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August 2015
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October 2015

We have a dog to thank for the discovery of CPR

Yet another reason to snuggle up with your dog tonight. Over 50 years ago, a dog going into cardiac arrest was instrumental in the discovery of cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

image from


From the BBC:

In the 1950s, the Edison Electric Institute in the US decided to sponsor researchers to investigate the effects of electrical currents on the heart.

Enter Guy Knickerbocker, a fastidious, 29-year-old graduate working under electrical engineer William Kouwenhoven in one of the labs at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. They were trying to improve the external defibrillator, which Kouwenhoven had invented a few years earlier. 

In 1958, before the ethical treatment of animals became a serious consideration, their experiments involved testing on laboratory dogs. 

Knickerbocker, now 86 years old, remembers working with a colleague one day when, suddenly, one of the dogs went into cardiac arrest, or ventricle fibrillation (VF).

Normally when this happened, they would use a defibrillator to shock the dog's heart back into rhythm - but that day they were in the lab on the 12th floor and the equipment was on the fifth floor. 

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Saying goodbye to our dog taught me how to bid farewell to my father

Saying goodbye to our dog taught me something about how I want to bid farewell to every loved one in my life.

This time of year in San Francisco is especially beautiful. The pink skies in the evening are filled with all sorts of clouds, while the mornings have a slight damp chill as the marine layer slowly pulls back its cover off of the city. Frequently, I find myself rising before dawn so that I can watch the city wake up. The quietude allows my thoughts to roam, most recently toward thoughts of loved ones and death.

image from www.grouchypuppy.comMy beloved Shepherd-Husky, Cleo, died a year ago, and it was tough on us to witness her decline in health. She was a big dog, robust and full of personality, until she wasn't. I saw her, again, and again, meet each new physical challenge, and win. She faced allergic reactions to foods, diabetes, seizures, blindness and dementia. It was a huge blow to suddenly realize that she was fading, that the grim reaper had his grip on her and wasn't letting go.

I had to let go, before she did.

A year before Cleo passed away, our vet told us we would know when it was time to say goodbye to her. He was right.

Watching her closely, getting down on the floor to see what life looked like from her eyes, and just spending quiet time together, I saw her decline. Her body was steadily deteriorating no matter how much I loved her.

Cleo loved exploring the sights and smells of the city. She was the mayor of our neighborhood. From shopkeepers to school children, everyone knew her. She was larger than life!

The look of joy on her face after she had pooped was priceless. Her posture erect, she'd proudly kick dirt back over her deposit, daring the next dog to top it. No wonder people thought she was a boy. More than a few times I took a few handfuls of dirt in the face while I bent to scoop her poop. She would look back at me grinning. I'm sure my laughter fueled her zealous display.

It was heartbreaking when Cleo began losing control over when she pooped. I saw her face when it just rolled out of her and onto the sidewalk. She stopped caring about an activity that had been her signature for years. Now her wobbly stance and loss of control, produced a dispirited expression.

I learned so much about myself and what "quality of life" means from this dog. As she came to the end of her life, I appreciated why we should not dwell on the past, or only focus on the future. She showed me how to be present, and to quietly embrace our time with loved ones.

When the time came to say goodbye to Cleo, I felt that I had done everything I could to be ready. I would only find out if this was true later.

A year has passed and I have the chance to lean on those experiences, to see how they stand up with the recent death of my father.

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On Remember Me Thursday: My Opt-to-Adopt Message

Today, on Remember Me Thursday, many of us are lighting a candle to honor the adoptable pets around the world who never got their chance with loving, forever families.

Some of us with adopted pets are also sharing our opt-to-adopt stories and messages to inspire others to consider pet adoption.

This picture is of my adopted dog who passed away last year, after giving us nine incredible years together. We adopted Cleo from the San Francisco SPCA when she was already about 3-4 years old.

My husband and I were hoping to find us a buddy, a dog to hang out with and to take to the park. We got so much more!

Image from

If you are considering a new addition to your family, I encourage you to adopt! You just might find a new best friend.

