Tag Archives: Dogs

Tiny Speck, Big Windshield

After last year’s Mardi Paws fundraiser post, I received a nasty email from a nonprofit organization in another part of the country who, unbelievably, have trademarked the name “Mardi Paws.” I thought it was spam but it was no joke. Lots of small animal shelters across America have a Mardi Paws fundraiser in February, and for them to be hunted down and threatened with legal action if they continue to use the name astounds me.

Before the Internet they could never have done this. They would never have known. But because folks enjoy posting pictures of dogs in costumes, this organization is spending time and money surfing the Internet looking for all us criminals all over the US who dare to infringe on their “trademark.” How incredibly nonproductive, mean-spirited, and obviously since lawyers are involved, expensive. Isn’t it nice to know that the money you donate to a nonprofit may be wasted on some crack legal team bent on creating ill will?

We are a scrappy rescue group with no physical shelter. We beg for foster homes. Though most people here are violently against euthanasia, just try getting one of them to foster a companion animal. They have a million excuses why they can’t.

Yesterday was our Canine Costume Party and it was both funny and sad. Life being what it is, many beautiful items and services donated by generous local artists and merchants for the silent auction went unsold, including one of my own paintings. It was sad at the end to pack up lush animal-themed gift baskets, gift certificates, handmade clothing and jewelry, pottery, and other artwork. Volunteers had to solicit the merchants, and it’s a lot of work.

It seems there are more small dogs participating in the fashion show than large, I think it’s just because it’s easier to dress up a little dog. Our own big dogs are not comfortable in crowds—just like us I guess. They are wary of humans as well they should be. Instead we brought our tiny Maxi, ambassador to the fact that you CAN rescue and adopt small dogs, you don’t have to support puppy mills or any kind of unnecessary breeding. We had not planned on entering her in the fashion show but we were urged on. They rate the winner by the amount of cheering and clapping, and Maxi came in second! After that you couldn’t talk to her—she claims A-list status now.

As the world becomes more savage and primitive (no matter how fancy your cellphone) many volunteers believe that fifty or a hundred years from now there may be no one left to help stray dogs and cats. It depends on who’s running the world, and it’s clear it won’t be animal lovers. Companion animals may be shot, abandoned, used for food or sport, or outlawed. They already are in many places. An animal rescue colleague in Atlanta reports 80,000 animals euthanized last year. The pound there is packed with 400 dogs and cats right this minute. Conditions are so wretched that it’s hard to find volunteers who can stomach it. Roaches and rats in the cages, filth, neglect, incompetence, indifference. A few people are trying to help, but nobody, I mean nobody, wants to spend a dime on improving conditions in any city pound.

I once read in a PETA book that they would rather have NO pets than see one more animal suffer. I didn’t get it then, but I do now. I love my pack more than anything in the world, but the price in suffering that companion animals pay so we can have pets is almost too much to bear.

An American soldier with his dog.

This princess was helping folks get registered at the front door.

I love this dog's costume, very original.

Some costumes were elaborate, some simple. Some dogs ditched their costumes in their own special way.

Form a line everyone!

This gorgeous two-year-old male boxer mix is up for adoption. Housebroken, trained, and loving.

These little girls won third prize.

This gal made a serious effort with her and her dogs' costumes, and she won the well-deserved first prize.

SO cute. What a little bear.

Kids taught to respect animals are the best kids ever, IMO.

Uh-oh, this cutie has a lot of growing yet to do.

Gratuitous cleavage shot.

Choosing the winners with the "Applause Meter."

Important business to attend to!

A gathering of dog lovers on the porch.

Our Maxi waiting her turn to walk the runway.

Maxi walks the runway to loud applause!

Holiday Unreality

Holidays. Gluttony, waste, forced obligations. Women exhausting themselves to get everything done on time for the great gorge. Millions of dead turkeys whose scraps will not be fed to dogs. I try to work on Thanksgiving if I can. One year I walked into a huge domestic dispute where the wife really didn’t want to go to her in-laws’ house. I had to go sit outside until they left. The spectacle called black Friday made me embarrassed for America, and that doesn’t happen often. Well there is Facebook, but that’s not just us anymore.

I need work. An acquaintance said, why don’t you make flyers offering housecleaning gift certificates? I said, that’s a great idea. She said, make sure you write Keep Your Dollars in America this Year! I said, I can’t say that, people here will get all offended. But consider not only giving work to people who pay taxes here, but also not detonating your credit card with crap made in China, or anywhere else but the US, the same crap people fought over on black Friday. Ugh. I hate that it even has a name and I refuse to capitalize “black” because that gives it credibility as a marketing tactic to make people crazy. This whole season from Thanksgiving to Christmas can go take a sleigh ride to Psychoville.

Our friend Hogan (Hoarder of History) appears to be levitating over carburetor of '71 Ford pickup. Hogan is a person to be thankful for.

