Dog Blog

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Bow-WOW! I found out the day before yesterday that I've been nominated in two categories in the 2005 DWAA writing competition: newspaper column (Pets& Their People, Inside Publications) and Internet feature article ("Stayin'Alive," Agility Action). My dog bowl runneth over! I wish I could go to New York this year for the awards ceremony, but with Daisy's health failing due to cancer (diagnosed the day after Thanksgiving) :(, I can't really make any definite plans. Besides, it's too doggoned cold in New York in February. That's one place I wouldn't blame anyone for wearing a fur coat. It's the only way you can stay warm. I do love it there, though.
I really enjoyed the trip there for last year's event, especially the Dogs in Art show at the Doyle Gallery. I also loved walking in Central Park one sunny Sunday (the only sunny day while I was there) and strolling through The Gates art exhibition. Judging from the crowds, everyone in NYC was in the park thatday, and there were almost as many dogs. I saw a beautiful little King Charles Spaniel. Splendid dog! The only thing that marred the trip was the spoiled egg salad sandwich I ate at a JFK airport kiosk on the trip home. And whata trip that was! My traveling companions were two nasty little characters named Sam 'n Ella. Hope I don't meet up with them ever again!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bubba Lumpless
Originally posted: Tuesday, August 23, 2005, 12:15 AM

Bubba Gump (or Bubba Lump, as he is affectionately known at the vet's office) had the last of the staples out today from his surgery three weeks ago to remove the latest collection of sebaceous cysts--eight in all, including the baseball sized one on his right hind leg--all benign, fortunately. His fur is finally growing back now, but when we first brought him home, he looked like Frankenbasset with staples all over his body. His appearance was quite alarming at first, and when we took him for his daily walks people thought he'd been in a pit basset fight or something equally horrifying. I tried assuring them he'd had a few cysts removed and was doing perfectly fine, but when they seemed unconvinced, I told them he had just returned from a tour of duty in the Iraq war. What could be more horrifying than that?

These doggoned things come up so quickly, and I held off for as long as I could because I don't like putting a nine-year-old dog under anesthesia any more than is absolutely necessary. It probably would have been worse if that big one had burst, though, not to mention messy. A smaller cyst on his shoulder had popped and was seeping intermittently. I treated it with peroxide to try drying it up. It seemed to quell it for a while, but then it would start oozing sebum again. Some pop and heal up neatly on their own, but more often than not they don't.

Bubba is far more prone to them than was our first basset, Butterscotch. She had a few cysts after she got to be very old, but this is Bubba's second surgery for this hereditary condition, and some grow quite large. The last massive one he had came up on his tail, which the vet said would be a bit tricky to remove because there's not much skin on the tail to stitch together. She wanted to remove his tail, but I said, "No way!" It would have been less expensive and an easier surgery for the vet to perform, but I just couldn't imagine a basset hound with a cropped tail.

I'm glad I stuck to my guns, because the wound healed up just fine, and Bubba still has his beautiful, long tail to wag. Unfortunately, another cyst has already started to raise up near the base of his tail. I only hope it doesn't grow as large as the last one did. As soon as we have the cysts removed, up comes a whole new crop. I wish I knew some way to keep them from recurring, but at least for now Bubba is lumpless.
The 4th of July is No Picnic for Pets
Originally posted: Thursday, June 30, 2005, 07:26 PM

Unlike us, dogs don't get a bang out of the 4th of July, unless it's the bang of the kennel door slamming closed at the dog pound. Because of a dog's sensitive hearing, it can become frightened by the noise and escape from the yard. Even if they are not struck and killed in traffic, many never find their way back home. Keep your pet safe on the 4th. If your dog is terrified by fireworks, keep it far away from them or get a sedative from your veterinarian. It'll be a happier holiday for everyone.

The ASPCA offers the following tips to keep your pets safe and sane on the 4th:

* Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.

* Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets' reach. Certain types of matches, for example, contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing.

* Keep your pets on their normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pets severe indigestion and diarrhea. And keep in mind that foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes & raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.

* Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, so please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities. Instead, keep your little guys safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.

