Furry Heroes

Ten years ago yesterday an awful thing happened in this country.  I wasn’t around for it – I hadn’t been born yet, actually – but I heard about it.  I don’t have my own story to tell of that day, but it affected countless humans the world over – I doubt I need to tell you that.

Rather than wax poetic about something that never directly affected me, I wanted to share a little bit about heroes.  There are more human heroes than can be properly named in this setting, a lot of whom didn’t make it out alive.  As a dog, I want to look a little bit more at the canine heroes of that terrible day.  They helped locate survivors – and also the remains of those who were killed.

Human Mary Flood and her rescue dog, Jake.  Jake is now deceased and was found, upon necropsy, to be riddled with cancer.  The results of his necropsy have been cataloged by a medical center studying the effects of working in the World Trade Center on the body.  Here you can see Jake almost sensing how this was different from other search/rescue missions, but maybe I am projecting.

Rescue dog Porkchop, here being treated for dehydration with his person… This picture makes me sad.

Human Scott Shields with his dog Bear, also being given water (from his owner’s hand – something I like to do myself – rather than through an IV like Porkchop).

Rescue dog (name unknown) being transported out of the debris.

A canine officer and his furry partner (names unknown) taking a much-needed break September 18, 2001.

This is Apollo, the first rescue dog who was on site on what was known as Ground Zero.  I like this picture because it shows sort of the eager-to-please nature of dogs.

This makes for an amazing story… This is Roselle, who is not a search/rescue dog – but a guide dog for the disabled.  She is here with her owner, a man who worked in the World Trade Center whom she led to safety down 78 flights of stairs.  Here she is receiving an award for her dedication to duty.  As you can tell, dogs aren’t terribly impressed by awards.  All the thanks we need is love – and treats don’t hurt either.

And even out of tragedy comes hope.  These two little ones are named for victims of the attacks – Hoey and Hatton.  They are sniffer-dogs in training for the TSA – trying to follow in some majorly brave paw prints.

If you are interested in more stories of 9/11 rescue dogs, click here to see this story from the New York Times; this article has all to do with privately owned dogs who were mobilized to help with the rescue efforts.  Even more stories are available at The Daily Mail, as well as this piece on therapy dogs who helped workers deal with the devastation they witnessed.


Canine Therapy

A lot of people already know that doggies are helpful with a lot of different jobs over the years.  They have been used to help with herding, sniffing down bad guys, keeping away predators, and hunting.  My ancestors, the silky terrier and the Yorkshire terrier, were originally bred to root out pests – specifically snakes and rats!  Traces of this hunting instinct can be seen in me when I try to chase after flying birds.  Or golf carts.

Anyway, these days doggies get to help humans with a whole lot of other things on top of the jobs listed above.  We don’t just sniff out bad guys, but also bombs, drugs – and even people that have gone missing or are trapped in disaster situations.  They help people with blindness or visual impairments navigate the world.  They are able to help people with physical disabilities or limitations do day-to-day tasks like getting the phone or turning on the lights.  Some people who have mental illness even find it helpful to have doggies around as therapy dogs: Mama attended an event where a woman from the local chapter of NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) spoke about how keeping a therapy dog (a rescued greyhound that had been a racedog – not the typical breed for a therapy dog, but the lady trained him well) helped her manage hallucinations that she had; having the doggie around helped remind her that the hallucinations were not real.

Mama showed me this article on our local paper: A human mother wrote about how getting a dog helped her son in his development.  As a dog myself, I would argue that having a dog around is going to be beneficial to anybody – but her son had some additional challenges a lot of other people don’t.  Apparently, he had a rare neurological condition that was making it really difficult for him to speak and even made him really scared around strangers.  Since he liked animals, his doctor encouraged the family to get a pet.  After getting a poodle named Hattie, her son started to thrive, both developmentally and socially.  Keep in mind that Hattie is not even a trained therapy dog.  These positive changes just came about when she was brought into the family.

He says his best friend is Hattie.  How sweet is that?

I am no therapy dog, and I am not sure that I have the temperament to qualify as one (there are all these tests and stuff you need to go through, and I’ve talked before about how I am no good with tests).  But when Daddy is bored, I climb next to him and he plays with me.  When Mama is sad, I curl up next to her, and she cuddles me and tells me I’m a good girl.  I may not root out vermin or have a slip from an official calling me legit, but I’d like to think I help My People just as much as any working dog.  Maybe not as much as Hattie, but in my own small way.

Curbing Canine Cruelty

It’s no secret that I love My People.  Even though I might complain that they sometimes dress me up funny or make me take baths or won’t let me nose through the garbage I really love them and know they love me too.  I totally lucked out on the People lottery.

