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June 2010
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August 2010

Dog Days of Summer Campaign - I am the change for Muttville

So a funny thing happened on my way to the store.  I was looking at my Facebook app on my iPhone, while I was filling up my car with gas.  As I was reading my friends updates, I saw many were posting about a challenge.

I sat in the car for a few minutes after I was done and read all about the Be The Change for Pets challenge.  A light bulb went off in my head then and I knew I had to join in!  Now San Francisco has lots of shelters and rescue groups that can use our help, and it would be up to me to choose just one.

As I sat there I remembered a story I had seen on my local CBS television station a few days prior.  The story had been about Sherri Franklin and Muttville, her nonprofit senior dog rescue group.

[Cleo and her female, Sharon with the senior formula from Wellness brand dog food. Photo by PL]

The news story not only introduced me to Muttville, a group I had not heard of yet in San Francisco, but it introduced me to Sherri's "pet project", her Senior Dog Rescue mission.  With my rescue dog Cleo a minimum of 7 years old now, I know that she could be a difficult candidate for adoption if she wasn't already in her forever home.  I also know that she eats a lot.

Thinking of the Dog Days of Summer food and supplies drive, I used my smart phone to find the number to Muttville and call them.  In my excitement to make this food donation before the end of July, I probably said too much about Blog Paws and the challenge in my voice message.  Fortunately for me Sherri heard my message (and offer of free food) through my enthusiasm and called me back quickly.

Sherri told me that many of her dogs did not have a lot of teeth and that they were short of canned dog food the most.  She gave me three brand names of what the dogs were currently willing to eat, without coaxing.

I left the gas station and went directly to Costco who only sold one brand of can dog food, which unfortunately was not part of Sherri's list.  My second stop was Petco and I scored because they carried Wellness brand dog food in cans. I grabbed a dozen large cans off the shelf with more than half being specifically formulated for Senior Dogs.

Sherri Franklin - Founder of Muttville, senior dog rescue
Here is Sherri, happy to have more food for her ever present and ever shifting pack of senior sweethearts.

Once again my time at Blog Paws 2010 has paid dividends.  The wonderful people I met through Blog Paws took an idea to a level where both pets and people are being changed simultaneously - and for the betterment of both!  At Grouchy Puppy we are focused on giving fearlessly and influencing positively our community and beyond.

This summer challenge introduced me to a group that speaks to me and my love of dogs, especially senior rescue dogs. I feel a special closeness to senior dogs because they remind me of my aging parents, and their need for love and compassion. 

A senior dog may move more slowly and have obvious physical challenges, but they can't hide the wagging tails and happy faces when you engage with them!  The adorable dogs I met at Muttville captured my heart as much as any puppy could.  The faces of Lucy, the sweet calm girl and the personality of Nila, the teacup pup kept my feet planted in the front room of Sherri's home (yes, Muttville is currently run out of her own home!).

Muttville in San Francisco
[Sherri works the phones constantly to help find forever homes for her senior sweethearts]

This segment of adoptable dogs deserves more of our attention.  At this stage they have given most of their life already to serving their companions steady years of unconditional love and tolerance.  We owe it to them to help ensure they receive extra love and attention while they are still with us.

Thank you Blog Paws and everyone who steps up to be the change for pets and all animals around the world.  You inspire me to become better and because of you, I have met the folks at Muttville at a time when they needed it.

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Why adopt a senior dog?

Everyone loves a puppy.  Puppies are cute. Puppies are fluffy.  Puppies are all youth and energy, and the future, just like children.  What's not to love?  Well, nothing really.

Now think about a senior dog.  They probably move slowly.  Maybe they can't run anymore. They just muster up the energy for a short trot down the hallway. They may not be so fluffy anymore and will likely be missing some teeth.

Why would you choose to adopt or foster a senior dog over a puppy?  I'll tell you why I would, a senior dog isn't a spaz, can't jump up on you, won't eat your favorite leather shoes or pee on your favorite pillow.  Okay in all seriousness, consider these five areas that both puppies and senior dogs have in common and you decide for yourself.

Meal time for both puppies and senior dogs is important.  At all life stages a dog will need the proper nutrition.  With a puppy you will likely still be learning what foods they like and whether they have any allergies or other issues.  A senior dog is a little like grandpa, they like what they like and darn it if they aren't too old to change now.  And also like grandpa, they will more than likely be missing some teeth.  At this advanced age, what can seem difficult might be a blessing because when you discover the foods your senior dog will eat, it will take the guesswork away going forward.

