Sunday, February 28, 2010

URGENT --Pet Food Crisis at City Shelters

Urgent: Please take action! And cross post!

Dramatic budget cuts have forced Animal Care & Control of NYC to look to the public for food donations. AC&C’s primary source of funding is the City of New York. Due to the current fiscal environment, that support has been drastically cut. Your food donations are now desperately needed for the hundreds of animals in their three care centers. And they could be needed for months.

Here is how you can help right now.Bill Moran of C+K Distributors has generously agreed to help us help the animals! C+K is a huge distributor of pet food and supplies for the NYC metro area.

In response to this unprecedented emergency, C+K will sell to the public at 5% below wholesale! That is less than what they charge pet stores!

Please, go to your phones on Monday.Call C+K at 718-894-4302
 and say:

"I would like to place an order for the Animal Care & Control Food Drive."

Purchase 1, or as many cases as you can afford, of the following:
24/14oz Pedigree - $17.76 For Dogs
24/13oz Friskies-$19.20 For Cats
The shelter is also out of Kitty Litter.Please purchase 40lb bags of Tidy Cat - $7.75

C+K Hours of Operation:
Monday-Friday 9am-6pm
Saturday 9am – 3pm ¨718-894-4302

Senior dogs and cats with infected teeth can not survive on dry food. And changing the diets of dogs and cats often causes severe diarrhea. So please keep your order to the wet brands listed above.These are the huge 14oz. cans at an amazing price! As the food stockpiles we will need drivers to move the food and litter to the 3 centers in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island.

Volunteers, please call Sarah Brown of NYCACC at 917 217-0571 or reply to me in this email. A huge debt of gratitude to Bill Moran of C+K! And thanks to everyone on this list for cross-posting this message to as many people as you can. Let's get the C+Ks phone lines lit up!

Laurie Bleier 
Brooklyn Animal Foster Network


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Images From and Following the Storm

Central Park was particularly beautiful last night.

The dogs love the snow and it is fun to find the artistic snowmen some people create (or, "Venus" snowwomen in the case of one of the pictures here).

One of the other pictures was taken the day of the actual storm. A beautiful cardinal bracing for the challenging night ahead. Hopefully, s/he made it through. ;)

For those in NY (especially with dogs) getting out in the park on days or nights like these is a must! -- Enjoy! -- PCA


Friday, February 26, 2010

Stormy Days

(Picture left, a man walking his dog during the snow storm of yesterday and today.)

Really big snow storm in NY today. Bitter winds and temperatures; almost two feet of snow in the city.

A man was killed in Central Park yesterday when a snow-leaden branch toppled on top of him.

People are being warned to stay out of the park today because of the danger of falling branches or trees.

I worry over the birds and other animals. Everything frozen over, they struggle for food.

I hope the animals all make it through over the next couple of rough days. Temperatures are predicted to rise to the mid-forties next week. The question is, can all our little friends survive until then? I don't know. Nature, can at times, be cruel. It weeds out the weaker of its creatures.....

Matters are bleak in the city animal shelters, too.

Cuts in the city budget have resulted in a major short-fall of wet dog and cat food.

While some volunteers and rescuers have put the word out on Facebook and Craig's list pleading for donations of wet food, the city, Department of Health and shelter administrators have once again failed to put any sense of urgency to this situation.

That is truly shameful and disgraceful.

It seems the city and shelter leaderships are more concerned with saving face and perpetuating the Disneyworld delusions to the public that all is fine and NYC is "on the road to no-kill" than in addressing an actual crisis.

Last week I wrote about a recent Chow we rescued from Animal Control ("Morris") who has to have all of his teeth pulled due to former owner neglect.

Unfortunately, the case of Morris is the rule, not the exception. Most of the animals dumped in our city shelter have been victims of human neglect.

Many senior dogs and cats arrive at city pounds with severe dental disease and/or missing teeth.

How can these animals be expected to eat hard kibble?

New York City is not some poor little hick town whose people don't have two dimes to rub together.

Many billionaires live in New York City -- at least a few of whom might be considered to like animals.

We also have two of the richest animal organizations in the country: The ASPCA and North Shore Animal League, both of whom sit on top of millions of dollars.

How is it possible that in a city swimming in wealth, greed and all kinds of non-essentials, our city animal shelters could be without BASIC wet food to feed its formerly neglected animal population?

Are the city animal shelters to carry on and continue such neglect?

I worry about some of the birds and other wild animals in our city possibly starving or freezing to death during a particularly nasty snow storm.

But, what about city pets directly under human control in our animal shelters? They can't rely on their own wits and luck to survive (like animals in the wild) as they are totally and utterly dependent upon the humans and institutions they have been abandoned to.

Nor, should matters be left up to shelter volunteers or rescuers to try and come up with the necessary wet pet food supplies to feed the tens of thousands of cats and dogs routinely abandoned at city animal shelters every year.

Its time to put the "all is fine" Disneyword facades behind to be replaced with honest pleas of urgency to the PUBLIC, large corporations and the wealthy animal organizations in our midst.

Wet food is not a luxury for shelter animals. It is necessity for those thousands of cats or dogs who, like Morris have never known a day's worth of responsible human "care" in their lives.

Although spring is only a few weeks away (by the calendar), the storms and crisis' in our animal shelters continue with seemingly no reprieve and no "spring" in sight. -- PCA


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fools Are Us (Animal Entertainment)

(Pictures --I am entertained by animals everyday. -- And I don't have to go far or pay a dime.)
"Didn't this whale have a history of violence towards humans?" was a question posed by Matt Lauer this morning to a representative from Sea World.

The real question should be: "Is a Killer Whale's place in nature to do tricks and 'perform' for human entertainment?"

It is of course tragic that a young woman "trainer" lost her life yesterday when something apparently went horribly wrong just before a planned show.

Perhaps the whale just woke up on the wrong side of the pool yesterday or had a migrane headache. Unfortunately, whales (and other "entertainment" animals) can't call in sick like humans can. Nor, can they stage "walk outs" or "quit their jobs."

One has to wonder just how much whales, elephants and tigers really enjoy bouncing balls or humans around or jumping through hoops? Is this a natural instinct and pleasure for them such as running after and catching a Frisbee is for many dogs?

One thinks not.

Killer whales, tigers and bears are not domesticated animals. They should not be expected or "trained" to do unnatural things simply for the value of money-making and human "entertainment."

What in God's name is wrong with us (humans) that we cannot understand or "get" this very basic concept?

Why is everyone so "shocked" when something like this goes horribly wrong, whether the animal be a charging elephant, raging tiger or "violent killer whale?"

Animals are indeed entertaining -- when simply observed in their natural settings.

I am entertained by animals every day of my life! Whether my own personal (domesticated) dogs and cats or those wild animals I observe in Central Park.

Moreover, I don't need to pay money or go to a "show" for this.

This all goes back to probably my biggest gripe regarding human interactions with other animals -- including domesticated dogs and cats. It seems we are always expecting, demanding and "training" and "molding" animals for things they are not.

Why the hell can't we simply observe, appreciate and respect animals for WHO and WHAT they are, as well as their place in nature?

As for those domesticated pets who we bring into our homes, why can't we understand that any relationship (whether with people or animals) takes time and trust to develop and grow?

You can't force a relationship with a human, cat, dog or any other animal any more than you can force grass to grow faster.

I wish I could say I am "shocked" with the tragic incident that occurred yesterday.

In fact, I am only shocked that it doesn't happen more often.

If people want to be "entertained" by wild animals, then let them take their binoculars and cameras into their local parks or back yards and learn something about the wild animals they actually live alongside. -- The animals who are part of their natural landscape.

Let the whales stay in the oceans and the tigers, chimps and elephants in Asia or Africa.

There are professional photographers and researches who can teach us about these creatures in nature.

The animals should not have to flip balls or jump through hoops for us to "learn" about or be "entertained" by them.

On the contrary, we learn NOTHING by watching animals forced to do things they would never do in a natural state. If anything, many people are falsely led to believe that one can bring a wild animal home and expect it to behave like a domesticated pussy cat or puppy dog. -- One of the reasons for the huge (illegal) trades in "exotic" animals in this country and elsewhere.

