Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lara Has Moved

Lara and her family and friends have moved to a new blog at "A Nose for News." We look forward to welcoming you to our new home!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Off to Visit Dr. Harrison for VOM Treatment for Barney's Injured Spine

A few weeks ago Barney began exhibiting what is called "foot drop" on our evening walks at Dog Beach. Other symptoms followed including his rear legs giving out beneath him, trouble standing and incontinence. I knew there was only one thing to do: visit Dr. John Harrison, a chiropractor and practitioner of veterinary orthopedic manipulation (VOM) at the Acacia Animal Health Center in Escondido. Followers of this blog might remember that Dr. Harrison treated Lara while she went through her dramatic weight loss in 2009. Dr. Carmine Bausone, a veterinarian, and also practitioner of VOM at Acacia, examined Barney and gave him the green light for treatment under Dr. Harrison's care. (Click photos below to view videos.)

Our first visit was Sat., May 28. Dr. Harrison initially petted and stroked Barney to get a sense of him. When he ran his hand along Barney's back, he stopped suddenly and explained that he noticed considerable inflammation. As he worked on Barney, I mentioned that the veterinarian who examined him immediately after I began fostering him in August 2009 took x-rays of his hip. The vet noted, "He has a little arthritis, but it's not bad for an old dog." At that time, he estimated Barney's age to be 8. He lowered the age to 4-6 years the next visit when Barney began responding to medication, good nutrition and old-fashioned TLC.

Dr. Harrison suggested that it would be helpful if I could get a hold of those x-rays.

I had them with me when we arrived for treatment last Sat. I explained that Barney was already walking better after the first VOM treatment, and his legs were collapsing less frequently. Dr. Harrison was pleased with the news, then became serious as he examined the x-rays. He excused himself, then brought veterinarian Dr. Klotz into the room for a second opinion. What they saw was arthritis of the vertebral spine caused by a previous trauma(s) to the joints or muscles. I thought, "With a name like 'Cujo,' his bottom teeth ground down to the gum line, and a severe infestation of maggots in his ears and anus, and now this, what other horrors did Barney endure in his previous life?"

The good news is that Dr. Harrison said Barney's backbone didn't look like that of an old dog. He was reassuring, adding that he was confident that VOM treatment would help ease Barney's pain and enable him to remain mobile. Barney loved the treatment and attention. Like the previous week, he was a little wobbly afterwards, but that subsided by the next morning.

Per Dr. Harrison's request, I brought Lara along on Saturday for one of his "VIP" VOM treatments. After examining her, Dr. Harrison reported that she was in the same, fit condition as the last time he saw her in Dec. 2009 and wouldn't require any additional treatments for a while.

Two days after our visit with Dr. Harrison, I took Barney, Lara and Ollie for a walk through San Dieguito Park. You can see from this video (above) that Barney is on the mend again, enjoying life.

If you are interested in making an appointment with Dr. Harrison, call the Acacia Animal Health Center at (760) 745-8115. The center is located at 655 Citracado Parkway, Escondido. Dr. Harrison also works on other animals including rabbits, cats, dogs and even horses. I first met Dr. Harrison two years ago when I was assigned to write a story about his work for Today's Local News, published by The San Diego Union-Tribune. If you're interested in learning more about VOM, click here.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Arden Moore: “America’s Pet Edu-Trainer"

As a reporter and pet lover, I thought I knew just about everyone in North County who was involved in some aspect of animal rescue and education. Well, I didn't. Last week I had the pleasure of meeting the dynamic Arden Moore when I interviewed her for a feature in The Coast News, "Ex-reporter finds new calling: pet expert."

Arden fell off my radar because she's frequently out of town, traveling around the U.S. making appearances on The Today Show, Fox News, The George Lopez Show and Martha Stewart Living, to name a few.

Each week she hosts the “Oh Behave!” show on Pet Life Radio where she’s interviewed celebrity pet owners from Betty White and Jennifer Aniston to Rachael Ray.

She's written more than 20 popular books about pets, and has been profiled in The New York Times and the National Enquirer.

Arden spent much of her career as an investigative reporter with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. What I want to know is, 'What's in the water down there?" Arden worked alongside another reporter-turned-bestselling pet author: John Grogan, who penned “Marley and Me.”

Since her newspaper days, Arden has carved out a successful career doing what she loves as a pet expert, behaviorist, public speaker, author -- and now a PetTech certified first aid, CPR and safety instructor.

You can meet Arden, and preview her class, in this short video I filmed in her Oceanside home which she shares with her rescue dogs Cleo and Chipper, and cats Zeki and Murphy.

