Sunday, December 18, 2011

Home for Christmas

I'm investigating the circumstances surrounding a body that was found in the 2000 block of Mecklenburg Street on November 23, 2011.  I'n not revealing any police secrets about him and this story has been all over the news...twice and I haven't had so much a single credible phone call.  The couple of leads I did have just didn't pan out.  At this point, I'm stuck but I'm not writing to get help with this.  I'm writing because no one has stepped up to say this is my son, or brother or friend.  Is there not someone out there who is missing this guy?  Is there not someone out there that wants him home for Christmas other than me?  For the past (almost) month, I've been trying to put a name with the body and get him home and I wanted to do it before Christmas.  Why, you ask?  Because he deserves it.  Everyone deserves to be home or at least where they want to be on Christmas morning.  When he was a kid, I bet he couldn't sleep on Christmas Eve and stayed awake to hear Santa on the roof.  He probably woke his parents up at the crack of dawn so he could see what Santa left for him.  Even though his tree had been up for a while, I'm sure the lights twinkled just a little brighter that morning.  His parents love him very much.

There is also the reverse of this case going on right now.  There's a missing person that has been all over the news whose parents want him home.  They are looking for him as are the police and, tonight, the fire department.  They're active in the investigation and want very much to find him.  They stepped forward to say we want him home for Christmas.  We want him with us.  He needs to be home for Christmas because he deserves it, too.  He, too, couldn't sleep on Christmas Eve and waited up for Santa.  I bet he was the first one up on Christmas morning and marveled at how beautiful the tree looked with all of the packages under it.  The Christmas dinner smelled and tasted better than the year before.  His parents love him very much.  

I've worked many of them but at least I was able to see my family for a while.  I was where I wanted to be every Christmas.  I have worked Christmas with some very good friends and spent it with family that I love very much and sometimes I was able to do both at the same time.  I spent a few Christmases with families who had a loved one that died that day would never see another Christmas.  Christmas, for them, would forever be a day of sadness.  My mom died 13 days before Christmas in 2003 and it hasn't been the same for me since.  I even spent one Christmas night on a SWAT call out (when I was a medic for the Team).  Sometimes I was where I needed to be.  But the one thing I could be sure of was that where ever I was someone there loved me and was happy I was there.  

Are you going to be where you want to be for Christmas this year?  I'll be working as will my wife but Christmas day is not as important as Christmas Eve this year.  My whole family will be together for the first time in years.  All five kids and my wife and four deaf pit bulls!  I hope to have a great day and make some new Christmas memories.

Home for Christmas?  Even if you can't get there if Christmas is in your heart and if it lives there, you can always be home for Christmas.  

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Friend Died Today

My friend, Mary Ann, died today of cancer.  That's not really true.  She died of cardiopulmonary arrest caused by the cancer but you get the idea.  I went to see her last night and held her hand.  I talked to her even though she didn't know I was there but I talked to her.  I talked to her about Pickles and the rest of the girls (she never met Piglet or Opal).  We watched the episode of Wheel of Fortune that she was on in 2003.  I've known Mary Ann for several years but never knew she was on Wheel of Fortune!  She was the daily winner and won $11,000!  We sat in silence for a while.  She was struggling to breathe.  When I left, I kissed her forehead and told her I loved her.  I told her to pat Maddie for me, to give her a treat and tell Maddie that I love her.  I talked to her husband, Bob, and he told me about when he asked her to marry him.  As Bob talked, his eyes filled up with tears but he never cried while I was there.  He told me about how much he loved her and how empty his life was going to be when she passed.  He talked about being alone. 

He not only lost his wife but lost his best friend.  You see, they worked together and when I say together, I really mean together.  They run Captain Buzzy's Beanery which is a coffee shop in Church Hill.  Bob handled the business but Mary Ann was the soul.  She was always there with a hug or a smile.  Always positive and upbeat, even as cancer wrecked her body.  They would work all day together then spend all night together...they were their everything.  Bob talked about how hard it has been running two businesses while Mary Ann was going through all of this.  He wasn't selfish or saying it was a burden but that it was hard not having his constant companion at his side.  He wondered how he could get through all of this.  He said he was glad he had good, true friends that were there for him.  We were by the elevators and he thanked my for being a friend (I've known Bob for about 20 years).  Just before leaving, I hugged him but said nothing.  What could I say?  He was losing the love of his life and anything I would have said would have seemed trite.

I stopped by the chapel on the way out and prayed.  I'm not a religious person but I am a spiritual one and believe there is a difference.  I prayed that Mary Ann find peace and I asked Him to speed her passing so that she would not suffer long.  I asked that He watch over her and give her a special place to rest and take care of her when she arrived home.  

As I was driving I thought about Donna and how much I loved her.  I thought about being alone if she died and wondered how I would handle it but I came to the conclusion that there would not be enough Guinness in all the world to drown out the sorrow.  When Donna and I talk about dying I always tell her I want her to die first.  I'm not being selfish because I want to live.  The things I've seen have been enough for two lifetimes and I'm not afraid of death.  I want her to go first because if she loves me half as much as I love her, I don't want her to live with that hurt.

Today is a sad friend died today.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Here's Opal!

Hey everyone!  My name is Opal and I’m an American Bulldog mix and I’m deaf, just like my sisters but that doesn’t stop me!  I can do anything a hearing dog can do.  I love to snuggle on the sofa and sit too close when you have food!  I come when I’m called but that’s not too much of a problem because I don’t let my humans out of my sight.  I think that’s something that all deaf dogs have in common.  We don’t like waking up in a room where there were people and now there are none.  I get scared when I can’t find my humans!

I got my family in September 2011 and I couldn’t be happier!  I was in the Gwinnett County, GA Animal Care and Control Shelter and had been there about two weeks when my Mommy and all of my sisters came down from Richmond, VA to adopt me.  One of the animal control officers has a soft spot for deaf dogs in his heart and he kept me away from the PTS list until I could be adopted.  He is hard of hearing and his wife is deaf.  They teach American Sign Language at the local collage so I was really lucky to have come to this shelter.  Luckily he was friends with a great dog advocate on Facebook and she put me on there and my Daddy saw me and put me on Mommy’s page.  Mommy fell in love with me when she saw me and after a phone call to the shelter Mommy drove to Georgia AT NIGHT to get to the shelter in the morning to meet me!  I was really skinny and I’ve had at least two litters and I think people were using my puppies as bait dogs for fighting.  Sometimes I miss my puppies and I hope they’re okay.  I met my Mommy and I loved her when I saw her just like I loved my sisters.  I was shy at first but I always wagged my tail and Mommy called me “wiggle butt”.  Mommy adopted me on the spot and then we were on the way to my forever home!  I didn’t have a name when I was at the shelter but someone on Facebook started calling me “Gwinnett” but when Mommy saw me, she named me Opal.  On the way home my sisters told me about everyone in the family including Daddy.  I was scared about meeting this Daddy person because my sisters said he’s loud so I thought he was mean but when I met him, I knew he wasn’t mean!  He’s just a big softie and loves us all!  Daddy calls me “Itty Bitty Pitty”!

A few days after getting home I went to the vet for a check up and the vet told Mommy and Daddy that I had heart worms.  I didn’t know what that was but Mommy and Daddy looked worried but the vet said that I would be okay.  I had an x-ray and the worms aren’t that bad.  The vet is treating me with heat worm preventive and antibiotics and we’re not going to use the vaccine for heart worms even if the vet had it because the vet says that sometimes doggies die because the worms die too fast and we can choke on them.  The vet said I had to stay quiet and calm and not go on any long walks and no dog parks while I was being treated and I’m doing all of that the best I can.  When I first got to my new house I slept a lot I think because I was able to relax and I knew I wouldn’t get hurt.  Now I’m coming out of my shell and I play some with my sisters but since I’m older, I have to let them know whose boss.  Even though I’m the newest doggie I’m the oldest at about three years old and I tell my sisters where my place is.  I growl a bit when they get too close and at first I had to bark at them but now they know my personal space and no one can get too close when I’m snuggling with Mommy and Daddy!  Because I’m feeling better, I run and play with my sisters even though I’m supposed to keep calm but I can’t help it.  I love them all and they all love me…even when I growl at them when I’m snuggling.