And then we act "shocked" when the chimp, tiger or whale suddenly reverts back to some natural state and "attacks" a human.

Duh,,,,,,fools are us. -- PCA


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Perfect Dog

(Pictures: Coby, when first rescued and later, with me -- a truly perfect dog.)
Of the eight dogs we currently have in boarding, all but one have been returned (either from foster or adoption) at least once. The lone exception to this is Dutch, a handsome, very young Retriever/Chow mix who, despite being rescued last spring has yet to find either suitable foster or adoption.

It is not a situation of sickly, neurotic or "aggressive" dogs. Nor, are all the dogs Pitbulls. In fact, only one of our dogs ("Nia") is best described as a "Pitbull" mix.

But, almost all of the dogs have failed in one way or another to live up to someone's fantasy or unrealistic expectation. All have seemingly failed to be "perfect" or "fit" like a glove.

In thinking about the many dogs I have had over a life-time, almost none have "fit like a glove" nor could be described as "perfect" -- including the two dogs I have now.

As mentioned yesterday, my Corgi/Spitz mix, Tina has never been one for dog runs, nor is she truly trustworthy off-leash. Tina's curiosity and instinct to "herd" small animals has resulted in several instances over the years of almost losing her in the park. Yet, despite her "shortcomings," Tina has been an ideal dog for me. -- Loving, very social with people and other animals and beautifully behaved in an apartment (well, with the exception of Tina stealing coffee when I walk out of the room!)

My Pomeranian, Chance was rescued from death at the pound almost two years ago. He was on the Euthanasia list for "Severe" behavior.

Chance attempted to bite almost everyone in the pound: "Lunging, biting rope, extremely aggressive. Will bite."

Apparently, Chance was so fractious, attending vets didn't even realize he was already neutered.

However, during the almost two years I've had Chance, he has evolved into an extremely loving, devoted, secure, gentle and happy dog! While still a little skittish and wary of strangers, Chance has come a long way since his "lunging and attempting to bite" days at the AC&C.

I never of course attempted to "adopt" Chance out to a member of the public despite adoption being the mission of a rescue organization. With all the "severe and aggressive" stuff on Chance's shelter record, I figured any attempts to place could later result in a lawsuit for "knowingly" adopting out an "aggressive" dog.

It is just as well however. I love Chance as if he were my own child -- as I love Tina.

However, as mentioned, almost ALL of the dogs kept over the years, had both, their attributes -- and their weaknesses (like people, don't you think?)

There was Taffy, the purebred Cocker Spaniel given to us from relatives when I was a kid.

Taffy seemed to have "Cocker Spaniel Rage." He bit just about everyone, but my Grandmother. (Taffy had "issues" apparently with people petting him on top of his head.)

Nevertheless, despite Taffy's obvious "aggression" we kept him for the seven remaining years of his life -- until he developed and died from terminal cancer.

I greatly enjoyed running with Taffy up and down the neighborhood streets over the years. I feel Taffy was greatly responsible for teaching me to be cautious around dogs and to never take anything for granted. I also learned how important exercise is for dogs. -- Taffy was always a nicer, easier and happier dog after a good run.

When I was 18-years-old, I adopted my first dog from the ASPCA, a little Shepherd/Spitz mix who I named "Sheppie."

Sheppie was an incredibly smart, loyal, healthy and devoted dog. But, she took the "protectiveness" too far. It seems anytime my Mom and I got into a fight, Sheppie got between us and on several occasions actually bit my Mother. Sheppie was also protective and "guarding" with bones. Although I worried over this when my daughter was born ten years later, it turned out not to be a problem. Sheppie just seemed to have "issues" with my Mother and not anyone else. Perhaps that's because, when I first brought Sheppie home, my Mom cooly remarked, "What's the matter? You couldn't find a prettier dog?"

After Sheppie passed from kidney failure at age 17, we rescued and adopted several dogs over the years.

I rescued and kept a stray German Shepherd from the Bronx streets. "Heidi" was a fabulous and protective dog with the whole family. But, she was totally terrified of thunder storms. Any time it rained, Heidi panicked and jumped into our laps. It wasn't particularly fun having a 60 lb "neurotic" dog suddenly lunge into your lap every time there was a rain storm!

Sadly, we lost Heidi far too early. At only nine years of age, Heidi developed a fatal form of cancer that started in the side of her face and quickly spread.

Following Heidi's passing, there was Fawn, an initially timid Lab/Whippet mix we adopted from the ASPCA.

Fawn was a fabulous "Frisbee" dog and could entertain people in Central Park for hours. But, she was destructive when we first adopted her (as a young dog) and destroyed a good sofa along with carpeting.

Fawn was also very "Alpha" around other female dogs and got into some initial fierce battles with female dogs I rescued and fostered in Fawn's later years. The only exception to that was Tina who I rescued and fostered in Fawn's last year of life. Perhaps Fawn was too weak and crippled (from Arthritis) at that point to do battle. Or, perhaps she just sensed that Tina was such a little whoose and posed no real "threat" to her, it simply wasn't worth the trouble.

I elected to keep Tina when on one grief-filled evening, I was forced to have Fawn euthanized at my vet because she could barely walk at all without excruciating pain.

Finding Tina at the door to comfort me when I arrived home with tears streaming down my face, "sealed the deal" that Tina from that point on, was no longer "up for adoption" but in fact, my dog.

No, almost none of the dogs I've had over more than five decades has been "perfect" especially from day one (it took Tina six weeks to get housebreaking down. for example.). But, all these imperfect canines have enriched and added to my life in ways that no book, however long or detailed could ever describe.

By today's "standards" and demands all of the dogs mentioned would have been "returned" to the adoption agency or dumped in a pound -- especially Taffy the Cocker Spaniel with "rage" and Sheppie who had "issues" with my Mom.

Still, in all these descriptions and experiences, there was ONE dog -- one lone exception to the rule who truly was "perfect" from day one.

He was a broken, beaten-up, old and apparently discarded "junk-yard dog" who I found forlornly stumbling around Harlem streets one day with a friend.

"Coby" had only one eye, was at least ten-years-old and had at least a decade's worth of imbedded dirt and grime on him that took numerous baths to remove. Additionally, he was a large, "mongrel" dog whose "breed" or lineage was impossible to determine.

But, Coby was ironically the only dog I could say was truly "perfect" not just from day one, but for the sadly shortened 4 years I had him. Coby was so grateful for just having been rescued and finally finding a real home that he never left my side. He was gentle, loving, devoted and just plain wonderful with everything from cats, to kids, to other dogs.

Coby just loved life itself, despite the many blows it had dealt him over the years -- including trauma and destruction to one of his eyes.

Initially, I was afraid to bring Coby home. A big, mongrel "stray" I didn't know what to expect when introducing Coby to my other dog, Fawn, my cats or my teenage daughter. But, all worries were for naught. Though I tried to find Coby an "adoptive" home no was interested in an old, discarded, "junk-yard" mutt. This was despite a published letter in the New York Times about Coby, as well as an article in Good Housekeeping magazine.

How ironic that the truly most perfect dog in the world was the very last dog anyone (other than myself of course) would desire.

The world lost out on Coby -- but I gained a world-full of love and undying devotion.

How sad to lose Coby four years later to the same crippling Arthritis that eventually took Fawn's life. To his last day on earth, Coby was so housebroken he would rather bust his bladder than piddle in the house. "Perfection" was tragically and ironically my reason for having to euthanize Coby in the end at the Animal Medical Center (the dog was too good and too perfect.) Coby could no longer walk or navigate stairs.
But, he was too proud and too disciplined to be "paper trained."

But, you know, in the end they have all been wonderful dogs -- each in his or her own special way. And they all were dogs I learned from -- especially, Taffy it seems due to his actual "aggression."

But, those people who adopt and "return" dogs (or cats) to shelters or rescue groups often within days of an adoption learn nothing at all.

Rather, they continue to live in their selfish fantasies, delusions and disconnection to the real world.

Perhaps in the end, they are more to be pitied than condemned. -- PCA


Monday, February 22, 2010

Shoe Salespersons, We Are Not

(Picture left: Beautiful and loving Coco. Her greatest failing is that she is a dog and not a shoe!)

