Monday, November 30, 2009

Deaf, blind dog offers lesson in compassion - Happy pup shows that disabilities are OK

If this story doesn't inspire you then I don't have a clue what will do the trick. I believe I've mentioned before that I had the honor of being a seeing-eye-person for a blind dog, my Prince. I adopted him after he became blind and I never found reason to regret my decision. He left me for a better place several years ago and I miss him terribly to this day. Come on - take a chance - dogs (and cats) have no idea what it's like to be handicapped - all they do is live each day to the best of their ability. Mimi

Marcia Fishman introduces Rudolph to Emmanuel Toe, 8, during a visit earlier this month to McIntyre Elementary in Southfield. (SUSAN TUSA/Detroit Free Press) 

DETROIT FREE PRESS   "Shut your eyes and hold your ears as tight as possible," Marcia Fishman said to the third-graders at McIntrye Elementary School in Southfield. "Don't feel sorry for Rudolph, he is a happy dog. But I want you to understand what he experiences every day of his life."

Fishman adopted Rudolph, a 7-pound dachshund who was born both deaf and blind, after four other families didn't want him or know what to do with him.

She named him after Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer because -- just like the reindeer's nose guides Santa's sleigh in the dark -- her dog's nose guides him every day. She also knew the name would appeal to children.

Rudolph is the star of Fishman's storybook, "Rudolph's Nose Knows," about a blind and deaf dog teased by other dogs because he bumps into things. In the story, a bird falls down a hole and Rudolph is the only one who can rescue it. He becomes a hero and, by the end, is revered by the other dogs.

As a team, Rudolph and Fishman visit schools around metro Detroit to help kids understand that Rudolph has a happy and very busy life, even though he has disabilities. Fishman also hopes that Rudolph and the book teach children to accept others who might appear different from themselves.

"Rudolph's visit helped the children realize that we all have feelings and self-worth regardless of how we may look or appear to others," said Elaine Kolos, a third-grade teacher at McIntyre.

Last week, Fishman and Rudolph dropped in on more than 60 third-graders at the school.

"The kids love Rudolph and he loves the children," Fishman said. "They swoon over him and can't understand why adults would think he is ugly!"

Many asked thoughtful questions, like "Why is Rudolph blind?" "How is it different for you to have Rudolph compared to other dogs?" "Can you leave Rudolph alone in the house?" and "How does Rudolph play if he is blind and deaf?"

Fishman patiently answered each one, stressing that while Rudolph has special challenges, he has as normal a life as possible, just with a few changes.

"Rudolph is spreading a great message," Fishman says. "I will never forget what one child said to me last year, after he hugged Rudolph-- 'I am going to tell my mommy that I want a deaf and blind dog, too.' "

Evva Hepner, a retired social worker from the school, said Rudolph and the book helped to generate positive discussions about the differences among people."Hopefully they have become more sensitive to people with challenges," she said.

National Canine Cancer Foundation

Saturday, November 28, 2009

♥Sometimes a dog dumped out like a piece of trash finds a home for the holidays♥

Sometimes a dog just gets lucky. Sometimes a dog has a guardian angel. Sometimes everything falls in place at the right moment in time. Sometimes a life is saved.

My son and his wife decided a few weeks ago that it was time to get a family dog. They already had bunnies, a guinea pig, a couple of cats, so it just stood to reason that a dog should be added into the mix. With the decision made - Dave's wife, Becky, got on the computer and began to browse

They didn't want a puppy but a grown dog of medium size, hopefully a retriever mix - a little female. Becky found a listing for a dog that sounded like it might be a good match but there was no photo. She called the shelter (about 45 miles away) and asked about the pup in question. She was told that the dog had been found in a store parking lot loaded with fleas, starved, toenails so long that they looked like corkscrews and no hair on the back half of her body. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

After explaining their family situation - four children, one with a disability - the shelter worker said that the little dog might be a good match for them because she was sweet natured and loving. But she cautioned Becky that the dog was in no way attractive to look at. The worker did have every confidence that with some good care the dog would blossom and that the hair would grow back on the pooch's back half.