I was really skinny when I came home...I weighted about 25 pounds and you could see my ribs and spine!  Since coming home, I’ve gained a few pounds and my coat is shiny and soft.  Like my sisters, every time I get a bath I seem to get more spots!  Nea gets her spots on her fur but I get my spots like Pickles, they are on my skin.  Daddy makes our dog food out of raw chicken, brown rice, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, green beans and kale.  He adds extra vitamins and egg shells to make us grow big and strong.

I’m really glad I've found my family and I love them very much.  I’ll never forget the day I left the shelter for what I know will be the last time ever!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why Do I Do It?

Why do I have four deaf dogs?  Because I can't take a fifth one right now.  Why did I even choose a deaf dog?  I didn't choose Pickles, Nea, Piglet or Opal...they all chose me.  Why do I make their food from scratch?  Because the vast majority of commercial dog food isn't worth the material used for the packaging.  Why am I on Facebook so much?  I'm trying to get the word out about deaf dogs and I'm trying to get the ones in the shelters adopted.  The deaf dogs in rescue I'm not so worried about because, although that may not be their forever home, they are safe and loved with fosters.  The ones in the kill shelters are the ones that concern me the most.  I wish I could bring them all home but I can't.  I wish that I could play with them all but I can't.  I wish that I could love them all and I do but I can't hold them and tell them.

Did this all start with Polar?  Sorta.  Polar was the first time that I stepped outside my comfort zone and fought for something that didn't relate to who I was.  It wasn't about Mac the husband, Mac the parent, Mac the police officer or Mac the friend.  It was about Polar and what was going to be done to her through no fault of her own.  Did it really start there?  No.  It all started in 2002 when we bought an American Mastiff puppy from a breeder (I didn't know any better back then) in Ohio and named that puppy "Saint Brigid's Madred".  When we were looking for names we wanted something Gaelic or Scottish and wanted it to mean "monster" because we knew she was going to be big.  We looked everywhere and found the word "madred" (pronounced mah-drid) which meant "monster" (although I can't find that reference now).  That was perfect!  Saint Brigid has many meanings to Donna and I and they are intensely personal.  Click on the link for more information on Saint Brigid.  Maddie, as she became know,n was our child.  We loved her and cared for her like doting parents do but we did make mistakes.  I spoke harshly to her and even spanked her.  I got mad at her and yelled.  I know now that bad dogs come from bad owners and although I didn't consider myself as a bad owner, looking back...I was.  Maddie was a great companion but I took her for granted and didn't treasure that friendship I had with her.  She loved me, unconditionally, even when I didn't deserve it.  There were times when I thought she was too much and wanted to give her away but I realized that I made a commitment to her and knew I couldn't do that.

Maddie began to get older and was less active then she started to not be able to get up without assistance.  We were told that this breed of Mastiff only lived seven to nine years and we had had her for about six so her slowing down did not concern me although it should have.  You see, when she was a puppy, we fed her a commercial brand from a national dog food maker available at your local pet store.  Then later, it became too difficult to go to the pet store because it was another thing on the errand list so we started buying dog food made by a national dog food maker available at the grocery store.  I was to find out years later that I would have been better off feeding her the bag it came in.  

In September of 2009, we had to help Maddie get up because she wouldn't stand on her own and when she would walk, her spine was twisted so she would walk sideways.  Still, I didn't take her to the vet.  I just thought she was getting older and the end was coming but did I play with her any more that I did before?  Not really.  In November 2009, I had to help her up and down the stairs because she couldn't walk them.  Did I spend any more time with her?  Not really.  Later in November I had to pick her up in my arms and carry her outside several times a day to go potty.  Did I love her anymore?  Not really.  In fact, I was mad at her because "she" was like this.  

I took her to the vet and wanted the vet to fix her.  The vet took some x-rays and we discovered Maddie had arthritis in her upper back causing her not to be able to walk.  I took Maddie to another vet who began treatment with Chinese herbs and acupuncture and after one treatment, I saw a little improvement and I was hopeful that she would get better.  I started feeding her a raw diet, like the vet said to and she looked like she was doing better.  Through scheduling problems, I wasn't able to get another appointment with the new vet for three weeks and I thought that would be okay but as it turns out, it wasn't.

On December 10, 2009, I took Maddie outside and it had been raining.  Maddie was still big (about 140 pounds) and while carrying her, I misjudged the steps, missed the last one and almost dropped her but didn't and sat her down roughly.  When I went to pick her up, she bit me and I knew in that one instance she was in pain and the things I was doing for her weren't for her...they were for me.  She was hurting and I know she was embarrassed because she had to be carried out to go potty.  I knew in that one instance, her time had come and I had to do what I my heart was the right thing for her.  The next day, I visited with a friend and we talked about what had happened and what had to be done.  From there, I went to the vet and made the arrangements for Maddie to be euthanized at my home the following day and then I left work.  I went home, held Maddie and didn't let her go.  Friends and family came to the house and loved on her like never before.  We gave her an old blanket, that smelled like us and covered her up.  My daughter gave her a stuffed toy and she slept in the living room.  I cried myself to sleep that night.  I knew that this was my fault and there was no way for anyone to talk me out of this.  I waited too long, fed her crap and neglected her.

On December 12, we all gathered around Maddie and loved on her all day.  She had the best day of her life!  She knew, in that one day, that she was loved the way she loved.  Friends and family came and sat with her and played with her and she had the best time.

Later in the afternoon, the vet came and was time.  I almost sent her away.  I just couldn't do it but the vet and Donna told me it was the right thing to do.  It was time to let her go.  

I held her in my arms and the vet gave her a shot that made her sleep.  The vet said she was sleeping and wouldn't feel what would come next.  I had a friend read the following Masonic prayer which is given at a certain time during the raising of a Master Mason:
THOU, O GOD! knowest our down-setting an our up-rising. and understandeth our thoughts afa off. Shield and defend us from the evil intentions of our enemies, and support us under the trials and afflictions we are destined to endure, while traveling through this vale of tears. Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth as a flower, and is cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee; thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass: turn from him that he may rest, till he shall accomplish his day. For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. But man dieth and wasteth away; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up, so man lieth down, and riseth not up till the heavens shall be no more. Yet, O Lord! have compassion on the children of thy creation; administer them comfort in time of trouble, and save them with an everlasting salvation. So mote it be. Amen.
With that, the vet administered the medicine that took my Maddie from me.  She was still and silent but she didn't hurt anymore.  She wasn't in pain but I was.  The guilt and pain I felt, and feel to this very day, is still very real and some days almost all consuming.  I didn't do enough for her while she was alive but I was able to give her the greatest gift of all...the gift of freedom.  I know she'll be waiting for me at the Bridge and before we cross, I know I'll have to answer for a lot of things I did and didn't do to her. 

It rained all weekend.  I believe the Heavens were crying for me.  I couldn't drink enough on this day to forget what happened and I couldn't drink enough the next day to forget what happened the day before.

We had her cremated and the company was very professional the day she died as they were when we picked her up on Monday.  I bought her a little table at Target before we picked her up so she would have a place to stay forever.  No matter what, this is her forever home!  To this day, she's in the same spot.  She even has her own Christmas tree (the little Charlie Brown Christmas tree) and I know she loves it very much.

I believe Maddie is watching and I believe that she is guiding my path when it comes to these deaf dogs...all deaf dogs.  I think that Polar and Maddie are great friends.  I will never again feed my dogs food wherein the bag is better for them than the contents.  Never again will I get mad at my dogs because they did something bad because I know now that it is the fault of the owner.  Never will I hit my dogs.  I will never take for granted the feel of a wet nose of a sloppy kiss.  I know some people are thinking why didn't we get another Mastiff.  Well, it's because of the life span.  Large breed dogs typically lead shorter lives and I couldn't have another dog for seven years and watch them die.  Pickles chose me!  I didn't choose her!  She started it all and will always be "Daddy's girl".

Lately, I have come to realize that I spend way too much time on things that shouldn't matter and not enough time on the things that do matter.  I forgot to listen.  I forget to speak softly.  In dog terms, I'm doing too much barking and not enough tail wagging.

I forget to tell people that I love them.  Don't you forget to do that!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dad! What's a Hurricane?!

This will be the first storm weathered by the Pittie Trio!  While Dad was busy trying to get the generator running and Mommy was buying food and whatnot, the girls were in the crates getting some nap time.  Mostly because we were all busy scurrying about and some because Pop (my dad) was there and we were working on the generator.  But, alas, no generator.  That will teach me to leave gas in the tank for a long time.  A new carburetor is in order, I think.  So, we have plenty of canned food, dry food and dog food so what else could we ask for?  Oh yeah, beer!  But Daddy has to work all weekend so he couldn't drink the beer anyway.  