For more tips on how to keep your animal companions safe and sound this upcoming Independence Day weekend, please visit ASPCA online.
Join the Band--Rally to Rescue
Originally posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2005, 01:07 AM

Now you and your best friend can promote pet rescue and help raise $1 million for animal shelters nationwide with Rally to Rescue collars by Purina Pro Plan® The purple Rally to Rescue Collars come with a matching wristband for pet owners. Each set includes a decorative (non-functional, for recognition purposes only) collar for your dog and a matching wristband for you. Wear them and show you’re proud to support pet rescue. The collar and wristband sets cost $5 and can be purchased at pet rescue organizations nationwide or online. All proceeds go to the participating organizations. Can't wait to get some for my rescues and me.
Crazy Daisy's past revisited
Originally posted: Sunday, June 19, 2005, 12:36 AM

Out of the blue Saturday morning, I got a very nice e-mail from our Daisy's first family, the one she had before I adopted her in 1997. Her mom shared some things with me about Daisy's past, such as the fact that she came from Iowa (What is a puppy mill?) and was a pet shop purchase. Considering all of Daisy's "issues," this came as no surprise. She also told me that one of Daisy's parents was named after a comic strip character, so that's why she picked the name "Daisy" from L'il Abner and Blondie. I had always wanted a dog named Daisy. Actually, we call her Daisy May or Daisy Maytag because she looks just like the basset in the Maytag washing machine commercials.

Daisy's former owner said that they were always so pleased that Daisy found the "Wright" home with us. I think there are very few people in their right minds who would have lasted this long with Daisy. She's one crazy hound dog, but we love her like crazy. What really got to me was when her mom told me that after I went to their home to meet Daisy that day all those years ago, she lay down in front of the door for hours hoping I would come back. "She fell in love with you immediately," Daisy's first mom said. I guess there is such a thing as love at first sight...for dogs, too. She's been my most challenging dog, but I'll always be glad that I brought her home to stay. The house would be awfully quiet without her around. Peaceful, perhaps, but way too quiet. If nothing else, she's provided lots of material for a dog writer.
The Hot Dog Patrol strikes again!
Originally posted: Tuesday, June 14, 2005, 01:59 AM

As the Mercury rises this summer, so do these incidents. Hot Dog video

Letter to a restaurateur:

I am a frequent patron of your restaurant, love the food, and usually enjoy my experiences there. While I was dining on the patio at your restaurant this afternoon, I noticed that a dog had been left shut up in a car in the parking lot. The temperature today was 90 degrees and the car, which was parked in the direct sun, was no doubt far hotter inside. The white Standard Poodle sitting in the back seat was panting and in obvious distress.

I immediately abandoned my lunch and went into the establishment to see if perhaps the owner was inside the restaurant. I first asked the manager to make an announcement about the dog, which he seemed reluctant to do. In the interest of urgency, I ended up making the announcement for him, asking if anyone had left a white poodle out in the car. Two girls admitted the dog was theirs. When I told them they needed to get the dog out of the car right away and why, they giggled and kept right on eating their lunch, despite the fact that their dog might have been dying out in the car.

I left the restaurant and tried to use my cell phone to call the fire department to come and rescue the dog from the car, which they would have, but my phone wasn’t working. I went back inside and asked your manager to make the call, which he refused to do. I feel that it was his duty to place that call, if not for the sake of preventing the death of an animal then for no other reason than to demonstrate to those silly girls, your employees, and others present in the restaurant that it is not acceptable behavior to leave an animal in the car to die while one finishes one’s lunch at leisure. In fact, it is animal abuse and is against the law. Extreme weather laws

I wonder if it had been a child suffocating in the car, instead of a dog, whether the response would have been as noncommittal from all concerned? By your manager’s blatant dismissal of my complaint, these girls felt entitled to verbally abuse me with profanity on your premises, which in turn caused a group of young men dining on the patio to do the same. I was willing to endure the abuse if it meant the dog was not being abused, but I don’t think I should have had to be subjected to that kind of behavior.

