Archive | March 2012

scene from Emmy’s Angel

All day long, the pair trudged through the forest.  Harriet the cat stopped to stalk weasels while Angel the horse nibbled on bits of grass. Thirst quenching came from tiny streams crisscrossing the land.

As sunlight dimmed and evening neared, Harriet said, “Let’s stop. Cats normally sleep all day. I need a break.” She yawned, stretched then said, “From the looks of those mountains, we ought to be there in a day or two. That is, of course, you keep up.”

“What if Emmy is mad that I ran away?”

“Worry about that if it happens. Don’t bother me now.  I’m ready for a nap.”

“I’m not tired.”

“Your ears must be full of grass. Didn’t you hear me say I was tired?”

At the end of the second day, the tooth-shaped mountains nearly touched them. From their spot in the forest, they spotted plumes of smoke billowing from chimneys. Now it was a matter of relying on Harriet’s sense of direction. The cat was confident. Although Angel said Emmy lived near the toothed-shaped mountains, which ranch, if any, did she live on?

“You’re too big to go snooping on people’s property,” Harriet said. “Tell me about the ranch. I’ll prowl around and see what I can find.”

“I only lived there a few months,” Angel said. “There was a downpour that day as Emmy opened the trailer. A bolt of lightning struck. The noise spooked me so I ran away. I ran all the way into….”

Harriet grunted frustration. “Ok already. Don’t tell me that story again. What does Emmy look like? Do you remember anything about the truck they drove? I need details.”

So much had happened since that day. Angel’s mind was chock full of memories, good and bad, about her adventurous journey through the forest. She had a hard time remembering what the truck looked like, but she never forgot Emmy.

“She had the most gorgeous eyes, the color of a clear blue sky. And that dazzling smile. She made me feel like the most special horse in the world.”

After Angel filled Harriet in on scanty details she remembered about the property, the cat said, “Stay here for a while. Don’t fret if I’m not back right away. That’s a lot of land to cover, even for me.”

“Are you sure you can do this?”

“I said I’d get you home and I will.” Harriet had spoken. “Even the great Harriet needs time.”

“Be careful,” Angel said as she watched Harriet scamper away. A glimmer of hope that Harriet would find the ranch quickly excited her about Emmy. Angel hunkered down and waited.

To keep from dwelling on Harriet’s success or lack thereof, Angel’s thoughts shifted toward Emmy. Would it be possible to resume their life together?


Available as an e-book on


Why I bother

Why I Bother

I wrote my first letter to Santa Claus thanking him for the generous presents he left. Grade school bored me so I jotted notes to my friend Pat who sat behind me. We exchanged missives for years, despite serving detention for communicating behind the nuns’ backs. In high school I fired off letters to President Johnson protesting the ugly remnants of segregation that plagued my mother’s Alabama hometown. My New York City neighborhood wasn’t so hateful.

     I’m 57 now and moved around over the years. I lost responses I received but not my zest for writing. The vast reach of the internet hasn’t changed my style.

I returned to my hometown in 1995. Now using a wheelchair because of a car accident, I boarded buses via the automatic lifts. I found drivers to be courteous and helpful. None accepted my fare. Upon return to Phoenix, I calculated how much I owed and sent a check to the Transit Authority. Why should I ride free because I’m disabled? Part of a letter from the Transit Authority dated November 7, 1995 said, “Thank you for writing and submitting your fare payment.”

I visited the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver in 1998. A handicapped accessible sign displayed outside the third floor bathroom was misleading. The stalls could not accommodate a wheelchair or a scooter. I wrote to the store and they acknowledged the mistake. “The second and first floors both have regulation accessible restrooms, and we are also putting signs with that information by the third floor bathroom.”

The tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia on 12/26/04 left me speechless and stunned by the crushing losses. I turned around the tragedy an exercise in compassion. I asked the homeless children I visit with my therapy dog to write letters to the children in the affected countries, expressing their sorrow and grief. I mailed their hand-written letters along with an explanation to the ambassadors of Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, India and Indonesia. Several weeks later the ambassador’s office from Sri Lanka called me. I don’t remember the woman’s name but she was overwhelmed by the children’s empathy although she didn’t quite understand pet therapy.

Several years ago, a fire erupted in a medical supply factory in North Carolina, burning it to the ground. I wrote to the company’s New Jersey headquarters to ask that they consider rebuilding in North Carolina to preserve American jobs. The company president actually called me to discuss my letter.

I wrote to Senator John McCain’s office in June of 2005 to ask that a representative visit the homeless shelter that’s part of my pet therapy routine. His office declined. I then called Senator Jon Kyl’s office and they sent a representative a few weeks later. I wanted the senators to see the faces of homelessness in Arizona so that we get our fair share of federal dollars for housing.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, also a registered pit bull breeder, was recently implicated in dog fighting. Members of the Washington Redskins, Clinton Portis and Chris Samuels, said dog fighting was no big deal. So I wrote to Redskins coach Joe Gibbs to remind him of the strong link between animal abuse and child abuse. I was sure his players wanted to know. I received Mr. Gibbs’ written reply of June 11, 2007 which indicated that his players were sorry for their flippant remarks. I doubted their remorse but at least the coach acknowledged my letter.

I wrote to US Air to say I was unhappy with outsourcing. I spoke to a worker in a foreign country representing US Air who I could not understand. US Air sent me a $25 coupon for future travel. I made a reservation through an internet travel site with another airline and gave away the coupon.

