Latest from The Spokesman-Review
He’s mostly just a pile of wrinkles,
this canine heap of folds and crinkles;
a Size M skin would fit him well,
instead he’s wearing X-X-L.
The Bard of Sherman Avenue (Wikipedia photo)
For most of my work-from-home career, we’ve shared an office and a routine. As soon as the door closes behind the rest of the family, we go to work.
I have a tendency to fuss and fidget, jumping up from my computer to answer the phone or scan a document or make another cup of tea. He is more quiet. More content. He makes himself comfortable nearby, watching me move around, paying attention to what I’m doing, especially when I wander into the kitchen. He’s always willing to join me in a snack. Occasionally he gets restless and asks to go outside, but for the most part, he’s happy to simply share the space with me
Actually, that’s the way we used to spend our days. Things are changing now. At 14, he’s an old dog. He no longer sits and watches me work. Now, as soon as we’re alone for the day, he is instantly asleep. He sleeps deeply and quietly, seldom “chasing rabbits” in his dreams the way he used to. I can step over him, open the refrigerator and even crunch into a carrot, his favorite treat, without waking him.
And when he is awake, he doesn’t move a lot. Moving hurts, I can tell. He rarely climbs the stairs to my daughter’s room and even the two short steps leading from the kitchen to the back yard are sometimes difficult. Sometimes, as he sleeps, he groans softly, forgetting to hide the aches and pains.
The other day, on deadline and stuck for the right word, I pushed away from the computer and my restless eyes wandered away from my keyboard and chased ideas around the room, gazing out the window, over the newspaper on the floor beside my chair, before settling on him.
For a while I watched him as he lay there, remembering the day I brought him home. At just over a year old, he was a big, strong, sensitive puppy with a tendency to worry. But he had the soul of a rambler, which is exactly how he came to be with us; a stray who’d been picked up and taken to the Humane Society. And for the last 13 years I’ve had to keep my eye on him because he still likes nothing better than a solitary walkabout. Even now, on a bad day as stiff and slow as a mechanical toy, when I let him out the back door I have to watch him or he’ll slip away and stroll down to the park on his own.
The saddest thing is that he can no longer drop and have a good roll in the snow. That was always his favorite thing to do on a winter day, to roll back and forth, scrubbing his coat in the fresh powder. I used to laugh at him when occasionally he would stop rolling and, relaxed and content, his feet still in the air, he would lie there for a few minutes gazing up at the sky like a child. Now he just stands and looks down at the snow for a moment and then moves on.
I thought about all of this as I watched him and my throat tightened. I just don’t know how much more time we have together.
Pushing my computer aside, I dropped down onto the floor beside him. He didn’t move. Stretching out, I lay beside my old dog and draped my arm over him, pressing my face into the rough fur of his back. He woke up enough to lift his head and look back over his shoulder at me as his tail thumped the floor a few times, but if he was surprised to find me lying on the floor next to him, he didn’t give any sign. He just stretched a bit, sighed deeply and went back to sleep.
I lay there a few more minutes, taking and giving comfort, thinking about time and how it always slips away from us in the end, and then got up and went back to my desk. Back to my computer. Back to work in the company of my tired and true companion.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Home Planet , Treasure Hunting and CAMera: Travel and Photo blogs, her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The televised dog show in New York always reminds me of my close encounter with greyhounds.
About 20 years ago, I was down in Pullman spending time with a WSU vet student who commuted from the South Hill every day. This was for a story.
The school operated some sort of blood bank for greyhounds. And at one point during the day, the student I was following and one of her classmates walked a couple of the resident greyhounds over to a big fence-enclosed ball field/park nearby.
Once safely inside the fence, the two women unleashed the dogs. And the greyhounds took off with a speed that was utterly astounding.
One moment, they had been right next to us. And then, in the next, they were way, way over on the other side of the park. It was as if they had made the jump to warp 9.
It was thrilling to witness. And what made it even better was sharing in the unbridled joy the dogs seemed to experience when getting to do what comes naturally to them.
