Monday, July 30, 2012

Little Fundraiser for Little Lucy

Due to Shiva's passing and Snoopy's illness, the following notice was put on the back burner.  Now, if you have a moment, please read it, and - if you can spare a few bucks - please help.  Thanks!

Recently we were made aware of a terrible situation and were asked to help.  Rather than say no, Shiva's Mom and I decided to do what we could.  Here's the story (we've omitted the last names of all the rescue folks to protect their privacy):

Little Lucy is a West Highland Terrier (Westie) who spent her first 13 years as an indoor city dog with her dad and mom in Virginia.  A few months ago, dad died after a long battle with cancer.  This precipitated extreme health issues for mom, and the both of them (along with Lucy's doggie little sister) moved to be closer to a human sister in Arkansas.  Through no fault of Lucy's, the new living situation for her mom didn't allow for her and she ended up on a tie-out in a field.  In Arkansas.  In the summer.  When we were told about the situation, we also were asked if we could help coordinate Lucy's move to a better place.

Poor Lucy being rescued.  Note her black skin!
Thanks to our friend David connecting us to Westie rescuers Patsy and Diane, within two days Lucy made the trip (free of charge and with a lot of TLC!) from Arkansas, via Memphis and Nashville, to a temporary foster home here in Knoxville.
Two of the wonderful ladies who rescued and transported Lucy!!
Once in Knoxville, Patsy arranged for treatment of Lucy's terrible sunburn and preexisting skin condition.  She had her bathed and groomed, her horribly overgrown nails trimmed and bought her pajamas to protect her from the sun.

Lucy in Patsy's car waiting to meets us, only 2 days(!) after rescue!
Although her first foster home was short-term, it gave us time to arrange for her to stay with our good friends at Boyds Creek Animal Hospital for some more TLC while we searched for a longer-term foster or forever home.  (Special thanks to dog-lover and friend Dr. Chitwood for underwriting Lucy's care while at BCAH!)

After a couple weeks of spoiling by Dr. Brandi and the girls, Lucy was taken-in by a wonderful Westie lover in the Oak Ridge area named Kaye.  Kaye is retired with three terriers of her own (one Westie and two Yorkies) and has worked with the breed for decades.  At this point (about a month into it), Lucy seems to be adjusting quite nicely to her new digs.  In fact, she decided to assume the role of "top dog" while no one was looking!

Lucy 30 minutes into her stay at Kaye's.
This brings us to the favor we want to do for Kaye:  While the love she has for dogs is limitless, the money isn't.  Like so many retired folks, Kaye is on a fixed income.  She's comfortable and able to care for the needs of her now 4 pets, but we know Kaye will need to fund ongoing intensive care for Lucy's skin condition.  To help with that, we are asking all our friends out there to consider making a small donation of $5, $10 or $20 directly to the veterinary clinic so that it won't be a financial burden on Kaye.   

Simply call Jackson Square Animal Clinic in Oak Ridge, TN at 865-483-5994.  Tell them you want to make a contribution to the "Wimberly, Lucy Rescue" account.  If you'd rather send a check, call the clinic for details.

Although your donation is not tax deductible, you can be secure in the knowledge it will be going directly for the care of one of the sweetest little dogs to escape the fires of hell/Arkansas that you've ever seen!

Please post a comment or send us an email once you donate so we can keep track of who to thank!!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Reminder of Why We're Here

Lest we forget - amidst all the sadness - why we are here in the first place, allow us to remind ourselves (and you) what an awesome, irrepressible spirit Shiva was, and continues to be.  Even just a few short weeks after her osteosarcoma diagnosis and amputation, she blazed around the pool like she had an Evinrude strapped to her tail.  Those who saw her recently will be amazed at how robust and powerful she was back spite of her new limitations.  Although eventually slowed by arthritis, cancer and age, Shiva lived each day in the same manner...even if her body was no longer able to perform what her spirit wanted.

Remember this:  She had more than 3 good years beyond that sunny day.  Her cancer wasn't a death sentence, it was an opportunity to live each day to the fullest.  She lived - and ultimately died - that way.  Enjoy!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The End of an Era

These are the hardest, most painful words I've ever had to write:  In typical Red Dog fashion, Shiva decided the party was over yesterday morning, and she left this world while in the loving care of Dr. Cheryl and the gentle embrace of Shiva's Mom and me. 

