The Good Son

August was a hard month. We lost both of our dogs to cancer days just apart. Last August our youngest dog Lily died so August has not been kind as of late. One good thing did happen the last week of this past August and that was us adopting an eight year old beagle named Abel.

Janet and Abel under the apple tree.

Abel comes to us from Kindness Ranch who have many animals in their care as well as beagles that survive laboratory research. These people are truly doing the lords work. Beagles are the preferred dogs for laboratory research partly because of their mild temperament which ironically is the thing we love most about them. Abel was being fostered by a family in Redmond Washington and we found him on Petfinder.

Except for a few minor dust ups with our cat Smokey trying to be a bully, Abel’s first couple weeks with us has been pretty smooth. Janet had the brilliant idea of letting both of them sit with her in the reading room during the day. Since then Smokey has become less fearful and more accepting of Abel’s constant pacing in circles, a habit we noticed in our now angel dog Lily. They were both caged for the early years of their lives.

Wednesday we had his first vet appointment with our vet Dr. Martin who is super cool. Although she can not prescribe or recommend CBD for animals, I ran it by her and she agrees they can do no harm. Dogs have to ingest lots of toxins in their lifetime so maybe this will help even things out a bit. We want to do everything possible to make sure that Abel has a long and healthy life.



Darling Lily, Every Day Is A Good Day

Yesterday we lost our dog  Lily. I can’t believe I’m saying that because she was our youngest dog. The Doctor thinks it was acute kidney failure brought on by bacteria, virus, cancer or whatever. Point is they shut down.

We just survived a trip over mountains, rivers and through dark of night. Then we get here and our youngest dog gets sick. Just an intestinal drama, nothing we haven’t seen before. Nothing some chicken & rice won’t fix. Not this time.

If you don’t know Lily’s story here’s a summary. She was literally thrown to the wolves by her chickenshit puppy mill owners because an inspection was coming. Only her and her sister survived and they were taken in by a rescue and we adopted Lily from them. When we picked her up her fur was so thick she almost looked like a sheep and was a little smelly. It didn’t matter, we were already in love with her.

This pic Jan snapped of Lily on our trip really shows the happy fun loving little pup we got to know.

The four years and four months we had Lily were the best of times and the worst of times. Puppy mill survivors have serious PTSD. She would freak out at the slightest movement or sound. Even after she got to know us she still would not let us stand behind her. She’d always find a way to circle behind you. Because of this skill I nicknamed her Nightcrawler. Cockers are known for having weak bladders but we ended up taking her out every hour because being raised in a cage she was still new to the whole housebroken thing. Only in the last two years or so have we been able to leave home for three or four hours without wondering if there will be a puddle. She made huge strides in the last few years. She would actually wag her tail and be playful with her brothers when it was just us hanging out.

The rescue told us she was 2-3 years old back in 2012 so that would make her 6-7 now, but our new vet thinks shes more like 8-9 based on her teeth, which we did a dental on in 2012 but now she was in need of another. The things this dog went through were horrendous. In addition to the puppy mill she had heartworm. They gave her two rounds of that heartworm medication because the first round didn’t kill all the heartworms. That medicine is toxic as hell. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had something to do with damaging her kidneys.

Even though this is a stunning and tragic event in our lives, we had a moment of clarity as we sat in the backyard having a kombucha toast in Lily’s honor. For Lily every day was a good day. She escaped a prison and landed in a place where she had both human and animal companionship as well as unconditional love. She learned what is is to play, receive treats and frolic in the snow for the first time.

We had 4 years and 4 months with Lily which isn’t as long as we imagined we would have with her, but I know she appreciated every day she had with us. She worshiped Janet and would often wait by the door when she was gone. When there were thunderstorms or fireworks then she would come and hide near me or jump on my lap. A day that I will always treasure is the day we spent in Billings Montana at the Motel 6 on our trip to Washington. We didn’t arrive until 6:30 am and were just beat to shit. We decided to push everything back a day and just spend the whole day sleeping. Janet, me, Odie, Herbie and Lily all piled into a queen size bed. Best sleep of my life.

Odie was a huge part of Lily’s development. Since she was so afraid of people, he made it a lot easier for her to lean on him as a big brother.

Sometimes I think I’m done, all cried out. Then I’ll think about her or mention her name and it starts all over again. That’s when I remind myself that we gave her a great life. I think a lot of people would have returned her to the shelter given all the baggage that came with her. They would never have gotten to see the beautiful dog she became over the years. Her sweet kind spirit will always be with us.

There are many organizations that oppose puppy mills, here are a few.


Greetings From The Pacific Northwest

It’s been almost a month to the day since we arrived in our rental home in Olympia Washington and it is finally sinking in that we actually live here now. The trip out here took a couple extra days more than we expected but Janet, myself and all our furry kids made it. There is video and pics taken of the journey that I’ll assemble as soon as I get my shit together. It was such an ordeal that sometimes Jan & I still just look at each other and say,”we made it!”