Check out these Bay Area Resources:

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All Aboard! Retired man builds train, takes rescued dogs for epic rides

Meet the 80 year old Texas man whose compassionate response to the many dogs being discarded by his horse farm will give you all the good feels.


From The Dodo:

"People sometimes come by and dump dogs out here, leaving them to starve. So, we started feeding them, letting them in, taking them to the vet to get them spayed and neutered. We made a place for them to live."

"One day I was out and I seen this guy with a tractor who attached these carts to pull rocks. I thought, 'Dang, that would do for a dog train,'" said Bostick. "I'm a pretty good welder, so I took these plastic barrels with holes cut in them, and put wheels under them and tied them together."

And with that, the dog train was born.

"Whenever they hear me hooking the tractor up to it, man, they get so excited," said Bostick. "They all come running and jump in on their own. They're ready to go."

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More people understand how wonderful old dogs are

Stroll down the street in San Francisco and you will see people happily walking, or sometimes toting in a modified carrier, a senior dog. In my neighborhood, especially on weekends, I see people of all ages with an older dog on the end of their leash or in their arms.

The tide is turning and attitudes about older dogs are changing. Just look at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue on Rescue Row in San Francisco. They have saved and rehomed more than 3,000 senior dogs since 2007.

If one organization, in one city, can have that kind of positive impact, imagine as more cities and communities across the country focus on ensuring our senior sweethearts have a forever home.

More people are appreciating how wonderful old dogs are...

Are you finding more people in your community loving a older dog?

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Sept. 24 Join Animal Lovers of All Ages Globally for 'Remember Me Thursday'

I firmly believe in the power of social media and it's ability to positively influence people. It isn't hard to find examples of how more people are seeing how wonderful older dogs are, and choosing to adopt a senior dog. You can also find more young people gaining awareness of how the human-animal bond can have a positive impact on their life.

Having participated in this wonderful event before, I am thrilled this year that with the help of their school teachers, young animal lovers will be encouraged to join in this year's Remember Me Thursday.

Remember Me Thursday 2014 Puerto Rico teacher

Next week, the Helen Woodward Animal Center will once again unite with animal welfare proponents and organizations worldwide for the 3rd Annual Remember Me Thursday® candle-lighting ceremony. This year, however, the event is reaching an even younger group of animal-lovers.

“Only 30% of pets in US homes come from rescue facilities,” stated Mike Arms.   “Lighting a candle this September 24th will bring awareness to these wonderful orphan pets and can help in increasing adoptions and decreasing euthanasia.” 

The program that asks participants to light candles on the exact same day globally to honor the millions of pets who lost their lives over the past year without the benefit of a loving home, has extended its reach into local schools with new lesson plans and heartwarming art projects. Helen Woodward Animal Center invites the community to share these materials with classrooms and kid-focused social groups and then take part at scheduled ceremonies or online Thursday, September 24th, 2015.

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What was so special about this dog? One year later

I've been thinking a lot about my dog Cleo. It's been a year now since she passed away. With each day, the grief I have experienced has eased, my emotions less volatile.

I miss her like crazy, that hasn't changed a bit, but I can appreciate more fully that her time had arrived. Having in-home euthanasia performed last year was the right thing to do for her. Even if we weren't ready for her passing, I truly believe she was.

It was like she was waiting on she knew how big her presence was in our life, how significant a part she played in our family. She knew the size of the hole that would be left behind.

My husband and I have had dozens of conversations revisiting various milestones and significant changes in her quality of life in that final year. Each time, one of us recalls a vivid moment that spoke volumes about her declining health. We both saw how the sparkle in her eyes, and the thump of her tail were fading under ever-present exhaustion and stress. 

Now that she has been physically absent from our home for a year, what honestly was so special about this one dog? 

image from


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Discover why senior dogs rule: Fall in love with Doc!

The Doc is in! This fluffy boy is ready to make you feel better with a prescription of doggie cuddles and kisses.

We may never know how Doc wound up as a stray, but we can tell he’s ready to find a home where he can lounge around and get all the love he so deserves.