I knew that breed was fast. Everybody does. But until you see them move up close, it is impossible to appreciate how truly blazing their speed is.
Rode my bike up to the North Side for an 8 a.m. haircut.
Had I known how much fuzzy frost coated the streets, I might have reconsidered. But the ride went fine and I was glad to get the exercise.
Stopped at the Huck's beer sale on my way back up the hill and purchased a Boddington's Pub Ale. Don't know a thing about it, but the tall yellow can caught my eye.
Spoke with Mike the butcher about the Super Bowl (he hates both teams) and Scott the cashier about his guitar playing (sometimes the neighbors aren't wild about it).
But here's what I found myself wondering during my ride home.
Are people with dogs healthier?
Not because of the emotional connection and blood pressure-lowering implications of canine companionship. I'm thinking of the benefits of getting out and taking your dog for a walk.
If I'm any judge of expressions, some of the many dog walkers I saw this morning would not have ventured out if not for their responsibility as pet owners. And it just seems like, over time, all that daily activity has to add up to something good.
And, of course, the dogs like it.
…I would estimate that this old picture of the “All Creatures Great and Small” cast reflects the dogs-to-humans ratio found in 5% of Spokane area households.
SEARCH AND RESCUE — Readers following the story of the lost dog rescued high in the Kettle Range yesterday will enjoy these followup photos.
The pix, just sent to me by Mariann Crooks, show Rebel, a 7-month-old bluetick coonhound, still wiped out from the two nights he endured in the winter wilds north of Sherman Pass after being lost during a snowshoeing trek to Columbia Mountain.
But Rebel's home now, getting plenty of comfort and attention from Mariann's daughter, Sabrina Crooks.
And a few hearts will justifiably melt to see one of the other family dogs nursing Rebel's feet, which were raw and sore from the snow, cold and ice high in the Colville National Forest.
Crooks said Rebel slept pretty much nonstop for 36 hours after he got home.
Rebel was rescued by a group of forestry students from the Curlew Job Corps Center.
WINTER SPORTS — Today's story about students rescuing a snowshoer's bluetick coonhound lost in the Kettle Range for two nights offers a life lesson to all of us.
Helping other people can be remarkably easy and productive if we just make the effort to try.
Think about what we could accomplish if everyone looked for a way to contribute every day rather than leaving it to somebody else.
MISSING PETS — A young, energetic family dog lost from its owners during a snowshoe hike on Sunday has been found after two days out in the high country near Sherman Pass.
A Job Corps forestry crew heard about the lost dog and the despair of the family through an email network, so they decided to go out for a snowshoe hike today and see what they could see.
Lo! They found Rebel, a seven month old male bluetick coonhound that had been lost since mid-day Sunday in the vicinity of Columbia Mountain near Sherman Pass in Colville National Forest in northeast Washington.
He survived the ordeal wearing an orange collar, a red head halter and a small blue pack.
His owners are being notified. The dog reportedly was dehydrated but otherwise in good shape.
Credit a close network of locals in the Republic-Curlew area who have the skills to get out in the backcountry and the generosity to look out after others.
MISSING PETS — During a snowshoe hike on Sunday (Jan. 22), a seven month old male Bluetick Coonhound who answers to the name Rebel was lost in the vicinity of Columbia Mountain near Sherman Pass in Colville National Forest in northeast Washington.
Anyone living in the area or out playing in the backcountry in the vicinity of Sherman Pass, please keep your eye out for him!
His owners say Rebel is super friendly and should approach anyone that calls him.
Last seen, he was wearing an orange collar, a red head halter and a small blue pack.
The dog has tags on to identify where he belongs.
