Saturday, February 28, 2015
A year ago today, I had to say goodbye to my sweet Clover, an American Eskimo mix dog that I had rescued in summer 2000. I think about her everyday, and usually it brings tears to my eyes as I miss her. I hope that one day her memory makes me smile instead of cry. Here are photos of her throughout her years with me. Several years ago I submitted a "How I met my dog" story for a magazine contest. (It was selected as a runner-up!) Here is that story. I hope you enjoy it.
How I found my dog
Finding a four-legged Clover
By Gina Parsons
The piece of white paper floating across the road caught my eye. As I watched, the piece of paper grew legs. I realized I was seeing a white dog chase a truck down the middle of the street.
My drive to work that morning became a race to save a life as I followed them, praying no vehicles would hit her. The truck pulled into a parking lot. I pulled in behind and called to the dog. She ran to me happily.
I opened my car door and she jumped into the driver’s seat. I tried to motion her to the passenger seat so I could get in, but she stayed put. I knew that many dogs of her breed, American Eskimo, don’t like to be pushed around. I gently pushed her over. To my surprise she went willingly into the other seat. She looked up at me with a happy, smiling face – and I fell in love.
In my office building I gave her a hard-boiled egg. She eagerly ate, then stood on her hind legs and did a cute dance, begging for more.
I felt this dog belonged with me. I even had a name for her already – Clover – just like the sweet-smelling white flowers that filled my backyard every summer.
I took her into my office and called the city’s animal control officer, whom I knew. He recognized the dog. She’d been out running before. He called her owner and to my horror, he wanted her back. The owner kept her on a chain during the day but brought her in at night. My heart broke to think of that sweet dog at the end of a chain.
When the animal control officer came to pick her up I asked him to please call me if she ever needed a home. Then I went into my office and cried.
The animal control officer told me the owner’s address, and I found myself periodically driving past the house, trying to see her. She lived on the wrong side of the tracks – literally. Used appliances, car parts and other odd items littered yards. If I’d seen her I don’t know what I would have done. I just knew that if nothing was done, she was going to end up dead. I did the only thing I could legally do – I prayed for her safety.
Two months later the animal control officer called me. Did I remember that white dog? Yes, of course I did. He explained that she’d been picked up again and had been at a rural animal shelter for the past five weeks. Her owner had been notified but this time they required him to pick her up and pay a fee. They hadn’t heard from him. Could I take her in? He wanted an answer immediately. My husband was out of town for a couple of weeks, but I didn’t hesitate. Yes, I’d take her.
Clover has filled my life with companionship and happiness for ten years. She’s been my partner in agility, tracking, and obedience classes, and we’ve gone on pet therapy visits. I know that finding a four-leafed clover may be lucky, but finding and rescuing a four-legged Clover adds a sweetness to life that I could not have found anywhere else.
Hudson has had the privilege of knowing this wonderful women and her gorgeous daughter and mother. They are amazingly kind, loving & passionate souls that he is proud to call friends !!!
Guardians of Rescue were out last night trying to trap stray cats in these freezing temperatures. They came upon this cat that was right outside someone's basement window frozen to death trying to get into a warm house. Please SPAY & NEUTER Your Pets & remember they feel the cold just like you and I. This poor, precious cat died trying to find warmth.
Dog about to be skinned for his fur and butchered for his flesh. this is an abomination. Don't buy anything from China or South Korea until they stop this night mare
Dog about to be skinned for his fur and butchered for his flesh. This is an abomination.
Don't buy anything from China or South Korea until they Stop This Nightmare
Friday, February 27, 2015
By Joe Yonan March 26, 2012
It’s been four months, and yet if somebody asks me about that day, my voice will crack. By “that day,” I mean the day I came home from work to find my Doberman, Red, splayed out on my bedroom floor, his head to one side, his body lifeless but still warm. It’s an image I can’t seem to shake, as much as I try.
I’m no stranger to death. I was a mess of anger and confusion when my father, suffering the aftermath of a stroke, took his last gasps one day in 1995, his children gathered around his hospital bed. And three years later, the death of my sweet, beloved sister Bonny after a withering battle with brain cancer was nothing short of heartbreaking. Yet somehow, and much to my distress, the death of my dog seems even harder. I haven’t felt grief quite like this since, well, the death of my previous dog five years ago.
How could the death of a canine possibly hurt as much as that of a family member? As the sadness lingers, part of my grieving process has been to try to understand the differences.
Researchers have long known that the animal-human bond is strong: A 1988 study in the Journal of Mental Health Counseling asked a group of dog owners to place symbols for their family members and pets in a circle representing each dog owner’s life. (The distance between the subject and the other symbols corresponds to the relative, real-life closeness of those relationships.) The subjects tended to put the dog closer than the average family member, and about as close as the closest family member; in 38 percent of the cases, the dog was closest of all.
