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“The public should be taught to demand a sound, healthy dog, bred and raised in sanitary environment…” Captain Wm. Lewis Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher

Far too often, people continue to support the puppy mill system with their purchases of dogs at retail outlets. To protect the buyer, and to put a stop to the secretive abhorrent practices of the puppy milling business, laws are created and passed, however, the enforcement of these laws  must occur to bring about positive change. We can end all this if we choose to adopt our pets, or to work with breeders who truly love and care about the dogs they bring into the world, even after the sale is complete. If you truly love all dogs, you understand.

Thank you Janice Patterson Fisher for this update found below and your work on behalf of our dogs.

As some of you know, a new consumer protection law became effective on June 1, 2015 enhancing the Puppy Lemon Law for all customers buying a puppy from a pet store in the state of New Jersey. This law is the Pet Store Disclosure Act that specifically requires pet stores to provide specific breeder information on each cage cards, including two years’ worth of USDA inspection reports for the breeder/broker of any puppy offered for sale in a pet store. Cage cards must now include: breeder name, address, e-mail address, if available, USDA-license number. Most importantly, no New Jersey pet store may buy puppies from a breeder unless he possesses a USDA license and a state license, if a state license is required.

For many years, New Jersey pet stores refused to divulge breeder information to customers until the sale of a puppy was complete. The only logical reason for this is that they shuttered to think what a customer would feel should they know the truth…that these puppies are mass bred in commercial facilities known as puppy mills. According to the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs (a premium club consisting of over 80 breed-specific clubs), no responsible breeder would sell to a pet store. Therefore, New Jersey pet stores had but one source: puppy mills.

Even with this law in effect, the majority of New Jersey pet stores have not fully complied. Despite visits and warnings from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and assistance from New Jersey animal advocates, these stores appeared to hedge their bets that the state would not truly enforce the penalties. But they were wrong; in December, these stores received an early Christmas present in the “package” of Notices of Violation – Fines – from the state for failure to adhere to the law.

Some stores have complained that their errors were clerical. Not so. Each and every store was visited by state investigators. A copy of the law was provided. Time was provided to them to come into compliance.

The law is simple to read. Provide specific breeder information on the cage cards and conspicuously post USDA inspection reports on or near the cage. Not hard to follow. These stores obviously chose not to follow the law and continue to hide the fact that the puppies they sell come from despicable brokers and breeders.

Let’s hope that these fines teach the puppy-milling industry a lesson….they are not above the law and all consumers have a right to know how a product is manufactured. In this case, and unfortunately, the product is a living being – a puppy and it is “manufactured” in the most inhumane way.

http://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases16/Pet-Shop-Violations-CHART-01042016.pdf

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A Puppy Miller and his

A Puppy Miller and his “merchandise”

“…for the dog is a living breathing thing rather than a piece of fixed merchandise…the breeder has an attachment for his dogs which prevents him from considering them as merchandise on the shelf…”

Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week

As a kid, in the early 1970s, I was an avid-animal lover and a huge fan of a local family-run pet shop on the other side of my hometown (still standing today). My friends and I loved to look at the fish and turtles (you could buy them then), mice and other assorted creatures. This place fueled my passion for animals and I dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, or the owner of a pet shop just like this one. On the occasions when we overstayed our welcome in that shop, we were kindly asked to hang elsewhere. We obeyed, but from outside the shop we looked in the window where we were sometimes thrilled by the vision of puppies for sale.

On occasion, a litter of pups, or kittens, were offered for sale, “donated” to the shop by a local family who needed help finding homes for them. While I did not acquire one of these pups, when I was ten, I asked (pleaded) for a chocolate toy poodle, as I had fallen in love with one that belonged to a family friend. My parents succumbed to pressure, and in the winter of 1969, I became the happy caretaker of a tiny brown pup we named Princess Sheri Cocoa Puff, or “Cokie” for short. I remember going to the breeders home and carrying out this little fluffy bundle of sweetness and love. It was a great learning experience.

However, as an adult, I recall just ten years ago, travelling with my husband in northern Florida and stopping at a large Flea Market where you could buy almost anything…including puppies. Now, at the time, I was ignorant as to the source of these cuddly canines. Like most people, I thought these dogs came from good homes or kennels where humans lovingly raised and cared for them as if they were family members (like Cocoa’s breeder). I did not know the harsh truth behind how these pups came to be both captive and captivating, sitting in their crates in these retail outlets sold to anyone who was charmed and could pay the right price, unceremoniously discounted or discarded if they grew “too old”.

But now I do know, and as someone one who was once so “blissfully” unaware, perhaps I am a good messenger because I do understand how most people really don’t  know the ugly truth behind the origins and lives of these “Rovers of Retail”. Most (some say over 99 percent) of the puppies in these retail outlets are the products of places known as Puppy Mills or Commercial Breeding facilities.

Earlier this year, a “Puppy Lemon Law” was passed in New Jersey requiring pet retailers to present full disclosure regarding the source of their puppies. Today, on June 6th, this law will take on wider scope. To learn more about the history of this legislation, please see these links. http://www.humanesociety.org/news/news_briefs/2014/12/nj-legislature-pm-bill-121914.html  https://www.facebook.com/pwnj.org/posts/820314178038218?fref=nf&pnref=story

I’ve been informed that this new legislation amends the Puppy Lemon Law by giving consumers more rights.   Pet stores must now be more transparent by adhering to the following:   posting breeder information on each cage card for every puppy offered for sale; posting two years of USDA inspection reports on the breeders; they must buy ONLY from USDA-licensed breeders and those breeders cannot have certain violations that affect the health and well-being of the animals.  This law was necessary because pet stores, generally, withheld breeder information from customers until after the sale was complete making it impossible for customers to make an informed purchase rather than an impulse purchase.

Bottom line, even some USDA-licensed breeders don’t provide living conditions for these animals that any pet-lover would approve of.  The USDA only sets forth a “minimum standard of care” so, effectively; a dog can sit in a cage FOR LIFE as long as the cage is six inches taller, six inches longer and six inches wider than the dog.  These pathetic animals not only lack proper housing but they lack socialization and mental stimulation which is why, when you see photos of them, their eyes are lifeless.  They have simply given up.  Once they can no longer breed, they are sold at auction for a couple of dollars and another puppy farmer will squeeze one more litter out of them – and then destroy them.  Would any of you do that to your own pet?  Doubtful….which is why it is so important to STILL not support this industry by purchasing a pet store puppy.

Some people tell me how they “rescued” or “saved” an animal’s life by purchasing a puppy from a pet store. While I applaud their good intentions, I have to relay that in doing so, they helped to perpetuate the cycle of puppy milling by putting money in the hands of these corrupt individuals. Some may say I am anti-commerce…that it isn’t anyone’s business how they make a living as long as it is legal. For the record, in my township, puppy retailers are no longer welcome and we wait the day when the one that remains in operation closes its doors forever.

The world seems to have changed considerably since my innocent days of youthful pet shop visits, but has it really? Back in the 1930s, Will Judy warned about the growth of “puppy factories” and the ensuing adverse effects on canine welfare. The internet and our nation’s throw away mentality and shortening attention spans have not made it a better place, unfortunately. However, we do have the opportunity to educate a new generation of animal lovers and those who choose to be guardians of our Companion Animals.