Arden's planning a National Dog Party Day on June 24.

For more information about Arden, click here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Maggie's Celebration of Life, May 14, 2011

Thanks to Larry Abgarian for this wonderful photo. From left: Maggie's son, Chris Theobald; husband, Ian Thompson; and Maggie.

It was a glorious day at Quail Botanical Gardens today as we celebrated the life of Encinitas councilwoman and former mayor, and animal advocate, Maggie Houlihan.

Relatives and friends including Supervisor Pam Slater-Price and Republican and Democrat office holders from Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar laughed, cheered and shed an occasional tear as we gathered in a enchanting pocket of the Gardens to share memories and a gourmet vegan and vegetarian buffet. Long-time Encinitas resident and friend Jack Tempchin and his band provided music. Tempchin is known for writing many popular songs including The Eagles' "Peaceful, Easy Feelin'" and "Already Gone."

You can share in the celebration by viewing clips online:

Pam Slater-Price Presenting Maggie with a Proclamation making May 14 "Maggie Houlihan Day."

Maggie's son, Chris Theobald, sharing some very funny memories.

Maggie's husband, Ian Thompson, sharing more (hilarious) memories about "life with Maggie."

A young woman uses a Buddhist allegory to describe what Maggie has meant to her as a mentor after meeting through House Rabbit Rescue.

Maggie shares her thoughts.

Maggie was once featured in The Saturday Evening Post magazine for country dance moves she shows again here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

"Baby, I was born this way"

Last week I had the privilege of being asked to profile Encinitas councilwoman and former mayor, Maggie Houlihan for The Coast News.

I remember meeting Maggie around 1990 at the Olivenhain Meeting Hall for a small gathering of people concerned about the high euthanasia rate at county shelters brought on by pet overpopulation. That meeting was part of Maggie's effort to establish what is now known as SNAP (Spay Neuter Action Project). A few years later she founded Wee Companions, another rescue group for hamsters, guinea pigs and rats. Maggie has also been very active in the House Rabbit Society and turtle rescue. In fact, when she won a libel suit against a political opponent who posted a sign reading "Houlihan is a whore" along Interstate 5 during the 2006 election, she used her $6,000 judgment (after paying the attorneys) for a new enclosure for rescued turtles who live on her property. She told me, "I couldn't in good conscience spend the money on myself."

What some people may not know is that Maggie has fought just as valiantly for the disabled, seniors and other underserved members of our community. I remember during our interview her explaining: "I grew up always sensitive to suffering and injustice. I didn’t like eating meat or people making fun of kids in class who were heavy.”

While Maggie battles endometrial cancer, she continues to fight the good fight by inspiring young people to get involved in politics through lectures she gives on local government at San Dieguito Academy and MiraCosta College.

Maggie is one of those rare and beautiful people you meet in life who marches to her own drum, inspiring others to follow their hearts and minds to also do the right thing. As the expression goes, "When God made Maggie Houlihan, He broke the mold."

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Romeo Debuts Last Night During American Idol

After posting the story (below) about my visit with Romeo ME K9 3, I was surprised to see the number of hits on the blog escalate by the hundreds. The local news later picked up on the story as I discovered last night while watching American Idol. During the final minutes, the show cut to a teaser for Fox 5 San Diego 10 o'clock news featuring Romeo hard at work at the Medical Examiner's office.

Later I learned that Channel 8, the CBS affiliate, also did a terrific story on Romeo.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

CSI: San Diego K9? Introducing Romeo, ME K9 3

Three weeks ago Romeo was among the many sad, homeless faces at the Central Shelter in San Diego.

Today, he is the latest member of the elite, K9 search and rescue team in the County Medical Examiner's office, the only unit of its kind in the nation.

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting Romeo at his new home that he shares with San Diego County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Glenn Wagner and his wife, Joan. Also there to greet me was the Wagner's Chesapeake retriever, Cocoa Bean, and LuLu, another former shelter dog who became ME K9 2. Last summer, as she began her job, I profiled LuLu in this blog and The San Diego Union-Tribune.

When I took LuLu's picture in the walk-in refrigerator her first day of work it was apparent, by her ears which were pinned back, that she was not completely comfortable in her new environment. Dr. Wagner reports that Romeo, to the contrary, has enthusiastically embraced the scents associated with his job. (I think it's a guy thing.)

Romeo is only 5 months old, and still growing. Over the next 18 months he'll be trained in air sniffing, tracking and trailing with the goal of being a FEMA-certified cadaver dog assigned to the John & Jane Doe Center, a component of the Investigations Division of the Medical Examiner's office. Chief Medical Examiner Investigator Gretchen Geary, head of the division, is responsible for coordinating in-house efforts to identify some 200-300 John & Jane Does each year.

