Of Great Redeeming Value

Posted on by Mary Shafer

After the wrenching story of Edwina and my subsequent rant, I want to share with you something my dear friend Sandy sent me. Somehow my friends always know when to show up in my life, and I am so incredibly thankful. Please enjoy the healing of this video — I hope it has a similar effect on you. ๐Ÿ™‚

Okay, I just can’t even stand this…

Posted on by Mary Shafer

WARNING: ANGRY FEMINIST RANT. Today’s is not a happy post. You may wanna skip this one.

My new cyber-friend, Dusty Rainbolt (yes, it’s her real name – wish mine was something interesting like that!), sent me a FaceBook invitation to join her “Helping Edwina” cause. I checked it out and it made me absolutely, physically ill late last night.

It’s another example of a sick, twisted human willfully creating a disabled animal. It is so far beyond anything I can comprehend that my mind just can’t wrap around the horror and senselessness of it. But Edwina still needs help, so if posting her story here can be part of bringing both her particular story and this general problem to light, I must do it.

I continue to imagine what it is that must drive these twisted individuals to hurt animals. And I can’t help but see that cats tend to get tortured more than dogs, at least in these really sick ways. It occurs to me that our society tends to vilify cats for some reason, while it tends to sanctify dogs. And this issue vexes me, because I think everyone tiptoes around the root of it.

Well, I’m tired of this behavior, because I believe it is part of an almost unwitting conspiracy of silence that allows it to continue. So I’m gonna venture my opinion, since this is my blog and I can. I’m aware that I’m probably going to make myself a pariah to some people…and frankly, I don’t care. SOMEONE has to speak up about this.

I think it started WAAAAY back when the species lived pretty much separately and didn’t have much to do with each other. But at some point, dogs became domesticated and for the most part, fairly obedient, subservient and dependent. This sat well with the Rulers of All Things at the time: men. Because men like to think they’re always running the show, even when they’re not — which is more often than they’d ever believe. (Guys, if this is a revelation to you, get over it. If it’s not, then you’ve obviously got a few years on you and know it’s the truth.)

I believe this whole attitude has always been the case, but that it became ensconced in cultural law in the Christian Bible. Right there in Genesis, where God says “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

My first thought is, What’s with this “we” business? I thought God was supposed to have done this whole creation thing alone? And I am SO glad we don’t have to still deal with the stilted “creepeth” kind of language anymore. But I digress.

The problem was that all the young dudes got it wrong when parsing out what this actually meant for them. They somehow mistook “dominion” for “domination,” which effectively removed the latter side of the “power = responsibility” equation. And it’s been an ugly scene for the critters — and women, and pretty much anyone else who was under their power — ever since.

But it’s been particularly ugly for cats. And in my mind, the connection is much the same.

All those years of the Christian religion trying to eradicate the influence of the nature-based pagan spiritualities have taken their toll. It makes sense to me that the big boys of the Christian church would single out cats — because they’re solitary, independent and uncontrollable, everything that’s anathema to this religion and especially to its men — as being “Satan’s familiars,” and somehow attached to black witchcraft.

As Dana Carvey’s Church Lady would say, “How conVEEEEEENient!” How utterly nice for them that they could culturally and legally subdue ALL that they couldn’t control in one fell swoop… and all with the imprimature of the Holy Church. Every time I think of it, I just seethe.

All through the shameful Burning Times during our country’s early settlement, cats were tortured and killed alongside any woman who dared live her life similarly solitary, independent and uncontrollable.

And apparently, that attitude has never left us. The endless stories of abused, battered and dead women is mind-numbing, and shows no sign of becoming any shorter. And I bet at least once a month I hear some guy make a remark about how much he hates cats. And cats pay for this all-too-ubiquitous hatred every day with their lives and their well-being.