Last week, I mentioned that two of our dogs in longtime boarding had been adopted. But, I only wrote about one, Daisy.

I did not write up the other story because unfortunately, experience teaches that one can never be overly optimistic or confident about adoptions immediately after they have taken place.

Too many dogs are returned shortly following adoptions for failure to "fit" someone's unrealistic fantasies or all-encompassing expectations.

I wanted to think that after spending a full year in boarding, "Coco," a beautiful, loyal and loving Samoyed/Chow mix had finally found her forever home.

Her adopter had previously had a Standard Poodle for 13 years, lived alone, had a good, professional job and had no other pets.

Such might seem the ideal home for a dog who, in the past lived with a single, mature woman in the city projects who apparently died from a drug OD.

But, it was not to be.

You see, "Nora" (the adopter) not only wanted a loving, trained, housebroken and loyal companion to humans, but also a dog who would be a grand hit in the local dog run!

Unfortunately, most mature female dogs are not fans of dog runs. -- That includes my dog, Tina.

From the day I got her (at only about a year-old), Tina never had any interest in dog runs.

Although very active, exploratory and curious (even 13 years following her adoption) Tina was always bored out of her mind at dog runs. I recall Tina almost always going to the gate as if to say, "OK, I've had enough. What else can you show me?"

Dog runs are primarily for very young dogs who need to run off steam and their mostly inactive human owners who like to stand or sit around and chew the fat with other people.

That is not a bad thing of course. On the contrary, dog runs serve a very useful and beneficial purpose especially in large cities where many young apartment dogs can suffer from lack of stimulation, exercise or socialization and play with other dogs.

But, most dogs I've experienced over the years (including the two I own now) enjoy far more, long, brisk and stimulating walks with their people. Dogs like to explore, see and sniff new sights and, I believe, most of all, enjoy that feeling of being "part of the pack" with their human caregivers.

It is thus, the things we DO WITH our dogs (whether training, playing, grooming or walking/running with them) that create that unique and special "bond" that so many people seek with dogs. Such bond does not occur in a dog run where dogs primarily interact with each other and the people chat with other dog owners. Dog runs may be good for human and dog socialization -- but unfortunately do little, if anything at all to create or enhance the dog-to-human bond.

If you want a close relationship and "bond" with your dog then DO THINGS with him or her!

And, as with humans, any substantive, meaningful relationship takes TIME.

I, of course, tried to relate all of these things in several conversations to Nora, Coco's adopter.

Also shared with Nora was the fact that although Coco got along very well with the other dogs she lived with in the boarding situation, she knew those dogs as "part of her pack" and would need time to adjust and feel comfortable with the unfamiliar dogs in a new neighborhood.

Nora was advised by both Chris (Coco's caregiver) and myself not to bring Coco to a dog run at this time.

But, do all people listen to the important advice they are given?


And in almost every instance that adopters fail to heed the advice they are given, the dogs inevitably are returned.

In this case with the adopter claiming that Coco is "vicious" around other dogs -- an odd thing considering Coco is peacefully living in a house with other dogs.

Further questioning by Chris revealed that Nora had indeed brought Coco to a dog run where the 6-year-old female Chow mix exhibited dominant postering towards the other dogs -- something that should have been fully anticipated under the circumstances.

If Nora felt that Coco "wasn't the right fit" for her, this news was never communicated to me.

In fact, Nora unceremoniously dumped Coco back to Chris without even a call to me.

We in animal rescue and sheltering work are not in the business of "fitting" shoes or gloves.

Much to what some organizations, TV shows or individuals might imply, We don't manufacture or mold dogs to "fit" people's fantasies, lifestyles or body parts!

As said so many times in this journal, if one wants an immediately "perfect" dog or cat, one should go out and buy a stuffed one in a toy store.

If one needs an "instant fit," one should go to Walmart or Bloomingdale's and try on shoes or gloves.

Neither we (in animal rescue and placement) nor the "Millionaire Matchmaker" can create perfect relationships or "bonds" for people.

Rather, we create potential and opportunity.

But, potential and opportunity only go so far.

In the end, the "perfect bond" (whether between people and other people or people and their animals) is something that has to be created by the parties themselves and usually not without a good deal of work, time and sacrifice.

Shoe salespersons, we are not. -- PCA


Saturday, February 20, 2010


No ponderings today.

Instead, recent pictures of my favorite places and things.......
Seagulls doing ice landings.....the beautiful swans of Harlem Meer.... my dog, Tina inspecting two snowmen in the park.....("Have we met before?") ....Central Park on a snowy night,.... the frozen Reservoir looking more like a skating rink under the moonlight. -- PCA

Friday, February 19, 2010

At Our Mercy

(Picture Left: "Morris" --Neglected for a number of years in former home. Finally finding compassion and responsibility.)

From: Lawrence White

Sent: Feb 17, 2010 10:17 PM

Subject: Abandoned and left to die

I was out shooting photos in a rural part of upstate NY today when I spotted a beautiful but very thin dog standing on the side of a rarely used country road. Of course it had been snowing for two days so it was obvious that this dog was in distress.

With that in mind I ran into the nearby hamlet and picked up a few cans of dog food. When I came back this big boy ate all three cans in short order and gulped down some fresh water.

While he was eating I inspected the scene and it soon became apparent what had happened. Some heartless fool had simply pulled over to the roadside (in spite of the snow, tire tracks were still visible), let the dog out and drove away. The dog had stayed in that spot the entire time waiting for his owner to return. This dog's loyalty would not allow him to leave.

With the freezing temperatures and continuing snow it is a miracle he survived out in the open.

After about an hour of coaxing he finally decided to get into my car and he is now sleeping at my feet in my studio.

This is a great dog who has a generous spirit, a huge heart and a deep desire to please. He loves love. I imagine he is about one and half years old and weighs about 80 lbs. He will fill out now that he will be eating consistently.

Due to my work schedule and issues with my landlord - sadly I am not able to keep him here for any longer than a few days. However he is so handsome and so agreeable I know that he will find a good home with someone who wants a real pal to hang out with. Please cross post and let me know if you hear of anyone who is interested. Thanks. // LW Contact:

I am posting the above appeal that was sent to me in email and requested to be shared.

I do so for a couple of reasons:

The first is to obviously lend support to a good Samaritan who went out of his way to do a merciful deed. One hates to imagine what would have happened to this pitiful and loyal dog had the compassionate photographer not happened along.

But, the other reason is to wonder out loud what some people are thinking?

In these days when every community has a pound or Animal Control shelter that is required to accept every animal, why would some people choose to abandon a pet to the elements -- especially during a bitter snow storm and in the middle of nowhere? (Trust me, upper New York State is extremely frigid in the winter and almost constantly gets snow.)

There seem to be no limits to the cruelty and callousness of some people in our so-called, civilized nation.

Incidents like these are sadly common and have to tell us that "Humane Education" in our culture is apparently just a phrase. For example, while there is a law in New York City that requires Humane Education be taught in schools, the law is not enforced. Unless shown and taught compassion in the home, most kids grow up with little or no exposure to the rules of decency, mercy and humanity to both animals and other people.

This might help explain why things like "bullying" and physical "fighting" have become almost epidemic in schools throughout the country.

We tend to idolize celebrity, physical prowess and winning in our country. And while one can certainly appreciate the talent, dedication and hard work that go into winning an Olympic medal, an Oscar or the American Idol competition, what about the other things that make us "human?"

Things like empathy, mercy, selflessness, enlightenment and yes, "humaneness."

Something is tragically missing in our society when daily, videos of kids beating each other up are posted on You Tube and thousands of pets are abandoned either to pounds or on lonely road sides.

Yesterday, in a conversation with a young man who recently adopted a Chow from us, I had to explain that "most of the animals dumped at the pound have been victims of serious neglect. A well-cared-for cat or dog abandoned at Animal Control, is the exception, not the rule."

This was in reply to Chuck's queries and seeming shock that the loving and sweet dog he and his partner helped our organization rescue, needs to have almost all his teeth pulled (due to neglect and disease) as well as treatment for severe ear infections.

"I don't understand how anyone could so neglect such a loving and gentle dog like Morris," Chuck lamented.

