Mother’s Day is a special time filled with family and gratitude. While many of us consider our dogs family– and I for one am eternally grateful to my dogs—do you ever ask yourself, what about their family? I am talking their canine family…I know you’re their family! What if they could reconnect with their biological brood? Would they recognize their mommy? Would they look like their brothers and sisters? Would they fight like sibling?
Courtesy of Wags & Walks a Los Angeles-based dog rescue group, these questions and so much more were answered this past Saturday for one very lucky litter that almost wasn’t.
Here is their story:
In March 2012, Wags and Walks founder Lesley Brog discovered Jasmine, an abandoned Blue Nose Pitbull that had been dumped at a Southern California shelter. Jasmine’s body bore the signs of neglect and of what appeared to be severe over-breeding.
Lesley Brog, Founder of Wags & Walks
“Even though her body was swollen and her coat dull, Jasmine radiated with love. “Her entire body wiggled with affection as she did her best to kiss me through the bars of the cold kennel.” said Lesley , “I had to get this one out.”
Lesley rescued Jasmine from the shelter and immediately brought her to the vet’s to be spayed where upon a closer look, Jasmine’s state was not just a sign of overbreeding but rather that Jasmine was pregnant and about to deliver at least 7 puppies!
Shocked, a little overwhelmed but mostly determined to help Jasmine – and now her babies, Lesley, with the aid of her husband Andrew, two daughters Macy (4) and Jesse (8) brought Jasmine’s family into the world with the love and care she deserved.
Jasmine and her pups 2012
Lesley had rescued over a hundred dogs at the point that Jasmine came into her life, but helping Jasmine to raise her pups, was a life-changing experience. She was deeply connected not only to Jazzy as she calls her, but also to her pups.
While difficult to let go, Lesley eventually found loving homes for each and every puppy. One even went to live with actress Sophia Bush! This was a lucky litter indeed.
Sophia Bush & Her Puppy!
But was that really going to be it? Wam, Bam Thank you Mam? Not a chance…
The special place that this litter had in her heart, inspired Lesley to pull together the first ever Rescued & Reunite Mother’s Day Reunion.
Hosted at the posh Citydog! Club Boarding and Daycare in West Los Angeles, Lesley created the ultimate Mother’s Day celebration for Jasmine and her 7 pups. And this was no small feat! Some of the dogs and their new human families came from as far away as 100 miles to do what we all do on Mother’s Day… eat, play and catch up with family.
Here is a very special video that truly captures the love and spirit of the day as well as of Wags and Walks.
This Versace… He was recently saved by S.T.A.R.T. from a horrible high kill shelter and brought up to a beautiful rescue organziation in Oregon where where he is spoiled, loved and above all respected.
Versace is a special boy and we are sure his forever home is coming soon. Please help me help more dogs like Versace by clicking below and donation to S.T.A.R.T.!
I hope all is well with you. Niko & I are having a good summer, but recently we learned of a situation that as dog lovers, we find very unacceptable and we intend to do something about it. I know you love dogs too, so I hope you will consider joining us in our effort to help save more than 200 dogs this summer.
S.T.A.R.T. is a 501c3 charity that goes into Southern California’s highest kill shelters and pulls out 60, 80 even sometimes close to 100 animals at a time and transports them in a large, converted RV to pre-approved, no-kill shelters and rescue groups in the Pacific Northwest.
Here is a video about the group.
S.T.A.R.T. is doing wonderful work but they have hit an obstacle that unless solved will severely limit the number of dogs they can save this Summer/ Fall.
The truck that S.T.A.R.T. uses does not have sufficient air conditioning to cool a full transport of dogs during the searing summer heat. This leaves S.T.A.R.T. to either send half empty trucks or to rent smaller vans–both options waste precious resources and mean fewer dogs are saved.
I would like to try and help them raise the money to install an air-conditioning unit which would be roughly $5,000.00.
This is a large sum of money but when you consider how many dogs can be saved, the return on investment is enormous; for most rescue groups the average cost of rescuing a dog is between $300 and $600 dollars (I have rescued dogs that have cost me into the thousands). When operating at full capacity, S.T.A.R.T. cost per rescued dog is just $36.00!
Please help me raise the $5,000 needed to install the AC and together we can save hundreds of dog this summer!
To donate using Paypal please click below:
Or… checks can be made to S.T.A.R.T. I am happy to come pick up a check if you are here in L.A. or they can be mailed directly to S.T.A.R.T. with the words “Air Con” in the memo.
PO Box 4792
Please contact me with any questions or if you want to come with me to see off a transport in person.
In rescue there is a saying…
Saving one dog may not change the world, but surely the world will change for that one dog.
Through this donation we have the chance to change the world for hundreds of dogs.