For the record, in my lifetime, I have acquired pets as gifts, through breeders (mice, dogs, and birds), a duffle bag discarded at my feet (five adorable kittens), a classified ad (best cat ever), a “loan” (beautiful horse), as street strays and through fostering. Aside from fish and those now forbidden turtles, I have never purchased a dog or cat from a pet shop. The laws mentioned above are designed to help the welfare of the nation’s dogs, and to strengthen the human-canine bond. So now that you know…please share this good news from the Garden State and perhaps inspire some of our other states to get progressive, too. And let me know the results!

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Best in Snow

Pictured above is Hooper, our Portuguese water dog who just happened to be born two days after Christmas. We lost our little snow bunny in late August. She would have been eleven this month. Although we wish we had had more time with her, her presence in our lives is a true gift.

Yesterday, a news story got the theme song from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas wrapped around my head like a big Christmas present. A young couple in New Jersey had stolen a Bull dog puppy from a place called The Aquarium in Bergen County.

The dognappers have been apprehended, and I don’t know their motives (just had to have it, wanted to sell for quick cash, etc…). Stealing is wrong, but the way the reporter acted, you would think everyone had done the greatest deed in the world returning the puppy to its caring retailer.

Most of you know by now that MOST retailers of puppies get their “products” from large Commercial Breeders who treat dogs like machines pumping out puppies in conditions that are far from caring or comfortable and for a huge profit. These establishments are either physically sterile with very little socializing involved or filthy and inhumane to the breeding dogs and sometimes even to the puppies who can’t “tough it out.”

The reported gleefully confided that the puppy was, “on sale,” for $3,500. Now most of us know that the mark up for pup shop pups is over 300 times the price paid to the Commercial Breeder. The shop owner was soooo glad to have his precious pup back that he says he will not sell it because it is soooo special. I wonder if you called the shop and told them you were so moved by that special story you are willing to give that the puppy a good home for a small donation. When they hang up on you, call back and tell them you came up with $3,000 to spend, cash, for that particular dog. I am betting they won’t hang up then.

Now let’s say that these shop owners are actually very caring animal lovers concerned about the future of this dog. Prove me right and give them a chance to show that they work with legitimate breeders. Ask him where the dog was bred, name of the breeder and all breeding details.

But remember… No bone-fide dog loving breeder would allow their pups to be sold from a store to anyone walking off the street.

Meanwhile…Here is my Grinch Take on the subject…called No Present like the Time.

You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch. Boy, I really am a mean one. Little ones and sweet hearts all over the nation just want a cuddly little puppy and they want it…now (or in time for the holiday). Adoptions are just so darn fickle and there are so many rules and promises to keep and take so much work and those reputable breeders with all their questions, interviews and home visits and waiting periods. Sheesh…who has the time when all ya have to do is go to your local pet retailer? No questions asked…lay down the bucks, whip out the AMEX card…Papers? Wow, they look real and have all kinds of special headings and letters…they sure look official.

You really are a heel…Did someone say heel…isn’t that a dog training command…? You know like as in sit, stay heel… Wait? I need to spend time and money to actually train this dog?  I can save lots of money and inconvenience just yelling at it and watching a few episodes of Cesar(even Cesar would laugh at that suggestion).

You’re as cuddly as a cactus…Cuddly? Yep, new puppies sure are cuddly. But what happens when they get bigger and they are not as cute? They consume a lot of my valuable time, too. Heck, if my puppy gift doesn’t work out I can just go on over to the local animal shelter and give it away…that’s what they are there for right?…But I did pay a lot of money for that dog. Maybe I can make a few bucks on Craig’s List.

You’re a monster, Mr. Grinch. Your heart’s an empty holeYes, I am heartless…when it comes to kings of sinful sots. (Aka those who profit from misery). Yes, I am depriving you and your good intentions and desire to please with a cute cuddly gift. I know people who have great dogs that came from retailers. They are sweet although one has bad hip dysplasia and others some obsessive compulsive disorders. Even if they don’t have any physical or behavioral issues, did you ever wonder how many others were not so lucky and now have to bear the sins of poor breeding, abandoned at the vet’s office or put down because they cannot be healed? Did you ever think of the deplorable conditions in which your pup’s parents lived and most likely died?

Your soul is an appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable…Shame on those bad people who protest outside dog retailers hampering small business owners just trying to make a living selling animals.  To be fair, tomorrow they will protest outside of the Vitamin Shoppe (vitamins should not be crowded into bottles), Hallmark Store (free all cards from ill-fitting envelopes and little figurines from snow globes)…oh wait, those are not living things…never mind.

When you see people protesting outside of Pet Retailers understand what motivates them and then stop and give your support. After all, how many times have you told people how much of a dog lover you are?

A gift of a living “thing” requires your time from the moment you bring “it” into your home. Between unwrapping gifts, going to services, getting ready for guests or traveling other, ask yourself if a puppy, kitty or other pet is really a good addition to your family at what is typically a very stressful time when scheduled lifestyles are not in place.

There is no present like the time you can give to an animal that will return your love and care in ways you can never imagine. When the time is right, adopt, foster or choose a caring and responsible breeder who will provide you with a positive experience. It will also be a lifetime lesson for your kids.

And hopefully this is seasonal advice that does not… Stink, stank, stunk.

max

Connor, one of the beloved pups of Dr. Adam Christman of Brick, NJ

Welcome to the 84th Observance of National Dog Week! Please join us by LIKING the NDW Page on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/lisa.beginkruysman#!/pages/National-Dog-Week/218596591491974

I began writing this blog in the January of 2010 after I had an idea for a book that would chronicle the evolution of something called the National Dog Week Movement. Begun in 1928, I felt there was something so special about the dedication and determination of its founder, Captain Will Judy, a man trained for the ministry and the Law, who also became a decorated WWI hero and remarkably published Dog World Magazine for 36 years. He changed the way America, and the world, regarded man’s best friend. Certainly others would be as intrigued.

I thought I had a good idea then, and despite many obstacles, I kept up my research and used the occasion to engage others who embraced its mission and to reach out to fellow dog-lovers (and others) on a regular basis. Imagine my satisfaction when I found an agent and a publisher who believed in my journey. Just yesterday I received my confirmation that I am now a full-fledge member of the Dog Writer’s Association of America, which was established in part by Will Judy many years ago. It is an honor.

I thank all of you who have agreed to be interviewed in my posts and all the advice and encouragement you have provided. As my Indiegogo Campaign enters its second week, I thank all of you for sharing its link and for your donations. The campaign will run through mid-November. http://www.indiegogo.com/LisaBegin-Kruysman-Author

Much gratitude to LA-based Dr. Patrick Mahaney for serving as our National Dog Week Pet Health Consultant last year. He did a terrific job http://www.patrickmahaney.com/news/national-dog-week-promotes-animal/.  Sometimes you don’t have to travel too far from home to find the spirit of kindness and determination. Often it is in our own backyards. (For the record, Patrick is a Jersey Native, too)!

