Sue & Lucy the Dog: Watching Life Unfold & Gettin' It On the Page

Monthly Archives: June 2017

Abigail’s story both haunts and inspires me.

“Just do something, Sue” I thought, over and over. In an effort to just do something, I’ve begun to share the highs and lows of Abigail’s journey by writing about it.

It literally sickens me to write this story, again. I am an animal lover, advocate and avid supporter of humane education and initiatives. While volunteering for, working with, and on behalf of animals, I have seen the best of people and the worst of people too.

EVIL VS GOOD

EVIL. The worst of people results in cases like this:

Abigail Before IMG_1921

The dog is Abigail, of “Bonnets for Abigail” fame. As a young dog, she was used as bait in a dog fighting operation in South Florida. 

I first learned about Abigail as part of a joint project with her group, and the non-profit group “Dogs on Deployment,” whom I blog for. Her story both haunts and inspires me. (Click on the link provided to learn more about Dogs on Deployment.)

Abigail was found mutilated.  When first rescued and brought to a shelter, it was clear that just about the entire right side of Abigail’s face and right ear were missing. Her condition was startling and dire.

The dog pictured represents many just like her, and the horrors they confront. Abigail’s rescuer was Victoria Frazer. She is the founder of, and along with her amazing team, operates Love is Fur Ever Dog Rescue, a non-profit rescue group.

GOOD. The best of people results in cases like this:

Equally as important as the “BEFORE” images above are Abigail’s “AFTER” images. YES!! I’m delighted to say this is the same dog that’s pictured above!

Bonnets for Abigail: A New Beginning

Abigail, shown rehabilitated and healed. (That’s one of her famous bonnets.)

Abigail and Victoria Share a Tender Moment

Abigail, shown healed and loved. (That’s Victoria Frazer, her rescuer.)

Abigail is a new dog now, thanks to much tender loving care, compassion, and the extraordinary surgical skills of veterinary doctor Thomas Jackson, DVM, of Pets First Wellness Center in Estero, FL.

Abigail was fostered these last few months. She has been enjoying the life all dogs deserve. Abigail currently has about 17,000 Facebook followers.

Many wonderful, loving families have stepped up to ask to be her “Furever Family.” Abigail is awaiting the announcement any day now of who that will be!

Abigail was once left for dead. Since then, she has gone on to emerge as a teacher, hero, and an award nominee! She inspires with love and forgiveness. Along with her many bonnets, Abigail also acts as an ambassador to help us all spread awareness of animal abuse and end dog fighting.

 

Animal abuse is alive and well.

Dogs like Abigail are born into a world where only pain and suffering persevere. Their only hope for relief is rescue.

Animal abuse comes in many forms, even in a thriving, civilized, industrialized society like we enjoy here in the United States. Numerous individuals, legislators and animal advocacy/rescue groups work tirelessly and successfully everyday to end animal atrocities.

Animal atrocities include:

  • puppy mills
  • “backyard” breeders
  • unlicensed, unregulated “rescuers” who hoard animals
  • dog fighting rings

And, I would even argue that the numbers of innocent dogs and cats alone that are euthanized daily in overcrowded shelters throughout the U.S. also represents an atrocity. But, that is another story for another day.

Sometimes, animal abuse represents larger societal problems. Dog fighting is prevalent in disadvantaged groups of people who are often uneducated, unemployed, and who abuse drugs. Dog fighting is done for sport and for gambling.

It has already been 10 years since 51 pit bulls were rescued from the property of NFL quarterback, Michael Vick. As part of a dog fighting ring, the dogs were subjected to cruel abuse and torture, including being shot at, electrocuted and drowned. 

After their rescue, many of the dogs survived and were given a second chance at a real life, thanks to people who got involved to help. We have made some progress since then, but there is much more important work to be done. Lend your voice, talent, money if you can. Decide to care, get involved, and take action.

Just do something.

And if and when you doubt that your efforts and support are making a difference, remember sweet Abigail and her bonnets.

 

Bonnets galore IMG_2465

Abigail loves people and loves dogs. She harbors no animosity. She has a mission to continue to teach forgiveness and end dog fighting.

Recognize your moral obligation to stop animal abuse and end dog fighting.

We can do this. We must.


Sure, “Good Grief” is Charlie Brown’s famous, exasperated expression. I’ve certainly shouted it many times over the years after people or events left me just shaking my head in disgust.  Or after I’ve tripped over my dog or cat staring intently at the refrigerator or the oven, seemingly in a trance. “Good Grief,” why do inanimate household appliances seem so fascinating to our pets?

Grief itself is a process, and one that I know well. I lost my brother in an accident and my previous, very young husband to cancer. Having worked in the Twin Towers on 9-11, I lost friends and colleagues. Like many folks, I’ve also lost both parents, and of the five pets I’ve adopted in the last 15 years, only one remains.

The actions we decisively take during the grieving process — which can last months, years, or a lifetime — can be cathartic, and help us sort through our sadness and other emotions.

After my too-young husband died, I attended a grief support group where we tackled the difficult issues head on. At one point, we made decorative Christmas tree ornaments using our photographs. I’m not a crafty person, per se, and after the project was done, I still hurt like hell, but I actually felt some relief. Every little bit helped. I was grieving but growing as a person, and plowing through it all.