We're all talking about Hurricane Irene when Nea comes up and says, "Daddy, what's a hurricane?"  "Well Nea, it's a big storm that has a lot of wind and rain and it lasts for a long time." Nea looked worried.  "What's wrong, Nea?"  "I'm scared, Daddy!  The wind could blow the house away!"  "No, Nee Nee, we're going to be okay" I said.  "Well, what about the rain?  It could wash us down the hill!  I'm scared, Daddy!"  "Nea, we're going to be okay.  This house has been here for 120 years and it's still standing.  We'll be fine."  Nea still looked worried and her tail was tucked almost under her stomach.  "Nee Nee, what's wrong, Baby?"  "I'm still scared, Daddy!"  With that, she crawled into my lap and she was shaking.  Of all three of my Deaffies I believe Nea to be the strongest and the most brave but I guess that's when she can see the danger.  Remember, the storm still hasn't made landfall and is, at least, 12 hours away from us.  I think she can feel the storm's approach and maybe the drop in pressure.  Maybe she senses the way we're all running about buying and fixing things.

Nea couldn't get any closer to me unless she was in my shirt and she still looked worried!  "Nea, what's wrong?"  "Daddy, I'm still scared.  What if something happens?  What if we get hurt?  Who's going to take care of you and Mommy if Pickles, Piglet or me get hurt?"  What am I supposed to say to her at this point?  Mommy and I will be at work in large buildings so we're pretty safe but what about them?  The house will be fine.  All of the windows are shut, the patio furniture has been put away and there is plenty of food.  "Well, Nee Nee, I know that you will be okay!  I've been through hurricanes before and it's really going to be okay.  If I didn't think you guys would be safe then I would have just packed up and left.  That's why Matt, Liz and the Brown Dogs are coming up. They weren't safe in Norfolk because the hurricane is coming right through there!"  Wow" said Nea!  "I guess I never thought of that.  You and Mommy wouldn't let anything hurt us."  "No, Nea, we wouldn't.  I told you that when I brought you home from the shelter.  That's why we drove all the way to New Jersey to get you.  We didn't want you to be alone anymore and we wanted to love you!  I wouldn't let anything happen to ANY of you!"  "Okay, Daddy" Nea said.  "I know you love me but I'm still scared."  "Nea, please don't be scared.  If you're scared, you're not able to react; you're frozen with fear.  I want you to be frightened.  If you're frightened, you can still act.  You can help watch the Brown Dogs and help with Piglet and Pickles.  Do you understand?"  "I think I do" said Nea.  "It's okay to be frightened but not scared because I can still protect people and help out.  I can do it, Daddy!  I know I can!"  "I know you can too, Nea!"  And with that, Nea was up and playing.  I could tell that she was still nervous but she was playing with everyone else.

"Daddy!  What's a hurricane?" asked Piglet and Pickles.  "Well, girls, it's a big storm with lots of wind and rain.  Why?"  "We heard you talking to Nea about it but then we heard everything was going to be okay!"  "It will be girls.  We'll be okay!"  "Okay, Daddy!"  And off they went.  Pickles and Piglet are just wired different.  They don't seem to get nervous like Nea but if everyone was the same, wouldn't life be boring?

If you're reading this, I hope you've battened your hatches!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Introducing Piglet!

That's right, folks!  You may have seen it on Facebook first but here a some information on Piglet who is the newest member of The Deaf Dog family!

So when did this happen, you ask?  Well, just two nights ago but let me back up a bit. Donna came to me one day and said, "I want to get dogs for our dogs!"  I was wondering what kind of dog would go good with a Pittie but we decide on looking at some French Bulldogs.  I know, Piglet is not a Frenchie but I'm getting there.  I contacted someone on the Yahoo Deaf Dog Network and asked if they knew anyone that had any deaf Frenchies and within a couple of hours, I received an email from a woman in Colorado that had one!  A few days later we talked and she said deaf Frenchies are pretty rare as the breeders do not breed a known deaf female and if there is a deaf pup, that female is fixed but they do not put the puppy down if it is deaf.  The pups are sold for a few hundred dollars (far below the going price from a reputable dealer) when they are discovered.  [On a side note, it seems that these breeders are not a asshatish about deaf puppies as the Dalmation Club of America that says that deaf pups are to be put down.  The last sentence on the deafness position page says, "With the enormous supply of unwanted dogs in this country, there is no need to preserve dogs with problems such as deafness."  Please see Dalmatian Club of America's position on deaf dogs for further information.  Don't get me started here as I'll have another entry about them later.]  Anyway, she said she would keep an ear out for any.  Another email exchange with a breeder ended up in the same way with kind of "I don't have any as I fix the ones that breed a deaf pup but I'll keep my ear out".  Okay, so no big deal there.

We were looking again through to see what other deaffies might be out there when we came across Bully Paws (a Pit Bull rescue out of Fredericksburg, VA) who had several!  One was Betty who looked very sweet and sounded great but was about six years old and we thought that might be a little too old for Pickles and Nea as they're just over a year.  The other was Polly.  Polly was found in King William County just wondering the road and was taken to the animal shelter who has a policy of not adopting Pit Bull or Pit Bull types back into the county but rescues were welcome to take them so Bully Paws came in and took her out.  She's been in foster care for about four months and was reported to be a happy-go-lucky silly girl!  Well that will fit right in with Pickles who is the same way!  Polly came over to our house on Tuesday for a visit and home inspection but as you can see, she's not going anywhere.

Polly came into the yard and after some sniffing and walking around everyone was ready to go and that's when playing started.  They all were jumping around, chasing each other and just having fun!  Nea spent some time asserting her dominance over Polly but all in all everything went really well.  I was surprised.  Not because I thought anything would happen but when you add another dog you don't know what might happen. After a while there came a "can we keep her!?  Can we keep her!?" from the porch.  I know what you're thinking, "isn't that sweet that the kids want to keep her".  And this is indeed sweet but the person that was saying all of this was DONNA!  Well I know that there's no use in arguing with her so Piglet stayed the night but I knew she was never going to leave.  We went to PetsMart and bought some things she would need (crate, treats and whatnot).  Donna bought her and the Pickles and Nea a toy and they all got a new stuffed animal from Target (which Pickles and Nea have already destroyed)!  Piglet is a good name for this girl as she topped the scales at 64 pounds!  On the Bully Paws sight, they said she was 35 pounds so she gained a few pounds and has some mange but those are problems that are easily fixed.

Piglet's first night went pretty well with no fights but plenty of playing then everyone got a good night's sleep.

Welcome to our family Piglet!  I know you'll love it here!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

An Adventure at the River

So, today we went to the Pony Pasture to see if the doggies wanted to swim.  I'm pretty sure that Pickles likes the water and to swim but Nea.........not so much.  We went to the Pony Pasture late in the evening and there were a fair amount of people there which surprised me.  Out of the car and down to the river we went.  First, were walked along the gravel path and down to a little clearing then into the water.  Nea jumped right in then stood there!  I think she really didn't know what she was doing and when she figured it out she froze.  But then, she walked around a bit and seemed to enjoy herself............until..........she stepped in a hole and had to swim for it and she was a pretty good swimmer!  She was a natural!  The only problem is that I was scared that Nea wouldn't swim and I went to get her and I almost fell in!  I was up to my knees and that wasn't a problem but then I almost fell.  The water felt great but I had my phone in my pocket and since I'm not independently wealthy, I decided I didn't want to drown my phone!

We got out and walked further down the patch to another clearing and got in the water again but this time, no one fell in.  As we were leaving, along came a Schnauzer NOT on his lead!  Nea did fine with him but where was the owner?  Well, apparently, around the bend of the trail.  We walked along then the owner called the Schnauzer and he went away.  Remember that we were in a city park and there is an ordinance that says all dogs will be on a leash at all times.  Hmmm........