What people who thoughtlessly leave their pets closed up in cars on a hot day don’t realize is that dogs do not perspire as efficiently as humans do--dogs can sweat via tongue and paws only--and can overheat within 10 minutes and suffer brain damage and death in only 20 minutes as the temperature in the car soars. Try sitting in a 120-degree oven while wearing a fur coat! You probably wouldn’t last long, either.

I believe it is the responsibility for store personnel to take action when something like this occurs and is reported by a patron or anyone who is concerned about the welfare of the animal. The Albertson’s Store in the same shopping center has taken a far more proactive approach to similar situations. If there is no parking lot security personnel provided to keep on the lookout for problems that might occur on the property, at least showing concern at such times is the best way for businesses to educate people about the danger to their pets and that it is kinder to leave pets at home on a hot day.

I hope that you will encourage your managers and employees to call for assistance or do something, anything, the next time someone reports that a dog, or a child, has been left abandoned in a hot car.


Sue Owens Wright
"Fate of a dog in an Atlanta shelter"
Originally posted: Sunday, June 12, 2005, 01:04 AM

Marijo of WAG New York sent me this disturbing video with the request to cross-post, so I'm posting it here in the hope that others will see it and pass it along. The dog's name is Albert, but it could be any dog without ID that is picked up by animal control. It could be YOUR dog! Warning: It's not easy to watch, and it doesn't just happen in Atlanta. It happens every day in pounds and shelters in your city and in cities across the country.
Homeward Bound
Originally posted: Saturday, June 11, 2005, 01:45 AM

This afternoon I finished matting and framing the giclee of a pastel I painted, "In the Golden Afternoon," which I'll be donating to the Kibble and Bids fund-raiser for Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue on June 25. For information about the event, visit
Quoted in The Writer
Originally posted: Thursday, June 9, 2005, 11:34 PM

I'm thrilled to report that I'm quoted in the July issue of The Writer magazine in Stacy Leigh Juba's wonderful feature article, "A field trip may be just what a novel needs." She mentions my experience at the Illinois Basset Waddle and how while I was there I took notes to use for future novels in my mystery series. I've always wanted to be published in The Writer. I just never imagined I'd be written about in one of their articles. Thanks, Stacy!
Save a Dog--Join the Hot Dog Patrol
Originally posted: Wednesday, May 25, 2005, 05:10 PM

You can always tell when the dog days of summer are upon us, because you'll invariably discover a dog overheating in a parked car somewhere. If you pause to listen in parking lots, you’ll more often than not hear one yelping for help that too often never comes.

Fortunately, I was able to save one dog from dying in a hot car this past weekend. It's always amazing to me how ignorant people can be about the welfare of animals. What thinking person would leave a dog locked up in a car on a summer day? Well, that's the problem. People don't always think, and the resulting tragedies don't just happen to dogs, as in the case of a family in Sacramento that accidentally left their child in the car while they were in church. Three adults and an older child each thought the other had taken the infant out of its car seat and into the church. It was a miscommunication that resulted in the child's death to heat exposure. Unfortunate occurrences like this are rare, thank goodness, but dogs roast in four-wheeled ovens every day in the summertime.

Passing the cars in the lot as I walked through the mini-mall on my way to Java City, I spotted in one car the small, white poodle perched atop the back seat. At first glance, I thought it was a stuffed toy until I saw that this toy was panting and drooling, clearly in distress. Predictably, all the windows were rolled nearly to the top--barely an inch gap remained. It was one of those overcast, muggy days that can be so deceiving. People think it won't get hot in the car because it's cloudy and the sun isn't shining. Wrong! Even if it's overcast and only 80 degrees outside, the temperature in a car's interior rises in a matter of minutes and can be lethal to a pet in just 20 minutes.

I searched every store for the owner. One very nice storeowner joined in the search and said she'd call the police. Whether or not they would respond to this crime against a canine was a matter of conjecture. We were prepared to break the windows on the car if need be. My last stop in the frantic search for the owner was my original destination, Java City. I called out to the patrons inside, "Did anyone leave a little white dog parked in a white car? If you don't get your dog out of there now, it will die." No one responded, at least not right away.

