Monday, November 29, 2010

Survivor Aaron Bembaron Launches Pet Sitting Business in Time for the Holidays

From left: Baxter, Aaron Bembaron and Lara.

Lara, like all dogs, is a great judge of character. About three weeks ago I was on Dog Beach with my three pups and for a split second lost track of her. I quickly turned around and saw her being cuddled by a lovely lady, Lauri Bembaron. Her husband, Aaron, was standing behind her smiling at the two. We started laughing, and conversation became easy with the backdrop of a breathtaking sunset.

Aaron mentioned that he was starting a dog walking and pet sitting business after a difficult period that included bankruptcy and losing the family home. These events paled in comparison to the anguish they experienced when his beloved golden retriever, Bear, was diagnosed with a rare cancer last May, followed by Aaron receiving a diagnosis of lung cancer in June. Sadly, Bear passed away. Aaron's physician noted that the spot on his lung was small and suggested a "wait and see" approach to determine if it might be a benign nodule.

Aaron and Lauri were working in the field of mortgage lending at the time, and the stress was getting to Aaron.

"Lauri asked me, 'What makes you happy,?'" he remembers. "I said, 'Animals -- they just love you.'"

Lauri suggested they downsize and move into an apartment so they could live on her salary. They also agreed that Aaron needed another canine friend to fill the void left by Bear who was a present from Lauri on the first Father's Day following their marriage.

In September, a puppy named Baxter came into their lives.

"Baxter brought back the meaningful relationship that I had with Bear," Aaron said. "He makes me feel whole, plugged in to another source of love which is so crucial."

The search for Baxter also inspired a career change.

"I had been going to the Carlsbad shelter and knew I wanted to work with animals," Aaron said. "I got the idea to do dog walking. Clients are not only going to have someone take care of their pet, but love their pet as well."

Aaron is launching "Dog Gone Walking!" in time for the holiday season. Services also include pet sitting and house sitting. Of course, he is licensed and bonded. For more information call Aaron at (619) 988-0174 or email

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Talkin' Turkey

Following the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade at noon today, our friend AKC judge Mike Dougherty (pictured above, left) will be judging the Terrier group at the National Dog Show/Philadelphia Kennel Club. Two million viewers are expected to tune in to NBC for the fun. Mike and his lovely wife, Michelle, have been wonderful friends to Lara and me over the past 18 months and we wish them and all our other followers a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

Lara, Barney, Ollie, Lucy and I will be having our godson, Devin (pictured above w/Lucy), and his mom, Laurie, over for a vegetarian dinner of Tofurkey and English Shepherd's pie using Meatless Meatballs from Trader Joe's. This may not be appealing to some, but when you have an opinionated cockatoo sitting across from you at the table, making Thanksgiving dinner conversation in English, somehow eating turkey loses its appeal.

Seriously, Devin, Laurie and I are vegetarians. Left to her own devices, Lucy would probably prefer a dinner of deep-fried turkey with all the fixins' followed by an espresso and a Cuban cigar. Have a great one!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Undercover Video: Lucky's Backstory

Lucky (see Nov. 12 post) is seen in this undercover video I received earlier today from Jill Gasparac about the 150 dogs seized from a hoarder this summer. Click on the photo below to view the video.

Jill is a freelance dog trainer in L.A. and a full-time angel who performs large-scale rescue of older dogs. She is pictured below, and in the video, wearing pink.

If, after viewing this, you want to help please contact Jill at Donations can be sent via Paypal to Please forward this to anyone who has ever loved a dog. As it says in the video, "The only mistake is the one from which we learn nothing."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Rescue Exposes Terror at High-Kill Shelters

On Monday I set out to cover what I thought was a routine story about a female dog with puppies rescued from a shelter north of San Diego County. A local resident with a special interest in senior dogs had offered to foster what she was told was a 15-year-old female, only to learn later that the dog had just given birth in the shelter.

The foster mother agreed to take the puppies and the mama dog, who had been held as evidence in a court proceeding for three months. What she didn't understand was how the dog could be skin and bones while under the care of shelter workers. Later I was told that as a result of the mother being malnourished, four of her eight puppies died.

This dog, appropriately named "Lucky," is now healthy and safe. You can read Lucky's story here and get information about adopting her and the puppies. But this is only the beginning of the story.

As I made calls I learned that 500 dogs had been euthanized in one day at this shelter. Think about it. Five hundred dogs. Yes, the answer is spaying and neutering but what can we do about the adoptable dogs who are here? Anyone who says they love dogs should be angry and get up from off their hands and do something. This can be fostering, adopting or donating money to rescue groups who perform heroic work by pulling these animals from shelters and finding them temporary refuge. As a nation that views dogs as "man's best friend," there is no excuse in doing nothing.

Here are some worthy rescue groups:

Jill Gasparac, Animals, People & Environment Action (Jill works with shelters throughout S. California and was responsible for rescuing Lucky.)

Lisa Hamilton, Boxers & Birds Animal Rescue

The Dog Squad, Carlsbad

Animals Without Borders, San Diego