In attending the recent 2017 BlogPaws Conference, I had the pleasure of meeting Wanda Kruse, aka @MaggieTKat (link to her site provided: Life Through Science by Maggie T Kat), and thanks to her, once more I found “Good Grief.”  It turns out that the BlogPaws folks, with Wanda’s help, traditionally enable attendees to draw, create and display Honor Flags, following the Tibetan custom of displaying Prayer Flags. These Honor Flags help us remember our dear pet companions who are no longer with us. (More info on Honor Flags/Wanda/BlogPaws here at their site .)

I’d never heard of prayer flags and was only mildly intrigued at first. But despite my lack of artistic ability (I’ll stick to writing any day, thanks), and thanks to having a very nice dinner conversation with Wanda at the conference one night, I decided I’d create my own Honor Flag. I’m so glad I did it for my “Buddy Luv.” And for me. We both earned it.

 

 

IMG_1497

I had plenty of inspiration thanks to Buddy.

I picked his colors — a burnt orange, snow white, and piercing sea-foam green for his eyes — and just let it flow… that is, the flag, the smiles, and oh yes, the tears.

Many hugs with Wanda ensued. People like her restore my faith in humanity. God knows we don’t see enough of it these days. Like she said, the act of creating the flags and joining with others who are also experiencing loss can help us all heal, if even just a bit.

I’ll take it.

IMG_1488

 

Here’s the Honor Flags in progress, at the 2017 BlogPaws Conference.

My gratitude to Wanda Kruse, and to the BlogPaws folks for continuing this tradition. I know the more we continue to love our families and our pets, that the more we will ultimately grieve. But I feel taking that chance is well worth it.


 

Dogs on Deployment is a wonderful, non-profit, 501(c)3 organization for whom I am Chief Editor of their Military Tails blog (click for link). I’m going to give them a shout out every opportunity I can so as to spread awareness of their important mission.

Support our troops by boarding their pets! That’s dogs, cats, etc.!

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What is it about the power of the paw that can unite a group of strangers? I found out at the 2017 BlogPaws Conference.

For anyone who may not know – and that included me until not that long ago – BlogPaws (YES – one word!) represents a social learning community of people who share a passion for pets and charitable pet causes, and who utilize blogs and social media to connect, communicate, and educate others. (You can check out the BlogPaws official mission statement and more on their website.)

As the Chief Editor for the Dogs on Deployment Military Tails blog,  (check it out!) I attended the BlogPaws conference to represent my non-profit organization.

DSC_0064

Since I had previously traveled on business and attended other conferences, here are 5 things I expected to find en route/at this conference:

  1. Friendly, courteous hotel staff at the Sheraton Myrtle Beach, SC – check.
  2. Less than friendly, but trying to be courteous airport staff – check.
  3. A super comfy bed at the Sheraton – all to myself (sure, sure, I missed my hubby and the dog in the bed too, but come on) – check.
  4. Unpacking my luggage to find dog hair on my freshly pressed clothes – check.
  5. People who enjoyed talking about their pets or pet-related causes/blogging about their own/their pets’ experiences – check.

Well, here are 5 more things I was not necessarily expecting to find en route to/at the BlogPaws conference:

  1. Running into very enthusiastic fellow pet lovers/bloggers heading towards the same conference, all covered in various pet hair, while still at the airport, en route – check. 
  2. Receiving my official “I Pet a Therapy Rat” pin, since, well I did – check.
  3. Being upstaged at dinner in the grand ballroom by a cat dressed in haute couture – check.
  4. Receiving an enormous bag of swag that Lucy, my Jack Russell Terrier will be boasting to her pals about at the dog-park (Actually we had that mother-daughter talk, and Lucy graciously agreed to donate most of the goods to a local shelter. You can see her delight in this decision in the pic I’ve posted above) – check.
  5. Meeting hundreds of people who enjoyed blogging/talking about their pets, pets’ experiences, pet-related causes, non-profits (like Dogs on Deployment), innovative / wholesome / savvy / nutritious-delicious / fun / educational pet products and services – check and double check.

Whew.

At the BlogPaws conference I met people from WA to ID to NY (yay, NY, my home town!), who represented different educational backgrounds, career interests, political parties, cultures and ideologies, but all of whom agreed that they connected deeply with animals and loved them in one way, shape or form. Whether they shared their pet’s daily adventures via a massive social media following, presented cutting-edge technologies and services that are revolutionizing the way we interact with and care for our pets, or enlightened us on the important work of animal rescue and rehab groups all across the U.S., every unique individual brought something to the table to be shared and appreciated.

We were all better served for having attended the BlogPaws conference. Many people didn’t know about Dogs on Deployment, for example, and how we help active duty military families remain together with their pets. I was fortunate enough to meet several vendors who are eager to hear more about this important cause and get on board somehow. I was also lucky enough to meet many attendees who will turn into advocates, partners, colleagues and I hope, friends.

Last but certainly not least, I found “Good Grief,” thanks to Wanda Kruse, aka @MaggieTKat. More on that in my next post.

This proud pet owner, animal advocate and dog-hair covered writer is so pleased to have been at this valuable conference. All that I’ve taken away from it I will in turn give back to my furry friends in the hopes of improving more lives.

Power to the paw-ple, I say.

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