Growing more frustrated that I couldn't locate the owner, I stalked out to continue my search and was tailed by a man. "I was only going to be gone a few minutes," he said in a thick accent. His worried look conveyed that he was genuinely concerned about his pet, and probably embarrassed by my public announcement in the coffee shop. I surmised that being foreign to Sacramento, he was not accustomed to our summers, in which the temperature can vary widely in a day's course. Nor did he probably know that it's a crime of animal abuse to leave a dog shut up in the car on a hot day. Clearly, he cared about his dog. He was just unaware of the danger he had placed it in by leaving it shut up in the car while he went inside a few minutes for a cup of Java.

"I was only going to be a few minutes." That's what people always say. But those few minutes quickly become an hour or more, and they return to their car to find a dying or dead dog. Even if by some miracle the dog survives, it is usually severely brain damaged and must be euthanized. Most people are unaware that unlike humans, dogs do not have sweat glands. They perspire only through their paws or tongue and overheat much more rapidly than we do. And they’re wearing a fur coat, too! Opening the window a crack is not going to save your dog from suffering heat stroke.

It is not a kindness to take your dog along for the ride to the mall or grocery store on a warm day, even if you'll only be leaving it in the car for "a few minutes." The dog is better off at home in an air-conditioned house or where he can seek shade and fresh, cool water, assuming his owners have provided those necessities for him. Amazingly, not all people think to do even that for their pets in the summer. Protect Your Pet From Hot Weather

A woman once told me about how she left her dog in its dog run one summer day. When she left him that morning, it was still shady and cool in his run. But by afternoon the sun had changed position, as the sun is inclined to do, and soon there was no shade at all in which the dog could seek relief from the heat. (This also happens to dogs in cars parked in the shade). He survived but was never the same after that, she said. That's what heat stroke and resulting brain damage will do to you.

Sure, people get distracted. People forget. After all, we're only human. Our humanity will be our undoing, I fear. Our evolution as human beings, dare I say the fate of mankind, rests with showing the greatest concern over the smallest, most defenseless of creatures: children, dogs, cats...and a little white poodle that was spared a terrible fate. This time.

Join the Hot Dog Patrol. Next time you walk through a parking lot, stop and listen for those telltale yelps of distress, then take action. If the store manager won't cooperate (and some don't), call the fire department. Do what you must, but save that dog!
I Found Your Dog
Originally posted: Wednesday, May 25, 2005, 05:11 PM

I found your dog today. No, he has not been adopted by anyone. Most of us who live out here own as many dogs as we want. Those who do not own dogs do so because they choose not to.

I know you hoped he would find a good home when you left him out here, but he did not. When I first saw him he was miles from the nearest house and he was alone, thirsty, thin and limping from a burr on his paw. How I wish I could have been you as I stood before him. To see his tail wag and his eyes brighten as he bounded into your arms, knowing you would find him, knowing you had not forgotten him. To see the forgiveness in his eyes for the suffering and pain he had known in his never-ending quest to find you.

But I was not you, and despite all my persuasion his eyes saw a stranger he did not trust. He would not come. He turned and continued his journey - one he was sure would bring him to you. He does not understand you are not looking for him. He only knows you are out there. He only knows he must find you.
This is more important than food or water or the stranger who can give him these things. Persuasion and pursuit seemed futile.

I did not even know his name. I drove home, filled a bucket with water and a bowl with food and returned to where we had met. I could see no sign of him, but I left my offering under the tree where he had sought shelter from the sun and a chance to rest. You see, he is not of the wild. When you domesticated him you took away any instinct of survival out there.

His purpose demands that he travel during the day. He doesn't know that the sun and the heat will claim his life. He only knows that he has to find you. I waited hoping he would return to the tree, hoping my gift would build an element of trust so I might bring him home, remove the burr from his foot, give him a cool place to lie and help him understand that the part of his life with you is now over.

He did not return that morning, and at dusk the water and food were still there untouched. And I worried. You must understand that many people would not attempt to help your dog. Some would run him off. Others would call the pound or police and the fate you thought you