Research comparing grief over the death of pets to that over the death of friends and family members has come up with different answers. A 2002 article in the journal Society & Animals that reviewed multiple studies found that the death of a companion animal can be “just as devastating as the loss of a human significant other,” not quite as severe, “far more intense” or, well, just about the same.
Sandra Barker, the director of the Center for Human-Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University, who co-authored the 1988 diagram study, counsels grieving pet owners and teaches veterinary students the importance of understanding the process. Studies aside, her own experience has taught her that the intensity and longevity of the grief vary widely. Like me, her clients sometimes begin the process with a sense of surprise and even shame that they’re grieving more for their pet than for a sibling or parent.
“But when they realize that the difference is the pet gave them constant companionship, and there was total dependency, then they start to realize that’s why they’re grieving so intensely,” she said.
Rearranging my life
It’s true that I spent so much time taking care of Red, and Gromit before him, that when each one died it didn’t merely leave a hole in my single-person household; it was as if someone had rearranged my life, excising without my permission many of the rituals that had governed it.
Over the course of 13 years, for instance, the same thing would happen with Gromit every morning. I would sit on my bed to put on my shoes, and he would drape himself across my lap. I would scratch his butt and he would reward me with a big sloppy kiss. Recently, I did the math: Accounting for the times I was traveling without him, this interaction happened more than 4,000 times.
So it makes sense that when he died, it was months before I could touch my shoelaces without expecting to also touch him. And I had no idea what to do with my mornings without my pooch to require that small gesture of me.
About nine months after Gromit died, once I knew I didn’t want to replace him but just wanted to consider getting another dog, I signed up as an occasional foster parent at a no-kill shelter in Dupont Circle. My first assignment, Red, was a living, breathing refutation of the portrayal of Dobermans as vicious guard dogs in such movies as “Hugo” and the animated classic “Up.” The first time he ambled over to me when I was sitting on the couch in my apartment and lay his head across my lap so I could stroke his snout, I knew I’d adopt him.
And for the two months I lived in that apartment after he died, the couch never seemed so empty, nor the place so quiet.
Keeping it simple
My relationships with Red, Gromit and Consuela (the cat who has survived them both) have been, for lack of a better word, simple. Or at least simpler than that with my sister — but especially simpler than that with my father, with whom I had constant conflicts over religion and sexuality, and whose love and support seemed to always have strings attached.
Barker echoes the idea that the unconditional, nonjudgmental love offered up by animals — “they’re just happy you’re there” — can make it especially hard to lose them. Were these losses more difficult because I was living alone? Some studies suggest that just as pets can ease loneliness, especially among single people, it can be harder for us when they’re gone.
And then there is the suddenness factor. Former president Bill Clinton told Newsweek in 2002 that the death of his dog, Buddy, who was hit by a car, was “by far the worst thing” that Clinton had experienced after leaving the White House. Barker says that not having time to prepare for the pet’s death “usually makes it more intense” and that something like an accident can add a layer of traumatic stress, especially if the owner witnesses it.
She might as well have been talking about me. Gromit’s battle with cancer at age 13 was short, but at least I spent the last few weeks of his life preparing for it. I held him when the vet put him down, and it was horrible, but I knew he was as comfortable as possible — and that having me there was part of his comfort.
At age 7, Red had been otherwise healthy when he started wheezing one day last October. The vet thought he had allergies and advised me to return if he didn’t get better within a couple of weeks. Two weeks later, a chest X-ray showed a mild pneumonia, and the vet sent Red and me home with antibiotics that she hoped Red would respond to within a few days. I gave him a dose at about 1 p.m. and went to work; when I returned that evening, he was dead.
It’s too painful to describe the extent of my immediate reaction, or really the reactions that unfolded over the following days, weeks and even months. But I will say that when Gromit was dying, I kept repeating the words, “Thank you.” In Red’s case, too late for him to hear, I kept repeating, “I’m sorry.”
The fact that our pets are so dependent on us makes it all too easy to second-guess our decisions and descend into a pit of guilt. Shouldn’t I have known? Did I do everything I could? If I had just . . . what? Taken him to the vet sooner? Insisted he be hospitalized? What if I had been home? I might not have been able to save him, but at least in his last moments he would have known I was with him, and maybe that would have made it a little easier for him if not for me.
In “The Year of Magical Thinking,” Joan Didion refers to grief as passive and mourning as active. Sure enough, when I talked to Kathy Reiter, who leads monthly pet-loss support groups in Alexandria and Fairfax County, she eventually (in true therapist style) turned the conversation to my experience, asking what I’d done — actively — to help myself with this process. It occurred to me that I needed to sit around and cry a little less and to grieve, publicly, a little more.
