Monday, November 29, 2010

Newfies Terrorise Children at Hershey!

They are so scary that tough police officers in Des Moines Washington hunt them down and shoot them with assault rifles. Newfies. The huge, black slime-producing creatures that so many of us are unfortunate enough to love. We own them for the macho scare factor, of course. Everyone KNOWS that if a Newf is around you should begin to shake and back up in terror. Lock the doors! Look for your guns!

Oh, wait - here comes a toddler. And another one. And here, a little old lady is hobbling over. They are all smiling from ear to ear, these unfortunate souls. They just don't understand how at risk they are - but they are coming over anyway. Right to the, not one, but TWO enormous black vicious Newfies at the end of our leashes.

We've made a trip to Hershey Pennsylvania. Had to do it. Someone says we are within an hour of a place known for chocolate and I'm all over that journey. So, we hopped in the car and drove to the town where lamps in the shape of kisses light the streets at night. Where you can stay in a spa and enjoy a Whipped Cocoa Bath, a Chocolate Sugar Scrub, a Cocoa Massage or a Chocolate Fondue Wrap. Or you can visit Hershey park and ride roller coasters designed to scare the chocolate out of you, enjoy musical productions and dance with Hershey kiss characters.

Today, the theme park is closed and the chocolate spa is out of my budget, so we take the little ride that explains the production of their chocolate, listen to some cows singing songs about milk and stroll around the gigantic store which sells everything that Hershey's makes.

Then, off to terrorize children. They are crawling all over this place. And today, they are mostily pre-school age so they'll really be afraid of our big black babies!

Arayo and her new friend, Duke, are not even out of the car when people begin to approach. Once in front of the entrance, we are never left alone and every 2 year old around is drawn to the Newfs. The only screams to be heard come from one little guy who is so excited about seeing the dogs that he periodically lets out a screech of delight after gently petting one, then dashing back off again - so proud of himself for having risked his life and lived to tell about it!

Though it has been three weeks ago that poor Rosie the Newfoundland was murdered by police in Des Moines, the horror is still with everyone who has ever loved a Newf and who knows the gentleness which they possess. The sweet nature that draws toddlers and grandmothers in for hugs.

Too bad hardened men and women are allowed to wear badges and carry guns. They could take a lesson from the toddlers in the world.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Not-So-Good House Guest

She ran into the home, flew down the hall, past the humans waiting to meet her. Making a quick right turn, she ran to the window and came to a stop - frozen in front of a small green bird who moments before was happily enjoying a stress-free life, swinging on its perch. Arayo didn't move a muscle as she watched the small creature who's only protection from becoming a Newfy hors d'oeuvre were the tiny wires surrounding it.

Arayo has a prey drive. If there is a list of creatures who are a serious threat to small furry and feathered things, Arayo's photo would be near the top.

Having offered to watch Aryao while I returned to the Seattle area to do some business, the Hudson family now had a new challenge on their hands. How to keep a killer newfy away from their two parakeets and three extremely tasty looking kitties. As Arayo lunged for the bird, family members grabbed the cage and secured it upstairs behind closed doors in a bedroom. For the next few days, any time Arayo went "missing", she could be located waiting in front of that door, willing it to open. When it finally did, we discovered Arayo, cage on floor, nose in cage, bird probably on the way to heart failure. A call to a neighbor sent the flying family pets to live elsewhere during my little hoodlum's visit.

Although, like all of us, I suppose, Arayo has her faults, something about her is just so magical. She stole my heart immediately and managed to worm her way into Donna's as well. She calls Arayo "the happiest dog I've ever met," and describes how "she'd wait until we started to stir before she'd leap on the bed, roll over and hog my pillow, legs in the air and that tail wagging, wanting her belly rubs."

I knew I'd left Arayo in a safe and happy place while I was gone, but was having slight twinges of concern as Donna's daily e-mails of how Arayo was doing showed more and more attachment to and appreciation for her antics. I half expected to arrive in Hartford and find myself at the airport with no ride home and the Hudson's phone numbers suddenly disconnected!

