Two amazing animals reacte to the loss of their guardians – in amazing ways

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In Nebraska, a Schnauzer-Poodle mix named Elvis escaped his new home and was found days later near the church where the funeral of his long-time guardian had been held.

After Judy Gustas died at the end of battle with cancer, Elvis was adopted by a nurse who had cared for Gustas. He was found nine days later, as reported by

In Italy, a cat has been leaving gifts at his guardian’s grave site every day for the past year, in the form of leaves, sticks, twigs, plastic cups and paper towels. On the day of the funeral, Toldo reportedly followed the coffin from the home to the cemetery.

What more evidence do we need, beyond so many stories such as these two? Animals are special beings and they do not deserve the treatment they receive from too many uncaring humans.


Two stories show the two sides of our society

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I will never be able to understand the mentality it must take to abuse a child or an animal. It is perplexing to consider that while our society includes people with great levels of compassion, it also includes people capable of terrible acts committed on innocent people and creatures of this planet.

Two stories came to attention today that highlight this divide.

My brother Mark sent me the link to a Huffington Post story about a Wisconsin man who regularly takes his elderly dog down to the warm waters of Lake Superior. He does this to help ease the pain of arthritis. He floats him in the water as Shep relaxes and falls asleep.

The photo, which is the centerpiece of the feature, is very touching. The man said the Shep saved his live, coming to live with him in a troubled time in his life.

And then we have the Associated Press story about hundreds of malnourished cockfighting roosters that were euthanized after being found at a business in Southern California. It is not the first time this year that huge numbers fighting roosters were discovered and later killed in California. The Ventura County Star reports about “1,000 roosters were euthanized in late January near Oxnard.”

What sort of warped mentality allows some people to engage in acts like cockfighting?

I’ve lost a friend and the planet has lost a truely compassionate animal lover

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I stepped away from blogging for a few days, as during that span I attended a memorial service and the then the funeral for Father Al Dash. The retired Catholic priest was 74 years old.

Father Dash conducted a blessing of the animals service every October in my hometown and rescued ex-racing greyhounds. We met him back in 2003 through a fellow animal-welfare advocate, who also rescued greyhounds and also advocated for an end to the cruel industry that is dog racing.

We had also rescued a greyhound named “Dash,” so there was a real connection there with Al. Dash passed away last summer and now Al is no longer with us, after an extended hospitalization. My wife and I really took the news hard.

Father Al Dash and Dash the greyhound

For several years, we met Al Dash for weekend breakfast meals at local eateries. When the weather was cool enough, he always requested that we bring along our Dash. After the meal, he’d give Dash a large dog biscuit. By the time the blessing of the animals serviced rolled around in 2010, our Dash was unable to attend due to his declining health. So Father Al blessed him from the back of our car one morning.

Last fall, Al had to say goodbye to what would be his last two greyhounds – Willow and Captain – who passed away about 10 days apart. They were older dogs and led a great post-racing life with their special guardian.

On both occasions at the local veterinary hospital, my wife and I shared hugs and so many tears with Al. We knew we needed to be there with him. It was such a sad time and the veterinarian and the staff members were all in tears as well.

But now, we take some comfort in knowing that Al Dash has been reunited with loved ones and with our Dash.

Father Al Dash conducting a Blessing of the Animals service in 2007


Hero pet and hero person

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I just found two great stories that once again reaffirm our connection with our animals.

The winner of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles’ 30th National Hero Dog Award has been announced and it’s Bear, a 100-pound Shiloh German shepherd rescued from a Texas animal shelter three years ago.

Bear’s guardian had a seizure last May and lost consciousness when she fell hit her head. The Associated Press reports Bear raced from house to house, scratching on doors for help. A county animal control officer saw him and followed him to home.

The dog then jumped into the ambulance to accompany his guardian to the hospital.

And a woman in Massachusetts saved her 9-year-old golden retriever  from a bear attack, using a toy sword.  She waved the toy at the bear and banged it on a stone wall and screamed until bear had enough, stopped its attack on her dog left the yard.

That’s some kind of brave stuff there.

Can dogs experience disappointment?

