Monday, August 31, 2015


Which is the world's dumbest predator? Hint - it hunts on two legs. As reported in the L.A. Times (Turning Hunting On Its Head by Amina Kahn, August 15, 2015), a study published in Science Magazine claims that humans slaughter other carnivores at a far higher rate than other top predators. Even more troubling than our bloodlust is the fact that we kill healthy, breeding animals needed to replenish their species, and not the small, weak elderly ones favored by other predators. If we hope to avoid altering evolution for the worse, we need to start behaving more like the hunters we've been wiping out. (read story)
While humans are super efficient at screwing things up, sometimes our high nature prevails. That's the case with Petey, a pit bull that was used as a bait dog and horribly disfigured before ending up at the Carson (L.A. County) Animal Shelter. The Carson staff helped Petey make and impressive recovery, and Karma Rescue stepped in to find him a forever home. A mere six months later, the poor pup was diagnosed with cancer. 
Enter Chris M., an inmate/trainer at the CDCR- Los Angeles men's prison where Karma runs their Paws For Life program, pairing shelter dogs with inmates for a 12-week training course. When he learned of Petey's story, Chris decided to help raise money for his treatment - from his fellow prisoners, who average less than a dollar a day at their prison jobs. To date, Chris has collected over $1,000 from hard luck men moved by the plight of a hard luck dog.
Chris M and his Karma trainee
Like Karma, Best Friends works tirelessly to place rescue dogs in loving homes. Until recently, unwanted pit bulls in St. John's County, Florida, never got that chance. An ordinance passed inn 2007 mandated a 'no-adoption' policy for pit bull terriers, ensuring they would be euthanized. At the urging of a pit bull advocate, Best Friends legal council challenged the ordinance as being contrary to state law. They prevailed and  convinced county officials that temperament screening  and not BSL, breed specific legislation, is the key to weeding out aggressive dogs. Thanks to their dogged (yes!) efforts, beautiful boys like Bobo (adopted by Mary Robinson) have a chance to do what they do best - teach us humans how to live and love more fully.

Friday, August 14, 2015


"When sorrows come, they come not single spies but in battalions." (Shakepeare, Hamlet, IV, 5) 

With just over four months still to go, 2015 has unleashed a battalion of losses on our small corner of the world. We've lost two close friends to the ravages of diabetes, including Tanner's  trainer Tony Rollins, and another was recently diagnosed with a serious, neurological disorder. Several older relatives are also battling deadly maladies. The dog world has taken some hits, too. Tanner lost Ceba, one of his long-time buddies, and two other canine pals are suffering from serious ailments and advanced old age. The latest blow came last Saturday when our dear friend, Roberta Deutsch, passed away while awaiting treatment for a bone marrow disorder. Together with her husband, Carl, another dear friend, Roberta was an angel for all sorts of worthy causes. A supremely talented dancer and musician, who worked on dozens of TV shows and films, including West Side Story, where she was a fetching Jet girl, Roberta fervently supported diverse charities like SHARE, the Professional Dancers Society, Homeboy Industries, and dozens of programs to help children in need receive early childhood intervention, and education in the arts, especially music and dance. She and Carl also established our weekly Course In Miracles meeting, a program that has helped me recognize and handle my sometimes crushing anger issues. Although she faced some long-standing, debilitating health problems, Roberta never lost her wicked sense of humor, or her impeccable style and grace. She leaves behind sweet memories, and a hole that will never be filled.
Roberta with Janie

BSL, or Breed Specific Legislation is an ill-conceived, ineffective effort to ban certain breeds of dogs, like pit bulls and Rottweilers, deemed 'inherently dangerous'. Based on fear and bogus science, several cities and some states (yes, you, Maryland) have implemented BSL as a knee-jerk reaction to fatal dog attacks, which almost always result from the mistreatment of the offending dogs or  owner neglect. Nearly all canine experts, and President Obama himself, consider it a wrong-headed, ineffective tactic. Tanner and I consider BSL to be is just BS, and we have railed against it in the past. I recently came across a novel, funny take, by a lawyer who specializes in HOA law, on why scapegoating pit bulls makes no sense. In his weekly newsletter Adrian Adams, of Adams Kessler PLC, posted the following: QUESTION: Our condo association is plagued with prostitutes, drug use and pit bulls. I'm a non-voting member of the board and want to know what we can do about the pit bulls. RECOMMENDATION: I noticed it's a class of dogs that bothers you, i.e., compact muscular dogs with great jaw strength such as pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, and bulldogs. If your board were to get rid of the prostitution and drug use, I suspect most of your pit bulls would join the exodus. The task will be daunting but your board should work with the police and legal counsel to clean up the development. Or, in the alternative, you could designate yourselves a "sanctuary association" for drug dealers and prostitutes and then apply for federal subsidies. You could be eligible for truckloads of money.
Eugenie and I with Roberta and Carl at the Professional Dancers' Benefit, 2007