Sunday, June 30, 2013


Between book events, working at Probation and workouts, things get hectic around our place. Maybe that's why we've neglected to mention that the Gimme Shelter Campaign recently made our 2nd and 3rd official donations to the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation and the St. Martin's Animal Foundation. For new visitors, we've promised to donate 10% of the profits from GIMME SHELTER to various animal rescue groups. We're at 3 and counting, so keep buying books and we'll keep sharing the proceeds.
Pit-Lab pups being fostered by Sky Valencia of St. Martin's Animals Foundation.
Interested? Contact: skyvalencia99@gmail.com
With all of those cute kitty YouTube videos, it's tough to keep current on dog news so here are two stories that might be of interest.
- An L.A. Times' piece from June 22 detailed the protests by China animals lovers upset with mistreatment of stranded dolphins and the traditional Yulin dog meat festival. In a country not noted for its human rights concerns, it's heartening to hear that people are willing to speak up about perceived animal cruelty.
- The April issue of Scientific American ran a piece by Kate Wong outlining scientists' theories that adaptation to humans starchy diet may have lead to the domestication of dogs and cats. I love Tanner but he is NOT getting my pizza!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Thanks to Karma Rescue, Los Angeles owners of Pit Bulls and Pit Bulls mixes can spay or neuter their dogs free of charge. 'Fixing' your dog can curb aggression and will help reduce the population of unwanted animals. Tanner hopes that lots of people will take advantage of this great deal. He's 'fixed' and still a, handsome, buff boy.  To learn more or make an appointment (there are clinics on both the East and West sides of town) contact Karma Rescue (310) 512-7833 or email Karma at info@karmarescue.org. The offer is good until the end of 2013.
Tanner and his peeps near the Malibu Library

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


On Saturday, June 8, we attended a local screening of The Paw Project, a documentary film about DVM Jennifer Conrad and her efforts to ban animal declawing. Like many people in the packed house at the Malibu Film Society, I had no idea just how brutal and inhumane the practice is. I've only had one cat, Blanche, whose story kicks off GIMME SHELTER. Ironically, she was a Scottish Fold that looked amazingly like the cat on The Paw Project poster. She had been declawed when we got her and her gait always seemed off, as if it hurt her to walk. Know I know why. If you'd like to learn more about the efforts to ban this sanctioned mutilation, visit The Paw Project website.
On a softer note, a friend recently sent me a terrific piece 'What Shamu Taught Me About A Happy Marriage' by Amy Sutherland, that appeared in the NY Times column 'On Modern Love'. If you love animals, or just have a headstrong mate, here's a taste.

AS I wash dishes at the kitchen sink, my husband paces behind me, irritated. "Have you seen my keys?" he snarls, then huffs out a loud sigh and stomps from the room with our dog, Dixie, at his heels, anxious over her favorite human's upset. In the past I would have been right behind Dixie. I would have turned off the faucet and joined the hunt while trying to soothe my husband with bromides like, "Don't worry, they'll turn up." But that only made him angrier, and a simple case of missing keys soon would become a full-blown angst-ridden drama starring the two of us and our poor nervous dog.
     Now, I focus on the wet dish in my hands. I don't turn around. I don't say a word. I'm using a technique I learned from a dolphin trainer. I love my husband. He's well read, adventurous and does a hysterical rendition of a northern Vermont accent that still cracks me up after 12 years of marriage.
But he also tends to be forgetful, and is often tardy and mercurial. He hovers around me in the kitchen asking if I read this or that piece in The New Yorker when I'm trying to concentrate on the simmering pans. He leaves wadded tissues in his wake. He suffers from serious bouts of spousal deafness but never fails to hear me when I mutter to myself on the other side of the house. "What did you say?" he'll shout. These minor annoyances are not the stuff of separation and divorce, but in sum they began to dull my love for Scott. I wanted — needed — to nudge him a little closer to perfect, to make him into a mate who might annoy me a little less, who wouldn't keep me waiting at restaurants, a mate who would be easier to love.
     So, like many wives before me, I ignored a library of advice books and set about improving him. By nagging, of course, which only made his behavior worse: he'd drive faster instead of slower; shave less frequently, not more; and leave his reeking bike garb on the bedroom floor longer than ever.
We went to a counselor to smooth the edges off our marriage. She didn't understand what we were doing there and complimented us repeatedly on how well we communicated. I gave up. I guessed she was right — our union was better than most — and resigned myself to stretches of slow-boil resentment and occasional sarcasm.
     Then something magical happened. For a book I was writing about a school for exotic animal trainers, I started commuting from Maine to California, where I spent my days watching students do the seemingly impossible: teaching hyenas to pirouette on command, cougars to offer their paws for a nail clipping, and baboons to skateboard. I listened, rapt, as professional trainers explained how they taught dolphins to flip and elephants to paint. Eventually it hit me that the same techniques might work on that stubborn but lovable species, the American husband. READ MORE