She exited our lives the same way she entered them: in decisive fashion, and with barely a look back.  From swimming Wednesday, car rides and Voodoo Thursday, to a subdued Friday, and finally earning her wings Saturday, hers was a blessedly short transition with little time for pain.  Never one to shrug off a challenge, Shiva remained true to her nature and charged headlong into her next assignment, granting us the one final gift of a graceful and sudden exit.  No muss, no fuss and - most importantly - no suffering.

And so we are left with a wreckage of emotions, knowing in our minds it was time, that Shiva had wrung every last drop of joy out of this broken body and miraculous lifetime, but feeling in our hearts the seemingly-irreparable pain of separation, the dropping of the veil between us and  - in many ways - our best friend.

As we come to terms with this gut punch and move through our grief, we'll add more details to this latest chapter of her story.  Until then, thank you for loving this crazy dog half as much as we did - and do.  Seeing her reflected in each of you showed us - without a doubt - the impact she had on her world. 

If there's one thing you can do for us and for Shiva, it's this:  Please support the fine folks at, as they guide people and their pets through the post-cancer diagnosis and post-amputation world, and the wonderful team at Morris Animal Foundation, a dedicated group of people working diligently to kick canine cancer's butt once and for all time.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


After overdoing it and getting a bit achy thanks to a combination swimming expedition/spaghetti dinner/little girl slumber party, the Red Dog visited her favorite Witch Doctor, Dr. Cheryl, along with Voodoo Priestess-in-Training, Soon-to-be-Dr. Caroline (Class of 2013) at the UT Vet School for some acupuncture and cold laser treatments.

Thanks to the relatively mild weather, we were able to entertain our friends in the back of Shiva's royal coach, so as to avoid her very own special brand of canine "white coat" hypertension.

As you see here, Shiva is relaxed and enjoying Soon-to-be-Dr. Caroline's expert ministrations.  Tune-in again soon for more updates on the Red Dog's summer.  WOOF!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lamenting Lennox

While we at Red Dog Central Command generally steer clear of controversial topics and focus instead on canine cancer treatment and prevention - along with the occasional foray into family fun - the furor surrounding Lennox the Dog compels us to speak.  For those unfamiliar, Lennox was a family pet confiscated due to Northern Ireland's ban of "Pit Bull Type" dogs.  Whether he was a pit bull or not was in some dispute dispute, but at least one magistrate believed otherwise.  Although his ultimate fate was decided today, his saga is emblematic of a much bigger ongoing problem.

Having spent more than ten years in animal care, as well as half-a-decade directly in the shelter world, I have developed some thoughts on sheltering, breed-specific legislation and societal responsibility.  Although mine is only one opinion, I've visited the front lines and worked both in a shelter and with the public in need.  

The problem is the overabundance of unwanted pets; the cause, sadly, is us.  From witnessing haphazard and sometimes idiotic breeding practices focused on maximizing profit with little or no concern paid to the health of the mother or her offspring, to moronic and self-serving justifications as to why a person won't get their pet sterilized, to pathetically rationalized reasoning as to why it's ok to "get rid" of a pet, I've seen and heard a lot.  Too much, probably.

An essay I originally began two or three years ago, what you will be reading is as much introspection and catharsis as it is a personal call for action, so please consider it both within the context of my particular life experiences as well as in conjunction with the horribly sad story of Lennox.  I titled it "Today They Stilled the Heart of a Champion."  It contains some painful truths, along with many admittedly emotional opinions, so all I ask is for you to think about what you might do to help solve a little piece of this issue in your part of the world.  It may not be much, but each small act can add up to something grand.

Dedicated to all the dogs in shelters that will never again sniff the fresh air of freedom, the workers and volunteers whose kindness and compassion are often the last thing these dogs will experience, and the rescuers and reformers, whose tireless efforts may yet create that grand change.

Today they stilled the heart of a champion. 

By Brian Douglas

Today they killed the finest of dogs, a dog whose only crime was looking like a member of a notorious breed, a “bully” with a huge head, and a heart to match.  A massive animal whose lumbering gate and gigantic jaws belied a child-like soul and eagerness to please that was almost comedic to see.  Today, cowards in control in Belfast and around the world ordered it done, and there's little doubt they lacked the stomach to watch. 