"Believe me, " I replied, "I could keep you on the phone for hours telling you about just some of the dogs we have rescued over the years who were in far worse condition in terms of neglect. We should be grateful that Morris' former owners dumped him now and not when the infections from his teeth went all through the system. At least we can reverse the situation now -- even if it means he has to eat soft food for the rest of his life."

In another conversation yesterday with an animal lover and potential adopter, I exclaimed, "I feel far worse for all the animals in neglectful or abusive homes than I do for the millions of stray cats and dogs in our country."

"Really? Why is that?" Georgette asked, obviously taken aback with the statement.

"Because most animals are amazingly resilient and clever in fending for themselves. The stray dog or cat can learn to forage through garbage or kill small rodents if they have to. They can find shelter in abandoned buildings, basements or junk lots. I have rescued hundreds of strays over the years and with very few exceptions, they were in far better shape than most of the abandoned pets we have rescued who were dumped from homes."

"That is interesting," Georgette answered. "We tend to think strays have it far worse than owned pets."

"Think of it this way," I said. "The dog chained up in someone's back yard or the radiator in someone's apartment has no where to go. S/he is completely at the mercy of his human owners. S/he is dependent on the human owners for shelter, food and basic care. Many people fail in that mercy and care. When they do, the animal can starve to death, suffer from matting and skin diseases or suffocate/bleed to death from an imbedded collar. Feral cats and other strays rarely starve to death. And certainly no stray or feral dog is going to die from an imbedded collar!"

"I never thought of things that way," Georgette replied thoughtfully.

"Well, if one watches the 'Animal Cop' shows, they're not out there picking up stray cats and dogs. They are either chasing 100 terrified cats in some 'hoarder' situation, seizing starved, chained dogs from someone's back yard or picking up the embedded-collar dogs. These are the miseries that people create, not nature."

Some organizations may brag about the high volume adoptions they do to "loving homes."

But, if all the homes are so "loving" how then do so many millions of pets end up abandoned each year either to road sides or shelters? Why are cruelty agents constantly having to rescue animals in near-death states from human homes? And why are most shelters and rescue groups having to spend millions in veterinary care for animals who never received this basic care in their former homes?

It is not the stray cats and dogs who are commanding and getting all this expense and effort. Most stray and feral animals have long given up on human compassion and on the contrary, flee from and avoid humans at all costs. The fact, is most stray and feral animals don't need humans to survive.

A big part of me now feels that instead of directing so many resources towards the rescue and "re-homing" or "adoption" of animals, a big chunk of those monies and resources should instead be directed towards actually getting Humane Education in ALL the schools.

Because unless and until things like compassion, decency, responsibility and humaneness can be taught to the young in our country, then millions of animals in human homes will forever be at greater peril than those roaming our streets.

They are forever at our mercy.

The question to sadly ask in too many cases is, "What mercy?" -- PCA


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Daisy's Story

(Pictures: Daisy when first rescued. Daisy, rolling on her back for those she loves. -- Happy at last!)
"Never give up!" as the saying goes.

While the adoption prospects for animals in long-time boarding or foster situations appear to become dimmer with time, they are not entirely hopeless.

Over the past few weeks, two of our dogs have been adopted.

This may not seem like a big deal compared to shelters or rescues that do high volume adoptions, but for us these two adoptions were like small miracles.

You see, both dogs had been in boarding for almost a year.

The first dog was "Daisy."

This is her personal story:

Daisy is a young, vivacious and beautiful Retriever/Chow mix.

Daisy arrived at Animal Control after her elderly owner suffered health problems, had to go into senior housing and was forced to give up her beloved dog.

Daisy was nervous in the shelter, did not do well on her Behavior Tests and ended up on the Euth list.

That is when we took her.

Because she was young (only a couple of years), healthy and quite beautiful, I thought Daisy would be a fairly quick adoption.

But, I was totally wrong.

Daisy was very strong and pulled wildly on the leash. She was hard to control. Moreover, it didn't seem Daisy was well socialized with other dogs.

Initially, I boarded Daisy at a dog spa in Manhattan. Although I and others walked her everyday, Daisy seemed to become frustrated with the confinement in a boarding facility.

About a month after her rescue, one of my experienced foster homes opened up and Carrie was kind enough to take Daisy even though the young mother already had a couple of cats and one other dog in her home.

At first, Daisy chased the cats, but when one of the felines hauled off and swatted the excited Retriever mix in the snout, Daisy quickly learned to leave the cats alone.

Daisy was however, wonderful with Carrie's two children and accepting of the family's other foster dog -- an older, neutered, male Cocker Spaniel.

The Spaniel was eventually adopted. And about a month after being with Carrie and her family, Daisy too, was adopted.

It seemed like the perfect adoption situation.

A lovely family with two adolescent kids, a home in Connecticut with several acres of land and other pets, including two cats and a dog.

The only thing that concerned me a little was that the other dog in the home was an older, spayed female who had previously not lived with a second dog.

Generally, when adopting a second dog, opposite sex is more compatible. Two females together can be especially problematic.

I tried to dismiss my concerns with the hope that the two dogs would get along. After all, Daisy had been accepting of the foster Cocker Spaniel and was compatible with him.

But, the compatibility between the two newly acquainted female dogs never occurred in the adoptive home. In fact, the longer they were together, the more Daisy and the family's other dog seemed to hate each other. Neither dog was willing to play "second fiddle" to the other. The family felt forced to separate the two dogs and quite predictably, ended up returning Daisy to us a few weeks following the adoption.

Only this time, Carrie's apartment building had initiated a new rule that no dogs over 30 lbs would be allowed.

Daisy could not go back to her foster home. I had to send her to boarding once again.

And in a very reputable boarding/training facility in New Jersey is where Daisy stayed -- until about three weeks ago.

While there had been a hand-full of adoption calls on Daisy over the many months she was in boarding they either lacked dog experience, had other female dogs at home or simply failed to follow-up or go to see Daisy. There was only one older couple who actually went to meet Daisy. But, the apparently discriminating Chow/Retriever mix had been "cool, indifferent and aloof" to the man and his wife of many years. They obviously did not adopt her.

I therefore, almost fell over the day, three weeks ago, I finally received a very promising adoption inquiry on Daisy.

Not wanting to get my hopes too high, I spoke matter-of-factly with the potential adoptive parents and told them Daisy's entire history from previously living with an elderly owner, to her stint at the pound, to foster, to failed and rejected adoption and finally, to her many long months in boarding.

But, the married couple with two teenage children and no other pets at home, were not deterred by any of it.

The family had a good history with dogs, a car, a townhouse in the city that was near Central Park and considered themselves to be "quite active." The mother was especially seeking a companion dog to take long walks in the park with.

I warned "Lisa" that Daisy might be a little "aloof" with her family the fist time meeting them.

"She's been with Ed (the trainer) in boarding a long time now. Sometimes dogs get attached to their environments and people they are with a long time."

But, Lisa was very understanding. She wasn't expecting Daisy to immediately run up to and lick everyone's face.

"I understand that it takes time to develop a relationship with animals." Lisa told me. "Our first dog was generally aloof with new people until she got to know them."

But, all my cautions turned out to be for naught as surprisingly, Daisy responded very positively and immediately to the family from the very instant she met them!

It was mutual "love at first sight!"

Needless to say, Lisa and her family adopted Daisy. And three weeks later, the news has been nothing but positive. They are entirely happy with Daisy and she with them. In fact, all that "aloofness" and even wildness from Daisy's past seems to be gone. She has settled in beautifully.

Perhaps it just took time with Daisy. She needed to settle down, get consistent exposure and socialization with other dogs and learn to be a bit more open with people she didn't know well. She needed to be with somebody who knew how to achieve these things humanely and compassionately and Ed seems to have been the right person for that.

Or, perhaps, like so many other dogs we have rescued and eventually placed, Daisy simply had to wait a long time for the right family and situation to finally come along.

As has often been said in this journal, sometimes it is simply better to "Let the dogs choose their own adopters."

Even if they -- and we have to wait a year for them. -- PCA


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Our Relationship with Nature and Animals

(Pictures: Right, ducks and geese brace against the cold and share the refuge of the ice in Central Park Reservoir. Left: Ducks scurrying for morsels of seed in the snow.)