That’s easier said than done. A few weeks after Red died, some friends from the dog park suggested we have a get-together in his memory. I was grateful for the suggestion, but as I came in and exchanged hugs, I felt a bit sheepish when I pulled out the box of Red’s ashes and a recent photo and set them up on the table. Maybe it was my imagination, but I got the feeling that even friends who had gathered for just this purpose would rather say just a quick “I’m sorry; how are you doing?” than truly acknowledge the elephant — or the Doberman — in the room. It wasn’t until a couple of hours and several drinks later that we finally told a few stories about him.
More than just a dog
Thankfully, many of my closest friends, family members and co-workers have been wonderfully sympathetic, and for that I’m grateful. Others have seemed reluctant to talk about my grief, and I suspect that it’s because they’re trying to stay in denial about the prospect of losing their own animal or trying not to remember the death of a previous one. My least-favorite reaction comes from those who are aiming to be supportive but regularly ask me when I’m going to adopt another dog, a reaction that seems tantamount to saying, “Get over it already. He was just a dog. Isn’t one as good as another?”
That can lead to what psychologists refer to as disenfranchised grief.
“Simply stated, many people (including pet owners) feel that grief over the death of a pet is not worthy of as much acknowledgment as the death of a person,” researchers wrote in a 2003 article in the journal Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. “Unfortunately, this tends to inhibit people from grieving fully when a pet dies.”
Two months after Red died, I’ve had a change of scenery, moving to my sister Rebekah’s home in southern Maine to work on book projects for a year. Here, my sister and brother-in-law’s gregarious chocolate Lab, Maya, helps keep me company and reminds me that eventually, probably sometime next year, I’ll be ready to adopt again. Meanwhile, Red’s ashes sit in a beautiful carved wooden box on a shelf in my bedroom, right in front of a beautiful drawing that a colleague’s son made for me after Red died. Those artifacts have helped, but I’ve needed something more.
My sources for this article noticed the answer before I did: I’m a writer, and I need to process my grief by writing, so that’s what I’m doing. Reiter admitted that her own work helping others who have lost animals was partly as a tribute to her cat, Prince, who died at the ripe old age of 23, but also as a way to validate and work through her own grief. By writing about Red, she said, “you are doing what I did: It’s self-serving, but it’s a tribute, and it’s a catharsis for you. You want to capture the memories, so you don’t forget.”
There’s one more task ahead of me. Five years ago I buried Gromit’s ashes in the woods outside Rebekah’s house, along with his collar, a note, a photo of us together and one of his favorite things: a bagel. The headstone says, “Thank you.” Red’s box, meanwhile, went up on the shelf when I got here in January, partly because the ground was frozen solid.
The days are getting longer, though. The ground has thawed. I’ve been looking at headstones and, more important, composing the words that will go on Red’s.
Yonan, the Post’s Food and Travel editor, is on book leave. Follow him on Twitter @joeyonan.
Bill to regulate dog breeders draws opposition inside chamber from industry rep
Posted By Max Brantley on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 10:21 AM
click to enlarge
- TO THE RESCUE: One of the dogs rescued by humane workers last week at a Warm Springs puppy mill. A representative of the dog breeding industry who sits in the House is fighting a proposal to regulate such operations.
has told KTHV he will propose a bill to regulate dog breeders. Arkansas is infamous for its shoddy puppy mills, with grim raids on filthy kennels full of dead and dying animals seemingly a regular occurrence. Such as just last week in Warm Springs.
But as animal cruelty wars of past years proved, the minute somebody starts talking about protecting dumb animals, a lobby will arise to defend the abusers or potential abusers. The Farm Bureau famously stands in the way of most legislation to improve the quality of animal life.
Don't know where the Farm Bureau stands on protecting puppies, but I know one organization has already surfaced with dire warnings about the puppy mill legislation. It's called America's Pet Registry, which has a benign ring.
That organization describes puppy protection as an assault by the evil Humane Society of the United States on more than dog breeders. It quotes Rep. Marcus Richmond, a Republican from Harvey:
"Proposed legislation in the Arkansas House is fueled by the HSUS. Agriculture and hunting in our state must not be influenced by an Animal Rights extremist agenda."
And Richmond ought to know. He is — ta da — president and CEO of America's Pet Registry. It says it has animal welfare in mind. But it has existed since 1992 to provide a stamp of approval for breeders who don't follow American Kennel Club protocol. Web commentators say it is a front for the commercial dog breeding industry. For example:
When you register your dog with APRI, your dollars are going to support the people that continue to breed in mass quantities despite the problems of severe pet overpopulation. Your money is used to pay lobbyists to fight Breeding Legislation that is intended to make the industry more humane in their treatment of the animals in their care, and crack down on puppy mills. Your money will be used to lobby for the inclusion of canine breeding stock as LIVESTOCK in some states in support of the puppy mill industry. In Iowa, this recently came to a head and was defeated, but can and will likely be brought up again. Livestock are not required to have shelter at all, and there are tax benefits to dog breeders becoming livestock producers.