Since we had to get rid of almost everything we owned except for stuff we could afford to ship and what could be squeezed into the van many things had to be re-bought. Like dishes, towels, a broom and other simple stuff. We’ve moved through the phase where you feel like a stranger in your own home to where you actually remember which drawer you keep the spoons in.

The weather is great, a little cool for July especially at night sometimes hitting the mid fifties. I think it rained once, maybe twice since July 4th. I hear Chicago and much of the nation has been going through a heat wave. I  get weather alerts saying lightning has been spotted in my area since I still have the WGN weather app. I miss the Cub games. Hopefully I’ll be able to get the MLB  app by next month to watch some big games.

The only bad news is yesterday our dog Lily had to be hospitalized with acute renal failure. She was recovering from some intestinal bug along with her brother Herbie but she’s not responding to medication so far. So now they have put her on intravenous meds. The next few days are critical so we would appreciate any prayers or positive thoughts you could send her way.

Hello Dolly, our new home dog boarding pup

beagle home dog boarding
We are happy to have Dolly with us and she’s learning a lot too.

This is Dolly.  She is a beagle that we have had staying with us since last Friday morning, as we are boarding her as part of our side business and labor of love Barneys Home Dog Boarding.  We love her.  She is very sweet, and only a little high maintenance, so that’s wonderful.  🙂  Ironically she is the first beagle in all the dogs we have boarded, even though our dog boarding is named after our first late beagle Barney.  Before her stay here she was pretty shy with other dogs, so living temporarily with our three dogs has helped her get important socialization experience.  At first she would avoid them, and now she acts just like one of the pack.

She used to have no cat experience, and that is going relatively well too.  Only a few times has she tried to chase Bambi, and only the first of those was a dramatic chase most of the length of our apartment.  Now it’s just a chase of few feet once in a while.  She is learning!  Of course I’m not sure which is teaching her faster, my “No” at the end of the chase, or the fact that another of our cats Smokey takes it personally and tries to teach her a lesson with body language and hissing after each mini chase.  As usual each of our cats helps in their own way to socialize the dogs to cats.  🙂

Oh and the only high maintenance aspect to her is that she does not usually go to the bathroom during our many daily yard visits, so I have to also take her on various walks as well.  Also she has not yet been trained to take much direction on a walk so is used to going wherever she pleases.  She is very resistant to most standard gentle correction, so I have learned the right bribing, I mean training method for her on her walks.  I guess we are all learning things this week!


Happy Anniversary Odie!

Now that July 4th is over, I am reminded of a truly joyous occasion that happened one year ago. It was on the Tuesday following the holiday that Janet and I took a trip to Kenosha in search of a little white Shih Tzu she had seen on their website. When we got there the Shih Tzu was taken so we looked at a couple other dogs . One was getting over kennel cough and the other seemed a little aloof. Then the handler brought out this beagle basset mix that had been given up twice, had cherry eye, was overweight and had a fatty tumor on his chest. It was love at first sight.

We’ve told Odie’s story in previous entries so I won’t rehash the whole thing. I’ll just say that everyday I give him a hug & a kiss and let him know how thankful I am that he is our dog.

Lily’s Here!

Janet and I just added a new member to our family. Her name is Lily. She’s a two year old cocker spaniel adopted from a local rescue. Lily has had a very tough life so far, but she’s going to get nothing but love and attention from now on. She has survived life in a puppy mill as a breeder and then was dumped into the woods by the owner when they received word that an inspection was coming. Only a few dogs survived, Lily was one of the lucky ones. A nice lady named Marlene fostered Lily and nursed her back to health. Right now she is still in shock from the horrors she has endured, so she is very shy around people.

Since mostly men ran the puppy mill she’s especially timid and cautious around them. Jan has been working to socialize her and it’s been good so far. I sneaked a photo of her and Odie on the couch but I’m still being very quiet and not making any sudden moves around her. We’re about to take both dogs on a walk in a few minutes. I’m looking forward to helping her feel at home.

People finding their lost pets & shelter stories

beagle/basset wearing ID
Our son Odie sporting his ID tag

A few years back I used to volunteer at Animal Care and Control in Chicago, on Western Ave near 27th St.  I was there for around three years and for much of the time I was doing paperwork.  Why travel across town every week to do paper work at an animal shelter?  Well it turns out that nearly every one who volunteers at an animal shelter wants to be hands-on with the animals, so no one wants to help with the paperwork.  It is critical work and when I was there it could wait a week before someone got to it.  The paperwork was at the front desk, trying to locate the owners of stray cats and dogs that had come in with ID tags or microchips.  It’s very detail oriented work, and more often than not you cannot locate the owner, which is another reason it wasn’t an appealing job to most.  For example do you know how many stray dogs come in to the shelter wearing personal ID tags showing numbers that are no longer in service?  It is so common.  Do you know how many people microchip their pet but then do not keep the microchip company current with up to date contact info?  That said there are some reuniting stories I will never forget.

