Friday, November 29, 2013


Each year, my 2-legged parents and the rest of their breed set aside a special day to be 'Thankful' which looks to me like an excuse to eat way too much yummy food that I don't get to share. This year's festa (Lou's word) was at the home of Eugenie's dad, Gene, and his wife, Sandra. Although they're cat people, I like them very much and appreciate them letting me attend the party and steal the spotlight, as we pit bulls often do. Although I was denied a share of the goodies, I'd like to mention some of the many amazing things I'm thankful for

For Lou & Eugenie, who took me into their home and made me part of their family when no one else wanted me. They shower me with love, calm me when I'm frightened and make every day a fun adventure, even my baths and the car rides. Lou even wrote a book (with lots of help from Kathryn) and made me a local celebrity…For their friends and family (too many to mention) who treat me like a real person to be loved, respected and cherished…For my dog pals, Ceba, Otto, Dexter, Kona, Lola, Porter, Lucky, Coco, Charley, Buddha, Aldo, Harley, Magnus, Rocky, Rusty, Blur, Lady, Charger, Luna, Carl, Bobby, Roxie, the 3 Bellas and all of the gang from Malibu Villas and the Trancas Dog park. For the dog park, the beach, the farm, the meadow, and all of the other cool places were I get to run and explore. For squeaky toys, Skinnees, Kongas, tennis balls, Lou's socks and the Malibu Villas cats. For chicken strips, Denta Bones, Check-ups, liver bits and the very occasional (hint, hint) table scrap. For the great SoCal weather. For my three comfy beds, and my parents' Tempurpedic, where we get to cuddle and watch TV. For Dr. Lisa, Tony Rollins, Rob Lerner, and all of the staff and volunteers at the Agoura Hills Shelter where I started out. For Malibu Pet Companions, Karma Rescue, C.A.R.L., Linda Blair's Worldheart Foundation, and all of the other amazing rescue groups that work to help dogs in need, especially pit bulls…For all the amazing humans who choose to share their lives and loves with dogs like me. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
Coming home from Trancas dog park 
Exploring 'The Farm'

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Unlike our human friends, we dogs don't spend much time pondering our roots. Wolves, dinosaurs, aliens…given our short lifespan, it doesn't really matter how we got here. What matters is doing our job: being loving loyal friends to you origin-obsessed two-leggeds. That said, an article in this week's LA Times claims to shed some light on just how long the human-canine dynamic has been going on. According to the piece by Monte Morin,  researchers "have concluded that dog domestication most likely occurred in Ice Age Europe, between 18,800 and 32,100 years ago -- much earlier, and much farther north, than previously believed. Dogs, the authors argued, evolved from a now extinct species of European wolf that followed bands of nomadic or semi-nomadic humans who were hunting woolly mammoths and other large prey. Initially, the wolves sought out the carcasses and scraps of meat left behind by man, the authors suggest. Over time, these hang-around wolves began to fill a special role in human hunter-gatherer society." read more: When - and where - did dogs become our pets?
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Speaking of being loyal friends, homo sapiens often return the favor. In an essay in Parade Magazine, Love Me, Love My Dog, author Jon Katz (The Dogs Of Bedlam Farm) recalls how to wooing his wife meant befriending her very skittish rescue dog. It took time and patience, but eventually he captured  both their hearts.
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Want to be a loving caretaker to your 4-legged amigo? Be sure to check out Cesar's Way article by Jon Bastian on 'Puppycide',a documentary in progress which examines the rise in dog shootings by law enforcement, and offers some tips on what might be done to curb potentially fatal dog-police encounters
Aldo: Honey's 'snow dog'

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


In RUBY'S TALE, author Pat Bettendorf chronicled the fate of a throwaway Pit Bull that rose from the mean streets to become a beloved service dog, national celebrity and the leader of his 'Tribe' of three humans and six rescue dogs. In RUBY'S ROAD, the writer and his eponymous heroine resume their adventures, winning heart and minds while grooming Sugar, a newcomer, who hopes to carry the load when Ruby decides to hang up her service vest. LIke the earlier book, this one revels in the day-to-day pleasure and treasures of the human-canine dynamic - a possum cornered in the yard, a turn onstage in a professional theater, a moving encounter with a misty-eyed WW II vet. These episodes underscore Ruby's sweet, loving temperament, yet it's clear that her human family is every bit as kind and caring, if a bit more chaotic. Thankfully, when disasters threatens to derail the Ruby express Ruby's charisma, and anonymous angels combine to save the day. Like a home-baked pie, or wine with friends by the fireside, RUBY'S ROAD is the kind of feel-good book that goes down easy and leaves us feeling all is right with the world.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Tomorrow is Veteran's Day so Lou, Eugenie and I wanted to give a heartfelt shoutout to our longtime friend Joe Simone, and all of the brave men, women and dogs who've risked everything to defend our country and its values. Originally called Armistice Day, was started by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919, to commemorate the end of the WW I, 'The Great War', one year earlier. Made a legal holiday in 1938, the name was changed to Veteran's Day after WW II and the Korean War. The U. S. has had many celebrated canine soldiers but the most famous, and most decorated was a Pit Bull named Sgt. Stubby. We've written about Stubby before and here's a link to his amazing exploits.
Tanner, the patriotic Pit Bull