His owners are very worried for him. If found, please contact Mariann at (509) 496-9370 (cell) or via email at email@example.com
Correction: Wild dogs attack Rottweiler in Wallace/Mike Perry, KHQ
Domestic dogs were attacked by four wolves around 6 p.m. Wednesday night on the 600 block of Burke Road, just outside Wallace. One dog died and another sustained a facial bite, said Shoshone County Sheriff Mitch Alexander, and there were many wolf tracks in the area. A neighbor reported the dog that died was a Rottweiler. Idaho Fish and Game notified residents in the area and informed them that it is legal to shoot the wolf pack. Calls made to Idaho Fish and Game official Josh Stanley about the attack weren't returned. Mullan resident Barry Sadler didn't just have his dogs attacked by wolves a few years ago - they chased his daughter into the front door and came right up on his porch. Sadler shot and killed one of the offending wolves/Kelsey Saintz, Hagadone News Network. More here.
Question: Do you still think Br'er Wolf is harmless?
HUNTING — I had the privilege to hunt the Lower Coeur d'Alene River area with a yellow Lab named Gunner this weekend. It was a good day.
HUNTING DOGS — Those of us who have pointing breeds are glad to see that somebody's finally come up with a good use for a kennel of Labs.
For would-be sled dogs anyway.
This afternoon a skateboarder who looked like a youngish teen boy was being pulled at a surprisingly decent clip by two small dogs on long leashes. This was happening on Arthur, south of 29th.
The pets really seemed to be into it. And though they were the size of RV dogs, they didn't appear to be straining.
But they weren't the most disciplined team. When a bigger canine in a fenced yard barked at them as they went by, the two skateboarder-pulling pooches veered off to tell the yard dog a thing or two.
I was too far away to hear if the boy tried to recover the situation by yelling “Mush!” or whatever. But I suspect it wouldn't have done any good.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah bird hunter was shot in the buttocks after his dog stepped on a shotgun laid across the bow of a boat.
Box Elder County Sheriff's Deputy Kevin Potter says the 46-year-old Brigham City man was duck hunting with a friend when he climbed out of the boat to move decoys.
Potter says the man left his 12-gauge shotgun in the boat and the dog stepped on it, causing it to fire. It wasn't clear whether the safety on the gun was on at the time.
Potter says the man was hit from about 10 feet away with 27 pellets of birdshot. He says the man wasn't seriously injured, in part because he was wearing waders. The man was treated at a nearby hospital.
“I told my vet my dog was a curbstone terrier (as opposed to setter) and found out later that was what had been entered in her file,” wrote Lynn Lowery. “Closest I could get was a beagle/basset/terrier mix. She had a big bark and looked like she shoulda been taller. After that, I started telling people she was a fuzzy-butted cookie hound and am still surprised/horrified at how many people think I'm serious.”
Maybe people think they heard it mentioned by the master of ceremonies at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.
“The fuzzy-butted cookie hound is descended from a long line of kitchen-floor cleaners and dining table beggars. Originally bred in Germany as a ratter and herding animal, this dog today excels at watching nature shows from the couch and accepting belly rubs. Intensely loyal and good with children, the fuzzy is an ideal family companion. Here now is fuzzy-butted cookie hound No. 43, Miss Elizabeth Bennet.”
A dog owner is facing animal cruelty charges after bringing his emaciated, starving pit bull to the vet.
The Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service filed a charging request against Randy Jensen for first-degree animal cruelty and second-degree animal cruelty. Charging requests were also filed for his sister, Talina Jensen, also faces of first-degree animal cruelty and confinement in an unsafe manner.
Randy Jensen took the dog, Jackson, in for veterinary care Sept. 9 after he lost about 20 pounds and stopped eating, according to a SCRAPS news release. However, Jensen did not have the money for the recommended exam but did not want to euthanize the dog. He brought Jackson to his sister Talina Jensen for care, but Jackson continued to suffer “substantial and unjustifiable pain,” the news release said.
On Sept. 26, SCRAPS animal protection officers rushed Jackson in for veterinary care after they began an investigation. Tests showed Jackson’s intestines had burst and he was septic, the news release said.
Jackson was euthanized.
“Jackson suffered for several weeks and the charges reflect the serious nature of the crimes committed against him,” said Nicole Montano, lead animal protection officer. “SCRAPS takes the issue of animal cruelty and neglect very seriously and this was an extreme case of cruelty and neglect.”
