Category Archives: Uncategorized

How one dog inspired a rescue network

This is Lily.  She was the inspiration behind National Mill Dog Rescue, which is based in Peyton, Colorado.  I love to find stories, sad and otherwise, which show how special dog inspire their owners to do new things.

LilyLily’s story is told eloquently by Rich Strader on the National Mill Dog Rescue website:

Lily was born, raised and perhaps had 13 litters of puppies at the Reedgate Kennels before we were able to buy her at auction. Her time there was spent in a wire cage with a board to sleep on and a rabbit water bottle to drink from. While in the mill she received little or no vet care and because of this she lost all her teeth and her lower jaw rotted off, which is not unusual for the smaller breeds in the puppy mills. Everything that was precious to her was taken away (her puppies). The human hand brought only  misery.

When she came to me I took her to work everyday and she slept in the warmth of my Irish Wolfhound’s stomach. She slowly learned to trust and in seven months she would come to me to get on my lap! She now loves all humans as no one will ever hurt her again.

Lily with Irish WolfhoundLily is my inspiration. She can teach anyone about love, courage and the ability to forgive. Unfortunately the cancer she acquired through years of neglect is now close to ending her life. I have promised her she will never be alone again and I will be with her at the end. To date she is responsible for saving over 7700  dogs as she is the inspiration and founder of MDRN.

Lily died in my arms May 13, 2008. She will be missed.

You can find out more about National Mill Dog Rescue on their website and I encourage you to read Theresa Strader’s Letter to Lily’s Breeder to fully understand the scale of suffering by irresponsible breeders.

And to update the numbers…to date, National Mill Dog Rescue has saved 8,184 dogs … and still counting!


Wordless Wednesday, part 2

Wallace the Pit Bull (Wordless Wednesday)

Professional dog walkers in Washington DC

Washington, DC is full of attractions like memorials, museums and other events.  Today, I also came across a group of three professional dog walkers…

Professional dog walker

Professional dog walkers _ near bus shelter

Each of the dogs is tethered to the handler with a hands-free clip

Each of the dogs is tethered to the handler with a hands-free clip

… and when we got to the front of the line, they happily posed for a picture.  How many breeds can you identify?  There’s one little dog wearing a dress and another wearing a thundershirt for anxiety.  The German Shepherd was the largest in the group.

Professional dog walkers _ front view

Sargeant Stubby – a WWI tribute

Tomorrow is Anzac Day, a public holiday throughout New Zealand and Australia.  Last year, I wrote about Caesar the Anzac Dog.  This year, it is Sergeant Stubby.  Although not from New Zealand or Australia, this dog embodies the spirit and companionship that were hallmarks of WWI.

Photo courtesy of Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

Photo courtesy of Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

Thousands of young Americans answered a call to arms in 1917.  In New Haven, Connecticut, a four-legged volunteer (a bull terrier mix) wandered into a local training camp for the 102nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division and befriended a young private named J. Robert Conroy. Lacking official papers, Conroy smuggled his canine friend aboard the troop ship Minnesota.

Stubby, as he was named (for his short tail), became New England’s most decorated canine war hero.

By February 1918, Stubby was experiencing the battlegrounds of France.  He would leave the trenches and go into the dangerous “no man’s land” of exploding mines, barbed wire and bomb craters to find, comfort and lead rescuers to missing or wounded soldiers.   Once he experienced mustard gas, he was a keen gas detector and warned his fellow soldiers when gas attacks were imminent.

During the Battle of the Argonne, he helped to capture an enemy spy. Official accounts note that Stubby leaped from the safety of the trench, bit a previously undetected intruder on the seat of his pants and held him there until the alarmed German was disarmed.

Grateful residents sewed Stubby a chamois blanket that became his uniform. On it were embroidered the flags of The Allies, three chevrons indicating the rank of sergeant and a fourth “wounded chevron” which he received for injuries suffered in a grenade attack. Service medals for action at Verdun, St. Mihiel and Chateau Theirry and Meuse-Argonne were later pinned to his blanket. It now sits with his stuffed remains at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.