She’s a handful is a typical euphemism for little girls who are consistently naughty. Jada, now 7 months, has gained 10 pounds and an attitude. She’s the kind of beautiful dog who gets adopted from a pound, then returned because she’s a project you have to stick with.  She’s soft and cuddly and loving, I hold her in my lap and she snuggles closer and closer into my neck. But keeping her from constantly jumping on everything and everybody is work. Paws on counters, stepping on my heels every time I walk somewhere in the house or outside, annoying the other dogs and cats, still not housebroken. Did I mention the jumping? She and Blitz are playmates but sometimes he hides from her and I have to watch she doesn’t get too rough—those puppy teeth are sharp and plentiful. I am committed to turning her into a respectable member of the pack.  This wild creature will be mine.

Blitz transforms into a wolverine when playing with Jada

I tell Jada, stop being such a baby and grow up!

Jada in a rare quiet moment (it didn't last). Who could resist this face?

Debra on Dogshit: Seven dogs. 14 piles of dogshit a day, 98 piles a week, 392 piles a month. The dogshit goes into plastic grocery bags and is eventually taken to the dump. My partner has never been seen picking up anything that came out of either end of a dog or cat. I went to NY for 8 days last year for a dictionary project and he claims he “took care of” the catbox. I know damn well he filled it up to the top with clean litter then shoveled it out once, the night I got home.

Here are some recent random pics of local interesting stuff…

Weird old combination stove, sink, and fridge seen at Hogan's

I had to look it up. Here's a classic ad for the 1952 General Fridge, Sink & Stove, same model as Hogan has. Look at that babe---as if! Sex sold appliances in 1952 same as now.

Two nice cats in a customer's yard

I became obsessed with making a celestial-themed quilt a few years ago. I just dug out the materials to finish it. I have to sew the batting and the backing, but we don't always finish what we start because every project has a passion tipping point, yes?

I hand-sewed each square, using a basic 8-point quilting star pattern. The fun was designing and making the top, not all this machine-sewing stuff at the end!

One last pedantic harangue: I recoil when adults refer to their parents as ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad.’ Up to about adolescence, it’s acceptable to refer to them as “my mom” or “my dad.” After that, it should be ‘my mother’ or ‘my father.’ ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ should only be used among siblings. When an adult who is not related to me says “Mom used to hit me with a ruler,” I cringe. Why not be correct and say “My mother used to hit me with a ruler.” Just sayin’.

Life, Death, and the Week in My World 10-24-11

On September 15th we had to put down one of our beloved dogs, Jessa. She came from the worst possible beginnings and health problems followed her periodically throughout her eight years. This time there was no cure. Despite her history, she was a happy and playful dog, and the only one who could keep up with Blitz, a dog we rescued four years ago from different but also gruesome conditions. (Pictures of Jessa can be found under My Pack and Philosophy.)

I didn’t write about Jessa because losing a pet is such a personal and painful experience that words are difficult. I didn’t want people to feel obligated to express their sympathy. As much as we grieved, I think it was worse for Blitz. He lost his best friend. He was clingy and confused—he kept looking for her and it broke my heart.

There is no need to seek out a dog in Arizona. There are so many desperate animals here I knew one would find us. On October 13th an animal-rescue colleague called in distress, asking if I would foster a beautiful six-month-old pup headed for the pound the next day. The volunteer already had a pack of foster dogs, and there aren’t many people who will foster. It’s shocking how many people are outraged by euthanasia but will not open their hearts and homes to foster animals. I was her last chance. The pup’s owner had thought it was such a cute little puppy she had to have it. I’m sure it was. But it grew. It needed time and attention and training. The owner lost interest. The pup is not housebroken, doesn’t know simple commands, and is slightly wild.

We went to pick up the dog and fell instantly in love. Since I refuse to separate any of my animals, the question was would she fit in with my pack, and would she breathe new life into poor Blitz.

The answer became evident within a few days. She is now a work in progress.

Meet Jada. She came with the name ‘Jade’ but ‘Jada’ is more fun to say. What is she? Don’t know, don’t care. A blend of beauty, affection, and spirit.

What can I say?

Jada's second day with us, still uncertain

Jada meets the neighbors

Jada and Blitz bonding over marrow bones

Jada makes friends with Blitz by the old stand-on-your-head method

Blitz shakes Jada's paw---with his mouth

Jada sizes Blitz up

Let the games begin

Tug-of-war, a favorite of dog buddies everywhere

One of the many positions of tug-of-war

Getting serious

It's not easy to tire Jada out, but Blitz gets it done.

This Could be You

Eddie with his dog Willie

As our economy collapses around us, homelessness rises. We have a higher rate of homelessness in Arizona because of the weather. Old, young, disabled, veterans, mentally ill, and entire families are living on the streets.