Today I introduce this year’s Pet Health contributor, Brick Township New Jersey’s very own, Dr. Adam Christman, DVM. As many of you know, Brick’s Town Council banned the retail sale of dogs this summer, making them a true NDW Community. Dr. Christman was personally involved in the rescue of 39 sick and neglected pups removed from Puppies Galore in town last year. http://brick.patch.com/articles/puppies-galore-court-date-postponed

Adam is happy to announce that last month he received his MBA. Congratulations on all your accomplishments!

Please tell us about your involvement with the closing of the Puppy Retailer in Brick Township last winter. What role did you play? As the Chief Veterinarian for the Jersey Shore Animal Center, I received a phone call from the Brick Animal Control officers. They had received an anonymous tip from an individual who was walking past the store and noticed a German shepherd that had jumped out of a crate and was running loose. Moreover, the individual noticed some sick puppies through the window as well. This triggered a series of events that had me walk into the store to assess the situation and perform complete physical exams on all 39 puppies. Of the 39 puppies in the store, 35 were deemed to have some form of respiratory illness. 4 of them had severe pneumonia (2 of them being sold on the floor as is). As a result, I made the executive decision with the support of Mayor Stephen Acropolis, the Ocean County Health Department and Animal Control Officers to close down the store indefinitely until a court hearing.
Can you tell the readers about the emotional health issues that face many puppies produced at puppy mills?Those of my clients who purchased a puppy from a puppy store tell me that they “wanted to rescue him/her from there.”  I unfortunately have to tell them that they are perpetuating the business even further. Most (not all) puppy mill puppies are overbred, have several congenital, genetic, infectious and metabolic disorders. These can range from hip dysplasia, juvenile cataracts, open fontanelle, pneumonia, parvo virus, hypoglycemia, etc.

Once the human-animal bond is established (which is usually “love at first site”), there is a significant emotional attachment. Unfortunately, the financial commitment may be absent. A majority of these puppy mill dogs are overpriced (up to 4-5 times the cost of the puppy!!) and owners may not have the expense to care for the defects. We probably see at least 1-2 puppies per week that are deemed “unfit for purchase.” There could be mild clinical signs (diarrhea with intestinal parasites) or more severe signs (heart defect, hip dysplasia, etc). These could be eliminated if pet owners went to reputable breeders or rescue groups that would make the prospective pet owner aware of recurrent or concurrent illness.

What frustrates veterinarians the most is when a pet owner overpays for a puppy from a puppy store and complains to the veterinarian that they have no money for its healthcare expense. If a puppy is adopted from a shelter, it is usually spayed/neutered, heartworm and fecal checked, fully vaccinated and microchipped for a minimal fee whereas a puppy from a puppy mill/petstore come with a series of vaccines that are allegedly “legit” for over $1,000. I have seen puppies purchased from a puppy store for over $6,000!
I understand you adopted one of these pups. Can you tell us about Connor? Connor is now a 10 month-old short haired dachshund that melted me INSTANTLY when I saw him curled up in his diarrhea in his crate in Puppies Galore. Later I found he had many roundworms in his stool. I didn’t think twice about making him my son. I now have 4 beautiful children–Charles a beagle, Cosmo a paralyzed long-haired dachshund and Chelsea, a black dapple dachshund.
Do you think New Jersey will really be the first state in the nation to completely ban the selling of dogs in stores? YES! I will make sure and do everything I can in my legal power to be the first state to completely ban the selling of dogs in stores. We all need to bond together, sign petitions, AVOID THE IMPULSE IN PET SHOP PURCHASING, do your research and become INFORMED ABOUT PUPPY MILLS.

How can they learn more and help this process? The humane society offers a guide on what you as a citizen can do to help prevent puppy mill puppy stores from occurring in your town: http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/pets/puppy_mills/ordinance_guide.pdf. Also letters to your local legislators certainly help! All 39 of the puppies taken from the Brick Township shop have been spayed, neutered, vaccinated, dewormed and examined by either the veterinarian at Ocean County Animal Shelter or myself. They are doing fantastic! They are turning a year of age now and are in the most loving and amazing homes! I couldn’t be any more elated in knowing that we created a happy ‘second chance’ for these babies!

How do you think the dog-human bond can be celebrated during National Dog Week?CELEBRATE the dog human bond by allotting just 5 EXTRA minutes that you may normally not do. Instead of looking at Facebook, checking emails or paying the bills, get on the floor with your baby. Play with them, mush them up, be silly, give an extra treat, take them to their favorite place (dog park, beach, grandma/grandpa’s house, play with their “cousin’s” dogs, take them to PetSmart, Petco and buy them a toy, invite them to your bed (if they’re not already in there to begin with), take them pumpkin picking, have them lick you, have them put their head on your chest, watch their favorite show together, take them for an extra walk, talk to them and tell them how much you love them. I can keep going! As you can tell, I have done all of the above to help strengthen the human animal bond with my ‘children’. I tell my clients that I’m not just a veterinarian. I’m a pediatrician for their babies! Happy National Dog Week!

Thank you Adam. This was truly an inspiring post to write. And so timely, too!

Border collies and their owner show support at Sound for the Hounds

On September 15t the Crowd Funder for the National Dog Week projects was launched on Indiegogo. It will be active for three months. I will be updating the site often with photos, video and news! For as little as $2.00, you can become a supporter of the National Dog Week Movement. If you have a YouTube segment that celebrates dogs, please see ABOUT and feel free to contact me. Maybe we can use it on the Campaign Trail~

To learn more or to contribute please go to: http://www.indiegogo.com/LisaBegin-Kruysman-Author

Last Saturday, I was honored to take part in the second occasion of Sound for the Hounds at Brookdale Park in Essex County, New Jersey. I attended as an artist and author. This event was created to spread awareness for Puppy Mill dogs organized by animal-advocate Jacki Flanigan. Jacki is a tireless campaigner for the dogs and puppies (and other Companion Animals) that cannot speak up for themselves.

The day was filled with pet-related vendors, great food and musical guests. There were fun contests held for peeps and their pooches, too. Also on hand were knowledagable guest speakers such as Bob Barker, Tera Burgger, Musician Danny Nova, Jenny Stephens, Carol Araneo-Mayer, Bill Smith, Laura Flynn Amato and Annmarie Lucas who shared their expertise on this topic. They informed the public of the dangers posed by the dirty business of puppy milling and its impact on the welfare of our dogs as well as the consequences for those humans who are not aware of the deplorable conditions in which their dogs entered the world

The weather was a little challenging, but that didn’t keep many happy dogs and their owners away. A number of Rescue Groups and adoptable dogs also enjoyed making some love connections.

To learn more about this event, and its organizer, please check out this site

http://www.soundforthehounds.com/index.html

Here are some photos we captured on our new camera. It was a great way to break “her” in!

Some hopeful adoptees

On the scent of food vendors!

Spending some time with the Pug Rescue Group

My friend from High School, Sandy with her Rescue Greyhound, Star

Winner of the Biggest Dog Contest, no surprise here!

Hopeful contenders for the Smallest Dog Contest

The panel of guest speakers who informed the crowds and judged contests

Jacki Flanigan welcomes and thanks the crowd at Sound for the Hounds

A Foraging Frenchie!

