Puppy Love – A Dog Story

Kaia 057

From the time my grandson was old enough to crawl, he and Kaia formed a deep bond. She loves the connection they share as he gently clamors over her.

This is not about just any dog.  It is about an adorable mutt I know personally.  My daughter sent me this story about their family dog, Kaia, who is now crippled with a torn ACL.  This is her heartfelt appeal for financial support to help her and her husband cover the cost of repair surgery. Here is her story:

Ever since my youngest grandson was born, Kaia has played mother to her 'pup'.

Kaia has played mother to her ‘pup’ ever since she was no longer the baby of the family.

I found Kaia on Petfinder.com a few months after our long-time pet dog Roscoe passed away. Our house felt empty without a dog in it. Kaia was a 4 month old rescue puppy from Eastern Washington. She is a sweet chocolate lab/pit bull/weimeraner mix. I was pregnant with our second child the same month we adopted Kaia. She went from being the “baby” of the family to a surrogate “nanny” of our young son, guarding the baby swing while he slept and looking at me pointedly when he cried. Now our youngest is almost 2. He and Kaia love one another. He climbs on her, hugs her, and affectionately tugs on her ears and tail. They play chase when he holds a cracker and she chases him around the house. She still licks him like he’s her puppy.

Dogs, like children, are fascinated by their first experience with snow.

Dogs, like children, are fascinated by their first experience with snow.

Our older son is almost 8. He is Kaia’s favorite playmate. She loves chasing and running with him. It was devastating when we took Kaia to the vet and learned she has a partially torn ACL. Unless she has surgery to repair it, her running days are over. That is sad because there is nothing that Kaia loves more than to run! She would still fetch balls and sticks with my boys if she could run. Our vet told us her operation would cost over $3,000. We want to do everything in the world to keep our young dog happy and healthy, but money is tight right now.

No matter where the baby goes, Kaia is sure to be close by.

No matter where the baby goes, Kaia is sure to be close by.

My boys and I are seeking support for our surgery fundraiser. Any amount you can spare will be deeply appreciated. As my oldest son says, “We don’t want her running days to be cut short.” Here is the link if you would care to make a donation:  http://www.gofundme.com/forkaia



Note: Anyone who has knowledge of canine care as it pertains to this pet’s torn ACL is invited to share their expertise in the comment section. Thank you for any support, financial or otherwise.


Pet Peeves

Pet photo credit: Google images

Pet photo credit: Google images

Cats and dogs are the most popular pets in every country we have visited.  In many Latin American countries, stray dogs were common.  They were not feral, so they were most likely abandoned.  In some cases the dogs would form packs.  While gathering in packs may have provided social contact, it did little to provide sustenance.  It was still every dog for itself. 

Some expat communities have helped fund spay and neuter services.  We observed this in some locations in Chile, Panama, and Mexico. There are now branches of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in a number of countries.  They do wonderful work, but they are vastly underfunded for the scale of challenges they face.  Although I think citizens of emerging nations appreciate the benefits of animal controls, I do not think it is a priority.  Locals who live on sustenance-level incomes cannot afford to consider animal welfare ahead of their priority of feeding and caring for family members first.

Here is my rant.  Many expats bring their dogs with them when they relocate to another country.  Particularly in Spain, I have noticed few people, locals or expats, clean up their pets’ poop.  There are stinky little land mines everywhere.  You would not dare walk on the grass in a park for fear of stepping in a pile of poop.  A picnic blanket on the grass would be a ridiculous fantasy. 

I love animals.  They are not the problem.  Their owners are the problem, a serious enough problem that a national campaign to get dog walkers to pick up after their dogs is underway in Spain.  Posters in bus stop shelters show dogs imploring people to do the task the dogs cannot do for themselves – pick up their poop.  Some cities have employed local ‘poop patrols’, service workers who have acquired the unfortunate nickname of ‘brownshirts’, a reference to Hitler’s pro-Nazi storm troopers.  Just last week the local papers reported the first fine levied on a dog owner for failure to pick up after his pet.  This was a second offense.  I believe the first offense is a warning and subsequent offenses carry a €100 fine equivalent to $137. 