Walking down the path further, Nea and Pickles saw the lightning bugs.  "Dad!  What's that!?" Nea said.  "Those are lightning bugs, Nea.  Their butts flash with that greenish light"  "Dad" Pickles yelled, "they're freaking me out!"  "It's okay, guys.  There's nothing to be afraid of" I said.  "Okay, Daddy."  We walked a bit further and when we turned back, they saw the deer!  "Dad!!  What's that!?  It looks like a big, tall dog!"  "Pickles, that's a deer.!"  "Oh" said Pickles, "that scared me!"  "Dad!  There are those lightning butts again!"  "Nea, they're not lightning butts, they're lightning bugs!" I said.  "Well, whoever named them, named them wrong!" Nea said.  "I'll make a note of that, Nea."  "Hey, Dad?  Does my butt light up when I'm not looking at it?  You know, like those lightning butts?"  "No, Nea, you're butt does not light up!"  Wow!  The stuff that those guys think is just too funny!

We continued on and the rest of the walk was uneventful as there were no more deer and Nea knew what lightning bugs were and was secure that her butt didn't light up!  We headed back to the car and on home.  Those guys had a great time at the park and they like to ride in the car so a good day was had by all!

Sorry Polar. We Failed You.

As you can guess, Polar did not make it through her ordeal.  She was killed by Chesterfield County last week after a "thorough" investigation.  Uh huh.  The outcome in this case was a forgone conclusion and there was no way to change it but I had to try.

I say Polar was killed because she was.  By all public accounts, this incident was a tragic, unfortunate accident.  Even the medical examiner said the death of the child was accidental but that didn't matter.  In their press release, the Chesterfield County Police Department said that Polar was euthanized but let's consider the word "euthanasia" for a moment, shall we?  Wikipedia defines it as:

[Animal euthanasia (from the Greek meaning "good death")] is the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, an animal suffering from an incurable, esp. a painful, disease or condition.  Euthanasia methods are designed to cause minimal pain and distress. Euthanasia is distinct from animal slaughter and pest control, which are performed for purposes other than an act of mercy, although in some cases the killing procedure is the same.  In domesticated animals, this process is commonly referred to by euphemisms such as "lay down", "put down", "put to sleep", "destroyed", or "put out of its/his/her misery".

I don't know if anyone knows, because I didn't until later, that Polar had hip dysplasia and had one hip corrected. She was in pain and on pain medication for the other hip. There was no indication that Polar was in enough pain or discomfort that she should have been "put down". This was revealed just a few days before Polar was killed. Again, I say killed and that is what I mean. Polar did not meet the conditions that would would have led to her being put down humanely. So let's consider, for a moment, why she was "put down". Was she put down because she was vicious? Well, according to the Virginia Code Polar did meet the definition of a vicious dog. This section says that if a companion animal causes the death of a human then it is vicious and should be put down and that a judge orders the animal to be put down. Okay, that's the code and I see the Commonwealth's point but let's consider a few facts. One, there is no evidence that the child was mauled. The child suffered one bite to the head that caused cerebral edema that caused death. [Note: Only in passing am I going to mention that the child was taken to Chippenham Medical Center and not the area's level one trauma center, VCU Medical Center.] Two, there is no evidence that this matter was ever taken before a judge for a hearing so the judge could decide whether or not Polar should be put down. For those of you that may not know, there is such a thing as "case law" in the Commonwealth. The judge, after hearing all of the facts, could have decided that Polar was a dangerous dog which is a lesser degree of dangerous animal and all of the provisions of that code section could have been followed and Polar could have lived her life in a caring and loving home. Three, there was no evidence that Polar ever bit a person before this incident. In the human criminal court system, a person's criminal history or lack thereof, is considered before sentence is imposed. Polar did not have this luxury. Polar had no one to speak for her in front of a judge because the case didn't get there. I would like to believe that if a judge heard the case, there may have been a different outcome. At the very least, there would have been an "independent trier of the facts" to hear the merits of both sides.

A good friend explained to me that if you owned a dog you could take that animal, healthy or not, to a vet and have the animal put down! Companion animals are property and can be disposed of at any time. Herein lies another problem...Polar's owners signed her over to Chesterfield County and based on my previous sentence, you can see the problem. Since Chesterfield County owned Polar, they could put her down at any time WITHOUT having to take the case in front of a judge. But you would like to think that since Polar was such a high profile case, the County would have taken the case in front of a judge thereby adding legitimacy in their decision to put her down but there is no evidence that they did that and if they did, there was no court date made public so that anyone with a dissenting opinion could have been heard.

We had a deaf dog rescue willing to sponsor us as a foster, under their insurance, for Polar. This agency contacted Chesterfield Police and Animal Control and told them that but it made no difference. Hundreds of emails and snail mails were sent but that made no difference. Hundreds of phone calls were made and that made no difference and I begin to wonder...what would have made a difference?

I'm sorry Polar but the very human race that worked so hard to save you in the first place let you down this time. Please wait for us at Rainbow Bridge where we'll meet and play for all time.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Saving Polar

Okay, there has been a lot of information out there about Polar and the efforts to save her and I've been bad about blogging about it.  First of all, to all 1300  or so friends on the Save Polar Facebook page:  Thank you so much for your support and efforts to save Polar.  People have written the governor, attorney general, police chief, sheriff, animal control and everyone in between in efforts to save her.  Others have made phone calls, most that went unanswered or the response is "it is still under investigation" which is okay.

On July 1, 2011, Donna made the Save Polar Facebook page and in five hours we had six friends.  While all of this was going on I was at work and Donna (my wife and not the other one) told me she set up this Facebook page to save Polar.  She was in tears on the phone and said, "please don't let them put her down!  She doesn't deserve this!  You have to fix this!"  Now, I have been a police officer more than half of my life and I operate in crisis mode.  I don't do too well in day-to-day stuff like going to the store, paying bills and whatnot but I'm extremely effective in crisis mode and THIS was crisis mode!  And besides, I cannot stand to see my wife cry.  If you know Donna, you know she doesn't cry so when she does, I take notice.  When I got home that night, I started to cross post the "Save Polar" Facebook page on every deaf dog, pitbull rescue and any other dog Facebook page I could find!  And everything took off!  Monday was a holiday and on Tuesday I spoke to a friend who was able to get in contact with WRIC and an interview was set up.  Catherine Hawley, from WRIC 8, interviewed Donna (although she didn't like it) at our house and that story aired on Tuesday night.   I then got emails from Lisa of AngelDogs, based out of California, who spays/neuters dogs and is starting a rescue for deaffies and Katrina from D2Care who rescues deaffies and offers support to deaf dog owners.  I know the Great Architect has sent these two women to me and Polar!

Later in the week, a friend (Donna Armstrong) said, "hey!  Let's have a candlelight vigil for Polar."  As much as I didn't want to do this, I knew we needed to do it.  Starting on Tuesday and going through Thursday evening, just before the vigil, we knew that Polar was going to be put down on Friday even though I was told by Chesterfield Animal Control that nothing would happen until Friday, July 15.  As you can imagine, I was really pissed, hurt, mad and whatever other emotion you want to assign to my feelings.  How dare they put her down!  At this time, there was no information from the medical examiner and the police were not talking about the investigation.  There is no way I could let this happen!  Lisa and Katrina invited me to the deaf dog Yahoo group and they posted all of this information on that group and then posted it everywhere!  At the vigil I was interviewed by Yvette Yeon of NBC12 and Angela Pellerano of WTVR 6 and the interviews went well.  Angela told me that night that Chesterfield had postponed the PTS (put to sleep) date to an unknown date.  As you can imagine, I was beside myself with joy and was in tears.  During the vigil, I read the below story:

Did you see me today? As you rushed past to the kennel with the five darling little pups - seven people already there, rescues lined up to save - Did you see me today? Did you see my eyes filled with hurt and torture - ten years of neglect and pain fro...m my life in the back yard, on a chain... Did you see me today? Did you hear the cries my heart made? Three days ago was my tenth birthday and almost ten years ago I was in that same kennel you rushed to today. I was a darling little puppy that everyone wanted... that got too big, too fast...and was sent to live on a chain in the backyard - too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer, barely a kind word spoken... I begged for attention that never came,got tossed food most days, begged for just a drink of water on too hot days, my throat parched and hurting. My dirty matted coat my only protection from the heat and cold, rain and snow ALWAYS NEEDING No one saw me then either. Then I got too messy, my cries for attention too loud ... I just got too damn old. No one saw me, and they brought me here to die. That kennel you rushed to had six puppies then... They dropped me off and took one from there to fill my spot on that rusty chain in the backyard, And I wonder... who is worse off - me or him? I still have so much love in my heart, so much to share... Did you see me today? For a brief moment you stopped, and I thought our eyes met. Was the smell of helpless death too strong for you, my pleas for help too loud? Did you see me today? Will you go home, close your eyes in slumber and recall the haunting look I gave... Will you recall what was not seen today? With the sunrise will you rush back to see? I will not be here then. Today, when the doors are locked I will never be seen again... Did you see me today?