Does anyone ever wonder why almost all wild animals are afraid of humans? That includes feral dogs and cats.

We are, after all smaller than many in the animal kingdom.

While domesticated pets have learned to trust human beings (often at cost of their very lives as witnessed by the killings of millions of dogs and cats in shelters every year) the rest of the wildlife kingdom generally flees at the mere sight or nearness of humans.

Even free-ranging domesticated cows grazing on pasture, will scurry from the sight of humans they are not familiar with.

Centuries of hunting, trapping, abuse, and general harassment and killing of wild animals (including "stray" cats and dogs) have presumably caused that.

It seems now to be in the genetic makeup of most wild animals to regard humans either as "predators" to be feared and avoided or at the very minimum, mysterious creatures that should not be easily trusted or ventured too close to.

That is unfortunate as not all humans are hostile to animals or represent danger to them. Many humans in fact, seek to protect animals, aid them or at the very least, simply respect and let them be.

There is much we can learn from animals in terms of how they survive in nature and in many cases, cooperate with each other for the greater good and survival of the different or individual species.

I have personally found it very intriguing and fulfilling observing the various bird species in Central Park and how they get through the tough times of the winter.

It is, for example, fascinating to see the ducks, geese, seagulls and even the occasional pair of swans peacefully sharing the same dwindling resources with little fighting or harassment. The fact that geese and swans are so much bigger and stronger than ducks might lead one to conclude that they could easily take over various areas frequented by ducks.

But, "might makes right" does not seem to prevail so much in the animal or bird worlds as it does in the human world (putting aside of course, the delicate predator/prey relationships). Sure, one will see the occasional scuffle over a food source with perhaps some ruffling of feathers. But, mostly the animals quickly scurry for whatever they can get and save their energy for more important things -- like the mere act of survival.
(Fighting does indeed waste energy, doesn't it? Funny how most animals seem to get that better than humans.)

I remember when younger, it was a fairly common sight to see people in Central Park with pigeons eating food directly from their hands. The human lucky enough to win the trust of a squirrel by offering peanuts was usually the subject of other passersby's smiles and photographs.

It is very rare to see that now. On the contrary, most feeders of birds or other animals, (most notably feral cats) in New York City have learned through negative experiences to conduct their operations in clandestine manner. They are often and sadly regarded by many as borderline "criminals" or "nuts."

It is not uncommon for bird or cat feeders to be yelled at or in other ways harassed for feeding "rats with wings" or "nuisance" cats.

What most people don't realize is that feral cats serve a very critical purpose in the city by keeping down and in check, explosive rat and mouse populations. Even if well fed, a cat, by its mere presence is deterrent to almost all rodents as they are the natural enemy.

Pigeons too, serve important purposes in the city by helping to keep it clean and free particularly of food debris.

Even so, the number one cause of death to pigeons in the city is starvation.

Few pigeons seem to live in Central Park these days. The (primarily older) people who used to feed them have long since passed.

The pigeons scavenge around city sidewalks and mostly take residence near the various street food vendors in search of the crumbs or leftovers tossed out by fast eating and rushing New Yorkers.

Some years back, when getting involved with the rescue, sterilizations and (when possible) adoption placements of stray and feral cats, I could not understand why it took so much time and effort to "win" the trust of feral cats (if at all) who had been born and lived outside. After all, I had been so "kind" to them. -- Taking them off the mean streets of New York City and offering them loving human homes!

But, I understand it now.

You can't "undo" decades and centuries of human harassment, hostility and killing with a few sympathetic humans or even one generation of a generally more enlightened human populace.

Most humans even of modern generation generally frown down on feral cats even if not outrightly hostile to them. The same is true for "stray" and feral dogs.

Most feral cats and dogs thus fair better to avoid humans -- even today. In most cases, it spares them premature death at the pound (i.e. "round-up, impound and kill.").

Avoidance of humans is, sad to say, one of feral cats and dogs main survival skills.

What most people don't understand however, about our so-called "nuisance" animals is that despite all human attempts to "control," kill and keep their numbers down, the wit, cooperation, survival and procreation skills of the geese, ducks, pigeons, feral cats, dogs and other animals will always be one step ahead of man's ( self-defeating in more ways than one) attempts to manipulate, control, "hunt" or plunder their numbers.

The animals do well to maintain their distrust and natural caution of humans.

Still, wouldn't it be nice to someday realize a time when things would no longer have to be that way?

We have so much to learn and gain from animals (in non-material sense) when we in fact, EARN their trust and build, rather than destroy the potential for relationship. -- PCA


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Window Dressing

(Picture Left: "Teddy." Wonderful German Shepherd/Samoyed mix adopted out over a year ago. Returned for "personal issues" and now in boarding for several months. Rescue is the easy part. Its finding the responsible and truly committed homes that is the bitch. Then again, we are dealing with a public that has little clue to the realities.)

Instead of fretting and worrying over what adoption possibilities we missed out on during the week my phone and Internet services were down, I should rather have counted my blessings.

It has taken days to skim through and regrettably have to delete the hundreds of shelter "Alerts" and begging appeals to rescue dogs and cats. The stories and pictures are heart-wrenching. So many small dogs -- usually in wretched, neglected condition. So many cats and even some moms and litters already starting to come in. And of course, the never-ending calamity of abandoned, cast-off, Pitbulls.

Appeals starting to sound more and more desperate, frustrated and in some cases, even angry.

Well, one cannot blame the (New Hope) people in charge of sending out the Alerts to rescue groups.

They have a tough, demanding and in many ways, a thankless job. They are limited to sending out the alerts only to rescue groups or no-kill shelters with warnings on every one, that the emails are not to be shared with the general public.

Of course (in my view) it is the public (and media) that should be receiving these daily accounts and appeals of woe, neglect, abandonment and cruelty.

The public creates the problem and ultimately, it is only the public that can solve it through greater education, awareness and responsibility.

But, instead the public and media are constantly presented with "Disneyworld"-type scenarios that all is fine in the worlds of animal rescue, sheltering and adoption.

The latest claim is that we are "no kill for space" during the months of January through March in New York City!

But, in reality, it is all just a matter of semantics and labels.

Our shelters are of course putting down hundreds of animals during these months. Seemingly as many as most other months of the year (save perhaps the particularly cruel summer.) We are just freer in attaching the "Illness" or "Behavior" labels on the dogs or cats going down during these months. That is the only real difference.

Since most animals entering our shelters usually become temporarily sick with treatable Upper Respiratory Infections or sometimes gastro-intestinal bugs, it is just a matter of waiting until the dogs or cats exhibit symptoms.

For those healthy animals with particularly resilient immune systems, a hiss (in cats) or a failing grade on one of the (controversial) SAFER (behavioral) tests in dogs will guarantee a place on the next day's Euthanasia list.

Of course when one considers that New York City lacks full service shelters in every borough and that the Manhattan Animal Control "shelter" (which was originally some type of warehouse) is under "reconstruction" for almost two years (which results in half the facility being closed) and that most rescues are beyond the saturation point, then it stands to logic and reason that a lot of animals are going to have die exactly for space.

But, to admit that is to admit all of the above.

And the city doesn't want a concerned public demanding better (or even just the truth) or an angry bunch of "Animal Rights Activists" picketing City Hall.

And so we find ways to tell the people what they want to hear.

Such as, "New York City to be No-Kill by 2015" or "We're not euthanizing for space during Janurary, February and March!"

Yep, tell the people what they want to hear.

Even if it bears no resemblance to reality.

The question to ask however is, "How do we solve problems when we don't even acknowledge that the problems exist?"

Problems such as over-bred, abused and abandoned Pitbulls. Problems such as Pet-shop-bought animals eventually ending up in shelters -- usually in horrible condition. Cats breeding and dying on city streets. People deliberately breeding animals either to make money or allow the kids to see "the miracle of birth."

The problems in fact go on and on and are too numerous and complicated to cite in a single blog entry.

But, regardless of the heady and serious problems,(mostly created by the public) we seem to make them "go away" by either hiding or lying about them. -- It's as easy as plunging a needle filled with deadly solution into a cat or dog.