"We have a 97 percent identification rate which is quite remarkable and the center has received national recognition," Dr. Wagner reports.

Geary is also the owner/trainer/handler of Thelia, ME K9 1, a 6-year-old, FEMA-certified bloodhound. Together, they are involved in all search and recovery efforts, working regularly with Sheriff's Search and Rescue, Border Patrol and Southwest Search Dogs, a volunteer group.

In recruiting Romeo and LuLu for his department, Dr. Wagner explained that he relied on the pool of dogs available at the three county shelters, regularly viewing dogs on the Department of Animal Services' website. "I think shelter dogs deserve a chance," Dr. Wagner said. LuLu is pictured here with 11-year-old Cocoa, who is occasionally called upon to work in the ME's office, specifically in their nationally-acclaimed Bereavement Center.

I was heartened to see LuLu's transformation from a skittish rescue pup to a confident, well-adjusted dog. My presence obviously didn't deter Romeo and her from enjoying a lazy Saturday afternoon snooze.

Romeo and LuLu demonstrate that shelter dogs can excel, not only as loving family members, but as working dogs -- even public servants. Perhaps their story will inspire a new TV series: CSI: San Diego K9?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fly Away Home

Joey returned last week for his first visit after leaving Encinitas last June to begin his freshman year in the Foreign Service School at Georgetown University. I grabbed my camera and videotaped his reunion with Lucy, curious to see if she remembered him. . .and did she ever! The two grew up together. Lucy was 3 and Joey 9 when he introduced himself to our family -- 10 years ago next month.

Joey posted the reunion video on his YouTube channel this morning after returning to GU and in the background included a song he wrote/recorded back then about our friendship titled, "Mirror Image." To fully appreciate how precious he was as a young child, and devoted to animals, here he is performing to a panel of judges on Star Search in 2003 that included Naomi Judd, Ben Stein, Dweezil Zappa and Donny Osmond. I love this video!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Paralyzed Lulubelle says, "Eat My Dust!"

I love what I do. As a feature writer, I have the opportunity of going out into the community and meeting people who make a difference. That's what happened on Sun., Jan. 30 when I met Dr. Michael Blott, a chiropractor who makes carts, aka wheelchairs, for small shelter dogs in order to improve their chances of avoiding euthanasia and, hopefully, getting adopted by a loving family.

Equally impressive was the dedication of Jenny Armour, founder, Open Arms Rescue who brought Lulubelle to pick up her new cart at Michael's home. A young chihuahua, Lulubelle was paralyzed after being hit by a car. Jenny was so loving and patient in caring for Lulubelle, making sure she was comfortable and that her diaper was clean. She also bought some tiny leather booties for Lulubelle to wear so she wouldn't scrape her knees when she dragged herself around.

I wrote about the transformation in an article in The San Diego Union-Tribune today. You can see Lulubelle before she got her cart, and afterwards when her life changed, on YouTube. What I found most remarkable was that Michael reported that about half the dogs he fits for carts eventually walk again. And 100 percent get homes within 30 days of receiving their cart.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mike Dougherty Judges Westminster Dog Show

Mike and Michelle Dougherty, owners of the Windsong Resort for Pets in Escondido, had an exciting Valentine's Day in New York City. Mike was there for the Westminster Dog Show in Madison Square Garden where he was a judge.

"It was my fourth invitation to judge there...always an huge honor," he said. "I was pleased to judge a number of Hound breeds: Dachshunds, Basenjis, Norwegian Elkhounds, Otterhounds, and Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen - approximately 90 entries in all."

Click here to watch Mike judging Smooth Dachshunds and Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen.

Meanwhile, Michelle, a gifted artist and Bonsaiist, had her own schedule of events, meeting with literary agents and prospective publishers for her first book, "Bonsai Ten."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Meet "Beekers," 3-Legged Rescue is Biggest Loser (and Winner) in 2011!

Okay, here's a great story to start your new year. Last week I had the pleasure of doing a feature article about Beekers, a 3-legged golden retriever stray who was picked up by a Good Samaritan in Rancho Bernardo on Dec. 9. He was taken to the Carlsbad shelter and on Dec. 21 was adopted by Debbie Schroeder, wife of Vista firefighter Jeff Schroeder. Beekers weighed 81 pounds when he arrived at the shelter, and was already down to 73 by the time he went home. His goal weight for the new year is 63.You can read Beekers' story here.