I’ll bet I’m not alone in conjecturing that more than one cat has endured such pain because it happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up standing in as a surrogate for the woman that guy REALLY wanted to hurt. But he knew no one would say too much if he just took it out on a cat. And it just makes me freakin’ sick.

I apologize if I have offended any of my Christian readers, but I believe what I say is the truth. And I don’t believe ANY religion has the right to use its holy writs as justification to harm any other living thing. And I don’t believe that EVERY man hates cats — I know better, and am thankful.

But am I saying that I’m certain that all these kinds of animal torture are inflicted by men? Certain — no. I can’t factually prove it. But my life experience tells me that I’m 99.9% sure that women — at least those in their right minds — just don’t do stuff like this to animals.

Yes, they occasionally drown their kids, even dismember them and throw them in swampy areas to dispose of the bodies, and I don’t take this horror lightly. I believe this behavior is driven by something related to what motivates men to torture and disfigure animals — but in an absolutely opposite manifestation. And this is not the place to discuss that. Neither is right, but they’re not the same. And I just don’t think many women do this to animals.

Okay, end of rant. I don’t hate guys. But I do hate a lot of what they do.

If you have the stomach for it, please read Edwina’s story and do what you can to help. If you can’t help, bless you for sending healing energy to this stray who didn’t deserve what was done to her.

TRIUMPH! A Tale of Many Cities

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Thanks for all the feedback on my Aug. 31st post about Molly and all the sweet critters that have been helped with their own set of wheels. I got a great suggestion from Khyra the Siberian Husky (and sometimes her mom) not to forget about Triumph, another husky who has absolutely earned her name by coming through the most amazing of difficult circumstances with flying colors. So I want to share her story here:

Triumph’s story began in Turkey where she was found on the roadside, bleeding. Her rear legs had been severed. She was taken to a shelter, where the first of many miracles began. They treated her wounds and kept her alive, instead of euthanizing her as many would have.

Her story was put in the local paper (above), and for the next two months, they tried to find her a forever home. Unfortunately, no one came forward. However, two volunteers who worked with the shelter took a liking to Triumph and began the huge effort of trying to find that forever person.

Renin — one of those volunteers — and her mother, Armagon, contacted a friend in Philadelphia. That friend, Coral, put the story up on the Web, with the same picture in the news clipping above. The look on Triumph’s face was hard to ignore for those visiting the Siberian rescue sites, where it caught the interest of Belinda in Baltimore.

She posted it somewhere and it was sent via email to a woman in Nashville, who has worked for years with the most severely abused dogs, damaged either physically or emotionally. “Moe” (as she is called), would be the first to tell you that when she did the first reading of the story and got to the part that said the dog was in Turkey, she just didn’t see what she could do, and deleted the story.

But fate was at work. That same day, another person sent her the same photo with the same plea: “Can you please help this animal?” At that point, it was obvious to Moe that she was supposed to do something about this dog. So she began gathering information and after 6 weeks of effort, Belinda, Coral and Moe were finally able to get a plane reservation to Turkey.

Read more to learn the whole, happy ending… Thanks, Khyra, for the great story tip!

Wheels Are Wonderful!

Posted on by Mary Shafer

The Mollinator in healthier times

This post is in memory of Molly, our next-door neighbor, who lost her struggle with old age and a host of worsening ailments last Thursday. She was a beautiful soul and a Lab from nose to tail. I adored her.

We moved into our current home more than ten years ago, and Molly came to our neighbors not long before. So when she had to leave it was strange, because she had been in our lives as long as we had been here. She was as much a part of our lives here as her parents, her Weimie brother Clyde, or any of our other neighbors. She frequently came over to visit us as long as she was able.

Then, when her back end failed last year, her dad, Alan, built her a cart out of PVC pipe and painted it bright, fire engine red. He made little pockets hooked to bungie cords to suspend her feet so they wouldn’t drag on the ground and get hurt, because she couldn’t feel them anymore. What a beautiful sight she was with that flash of red against her smooth, golden coat. How she whizzed along again in that lovingly built set of wheels!