The dog or cat thus, "goes away" and we can say that the animal was responsible for his/he own demise either by becoming "ill" or showing some anxiety or "unsocial" behavior in a crowded shelter.

Or, perhaps we can blame it on the rescues who aren't "stepping up to the plate" to take all the hundreds of animals flooding into the shelters every week: Senior dogs and cats suddenly dumped after more than a decade in a home ("use, abuse and lose"). Dogs and cats callously discarded because it is easier than neutering. Animals not even acknowledged as having been pets ("The mom cat and litter just walked up to me on the street!" "The poodle is a stray.").

But, to me the most shameful aspect of the entire situation is the attachment of meaningless "illness" and "behavior" labels on animals who, for the most part, are indeed dying for lack of space (or home) and overpopulation of their breed (particularly true for Pitbulls and cats.)

At the very least, we should be honest about the real reasons the animals are dying. It is to honor, respect and mourn their lives and premature deaths in our city.

Otherwise, though the individual animals "go away" (through so-called "euthanasia" and denial) the real reasons for the endless shelter killings (mostly public apathy and ignorance) will never go away as they are never addressed or even admitted to. -- PCA


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Please Contact Sponsors of Michael Vick "Reality" Show ---URGENT

In the categories of outrageous and insane, Michael Vick now has his own "reality" show on Black Entertainment Television (BET). I caught part of it a few days ago. As indicated in the forwarded (below) mail, Vick feels "victim" to society's unfairness. Talked endlessly about how he "cried" on way to jail -- how his girlfriend cried, his Mom, kids, etc.etc. Apparently brutality to animals pays big in this culture. Not only does Vick stand to make millions as football player, but now to earn big bucks from a show and become some sort of icon to the young and confused in our society. Unbelievable!

Please read fully the below mail and contact the sponsors for this "show."

Michael Vick Reality Show Sponsors ** E-Mail and Boycott ** (Updated 2/10/10)Share Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 10:58pm February 2, 2010

Dear Friends,

Please e-mail the sponsors of the Michael Vick Reality Show and express your opposition to their financial support of the program.

As a result of their advertising, Vick is profiting from a lucrative reality television contract. This show is beyond the pale of depravity and must be canceled. Please also stop buying these companies' products immediately and tell your friends and family to do the same. Of all the shows on television, these corporations made a decision to support Michael Vick.

Maybelline Checkers

Walden University 1-866-492-5336 Ford



5-Hour Energy




Avon KFC


Bally Fitness


From Paris with Love

Shutter Island

The Crazies Hershey's





Broadview Security (formerly Brinks Security)

Please also contact BET and tell them what you think of the show:

2/4/10 Update: Nivea ended their commercial sponsorship of the show after being inundated with customer e-mails complaining about their support of the program.

2/5/10 Update: Pizza Hut issued a press release informing the public that they asked BET to end their commercial support of the show.

2/5/10 Update: Denny's Restaurant contacted BET and ended their support after receiving e-mails from concerned customers expressing their opposition to the show.

2/6/10 Update: L'Oreal issued a press release that they have terminated their support of the Michael Vick "Reality" Show and apologized for offending L'Oreal customers.

2/8/10 Update: Nationwide Insurance issued a press release announcing that they asked BET to pull their ads from the Michael Vick Reality Show and that they do not support the program and do not wish to have any association with it. They stated the huge volume of calls from customers prompted them to change their position. Initially, they stated they were not in the business of judging shows that aired their commercials.

2/9/10 Update: I spoke with a representative from Customer Relations at Dave and Busters today. She told me that they contacted BET and insisted that they pull their ads from the show. She stated they have been receiving calls all week and got the message. (I will DVR the next episode and FF to the commercials to confirm these advertisers' commitments and identify any new advertisers who may have filled their shoes.)

If Vick hadn't killed dogs, he would never have this show. He's making money off his killing spree. He recently said the reason for the show is to clear his family name. He also said that he will not speak about dog fighting anymore after the show.

When Vick said he was going to dedicate his life to speaking out against dog fighting, apparently he meant he would do it twice per month for a year until people forgot about it and it was safe for him to be rich and famous again and profit from his crimes.

He did a masterful job of using the HSUS to help him re-enter society. He was never sincere. He still thinks he's a victim as evidenced by his arrogant and callous remarks after being nominated for the Ed Block Courage Award: "I've overcome a lot, more than probably one single individual can handle or bear," Vick said. "You ask certain people to walk through my shoes, they probably couldn't do. Probably 95 percent of the people in this world because nobody had to endure what I've been through, situations I've been put in..."

Some people argue "everyone deserves a second's time to move on" and "everyone makes mistakes".

Vick did not make a mistake; it was a conscious and calculated decision that he knew was wrong. He is diabolical, transparent, and evil. There is no cure for evil. He doesn't deserve a second chance for his heinous and unspeakable crimes against animals. Those of us who speak for animals will not "move on" as Vick is emblematic of a larger problem in a society that shows disregard for the welfare of animals and believes lenient sentences and fines equate to justice. They do not.

If people want to idolize this sadistic killer, cheer for him from the stands and wear his jersey, they can do it. We draw the line with a reality show that allows him to profit from his felonies.

Let us send a clear message -- if you brutalize helpless animals, you will not be accepted back into society and return to fame and wealth without opposition.

Our silence allows the opposite message to be sent. Complacency breeds acceptance. Acceptance leads to continued violence against animals. We do not have to accept things as they are and we will not. Please help us send a message to the shameless sponsors of this show that we will boycott their products until they end their support of the program. You can click "Share" on this note and post it to your profile page to spread the word. Thank you.

On behalf of the dogs Michael Vick fought, kicked, shot, hanged, electrocuted, drowned, and tortured,

Andrew Kirschner


Friday, February 12, 2010

No "Back-Ups" Necessary

(Pictures: Geese and ducks returned to the ice and waters of Reservoir after the snow storm. -- Huddled against the cold. My happy dog, Chance and my other dog, Tina in the Central Park snow yesterday.)

By the time this and three other recent blog entries get posted, I will finally be online again after a full week without phone and Internet services.

This past week is best described as scenes from the "Out of Towners" or perhaps some old episodes of "The Honeymooners." -- Whatever could go wrong has gone wrong.

I don't want to think about possible homes for rescued animals we missed out on during this "comedy of errors" period nor how shoddy and "unresponsive" this organization appears to those who called or emailed about animals this past week.

There is no sense to lament or fret about those things one has no real control over.

Something like "telephone repair" seems to be under the auspices of one monopoly in New York City (Verizon). Its not as though there was option to call someone else or switch to a different service. All repair reports made came back to the same thing: Verizon. The public be damned. We are at the mercy of corporate America in terms of when or even if they show up.

Let's just say I now understand the importance of having back-up cell phone service -- even though I personally have little use or desire for a cell phone.

Perhaps it is just the times we live in. -- Everything seems to need "back-up" these days as so little can be truly counted upon all the time. We need "back-up" to our computers, all technical and electrical devices and even sometimes, relationships.

Indeed, the only exception one can think of to this "rule" (putting aside the eventuals of illness or death) are our pets -- particularly dogs.

The love, trust, protection and reliability of one's dog is consistent, dependable and (with the exceptions of having to provide food, water, basic medical care and shelter) unconditional.

You can always count on your dog greeting you at the door, whether you are in a good mood or bad. Your dog will never be "too busy" for you, get bored with you or look for greener pastures elsewhere. Your dog loves you whether you've taken him/her for a walk around the block or a two hour hike in the park. Your dog is at your feet while you are busy on the computer, talking on the phone or watching TV. Your dog loves you whether you look like a Victoria's Secret model or the latest contestant on "The Biggest Loser." Your dog loves you whether you're the CEO of a large company or just got fired from your tenth job. Most of all, your dog loves you because you just are. The leader of the group -- a valued pack/family member.

Such devotion, consistency and reliability is not subject to the trends, circumstances, whims or changes in any culture -- whether ancient or modern, eastern or western. It just is, always has been and always will be.

The other night, I marveled at the organization, seeming communication skills and cooperation of Canadian geese just before the big snow storm arrived. One minute they were lazingly gliding on the Reservoir, the next they were loudly communicating to each other and finally, they took to the skies in groups of about 15 to 20 birds in perfect "V" formations.