Once I was calling the owner’s phone number on record for a microchip, saying the general statement about where I was calling from, we have your dog, ya-da ya-da ya-da.  The guy I called thought it was some kind of joke, or a scam.  I assured him that it was not, and that I had lots of people to call and would not be making up stories.  He finally believed me and told me that his family had lost this dog over a year ago, and had never ever given up hope.  He said they had made a little shrine to their dog on their fireplace mantle and had been praying every single day for their pet’s return.

The shelter only has set hours that you can come in to claim your pet so I was gone when they came in and got back their dog, but I can imagine the reunion.  I’ve seen enough of them.  Generally they walk down the rows of cages, and once their pet sees them he goes absolutely crazy with happiness.

cat wearing ID tag
YoYo doesn't mind his collar as long as it's a little loose

Tomorrow Lorenzo is bringing our dog Odie to our vet for a check up, a routine test, and vaccinations.  Then I will submit his rabies vaccination info to the city for a new city dog tag.  I cannot put enough ID on Odie, after all I have witnessed working for Animal Care and Control.  His microchip company is Home Again, and they have our current and accurate contact info which I have confirmed.  He has a collar w/personal ID tag with our current phone numbers always on his neck unless he’s in bed with us at night.  We walk him on a harness so as not to stress his collar so it will always remain strong and carry his ID.  He is never in the yard without us being there too.  Our four cats are indoors only and all have AVID microchips and AVID has our current contact info.  The cats that will tolerate it wear collars with ID tags too.

So if you want to read more reunion stories you can check out the Home Again website.  I just realized today that they keep record of a lot of the stories, and I love reading those.

Meet our new family member Odie the beagle/basset hound

photo of beagle/bassett hound Odie w/new dad Lorenzo
Father & Son Photo: Lorenzo w/our new canine son Odie

Lorenzo and I have been soul searching about adding a canine son or daughter to our family.  Our old dog Barney is with us in spirit, but not body, since he passed away under doctor’s care 12/1/10 at almost 14 years of age.  We wanted a mid size or small rescue dog.   Above all we wanted a dog whose spirit was very kind and gentle and agreeable towards all living things, a buddha dog.  🙂  Yesterday we found our buddha dog, and he is now our son, peacefully dozing on our floor as I type this.  His name had been Otis, but we have renamed him to Odie, after cartoon Garfield’s doggie friend.  It’s only right, since Lorenzo is a cartoonist.

Odie was in a shelter in Kenosha, WI.  We learned about this shelter through, which is a website where most rescues and shelters nationwide list their pets available for adoption.  I also searched several area rescue’s websites that I know personally through my animal welfare volunteering in years past, and present day donations here and there.  I showed my husband a photo of one shelter dog whose photo and description moved me who was in Kenosha, WI.  We then noticed that Kenosha, WI was only 55 miles from us and that they had three dogs on their site that we liked.  We felt it was a sign, and that we were meant to go there.  I cleared my schedule for that next day, we filled out the online application, and off we went to Kenosha, WI yesterday, arriving just as they opened their doors at 1pm.

beagle/basset hound on grass with Janet
Mom & new son: Me with our new buddha-dog Odie

Fate did all the rest.  The original dog I’d noticed had already been adopted, the third dog we liked was not good with other dogs, and the second dog, now our son, we learned had been waiting for the right forever home for SIX MONTHS.  He did have one brief adoption but they were not fully committed and/or knowledgeable, and brought him back.  Right away I got teary thinking of all the “long timers” I had known or heard about at Chicago Animal Care & Control during my 3+ years volunteering there.  It was just not fair that such a kind spirited dog had to go through so much, so he had to become our son.  Then to further validate our decision that this was meant to be, the shelter said they had recently decided to fix his cherry eye condition by surgery for free next Monday 7/11/11, and would also waive his adoption fee since he was overweight.  We had been prepared to pay any fees for our buddha dog, but it was a fun hug from the universe to receive such discounts.  We have already spent a little of the leftover money on a very handsome harness for his walks, and he is very earnestly learning what is expected of him as we do positive reinforcement training.

You can look forward to lots of videos on and blog entries here about him.  Even though he’s only one day out of the shelter, it’s clear that the shelter told the truth, and that he really is great with all dogs and our cats and all people.   All the shelter volunteers came out to greet us and celebrate that their beloved long timer was finally going home for good.  I have already sent them an update with photos, and will keep sending them updates, to thank them for their faithful care of him.  We know he will be a kind and welcoming host to my reading clients that come to the house, and a wonderful friend and gentle companion to the peaceful big-hearted dogs that we board with  This six year old buddha dog is home at last.