Rocking the Grounds at Sound for the Hounds

The natural beauty of Brookdale Park made for a lovely setting for a memorable event

Can Brick Township (NJ), home to Dog Fest held during NDW, ban puppy shops?

“That the people have the power to redeem the work of fools…” Patti Smith

On Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 7:00 PM, the Brick Township council will vote on an ordinance to ban the sale of puppies in pet stores in their community.  It is up to us to attend that meeting to show our support for adopting this ordinance.  (details at bottom of post)

Early this year, I posted about the Community of Brick Township’s (NJ) efforts to ban the retail sale of dogs and cats. Since then, the neighboring town of Pt. Pleasant has successfully accomplished this so now let’s see if Brick (where I have resided for 15 years) can join them. I hope that by the time Brick’s Third Annual Dog Fest occurs in late September, we can join the list of American cities and towns that have also done so! I just want to say that I do know many who have purchased their dogs at these shops, but I know that many really did not understand the reality of how that purchase affected the welfare of other dogs…and their humans. When I write on this topic, I do not mean to diminish their dogs or their love for their pets. But now they know better…

One of the many individuals who has worked so hard to see this happen is Janice Fisher. I asked Janice why this is so important and her answer follows.

But first, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce our new National Dog Week Pet Health Consultant, Dr. Adam Christman who is a native of this community and practices at Brick Town Veterinary Hospital. He is also the staff veterinarian for the Jersey Shore Animal Center (JSAC). As NDW 2012 nears, you will learn more about Dr. Christman. But for now you should know that he was very instrumental in the rescue of those thirty-nine sick and neglected puppies rescued from a retail establishment in Brick Township earlier this year (it has since been closed)…and even became the caring owner of one those little puppies. As you recall, last year, this honor went to Los Angeles Veterinarian and TeddyHilton Blogger, Dr. Patrick Mahaney who has remained a great friend to National Dog Week. Welcome Adam!

Here is the very intelligent and thoughtful post from Janice Fisher…

Almost everyone loves a puppy.   Who doesn’t delight in the thought of big brown eyes, a wagging tail, wet kisses and soft snuggles?  A puppy brings joy, laughter and the ability to bond with a furry living being that is not human.

There is, however, a problem with how we obtain a puppy.  We can rescue/adopt or purchase a quality puppy from a reputable, vetted breeder.  Either option is preferable to purchasing a puppy from a pet store.  Do you know about the pet store/puppy mill connection?  Research has established that 98% of the puppies sold in pet stores were raised in puppy mills (a term used for mass commercial breeding facilities that mass produce puppies with little regard for the dog’s welfare but plenty of concern for profit).

The majority of puppy mills are located in seven states:  Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.  In depth research into sales contracts from local pet stores reveals that the majority of their puppy supply comes from these states.  Further research into the United States Dept. of Agriculture records shows that these breeding dogs and puppies live in conditions that no responsible pet owner would ever approve of.

Let’s test your tolerance.  The following is a sample list of violations regularly cited on inspection reports of mass breeding facilities by the United States Dept. of Agriculture.  These reports are from breeding facilities supplying local pet stores:

Emaciated dogs on premises.

Dogs coats matted and coated with feces.

Dogs living in temperatures below 23.8 degrees F with no ability to stay warm.

(Water buckets are frozen).

Heat index 99 degrees F with no fan or monitoring of temperature.

No shelter from sun, wind or rain.

Medical issues noted:  feet swelling, lacerations, scabs, ulcerations, tartar buildup, tooth loss, masses, nasal congestion, coughing, crusty eyes, diarrhea, underweight and malnutrition, protruding eyes, loss of eyes, overgrown toenails

Foul odors attracting swarms of flies.

Severely rusted metal frames on enclosures posing risk of injury.

Feet and legs of puppies falling through expanded metal flooring causing injury to legs or puppy’s inability to get back to mother to nurse.

Excessive fecal material: hair, debris, insect debris in the whelping buildings where puppies are housed.

Self feeding receptacles have an accumulation of grime on them contaminating the food.

Cages in the “barn” that are hutch style and hang from the ceiling.  The dogs are rocking and swinging in the enclosures.

Read enough?  Is this tolerable?  Might it appear to you that these animals that were meant to provide companionship for humans are  treated like a cash crop?  This is the sad truth.

The legislation that regulates this business, the Animal Welfare Act, is lax and provides only minimal standards of care for the animals.  When groups such as the Humane Society of theUnited Statesor the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals lobby for stronger legislation, there is opposition from many organizations that profit from this business and, more often than not, the law does not get passed.

Therefore, the USDA with approximately 70 inspectors nationwide and approximately 4,500 facilities nationwide to inspect, are expected to enforce the Animal Welfare Act.  An audit in May 2010 by the Office of Inspector General reveals that the USDA is not meeting its obligations and thousands of animals are suffering because of it.

CAN WE HELP ON A LOCAL LEVEL?   YES!!!!

  • We can decrease the demand for these puppies. Just say “NO” to pet store purchases.
  • We can encourage local legislators to adopt ordinances that will prohibit the sale of puppies in their community.
  • We can educate others and encourage them to do the same.

On Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 7:00 PM, theBrickTownship council will vote on an ordinance to ban the sale of puppies in pet stores in their community.  It is up to us to attend that meeting to show our support for adopting this ordinance.

Will you commit to a couple of hours that night to attend the meeting and support the ordinance?   If so, this ordinance will be passed andBrickTownship and will be the second municipality in the State ofNew Jersey to demonstrate that it is “animal-friendly.”  Hope to see you there.

We can.

“The old era of the breeder-seller ‘washing his hands’ of a sale as soon as the puppy left his place, has passed.”  Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week, (written in 1961 after publishing Dog World Magazine for 36 years)

According to Tracy Green, the Page Administor of Make it Illegal to Sell Dogs/Puppies in Pet Stores, https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Make-it-Illegal-to-sell-DogsPuppies-in-Pet-Stores/196025447082684 there are at least 14  communities in the United States that have successfully banned these establishments: 1. Parkland Florida 2. Lake Worth Florida 3. Hallandale Beach FL 4. Irvine CA 5. Glendale CA 6. Albuquerque New Mexico (first to ban in US) 7. West Hollywood CA 8. South Lake Tahoe CA 9. Chula Vista CA 10. Laguna Beach CA 11. Dana Point CA 12. Hermosa Beach CA 13. Fountain Colorado 14. Austin Texas.

El Paso Texas has banned puppies under one year of age in pet stores and Los Angeles approved a motion to draft an ordinance to ban sales of cats, dogs and rabbits in pet stores. Although an official ordinance is not in place yet, Huntington Beach, CA, passed a first reading and they are in the process of putting a motion to draft an official ordinance. Richmond, BC, Canada has banned sales; Toronto became the second Canadian city to ban these sales. (please visit site for updates).

Recently, my township of Brick, NJ has been in the spotlight as potentially becoming the first city in the MidAtlantic to follow suit. Over the weekend, National Pets Examiner, Prenny Preston Eims, wrote on this development http://www.examiner.com/article/jersey-town-may-ban-retail-sale-of-cats-and-dogs . The ordinance has been tabled but you can help by contacting the township and voicing your support.