There was not a dry eye in the group!  I found this story when I found Pickles and I cried.  Now, for all of you calling me names that I won't post here, if I hear it from your mouth, I will beat you until there is only goo left!  Since then, this whole thing as exploded!  Polar has had three news stories on local channels and two national.

Maddie, our Mastiff, brought Pickles and Nea to us and I can feel her leaning against me (Mastiffs like to lean on people) when I get tired or feel like I'm ready to give up.  I know Maddie is standing at Rainbow Bridge and is so proud.

As of today, we have 1398 fans and the page is growing every day!  The most important thing is that Polar is safe for now but we can't give up yet.  We need to keep the pressure on everyone and every agency that can make a difference.  We really want Polar to live with us but as long as she's safe, I really don't care where she lives.  All of this has come from one single statement made by Donna:  "You have to fix this!"

Friday, July 1, 2011

Save Polar

Polar is an American Bulldog mix that is deaf and lives in Chesterfield County, VA.,  On Wednesday, June 30, 2011, a family, including a six month old child, from Washington State were visiting other family members where Polar lived.  From the news accounts, it was lunch time and the six month old child was left on the floor while the adults went into the kitchen.  Polar made a "noise" and when the family returned to the room, the baby had blood on it.  The child later died at a local hospital.  My heart aches for the family of the child and my prayers and thoughts are with them as they grieve.  But, as a deaf dog advocate, my thoughts now turn to Polar.  What will become of her?  At this time, she is in the care of Chesterfield County Animal Control and her fate is uncertain.  I'm sure there is a certain portion of the population that wants to put Polar to sleep and they have a right to their opinion.  I have spent the last 24 years with the police department and eight years in the United States Air Force defending opinions that I did not like or agree with so they can say what they want.  The owners have already surrendered her and I can completely understand why they would do that and I will defend their decision as well.  I believe Polar needs to be given another chance!  From a report on WRIC Polar came form a line of abusive homes and was thought to have found her forever home with her family.  But now, who knows what will happen to Polar.  

I have discussed the matter with my wife, Donna, and if it is at all possible, we would like to adopt Polar.  If you're reading this, you already know we have two Deaffies so we know how to care for them.  We have the time and patience it would take to take on this task.

Please support us as we try to adopt Polar or at least keep them from putting her to sleep.

As you can see, she is beautiful!  Don't let her last days be in a cold shelter with no one that loves her!

Monday, June 20, 2011


We had company over the weekend in the form of two little fuzzballs, Ace and Koda!  They were Golden Retriever mixes that belong to my son's fiance, Liz.  At first I was worried because we were going to have four dogs in the house and two were puppies and they could hear but, as it turned out, there was no need for worry.

The pups arrived in the early afternoon and Pickles and Nea were sleeping (it was time for their afternoon nap).  We had the pups in the kitchen and got Pickles up from her nap first.  Pickles came to the kitchen, saw the pups and was very happy.  She sniffed them and started to play with them right away!  Nea came next and, seeing the pups, was happy.  They were all smelling each other and it was going pretty good so we all went outside.  This is when the fun began!

The were jumping on each other and having a great time!  No one got mad, there was no growling or teeth showing; just a lot of kisses and playing.  They chased each other around the yard and just had a good time.  The pups were holding their own with Pickles and Nea who were being very gentle.  It seemed as if Pickles and Nea knew the pups couldn't play rough so they didn't.

The pups were very well behaved and only went potty in the house a couple of times which was really good.  They all ate dinner at the same time, in different places, and then played some more before bed.  Pickles and Nea went to bed at their usual time but the pups stayed up late, as appears to be the usual for them.  Everyone slept good that night!

Saturday morning, Pickles got up before the pups and was looking for them but they were still asleep and it was quite funny.  Pickles didn't eat much breakfast because she was looking all about for the pups so Nea got some extra breakfast!

The pups left later that night, after Zach's graduation.  All in all, everyone was well behaved and had a great time!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Here's Patrick!

Patrick is at the Richmond SPCA and is waiting to become your forever friend!  Patrick is deaf but knows some sign language, has been neutered and is really cute. Deaffies are the best pets.  I have two females otherwise he would already be in my house!  If you go see him and adopt him, please let me know. I'll be glad to help you with anything you need when it comes to Deaffies!

Heeeeeeeerrrrr'sssss Patrick!

Walking Two Dogs!

Well, Momma is sick and not feeling good so I was a quiet as I could be and got the pups up by myself this morning for their (and my) walk.  Take off the cover and open Pickles' crate and I have to wake her up as she is sound asleep.  Get it?  Sound asleep!  I crack me up!  Anyway, she's happy to see me and she runs right to Nea's crate and bumps it so when I uncover her crate, she's awake.  Now Nea gets out and it's like they never saw each other, or me, before.  Jumping about and whatnot.  We head downstairs and those two are joined at the hip, as usual.  Once in the kitchen, it's more jumping about and then outside to potty.  We get our chill out treats then time for the leashes.

When I grab the leashes, Nea automatically sits and looks up at me but Pickles...there's no sitting there.  She's jumping about and acting a fool and Nea just looks are her!  Nea must have been chained or strangled as a puppy or had a collar that was too tight because she hates anything that goes over her head.  She looks away, tucks her ears and tail and generally avoids it but she walks so well on the leash.  Pickles, on the other hand, once she calms down doesn't mind the collar that goes on over her head.  So, we get that done; I set the alarm, lock the door and off we go.

I'm thinking, "hmmm, this is going to be a logistical nightmare!  Those two can't be side-by-side without playing so how's this going to work?"  I put Pickles' leash in my left hand and Nea's in my right but I put them both on my left side (just like we've always walked) and off we go.  To the end of the alley, no problem.  Across the street, no problem.  Turn the corner...problem.  Squirrel!  "Look, Daddy!  Squirrel" Nea yells.  "I see, Nea, but he doesn't want to play with you" I tell her.  "Sure he does, Daddy!"  "Okay", I said "we'll see."  And as soon as we got within 20 feet up the tree he goes and Nea looks at me like she lost her best friend.  "I tried to tell you, Nea."  "Why didn't he want to play, Daddy?  I won't hurt him."  "I know that but he doesn't and since you don't speak squirrel or he dog, you can't talk to each other."

So far, so good.  Then they start switching places.  Nea on the outside and Pickles on the inside.  Then they change.  Then again.  And again.  Soon, I have two tangled dogs and a pink and black mess in my hands (that would be the leashes.  Nea's is black and Pickles' is pink.  We couldn't use blue because that was Maddie's color and I don't like red.)  So I decide to separate them with Pickles on the left and Nea on the right and this worked great!  I thought they would try to get to each other or Nea would be confused because we always walked her on the left but nope!  They were great!

We went down to the park and had puppy free time then around the park and back home.  I was really impressed with the way they walked their first time together with only one person walking them.

Deaffies are the best!

Monday, June 6, 2011

They put him down today.


They put Ice down today.  In his photograph, he looks like he's waving goodbye.  Like he knows what is going to happen.  Maybe he's seen too many of his friends disappear behind a door never to be seen again.  

The owner surrendered him because of allergies.  ALLERGIES!!  Are you fucking kidding me?  Why would you not know you were allergic to dogs BEFORE you got the dog!?  The owner had to be a moron!  Asshat!  Why would you take him to a kill shelter.  I know, maybe you didn't know.  Maybe you didn't care!  He's out of your life so it doesn't matter anymore, right?!  How about this:  why don't we take you to a shelter, let you live in a small cage for a couple of week, forming some kind of relationship with the person that feeds you and cleans your poo then, just as you start to feel safe...we kill you!  That's just an idea but I'm spit-balling here.  I have other ideas but I think you get my point.  

To Ice:
I'm so sorry that there was no one there to love you and give you hugs.  I'm sorry that the one person you thought was going to be your forever human turned out someone with no soul.  I'm sorry they took you to a kill shelter and I wish someone would have made you their forever friend.  I never met you but please know I love you and I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.  You're free to play with the angels now and they won't hurt you.  They will love you, play fetch and give you hugs.  They will never hurt you and you will never be hurt again.

