed outright, as a smattering of Ohio communities have done, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Previously, state law defined a vicious dog as one that hurt or killed a person, killed a another canine or was simply a pit bull, according to the Associated Press. The change now requires proof that a pit bull is actually vicious.
Many animal rights activists are applauding the  change, but it has plenty of critics who say that pit bulls do indeed make great pets -- until they don't. The breed is so powerful, and inclined to tug and attack until a victim is dead, that ownership should be discouraged, they say.
"Some pit bulls make good pets, but when the consequences are so great, why take a chance?" askedone Plain Dealer letter-writer.
The law change comes just days after the fatal mauling of a 3-day-old child who was momentarily left alone with the family's pit bull-mix in their Beaverdam, Ohio, home.
"Breed-specific legislation" is a hot topic in the canine community. Communities, fearful of injuries (and, let's face it, lawsuits), can turn to breed-specific legislation as a way to protect residents from dog attacks. But activists for animals, including the American Humane Assn., say breed-specific legislation can backfire and end up costing municipalities more dollars than would simply taking steps to enforce existing laws and educate the public about dog ownership.
The AHA points to a case study in Maryland, where one county spent more than $560,000 to enforce a pit bull ban by dedicating law enforcement to it, as well as housing dogs during the ensuing legal battles and appeals over breed determination. (Determining a pit bull is not as easy as it looks, activists say. Some of the most seemingly obvious markers, such as the squared-off head and powerful body, can be shared by other breeds.)
Tips from the AHA for protecting both people and dogs from harm include: Never leaving a child alone with a dog, spaying and neutering pets, socializing dogs around people and other animals from a young age, and taking steps to make sure animals are not able to get out and roam on their own.
By contrast, chaining a dog can cause its own set of problems: It causes an animal to become overly anxious and, as a result, overly aggressive. Chained dogs are 2.8 times more likely to bite than unchained dogs, according to the AHA, which recommends secure fencing to keep a dog contained.
The AHA is also calling for better dog-bite reporting, noting that many studies about dog attacks rely on incomplete police data, hospital records and media reports. (Pit bull defenders say media reports can be skewed, playing up the involvement of pit bulls.)