Many humans consider Canadian Geese (like pigeons) to be "nuisances."

That is presumably due to the birds' amazing instincts and skills to reproduce and survive almost anything from extremes in weather to variable or hostile environments.

The animals should be admired for those things and not condemned.

While humans war with each other, go into near panic with the arrival of a few snow flakes or fret and suffer anxiety attacks when technical services go down or a friend or lover doesn't call, the birds (and other animals) just figure out simple ways to endure, thrive and be content.

There is something very nice and appealing about that simplicity in life.

For the past week, being "unplugged" from most of the outside and human world, I've had opportunity to observe and live a little, the "animal" way of life.

In many ways, it has been pretty nice.

For one matter, I have learned to respect and appreciate my dogs (and all animals and nature) far more.

These are the things that never need "back-up." -- PCA


Parks, Pools and Animals

(Picture Left: Flocks of ducks and Canadian Geese surviving on water and ice of Reservoir.)

If I naively believed that being "incommunicado and unplugged" for at least a week would somehow spare one the stresses and disappointments normally associated with animal rescue, I was wrong.

It was of course, necessary to make emergency arrangements for limited Internet and phone access while my own services were down. As mentioned in an earlier blog entry, my friend, Elizabeth has been kind enough to lend me use of her cell phone and periodic access to the Internet and emails.

As also alluded to earlier, one of our foster people recently ran into a "separation anxiety" issue with his rescued dog, Brownie. (This was discovered when checking emails.)

I was hoping that the barking problem with Brownie would respond to some emergecy training techniques or at least wait until I had "earthly connections" once again to fully address.

But, the neighbors in Adam's (the foster person's) apartment building turned out not to be so "patient" as I am being forced to be with corporate Verizon's unbelievable shoddy and incompetent telephone "repair" (non) services.

There is almost no doubt that the problem with Brownie (who is otherwise a very loving, well behaved and wonderful dog) would alleviate and solve itself with just a little time. The dog is obviously insecure and lacking confidence in a new situation. Unfortunately, this kind of problem does not usually respond to the normal "training techniques" that work with dogs in long-time homes or who are showing "dominance" with their owners.

A rescued dog barking when alone in a new home is not a matter of "disobedience" or "dominance," but, on the contrary, a sign of insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.

The cure is time itself (usually about a month) and whatever the human caregiver can do to help the dog quickly gain a sense of confidence, belonging, home and "pack" (or group).

Unfortunately, we can't explain these things to complaining neighbors or landlord and even if we could, they would probably still demand to "immediately get rid of the dog."

Any human psychologist will say that problems of an emotional nature are not solved within a day or week. Nor, are they solved with "corrections" or punishment. If anything, negative actions usually beget negative results, particularly where human or animal emotions are involved.

Dogs are not human, of course. But, dogs (and other animals) nevertheless share many of the emotional needs of humans such as sense of security, home/territory, belonging to a group or "pack" and steady companionship. Its hard to immediately impart that to a dog (or cat) in a new home and situation. Many rescued (and particularly timid) dogs will bark out of fear of abandonment or simple uncertainty when in new homes and circumstances.

While it is therefore not surprising to run into this problem with Brownie, it is nevertheless disappointing and frustrating that there is so little human understanding or "patience" with it. I had no choice yesterday other than to request Adam bring Brownie back to boarding at our vet.

This of course reinforces the dog's sense of insecurity and "abandonment" (although it is NOT the foster person's fault in this case.) and will most likely result in even worse "adjustment" problems for Brownie if and when she finally goes to another home.

Personally, as one who is being forced right now to be "patient" with the incompetence of corporate America (even at serious inconvenience and loss to myself and the organization), I find it ironic that others can't show a little patience with a dog, who, through no fault of her own is having some difficulty feeling secure and simply needs a little time.

I am not disappointed or frustrated with Adam, the foster person. But, even when one has found excellent and caring foster people, that is not enough. One also has to worry about neighbors, landlords -- and telephone repair.

Last night, I took my dogs, Tina and Chance for their daily walk around the Reservoir in Central Park.

I stood for a long time watching the geese and ducks along the icy waters.

The sky above was a light, creamy color for that time of the evening -- a sure sign of the soon-arriving snow.

Suddenly, as if in signal to each other, the Canadian Geese started squawking loudly, sounding remarkably similar to barking dogs. Then, in groups of about 15 or more, they suddenly took to the skies in perfectly organized, "V" formation for destinations unknown.

How nice to see animals in perfect communication with each other and so well organized in terms of group cooperation, survival and belonging.

The birds boldly took to the skies, confident in where they've been, who they belong with and where they are going.

They neither need humans to survive nor need they learn anything from us.

On the contrary, humans could learn some things from the geese (and other animals.).

For a few brief moments, I envied the geese and wished I could have joined their flock heading for wherever.

I am reminded that the only things I truly love about New York City are its parks, pools and most of all, its animals. -- PCA


Murphy's Law, Ad Infitum

The "Murphy's Law" saga continues as I am now without phone and Internet services for 6 straight days with no guaranteed ending in sight.

I feel just like the female version of Jack Lemon from the, "Out of Towners."

Oh yes, the Super did finally unlock the basement door (where the main phone box is) on Tuesday, but Telephone Repair never showed up.

More calls to the (non) repair service (on my friend's cell phone) resulted in further frustration:

"When are they coming to fix this?"

"Well, Ma'am you are on the log anytime from now (Tuesday) until the 11th (Thursday)."

"That is unacceptable!! I can't be a prisoner in my apartment for three straight days!"

"You're not a prisoner."

"What would you call it when one can't go anywhere for 3 days? I have to be home in order to give access. How can a problem be fixed if no one is here?"

I was getting nowhere with the human robot on the phone. I demanded to speak to a supervisor.

"What is going on here?" I demanded to know.

"Inclement weather" I was told. "They have a heavy work load."

"Are you joking? The weather's been beautiful in New York City! Not a drop of snow or rain. But, we are supposed to get a foot of snow tomorrow!"

"You are on the log for Thursday, sometime between 8 in the morning and 7 at night."

Oh my God! I thought. They are using "inclement weather" as excuse when the sun has been shining in New York City and not a cloud in the sky. What will they say after a REAL snow storm due on Wednesday?

"Sorry. All our repair people have frozen to death."

Another go-nowhere, frustrating conversation with so-called "repair" services. The only thing productive about speaking with the "Supervisor" was that I then knew there was NO hope that the problem would be fixed anytime before Thursday (barring of course, the repair people all dying from a little cold and snow.)

But, still there is one more complication:

When showing up Monday morning, (when the basement door was locked) the Verizon phone guy checked the phone lines in my apartment.

Although the main problem seems to be with the central phone box and wires in the basement of the building, Verizon phone chump, for some strange reason decided to pull out one of my phone connecters. Only he was unable to unscrew it from the wall and instead, cut all the wires.

So now, whatever phone repair person eventually shows up will have the additional job of putting in a new phone connecter and repairing the cut wires.

I can just hear him saying now, "I don't have the equipment for that." -- PCA


The Week of Living "Unplugged"

"Be careful of what you criticize or make jokes of. You might one day have to eat your words."

I am eating a lot of humble pie over the past couple of days -- particularly regarding personal critiques of cell phones.

I have stubbornly refused to "get with the program" of walking around city streets or parks with a hand and arm seemingly glued to one side of my head or typing away "text messages" while stumbling in the middle of oncoming traffic. -- In other words, I don't have a cell phone.

It has been said that cell phones give us a greater sense of personal freedom.

But, judging by the number of people walking Manhattan streets seemingly chained to their cell phones, I've had my doubts.

Only a couple of weeks ago, someone was ice skating at Wollman rink in Central Park while engulfed in his cell phone! (How come we don't see that trick in the Olympics?)

Last Saturday ("date") night, a young couple walked down a street; the man busily engaged on a cell phone and the woman staring off into space as if seeking an alien to suddenly sweep down and take her away.

And there is no way to tally the number of people observed nightly chatting away on cell phones in the wee hours of the morning.