I thank the Fisher family and all those town officials, veterinarians and others who have worked so hard to bring this about and those who helped rescue 39 sick and neglected pups from another “Dog Store” in Brick Township. And a nod of appreciation to all those across the nation who are organizing activities to call attention to this problem.

A few years ago, when I began writing the short story, HUMAN DIRECTIONAL, I wanted to show, not tell, the story of a young man who chooses to work for a shop that sells dogs acquired through puppy mills. The story is purely ficitional, but captures the message on the callousness of this business, as well the economic angst many are experiencing (sometimes they go hand in hand, or hand in paw). Below, I present an excerpt from HUMAN DIRECTIONAL, one of the seven stories of SOMETHING’S LOST AND MUST BE FOUND. (Please see ABOUT for more book information). Thanks to all who have kept this book among the top sellers in “Dogs” on Amazon.

For the record, I am not anit-breeder. In my lifetime, I have welcomed many pets  in a variety of ways. Ten years ago, I acquired  (with love) my Portuguese water dog from a breeder who made me come to her home three times, fill out a questionnaire, be interviewed and after all that, she asked me if I still wanted one of her pups. I even got to hold my pup and meet her dog mom. This is not what goes on when people buy from a retail shop. If I am able to add another dog to my household, I will work with a shelter or a local rescue group. I happily await the day.

People say to me, why does the government have to get involved, why don’t people just stop buying at these shops?  That’s a good question. A dog is not a car or a toy or an appliance.  Encourage people to acquire dogs intelligently. It is a big commitment, think about it. Ask them to consider the welfare of all dogs like those abused and neglected on the grounds of Commercial Breeding facilities and their pups that are dumped in overcrowded shelters.

Excerpt from Human Directional

Enlightenment can be obtained in houses of worship, halls of education, on a magnificent mountain top, or sometimes in the confines of a sweaty dog suit working as a Human Directional.

You’ve seen them, how could you not? They seem to be everywhere, at the corner of busy intersections; living breathing human billboards, hoisting big signs shaped like arrows.  Some dance and jump around in staged excitement, swirling, swinging, flipping, and twirling their signs.  Others stand slumped, stuck in place, brought down by boredom, heat, exhaustion…life.

But the sign they cling to is a life raft, offering its carrier a way to earn wages on which he or she can just scrape by, all the while pointed toward the Grand Opening of some new store in a strip mall, or directing house hunters to a housing tract featuring mini-mansions listed at “Market Adjusted” prices.

Does anyone ever grow up wanting to be a Human Directional?  Perhaps, but you’ll find that these hired walking signs have surrendered hope, at a point in their lives when any job will do because they lack skills, paper work, or opportunity.  Many exist in quiet desperation looking for some personal direction, some kind of sign, while actually being one.  Most won’t get the irony, but there are exceptions, like John, a twenty-five year old college graduate with a degree in business from a prestigious university.

This formerly goal-directed young man had been laid off a year earlier and just never could find something to replace that good run of employment he’d enjoyed for three years.  For the past six months he’d done some light carpentry work, some house painting and worked as a busboy.  He’d become discouraged about the prospects of ever finding meaningful work with a good paycheck, the kind of work he felt someone of his education and background deserved.

John recalled a time not so long ago when he held little regard for those who were not so smart, so lucky, so entitled; the legions who labored on the lawns of others, waited on tables at chain restaurants, flipped greasy burgers, cared for the elderly, children, or animals… but now here he stood at a busy intersection dressed in a human-sized dog suit, luring customers to a store called PETS-4-U!

He had found his new job after answering an ad on Craig’s List, under the heading of Advertising and Promotion.  In desperate times the John’s of the world overlook a lot, including their inner compasses, when accepting a position like that of a Human Directional for a place like PETS-4-U!

PETS-4-U! had been in business at its new spot for just four months, having moved from one just a few miles down the road where it had been known as PUPS-2-GO!  Now with the Thanksgiving and holiday season near, it was time to take advantage of this new highly trafficked business location and rev up the lucrative sale of adorable pups.

“I need someone with a big bark and lots of energy,” the owner of the shop had explained to John during his interview. “If you can be available weekends, you’re hired.” he’d continued. “I’ll start you out at $15.00 an hour and if business is good, I’ll give you a raise and a holiday bonus.”

As this was the best offer John had received in a while, he accepted, what did he have to lose he’d reasoned?

“Call me Ron,” the pet shop owner had said offering John his hand.  “Too bad those good looks of yours will be wasted.”  With this, he’d presented John with his new uniform, a Golden retriever suit which John would be wearing on his beat. “Get it? You’re a member of the Working Dog Group now, a retriever of customers,” Ron said, guffawing.  “You can start tomorrow.  Just keep that big arrow pointed in this direction and move around a lot, get creative, act like a dog, chase cars, offer your paw.  Kids love it!”

John reported to his corner the next morning dressed in a dog suit the color of the amber-hued lagers he used to pound down at the upscale bars he’d frequented in days of yore.  He would have to get used to the stifling sensation that came with wearing a big dog head with slits for eyes, grateful it allowed him to remain anonymous.

The first hour passed without incident, but then it started.  (End of Excerpt).

I hope you were engaged enough to invest in a download (only .99 on Amazon). Please remember, a portion of all book sales is designated to some special causes for our Companion Animals, especially those involving Spay and Neuter initiatives.

I also hope that you do can do your part to replicate what those in the above-mentioned communities (and hopefully, soon, Brick Township) have been able to do. Please contact the town officials in Brick and let them know how you feel. Please feel free to quote any material obtained from my blog posts. council@twp.brick.nj.us

“Try to be the god on earth, the all-powerful and all-mighty your dog thinks you are. Never let him learn his mistake.”

Will Judy, Founder of the National Dog Week Movement

On Valentine’s Day last week, two very different scenarios in the Dog World played out on a local and national level.

While a special Hearing regarding “Puppies Galore,” took place in Brick Township, NJ, some of the nation’s’ Top Dogs, representing the finest of their breeds and groups, pranced at Madison Square Garden in New York City, just over an hour’s drive from Brick, vying for the title of Best-In-Show.

At the former, the Township Council responded to multi counts of animal abuse leveled at the owners of the recently closed, “Puppies Galore,” Nat Sladkin and Maria DeSantis. (please see previous post for details). Much to the satisfaction of those who had brought about the closing and those attending the hearing, the shop’s business license was permanently revoked and it was announced that the Council would now seriously consider the banning of all retail pet shops in Brick Township, like an establishment called, “Puppies,” located just miles from the Sladkin/DeSantis operation.

According to many, you didn’t have to be a health inspector or an officer of the law to know something was amiss at, “Puppies Galore.” Some said it literally didn’t smell right, and when a puppy was seen roaming freely in the store after business hours, a well-orchestrated investigation brought about its ultimate closing. I’ve had people say to me, “At least Puppies (the other shop) is clean and pleasant.” But this is merely a sanitized facade that hides the very dirty and unpleasant behind-the-scenes business of dog retailing at the commercial level.