Please know you will never be forgotten.  

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Pool and a Baby Bird.

Do you think I love my dogs too much?  The kids get to play with the hose but the dogs get a pool!!

Yup, that's a pool alright!  A plastic pool from K-Mart (they were close.  Don't judge me.)  Pickles really loves it but Nea, not so much.  But Mac, they're a Pit and an AmStaff!  Why would you put them in a pool?  They're not water Labs there.  Well, Pickles is.  She jumps right in.  She even gets a running start and jumps in!  She loves it!  Nea, not so much.  Pickles splashes about and gets wet.  Nea, not so much.  Pickles is wagging her tail and having fun!  Nea, not so much.  You can see where this is going.  Nea doesn't like the water but let the pool be empty and I can't get her out of it!

So now the pool is empty and they're playing in it; Nea won't get out!  She just stands there and watches Pickles jump in an out.  Okay, I wish you all could be in my backyard to see this:  Pickles is staring at the hose then she looks at me!  "Daddy!  We need water!" she seems to say.  "Pickles, Nea doesn't need water.  Look at her.  She's happy" I say.  "But Daaaaaaaaady!" replies Pickles "I want water"!  "I know Pickles, but not right now.  After lunch" I say.  "Okay..." she says as she walks away sad and dejected.  "Thanks, Daddy" Nea says.  "I don't like the water."  "I know, Nea, but we can try some later.  It's fun to splash about!" I told her.  "But if you try it, you may like it.  Pickles does."  "You're not really helping your point, Daddy.  Pickles is weird!" said Nea.  "She thinks she's a Labrador!"   "Nea!  That wasn't nice!" reminding her to mind her manners.  "Sorry, Daddy."

At least Pickles is deaf and didn't hear this, right?

Then, I saw the sweetest thing in Dogdom.  Nea was laying in the pool...minding her own business when Pickles walked with something in her mouth.  "Oh, now what!?" I thought.  Pickles gently steps into the pool and puts whatever is in her mouth in the pool right beside a present.  Pickles looks up at Nea and the two look at each other then Nea at the "gift".  Now I'm wondering what this "gift" may be so I get up (sitting only a couple feet away, mind you) and see that it's A DEAD BABY BIRD!!  "Pickles!" I scream!  "Where in the hell did you get a dead baby bird!"  "What?  This?" she said as she looks at the bird, "it's a present for Nea!"  "I can see that, Pickles, and that was very nice" I told her "but where did you get a dead baby bird?!"  "Over there!"  "Thank you, Pickles, but you and Nea can't have a dead baby bird to play with.  It could make you sick!"  "Let me have that, Pickles, so I can bury it" I told her.  "Okay, Daddy."  I buried the bird in the trees just outside my fence and gave it a moment of silence.

So I look where she came from just before I see the bird and there is a brick turned up and a hole in the fence.  I guess it came from there but thankfully there were no more.

Doggie pools and dead baby birds as gifts!  Aren't dogs wonderful!?  I know mine are!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stuff that happens in the Mornings!

Up at 0500 (I'm working evening shift so I get to sleep in until then and take a nap later) and get the pups up.  You all know the routine by now so not gonna cover it again.  Set the alarm.  Lock the door.  Leave the yard.  Down the alley to the street.  So far, not thinking about too much but when we round the corner, I start.

"Nea is walking good on the leash today."  "Pickles is all over the road.  She would walk a lot less if she walked a straight line."  "Oh crap, there's a cat!  I hope Nea doesn....she saw it!"  "Good, the cat saw us and ran away.  She ran away, Nea!  Let her go!"  "Okay, she forgot about the cat.  Good."  "It's hot out here.  Well, not so much hot but sticky."  "I wonder if it's sticky in Alaska?  Never mind, Donna wouldn't go and I'd never find white dogs in the snow."  "Good Nea.  You're walking good today."  "Look!  The morning guy is at Buzzy's!  I don't usually get to see him."  "Damn!  A squirrel!  And he's just sitting there!  Come on, Nea, let's run!  He'll run away!"  "Oops, he ran under a car and a bird flew out the other end of the same car!!  It's like I'm a magician!  Too funny!"  "Okay, Nea.  He's gone.  It was just a squirrel.  Yes, I know you don't like them."  "Walking makes my feet hurt.  Maybe I need new shoes.  They're $100.00.  Ouch!  I'll wait until after vacation."  "Nea, why are you stopping in the midd......."  "Poop!!  Really?"  You stopped to poop in the middle of the road!?"  We're on Broad Street!  I guess you had to go!"  "Well, it's easier to pick up when it's not in the grass!"  "Why is that radio always on?  They never turn it off!  Weird."  "We're at the park!  Puppy free time!"  "You can do whatever you want now, Nea!"  "So you sit.........  Hhmmmm.....well, it's your time so have at it."  "What are you smelling now?  Are you a narcotics dog?  Are you looking for something"  "Let's walk over here so I can throw this road poop away."  "The trash can is right there and there's trash on the ground beside it.  Are you kidding me?  Can you not be bothered with putting the trash in the can?  Lazy people."  "Look, Nea, there's the statue.  Up on the base!  Good jump!"  "Alright, heading for home now."   "Where's Pickles?  There she is...with mommy."  "Another squirrel.  Okay, Nea, leave it alone.  He doesn't want to play with you."  "Hey, there's Lee Ann's house.  Remember, you met Carby!"  "Yeah, I'll walk Pickles now."  "Hi, Pickles!  Did you have a good walk with mommy?  Good!"  "Why can't you walk in a straight line?  People will think you're drunk!"  "Damn, not that squirrel again.  Don't those things live in trees?  Why are they on the groun......Pickles!  She saw it!  Pickles!  He doesn't want to play with you, either.  No, I don't think we can chase this one and it'll turn into a bird!  I only had one trick left."  "I bet you're tired (tongue hanging out now).  I'm tired too.  Just wait until next week and we start to run sometimes.  Not too much further."  "Look!  Another cat!  You guys should be inside."  "I know you want to play, Pickles, but they don't see it that way!"  "Thirsty?  Me too. Two more blocks."  "Woo hoo!  We're home!"  "Let's take that collar off.  Now, sit still!  Quit jumping!  Don't do that!  Ouch!!  That's how you hurt your ears!"  "Breakfast!  Yummmmm."

What?!  Did you guys think I was solving world hunger?  Bringing peace to the Middle East?  I'm walking my dogs.  Just after I get up.  No deep thoughts or anything out there.  More like an inner monologue and talking to my deaf-ies as I'm walking along.  I talk to them all of the time.

They many not be able to hear, but they can see your lips move and are very intuitive so they "know" when they're doing right and, conversely, when they're messing up.  They constantly look back to see if you're there even though they can feel you at the other end of the leash.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How I almost got thrown out of Petsmart!

So, I got plenty of sleep last night (although it was a bit warm upstairs) and had breakfast so I can't blame it on either one of those.  I walked the dogs and there were no problems there and I was in a pretty good mood.

I had to take Zach to school this morning then to Petsmart, in Mechanicsville, to get the Deli Fresh Pet food.  Everyone knows how I love the raw diet so I plug it every chance I get.  The kids went to the Petsmart on Laburnum Avenue on Sunday but they were out of the six pound tubes.  Anyway, this is where the problem started.

I had to kill some time because Petsmart didn't open until 0900 so I sat in the parking lot and got on Facebook and played some Angry Birds.  Still in a good mood, mind you.  And then Petsmart opened.  There were several people by the door so I let them all rush in.  Since they were standing by the door, waiting for the store to open, they were in a bigger hurry than I was so in ya go!  It was a few minutes after nine when I went in but before I could enter, there was an older female, wearing pajamas and walking a tan-ish fluffy dog that was about the same size and Pickles (who was not with me) who was just passing the register and bought nothing. Bought nothing!!   I saw the clerk giving her a dirty look then the older woman said, "well, that's your job".  Just then, I saw three piles of dog poop on the floor that this woman's dog had "left".  So me, thinking maybe...just maybe...she didn't know SHE was supposed to clean up the poop said politely (at first) "ma'am, you're supposed to clean up after your dog" to which she replied "that's why they're here".  In that one sentence, I had all I could take.  "Ma'am!" I said "you really should get back here and clean this up!"  I could not believe I was having this exchange with a grown and older than me person.  "That's their job!" she snorted.  Too late, asshole mode engaged!  "Get yourself back here and clean this up!!" I yelled!  I was beyond furious at this point.  "Uh, sir?" the manager said.  "What?!" was my reply and when he saw my face, he decided he wanted me mad at her and not him and said nothing.  "You can't speak to me like that!" the woman said.  "No, I SHOULDN'T speak to you like that nor should I have to speak to you at all about this but you're too rude to let it go!!"  At that point, she walked away and discretion being the better part of valor, I let her go because it was only going to get worse from there.  I could not believe that I had to have this conversation with a grown person.  I could see if, maybe, it was some kid who was walking the dog while his mother shopped on the other side of the store but oh no...this was supposed to be an adult!