Sometimes when walking my dogs at 1 or 2 AM, I wonder to myself, "Who are they calling or who is calling them at 2 AM? Do they sleep with cell phones attached to their heads? What if they miss a call while in the middle of a dream?"

The real question to ask is: Do cell phones truly give us a greater sense of personal freedom or do they in fact, take all sense of freedom away? When and where can one really get away from the cell phone?

Soon they will make waterproof cell phones -- so one can be called when taking a shower.

Nevertheless, despite all the questions and reservations about cell phones, this past week I have perhaps learned (the hard way) the importance of having, at the very least, an "emergency" cell phone.

Last Thursday, when picking up my land-line phone to return an adoption inquiry message, I discovered the phone line was dead.

"OK, no big deal," I thought. "Check connections and if everything seems normal, call telephone repair from the corner (public) telephone. They will fix the problem in the morning."

After checking out the phone as well as house connections, I had to call telephone repair.

Only, it turned out to be a much bigger "deal" than one could ever imagine.

How ironic in these days of millions of people out of work, there seems to be a dramatic shortage of workers in virtually all the service industries:

"Your call is important to us. Please hold the line and we will be with you in a moment."

The recorded phone message doesn't tell you that the so-called "moment" is more likely to be an hour.

It is not fun standing on a street corner in 25-degree temperatures waiting for a live human voice to finally come on the phone line. One imagines memorials placed at various public phone sites: "In memory of all those who died on 'hold' for 'moments' that never came."

Nor was it consoling to be informed I could leave a number and they would call me back. "If my phone was working, why would I be calling Telephone Repair?" I wanted to scream!

For the first time in years, I realized just how noisy and chaotic New York City really is.

I was suddenly captured audience to the blaring sounds of fire engines, ambulance and police car sirens as they sped by a seeming prisoner to a public phone. Perhaps my problems were minor compared to the rest in the city, I tried to reassure myself.

When the live human voice finally came on the phone line, I was told to "hold on a sec" while the operator called in the report to repair services.

The "second" turned out to be another fifteen minutes!

I was ultimately told a service technician would be to my home the next day (Friday) somewhere between "9 AM and 7 PM."

"You can't be more specific than that?" I asked.

"No. They have other jobs to do."

Aggravated, but grateful to get back to my warm apartment, I suddenly realized I had a whole evening of total freedom before me! No phone calls to make or take. No 200 emails to go through as my (then downed) Internet service is hooked up to the phone line.

I decided to go swimming!

The next two hours are best described as total bliss. Suddenly unencumbered by any responsibilities, the water felt great to me, as even the subway ride getting to the indoor pool. There is something very strangely liberating when suddenly finding one's self "unplugged" from the universe. I relished the new found feeling of total freedom.

But, come the next day, the feeling wasn't quite so "liberating."

On the contrary, I was prisoner in my own home. Waiting in the entire day for a telephone repair person who never showed up.

I was furious, when, that evening waiting "on hold" almost another hour in the cold and blaring city sirens to talk to telephone repair.

"The phone isn't a luxury. It's a necessity!" I screamed. "This is my work line! Its also the line that connects me to the Internet!"

None of the protests did any good.

I was coldly and emphatically told the repair person would not come until Monday.

Now, I had a real problem. An entire weekend without any connection or communication access.

During the previous week, I had sent two rescued dogs to foster homes and did one adoption. I had an additional 8 dogs in boarding.

What if there were any problems with any of our dogs? No one had any way to get in contact with me!

From the public phone, I called a friend of mine, Elizabeth, who lives in the neighborhood.

Words cannot express the importance of having at least one trusted and reliable friend to call in these kinds of emergencies.

I have had to call on Elizabeth more than once during those times the unforeseen occurs.

In this case, I needed to let at least a few people know what the situation was and also check on recent placements. And I needed something more than a noisy corner public phone in the middle of Manhattan to do it.

I asked Elizabeth if I could make a few calls from her apartment. She was more than gracious in offering me temporary use of her cell phone.

"I don't really use it except for emergencies or when traveling," Elizabeth told me. "You can also use my computer tonight to check emails."

It was a good thing Elizabeth allowed me access to the Internet. One of the emails was from Adam, one of our foster people who had just taken in a new foster dog.

It seemed "Brownie" was barking when left alone (separation anxiety) and Adam was getting complaints from neighbors and landlord.

When getting home that evening, I immediately called Adam on (El.izabeth's borrowed cell phone) as well as recent adopters and new fosters. Adam and I discussed Brownie's barking problem and various, possible solutions. If nothing worked, then Brownie would have to go to boarding. But, hopefully, that would not be necessary -- or at least not before my earthly connections came back.

The news on "Morris," however, (the recently rescued Chow) was good. His foster people want to adopt Morris.

Since my phone and Internet services went down, I have been trying to adjust to life in the big city, "unplugged."

And while parts of it have been really nice and truly "liberating" (like going to the park or pool without worrying over what messages or phone calls I might be missing or watching an entire TV program without interruption) other things make me realize just how important "connection" is in modern life -- even those of the dreaded cell phone.

I will never know how many adoptions or possible rescues or fosters we might have missed during this time of being "unplugged."

I will never know how many people tried to call or email the organization without getting any response.

I will never know what friends (or even my daughter) might have tried to call.

Unfortunately, all of it has been out of my direct control. -- right down to Monday morning.

I started this blog entry (offline) on Monday morning, thinking I would be soon be online and plugged into "normal" life again.

But, when the Verizon guy showed up, it was discovered that the door to the building's basement (where the main phone line box is) was locked.

And as Murphy's Law would have it, the building's Super was "out of town" for the day and the telephone repair guy didn't even carry a working cell phone on him! (Ain't it good to know one is not the only person in New York without a cell phone? -- Telephone Repair apparently doesn't carry them!)

Calls to the landlord's office (on Elizabeth's cell phone) quickly determined that no one else has a key to the basement. The question, "What if there was a flood here?" went unanswered. I guess its a good thing to know how to swim.

I began to feel like Sandy Dennis from the 60's movie, "The Out of Towners." -- Only I am a native New Yorker.

So, it was back to square one -- and another call to telephone repair. And still another hour of listening to elevator music and the cheery voice repeatedly announcing, "Thank you for your patience. We will be with you in a moment!"

The 21st century has a new definition of the word, "moment."

As for "patience?" Do we really have a choice? What is the alternative? Going without vital services forever? Truth is, I have no patience -- especially for crap like this.

I don't know, but certainly hope to get back online and plugged in Tuesday (barring any other "Out-Of-Towner" mishaps).

I do know that I am going to have to, however, soon make some very reluctant changes.

One of them is to finally break down and get an (emergency) cell phone.

But, please shoot me someone, if ever I am observed walking around town with a cell phone embedded in my brain or ignoring a friend to talk to a little black machine.

It has been sweet and liberating to be "unplugged" for almost a week. (I recommend everyone should be able to do this every once in a while. Disconnect from the entire universe. -- Or, at least as long as you have a working public telephone on the corner.)

But, it doesn't help those animals so desperately needing "connection" to find homes in this modern world.

Nor does it help the one who is supposed to be one of their advocates and protectors.

Most of all, it doesn't make responsibilities go away.

As liberating as this feeling of being unplugged, I realize now the "feeling" was mere illusion.

Responsibilities are not tied to satellites in the skies or wires in a locked basement. -- They just are.

Just before 11 PM on Monday night, I went to the basement to check if the Super had unlocked the door, as promised earlier in the day.

It was still locked.

A call to his cell phone resulted in a frustrated message left somewhere in cyber voice mail.

"I need to get my phone and Internet service back! Telephone repair isn't going to show up everyday. -- We are lucky if they show up AT ALL!"

It is already Tuesday morning -- almost a full week since my phone and Internet services went down.

The couple of days of fun and " total freedom" first experienced have quickly been replaced by scenes from the "Out of Towners" and uncertainty with regard to the question if and when I am ever getting basic phone and Internet services back.

Only I don't have Jack Lemon as partner in worry and aggravation.

Perhaps I am now more like that lady on the "date" last Saturday night -- waiting for an alien to suddenly sweep down from the sky and take her away from all this. -- PCA