Becky thought the little shelter pup might be just what her family ordered.  After everyone agreed to help with its care, mom, dad and kids piled into the family mini van and took off for the shelter. Undaunted by the bald bottom and scabby skin (there must have been 1000s of fleas before treatment by the shelter), an adoption took place and the little dog with long toenails clicking on the pavement jumped into the van to begin her new life as a family pet. The little dog wasn't judged by her looks, alone, but through eyes that knew a good home could work miracles. (I was later told that even if all her hair didn't grow back they were prepared for that, too.)

She received a name - Mitzy. She got spayed. Her toenails got cut while she was under anesthetic. She was given an oatmeal bath to soothe her skin and food was purchased that promised to promote hair growth and good skin condition. That little dog that someone tossed out appeared to have had a litter of puppies at her tender age - imagined to be about 18 months.

The dog no one wanted. The dog that was abandoned, starved and miserable had a fur-ever home at last. She wore a red collar and rainbow hued ID tag telling the world that she had a name and she had a home and she had a family of six people that cared about her.

I met Mitzy over the Thanksgiving holiday when she came to visit her northern relatives. Painfully thin, even after a month of good meals, her hair is beginning to grow back. Her temperament is remarkable. She is patient with children and loving to adults. She got along well with the other dogs she met during the course of her holiday visit. She was polite and sweet and kind and gentle. She acted as though any act of kindness or tender word was a treasure to her heart.

Yes, sometimes a pup gets lucky and sometimes a family gets lucky and sometimes a life is saved and sometimes there is a very happy ending. What someone else tossed out like trash another family found to be of worth and have value. I wish all lost dogs could find a home for the holidays just like Mitzy - my newest grand-dog.

National Canine Cancer Foundation

Friday, November 27, 2009

♥Dog and ower donate one million dollars to shelters♥ Would you?

Think about it. Think about it long and hard. All of us love our dogs and several of us have rescue dogs. Quite a few of us spend time as a shelter volunteer. BUT, how many of us would donate one million dollars to dogs and cats?

Honestly, I know if I won I'd keep some for myself and my children. Yes, I would donate some and most likely to benefit animals, but not the whole sum. Yes, the woman is a doctor and, yes, she has a lovely home; however, I don't know many wealthy people who would donate their entire winnings.
National Canine Cancer Foundation

Thursday, November 26, 2009

☺Happy Thanksgiving everyone ~ ENJOY☺

National Canine Cancer Foundation

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Maty the 3-Legged Dog Is a World Champion! You will fall in ♥

Each and every day I am reminded of the fact that the animals who surround us "live in the moment". They don't envy anyone and they don't sit around the house saying that they can't do something. They just get out there and do it. I am always so inspired by dogs like Maty. She reminds me that I can do anything that I set my mind to do - without question. Mimi

When Lynne Ouchida (Maty3leggeddog) and Troy Kerstetter met a 9-year-old girl named Sushma in 2006, they thought she was like many of the other children that would fawn over their canine, Maty, a championship disc dog.

Sushma was different, though — she was missing a leg and both her hands — but she wasn't so different from Maty, who only has three legs. The girl and the dog played together that day, and Ouchida and Kerstetter went about their lives.

Then, Sushma's adopted grandmother, Helen Zappia, reached out to the couple, saying that the 9-year-old, who had been adopted from India four months before, had cried almost every day since coming to the United States. But after meeting Maty, little Sushma smiled and laughed for the first time since her arrival.

"Maty has been a great model for me because she tries hard in lots of things even though she only has three legs," Sushma wrote in a letter. "Just because Maty and I are missing certain body parts doesn't mean we should be looked down on because we are just as special."

Maty (pronounced like Matty), a black-and-tan shepherd mix, almost didn't have a chance to show her enormous potential. Abandoned in a motel when she was 3 weeks old, Maty was taken in by the Humane Society of Central Oregon, where Ouchida, 47, works in community outreach. Maty was almost ready to be placed with her new family, a local nursing home where she was to be a resident therapy dog, when a staph infection in her leg became so severe that Ouchida and Kerstetter considered euthanizing her.

"She just looked at us with these big brown doe eyes and wagged her tail, and we just said, 'We can't do it,'" Ouchida tells

The couple worked with the nursing home and veterinarians to amputate Maty's leg. The surgery was successful, and the 9-year-old dog hasn't slowed down since. Though she ended up being adopted by Ouchida and Kerstetter, she continues working with the nursing home as a pet therapy dog, and is a canine ambassador of the Humane Society's education program, through which she visits grade school children along with Ouchida.