Consider the energy and bounce of your dog.  Being a responsible pet owner means being in a position to give dedicated play time to your buddy.  If you live in the city this means taking the time to find a dog park or play group to regularly socialize your puppy too.  Adopting a senior dog means your buddy will likely enjoy more face time and cuddles than romps at the park. With a slower pace, a senior dog allows you to savor each walk because you know your buddy is getting as much joy from "picking up the news" from a corner light post as they are being out on that walk.

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Influence Positively Questionnaire - Dorian Wagner & Pimp!

Dorian-pimp Dorian Wagner is the self-proclaimed Queen of Cute and author of She loves all things fluffy and furry, especially her two cats, Pimp and Moo.

She has a special place in her heart for needy animals, and last year, spearheaded the first annual Santa Paws Drive, a virtual toy drive dedicated to bringing shelter pets worldwide toys and joy for the holiday season. Oh, and she keeps a giant bag of dry cat food, cans of wet food and a bag of bird seed in her car trunk at all times -- because you never know when you might come across a hungry stray friend.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness is waking up to both my cats snuggled next to me in bed on a beautiful weekend beach day. Then, after a good cup of coffee and a lazy few hours at the beach, making the rounds to feed all the "parking lot cats" I feed every day at my office, heading to the gym and finally coming home to crash in bed with my two kitties again. Full circle! :)

If you could come back as a dog or a cat, which one would it be & why?

Definitely a cat. Cats are like royalty. They are supremely spoiled, well fed, petted and doted upon and have somehow managed to convince us all that the most important thing in their lives is a nice sun puddle and a comfy spot to catnap.

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Book Review & Giveway - The Dog Who Healed a Family

Amazon Cover

The Dog Who Healed a Family: And Other True Animal Stories That Warm the Heart & Touch the Soul [Paperback] Jo Coudert

The very first story, about a dog named Snoopy, was 11 pages of one tissue break, after another. Seriously my heart was overflowing with the emotion of what I would do in that situation. 

I was actually glad that all of the stories didn't have me crying like a baby, especially because I like to read on the bus and the tears and sniffles are hard to disguise.

All of the adventures Jo writes about will have you smiling and shaking your head in amazement over these extraordinary animals (and reptile).  I really enjoyed this collection of true stories because we all need a reminder that our human world is intrinsically linked to the animal world. 

And if we let them, animals can be some of our best teachers.  I'm looking at Cleo, my big rescue dog right now napping on her bed, blissfully unaware of her impact on me.

If I had to choose my favorite story from the bunch it would probably be The Puppy Express.  Part of the Grouchy Puppy Mission is to give fearlessly and the people who became the Puppy Express, did just that. 

They freely gave of themselves and welcomed the opportunity to do so. [Excerpt from The Puppy Express]

"Rod Hale, whose idea the Puppy Express had been was asked why the volunteers had done it. Why had thirteen staff members of ten Humane Societies and animal shelters gone to so much trouble for one little dog

Ron told him what one volunteer had said to him on the phone.  "It would have been so easy to tell Nancy Topp that nothing could be done. Instead, you gave all of us a chance to make a loving, caring gesture. Thank you for that."

Sleepy Cleo

Now for the fun part!  Would you like to share these amazing stories with your friends and family? They are perfect for family reading night. Be inspired by these extraordinary animal-human relationships that veteran animal writer Jo Coudert uncovered. I would like to give my advance copy of this wonderful book to you!!!

Note: The paperback and Kindle version of this book doesn't come out until August 1.



  1. Leave a comment below telling me your own true animal story OR go to my fundraising page and make a donation to Gabriel's Angels.
  2. Tweet that you entered my giveaway, just copy and paste this statement (without quotes) into your Twitter client: "I entered to win a copy of The Dog That Healed a Family on .@grouchypuppy Dog Days blog #contests"
  3. Please, no comment spam.
  4. Contest open to US residents only. (Sorry, rest of the world!)

And that's it!  I will pick a winner at random on Friday July 23 at midnight PST.  Please make sure you leave a working email so that I can contact you.

Disclosure: I received this paperback for free and have not received any compensation from the author or publisher.  After reading the book I would simply like to pass my gently used copy directly on to one of you at my expense. 

My hope is that this blog will help build a community of pet lovers and advocates here at Grouchy Puppy, and raise money for various rescues and groups like Gabriel's Angels, a wonderful pet therapy program for at risk children.

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Why BSL fails our dogs


My husband John hates that our dogs, Emmett and Lucas, sleep in our bedroom. Emmett curls up next to my side, Lucas dozes at the foot. Throughout the night, they lick their lips, whimper, twitch, and keep John awake. Me? I can sleep through anything, so they don’t bother me at all.