This small battle won, over at Madison Square Garden, another one was heating up as the AKC (American Kennel Club) was dropping its sponsor, Pedigree, and their Shelter Dog Campaign for this year’s Westminster event, saying it wanted to focus on the more uplifting topic of pure-bred dogs. http://www.examiner.com/animal-welfare-in-cleveland/dogs-without-tiaras

On many levels, the AKC has done a lot of good for dogs for several generations. It educates humans about the purposes for which dogs have been bred, which in turn can create better canine-human bonds, it creates jobs and promotes a dog-centric community of like-minded individuals. I personally know people who are actively involved in breeding and showing dogs as well as covering AKC events, from the big show at The Garden, to helping to promote the role of Service Dogs.  Some of them do a lot of good work on the behalf of homeless dogs, too. But the AKC needs to do more on behalf of ALL dogs to be viewed as a truly dog-positive institution or risk losing the respect of many dog-loving Americans. I fear much damage has been done.

Many purebred pups, pumped out by greedy uncaring Commercial Breeders come with AKC papers.  Why? Because all the AKC requires of these breeders is the stipulation that the parent’s of their pups are Purebreds.  According to Janice Fisher, an organizer of Peaceful Protests outside dog retail shops, each time these transactions take place, the AKC makes a profit.  You don’t need a calculator to see that huge sums of money can be made.

American puppy shops are now filled with registered purebreds, many that will end up in shelters because of health and temperament issues and because it is just so darn easy to plunk down one’s money  to get the dog you want, when you want, without much thought.  Even those who may not like the Pedigree dog food brand, have to admire the corporation’s effort to encourage adoption in their Westminster Ad Campaigns, but until the AKC helps to curb the flood of these sick and neglected pups, it is a vicious cycle. Think about it.

I am not against hardworking and devoted breeders. Although my pets have come to me in many different ways, I am currently the proud Human to a Portuguese water dog who was brought into this world by one such individual. Hooper is ten, but looks like she is three, and has actually been fed Pedigree for a number of years. Although I could have, I never got around to officially registering her with the AKC, it really wasn’t important to me. I hope to be able to adopt another dog when the time is right.

I think we’ve made some great strides in the housing of homeless Companion Animals, but most agree we need shelter reform, if not a revolution to truly make things better for them. In our shaky economy, there are many heartless scammers turning the adoption process into a money-making business, too, in some areas of the nation. (More on that in a later post). Puppy Mill awarenss and is an area where the AKC can help by using its clout to become a positive force.

There was a final twist in the Westminster saga. After winning his title of Best-In-Show, Malachy the Pekingese was told that he could not have the longstanding traditional winner’s dinner at Sardi’s Restaurant due to a ruling of the NCY Health Department. It looked like Malachy would have to settle for dare we say a bowl of Pedigree, until the ruling was reversed by Mayor Bloomberg.  Malachy had his day and gourmet meal after all.

But I would love to think, that if this Top Dog could talk, he might just ask his humans, and the Sardi’s staff, to wrap up a few million meals to go to share with his friends that, well, just aren’t such lucky dogs.

I know this is a complex issue, so your comments and questions are welcome.  For more reading: http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2008/02/akc-loves-puppy-mills-and-naive.html

“Be the god-on-earth, all-wise master your dogs think you are.”  Will Judy, (1949) Founder of National Dog Week

News Bark:  My Short Story Collection, SOMETHING’S LOST AND MUST BE FOUND, inspired by these blog posts, is now available in a soft cover version! If you are an Independent Book Store looking to add to your Dog or Inspirational Categories…please let me know.  If you are a member of a book club, I would love to talk about having this book read and discussed…please feel free to contact me at pst39crd@aol.comhttps://www.createspace.com/3656078

As one who writes about special days, weeks and months, it is perfect that the year ends with something called Awareness Month of Awareness Month Months (seriously).  For example, December brings the serious, World Aids Month and Colorectal Awareness Education Month; it is Rising Star and Spiritual Literacy Month, Bingo’s Birthday Month and Operation Santa Paws Month.  Throughout the year, there is a month dedicated to all food groups, beverages, diseases and things we probably never even thought to be aware of.

In the past couple of years, I’ve spent a lot of time making people aware of National Dog Week (the last full week in September) and the way this week can present a time of organized reflection about issues affecting our Companion Animals, specifically dogs.  Of course, these issues are relevant every week of the year, but perhaps there is one issue that should be addressed on the occasion of a week filled with two important gift-giving holidays, Hanukkah and Christmas. If you, or someone you know, is planning to add a dog to the family unit at this time please read on.

One way of achieving awareness is to talk to someone who is knowledgeable about a subject that is important to you. In the case of puppy mills and pet shop dogs, I sought the experience of Jacki Flannigan.  I became aware of Jacki and her work on Facebook.  This dog-advocate began arranging Peaceful Protests in front of Retail Pet Shops after watching a special program produced by Lisa Ling for the Oprah Winfrey Show about the horrors of puppy mills.  Jacki was struck by the fact that Lisa stated that of all the documentaries she had produced for her Oprah Specials, this was the one that had the most profound effect on her.

Jacki, who now lives in Pennsylvania, arranges planned Peaceful Demonstrations outside pet retailers in New York State.   She recruits participants through her Facebook Page and makes the carefully worded signs for the Protesters to carry.  She does not wish for confrontation, but wants to make the public aware of what is going on behind the doors of these innocent looking Pup Shops.

Jacki talks about the terrible lives the parents of these puppies must endure.  The pup you buy at these stores might turn out to be physically and emotionally okay, but there is a high price to be paid (apart from the amount of money the buyer will dole out with an average 300 percent markup on the price of puppy).

Interesting, Jacki’s first “event” was held on Christmas Eve to dissuade those who think popping into the pup shop for a last-minute canine-centric gift might be a good idea. In my local newspaper the Asbury Park Press this evening, a woman wrote a Featured Letter to the Editor titled, “Choose breeder or shelter when adopting a puppy.” In it, Janice Fisher of Manasquan, NJ, makes some excellent points.  Of these retail pups she notes, “…Their pathetic lives will be solely for the purpose of reproducing.  They will not know a warm bed, human touch, a dog bone or exercise.”  These dogs will never leave their cage and will be put down, often inhumanely, when deemed no longer productive.

Janice rightfully points out that these shop owners will tell you that they only buy from USDA licensed kennels, assuring that these pups are top-quality when the Animal Welfare Act only provides for, “a minimal standard of care.” They will also say they don’t buy from puppy mills (duh) but they do buy from Brokers who buy from the mills.

So, if you really want a dog for the holidays, either explore your local shelters for adoption, foster during the holidays or if you really prefer to go the breeder route, carefully select your breeder and get lots of references…also really try to learn about the breed you wish to “acquire.”

Fittingly, the photo at the top of this post pleading for Awareness serves as Jacki’s Profile Picture. There is so much more to write about on this topic, but if this brief post makes you Aware, then my writing, and this Awareness Month of Awareness Month Months wrought something positive.

Wishing you a very insightful and inspiring year. Thank you for taking time to read.