In most cities in Spain, stray cats are an issue.  These mangy, dirty and often diseased felines can be spotted under parked cars around markets, dumpsters and places wherever people toss scraps.  One local here in Torrevieja found an injured cat that had obviously been hit by a vehicle.  He mercifully took the cat to a local veterinarian to have it put down to end its suffering.  The vet performed this task and then billed the guy €160, over $200.  When he protested the cost which he grudgingly paid, the vet’s receptionist told him, ‘We are not a charity.  If we did not charge for this service, we would be inundated with animals.’ 

I can wring my hands and feel indignant about the poor treatment of cats and dogs in some countries.  However, the fact remains that not all societies think of domestic animals as members of the family.  To many they are just animals, and if they do not have a caring owner they are nothing more than a nuisance.  It is sad to think about, but it is not something that will go away anytime soon.  The best we can do is to encourage responsible pet ownership.  That is true in every country including our own. 

Greyfriar’s Bobby – A Dog Lover’s Story

The statue of Greyfriars Bobby near the graveyard at Greyfriars Kirk

The statue of Greyfriars Bobby across from the graveyard at Greyfriars Kirk
photo credit: http://www.edinphoto.org.uk

We stopped along the ABC Tour* for a look into St. Cuthbert’s Church, which is right next door to St. John’s Church. It was there I met Anne, a lovely, gray-haired woman of indeterminate age who volunteers her time once or twice per week maintaining the gardens around the church. We chatted for at least an hour, I suppose because I was willing to listen and she had lots of delightful stories to share.

I do not recall how the subject of dogs came up, but then we talked about so many things. Anne asked me if I knew about Greyfriar’s Bobby. I did not. It turns out this true story has been written about in both biography form and in children’s books and also made into films.

The statue base had a drinking fountain for both people and dogs.

The statue base had a drinking fountain for both people and dogs.
photo credit: http://www.rcahms.gov.uk

The crux of the story is that Bobby, a cute little Skye Terrier, remained loyal to his master, John Gray, who some say was a night watchman with the Edinburgh City Police and who died in 1858. For fourteen years Bobby guarded the grave of his master until he himself died in 1872.

Some accounts say at first Bobby was considered a nuisance. The story wavers between fact and fiction. At any rate, Bobby eventually won the hearts of the local people. At the daily firing of the one o’clock gun (which still takes place every day except Sunday), Bobby would leave the graveyard at Grassmarket and look for food. Soon the local shopkeepers and chefs took it upon themselves to save table scraps for Bobby, who never went hungry.

In 1867, Sir William Chambers, Lord Provost of Edinburgh (and head of Scotland’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) purchased a collar and dog license for Bobby in keeping with the regulations at that time. These items are now displayed in the Museum of Edinburgh.

In 1872, when Bobby passed away, Baroness Burdett-Coutts commissioned a bronze statue of Bobby. It was unveiled in 1873 at the top of a fountain which featured an upper drinking fountain for people and a lower fountain for dogs. The statue remains in place today for all to see and remember Bobby.

A replica of this statue rests at St. Cuthbert's Parish in Edinburgh. Bum had to hobble on three legs after an accident in a rail yard. photo credit: Gaslamp Quarter Historic Foundation

A replica of this statue rests at St. Cuthbert’s Parish in Edinburgh. Bum had to hobble on three legs after an accident in a rail yard.
photo credit: Gaslamp Quarter Historic Foundation

Edinburgh’s sister city of San Diego had a dog adopted as a town mascot. His name was Bum. When San Diego learned the story of Bobby, they presented the City of Edinburgh with a bronze statue of Bum. Our gardener, Anne, pointed out the statue in the graveyard of St. Cuthbert’s just 100 feet from where we were standing.

Thank you, Anne, for giving us this story and many others. I will share them with anyone who wishes to hear them.

*ABC Tour = Another Blessed Church