I could not be any more proud of my friend and rescue buddy Lesley Brog.
Lesley & a newly saved puppy
In just the last few months she has gone from being a dedicated, but casual dog rescuer to having her own fully functioning rescue, Wags and Walks.
To date, Wags and Wags has rescued 32 dogs that would have otherwise certainly been left behind and most likely put down. And for those of you who have admired HOOCH, the mastiff I helped to rescue earlier this year… that was a Lesley dog. (On a side note HOOCH now not only has a new daddy who loves him to pieces, but HOOCH also has his own website…GET SOME HOOCH…more on that later)
While I would be proud of Lesley for these feats alone, I am even more impressed that Wags and Walks Dog Rescue was chosen this week by Dog Time Media to be the recipient of a $10,000 donation aimed at allowing Lesley to continue her mission of saving and promoting Los Angeles’ shelter dogs and preventing of cruelty to animals through education, awareness, and advocacy programs.
On Tuesday, Lesley, flanked by her daughters Macy (3) and Jesse (7), was presented with the check at LA County’s Baldwin Park shelter.
Wags and Walks Wins 10,000!
All rescuers are amazing, but what I love about what Lesley is doing, besides that she picks dogs that really otherwise wouldn’t get out—she’s got a soft spot for the pitties—is that she has incorporated her kids into her rescue work. Lesley’s girls are hands on in the process and help her through the often-arduous procedures involved in getting a dog out of harm’s way.
Izzy & Macy
Together the Brog girls work to help as many of LA’s unwanted dogs as possible by visiting shelters, taking pictures of the dogs (often with her girls to show that just because they’re pits doesn’t mean they are bad dogs), getting to know the dogs temperament, working with shelter staff, partnering with other rescue groups, networking the dogs that are the most in danger and putting plans in place to avoid dogs being put to sleep.
“We don’t just talk the talk” says Lesley. “I am a take action kind of girl! And I am also proud to teach my little girls empathy, compassion and kindness to animals first hand. This is what every mother wants to teach her children.”
It is always difficult to say goodbye to a beloved pet, and explaining how you feel to non-dog-crazy people is like adding insult to injury; not everyone understands how much our dogs mean to us.
Through the magic of the internet I have met a wonderful, dog-loving woman named Judy. She is a friend of my sister’s who lives in Singapore with her husband Russel who is a photographer (hence the amazing pics) and a pack of beloved Golden Retrievers.
Golden's at Christmas
Sadly, Sidney her first boy, his health had begun to deteriorate in recent months. Knowing that her friend Cynthia’s sister was a crazy dog person, who might understand her situation, she reached out and we began chatting online.
Judy wrote me the most beautiful emails about her beloved Sidney and her fight to keep him healthy and vital. Unlike the US where vets are abundant and understanding of the desire to keep dogs alive and well at almost any cost, Singapore was somewhat behind. And yet Sidney was born in 1994! Certainly Judy was quite a dog mom to have a Golden live strong for 15 plus years.
Sydney wearing Louis Vuitton Sneaker
But last week, it was time to let Sidney go. I asked Judy to write something about Sidney because if we honor our family and friends with obituaries, we should do the same for our four-legged family member who we love so dearly.
Here is what she wrote:
There is such a strange void and silence in my house after Sidney died. I can’t explain it. Even though I still have 3 dogs, I think his aura was really big.
My husband, Russel, brought Sidney home about 15 and half years ago. We were dating, not married yet. I named him Sidney (after Sidney Poitier) and he was the finest blonde I’d ever met! Like people, some dogs have a presence that cannot be explained and Sidney had that X factor. Everyone always remembers Sidney. It’s not that he did special tricks or anything uniquely special, but people have always gravitated to him. Even when we finally settled and with 4 adorable goldens, Sidney was always the one that stood out.
Sidney also remembers people really well. He adored Russel’s father (who passed away on 28 Aug, exactly 2 months before Sids) who took care of him when he was a sick puppy. Russel’s father, Dr Wong, would take time out of his rest to nurse and medicate this special doggy every hour on the hour and feed him soft white bread to encourage Sidney to eat. Up to today, Sidney’s favorite food is a loaf of baguette! Whenever Sidney saw Dr Wong, he would just go nuts! He would want to snuggle up close and put his lap on Dr Wong, like he was forever grateful to Dr Wong for saving his life and caring.
During Russel’s photo shoots, Sidney would walk over to the studio and sit down and posed. It was really funny because Russel always had to shoo him out of the studio. Sidney liked posing with people! He really did enjoy taking pictures! But more than anything, he loved being around people and people loved him. He was a sensitive soul, my boy, and he had a lot of friends. So many were in tears when I announced that he died, so many.