And what dear parents hers are, who arranged the last few years completely around the schedule they needed to properly care for her. They even did “the wheelbarrow,” holding ol’ Moll’s useless back legs while she would motor along on her still-able front paws down the steep slope to our place, which her cart couldn’t negotiate…powered, always, by her still-willing heart. God, that dog had heart. Even though the back legs no longer moved, the tail beat back and forth with as much enthusiasm as ever, and Molly never ceased to bring joy anywhere she went.

Bless your hearts, Al and Jeanette, for sharing your girl with us, and for giving her the love and care and dignity she so richly deserved until her very last moment. You are special, special people we’ll always be proud to call friends.

And Molly, you will always be my big, yella dawg. I’ll miss you forever.


Rollin’ With Soul

One of the best things I ever did as a publisher was choose the photo of irrepressible Ruby for the front of our book, Almost Perfect. Every one of the critters profiled in the essays inside is worthy of recognition for his or her own specialness. But that image of Vicki Tiernan‘s Ruby cruising happily along in her cart with that impossibly large “stick” (okay, BRANCH is more like it) in her mouth just has that certain, unnameable something that embodies the inspiring, uplifting spirit we tried to capture in our stories.

And so I chose that shot, careful to make sure our great cover designer, Laura Pritchard, ran the length of that stick around the spine and onto the back cover as a visual metaphor for these creatures’ outsized hearts and spirits. And it wasn’t lost on most folks. I’ve received many comments, even emails about that image. So, from a publishing perspective, it does all the things an ideal cover is supposed to do…especially making people reach out to pick up the book.

But it also does something else.

That picture of Ruby brings to the fore the thought that dog carts/squealy-wheels/rump skates or whatever else you want to call them are not an object of pity, but a symbol of new-found freedom for previously trapped creatures who needed only a little help in becoming mobile to regain the joy in their lives. And this is something very, very cool.

Frankie knows wheels are kewl. (Frankie the Walk ‘n Roll Dog)


  • Because–like removing the stigma of wheelchairs for people–this attitudinal shift allows people to get past the wheels and see them as just another facet of the wonderful, vital pet rolling along on them.
  • Because it reinforces the idea that, with just a little imagination and some money, we can restore to a previously active pet that which brings them the most happiness: freedom.
  • Because it helps make people aware that pets who have lost some natural mobility can still enjoy a full, happy life alongside those who love them.
  • And mostly, because it highlights the inventiveness shown by the companies who now manufacture these mobility devices for our sweet, furry and feathered friends. What heroes they are to these animals and to the people who love them!
Wheels: They’re not just for dogs any more. (Lemon the Duck)

So, it is in this vein that I share with you a slightly dated but still interesting and relevant article from the Orange County Register from last March. I hope you enjoy it, and that you’ll check out some of the wheel makers in the article and listed in our blogroll at bottom right. You never know when you or someone you know may need their services and products.

Puppy Update

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Okay, y’all – just wanted to update you on my cousin Chris’ new dog. Her name is now officially “GoGo!” And it fits her lively little Jack Russell self. Spoke with Chris yesterday and GoGo is adjusting well to her new home and surroundings. She has already been on several walks through the little tourist town where she lives, and is already making friends. I see good times ahead for Chris and GoGo, and will keep you apprised of any interesting developments. ๐Ÿ™‚

A very LARGE disabled pet…

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Well, okay. Maybe not a pet, exactly. But nevertheless, Motola is a disabled animal who belongs to someone, even if it’s someone she worked for.

48-year-old Motola just got a new leg!

Ten years ago, Motola was seriously damaged when she stepped on one of the many stray landmines left over from several wars. She survived the blast, but lost her left front leg while working in a logging camp on Thailand’s border with Burma. After she recovered, her owners fitted her with a large canvas “shoe” filled with sawdust. And that’s how she got around until recently, when she was fitted with an artificial limb.