People are dumping their animals in alarming numbers in this depression, yet homeless people manage to hang on to their dogs. I met this man today resting in the shade behind a building while his friend was going through a nearby dumpster. Every dumpster behind every supermarket has foragers who depend on them for their lives.

This man’s name is Eddie. I walked up to him and asked him how he was doing. OK, he said. I asked him if $5 was a fair trade for a photo of him and his dog, whose name is Willie Nelson. Sure, he said. I asked him if he had enough to eat. Sometimes. I asked him where he slept. Behind Walmart. I asked him if there were a group of them who sleep there. Yes. I spoke to him for a few more minutes and snapped a few pictures. I pet his beautiful dog and asked if the dog got enough to eat. Yeah, he said, Willie eats before I do.

I thanked him and shook his hand and wished him luck. I kissed Willie Nelson on the head and once again felt disgust for our government. A billion here, a billion there. Foreign aid packages, oil wars, bailouts. But keep cutting programs that keep our people alive, because who gives a shit about us spoiled, greedy Americans going into foreclosure and moving into our new homes behind Walmart. Fuck you, US government, all of you.

My Pack and Philosophy

Animal rescue volunteers end up with the best dogs and cats—but sometimes the worst, too—the unadoptable misfits nobody wants. You do what you have to and sometimes tough decisions have to be made. Nothing is easy—except when you know you’ve found a precious gem and can’t let it go. All of our animals came from tough beginnings, even tiny Maxi was found on the highway. Now they are living the good life while providing nonstop entertainment—as well as the best security system known to man. All of our animals are spayed and neutered. We are completely against breeding companion animals, except for specific working dogs such as bloodhounds. We are unconditionally against breeding cats. Period.

We do not believe in throwing food away so all of our dogs get table scraps mixed in with their kibble. We feed our dogs twice a day and it’s a ritual they all learn quickly. They must stay behind a line out of the kitchen and wait for their bowls to be put down. The fast eaters are not allowed to harass the slow eaters.

Many animal lovers and vets tell you not to feed your dogs table scraps. These dogs were eating maggot-ridden garbage and insects before we got them, so when someone says giving them human-grade bits of meat and vegetables is wrong I go ballistic. Besides, the meat you scrape off your plate into the trash can came from a creature who died for you. Never forget that.

My precious family who keep me alive. Back row, left to right: Jewel, Jasmine, Blitz. Front row: Sparkle and Jessa. Note: September 2011, RIP dear, dear Jessa. We love you and will miss you forever.

Sparkle and Smudge  RIP Sparkle 4/1015  11 years old

Jasmine, Jewel, and Jessa

Jasmine is my number one girl. She’s a “sato” or Puerto Rican street dog, rescued and brought to a feed store back in CT. They asked for a $100 donation—best $100 I ever spent. I can hardly bear to think of her getting old. She’s got some slightly feral personality traits, remnants of her heritage, which make me love her even more. None of the other animals diss Jasmine—they learn fast.

Jasmine, my protector, best friend, and the most beautiful girl in the world./// Note added July 2012: RIP my love. Jasmine Argosy, 2001-July 24, 2012. I will miss you every single day for the rest of my life. Wait for me Jasmine, I’ll be with you again someday.

Maxi in her tiny hoodie

Sparkle and Blitz

Gri-Gri    RIP Gri-Gri 2/10/14  8 years old

Matilda, stray cat come to stay. Matilda will not let a human touch her and who can blame her? I had to set a trap to catch her for her spay.

Kiley, another outdoor cat who wandered by and stayed. The outdoor cats have a comfy set-up in a shed with plenty of boxes and beds. If they’re wise, they don’t leave the property and live long lives. If they venture into the desert, they don’t come back, taken by either rattlesnakes or coyotes. I take inventory every day and worry if I don’t see one. Sometimes I lose one.

Sparkle and Maxi at gas station

Gri-Gri and Mops

Can I get you guys anything?

Jewel playing in the snow    RIP beautiful Jewel  8-29-14  12 years old

Rabbit and Mops

Rabbit and Mops, always together. Rabbit has no tail and Mops has only one eye, together they’re partners in crime…helping each other seek out new frontiers on countertops, tables, bookshelves…

Maxi in disbelief that two foster kittens are in her bed

Rainy days don’t bother Maxi, in fact she prefers them.

Maxi and USBP truck

Sparkle and Smudge

LucyFur, found at Safeway parking lot 11/09. She grew up to be a big cat, playful and sweet. She does not like to be held, but will stand on her head for any kind of treat.

Ajulet Big Boy  RIP Aji  3/20/15  18 years old

Rabbit, Mops, and Virgil. Virgil has a white marking on his lower belly that looks like he’s wearing a bikini, so we often call him “Panties.” He’s kind of embarrassed by this and doesn’t like to show us his belly.

Maxi’s bandanna somehow ended up on her head, making her appear to be a tiny wizard…okay we put it there.

October 2011. Jada, new addition to the pack.