2008-01-16 / Columnists
Pets, Pets, Pets . . .
Editor 's Note: We are pleased that "Pets, Pets, Pets" is nominated for Best Newspaper Column in the 2007 Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) competition. "Serendipity Shelter Style" (reprinted below), which first appeared 6/7/07 is one of the submitted samples; the others archived online at www.babylonbeacon.com are:" Sensational Search for Babylon's Westminster Clubhouse" 2/8/07 and "Animal Soup Kitchen" 11/ 2/06. The winner will be announced at the DWAA banquet in Manhattan Feb. 10, Wesminster Eve .Incidentally, next month also marks Joanne's 25th anniversary writing "er column "Pets."
Call it serendipity-shelter style. While at an Agility match to root for a former Babylon Town Shelter Border Collie mix in his debut meet, I was bragging about a past rescue, a Sheltie who became a super star in obedience and therapy work. It turns out this Sheltie (who I last saw at Babylon Shelter 9 years ago) was standing a few feet away.
These dogs have a lot in common. Both survived terrible ordeals before entering Babylon Shelter as strays; both were fostered by purebred rescue volunteers who placed them with loving families that trained them in canine performance. Both make me proud to have known them as pound pups before their glory days.
Nike's Success Story: In 2005 a lady brought a terrified Border Collie/ Springer puppy into the shelter. She told us she saw him thrown out of a Mercedes in Wyandanch. His tiny sister didn't survive. On July 14, 2005, he was my Beacon poster pup "Carl Benz." My pal Monica of MCM Rottweiler Rescue stepped out of her breed to foster him. She called him "Puddles" for the obvious reason, and posted him on her group's Petfinder site. Monica was very fussy about where she placed him. He had already been through enough.
The Crisciones of Medford adopted Puddles and gave him the speedy name- "Nike." Julia, their daughter, now 14, wanted to train a puppy in agility. We were thrilled. I'd run into Julia and her mother Margaurette at Doggie U. "Nike" was a much better student than my Afghan, a drop out. So good, in fact, that they recently entered the three-day Long Island Agility Trial at Cathedral Pines with Julia as junior handler and Nike in the elite open novice class. The Crisciones camped out in their RV to watch the young team win two first places in the junior skilled 12-inch jumps. Memorial Day we cheered as Nike ran the tunnel course. (See photo). Julia and Nike plan to keep training and competing.
Connection Key Words- "Sheltie" & 'pancreas": Eavesdropping is a powerful force at a dog show. When Julia's dad asked if any other Babylon Shelter dogs besides Nike had ever participated in performance, I mentioned a Sheltie that years ago came into the shelter emaciated from a digestive abnormalities. She went on to earn top obedience titles. Another member of our "Nike entourage" stopped me to say she overheard a lady across the field saying something similar about her Sheltie's pancreas. Sure enough, that was our "Kara," shown in her professional photo above.
Kara's Success Story: Nine years ago, a young Sheltie stray only 7-pounds, about half her ideal weight, entered the shelter. I ran her photo stating: "The tiny sable Shetland Sheepdog in Cage 53 is so thin. She's scared but darling, and will sit for a cookie" (Beacon 3/19/98)- but called Sheltie Rescue before publication. Karen rushed down to sign her out; then Terri fostered her three months. During that time, the vet discovered that "Kara" had a pancreatic enzyme insufficiency that could be controlled with a low fat diet and prescription powder on every meal. Her foster Moms tenderly turned her into a stronger pup.
Audrey Blake saw tremendous potential when she met the waif at training class. She became Kara's forever Mom. Like Audrey's other obedience titled dogs, Kara went on a homemade holistic diet. Audrey began clicker training the Sheltie. A click signals a job well done and the imminent receipt of a reward. Kara responded well to the clicks, followed by morsels of her special diet as treats. On Feb. 3, 2000, I wrote a follow-up. At the time Kara, was on her way toward the first level- CD (Companion Dog) obedience title- and had been invited to the Sheltie National in Pa. to compete in a novice team demo with three other rescued Shelties. But after that I lost touch until this chance reunion.
Kara has gone on to much more. Since then she has also earned a CDX (Companion Dog Excellent) and a UD (Utility Dog) title. At each level, the AKC requires that a dog pass all exercises with 170 out of 200 points, win three legs, under three different judges. Dog and handler enter the ring with no leash. Once judging begins, the handler cannot touch the dog to guide it into position.
The UD title is quite a canine accomplishment and takes jumping, retrieving, scent discrimination and concentration to the highest level of training. Registered under the name "24 Karat Gold," Kara is shown here in a professional shot taken right after she earned her UD. Now about 10, the pretty Sheltie is also a Therapy Dog International and continues to visit many nursing homes and hospitals.
Nike and Kara. Not bad PR for all shelter dogs; not bad for two helpless dogs who almost died. Seven years separate their adoptions from the same shelter. Such a thrill to meet them again at the same wonderful event.
Other Dogs at Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon are waiting to create their own success stories. "Ms. Dingo" in Cage 57 a young, playful Cattle Dog/ Shepherd has been at the shelter since July. We believe that in her former life "Dingo" was not permitted indoors because floor surfaces frighten her. She could blossom into a perfect pet with a touch of TLC.
More dogs: comical older f. Husky mix who likes to sing her tale of woe Cage 87; m. black Lab mix Cage 15; m. Malinois/Shepherd puppy- about 5 months Cage 9; purebred f. red Siberian Husky- gorgeous blue eyes; "Hennessey"- shy black Pit mix Cage 1.
Kitty Korner: "Shortie" (photo) is a lovable tortie with only part of a tail, possibly a birth defect. She was seized by the SPCA and deserves a better life. So does "Minnie", a longhaired tortie who now shares her lobby cage.