As has been the norm on this unusual road trip, we've found Newfoundland owners to be just amazing - their warmth and hospitality far beyond anything we'd have dreamed possible.

Thank you one and all.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Please, Don't Let This Happen Again

Again, I post on the senseless murder of the Newfoundland dog, Rosie, in Des Moines, WA. This past Sunday, I joined a group of about 100 people who came to express sorrow and outrage at this awful event. We represented thousands of others from around the planet who were unable to be there in person, but who participated in spirit by lighting candles and continue to post online of the anger and tears that this atrocity has produced. People drove in from Oregon and Canada to attend the event, and local media were in attendance, including crews from two of the three major television stations.

It was felt that the best way to express our outrage was to do it in the gentle fashion of our dogs, with quiet dignity and respect - though most of us wanted to find the murdering police officers and show them the same compassion that they exhibited in hunting down, traumatizing and finally murdering this poor scared dog.

In studying this case it is evident this event is not isolated. That across the country, people are losing their beloved family pets to the hands of police officers who are sworn to serve and protect. How barging into a secured, fenced yard and shooting an animal that has been cowering far from you in blackberry bushes - - a dog who has been there for 20 minutes or so and has not moved a muscle it is so traumatized because of what you have done to it previously - is unconscionable.

That one of the officers involved could laugh, wipe his hands in a symbol of "job well done" and tell the owner of the home where this event took place that "this was the biggest one we've ever gotten!" shows a callousness and disrespect for life - both human and animal - that is truly frightening. That this individual continues to hold a job as a police officer and that he is allowed to carry a gun should strike fear into each and every American.

The Newfoundland Clubs of America, and of Seattle, the Humane Society and at least one, hopefully more, animal rights groups are watching this situation and continuing to apply pressure to the city of Des Moines. An on-line petition has been established with a goal of receiving over 4,000 signatures by this Thursday when they will be printed and hand delivered to the Des Moines city council. Everyone is encouraged to add their name to this document and to send e-mails to the city council, mayor and police of Des Moines demanding that the officers involved in this event be held responsible for this murder.

The Des Moines mayor attended Sunday's vigil and said that they have received over 1,000 e-mails from all over the world, so they know that this a case that has created a great deal of passion and upset. We need to keep the pressure on and I beg people to become involved. If this is allowed to pass without the officers receiving very severe repercussions, it opens the door for similar events to take place - and the next dog who is let out of its fence by a careless delivery person, or children who are intrigued by a big dog and want to play with it - could be yours.

As we drove home from Sunday's vigil, we spotted a dog who was dashing through 4 lanes of freeway traffic, dodging cars blowing down the road at 70 miles per hour. The dog was dragging his leash behind him. We will never know how this dog broke away from its owner and ended up in the freeway. We pulled our car over and tried to stop traffic and catch the dog, but it turned and ran away from us and managed to escape to an area we could not reach and which was hopefully a bit safer for it.

It was with a heavy heart that we drove off, leaving the dog to his own fate. We hope it ran back into the arms of his loving family, but there was absolutely no suggestion of calling 911 to send "professional" help to capture and make the dog safe. It seemed more humane to allow the dog to take its chances with freeway traffic than to subject it to the possibility of a police response and it being made a target for another Sunday shooting.

Please, take a moment and sign this petition today -

Write the city officials, including the major at ………

Help us gain attention of national media of this event as this is a national problem, not a single isolated incident. How about 60 Minutes?

This is a blog post written by Brian Hodges, a lawyer and Newfoundland lover. He eloquently addresses the very dark side of this concern. This is a must read!

If you are associated with any organization, an all breed dog club, a Veterinarian association, animal groomers group - ANYTHING - please educate yourself about this horrible event and ask your organization to take an official stand. We can not condone this kind of action taking place in our country.

Vigil for a Gentle Giant

Gray skies added gentle rain to the tears that fell from the members of the small procession. Pulling carts filled with flowers, Newfoundland and Saint Bernard dogs were led down the street in quiet observation of the murder that had only a week ago stunned the community.

