Month: January 2016

Mitzi, the lifesaver and Ollie, the lover (part 1)


“I knew that Mitzi (border collie mix) was getting older and I couldn’t imagine a future without a dog.

I had met a shih tzu poodle mix that was a good size for traveling and I heard they got along well with older established pets.

I visited the breeder in Canada and came back to my car with a teacup sized puppy. I drove all the way back to New York with Ollie spooning Mitzi on the back seat.  It was a seven hour drive.

Mitzi embraced and accepted Ollie right away. I loved watching the two of them play together and become great companions.

Ollie extended Mitzi’s life for another two and a half years.  He brought joy and play to an old girl.  Mitzi was fifteen, arthritic and mostly blind.

She had been abused as a puppy and was left to die in a dumpster.  All her bones were showing and her tail was hairless.  I wondered if she was the kind of dog that should have had her tail cropped.  Before we named her she was called dumpster dog.

We called her Mitzi because she had little white mitten markings on her paws.

At first she was terrified of everyone and everything. She was afraid of life.  The first little while when I tried to pick her up she cowered.

I helped her overcome her fears by holding her in my arms, rocking her back and forth and whispering her name over and over.  I tried to soothe her like a baby.

When she died, seventeen years later, I whispered it’s okay, and I love you.  There were four of us sitting around her in a circle at the vet’s.

Mitzi saved my life.  I went through cancer, a divorce, empty nest, moving from the suburbs to the city and more.  Every day I had to get up to walk her.  I don’t know what I would have done otherwise, but she took away that option.  At night, alone in bed, I would put my hand on her chest and     would breathe in tempo with her .  She helped slow my racing heart and allowed me to fall asleep.  Mitzi helped me get through years of fear.  She was smart, gentle, trusting and loving.

Mitzi died the day after Christmas last year.”


Laura, as in Laura Dern (part 2)


“When Laura was little she pee’d and pooped everywhere and would bite and chew everything in sight.

It was hard getting a puppy.  She was a huge responsibility that we weren’t ready for.  It was helpful that there were two of us.  There was a huge learning curve.

As we got used to being dog parents she grew up and became more of a dog.

Our neighbors, who were also our building supers, didn’t like that she barked when we weren’t home and threatened to make her disappear.  They had a set of keys to our apartment.

At first we made sure that if we weren’t home, Laura was at doggie day care, but that became difficult.  We felt stuck in the apartment with her. We had this tremendous fear that if we left her alone in the apartment   something would happen to her at the hands of our supers.

We decided to move.

We left Bushwick and moved into Manhattan with my aunt.

It’s great now, Laura has a dog sibling and we know that she’s safe.”

Laura, as in Laura Dern (part 1)


“We were going to get a kitten, but the animal rescue group said we would have to take two so they would have company and learn to socialize.

We were also looking for dogs because we weren’t sure what we wanted.

We looked at forty pages of puppies on Petfinder.

Laura was just so cute. She had ten siblings that were all very cute. Her photo was the weirdest of them all.   She had big eyes and her face looked squished.  They all had the same face, but different markings.  Some were spotted and others were just one color.

We fell in love with what looked like eyeliner around her eyes.  It looked like she had raccoon eyes when she was a puppy.

Social Tee’s is the rescue group we limited our search to.

They were having two event on opposite sides of the city on the same day.

The dogs were at the uptown Petco and the cats were at the downtown Petco.

I am more of a dog person, but my boyfriend wasn’t as sure. His experience was just with cats.

I had been putting for a dog and it seemed like more fun to see the puppies, because they are more interactive.

Once we saw the litter, the others were sleepy and dopey, but Laura was alert and climbing over the others.  She seemed the healthiest.

She pee’d on my boyfriend as soon as he picked her up and we decided that was a sign that she was meant to be ours.

They also told us she wouldn’t be more than 35 pounds and she’s 80 pounds. They told us she was a beagle, border collie, lab mix.   They forgot to tell us about the Great Dane, Ridgeback and Hound.”

Rick, the rescuer and his dog Carlo


“I had a shepherd mix named Obie (from the photo album). I adopted him in 1997 when he was about ten and a half months old.

He was the love of my life.

He was diagnosed with lymphoma in March of 2012. I tried to extend his life with chemotherapy but it didn’t work and he died in May.

I was pretty down, but I decided to get into rescue and save dogs that would be otherwise killed.

I started saving dogs in July of 2012 and have saved 400 dogs to date.