Sydney in his favorite spot
I knew he was going to die when I woke up on the morning of the 28th. He was so tired and he was having a hard time breathing. I carried him downstairs (they ALL sleep with me in my bedroom, no matter who is sick) and saw that he probably had hours or another day at most. I finally made the decision to call the vet to the house (I would not have wanted him to die at the vet’s, I had to respect Sidney’s wishes. I know how much he hated the vet’s office) because I just couldn’t bear to see him suffer anymore. What really hurts is that his eyes were so alive and well, but the rest of him was not. That makes me feel so guilty! The logical side of my brain understands that it was the best thing for him, but my heart was just in pieces.
Please God take care of my Sidney and forgive me. I’m trying to make myself remember all the wonderful years and be grateful for every minute of them, to have had the opportunity to love such a wonderful companion and get loved back. But it’s still hard. it’s going to take a while…. a long while.
Meanwhile, I’m just trying to give attention to the other 3 doggies. But there is a huge void in my home and in my heart.
What a beautiful letter Judy wrote and I’m glad we were able to connect and share about Sydney.
If you need to share about your dog, I’m always here at firstname.lastname@example.org or there are some amazing Pet Loss support resources online, including the ASPCA’s website and Petloss.com which has a lengthy list of grief hotlines.
I have been a dog person since I can remember. My parents had a rescued Sheltie Shepherd mix named Foxy when I was born- one of father’s fraternity brothers from PENN (who he incidentally had dinner with this week) had found the dog after the 1971 earthquake and somehow convinced my parents, neither of whom had ever had a dog, to adopt him.
Foxy was awesome- smart, playful and ever-patient as I am sure I was not exactly a gentle or delicate kid. He along with the Woody–the puppy we got when I was 3– were my constant companion as a child. From that point on I was just drawn to all things dog…particularly dog rescue.
Kids & Dogs
But for normal kids how do they find out about rescue… what happens at a shelter… how to treat and properly care for dogs?
Today the answer is most likely an amazing show on PBS called Martha Speaks. The series and the books follow a family dog who eats alphabet soup and gains the ability of human speech. In addition to its mission of vocabulary development–always a good thing– the series aims to educate children 4-to-7 about shelter animals, and inform families on pet ownership and responsibility.
I love this show, and I’m particularly excited about its new season premieres on September 14th. Over the course of the new episodes, viewers will see a two-part episode that further explores Martha, the title character’s days as a shelter dog and other new episodes that present strong anti-littering/pet safety messages in a way that is accessible to kids. Here is a preview of the episode airing today
A woman named Susan Medaugh created Martha Speaks. The idea behind came one day over lunch with her then-seven-year-old son when he asked what would happen if he fed their family dog his alphabet soup. From there Meddaugh has educated and inspired so many kids and families about dogs. She is truly a role model for me. I hope the work I do with my book (The Complete Single’s Guide To Being A Dog Owner, Adams Media 2009) and this blog might make even a fraction if the impact she has had on helping to protect and cherish the dogs of this world!
Be sure to tune to your local PBS affiliate (even if you don’t have kids) today, September 14th!
It’s been way too long, I know, since I’ve last blogged, but wow it’s been a busy month here in NYC working on the upcoming New York Video Voter Guide. I have been a little better about keeping up with my Facebook status and posting dogs in need. And I thank all of you who have helped with my latest posted pooches.
In doing some poking around online today, I found a very cool project that I think deserves some support, it’s called Animal Care for Artists and its mission is to assist low income individuals, employed in the arts, in covering the cost of medical care for their animal companions.
Animal Care for Artists
In our “new” economy (read crappy economy) anything we can do to stop more sick animals ending up in shelters the better. Helping people who otherwise might not be able to afford proper care for their animals ultimately helps alleviate pressure on the already-overburdened shelter system. Click here to read more about how Animal Care for Artists operates.
What’s also interesting is how this group is going about fund-raising. I found them on a site called Kickstarter which is a supercool portal built for funding creative projects of all sorts. According to the Kickstarter site:”We love artists, writers, designers (of all kinds!), filmmakers, musicians, journalists, athletes, adventurers, inventors, bloggers, illustrators, explorers, curators, promoters, performers, and others.”
So check out Animal Care for Artist and Kickstarter.com and consider making a donation to this group get up and running!
It’s quite surreal to be holding this impeccably designed (I can say that because I didn’t design it) book in my hand and think holy crap I wrote this!
It’s been almost two years to the day since my beautiful friend Tara who was my book agent–we’ve been friends since 10th grade (think big hair and scrunchy socks)–called me to tell me that there was a publisher (Adams Media) interested in buying my proposal.
I have to say I barely believed her.
After working in Hollywood, “interested in” something is about as good as “I’ll call you”. So while I was excited, I didn’t even really tell anyone for a few days because I didn’t think it was real!