Cars honked or pulled over in respect as the procession made its way to the simple home who's gates, today, were open. One by one, the quiet group filed into the large front yard and came to rest in line. Dogs, carts, flowers and stunned, saddened people…..

It was a week ago that police hunted down a gentle 115 pound Newfoundland Dog named Rosie. Those studying the events of the case, who read the police report and heard from the owner of the yard into which the dog fled, knew that this was nothing short of murder. People drove in from Canada, Oregon and Washington to pay their respects and to say to the city and the world that this should not be an event that is tolerated in this country.

One by one, the dogs pulled their carts to a fence where a small memorial of flowers had already begun. Roses, cards, balloons and posters were laid on this fence - which only a week ago had been Rosie's last hope for safety from her pursuers. The flowers, sent from all over the world, framed the deep back yard and the blackberry bushes where Rosie hid during her final minutes of terror.

Rosie's owners read a short statement, then walked along the group of dogs, stopping to kiss each large, gentle, canine head and hug those who had come to support them. As a final goodbye, they parted the gates to the back yard and walked to the place, far in the back which was marked with yellow roses. The place where Rosie tried to hide from the marksmen who took her life.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Unnecessary Murder of a Newfoundland Dog

I was saddened this morning to learn of the murder of a Newfoundland Dog in Des Moines Washington. The dog apparently got out of the family's yard and wandered into traffic. Animal control was called, but it was the police who responded. They tasered the dog. It ran into someone's back yard and was followed by the police who shot it 4 times, killing it.

All reports, except for those of the officer who shot the dog, was that the dog was frightened, and not acting aggressively towards anyone.

I am sickened by this event. Do Newfoundlands "go bad" and become aggressive? Sure, but it is rare. These dogs are known as "The Gentle Giants" because they earned that title. Those of us who have Newfs know that their use as protectors is mostly in the minds of others who might see their size and decide not to chance an encounter. The biggest threat they offer of harming an intruder is that the intruder might trip over them.

While their energy levels are not as high as other dogs, they make great search and rescue dogs because of their love and devotion to the human race and throughout Italy, they are adored because they are known for their use as lifesavers on the beaches.

And, THIS is the dog that was murdered in Des Moines this weekend! A gentle Newfoundland

Needless to say, the Newfoundland world is up in arms about this tragic event. I encourage everyone to write the Des Moines Mayor and council and to help us keep pressure on the story by sending letters to the Seattle area media.

This could have happened to any of us. As hard as we try to keep our pets safe, there are times that they get loose. Police officers who look at killing people's pets as a sport should not be allowed to serve in that capacity and should not be allowed to own a gun.

Tonight, Arayo is with friends in Connecticut and I'm home in the Seattle area doing some business. I miss her anyway, but tonight - more so because of this sad story of Rosie.

Photo: Arayo rests on the beach at Acadia National Park in Maine

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Break in the Ride

Rain is falling in New England. We've spent several days with friends outside Hartford CT and drives in the country in search of the final fall colors have yielded many shades of brown. Trees are mostly skeletal, the ground around them littered with their leaves.

I fly home today - back to Seattle to do a few photo shoots. I feel I'm already there. The gray skies and rain here are too similar to home so that I feel I'm already there.

We are staying with a lovely family, and Miz Arayo has been stalking their two birds. The minute she stepped in the door, she spotted the blue and green feathered duo, ran to one of the cages and froze with her nose to the bars. The birds were immediately sequestered in one of the bedrooms and any time Arayo has been missing, she has been found laying in front of their room. This morning she broke through the bird's safety barrier and knocked one cage to the ground, dead set on a little blue parakeet breakfast. The birds are now staying with neighbors while Arayo stays with the family in my absence - their 3 teenagers, two Newfoundlands and 3 cats - who would also make a nice snack if she could just get hold of one.

Please send good thoughts this way. That Arayo behaves, doesn't catch a kitty, and doesn't succeed in one of her feisty attempts of dashing off the end of her leash. I will return in about 10 days and we head towards warmer parts of the country.

Photos: Prospect Harbor, Maine. Schoodic Penninsula of Acadia National Park