Sgt. Stubby, war hero
Not all dogs see combat but some of them do live in rural and semi-rural places like Malibu where they're at risk from other creatures, like coyotes. Dog expert Cesar Millan offers these tips for keeping your dog pals safe from their  canine cousins.
  1. Be particularly cautious during coyote mating season, which is January through March. During this time, coyotes travel long distances to find suitable mates and require extra calories to carry them on their journey. They then expend extra energy to build dens for pregnant females, who will need to stock up on additional meals. Studies show that coyotes are particularly aggressive during this time.
  2. Keep an eye on your dog when outside. A small dog left unattended in a backyard is an easy target for a coyote. The best way to protect your dog is to go outside with it when you let it out. While a coyote will go after a dog, they tend to shy away from humans. If you come into contact with a coyote, it's suggested that you wave your arms, shout, and do anything you can to scare it away, such as spray it with a water hose.
  3. If you have a fence, make sure it's coyote-proof. According to an article by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources department, a fence won't always keep a coyote out. Coyotes can jump over fences and have the ability to dig under a fence or slide through a fence gap. While it's tough to build a fully coyote-proof gate, fences should be a minimum of 5.5 feet high and should be built on a sloping terrain. To defer a coyote from climbing, fences should not exceed 6 inches between stays. In addition, a galvanized wire-mesh apron can be buried beneath a fence to hinder a coyote from digging under. An additional way to ensure that a coyote won't leap your fence is to install a coyote roller, which rolls off an animal that tries to climb the fence.
  4. Keep coyotes wild: Do your part to make sure that coyotes remain fearful of humans. Don't feed coyotes or leave food out for them. This will cause them to come back to your area and to become accustomed to humans. Don't put your trash out at night, as coyotes tend to be most active in the evenings and early mornings. Also make sure to securely seal the lids of your garage cans so that coyotes don't smell food and come into suburban areas.
  5. Keep your dog on a leash when walking it outside: A dog running loose will attract a wandering coyote. Keeping your dog on a short leash when walking, especially through areas where coyotes tend to thrive, will help to ensure its safety. Read more:
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Like coyotes, bees, wasps and hornets are a natural hazard for dogs that like rumbling through the flowerbeds and bushes. Here's some helpful advice from Cesar's newsletter on how to respond if your bruiser should suffers a sting.
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Lastly, many people share their homes with rescue dogs like me and work to improve the plight of homeless animals,  few of us are familiar with Henry Bergh, a pioneer in the fight for animal and children's rights, who founded the ASPCA (1866) and the New York City Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (1878). If you'd like to learn more about this amazing man, our good friend, devoted animal advocate and 'father' of Luke & Curley, Gary Kaskel has just published Monsters And Miracles, detailing Bergh's brave efforts to help the helpless.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


No, this is not a post about the classic War tune. It's Lou's diatribe against the annual shift to Standard Time. Before we get to his rant, reprinted from GIMME SHELTER, it might helpful to note the origin of the spring/fall time shift.  According to Time Magazine's blog, "Daylight Saving Time, one of the universe’s great mysteries, like the afterlife, or who really killed JFK...dates back to the good ole’ days when we did everything based on when we had sunlight. It got more serious when Benjamin Franklin decided to be “that guy,” suggesting we all get up earlier to save money on candles. Thanks, Benji. It was a major blow to all the unhappy, unhealthy, and unwise people who love to snooze.The practice wasn’t formally implemented until World War I, when countries at war started setting their clocks back to save on coal. Daylight Saving was repealed during peacetime, and then revived again during World War II. More than 70 countries currently practice Daylight Saving Time, because they think it saves money on electricity (in the U.S., Arizona and Hawaii have opted out). But studies show that Daylight Saving Time actually results in a one percent overall increase in residential electricity. And that it messes with sleeping patterns. Oh, and also it may cause heart attacks, according to the American Journal of Cardiology. So it’s no surprise that more and more countries are reevaluating whether to hold on to this relic from the past."
Viva Daylight Savings Time!

Lou disagrees. As he makes clear every Fall, he DETESTS the time change. A self-admitted 'boy of summer', he gets the blues when it's dark before dinner. Here's his take from our book: "Ever since I was a kid playing hoops in the schoolyard till the last shred of light, I've hated the time change. Darkness has its advantages, and even makes sense in some places like work-driven New York, where the residents look harried and the buildings grimy during daylight hours. Once old Sol goes nighty-night, however, and the shimmering lights come up, the City takes on a magical glow. Freed from their desks and cubicles, put-upon Manhattanites retreat to theatres, museums, and restaurants where they actually look...happy. It’s different in California, the land of Endless Summer where diehard surfers, hikers, and bikers relish the outdoors the way that cultists lap up Kool-Aid. Mandating premature darkness and forcing them inside where they're stuck watching reruns of Gossip Girl, is just plain wrong. If the Golden State ever mounts a secession movement, the time change will be our rallying cry."