Stubby, including his coat, are on display at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

Stubby, including his coat, are on display at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

Stubby survived the war and returned to the United States with Robert Conroy.  When Conroy enrolled at Georgetown University to study law, Stubby became a mascot to the local team, the Hoyas.  The pair also visited the White House and were featured in numerous parades.  When he died in 1926,  Stubby’s obituary was published in many newspapers.

My dog, man magnet

Today I realised that Daisy is a man magnet.

Daisy close up January 2013

I have always known that she loves the company of men.  She prefers to have her hydrotherapy overseen by Chris (the owner of the Dog Swim Spa) rather than his female helpers.  And she definitely has a ‘thing’ for our friend Guy.  She won’t leave his side, even when she hasn’t seen him for months.

But today she proved she’s a man magnet.

This morning, we were walking down the main road and an older gentlemen who was getting back into his car in front of the ATM stopped me.  He handed me a dog biscuit saying ‘This is for your Boo Boo’  (Daisy was happy to eat it for breakfast).

Then, this afternoon, we were at the Styx Mill Dog Park with lots of families and dogs around.  Daisy took a liking to one couple and the husband in particular, a man in his late 50s.   Before I know it, he’s down on one knee in front of Daisy giving her this great big hug and then kissing her on the head!  The look on her face was pure bliss (wish I had my camera with me).

Needless to say, Daisy has had a lovely Sunday and will spend tomorrow no doubt dreaming of her male admirers.

Guide Dog of the Year 2012 (UK)

Congratulations to John Tovey and his guide dog, Dez, who not only won the Guide Dog of the Year  award but also a Life Changing Award on 19th July at the Specsavers Guide Dog of the Year Awards in London.

John is only 44 and lost his eyesight two years ago to diabetes.  In going blind, John also lost the ability to do his job as a fitter (he’d worked on projects like the Channel Tunnel).    Enter Dez, a Black Labrador…

‘I just fell in love,’ says John.

Now Dez wakes him up every morning at 7:30 wanting to be fed.  And John has quality of life again.

Read more about John’s story in this BBC News article.

The year of the vet plus one

Thirty-five years ago, on the waiting room wall of our family’s first vet, this passage from the actor and cowboy Will Rogers was mounted in a frame:

 The best doctor in the world is the veterinarian. He can’t ask his patients what is the matter- he’s got to just know.

 What Mr Rogers said still holds true today.  Our veterinarians must have enquiring minds, good social skills (with dogs and people), observation capabilities beyond compare, a good network for researching and diagnosing illnesses, and the dedication to continue learning as new drugs and medical techniques are developed.

Did you know that last year (2011),  marked the 250th anniversary of the veterinary profession? French veterinarian and animal pathology researcher Claude Bourgelat established the world’s first veterinary school in Lyon, France in 1761.  Another school was established several years later in Paris.

I get to witness the rapport between client, dog and vet when I’m allowed to sit in on Gumboot Morrall’s post-surgical examination with Dr Tim Nottage of the Merivale Papanui Veterinary Clinic in Christchurch.  Gumboot  -  ‘Boots’ for short – has had a 1.2 kg tumour removed from his abdomen.  His owner, Min Morrall, tells me that Gumboot is a 10-year old Labrador cross and that she takes all her animals to Dr Tim for care and treatment.  She’s obviously comfortable at this practice as she shares the latest news with the receptionist while waiting for her appointment to begin.

Dr Tim Nottage rewards Gumboot after a successful examination

Dr Tim immediately asks for a progress report from Min, who says that Boots is walking again, although slower than normal.  Whilst he works on Boots to examine the surgical scar and drain the wound, Dr Tim asks various questions of Min.  These range from Boots’ appetite and medication to Min’s opinion on how her dog is doing.  Throughout his exam, Dr Tim murmurs encouraging words to Boots.  Afterwards, he gives Boots a treat which Boots happily accepts before heading for the relative safety of the reception area, clearly happy that his uncomfortable visit is over.

Our veterinarians go through years of education and training to become qualified and then their lifelong journey commences as they learn from their patients as new cases are presented.  Today we are reaping the benefits from a profession established over 250 years ago and the lives of our animals are better for it.   When you are next at your vet’s office, consider the words of Will Rogers and watch a true professional in action!

Piano anyone?