Gladly it was real, and soon after I had a contract and an editor. After the holy s**t-momentary freak-out that now I had to actually write this thing, I dove in! Even with my (self-diagnosed) ADD, I just went into a zone. My whole life became about the book. No longer did I have to feel badly about going home early or not going out at all. I even went on a dating a hiatus! “Sorry, I may be 34 and single but I have to write.” No guilt, no second guessing. It was liberating. It was genius!
From July to November, while keeping a full-time job and of course caring for Bella, I wrote close to 80,000 words. The contract only called for 45,000– a number that I was so worried I’d never reach–but as I covered the items I outlined in my proposal to a level I saw fit, somehow the word count just kept growing. I’d certainly come a long way since college when I spent almost as much time playing with the font, margins and spacing (to make my papers seem longer) as I did writing.
Me & B
With the book’s roll out just beginning, a publicity strategy in place, and parties planned, I bursting with anticipation and excitement. But underlying it all is a bit sadness that Bella isn’t here to live experience this with me. I know it’s great that I’ve commemorated her in print, but in some ways it makes me feel my loss that much more because the whole book talks about her and us in the present tense, and I miss thinking about her in the present tense. In French, the term I miss her, Elle me manque, literally translates to she is missing from my life. And that is how I feel.
But enough with the sadness. I’m not a big one for dwelling or regret. Instead, I am gleeful about the book. I walk around with my copy like a kid with their blankie. And I am happy to have my sweet boy Ranger at my side to pick up where his sister Bella left off. As I type this, Ranger is lying by my side snoring away. He is pure love and canine happiness and I couldn’t be happier.
Ranger and his girlfriend Idaho
Now, go buy my book and tell your friends to do the same!
Like many Yellow Labs, Ranger has allergies. When we first got him, his ears were terribly infected. The doctor said was most likely a result of years of low quality food full of corn and or other fillers to which many dogs tend to be allergic.
As soon as we got Ranger, I put him on a chicken-based food that is usually good for dogs with allergies and we continued to give him treats and chews. Like his big sister Bella, he was quite a fan of the bully stick, particularly the round ones.
Initially Ranger’s itching ceased and then it all of the sudden came back with a vengeance. He was itch-obsessed. One morning I woke up and realized he also had the beginning of a rash. So I scooped him up and took him to the vet. More money than I want to admit later, Ranger had been given a medicated bath, Advantage, which he now needs to get every three weeks not four like other dogs, and he has to be on a restrictive diet– Duck and Potato from Royal Canin. It’s a food made for dogs with allergies, so it has limited ingredients which helps vets figure out what foods a dog is or isn’t allergic to.
Ranger's New Diet
Pretty much immediately Ranger began to itch less, which is great. But holy crap it’s hard not to give him anything but his food. No treats, no bribery when we’re leaving and I feel guilty… nothing. It’s like being on a diet myself!
Thankfully Ranger is happy with his food. However tonight, he found a left over bully stick. Before I could realize what he had in his mouth, he took off. I chased him up and down the stairs; all around the apartment trying to get it back from him. He of course thought we were playing a game. For what seemed like an eternity, we went round and round the couch in a game of face off. I was laughing hysterically and he was eluding me at every turn!
Eventually I cornered him and got the bully stick back. I literally shouted, bully stick in the air ”A-Ha, I got it!” Defeated, he followed me and watched as I put the bully stick on top of the fridge. He looked a little sad, and truly I wanted to give him that bully stick so badly, but I couldn’t. So as a consolation prize, I opened another can of his food, went and found his Kong Toy and stuffed it full of a combo of wet and dry Duck & Potato Royal Canin.
Ranger is now happily slurping away and I feel good that at least one of us stuck to our diet today.
Meet Rufus. He’s the kind of dog that the Obama’s should have adopted, but didn’t. But the good news is that you can still can do the right thing and adopt or foster Rufus!!
Rufus needs a home or foster ASAP
Rufus is losing his home in 10 days (April 25) because his owner have 5 dogs instead of 3 (don’t you think animal control should spend their time busting real animal offenders) When animal control comes back they will fine the owners and confiscate the dogs. But their loss could be your best friend!
Here is more on Rufus…
Rufus is a great doggy but due to L.A county rules my owner can not keep me. She loves me dearly, But I’m a dog that she knows would be okay and would be at my best with a new family that loves me. I’m awesome with kids, loves to play and play with other Dogs and I love to cuddle….
Help Rufus Stay out of the Pound
How good does that sound? And while it’s sad that his owners must give him up, it’s a great opportunity for a someone to adopt a well adjust dog who’s behavioral tendencies are known!
Rufus is 1.5 years old and a mix between a Wheaten Terrier and a Shi Tzu… maybe. But he’s darned cute whatever he is!