On a cold concrete floor, for the remainder of his short lifetime, that dog’s championship heart struggled to beat, struggled in vain to stay alive, while every other sign of life ebbed from his muscular body.  Pupillary reflex, gone.  Respiration, gone.  Pulse, gone.  All signs of life, gone from his empty shell, save the final one:  his mighty heart. 

This was a tragedy that didn’t have to happen.  This was a tragedy in which we all played a part.  Whether through bloodlust, fear, greed, ignorance or apathy, our actions as a people doomed this noble creature to the most ignominious of ends, expiration on a concrete floor in the back of a charnel house no amount of window-dressing can hide. 

Every day, in too many shelters worldwide, dogs like him meet their fate with dignity and grace, or with submission and fear, but with finality all the same.  They die, just because of who and what they are.  They die in spite of the fact that gallant people in a broken system destroy themselves in a vain effort to do the right thing, while weak-willed politicians and self-described experts do “what’s best for the community.” 

These same weaklings, who will move the very heavens and the earth ten times over for causes they deem worthy of their attention, do nothing, other than pass laws or sign death warrants, and then let others do the deed.  No amount of rationalizing will ever change that fundamental truth:  This death, just like all the others, is on their heads, a stain on their souls no amount of spinning or politicizing can ever erase.   Every life has value; every preventable death is a tragedy.

They can build all the buildings they want, their temples to ego and self-aggrandizement, but the fact remains that while they clap each other on the backs in that self-congratulatory way, the unwanted and unvalued continue to die.

Today, they stilled the heart of a champion, and now his body lays stiff and cold, awaiting a trip to the landfill where he will be forgotten.
...But it didn’t have to end this way. 

From court systems that fail him and his kind, where judges and juries refuse to find guilty or appropriately punish the people who chain them, starve them, torture them, fight them, and ultimately abandon them, to unscrupulous breeders who crank out litter after litter just to make a buck, to animal welfare organizations and government bodies so dedicated to “doing the right thing” that when reputable rescue groups or adopters offer to take and place them into forever homes, even homes without other pets, without exploitation or appreciable risk, those same gutless “leaders” refuse, instead falling back onto the comfortable canard that the best decision is the easy one, that killing these dogs is justified, a service to the community, a community they purportedly serve.

This is about justice, about right and wrong, about a world where style and appearance trump substance and mettle, where having the wrong genetic code predisposes one to an early demise at the hands of the ones who are supposed to care, the ones who are supposed to help, the ones who are supposed to serve, the ones who ultimately are failed by a system beyond repair.  

It is only when we stop, as a society, accepting that killing is the only answer, that real change will be made.  When we demand our elected leaders make commonsense decisions based upon science and facts rather than hysteria and hyperbole.  

It is only when we stop breeding dogs for status, fun and profit, or through ignorance, carelessness and neglect, where the excess numbers become grist for the mills of death, that shelters will stop being killing fields for so many. 

It is only when owners, as human beings and members of a supposedly “higher” species take the responsibility of pet ownership seriously, and stop dumping animals at the drop of a hat, without so much as a second thought, that real progress will happen. 

It is only when all our local humane organizations work together, instead of engaging in petty squabbles and pathetic power plays while thousands of innocents die, that our communities will emerge from the horrible conditions in which so many are mired.

It is only when all of us take responsibility that real change will be made.  When we hold ourselves accountable, just as we clamor to hold our shelters accountable.  When we no longer blame “them” for killing the animals without looking in our mirrors first to see what we have done to help create the problem, and what we can do to help solve it.

Today they stilled the heart of a champion, and it will beat no more.  Weep not, then, just for him, but for the countless, often nameless others that have gone to their unmarked graves before, their only crimes that they were unwanted, forgotten, surplus in a throwaway society where hysteria and sensationalism take precedence over right and wrong, where today’s fashion soon becomes yesterday’s news, where appearance is more important than substance, where we move on to the latest thing without thought for the consequences. 

Today we’ve lost a friend, and we’re all the poorer for it.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Beagle Pain Syndrome

Although not something we'd normally cover here at Red Dog Central Command, this funky condition recently struck our Beagle friend Rose.  Thankfully, she's on the road to recovery (thank you Dr. Cheryl!), but it's yet one more thing to obsess and worry about if you love your dogs as much as we do!

The link to the article is here.