Doc may not be able to see too well, but that doesn’t stop him from being a bouncy and happy boy, always ready to explore his surroundings!

We think Doc is 14 years young, weighing about 12 lbs.

Fall in love with him at Muttville on Rescue Row in San Francisco!

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The Rock lets his cell phone drown, saves his French Bulldog from drowning!

Celebrities are just like us! Over Labor Day, Dwayne Johnson didn't hesitate to jump into the water to save his drowning puppy. I give the man credit for having a sense of humor about losing his cell phone in the pool. 

Based on other stories that I've read, he does seem like a stand up guy, so let's hope he's prepared for what it'll take to properly socialize and raise two French Bulldog puppies.


Here's a fun Labor Day weekend story... We just decided to add two new members to our Johnson family. Baby French Bulldogs. In my right hand is BRUTUS and in my left hand is HOBBS. Bring them home and immediately take them outside so they can start learning how to "handle their business and potty like big boys". I set them both down and they both take off in a full sprint and fall right into the deep end of our pool. HOBBS immediately starts doggy paddling while BRUTUS (like a brick) sink heads first to the bottom of the pool. I take off into a full sprint, fully clothed, dive in the pool, swim to the bottom, rescue my brick, I mean BRUTUS and bring him back to the edge of the pool. He was a little delirious.. took a moment, threw up all the water he swallowed and looked up at me as if to say, "Thank God you didn't have to give me mouth to mouth!" and then ran off to play with his brother. A few lessons I've learned today.. A) Not all puppies have the instinct to doggie paddle. B) Some puppies (like BRUTUS) will be so in shock by experiencing water they will sink extremely fast so react quick. C) While spiriting to save your puppies life, before you dive in, try and throw your cel phone to safety. Don't keep it in your pocket... like I did. #BRUTUSLives #HOBBSCanSwim #MyCelPhonesDead #AndNoMouthToMouthNeeded #HappyLaborDay

A photo posted by therock (@therock) on Sep 7, 2015 at 3:35pm PDT

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Big dog tries hard to charm his way into sharing a sandwich

Poor Linden, his dog logic makes perfect sense to us, but clearly his papa needs a more persuasive argument if he's going to share his sandwich.

Dogs are charming creatures, and I have a feeling this dog has used his charms in the past, don't you? 



Does your dog argue with you? Are they vocal Like Linden? Maybe they just throw you some stink eye, or offer up a loud sigh?

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Discover why senior dogs rules: Fall in love with Jo Jo!!

Jojo is one loving boy! This handsome fella is housetrained, good with cats and is great on leash; what’s not to love?


Jojo is perfect for outdoor adventures and laying by your feet to hear about your day.

Not only does he have beautiful markings, JoJo has a winning personality to match.

Jojo would make a lovely addition to any home, come fall in love for yourself!

We think Jojo is 8 years young, weighing about 52 lbs.

Meet him at Muttville in San Francisco, on Rescue Row!

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Dogs honored during special Hindu festival in Nepal

Isn't it beautiful to see a people and nation appreciate the role animals have in our life? Dogs deserve our love and compassion for their unique place as partners to mankind.

image from

A police officer sprinkles colored powder and petals onto a police dog at Nepal’s Central Police Dog Training School on Wednesday as part of the Diwali festival, also known as Tihar Festival, in Kathmandu, Nepal.



Learn more about the Tihar Festival in Nepal.

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Discover why senior dogs rule: Fall in love with Smiley

We don’t call this girl Smiley for nothing! Not only does she always have a big grin on her face, but she’ll bring one to yours too!

image from

A stray no longer, Smiley is ready to find her perfect match. Although she’s considered a senior, Smiley still has a lot of pep in her step.

Smiley loves her daily walks and play time, and can do the stairs like a champ. This active girl will do best in a home that’s not ready to slow down any time.

We think Smiley is 11 years young, weighing about 30 lbs.

Meet her at Muttville in San Francisco on Rescue Row! You'll fall in love!

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