For a while, we encouraged them to sleep in their dog beds in another room, but at some point in the middle of the night, every night, they wandered into our room and curled up in their usual spots. Because, really, all Emmett and Lucas want out of their lives is to be with us. All the time, no matter what, they want our company.

It’s humbling to think just how much our dogs want to be in our presence. It’s easy to forget, though, because it’s easy to ignore them, to put them outside, to get caught up in work, errands, kids, life. But they wait for us, no matter what.

So we owe it to them to protect them, to take care of their basic needs, their psychological and physical needs, and – most importantly – to help them succeed in our oh-so-human society. If we fail to do those things, then we fail our dogs.

The reality is that a dog doesn’t know not to potty in the house until you teach him. A dog doesn’t know that dinner is served at 5:30 or that this row of bushes indicates our yard versus our dog-hating neighbor’s yard. How can he know or understand these human constructs unless we teach him? They’re dogs, after all. Not people.

While dogs happen to be really, really good at catching on to our rules and reading our emotions, not all dogs are afforded the chance to learn how to interact with other people or dogs. Some languish on chains in their backyards. Some are abused, some neglected. Others are left to their own devises, free to roam the neighborhood looking for food or a mate or a fight. Yet we expect each of these dogs to act within the bounds of human society.

How is that fair? If we haven’t helped the dog along, taught him our rules, how can we be surprised if he bites someone who wanders just a little too close to his chain? Or attacks a neighbor’s puppy when he breaks out from his solitary backyard existence?

Dog bites are inexcusable. They’re sad and unfortunate and can have devastating consequences. They’re also preventable. But if we don’t take the time to teach a dog how to behave appropriately, how to greet strangers, how to meet another leashed dog, we can’t expect a dog to just know how to behave in our human world.

Breed-specific legislation does just that: It places all the responsibility squarely on the dogs’ shoulders instead of on the people who let the dog down. Why should we hold a dog responsible for not following society’s rules when no one ever taught the dog what those rules are?

Instead of counting on dogs to behave – and euthanizing them when they don’t – we should hold owners responsible for their dogs’ behavior. And at the most fundamental level, this isn’t a breed thing. It’s a people thing. It’s a people-failing-their-dogs thing.

Regardless of what type of dog a person has, that person needs to be responsible for teaching their dog appropriate behavior. If the person fails to do so, then the person needs to face the consequences. By legislating against a specific breed, bad owners get off the hook. They can get another breed – but they’re still bad owners.

We as a society need to put an end to breed-specific legislation because we – especially dog owners – must hold people responsible for neglectful, abusive behavior. We need to focus less on the breed of a dog and more on how that dog is being trained and treated. We need to educate and help people become good dog owners, whether they have a Pekingese, a Staffie, a Poodle, or a German shepherd.

The fact that Emmett and Lucas want nothing more than to hang out with me makes me want to be a better person for them, which is why I’ve decided to fight BSL. My dogs choose to spend their days lying around my desk, waiting for me to finish work. When I finish, I owe it to them to take care of their needs, regardless of the fact that Emmett is a “pit-bull-type” dog and Lucas is a shepherd. It’s why John lets them sleep in our room; night after night he gives up a sound sleep to let the boys be exactly where they want to be – with us.

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Influence Positively Questionnaire - Fergus the dog & Carol

Fergus the dog Fergus found his family just over 2 years ago through the Dane County Humane Society. "I was lucky enough to be transferred there with 14 other dogs from a shelter in Kentucky that was out of space or I wouldn't be here to tell my tale." His boy kid had sponsored a dog at the Humane Society for his 8th birthday and the family had come to meet that dog. His girl kid was very afraid of dogs because she had been knocked over by a stray dog when she was little.

"The dog they came to see was way too wild for her but Mum saw me in my kennel and I came over to meet her. When they brought me into a room to meet the rest of the family, I sat quietly by Mum's legs and, before long, my girl kid succumbed to my charm and was petting and hugging me. Everyone knew I was the dog for them and I went home with them the next day and met Arthur cat, my bossy fur-sibling."

Last year, Fergus started tweeting as @fergusthedog and quickly became part of the anipal community. Early on, he met @frugaldougal and got involved in #pawpawty from the beginning. Fergus organizes the DJs for the #pawpawties each month, making sure that they have anipals lined up to play music through all 24 hours of the party. It has been a very rewarding experience and he has met a lot of wonderful anipals and their staff as a result. [Note: click through to the bottom for a special treat!]