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I found an interesting post on a blog called “A City Mom” on the Chicago Now website. Kim Strickland asked the question – “Can a dog understand a broken promise?”

It seems she promised her dog they would go on a morning jog, but circumstances pushed back the outing. Her dog exhibited some unusual behavior, in expressing displeasure with the delay.

Dogs do indeed experience emotions such as this. Recent studies have even suggested there is special and unique mental connection people have with their dogs, quite possibly the result of a shared bit of evolutionary process, over thousands of years of living together as buddy species – if you will.

I’m glad other bloggers and writers are sharing their stories that highlight the human-animal connection.

Pets have health benefits for the elderly

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Sorry folks. I’ve been slammed of late with other writing projects, so I have been woefully off line when it comes to the blog.

To get back into gear and back on my daily blogging pace, we have the results on a study about the health benefits pets offer to the elderly. File this one under the heading – “We Knew That, But it’s Great to see the Science Backing it Up.”

Pets Benefit Aging Adults’ Health, MU Researcher Says from MU News Bureau on Vimeo.

I received a press release this morning from the News Bureau of the University of Missouri, which states, “Having a pet can lower the stress hormone, cortisol, while increasing oxytocin, prolactin and norepinephrine, hormones related to joy, nurturing and relaxation.”

And the following is really important – “Rebecca Johnson, an associate professor in the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing and in the College of Veterinary Medicine, says long-term care facilities should follow the lead of others in their industry such as TigerPlace, an independent living community in Mid-Missouri, that enable residents to have pets.”

I hope this study will enlighten more facility managers and families as to the great connection people in general have with pets and certainly how much this connection means to older people.

Johnson is also director of MU’s Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction (ReCHAI).
“Research suggests older adults live longer, healthier, happier lives when they interact with pets on a regular basis,” Johnson said through the release. “Pets provide companionship and unconditional love that improves the overall health of aging individuals.
“Caring for animals gives older adults responsibility and more reasons to get up in the mornings.”

Injured Marine seeks to save and adopt injured military service dog

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This is one of those stories that all at once can leave you somewhat upset and touched and perplexed.

An injured former Marine is trying to adopt the service dog she worked with in Iraq, but bureaucratic roadblocks seem to be in the way. Over two tours of duty, Corporal Megan Leavey and German shepherd Sergeant Rex hunted IEDs. The pair was injured when a roadside bomb exploded near them in 2006.

Rex was recently diagnosed with facial palsy at Camp Pendleton and will be released from service, but the fear is that he will be euthanized before the way is cleared for Leavey to adopt him. This is one of those cases where clearly the better option is to allow Leavey to adopt Rex, even it means standard procedures are tossed out the window. The two heroes deserve to be together.

Senator Charles E. Schumer is trying to help, through a letter sent to Michael B. Donley, secretary of the Air Force.

New Study: Dogs can read us

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New research out of Hungary is offering more evidence that dogs can read what we’re thinking, as reported today on

This sort of research is so incredibly important. Dogs seem to be able to read our thoughts, whether it is through eye contact or our emotions or some other hidden trait. The Hungarian researched focused somewhat on eye contact.

The canines in the study were shown a video of woman at times staring at them. The dogs reacted to her eye contact and physical movements. It is suggested the response from the dogs was similar to those of a 6-month-old human baby.

Body language, our emotions and through eye contact – it all seems to be part of our special connection with our pets. And the article touches on the importance of our long connection with dogs, as we have evolved together for thousands of years.

And this study offer further evidence that dogs possess self-awareness and a state of consciousness.

I’ll bet you have some stories to tell about your pets reading your mind.

Another dog credited with saving his family

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A dog in Ohio is being credited for saving his family from armed intruders during a home invasion. Two men entered the home and when confronted by the dog, fired on him.

Kaizer was shot twice, once in the head and once in the leg. He is recovering but he’s not out of the woods, at least at last report from WKRC out of Cincinnati.

As the evil criminals were firing on him, his family was able to escape the home and run for help.

And to think some people don’t want to increase penalties for animal cruelty or improved regulations to protect breeding dogs from cruelty. Animals often show how much they care about us. It’s a shame some humans are far less compassionate.