SCRAPs urges anyone who sees an animal being mistreated to call (509) 477-2532
A burglar described only as a man who jingled as he ran away was captured by a Spokane County sheriff’s K-9 team and patrol deputies early today.
Sheriff's K-9 Jet found Brian James Blankenship, 44, hiding in a bush at a home on East Salmon after a homeowner said he'd surprised a burglary in his garage in the 100 block of West Falcon about 5:15 a.m., according to a news release by Sgt. Dave Reagan.
The only description offered by the homeowner was that the thief made a “jingling” noise as he ran, but deputies Mark Melville and Bob Bond were able to track him with the help of Jet.
Blankenship surrendered to police and was booked into jail on a felony residential burglary charge. He had a pocketful of coins that jingled as he moved, Reagan said.
A carjacking suspect led police on a chase early Sunday morning, but his attempt to escape on foot was foiled by a Spokane Police Department search dog.
A man reported that he was parked outside the Holiday Gas Station at 9620 N. Division Street just before 3:30 a.m. while a friend was inside. He was approached by someone who pulled a gun on him and told him to get out of his silver Toyota Camry, according to a Police Department press release. Police responded and spotted the car 25 minutes later driving north on Division past the same gas station where the car was stolen.
There was a short chase until the man jumped from the still moving car and ran, the press release said. Police officers, assisted by the Washington State Patrol, searched the area and found a handgun holster in an apartment complex courtyard just east of Ritter's Nursery.
The dog, Leo, and his handler, Officer Craig Hamilton, found the suspect inside the fenced nursery. Justin S. Brown, 29, was booked into jail on charges of first-degree robbery, second-degree burglary and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.
The gun believed to be used in the carjacking was later recovered in the same area the holster was found.
URBAN FORESTS — Residents interested in Spokane’s High Drive bluff — the trails and the neighborhoos — are invited to participate in a discussion of forest health for the area on Wednesday (Aug. 31).
Last spring, community members identified fire risk abatement as a high priority for the Bluff. This workshop will focus on a plan for reducing fire risk on the Bluff and for neighboring homes.
The workshop will be held at the Rocket Market at 726 E 43rd Ave from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. It will include a description of the proposed forest health plan, plus a question and answer session.
Join in the discussion, enjoy a no-host beverage with neighbors, and learn how you can get involved in the project!
For planning purposes, please RSVP to Diana Roberts at WSU Spokane County Extension, phone (509) 477-2167 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's a just-booked act that sounds like a furry riot: the Popovich Comedy Pet Theatre.
This is an animal act from Vegas featuring cats, dogs and clowns, coming Nov. 9, 7 p.m. to the Bing Crosby Theater, 901 W. Sprague. Tickets are $17 for kids 12 and under, $27 for adults, available through TicketsWest outlets.
Trained dogs and cats doing tricks. That's entertainment. Heck yeah, I'm getting tickets.
Check out the trailer at www.comedypet.com and tell me if you can resist it.
And if the photos on the website are to be believed, it might even have trained ducks.
German researchers report that specially-trained dogs can now detect lung cancer – more accurately than a CT scan – by sniffing patients' breath. How do they do it?
“Lung cancer patients breathed into glass tubes that contained fleece to capture the odors of the specific organic compounds scientists theorized were associated with the onset and progression of lung cancer,” reports the Schillerhoehe study.
Dogs are trained to sniff many odors – drug dealers who try to smuggle their heroin can tell you that. Perhaps we ought to look at our canine friends with more respect and seek to use their natural talents to detect our deadly enemies.
A Spokane man was arrested on suspicion of injuring a police dog after during a domestic violence arrest call last weekend.
Gerry R. Elerding, 39, is accused of violently fighting with Spokane police K-9 Leo as police responded to a report of an assault and no-contact order violation at an apartment in the 1300 block of South Adams Street about 4 a.m. on Saturday.
An officer forced the door open at the home and found Elerding's ex-girlfriend but could not locate the suspect, so he requested assistance from a police dog.
