Weighing In On The First Dog

5 03 2009

Anyone that wants to give a dog a GOOD home must be great people, but deciding on a type of dog to join your family can be a big decision.  I am happy to see that the Obamas are doing their homework to find the right dog, weighing every option.  Adding a dog to your family is a big responsibility, and if anyone out there is thinking about running out and getting the same dog as the first family, you need reconsider why you want a dog.

The predictors out there have been pointing to a Portugese Water Dog strongly, but I hear there is still some consideration of a Labradoodle.  Either way, the First Lady has indicated that they will be rescuing their choice from one of the more than 250,000 deserving dogs needing a home currently residing in a shelter, rescue or foster home.  As I am sure you expected, this is a choice I strongly support.  Being a rescue dog myself, I wish everyone would find their four-legged family members from the same place.

labradoodle

portugese-water-dog

VS.

Read the rest of this entry »





How Could You?

3 03 2009

The following is an essay included in a book titled, “Pieces of My Heart” by Jim Willis.  I requested his permission to republish this essay, so that I can dedicate it to anyone who has ever known the love of a good dog, especially to those of you who have rescued a good dog and who know what a fantastic friend a “second-hand” dog can be.

When I was a puppy I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was “bad,” you’d shake your finger at me and ask “How could you?” – but then you’d relent and roll me over for a bellyrub.

My housetraining took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed, listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because “ice cream is bad for dogs,” you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.

She, now your wife, is not a “dog person” – still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy. Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a “prisoner of love.”

As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch – because your touch was now so infrequent – and I would have defended them with my life if need be.

I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams. Together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway. There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered “yes” and changed the subject. I had gone from being “your dog” to “just a dog,” and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.

Now you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You’ve made the right decision for your “family,” but there was a time when I was your only family.

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said “I know you will find a good home for her.” They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog or cat, even one with “papers.” You had to pry your son’s fingers loose from my collar as he screamed “No, Daddy! Please don’t let them take my dog!” And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a goodbye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too.

After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked “How could you?”

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you – that you had changed your mind – that this was all a bad dream…or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me. When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited.

I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table, rubbed my ears and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days. As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood.

She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured “How could you?”

Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said “I’m so sorry.” She hugged me and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn’t be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself – a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. With my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my “How could you?” was not meant for her. It was you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of. I will think of you and wait for you forever.

May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

Please take a moment to share this with anyone you know who needs to read it.  If you would like to print a copy, Mr. Willis has graciously provided a .pdf to share in that way.

The next time you have a couple dollars left over after keeping your house in order, please consider donating it to one of the “Good Guys” on the right sidebar or here here and here, one of the shelters or rescues over on Spike’s Shelter Dogs, or your local shelter or rescue.





Spike’s Shelter Dogs – Adopt Your Next Dog Here

15 02 2009

spikes-shelter-dogs-sidebarIf you have not figured it out already, there is a special place in my heart for rescue dogs.  Whether they are adopted from shelters, rescues, or fosters, they are all special friends to me.  For that reason, I decided to use my celebrity to draw attention to the deserving dogs available for adoption.  Initially, we are focusing on shelter dogs local to me in the Atlanta metro area, as well as the state of Georgia, but we plan to expand our reach to a national level.

With interesting and entirely coincidental timing, Mom recently added two puppies to our home temporarily after hearing their story.  We think they are Newfoundland/Lab mixes, and they are very cute, fluffy balls of fur.  They are quite active, playful, and energetic.  Yesterday, I posted a video and some pictures of them, as well as their back story as the first dogs posted on Spike’s Shelter Dogs.

If you are interested in adopting either of these puppies, or any of the dogs listed on Spike’s Shelter Dogs, check out the contact info for each of them.  Also, if you are a shelter, rescue, or foster interested in having an adoptable dog listed on the site, check out the Ask Spike Online Contact Us page.  Something that we are doing differently to help gain attention for these dogs, we are utilizing the social media power of Twitter and Flickr to raise awareness.  To be the first to know about additions to Spike’s Shelter Dogs, follow @shelterdogs on Twitter or become a contact on Flickr.

Feel free to spread the word about my newest project to all you know, especially those who are looking to provide a forever home for a four-legged friend.





A Letter From a Shelter Manager

23 01 2009

sad-shelter-dogSince I spend a lot of time online (usually looking at I Has A Hotdog or working on this site), I see a lot of dog stories, pictures, and other news.  Yesterday, I came across a letter from the shelter manager in Austin, TX detailing the saddening conditions his or her job entails.  It made me cry to read it, but I know that every word of it is true. Read the rest of this entry »





Are You A Retriever Person?

9 01 2009

With “Marley and Me” continuing its romp through the box office, I thought this would be a good time to discuss the retriever breeds.  Not everyone is a “Retriever Person.”

marley-and-meFirst, I want to give a little background on what good salespuppies retrievers can be.  One time, Mom told me a story about this man who was trying to sell an old car.  He had a “FOR SALE” sign with his phone number on the car, but no one ever walked over or called to take a look at it.  Undeterred, he had a stroke of genius to drive traffic!  My doggie mom, Autumn, had recently had a litter of puppies.  There were eight of them and of course, like all retriever pups, they were beautiful and wonderfully cute.  The man took some pictures of the puppies he borrowed, and he put the pictures all over his old car, and he placed an ad in the local car classified with a picture of one of the puppies in the driver’s seat.  The pictures of the pups brought much needed attention to his car, and he made the sale at the asking price within days.  It is true that retrievers can sell just about anything. Read the rest of this entry »





More Reason To Adopt From A Rescue Or Shelter

20 11 2008

petland-storeI was surfing the Web tonight (which is pretty difficult without any thumbs, btw), and I came across an article on MSNBC about “puppy mills” and their connection to a national retailer of pet supplies that also sold puppies to its customers, some being sold at a retail price of $3500 each.

The video below shows some of the inhumane conditions that puppy mills (commercial breeders) are known for.  Before pushing play, I strongly urge you to remove any children from the room and to grab a box of tissues. Read the rest of this entry »





First Family Will Adopt A Puppy

9 11 2008

Great news from President-elect Barack Obama’s family. Rather than seek out a dog from a breeder, they have decided to adopt a puppy from a shelter. Hopefully, his massive popularity and the Obama family’s newfound role model status will inspire others to follow suit when choosing a family pet. Read the rest of this entry »