I rescue dogs that are in San Bernardino, California.  I will see the dogs on the euthanasia list and there is a team out there that does all the rest.  I pay all the bills.

I went out there to see the dogs that I had rescued.

While I was out there visiting, I met Carlo, a seven and a half month old puppy on the euthanasia list, who looked just like Obie.  I also met and fell in love with a nine year old dog, Rusty.

I saw Carlo’s photo on the urgent kill shelter list. He was supposed to be destroyed in 24 hours. I was struck by how much he looked like Obie.  His tail was the only thing that was burry in the photo. I like to think it’s because he was wagging it.

Rusty was nine and no-one wanted him.  He was a senior, sick and a fear nipper.  I knew that he would require love and patience.

I adopted them both and we all flew back to NYC together.

Carlo trusted me right away but Rusty took a while longer.  One day after a year and a half he just walked over to me, jumped on the sofa, put his head on my lap and went to sleep.  From then on he never tried to nip me again. He followed me from room to room.  It was all about the love.

These are dogs that would almost certainly be killed because of the overpopulation of dogs. There are many purebreds, as well as mixes that have so little chance. The shelters are underfunded and overcrowded.

The kill shelters have an extremely high kill rate.  There is a tremendous spay and neuter problem in California, and San Bernardino, in particular.”

My motivation to save all these dogs was because of trying to save Obie, but not being able to.”


Marcello, the teddy bear


“My in-laws adopted a rescue greyhound and he was a sweet dog.

We got Marcello because we love the greyhound (whippets, Italian Greyhounds) breed.

We got him from a breeder, but not for lack of trying to rescue.

We wanted to adopt or rescue, but we didn’t qualify. We didn’t have a closed in yard or enough funds to prove to the rescue groups that we would be good dog owners.

The hardest time that we’ve had since we got him was during my unemployment.

It was the middle of a cold winter and I was struggling.  He literally, got me out of bed, because I had to walk him.

He’s comforting in the way a teddy bear is comforting.  He lets me hold him and he keeps very still. He talks to me with his eyes.  I think he asks me, what I need from him.

If I am grumpy he knows to keep away. If I am feeling joyful he jumps up and gives me hugs.

He is intuitive.

He’s like our little kid.  We feel maternal and paternal towards him.

He keeps us grounded.  One of us has to go home and walk him.  He’s about responsibility.  We are homebodies and he is part of our little unit.

We went on our honeymoon with him.  We drove across country with him.  He didn’t like hot springs, but he loves hiking.  He had a girlfriend in Wyoming.  Her name was Bobbie and she was a Corgi Chow mix.

He’s very social and he helps us meet people all the the time.  My husband and I are very shy.

He’s the referee, like me. He’s a mediator at the dog park.

None of us like conflict.”


Ajax, the tripod

“My husband and I worked long hours. We didn’t think we had the time for a dog until we saw all the people coming and going in our apartment building with dogs.  We learned about dog walkers, doggie day care and the NYC dog world.

We knew we wanted a labrador retriever. We didn’t know about lab rescue, but we knew we didn’t want to go to a breeder.

My husband had been going to a restaurant on the upper west side, called Fred’s.  It was named after a lab that was released from the Guiding Eyes of Yorktown Heights.

We began asking people whose labs we liked where they got their dogs.  Several of them mentioned that they had adopted from Guiding Eyes– including our favorite pair from the neighborhood, Hoop and Hula.  Their names were cheerful and the dogs were smart and had big personalities.

We investigated and put our names on a waiting list for a released puppy.

When we were called after six months we had to say no to their first offer. We were both out of town on business and only had four days to accept.

About four months later, they emailed a photo of a brindle lab in a basket with a sunflower and his little paws hanging over the side.  I had a brindle mutt growing up, so as soon as I saw his coloring I knew he was mine.

The first moment that was other than pure joy was when we found out he had cancer.

My mother and my husband’s father both died from cancer, so fear was our immediate emotion.

The cancer was localized in his right hind leg near his knee. It was a tumor in the carriage. we had many choices, including radiation, but a specialist told us that amputation was the gold standard and would be curative.

After surgery he walked out of the animal hospital and hopped himself into a yellow cab.

They took his stitches out after two weeks. We went to a friends house   thinking he could relax in their years and recover.  The moment we turned our heads, he ran through a sprinkler and jumped in the swimming pool.

That was five and a half years ago.  He’s now on wheels, but still getting around.”