Here are some informative links on this topic:

Jacki’s call for volunteers: https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/156659541100368/

Good reading about puppy mills: http://www.prisonersofgreed.org/Broker.html

“Every dog is brave on his own doorstep.”  Irish proverb

Thanks to those who are LIKING our National Dog Week Community Page.  During the month of September, LIKERS were asked to grace its wall with photos of their precious pups.  Many did, and one lucky dog-owner was randomly selected to win an original pet portrait created especially for them by NDW Artist Donald E. Brown of Oregon.  Donald tells me his painting of Pugslee and Princess is in the works.  As soon as this painting is complete we will present a post on these dogs, artist, and proud pooch parents, Amanda and David Haddock of Iowa. https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/National-Dog-Week/218596591491974

It has been a pleasure to work with this fellow artist and dog-lover.  Donald went above and beyond my initial request, loaning an image of one of his paintings for the “HELP” poster for NDW 2011, having posters printed and then rendering an original creation for a Grand Prize Winner.  Proceeds from the sales of the poster are being donated to the Baja Animal Sanctuary.  The original “HELP” painting is also for sale and all proceeds will also go this cause. If you want more details, please contact me. http://www.oregonlive.com/pets/index.ssf/2011/09/portland_pet_artists_painting.html

Sergio, the "model" and inspiration for the NDW Poster, HELP

Each day a new dog is featured in the Profile Picture for the NDW Page.  This past weekend, a dog named Pookie was in the spot light.  Pookie’s photo and story was submitted by Jan Todd, a foster “dog mom” from South Carolina.  To read more about Pookie’s story of survival and recovery please visit his own Facebook page; it’s a testament to how good can triumph over evil. I thank Jan and so many others for all the good work they do on behalf of our Companion Animals. https://www.facebook.com/#!/JusticeforPookie

On Saturday, November 5, I was informed that a Peaceful Protest occurred in the city in which I reside, Brick Township, New Jersey.  This took place outside a shop called Puppies.  It is purely coincidental that this occurred while I have been posting on this topic.  I was out-of-town and would not have known about this if not for comment posted on Facebook.  If anyone knows who organized this, I would love to speak with them. 

When Captain William Lewis Judy launched his National Dog Week Movement in 1928, this publisher, breeder and International dog-show judge posited that his goal was not to necessarily bring more dogs into the world, but to be better humans to the ones that were already here.

Now without further delay, I present the conclusion to my Short Story from the collection Something’s Lost and Must be Found (see ABOUT for details), titled Human Directional.  Again, all scenes and characters are fictional. Please See Previous Post for Part I.

Human Directional (Conclusion)

John gazed at the dozens of cages before him. “There are so many dogs here, what happens if you can’t sell them all?”

Now Ron stood right in front of John, looking him directly in the eyes. “You’re not one of those undercover animal activist-types are you, sent here to spy on me?”

John looked puzzled.  Did people actually do that? He wondered.  The only undercover work he was doing involved wearing a dog suit.

Nearby, an attractive young female employee was cleaning out a crate.  She glanced quickly over at John and their boss as if tuned to their conversation.  John smiled, thinking she might be checking him out.  She did not respond in kind.  Instead she quickly looked away as if to hide her face.

“See this guy right here?” Ron asked, now pointing to a Boxer pup. “He’s getting a little too old so he’s harder to sell.  I’ll start marking him down and see what I can get for him.  When your mark-ups run around 300% there’s a lot of room to negotiate.”

“What happens if he still doesn’t sell?”

 Ron sighed, signaling the conversation was about to end.  “They have their place in this process.  Some go back to the breeder and become breeding stock.  Grist for the mill so to speak,” he explained.  “Just go out and do your job and then maybe we won’t have to worry about any leftovers.”

Ron was right.  It really was none of his business.  He was just a hired slob getting paid by the hour.  He would keep his mouth shut and keep this job he so badly needed.

But the next day on the corner brought new troubles.  A woman on foot came up to him and screamed right into his eye hole. “You’re helping a bad man sell unhealthy pups!” As she walked off she yelled back at him. “We’ll be back and we’ll shut him down just like we shut down Pups-2-Go!”

We?  John thought, slightly alarmed.  It was an unusually warm late-November day and with this exchange, John was now covered in sweat, wishing he could remove the head of the costume, but not daring to.  He thought about the Boxer pup and other potential leftovers and with this he found new energy.  If he hustled maybe he could get all of those dogs sold and into good homes. “Every dog has its day.” He found some comfort in the old adage.

John relayed these threatening encounters to his boss at the end of his shift. “Occupational hazard,” Ron replied. “There are a lot of crazies out there.”

“They say that you’re abusing dogs, that they’re going to shut you down just like before. What does that mean?”

Ron stopped him. “Some people think they have the right to interfere with a man’s right to free enterprise.  Just ignore them.  Remember, out there you’re a dog, you have no voice.”

The next few days went on with the usual mild heckling, but by the weekend the dog food really hit the fan.  As John stood on his corner at High Noon, someone chucked an open can of wet dog food at him as they passed at a good clip.  It hit his shoulder, or haunches, covering the dog suit with brown mush. 

“Ah, crap,” he muttered, cleaning himself up.  When he looked up, the top of his dog head met with the clunk of a raw hide bone ejected from a passing car with the force of a rocket launch.  That’s when he noticed a small crowd of people moving toward him like a pack of wolves.  Each clutched a wad of yellow flyers.  The pack leader, with a microphone at his side, spoke to John.

“Look, I don’t know you, but I just thought I’d give you a heads up that we’re here to stage a protest against the owner of that pet store you’re promoting.  We shut his business down last year, we can do it again.”

John stood his ground. “What do you have against him? He’s just trying to get by like all of us. What’s wrong with selling dogs?”

“Do you know where those pups come from, really?” the megaphoned man asked.

“Breeders, they come from professional breeders,” John answered, his voice strangely muffled by his costume, and growing guilt.

“They come from Commercial breeders, puppy mills,” the man answered. “The parents of those dogs live in horrible conditions, treated like garbage.”

John countered. “Well, then isn’t it a good that their pups will get good homes?”

“Many of those pups are sick and the people buying them don’t even know it yet.”  The man answered.  “Every time someone forks over cold cash to that guy, he goes out and buys more pups from those awful places and you’re just helping him.”

Grist for the mill… the words uttered by Ron the other day now took on a new meaning.

As much as he hated to admit it, John suspected the man was right.  For the past few days, he had been doing a little research of his own about puppy mills, and about the business practices of his boss. The selling of dogs was a dirty business.  At the start of the New Year, he would resign, no longer be a part of the problem.

But right now, he needed the money. Free enterprise, crazies, don’t talk to them…Ron’s words came back to him.  John kept silent.  Turning his hairy back on the crowd he resumed his work, hopping around in circles for a SUV filled with giggling kids.

But it wasn’t so easy.  The pack leader placed his hand on John’s shoulder to stop him. John turned around to confront the man. “Keep your paws of me, man.”

“Who wants a belly rub?” the man taunted just before placing a well-placed punch to John’s abdomen area.  But the dog suit had confused him.  Misjudging his aim, the punch was delivered to John’s groin area.

John slumped down on the ground. “Shi…itzu,” he cried, noticing a SUV filled with kids staring at him and crying in horror.  They screamed out the back window of the car, “Mommy, someone’s beating up a dog.”  In his pain, John picked up his sign and waved it in the air hoping to calm the distraught kids.  But the vehicle headed away with the speed of a get-away car after a bank heist. 