What natural gift would you most like to possess? hee hee, this one's easy - patience! I'm a bit over-excitable, especially when I'm on a walk! I can't wait to see who is out and about that I can sniff. I'm working on being more patient but it's going to take a while to change.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? I love playing with other dogs, being with my family and curling up asleep at mum's feet. Having been in shelters, my idea of perfect happiness is having a home with a warm bed, plenty of food to eat, kids and other dogs to play with, and people who love me. I have all of that right now. The only thing that would make it better would be a dog sibling to play with. I'll have to work on mum for that :)

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Blog The Change For Animals - Rocket Dog Rescue

Blog the Change

Today is Blog The Change For Animals and it takes place on the 15th of January, April, July and October annually. Have a blog? Write about a cause near and dear to your heart. Inspire your audience to get involved!

Our mission at Grouchy Puppy is to give fearlessly and influence positively.  I feel that starting from within your own community is one of the best places to do this.  Having Cleo our rescue dog in our life, and knowing what it takes to care and feed her, running a rescue group or shelter with only volunteers impresses me beyond words.  All around the country and the Bay Area there are many who have the ability, willingness and sheer fortitude for the job, and I salute them.

Here in San Francisco, a wonderful group that deserves our attention is Rocket Dog Rescue. They inspire me and having seem them in the city collecting donations and showcasing their adorable dogs, I think they make a perfect candidate for Blog the Change for Animals....

Rocket Dog Rescue

Rocket Dog Rescue and its volunteers are special. From the start, this group has used a grass roots level operational style that keeps the group of volunteers going. While the group isn't huge, clearly their hearts are.  They demonstrate how you can still give fearlessly even when you are working with a lean organization like theirs.   Here is their Founder, Pali Boucher in an interview by the SF Chronicle:

Q: So how does it work? Do people who can't keep their dogs call you? Shelters?
A: I get tons of calls. But I can only take the dogs that are about to be killed at a shelter—that day. But I will help people place dogs into permanent homes.

Q: How many animals are under Rocket Dog's refuge?
A: Currently we are fostering about 12 dogs. I'm the main foster home.

Q: How much dog food do you go through in a week?
A: Eighty pounds or about $70 worth. We feed them high-quality dog food.

Q: How many dogs have you saved?
A: In this past year, over 150.

Q: That's amazing. How are you funded?
A: We run totally on donations; and none of us are ever paid. . . . We pay for spaying and neutering, vaccinations. Usually we do a lot more medically, or for dental work, than we should. I just had a dog come out of ear surgery. I took another dog to an eye specialist yesterday. What I do is sit out with a jar in the Castro or Noe Valley and collect money.

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Hope they ate before they went shopping

You know what they say about eating before shopping...otherwise you never stick to your list.  Really cute and fun video to watch.  What was really great for me was seeing smart & sharp dogs do what they do best & how they obviously enjoy their trainer. It's amazing.  These guys clearly were motivated to hit their marks.  Clicker or reward based training?  Did you see the engagement in their manner and focused eyes? The German Shepherd is adorable and a natural leader.  Definitely why I love big dogs so much especially when I was a kid. And the Vizsla makes a great shopping partner and side kick too.

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Influence Positively Questionnaire - Lisa Taron

Picforfacebook Lisa lives in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia with her husband Dave and her dog, Oscar (aka Sir Fetch-a-lot) She proudly refers to herself as The Pet Book Lady and has a blog, Celebrate Your Life with Heritage Makers. She is extremely passionate about helping people celebrate the love for their pets using the Heritage Makers online publishing system. (Lisa is a Founding Director of Heritage Makers - Independent Consultant) To help raise money for animal rescue, she donates her commission from Keepsake Bracelet sales.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness for me is living a life with purpose and gratitude. My perfect happiness "recipe" also includes the love for my family members, both two and four-legged; laughter, discovery, silliness and making a difference to as many lives as I can. Oh - and lots of cheese.

If you could come back as a dog or a cat, which one would it be & why?

I'd want to come back as a dog named Maggie or Snert who works as a Therapy Dog in a nursing home or seniors day centre. Now that's specific! (Working with seniors is another passion of mine). I am so drawn to the amazing bond that people have with their pets and the incredible benefits that animals can have on the sick, lonely and vulnerable in our world. 

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Independence Day


Independence Day. Whenever this national holiday comes around now, I always think of our San Francisco Presidio. Why? Because it was once a military base that protected our nation and because we had the good fortune to live in one of the officers quarters for several months with our big dog. Cleo is so big and of a mix breed that we could not find a landlord who would rent to us - except for the Presidio.

The Presidio has one of our national cemeteries.  It is a place that once I began to really explore its natural and historic treasures by foot, a patriotic and proud feeling came over me. Even Cleo got into the spirit and did her part welcoming tourists from all over. A few took pictures of her from their tour bus at the Golden Gate Bridge or one of the trolley tours parked at Fort Point.

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