I walked over to the paper towels and spray bottle to clean the poop up myself because it is not their job to clean up after "your" dog in the Petsmart.  The manager quickly stopped me and said he would handle it and he is to be commended on his quick attention to detail and for leaving me alone whilst I chastised that "person" because I could see him getting yelled at for stopping me from yelling at her!

At the register, the clerk, who was caught between the woman and I during that exchange, thanked me for speaking to the "woman" in such a manner.  I told her it was not a problem.  "That woman deserved far worse than what she got", I said.  The clerk said it happens all of the time to which I was floored.  I cannot believe that someone would bring their pet into a store, let them pee and poop about then leave it there for "them"(quoting the woman from earlier) to clean up!  You don't deserve a dog, you asshat!!  Irresponsible dog owners give us all a bad name!

You'll be happy to know that I'm calm now and my blood pressure is almost back to normal.

"But Mac, how did you almost get thrown out" you ask?  I didn't but it makes for a good headline, huh?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sibling Rivalry: I Just Don't Get It!

I just don't get sibling rivalry.  You compete with and against each other for your parents attention.  Okay, I kinda get that but fighting?  Come on!

I know some of you will find this hard to believe but I'm an only child.  I know, I seem so well adjusted, not spoiled or anything. You all may stop laughing at any time now.  I never had to compete for my parents' attention.  I got all of it...all of the time...whether I wanted it or not!  I'm not really complaining because it made me the way I am so thanks mom (RIP) and dad!  Remember yesterday's post:  I was born this way.

Back to sibling rivalry.  I just don't get it so let me explain.  We get the pups up in the morning for their walk and the minute their feet hit the floor it's' "hi Daddy! Look at me!  I'm here"!  I know you are, Pickles but I need to give Nea some rubs too.  "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy" says Nea, as she jumps about trying to squeeze her way between Pickles and I.  Now its downstairs and into the kitchen.  They get a quick drink of water then their morning "vitamin" (chamomile and tryptophan).  Now it's time for collars and walk.

Nea walks in front with me and Pickles behind with Momma but there's no real reason for this; just kinda happens that way.  But no worries, we switch after a while because if you're not the lead dog, the scenery never changes.  Besides, I get to walk behind Momma now (insert evil grin here)!  Later in the walk we switch dogs so that no one feels like they're getting more time with the other parent.  So we head back home and some side-by-side walking...which actually goes well.  Most of the time.

Now we're back home and then, "it" starts.  What is "it" you wonder?  Well, let me explain:  "Daddy, look at me" Pickles seems to say so she gets some pats on the head.  "Daddy, Daddy!  Look at me"! yells Nea so now she gets pats on the head.  Pickles buts in with "Daddy!  Look at me!  I'm right her...ouch, Nea!"  Yup, Nea gave Pickles a little "love bite".  "Daddy, Nea bit me!"  "I bet she did, Pickles" I say.  "You got your pats and Nea was getting hers when you butted in.  I hope you learned a lesson."  Yeah, no.  "Nea, don't bite Pickles" I say"  "Okay, Daddy, I won't".  Yeah, right.  "Daddy, Daddy!  Look at me!  Pet me on the hea...ouch, Pickles!"  says Nea.  You guessed it, Pickles bit Nea.  "Well Nea" I say "you did bite her when she was doing the same thing you were doing."  "I know, Daddy" Nea says "but I just wanted you to pat me."  "I was patting you, Nea, until Pickles butted in" I say.  "Pickles, don't bite Nea again."  "Okay" says Pickles.  "I won't."  Uh huh.  I turn my back, for two minutes, to start their breakfast and "it" starts...again.

Pickles bites Nea.  Nea bites Pickles.  Nea runs away and Pickles is in pursuit.  From the kitchen...through the dining room...down the hall and into the den and up onto the sofa, couch, duvet or whatever you call it.  More biting and gnashing of teeth.  Mind you, none of this is harsh or in anger...yet.  I get between them and make them stop.  [Aside:  I make our kids stop fighting too so see, it's not just doggie sibling rivalry that I don't understand.  Donna says to let them figure it out but I, as a parent, am not worried about right or wrong.  In the words of Bill Cosby "parents are only interested in quiet!]

So they stop. Aawwww.......  What a happy ending to this story...if it actually ended there but as you, as fans of the Deaf Dog Blog, know nothing stops with them...ever!  I walk back to the kitchen to prepare breakfast (Nature's Deli and a raw egg) but before I LEAVE THE ROOM they're back at it again!  "Crap!  I give up!  Just kill each other and I'll hide the bodies!" I say.  As I begin to fix breakfast Pickles runs down the hall,with Nea in pursuit, into the kitchen and sees the and miraculously they are no longer fighting.  They are both sitting there, watching me like I'm painting the Sistine Chapel.  Pickles eats in the kitchen and Nea in the dining room so there's no fighting there but as soon as they're finished, they switch places and lick each other's bowls clean.  Once that's over, it starts all over again!  They will do this running and fighting until their tongues hang out of their heads!

At about 0900, it's time for a nap.  Just like a fricking toddler.

When I get home from work, it's the same thing.  Jumpy, jumpy everywhere! " Daddy, look at me", Nea says but Pickles jumps on top of her yelling louder, "No, Daddy! Look at me!"  Back and forth and back again.  This goes on for a moment or so then they realize that they are...gasp...together!  That is when the playing starts.  At first, playful enough...jumping on each other and actually kinda cute...until one of them, and it's usually Nea, has had it with the other and yells, "STOP"!  Pickles just doesn't seem to get it.  She keeps on.  "STOP" says Nea with some bites to Pickles' ears.  Do you think Pickles gets it?  Nope.  So I let it go for a minute because they have to figure this out.  "F%*KING STOP" says Nea with a harder bite but you guessed it, Pickles missed the boat.  The hell with the boat, she wasn't near the water!  So now it's time for Daddy to step in and stop this so I do.  No more shenanigans!!

See, I just don't understand it.  If you behave yourself, there is plenty of hugs and kisses to go around.  Please don't make me referee a fight...every day...several times a day!

Remember, parents are not interested in who's right or wrong.  We're only interested in quiet.  Ssshhhhhh.......

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

We Were Born this Way!

Yes they were.  Pickles and Nea were born deaf and no one will ever notice a difference until you try to call them and they don't come but I've heard a lot of owners say their dog doesn't come when they call.  At least their dog has the choice to listen or not.  Here are some reasons for deafness in dogs.
  • What causes a dog to lose its hearing? A lot of the same things that cause hearing loss in humans. Genetic defects can cause a dog to be born deaf; this is known as congenital deafness. A dog can also lose its hearing due to an ear infection, injury to the ear, or may experience gradual (or sudden) hearing loss due to old age. Exposure to loud noise can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss, as can certain drugs.
  • The most common cause of congenital deafness is pigment related. (There is some talk about a recessive gene as well, but most researchers do not believe this is the case.) Some dogs have white coats, but still have pigmented skin (Samoyeds, West Highland Terriers, and White German Shepherds fall into this category). Although they have white fur, they have black noses and eye rims (their fur is actually not pure white, but a very light buff color). Other dogs normally have colored coats, and white trim (this includes Dalmatians; the white is actually not their real coat color, the "spots" are). The "trim" comes from areas of unpigmented (pink) skin, which produces white hair. If there is unpigmented skin in the inner ear, the nerve endings atrophy and die off in the first few weeks of the puppy's life, resulting in deafness. Please note that you cannot tell the color of hairs in the inner ear by looking at any visible part of the dog's ears (including the hair around the ear canal). Although many dogs with white hair on their ears will be deaf, many deaf dogs have colored ears as well.
  • Hearing loss affecting both ears is called Bilateral Deafness. A bilaterally deaf dog is completely (or mostly) deaf in both ears. Hearing loss occurring in, or affecting only one ear, is called Unilateral Deafness. A unilaterally deaf dog has hearing loss in only one ear and has full hearing in the other ear.  Special thanks to for the above information.