I’m sure you’ll be as happy as I am when you read the rest of the story. There are still sad parts, but the world is definitely progressing when even in relatively poor countries, people find a way to help an elephant like this. Gives me hope. I hope it gives you some, too.

Thanks to Roberta for the heads-up on this tale.

Woo Hoo! A Promotion Comes Home To Roost!

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Well, sometimes things just work out, ya know?

I am so very, VERY pleased and happy to report that my cousin, Chris Snyder, took to heart the message of “Adopt A Less-Adoptable Pet Day” and went out and adopted herself the cutest little Jack Russell terrier today! I went with her to pick her up and all I can say is WOW!

You see, Chris had another Jack for 13 years. Her name was Nip, and she did indeed resemble the little RCA Victor dog after which she was named. Sadly, Nip crossed the Rainbow Bridge about two months ago, and I think the time since then has been possibly the saddest and emptiest of Chris’ life. That dog was so close to her, it was almost like a physical appendage. Anywhere Chris would go, you could be sure Nip wasn’t too far away. Nip was Chris’ daughter, her best friend and her closest confidante. When she left, I watched her take a big piece of my cousin with her, and she hasn’t been the same since.

It was so hard to know how much she missed that little wriggling ball of love and energy. She fostered a dog for a bit, and has been taking care of some friends’ dogs to fill the void a little, but it just wasn’t the same.


Then on Sunday, Chris called and asked me to go to the Center for Healthy Animals online and take a look at Cherry, a little Jack that was up for adoption. Cherry was listed as having arrived as a stray, and they estimated her age at 7 years, though she may be a bit older. Her listing said, “Cherry is a sweet little dog looking for a loving home. Cherry gets along with other dogs and is eager to please.”

We all know that age is one of those qualities that can count against a potential adoptee, but Chris didn’t care. She knew there would never be another Nip, and she decided she’d just love a new dog for as long as she could. So we went to see Cherry on Sunday afternoon.

She was indeed a sweet, mellow little creature, and yes — eager to please, but without seeming all needy and clingy — very nice combination of characteristics. Chris, an active and athletic gal, was concerned that Cherry might not be up for the long walks she likes to take to keep herself fit. But as it turns out, no problem there. As soon as Cherry saw the leash, she was ready and rarin’ to go.

We went back several times to look at Cherry and even a few of the other small dogs. We spent more than an hour at the shelter, which was typically full of many deserving critters all wanting someone to love them. Normally, I can’t do this without leaving in tears, but the thought that we might be taking one of them home shored me up and I did well.

At the end, I waited outside while Chris filled out the application papers. I must say, the shelter was prompt on the followup, because she listed me as a reference and they called on Monday. Of course, I told the truth about how a dog couldn’t have a more loving home than my cuz would provide. They also called her vet, who gave an equally glowing report, and they called Chris this afternoon to say they’d done a workup on Cherry and determined she was not only spayed, but micro-chipped, as well.

Chris called me and by 5 PM, we were on our way to pick Cherry up and bring her home! WOO HOO! What a happy trip that was!

When we arrived, what we found was a completely different dog. We joked that they must have sedated her on Sunday, because instead of a quiet, low-energy older dog, we found a lively, energetic, typical Jack Russell, jumping and panting in the 95ยฐ heat and wanting to go see the kitty room and get outside to walk! It was a hoot, and frankly, I think Chris was secretly pleased to see how much like Nip Cherry actually was.

After finishing all the paperwork, we put a leash and the new collar Chris had bought on Cherry. We learned that no one actually knew what the dog’s name really had been, and Chris wasn’t really hot on “Cherry.” It’s just too girly for this little four-legged package of personality, so as of right now, Chris’ new older dog is testing out a few other monikers. I’ll let you know what they finally settle on.