Is a sitting member of the Arkansas House actually a lobbyist for the commercial dog breeding industry? Of course not. The ethics law doesn't allow this. Might he have a financial interest in the outcome of the legislation he's strongly opposing?
In this legislature, it would be par for the course. The conflicts are too numerous to count and rarely directly disclosed in statements filed in the House and Senate. As one legislator told me the other day when I inquired about some technical bills he was carrying that affected people he has done business with, he essentially said, "1) Everybody knows what I do. And 2) Who knows the topic better?"
Here's what Sorvillo said he had in mind in talking to KTHV. No mention of agriculture or hunting.
The bill would require dog breeders to pay an annual licensing fee and undergo health and safety checks from a veterinarian. "As states have started to regulate this, these puppy mills have actually moved from state to state," Sorvillo said. "They end up in Arkansas because we haven't had any type of oversight."
A moment of contradiction: Jim Sorvillo, a small government Republican, wants to regulate dog breeders. But he's not so worried about tooth decay as sponsor of the bill to give local control on fluoridation.
I've sent some questions to Richmond about his work.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
World Spay Day was February 24th! A special thank you to HSUS District Leader Cecilia G for securing proclamations declaring World Spay Day in both St. Louis City and St. Louis County. We also thank St. Louis City Mayor Francis Slay and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger for recognizing the importance of community involvement in improving the lives of animals. World Spay Day is presented by The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International, and Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association in collaboration with humane organizations, veterinary professionals, businesses, and individuals worldwide to shine a spotlight on spay/neuter as a proven means of saving animals’ lives.
NEWS FROM THE STATE CAPITOL: We’re over six weeks into the legislative session, and things are really starting to hop at the capitol. I’m working daily to fight a number of bills that will weaken our animal cruelty laws here in Missouri. Here are a few bills I wanted to bring to your attention:
HB 79- This bill has been filed several years in a row. It makes significant negative changes to Missouri’s disposition hearing/bonding laws on animal cruelty cases, and leaves law enforcement with no choice but to leave animals in the hands of their abusers.
HB 998- This bill would allow judges to order a psychiatric evaluation for anyone found guilty of animal abuse or neglect, and would require the evaluation for any act that involved mutilation or torture.
SBs 163 & 180- These bills filed in the senate create a tax credit for Missouri residents who adopt a pet from a shelter in Missouri.
STANDING INVITATION: Join me at the Capitol! If you live near or are traveling to Jefferson City, let me know and I’ll arrange meetings for you with your Representative and Senator. I’ll coach you on how to make the most of these meetings and I’ll gladly accompany you, if you wish. If you can’t make it to Jefferson City, I’m happy to give you tips on setting up an in-district meeting with your elected officials. In short, I’ll do anything I can to help make legislative advocacy more accessible and natural for you, because that’s the arena in which we score big wins for animals. So please take me up on my offer, and let me know if you have any questions about these bills, or any other bill filed this year.
WHO REPRESENTS YOU?: You can use this link to find out who represents you in Missouri and at the federal level.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
We had to share a wonderful update with you all today! One year ago, little Silas came to KC Pet Project in pretty bad shape. He was only around 2 months old and had one of the worst cases of Sarcoptic Mange that we've seen - which is a highly contagious skin disease for both dogs and humans. One of our staff members took him home to foster him and thanks to your donations and support, we were able to help Silas and treat him of this very uncomfortable skin condition. Now, look how healthy and happy he is in his new home! When you donate to KC Pet Project at www.kcpetproject.org/donate, you're supporting pets like Silas who need our help. We thank you for supporting your local pets who need it most!
Monday, February 23, 2015
ALERT!! AKC IS AT IT AGAIN IN THE NC LEGISLATURE!!
The American Kennel Club has a proposal for YOUR legislators. They want to make standards and registration for commercial dog breeders VOLUNTARY. Under their plan if breeders want to comply with standards they can, if not, no problem!
SHARE THIS POST ON YOUR PAGE IF YOU THINK AKC’S IDEA IS RIDCULIOUS AND INEFFECTIVE TO STOP PUPPY MILLS IN NC.
Do you think that these NC puppy mill dogs would have been happy with a VOLUNTARY set of standards? We don’t.
Be the voice for the dogs and puppies in NC puppy mills and send a quick email to your legislators asking them to pass REQUIRED standards into law in 2015 for commercial dog breeders. Include the link below in your email!
Find out more on AKC here: http://
Find your House Representative here: http://
Find your Senator here: http://