I say all of that to say this:  I love my deaffies!  They are great dogs and are not "damaged" or throwaways.  When I first got Pickles I was mad at the people that tied her to the tree but then I realized they were probably doing her a service, although I'm sure they didn't know it.  Nea was dropped off at the Montclair, NJ Animal Shelter just before Thanksgiving 2010 which is just about when we got Pickles.  There was no reason in the paperwork from Montclair as to why she was dropped of with them but I suspect that the owners found out she was deaf and didn't want her.  Little did they know that deaf dogs make some of the best pets there are!

Pickles and Nea were born this way!  Remember, you were born the way you are, too!  I was born this way!

Best Friends

These two are best friends!  My thanks for Zach Adams for taking the picture in time.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Man! Is it hot or what!?

Well, Memorial Day is less than a week away so that means summer is coming fast.  Pickles and Nea really can't read a calendar but they can feel the heat and so can I.  I have lived in Virginia my whole life and the summers are just getting worse.  The heat wasn't that bad last year but I can't stand the humidity.  I wonder if I can work in Richmond in the winter and transfer to Alaska in the summer?  Hhhmmmm.........

Anyway, when your pups are outside in the heat, don't forget to give them plenty of cool water to drink.  Pickles and Nea like ice so add some ice, too.  Maddie, our Mastiff, liked ice but when we first gave her ice in the water bowl, she barked at it was it was floating around.  Too funny!  Pickles and Nea sit beside the fridge when you're getting ice and stare at you until you give them some.  The first time Nea had ice, she spit it out.  She just wanted whatever Pickles was having but this time, it didn't work out too well.  But now, she has no problem eating ice!

So, we're sitting outside (those of you that know me are saying "holy crap, Mac!  What in the hell is wrong with you?!") and it's not too hot right now.  A nice cool breeze, some cold water to drink and the pups playing, somewhat calmly, about the patio.  This playing is not going to last long before someone starts a fight, eats a stick, chases someone, knocks over my water or some other type of "puppy infraction" that causes a ruckus!  But I'll take what I can get when I can get it.

Nea got her E collar today so both pups have an E collar.  I think I talked about how some people view these collars but if you have a deaf dog, I believe they are necessary.  Most of the time, we use the vibration or nick (at a low voltage).  The vibration is a call, just like calling a hearing dog's name.  When they come, they get a treat or are given a command.  With the nick, it's a low voltage charge of electricity (like static electricity or sticking your tongue on a 9 volt battery).  That slight charge is usually enough to break their concentration so I can vibrate them and give a command.  Here is the collar that we have Dogtrra 7100H SureStim Collar and I think it works great.  They have a two dog model but I didn't buy that one, initially, because I was only getting one dog.  Little did I know, Nea would come along and steal my heart just like her sister.  Back to the heat.

It's really nice outside now so I think I'll go drink a frosty adult beverage and post some photos of the pups.  I hope everyone enjoys the weather now because it's only going to get hotter!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Morning Walk

Man, does 0430 hours come early or what?!  That's what time we get up to walk the doggies and get the kids to school.  Well, at least two of the kids as one of them has a trip to Philadelphia this week and the other one gets to drive to school.  Anyway, up with the pups and away with the walk  Both of them were sleeping when we uncovered the crates but were happy so see us and the tails were just wagging away.  Down the stairs and outside, one at a time, to potty.  We've discovered one can't potty when the other is outside.  Shy bladder, perhaps?  Or maybe it's because THEY CAN'T LEAVE EACH OTHER ALONE FOR FIVE SECONDS!  Sorry for yelling.  Now it's time for the chill out treats and some water then on with the walk.  Donna took Pickles and I had Nea and it went fine, as long as Pickles was leading.  It was like she forgot Nea was behind her and she walked along fine.  Two mile walk and a three mile walk for Pickles because she just can't walk in a straight line.  Nea did fine following about 20 feet behind and managed to walk really well for the first time going any distance.  I guess the shelter leash-socialized her which is great for us...thank you Montclair Animal (check out their Facebook Page at  We went to the park and Nea got to sniff around but really only wanted to get to Pickles so we let them play on the leashes during, what I call "puppy free time".  I read somewhere the the human should walk the dog and not the other way around and I've seen so many people being pulled down the street by their pets that this is how we do it:  I walk my dog!  What a thought, right?!  The dogs walks, beside me, under control and without pulling for as long as I want to walk but we stop for some "puppy free time".  That means the dog can do what she wants for a period of time.  Whether its sit there, smell around or just roll in the grass, that is her time to do what she wants  A treat, if you will, for walking so well on the leash.

On the way back, they did well and then we switched pups so one did not feel left out by getting more time with Mommy or Daddy than the other.

At home, it was breakfast of the Fresh Pet Deli Fresh Turkey and Veggie formula. This is a raw diet that Pickles loves and Nea seems to tolerate very well but they have to eat in different rooms with the door closed because Nea will eat hers and then eat Pickles' too!  I'll talk more about the raw diet and commercially made dog food later.  After that was some play and snuggle time then off to the crates for naps while everyone was at work or school.

More to follow!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

And then there were two!

It's been a while since I've been on here and I have an update:  We have another deaf dog!  Her name is Nea.  Now, I bet you're wondering a few things about Nea.  First of all, her name.  We wanted to name her "Ice Cream" so we could have Pickles and Ice Cream but that sounded stupid so we thought about Neapolitan (which is an ice cream) so we shortened it to Nea.

Where did she come from?  Montclair, NJ Animal Shelter.  Wow, Mac, that's a really long way to go for a dog. How did you find her?  We found her on  You can narrow your search down to what type of animal you want and whether or not they have special needs so that's what we did.  There were several deaf dogs on the list but some were from rescues which is okay but for some reason, they charge about $400.00 to adopt an animal.  I understand that they have to recoup some of the expenses for fosters and that is great but that's kinda expensive.  The drive to New Jersey was no less expensive but Nea (whose previous name was Diamond...yuck) had been in the shelter there since Thanksgiving!  The staff there was extremely helpful and they discounted the adoption fee because Nea is special needs but that didn't matter to me.  We really didn't think about bringing Pickles' crate so we could crate one of them but the shelter gave us a crate and a collar and leash for Nea!

The trip back was really fun.  Pickles whining to get to Nea, GPS putting us off of the interstate and onto 1-9 in Jersey that took us through Trenton in a downpour and having to drive through foot deep water because the storm drains were stopped up (thanks, Jersey).  But we made it home and after some 14 hours on the road and almost 700 miles, we now have deaf dog number two...Nea!

The first night was great because they went right to sleep but the next couple of days have been a bit troublesome.  They play roughly and that play turns into fighting but only a couple of times has it been bad.  Just a few battle scars.  It's getting better but I know it's going to take some more time.  Pickles is the head dog but Nea has such a strong personality, just like Pickles, that neither of them want to give up.  Some of the problem, too, is that they are deaf and one cannot hear the other one growl or bark.  When Pickles goes to the park and plays, I notice the same thing but at the park the other dogs can hear so they know when to back off of Pickles but she doesn't have that same luxury.  Here, neither of them have it.

Right now, I'm outside writing this because they need more space.  They seem to do well when they can get some of the playing out of their system and get away from each other so I can see individual walks and trips to the park for a least until they can behave together.

We also ordered an E collar for Nea.  I know there is a certain population out there that thinks those things are cruel but for a deaf dog, they can be a lifesaver.  If a hearing dogs gets out of its yard or away from its human, the human can call the dog back.  How do you call a deaf dog?  You can't!  And if that dog is running toward the street, then what?  With the E collar, you can call the dog to you or, if necessary, issue a shock to make the dog think about something else or do something else.  So far, with Pickles, it has worked fairly well; I just need to work with her a bit more everyday to improve her response.

Well, that's it for now.  Stay tuned for more adventures for Pickles and Nea(politan ice cream)!

Check out their new Facebook page at Pickles and Nea: The Deaf Dogs.