"One of Maty's absolute favorite things in life is getting a nub rub," Ouchida says. She loves school visits, where the children are allowed to touch Maty's nub and ask lots of questions about her. "We tell them that we treat her as if she is a normal four-legged dog. Everyone deserves that opportunity in life, to bring out their potential."

To keep Maty physically fit and mentally stimulated, Ouchida and Kerstetter began taking Maty to agility training courses. When Maty was 9 months old, the couple let her run after a Frisbee, and she "instinctively went for it," jumping to catch the disc.

Since then, Maty has placed in the 2006 and 2008 Skyhoundz Worlds Canine Disc Championship. She almost retired in 2008, when she faced a setback from moderate osteoarthritis, but yucca supplements gave Maty her bounce back, and she was able to avoid retirement and make it to the world championships.

Sushma, who missed seeing Maty compete in the 2006 event, got to go to the 2008 show, where she was "treated like royalty" by the event's sponsors. Sushma also finally got a dog to call her own, a black and tan mix just like Maty. She named the dog Maggie.

National Canine Cancer Foundation

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Dog Named Christmas, a Hallmark Hall of Fame Presentation

Click on image for more information
I, for one, will be settled in with my bag of popcorn, a soda and a fresh box of tissues☺

National Canine Cancer Foundation

Friday, November 20, 2009

Archie, Dog of the Year Passes Away with Honors (Wounded Warriors)♥

PLEASE hug your dog today. You'll NEVER know how much time the two of you still have together. In addition, the holidays are just around the corner. Contact a veteran's organization or Army Wounded Warriors Project or any military base near you and ask what YOU can do for your country's heroes. Not all of them have family but all of them need love.

On October 29, a very special 8-year-old black Labrador Retriever arrived at New York City’s Pierre Hotel and charmed a ballroom full of people while receiving the ASPCA Dog of the Year award. The Lab was Archie, assistance dog and social lifeline for Iraq war veteran Sergeant Clay Rankin. The event was the 2009 ASPCA Humane Awards Luncheon.

Archie’s talents and warmth were clearly recognized by the ASPCA. His humane hero description read: Archie's loyalty and perseverance in helping Sgt. Rankin accomplish his daily tasks has allowed the veteran to regain his confidence and independence, move forward with his life and continue serving the country he loves.

It was when Sgt. Rankin took to the podium to accept Archie’s award, however, that the depth of their relationship became clear. “Archie helps me to walk. He helps me to maintain my balance. If I need something, he gets it for me,” began the Sergeant. “He also wakes me if I’m having nightmares and touches me with his nose if I start going into a flashback.” He then told a powerful story about one soldier who’d been sent home with a bad injury. When he met Archie during a hospital visit, he smiled for the first time since being deployed. “There is life after injuries,” the Sergeant assured the rapt audience, who gave him a standing ovation.

On Thursday, November 12, while returning home after visiting soldiers at a VA hospital in San Antonio, TX, Archie passed away from an apparent heart attack. His death was unexpected.

Dog and man came together in October 2006, after Sgt. Rankin returned from Iraq with spinal injuries. As Rankin suffered daily pain and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Archie quickly became his primary caregiver and social safety net. Trained by Patriot Paws, a Rockwall, TX-based organization that works with service dogs and matches them with disabled veterans, Archie was also the first canine graduate of the Army Wounded Warriors Program, which assists and advocates for seriously wounded, ill and injured soldiers, veterans and their families.

"I only met Archie once, this year at the Humane Awards Luncheon,” says Arielle Greenberg, ASPCA Special Events Manager and member of the committee that chooses each year’s heroes, “but it was enough for me to see that he was not only essential to Sergeant Rankin, but a ball of happy energy all on his own."

We honor Archie and Sgt. Rankin, and the model of the human-animal bond that they displayed.