Sadly, there are a lot of people out there who treat their dogs – and other animals too – poorly.  I know I’ve talked before about having been in a puppy mill, where I had puppies that got taken away from me and my health was seriously neglected.  As bad as that was, there are animals out there that have it even worse.  Some owners hurt their animals on purpose, venting their anger or frustration (or meanness) on an animal that can’t defend itself.  There are even some people who train dogs to fight other dogs, usually to the death.  Can you believe that some awful people actually find watching those fights entertaining?!  Most dogs are naturally happy-go-lucky, but when they get put into a situation where their life is on the line, some of them become killers – and some of them become casualties.  They aren’t born that way – and it doesn’t matter what breed that dog is: Bad people made them into bad dogs… Or dead dogs.

Animal fighting is already a felony (the worst kind of crime there is here in the US) in all 50 states – as well it should be!  But up until now those people in New York State who watch these bloodbaths have only faced minor fines – the legal equivalent of a slap on the wrist.  Now the governor has signed into law a bill that makes watching animal fights punishable by up to a $500 fine and up to three months in jail.  Needless to say, My People and I completely support this coming to pass.  While I definitely think the people who run the animal fights and turn innocent doggies into killers should be punished severely, I think those people who support such a cruel “sport” are equally as guilty, so I am glad that this is happening.  It’s not the first time I have seen my home state support doggies in a bad spot; it makes me happy to know that I live someplace that places value on its furry citizens too.

As an aside, remember that doggies that have been trained to fight are not all bad.  Like I said, they did what they did because they had to, and given some time to rehabilitate with kind and patient humans, some (most?) can be friendly again.  Although there are some doggies that are born nasty, the majority are good.

Kind of like people.

Top Dog/Rescue Dog

Guys, I am seriously over Mama’s new schedule.  I hate spending all day alone without anyone to cuddle.  Yesterday and the day before Mama stayed home because she had something called a “migraine” which made her lay down all day.  Not as fun as she usually is, but at least I was able to curl up with her.  She says it’s only a few more weeks, but we dogs don’t have a great concept of time (if you have ever spent much time with a dog, you know what I mean), so to me it may as well be forever.

In nicer news, I just might be someone important to more than just Daddy and Mama fairly soon!  You see, I live in New York State – not near that big place called New York City – and some Really Important People are debating something near and dear to my heart: What should be the official State Dog.  And you know what is being proposed?  That the State Dog should be a rescue dog!  What’s even more interesting is that this is a bipartisan movement – something, as I understand it, that is pretty rare (dogs don’t really get politics anyway).  This isn’t just to be silly – something, I am told, politicians of all sorts sometimes do – but to raise awareness and encourage New Yorkers across the state to adopt rescue dogs.

Now, I have heard some humans are not so happy with the lawmakers debating something like this instead of more important stuff.  I am sure there is more important stuff for humans to talk about – like I said, dogs don’t get politics – but it is a topic near and dear to my heart.  Can you blame me for being interested in this proposal?

Mama and I like to read a comic called Mutts that promotes rescuing animals.  Here are some of its strips called shelter stories.  Some of them ring true with me for sure.  If you have any rescued animals at home – or if you’re a rescued animal reading this – I bet you get them too.

But enough of politics.  There is a cushion in the living room with my name on it.  I’m so glad I have the luxury of such choices instead of just a cold cage in an unloving home!  I hope you all have such comfort in your homes too – especially love.

Be Good – Help Japan!

I know, I’m a bad girl – it’s been so long since I’ve updated!  The weather has been a lot nicer and we have been doing a lot of fun things lately, so I’ve been so busy and happy I have forgotten all about updating!  I promise I’ll be good and write more often (or have Mama write these for me since paws make it really hard to type).

First though, I want to talk about something serious.  I haven’t been a whole lot of places, but I understand that way far away from here is a place called Japan.  Apparently, some really terrible things happened over there, and a lot of humans and animals are suffering over there.  It makes me sad to know that so many people (two-legged and four-legged) are having such a hard time.  I know what it is like to be homeless and hurting and scared – but these people and animals are dealing with so much more than that (to say the least!), so it can be really overwhelming to know where to start to help.  If you can, please consider donating to an organization that can help the victims of the awful events in Japan:

The American Red Cross is always a trusted name in helping victims of disasters (or so Mama tells me).  Mama also found this page describing how to help Japan’s pets and people, but she is not really familiar with the charities listed and how ethical they might be, so take that into consideration.

Did you know that the Japanese word for dog is inu?  Mama showed me this video from Japan of an inu protecting his friend who got hurt even worse than he did.  The people talking at first don’t realize what he is doing and at first think that the dog lying down is dead, but then they see him move and say how glad they are.  I am even more glad to find out that since this video was shown, the dogs in the video have gotten vet care.

I will come back soon to write about my own adventures, but I thought it was important to try to help others and “pay it forward,” as they say.