Phil & Magoo – Two Shih-Tzus That Need Help

poster to help find lost dog Phil the shih-tzu in Chicago
There's a $2,000 reward for Phil's safe return

Phil is now a very famous Shih-Tzu, and hopefully his fame will bring him back home safe very soon.  He was lost Thursday 6/23/11, and it is thought that he was stolen after just a minute or so loose on the street just north of the Diversey/Elston/Western intersection in Chicago.  He is a 3 yr old rescue dog with tan, brown, and black coloring.  His devoted parents, KJ and Deb, are conducting the most impressive lost dog search for him that I have ever seen.  There is a Facebook group page they encourage you to join, called “Find Phillip,” (that’s Phillip w/2 L’s) and you can be a part of the search effort, and/or join in the prayer effort for his safe return.  There is a black and white and also a color version of his poster you can print and post.  It is a poster format that was recommended to them by a private investigator very experienced in lost dog cases.  Also they are accepting fax numbers of anywhere you think might want a poster faxed to them.  If you have information please email

shih-tzu found in Chicago, 20 lbs male unneutered
20 lb unneutered male shih-tzu found. Do you know who lost him? Can you help?

Just two days ago someone brought a stray shih-tzu to KJ and Deb, thinking perhaps that it was their lost dog Phil.  It was not, and now they have temporarily named him Magoo and are fostering him.  They need help finding his original owners.  He is about 20 lbs and full of love and spunk, and still adjusting to this new situation.  He loves adults, and is dominant in a humping way with their boxer, though that may be resolved or alleviated when he gets fixed.  They may not have checked for a microchip yet on him, since no doubt they are spending every spare moment searching for their own baby.  They have a diaper on him now as he tries to mark in the house.  They do have three other dogs at home so perhaps Magoo is used to being the only king in the castle!  Plus perhaps once he’s neutered….  They are guessing he’s four but do not know, and observe that his teeth are very clean and that he lacks basic leash skills.  He needs someone to train him, and no doubt his healthy appetite can be used for positive reinforcement training.  Crossroads Shih-Tzu Rescue will be vetting, fostering, and adopting him out, once his stray period is over next week.  If you are interested in helping Magoo in any way, please contact the rescue.  With the right environment and training, Magoo could make someone very happy.

So please consider sharing this blog post to help spread the word about both shih-tzu’s.  Phil needs to be found and returned to his loving home, and “Magoo” (his new name) needs his original owner located, or a new foster home and/or owner needs to contact the rescue that will help him.

Poodlepalooza Plus Cat Sitting Visits: Murphy Inspires Business Improvements

poodle mix dog on grass with ball
Murphy plays a mean game of catch for a 9 year old doggie!

Most of you know that Lorenzo and I offer dog boarding in our home, providing night and day care and companionship to the dogs of only one owner at a time.  Recently we met Murphy and his parents.  Murphy is a 9 year old poodle/shih-tzu mix, and a compact bundle of cuddles, love, and a motorized wagging pompom tail.  Murphy has three cat siblings at home and since we experienced love at first sight with Murphy, we agreed to Murphy’s mom’s request for cat sitting visits for their three cats.  We are very experienced cat people due to our own cats as well as volunteer and foster experiences.

cat with woman
Charlie appears for a cuddle during the cat sitting visit

So now we offer the best for the dog-cat homes.  The dog gets round the clock love in our home, and the cats get to stay in their own home and get love and care with cat sitting visits.  This photo shows 12 year old Charlie, as we both enjoyed a cuddle this past Saturday in their home.  His cat siblings are Linky and Shadow.  Linky was the main ambassador giving us lots of cuddles and company, and Shadow who lends us her subtle companionship from afar.

Murphy is very good with other dogs, so we decided to see if he wanted to play with Teddy, another poodle mix and honored client of Barney’s Home Dog Boarding.  We invited Teddy’s parents over for dinner, to see if both well-socialized dogs would enjoy a playdate.  Of course we took all precautions and had them meet down the block outside, then when that went so well we had them play off-leash in our enclosed yard as we all supervised.

Murphy and Teddy acted like long lost twins, so we declared Poodlepalooza a success and went ahead and ordered dinner and made a night of it. In this video, the voices are mostly Teddy’s parents, as well as myself and Lorenzo. Before this video was taken the dogs had chased each other around in circles time and time again, and here in the video you see their play as they are a little winded but still enjoying their play, safe in our enclosed yard. Thanks also to Murphy’s parents, for allowing us to post this all-out festival of cuteness. Will there ever be another Poodlepalooza? Stay tuned to find out!