Archive | May 2012


The Kenny G song Havana played on the radio as I drove Ziggy to the county animal shelter. The old gal was sick and ready for the Rainbow Bridge. That July morning was at least six or seven years ago and until last night I haven’t listened to that song in its entirety. It always made me cry.

For eleven years I volunteered at the county shelter. I brought home about a dozen dogs, mostly old and decrepit. I love cats but my former housemate did not so I only rescued dogs. I did my best however to comfort the shelter cats while I was there, providing them with canned food, snacks, and blankets. I told the cats they were special, even if they were unwanted.

Ziggy’s owners abandoned her when she lost her eyesight. The former yard dog, a Cocker mix, was a filthy mess. Fur clumped together looked like stringy cotton candy. A groomer spruced up hard luck cases like Ziggy to make them more presentable and hopefully more likely to be adopted. Ziggy sat inside her small cage, wailing at people who passed by. No one wanted her. An old blind dog or cat has slim chances for adoption so I left that day with Ziggy in the back seat. A car accident disabled me in 1994. I have to work harder too so I related to Ziggy.

At the time I had about five dogs at home, all shelter discards. Ziggy fit right in although she bounced off the walls quite a bit until she figured out the layout of the house. She eventually found a route from the food bowls to the doggie door to the dog bed. She was satisfied. As an outside dog, she wasn’t used to affection. I picked her up and placed her on the couch. She jumped right off but she was content to snuggle next to Casey the weenie dog on a pillow. Casey though always hogged the space but Ziggy seemed to enjoy her company.

During the time I had Ziggy, I brought her to the groomer. I rewarded her with snacks. I took her out in the morning on my motorized scooter. She enjoyed walks to the corner. At Christmas time I loaded all the dogs into my car and had their photo taken with Santa. I was more pleased than the dogs but at least they had a loving safe Christmas.

After a year or so, Ziggy’s health started to fail. First, she had the trots. Then she couldn’t hold down her food. I took her to my vet who performed some tests. She said Ziggy’s liver failed. At her age, I opted to keep her comfortable. And then Ziggy stopped eating. I knew it was time.

That morning, I loaded her into my car, let her rest on a blanket and drove to the county shelter. The veterinarian sent Ziggy to the Rainbow Bridge. She went peacefully. I cried all the way home. Every time that Kenny G. song played I always changed channels. I couldn’t listen to it. Last night I did. Predictably I cried. The music brought me back to that summer day oh so many years ago when times were different. Times changed a lot. Not only did I lose my middle class status, I lost my ability to rescue unwanted animals. I survived the loss of middle class perks. Who cares about missing cable TV but my heart still aches to rescue animals. I love the two unwanted dogs I have but there are so many more that need homes and I can’t even take one. I am sorry I cannot do better for dogs and cats like Ziggy.


This entry was posted on May 31, 2012. 1 Comment

Worthless dog

Worthless dogs

Earlier today, I let rescue dogs out for exercise at a Tempe AZ pet resort. From my motorized scooter, I watch each dog take care of business and sniff their surroundings. Scorching temperatures and lack of shade limit outdoor activity but dogs still romp around. Some dogs want affection; others ignore me even if I hand out snacks. As I watch these dogs, all plucked off the county’s euthanasia list, I cannot help but wonder why society considers them so worthless. What’s so special about AKC dogs? Aren’t they all just dogs? One of the rescued dogs is a pedigree. How’d he land in the dog house? Some people clamor to acquire dogs with papers as if they’re getting something unique. Papers allow entry into dog shows and strut around the ring; to breed and sell puppies for tidy sums. To me, the papers are a human creation behind the staggering problem of pet overpopulation. Millions of dogs die every year, about 25% of which are pedigree, because they are largely unwanted. Yet breeders continue to bring lives into this world as if there’s a dog shortage. No such shortage exists.

Regardless of papers or how much you dish out for a pedigree’s purchase, you still just acquire a dog, like the rescued dogs I let out for exercise today. They all have the same basic needs for food, water, shelter, veterinary care, and human companionship. Am I the great socialist among dogs? Maybe. It’s how I see things after volunteering for shelters for almost 25 years.

(PS I feel the same about cats.)

A day at the Hu-Man Shelter

A day at the Hu-Man Shelter

The great Harriet, the most efficient front desk cat ever hired by shelter management, says, “Next customer in line, please.”

A big hairy dog waddles up holding a six foot man on a leash. Head held down, the old man avoids eye contact.

Harriet licks her paw then glances at the dog. “May I help you?”

“I’m turning him in,” the hairy dog says.

“What for?”

“I’m moving into an apartment that doesn’t allow men.”

“Didn’t you look for human friendly housing?” Harriet asked.

“I just didn’t have time,” the hairy dog said. “Besides, most landlords ask for a human deposit.”

“Our shelter asks for a turn in fee.”

“How much?”

“$50,” Harriet said as she watched the dog open a bag of bones.

“Here,” the dog said, turning around to leave.

“Wait, we’re not through. There’s an intake form to fill out. The shelter needs information about your human’s age, likes, dislikes, whether he slept indoors, is good with other humans, if he bit anyone,” the great Harriet said.

“I’m in a hurry,” the dog said.

“It’s required for all owner surrenders,” Harriet said. “It makes placement easier.”

The dog grumbled but answered the questions. “What happens if you can’t place my human?”

“We’re a busy shelter, you understand,” the great Harriet said. “We try to place all humans who come in as lost or unwanted but when we fill up we are forced to euthanize. That’s life at a hu-man shelter. We can’t help them all.”

The great Harriet watched the big hairy dog as he scampered out the front door.




Having my say

What came first, bi-partisan squabbling among voters or nitpicking in Congress? The US is at a standstill. Neither party will budge, even though the nation clings to survive. Why? Congress stopped working for the voters a long time ago. Most are beholden to lobbyists, the ones who donate handsomely to their campaign coffers in exchange for promised votes on key legislation. Nearly all GOP members pledge loyalty to Grover Norquist and swear by their lattes and liquid lunches they will never ever ever under any circumstances ever yes never raise taxes. Where does that leave us, the tax payers aka voters? Shafted, that’s where. Recent citizen rage over DC gridlock has erupted into a mushroom cloud that threatens our ability to function. Democrats refuse to vote for GOP measures just on principle. GOP won’t even consider adopting Democratic proposals even if they would move the country forward. Fringe lunatics from the far right and far left seek attention through mainstream media that promote asinine ideas. Gullible viewers soak up the messages and spread them among friends, neighbors and family. It’s the truth, I heard it on TV they’ll say. What happened to moderation? To compromise? To examining both sides of a story before forming an opinion, the basic tenets of objective journalism? Too many people rely on the internet as the sole source of news. I grew up when CBS and Walter Cronkite reliably spread my evening news.

How to end the Congressional constipation? A Congress man or woman should post a list of lobbyist cash donations on his/her website so constituents can see how their votes are influenced by AIPAC, the NRA, etc. They claim votes are independent of donations. Do you believe that?

Will the USA ever end partisan politics and clean up the financial smut in DC? I’m doubtful. It certainly won’t happen in my lifetime. Maybe the next generation will be better at breaking the endless cycle of bitter, acrid in-fighting and actually do something worthwhile for the US and nations around the world.

Instead of fearing us, nations should depend on America because we have a widespread higher education system, the most advanced hospitals, and the friendliest people around. Instead we’re left behind because we cannot agree on simple items like funding for highways, the need for solar power or how to pay for student loans.

America, we can and should do better. Our children deserve more. Isn’t it time we delivered?