Our 4-day Easter weekend is coming to a close (sigh); here’s something to make you smile as you return to work tomorrow:

Daisy, this is Louie (and he’s not staying)

Several weeks ago, Daisy and I met a little dog  when we were out for our afternoon walk.   From his tag, I knew his name was Louie.  He was obviously lost and happy to follow us, but also lacked car sense (running across roads without stopping to look for traffic).   So, I encouraged him to come along with us and picked him up when we were approaching streets to cross.

I think together Daisy and I have ‘rescued’ three dogs in the last year who have lost their way from their homes.  In Louie’s case, matching him with his owner was not difficult because Louie’s owner had secured a name tag with her phone number to Louie’s collar (a move which I applaud and endorse).


Now, Daisy is an older girl and she is very congenial to all dogs and humans.  But, she prefers her routine and very young Louie was a little too much for her.  On arrival at home, she went to bed.  I went for the phone to call Louie’s owner who, as it turns out, was out of town.  She’d left Louie with a friend and he’d escaped.  Help was on the way within the next hour or so….

Daisy couldn’t help herself.  She had to come out and see what was happening in her house.  Louie wanted to play; Daisy wasn’t so sure.  Here’s a video of their encounter (latin dance music courtesy of the film that was playing on the tv at the time)…

Louie was picked up by his owner’s flatmate.

Today, my doorbell rang and Anna (owner) was there to thank me.  Louie, a Bichon/Poodle cross, decided to jump out of the car and say hello too, to both Daisy and I.  We were given a bottle of wine for our efforts (Daisy won’t indulge).  All’s well that ends well.

But Daisy is still glad we are a one-dog household…

Dog friendly shopping in Colorado

****This is a re-print of my column that appeared in the December 2010 issue of NZ Dog World magazine.  Since that magazine is currently available to NZ Kennel Club members only, I’m re-publishing it here because it is a topic I’m passionate about.****


I thought I’d share my experience of dog-friendly shopping in the state of Colorado, where I recently traveled for my business.

Colorado is a state that clearly values the companionship of dogs.  They were everywhere:  in trucks, cars and – unlike New Zealand – they were welcomed in many shops and public shopping areas.   On my flight from San Francisco to Denver, there was even a passenger who had a small dog in a carrier.  (Many U.S. airlines now allow small dogs into the cabin as carry-on luggage.)[1]

I wished my Daisy could have traveled with me to enjoy the sites (but she wouldn’t have appreciated the long flight or the required three-month quarantine on our return to New Zealand).

Dogs welcome

Dog owners could easily identify shops where their dog would be allowed to enter.  These shops displayed a Dogs Welcome logo in their window.  Interestingly, these shops sold clothing and footwear for people and were not just pet stores.  An outdoor mall in Castle Rock went a step further by providing grassed park areas and dispensers of plastic bags for dogs to have a ‘comfort stop.’

Other shops made up their own signs, such as one retailer whose sign proclaimed, “Four Legged Friends Welcome.”

I asked a shop attendant if they get many shoppers accompanied by their dogs.  She replied, “Yes.  Lots.  Particularly on weekends when people who work all week want to be out with their pet.”

Dog rest stops

I noticed that many communities welcomed dogs in their shopping areas by providing bowls of water for passing dogs to drink from.  I quickly became accustomed to seeing these ‘dog rest stops’ in virtually every town that we visited.

Rest stops varied in style and offerings.  Some were simply a single water bowl or raised water bowls.   Pet shops would often include extras, such as a bench for owners to sit in.  In Manitou Springs, a popular tourist destination at the foot of Pike’s Peak (elevation 4,800 m), a sweet shop provided vending machines with dog treats.  For 25 cents, a passing dog owner could purchase a handful of treats.

Good behaviour required

In all of the communities I visited, dogs and owners acted responsibly.  There was never a pile of poo left on the footpath and dogs didn’t jump on passers-by.  Responsible dog ownership is clearly essential for communities to embrace dog-friendly shopping.

And so, I leave you with good wishes for the summer holiday season and encourage you to think:  Is dog-friendly shopping appropriate for New Zealand and, if so, what will it take to get dog-friendly shopping established here?

[1] The dog carrier is considered the single piece of carry-on luggage for the owner; the dog must have current vaccinations and is not allowed out of the carrier during the flight.

Additional photos of my trip can be found in this blog post.