National Canine Cancer Foundation

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rolling Dog Ranch: A Haven for Disabled Animals

Several years ago I had the distinct privilege of being the seeing-eye human for a blind dog. On Mother's Day, ten years ago, I saw a photo in the newspaper of Prince, a dog who came into rescue as a stray. He was looking for a home. Other than being blind he had a couple more strikes against him - he was black and he was large. I called rescue that day and was surprised that the phone was answered. Within an hour I was in my car and on my way to pick up the newest member of my pack. Never once after I brought that dog home did I think of Prince as disabled. He adjusted to my home and fenced yard and the other dogs with ease. Disabled dogs, just like disabled humans, don't want your pity - what they want is a chance. Mimi

The plan, says Alayne Marker of the Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary, was for her and her husband to work until retirement age, then start on their dream of building a haven dedicated to disabled animals. But dreams sometimes have a funny way of not waiting to come true.

In 2000, rather than working for another 10 to 15 years and then retiring, Marker and her husband Steve Smith quit well-paying jobs at the Boeing Company in Seattle and started the Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary in Montana. "In 1998, we had bought 160 acres of land in the Blackfoot River Valley," she explains to "We were going to keep working at Boeing, but once we bought the land, we realized we couldn't wait. The time for the animals was that time."

Today, Marker and Smith care — unassisted — for 70 disabled animals that come from shelters and rescue groups across the country. There is Maggie, a dog blinded by physical abuse. "She has such an incredible capacity to forgive," Marker says of the pup, who is thriving at the ranch. Bailey (pictured above with Alayne and Steve) is a miniature dachshund with spinal problems who was rescued from an animal hoarder several years ago.

The couple's lifestyle change wasn't as drastic as it sounds, insists Marker. "We never even had a conversation about it," she says. The couple had already been rescuing and housing disabled animals in their Seattle home. "Those animals needed a safety net. We wanted to change the public misperception about disabled animals. They can have such a good quality of life and we wanted to give it to them."

Using their personal savings, the two built the Rolling Dog Ranch from scratch. They opened their doors in December 2000 to welcome their first resident: a mare named Lena who had been blinded by cruel training methods that damaged her optic nerve and spine. "The owner wanted to get rid of Lena," says Marker. "So we took her in."

Now, she says, "We focus on dogs, cats and horses who are blind, deaf, three-legged, or have orthopedic or neurological issues." The Rolling Dog Ranch is deluged with requests to take disabled animals. "It's heartbreaking to see their photos," says Marker. "We wish we could take them all in, but we have a limited amount of resources." Supported entirely by donations, last year the ranch's veterinary bills exceeded $52,000. Last month, the couple received the ASPCA's Henry Bergh Award for their "exceptional work, bravery and compassion in animal welfare."

And not all the stories are sad. Charlie, a blind Beagle, successfully underwent eye surgery while living at the ranch and got his sight back. Today, the dog is living with a family in Olympia, Wash.

"Don't feel sorry for disabled animals," says Smith. "They don't want your pity. They just want a chance to enjoy life."

National Canine Cancer Foundation

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Operaption Baghdad Pups - PLEASE donate - It will make you feel so good!

There is NO way you will watch this with dry eyes - NO WAY. Please, follow this link and donate to this most worthy cause. Make it your Christmas present to yourself and to the loyal companion laying at your feet.

National Canine Cancer Foundation

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sniffer dog reappears after 14 months in the Afghan desert

Sabi plays at Forward Operating Base Ripley in Tarin Kowt, Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan after her amazing return.
AP Photo
Sabi a sniffer dog who went missing in action after a battle in Afghanistan has miraculously been found safe and sound after more than a year in the desert reports the Associated Press.

The black Labrador is said to have been with a joint Australian-Afghan army patrol when it was ambushed by Taliban militants in September 2008. Nine soldiers were wounded during the skirmish that followed, and when the dust settled, there was no sign of the bomb-sniffing dog.

Then, 14 months after she disappeared, a U.S. serviceman spotted a dog that appeared to be military trained with an Afghan man at an isolated patrol base. Within days, the lost lab was returned to her unit. The prized pooch came home to roost just in time for a visit by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. She was described as "composed and relaxed" and no worse for wear after her desert adventures.

Exactly what happened to Sabi and how she spent her days during her 14 month disappearance is unknown, but her good condition and happy disposition shows she was well loved and cared for. (But, of course, conspiracy theorists are already suggesting that she is a spy.) Sabi is just one of many dogs in Afghanistan trained to sniff out roadside bombs and other hidden explosives.

National Canine Cancer Foundation