K-9 Leo entered the basement, and police heard him yelp “as if he had been hurt,” according to court documents.
Officers found Leo moving toward the basement stairs with his leg caught in his partially pulled off harness, documents say.
Police say the secured harness had never before come off “nor has Leo ever left a suspect during a fight or capture.” Leo has been involved in nearly 30 violent captures, according to police.
Elerding remains in jail on a state Department of Corrections probation hold, as well as $1,900 bail for charges of violating a no-contact order and harming a police dog.
He has previous convictions for drugs, eluding police and, just in June, violating a domestic violence no-contact order.
At least that has been my experience.
And I have been using the same material on them for years.
Today, riding my bike home from work, I encountered a couple walking east on 40th Avenue with a pair of corgis.
I didn't have to think hard to know what to say: “Well, they're heading in the right direction if they're off to see the queen.”
Always gets a laugh. Today was no different.
But I couldn't help noticing that the dogs didn't think it was all that funny.
Here's Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth.
I had started doing this thing where, when I encountered family dogs tied up outside a store or lolling in a front yard alone, I told them “Don't let 'em go to hell.”
This is an allusion to an episode of “The Twilight Zone” in which a man on the road to heaven is saved from taking a wrong turn into perdition by his loyal canine.
“Even the devil can't fool a dog,” says an angel near the end of the episode.
Rod Serling has a concluding voice-over that starts “Travellers to unknown regions would be well-advised to take along the family dog.”
Anyway, I don't think the pooches minded me saying this, even if they haven't seen that episode.
But it has been suggested that someone overhearing me might not catch the first part of the declaration and, as a result, get the wrong idea about my tone.
So, just for the record, let me make one thing clear.
I would never tell a dog to go to blazes.
LAKES — Public health officials issue warnings this time of year to be wary about the color of the water we enjoy for recreation.
Algae, the microscopic organisms that grow naturally in the ocean and fresh water, are generally harmless.
But one kind, called cyanobacteria or blue-green algae, can produce toxins capable of causing illness in people and animals, including dogs.
People can be exposed in several ways — through contact while wading or playing in the water, swallowing affected water when swimming, or inhaling water droplets during activities like water-skiing.
Read on for details from an Associated Press report.
GUN DOGS — Cheatgrass has flourished in the late spring conditions, and the seed heads have cured. The spear-like seeds are at their prime for sharpness and readiness to cling to your socks and your dog's fur, where they're specially adapted to work into a dog's does, eyes, nose and ears.
These despicable seed heads don't stop at the skin. They penetrate like porcupine quills to cause abscesses and pierce eardrums.
Legend has it that veterinarians sowed cheatgrass years ago for guaranteed income.
It's nasty stuff. My dogs sit and wait for me to stuff cotton in their ears before their daily runs this time of year.
Dog trainers have to gear back their efforts until we get some hot weather followed by big winds to knock the seeds to the ground. Some pounding rainstorms will help, too.
GUN DOGS — A black Lab won the battle of the breeds today at the Spokane Bird Dog Association's 2011 Fun Hunt.
Among the breeds were German shorthair pointers, springer spaniels, yellow Labs, English setters and German wirehairs.
They went head to head in braces during the timed event at Espanola to see how fast they could bag a pair of chukars.
I'm still checking out the rumor that the Labs and springers are sponsored by PETA. The handlers generally didn't have to fire a shot as their dogs moved in quickly to nail the pen-raised birds.
It's not clear whether the flushing-dog owners can't shoot — or whether they really don't want to.
DOGS — The portable dog crates hunters use to transport their canine companions to the field also are excellent tools for house-breaking pups and new dogs and quickly bringing them into the family — so you can get a full night's sleep!
The following training tip, courtesy of the Outdoor Wire, is by pro trainer Ethan Pippitt of Willow Creek Kennels in Little Falls, Minn.
Some dog owners view crate training as unnecessary, too difficult or time consuming to try, or even unnatural for the dog.
But Pippitt says a look back to the origin of dogs suggests that crate training is as natural as it gets.
Read on for the details and the step-by-step process.