Not all of my letters are met with favorable responses. The now defunct Borders Books and Music constructed a new store in downtown Tempe a few years ago. To me, it seemed reasonable to install automatic doors in a new building. Borders shrugged off my suggestion, even though Arizona has a sizable wheelchair population. Other people ignored my letters altogether. I attended a town hall type meeting with former US House representative JD Hayworth. Throughout the meeting, he ignored my raised hand. At the end, he told attendees with unanswered questions to leave them with his staff. My questions about the proposed break up of Social Security, my lifeline to independence, were never answered.

Today I called the Russian embassy and said shame on you for continuing to sell weapons to Syria. They’re killing their own people. Why aren’t you trying to bring about peace instead of helping the bloodshed to continue? I then called the Syrian embassy and said how utterly deplorable you were to murder and rape your own citizens. You are committing crimes against humanity and I hope you will stop.

I called the members of the senate judiciary committee this week to help thwart HB2780, a dreadful bill that will deprive farm dogs of protection under our state’s already weak cruelty laws. Farm dogs deserve the same protection as any other domestic dog in our state. What’s wrong with Rep. Peggy Judd for sponsoring such an inhumane piece of legislation? Where are her morals?

I will continue to write letters, send e-mails, or make calls. I’ve attracted attention from company presidents, ambassador’s offices, football coaches and regular people. My letters have increased handicapped parking in front of grocery stores, shamed politicians because there is no more affordable housing for struggling families or disabled people like me, and let big companies know that customers don’t appreciate outsourcing. I’ve had dozens of letters to the editor published in various newspapers. Letter writing and telephone calling is a wonderful art that for me all started with a simple note Santa Claus.

A day inside Phoenix animal rescue

The following are excerpts from one day’s worth of e-mails about animals that need saving. They passed through our local list-serve.

A desperate plea comes from Janet A. who works at the county shelter to save dogs/cats on the e list (euthanasia). The long list contains a description of many lovely pets. A similar plea rolls in from Duane who works at the other county shelter. There are two. He names several specific dogs he’d like to save, such as a Chihuahua mix with a missing lower jaw.

A member of a local rescue informs everyone that Costco now carries special beds for the older dog. Owners of arthritic dogs will appreciate this tidbit.

A Good Samaritan driving along a city street stopped to rescue a stray dog, an 8 pound puppy. The alarmed driver scooped up the puppy from a group of stone throwing women. He tells us a co-worker will foster the pup but is looking for a permanent placement. I hope the stone throwers don’t have children.

The astute owner of a boarding facility suspected there was something wrong with Dozer, a black lab in her temporary care. The owner, a surly young man, reacted harshly towards his pet. The boarding kennel owner guessed that Dozer was beaten on a regular basis. She asked the owner if he’d be interested in giving up his dog. He was. Dozer is fearful of men but otherwise a pleasant dog. The kennel owner is trying to place him.

An animal hoarder in Show Low, AZ who had 30 cats also had 3 dogs each with litters of puppies. Pet Allies, a rescue up north, seeks help placing the puppies.

Pet Allies also seeks help placing a litter of Cattle mix puppies, 2 females and 5 males.

On Sunday March 4th, there will be an adoption event in conjunction with a Big Lots store on 32nd Street and Cave Creek Road.

Aztec Animal Hospital announces a low cost vaccination clinic.

Call to horse lovers: call Secretary Ken Salazar’s office today to protest the appointment of Callie Hendrickson who doesn’t share our love for horses. She instead seems to promote cruelty.

Notice about a Rottweiler puppy dumped by an abandoned house. The pup remained by the house despite no one living there. A neighbor picked up the dog and needs help placing the dog into a responsible home.

The Yavapai Humane Society (the county north of Maricopa) shares a list of dogs that need good homes.

A list-serve member heard a news report about a missing Great Dane wandering the area near 7th Avenue and Union Hills.

A male owner of a pit bull is in a quandary. His wife is pregnant and doesn’t want the dog around when she gives birth. The dog has a history of biting. The husband loves the dog and says he wants to place him in a good home.

Owner of two outside dogs, six years old, looks for new homes. Not sure of the reason. She says she wants them placed into good homes. Too bad she didn’t treat them better when she had them. Living outdoors in Phoenix especially during the scorching summer isn’t my idea of a good home.

Representative from Pima County (to the South) asks for help placing a sick dog. The 48 hour hold ends tomorrow. Another dog from Pima County also needs another home.

A dog in Yavapai County needs a new home. There is a $100 fee that goes with the placement.

A dog adopted recently from the Yavapai Humane Society was abandoned by the owner. The mother doesn’t want to care for the dog. Need help placing the dog.

Petey, a pit bull mix said to be sweet and friendly, needs a good home.

A dog trainer features three dogs she knows that need new homes. Please help.

Hundreds of dogs and cats enter the Maricopa County shelters and the Arizona Humane Society every day. Pet overpopulation is a crushing problem in our community despite the prevalence of free and/or low cost spay/neuter programs, aggressive adoptions, and foster care. We have over 100 rescue groups and shelters and we can hardly keep up with the flow of unwanted animals. We don’t give up however and try our best to place these animals into loving responsible homes.


The writer is involved in animal rescue since 1989.