I apologize that my blog entries this week are about death. But with death, I truly believe there can be lessons for life. I promise next week to celebrate life!! I wanted to tell everyone about the most precious Pit Bull who was here at the ARL. Contrary to the often media-depicted stereotype of an aggressive killer, this girl was truly the standard for what a dog should be: incredibly loving to the point that she rolled on her back with legs fully outstretched for a belly rub, friendly to other animals, perfectly housetrained, and wonderful manners. She recently charmed dozens of people at one of the events we attended. In my years of working in shelters, training dogs and working with behavior cases, I rarely met such a combination. Very quickly, it was discovered that she had a serious heart defect and she passed away on Monday. The staff is still in shock and very, very sad. Why did we have to lose such a great emissary for not just Pit Bulls but all dogs? I wish that MY own dogs were as good as this sweet girl! Please tell everyone that you know that we should not discriminate against breeds. In every breed, there are good dogs and not-so-good dogs.
And speaking of good dogs, you should see the St. Bernard we have at the ARL! What a beauty!
Rarely a day goes by when there isn’t a sad story here at the Animal Rescue League. An elderly cat is surrendered and needs to be put down; a stray dog comes in with arthritis who can barely walk…and on and on. Death often becomes a daily, unwelcome visitor at so many shelters. We paid our final respects last week to a fixture here at the Animal Rescue League - Rod Stewart, a feisty white rooster with head plumage resembling his rocker namesake during the 70’s and 80’s. I miss him.
Why did the loss of a chicken sadden me so much when other animals pass on as well? Was it because he reliably greeted me each day when I took a break to visit my barn friends? Roosters are known for their consistency; Rod was always there. Or maybe it was the way he chased me down the stone path, pecking at my pant legs as if to say, “Get lost and never come back!”? But I always returned for another respite. It became a game to see if I could elude Rod’s pursuit. Or could it have been his confident demeanor as he led the other roosters in a group crow? He knew how to stir up the barnyard. The remaining outside roosters are silent now, sad from missing their friend and at a loss without their strong leader.
You’re in my heart, Rod…
Just like most animal shelters in this country, the Animal Rescue League regularly takes in dogs who have been involved with dogfighting. It's a disgraceful practice with many side effects: physically and emotionally abused dogs, irresponsible breeding of aggressive traits in Pit Bulls who normally have a very sweet nature, stealing of dogs to be used for bait, overcrowding of shelters when the dogs are no longer wanted, and other moral issues. Nothing brought these problems to light more than the Michael Vick case last year. Gladly, he was sentenced to 23 months in prison and many of his dogs found good homes.
On Sunday night, the Animal Planet premieres it's new show, Animal Witness. The first episode is all about the Michael Vick case. It's sounds like a great show.
The Animal Rescue League hosts a show this Monday evening at 7:00pm on Berks Community TV. Please tune in for a very different program. As usual, we will have some adoptable pets from the shelter but our special guest will be Maria Pandolfi, the founder of Rat Chick Rat Rescue. She has been a guest on many television shows, spreading the word that rats make good pets! The Animal Rescue League has several rats up for adoption. I have petted them (yes, I did!) and was surprised at how friendly they are.
In addition, Butch Ulrich from Breakaway Sports will be on the show to talk about the upcoming Doggie Dash and Walk on September 6.
It should be a fun show, so mark your calendars!
Has everyone heard of the woman who sold her house to finance cloning her dog? She spent $50,000 and now has 5 exact physical replicas of her Pit Bull who passed away in 2006. I can certainly relate to her loss. My first Golden Retriever passed away almost 6 years ago, and I miss her every day of my life. But since then, I have adopted three other Goldens who I love just as much. I wouldn't have missed out on my experiences with them, plus I have the satisfaction that I rescued three homeless dogs.
Does cloning guarantee the same dog? No, it doesn't. It's the old "nature versus nurture" argument. While genetics play a huge role in the behaviors of pets and people, the way we are raised can play an even bigger role. These 5 puppies may look exactly like the original dog but their behaviors may be quite different. And isn't it what's on the inside that we love, not just the outside appearance? I'm sure this woman will love all 5 of these dogs, but they will not be the original.
An article on the MSNBC web site last week talks about how pet theft is on the rise in our country. Possibly because the economy is recessed, people are stealing pets, especially expensive dog breeds, instead of spending money to buy them. Some stolen dogs are showing up on web sites that sell expensive dogs as a way to make money, while others are given away as gifts.
Toy breeds such as Yorkshire terriers, Chihuahuas and toy Poodles are most vulnerable because they are small and can be concealed. The dogs are being stolen from pet stores, animal shelters, people's yards and even from cars.
Cats are vulnerable too. If people are unwilling to pay the small adoption fee from a shelter, they may just walk out with one. According to the MSNBC article, a woman and her 3 children smuggled a cat out of a shelter in Idaho.
Take precautions to protect your pets. Never leave them alone in the yard, in an unlocked car, or tied up outside of a store or restaurant. Have them microchipped or tatooed and keep a current photo of them. If your pet is missing, make sure you report it immediately to the police and the Animal Rescue League as soon as possible.
As I walked past the cat room on Wednesday, I heard an unfamiliar sound for that area - a rooster crowing! Was I dreaming? I heard it again! Curiosity got the better of me so I went exploring for the source of the insurgent call. From the eye-level cages, inquisitive kittys who also heard the noise peered out at me. Not in there, I said. Not thinking that a rooster would actually be in a cat cage, I walked through the room in search of a special carrier or box housing the rooster. Nothing. Then I heard it again - and realized I had walked right past it. There in a bottom cage was the beautiful guy! Where did he come from, I asked the staff. He was found tied up in a yard in Reading. Now he's safe here at the ARL.
And today...more barn yard animals. Three goats were surrendered to us yesterday because the owner passed away. They seem like friendly guys and our resident llama, Snickers, has accepted them. Come by and visit!