Monday, June 17, 2013


Last month we told you about the NKLA-Best Friends mega-adoption at the La Brea Tar Pits. The numbers are in and 400 cats and dogs found love and homes during the the 2-day event. If you're thinking about a rescue dog or cat, maybe give the NKLA video a look.  
Eugenie and Tanner at the NKLA mega-adoption

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Woke up this morning to find that WOOF, a digital dog magazine from India, yes India, just published a piece I wrote for them entitled 'What A Bullie!'. The story (p. 14-16), which is based on material from the GIMME SHELTER sidebars, offers readers some useful tips on adopting and caring for a Pit Bull or any shelter dog. Following the article, which has several great photos of Tanner, there's a full-page profile of the book. Thanks to Nirav for contacting me and running the story.
Tanner, Eugenie and Lou (photo by Roxanne McCann)

Saturday, June 8, 2013


 A few month's back I wrote a short piece on Stubby, America's first and most decorated war dog who happened to be a Pit Bull (no surprise to those of us who live with them). With Bullies once again getting hammered in the press, here's a fuller picture of this amazing solider.  

Sgt Stubby, was the most decorated war dog of World War I and the only dog to be promoted to sergeant through combat. One day he appeared at Yale Field in New Haven, Connecticut, while a group of soldiers were training, stopping to make friends with men as they drilled. Corporal Robert Conroy, developed a fondness for the dog. He named him Stubby because of his short legs. When it became time for the outfit to ship out, Conroy hid Stubby on board the troop ship. To keep the dog, the private taught him to salute his commanding officers warming their hearts to him. Stubby served with the 102nd Infantry, 26th (Yankee) Division in the trenches in France for 18 months and participated in four offensives and 18 battles. The loud noise of the bombs and gun fire did not bother him. He was never content to just stay in the trenches but eagerly went out, searched and found wounded soldiers. Stubby entered combat on February 5, 1918 at Chemin Des Dames, north of Soissons, and was under constant fire, day and night for over a month. In April 1918, during a raid to take Schieprey, Stubby was wounded in the foreleg by the retreating Germans throwing hand grenades. He was sent to the rear for convalescence, and, as he had done on the front, was able to improve morale. When he recovered from his wounds, Stubby returned to the trenches. 

Monday, June 3, 2013


A few days ago 29-year-old Alex Jackson was arrested and charged with murder in the death of Pamela Devitt, 63, the Lancaster, CA woman who was fatally mauled by a pack of Jackson's dogs with a history of previous attacks. Despite his wife death, Devitt's husband, didn't blame the dogs involved, or demonize the breed. Her husband told KCAL-TV he blamed the dogs' owner for what happened. "I do not blame the dogs. I don't blame pit bulls," Ben Devitt said. "I blame people who don't take responsibility for their animals." For more details, check out the Huffington Post report.
When I wrote about our last book signing at Bank of Books a few weeks back, I forgot to thank some of the friends who stopped by to show an share some love. Since it's better late than never, a big 'Thanks' to - David & Terry, Annette & Jasmine, Carl, Robert, Zari, Margaret & Ryan, Karen, Gary & Eleanor, Jake and Melissa. Eugenie, Tanner I I really appreciate your support. 
Dexter & Tanner: Pitbulls are inherently dangerous. Really?
If you are looking to keep your dog healthy, happy and under control, consider dispensing with that retractable lead and using something that offers more control and safety. In an article in Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan's online newsletter, Jon Bastian writes: "There are three big issues with retractable leads, the first of which is safety. Since they can effectively allow your dog to run for twenty or more feet before the end of the line, they allow your dog to build up a lot of speed. Remember “force equals mass times acceleration” from high school physics? Well, give even a small dog a twenty foot head start, and they can build up enough speed to pull you off your feet, break the lead, or yank the handle right out of your hand. That last situation can be particularly disastrous, since the handle will then retract on the lead, and the sound and motion of that big hunk of plastic suddenly whizzing up from behind can make your dog think something is chasing it, inspiring it to run faster and farther.