“That’s just a little taste of what the parent’s of those pups go through in their miserable lifetime,” the man sneered as the pack pulled away from its prey and headed toward PETS-4-You!

John, still not fully recovered, followed slowly.  The incident had shaken him and he need time to think.  But as he neared the store, the puncher who was just outside the shop’s front window, turned abruptly to confront him.

“Look, I don’t want any more trouble,” John said.  But the guy grabbed John’s arrow-shaped sign and started poking him with it.  John tackled the man to the ground where they wrestled like two energetic pups.  Now he was really earning his hourly wage as a Human Directional as people from all directions flocked toward the store.

Ron was in back of the shop waiting for a shipment of Chihuahuas from the Midwest when a customer finally alerted him to the show that was unfolding outside his front door.  He ran outside trying to pull John off the protestor by the tail of his costume.  When this failed, he grabbed his employee by the scruff of his costumed neck and hauled inside the shop.

Without missing a beat the protestor snatched up the microphone and led the crowd in chants of “Dog killer” and “Shut this place down now!”  The crowd grew larger as more protestors arrived.  Carrying their own signs, they had become Human Directionals of another sort.

“Are you insane? Ron said when he’d gotten John back inside the store.  From their crates, a litter of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel pups started to whimper as if they smelled danger.

“Those people are really pissed. And maybe they have a right to be,” John shot back still in costume, minus the head.  His hair was wet and wild from his encounter, sticking up in all directions.  It gave him the appearance of a mad man.

“The only right I care about is my right to be in business.  You’re fired.  I’ll pay you for today, but that’s it.  I should have known you were a sucker by all your stupid questions.  This was a big mistake.”

Ron walked to the back of the store where the dark-haired young woman John had seen the previous day stood watching her boss’s every move.

“Keep your money,” said John, surprising even himself.  “From what I can tell, it’s blood money.  It stinks of the smell of a million dead and dying dogs.”

Ron shouted back. “Why don’t you go join your new friends, then?”

The front door of the shop opened and a huge shadow fell over John.

“You the owner?” a man of about six foot four asked.  He wore a large grey hooded jacket that looked to be concealing something.

John nodded a no.  Not taking his eyes off the man, he pointed to the back of the shop.

“Yo.  I want to talk to you man,” he yelled.  “Come on out here.”

Ron stuck his head from out of the office. “What’s the problem?” he asked.

“My wife came back here twice with vet bills for a sick puppy she bought a month ago,” the man answered.

Ron came out of the office, cautiously making his way toward the front. “And?” he asked the man.

“That dog was sick and you knew it. You promised her you would pay all the vet bills, three thousand dollars worth,” he confronted Ron.

Ron paused midway between the back exit and this man who was clearly becoming more angry by the moment. “But you didn’t. You ignored her, didn’t even return her calls,” he continued. “That pup was a gift to my kid for her tenth birthday. I just got back from serving in the Mid-East.  I don’t need to deal with this crap, a crying wife and kid and….”

 “I always offer to replace a sick dog with another.  That’s my policy.”

“Policy?”  The man sneered. “You can’t replace a kid’s pet like some stupid toy.”

“Do you have the vet bills?” Ron asked, his voice now lacking its usual arrogance.  

The man reached into his coat, “It’s too late,” he said.

With that Ron’s face froze in horror while his feet turned toward the back. “Gun! He’s got a gun, run!” he shouted, fleeing out of the shop using the exit leading to the receiving area. The sound of the door slamming shut was obscured by the screeching of tires and a sickening thud followed by a series of shouts.

John turned to face the man, whose sad eyes met his.  From under his coat he pulled the small body of a Chihuahua.  At first John thought it was sleeping.  “He knew it was sick,” said the man.   I told my wife not to buy a pup at a pet store but my kid wanted one on her birthday.  She didn’t want to wait.”

John stared at the small lifeless body of the puppy.  He removed his dog suit and joined the girl in the back.  She was looking out the window of the door at a large van in the shipment area.

“There’s nothing we can do.  In dog-speak we would say Ron has gone to the Rainbow Bridge,” she said. “But even if he was allowed to cross, he would be in for a big surprise.”

“What’s the Rainbow Bridge?” John asked.

She explained that it was a place where dogs and their loving owners were reunited in heaven.  Then she told John that she’d been doing undercover work for an animal advocacy group that had been working to shut down Ron’s store.  John recalled her secretive behavior from the other day.

“We have time to get some of these pups out of here,” she spoke.  From the office, she disabled the video surveillance system, removed the tape and quickly began opening crates.

John walked to the front of the store where the grieving man stood, still staring at the dead puppy on the counter.  Going over to the crate of the aging Boxer pup, John removed it and handed it to the man.  “Take this dog.  Go out the back door.  There’s an angry mob out front.”

The man looked at John questioningly. “He’s getting too old to sell and I don’t know what will happen to him.  Maybe he’s in better health than that poor Chihuahua.”

The sounds of an ambulance approached as John escorted the man out of the store.  Just steps away a distracted crowd hovered over the unmoving body of the store owner; no one noticed them.

“I didn’t see him,” the apparent driver of a delivery truck kept repeating.  “He just shot out in front of me.  I didn’t have a chance to stop.”

John looked at a large vehicle that idled nearby.  From inside the distressed yips of nervous young pups cried out.  It was the delivery Ron had been waiting for, the delivery that would be his last.

“Well are you going to help me or not?” the dark haired girl called back to John. “This is your chance to make up for all the bad you’ve done this week.”

She was right.  He couldn’t just walk away.  Maybe he couldn’t change the circumstances in his own life right now, but he could help change the fates of some unfortunate dogs.  In that realization his life took on a new direction, one fueled by a sense of purpose that had been lacking in him for so long.  Maybe every dog couldn’t have its day, but he could see to it that some could.  He began emancipating pups, scooping up several at a time, bringing them out through the front entrance.

John walked over to the group of protestors who were not yet aware of his boss’s demise. He spoke to the man who had attacked him previously, “Looks like this shop has shut itself down for a while.”  The crowd grew quiet.  “There are a lot of pups in there,” John continued to address them. “We’ll take what we can now and then we’ll try and rescue the rest later.”

“We’ll all get thrown in jail for theft,” someone said.

John shrugged. “But we’ll be letting some innocent prisoners out,” he answered as he headed back into the store.

Maybe stealing these pups was breaking the law of man, but certainly in this case, not the law of a higher power he reasoned.  He had no choice; it felt good to be a hero for a change. 

He had become a Human Directional in the very best sense of the word.

Hooper

"Is it dog week yet?"

"Is it dog week yet?"

Michelle Mongelli and Wheezey

Pike, at Geiger Key

Hooper in the Keys

Hooper in the Keys

“Two Culprits” by Steven Hall

Logan & Koda

DJ

DJ Goes to Westminster

Zac and Cooper

"Look daddy, I can fly!"

“Hooper” – Best in Snow

Pita in Matt’s Garden

Hooper with cousin Roxy, Summer 2009

Me and my “Hoop”