I know this isn’t really about disabled pets, but I just HAD to share this wonderful news with y’all, and say that I feel this day of observance was not only observed but honored in the most profound of ways by my dear cousin. I’m so pleased to have been included in this important and joyous time, and look forward to many good times with Chris and what’s-her-name!

An Easy Way to Promote the Xolos!

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Pink, who’s missing a leg, still manages to help others.

If you’ve read our book, Almost Perfect, you’ve read a great little piece by Sharon Sakson about Nancy Gordon, who suffers from chronic fibromyalgia. Her dogs, Pink and Toaster, are Mexican Hairless dogs, also known as Xoloitzcuintlee (pronouned “show-low-eats-queent-lee”).

Toaster, Pink’s mom, also serves as a therapy dog.

Because they’re hairless, the warmth of their bodies radiates freely, and they serve as therapy dogs to Nancy and others, lying on the afflicted parts of the body and warming them like a living hot-water bottle.

Nancy and Pink

Nancy created an organization, Xolos For Chronic Pain Relief (X-CPR), to get the word out about this marvelous service. X-CPR has just been added to the wonderful fundraising websites called Good Search (search the Net) and Good Shop (shop the net). Using these social good sites is an easy way to donate to this worthwhile nonprofit, without any cost to you.

Just follow this link next time you need to do a search, and make sure the drop-down menu is designated for Xolos For Chronic Pain Relief. Then go to the search box and search for whatever you were looking for anyway. Each search generates one cent US for the group. This may not sound like much, but it really adds up if everyone uses this service.

To donate to X-CPR through Good Shop, simply use this portal to the stores you’d already shop at. Just by going through this doorway, you’ll donate a penny to X-CPR. And all those pennies soon become dollars.

Don’t forget to bookmark or favorite these sites for future use!

Today is "Adopt A Less-Adoptable Pet Day!"

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Yesterday’s guest blogger, our own Roberta Beach Jacobson, alerted me to the fact that today is a very special day, and I wanted to let you know about it.

Tabby’s Place helps lots of less-than-adoptable kitties find forever homes.

Petfinder.com has designated August 12 as “Adopt A Less-Adoptable Pet Day.”

They even have a special page on their website in recognition of this special day, with all kinds of information about adopting shelter pets deemed less-desirable in most people’s eyes. But the fact that you’re reading this means that you’re NOT “most people.” And most likely, at least some of your friends aren’t, either. You’re special, too…special enough to recognize that every living thing deserves a chance at a good, happy, healthy life full of love and as much compassion as we can give.

“Cow,” a blind, deaf, hypothyroidal and incontinent
dalmatian has found a forever home!

So I ask you today to recognize this special day by talking to at least one other person–preferably someone you wouldn’t normally talk to about this subject, because it does no good to preach to the choir–about “Adopt A Less-Adoptable Pet Day.” Ask them to take a few minutes to visit Petfinder’s special page, and to consider becoming the parent of a deserving animal that no one else can bring themselves to love.

The Senior Dogs Project looks out for older dogs.

Because I know what an amazing group we are, and how capable of doing the impossible (because I have seen it and lived it myself), I have faith that between all of us, we might be able to actually spur the adoption of at least one less-than-adoptable pet. And that will have made the effort worthwhile.

So please: Spread the word today and then let me know what happens…because I know something will.

Meet Brownie: From guest blogger Roberta Beach Jacobson

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Today’s post is from guest blogger Roberta Beach Jacobson. Roberta is a contributor to Almost Perfect: Disabled Pets and the People Who Love Them. She wrote the final piece in the book, Fritz: Pink Ears, Red Tape, about her experience with a cat whose ears were terminally sunburned from the intense sunshine on her home Greek island of Karpathos. With the help of her husband, Alf Meier, she runs Animal Welfare Karpathos, an independent, all-volunteer critter rescue on their home island of Karpathos, in Greece. 25ยข of each copy of the book we sell goes to support the efforts of this worthwhile organization.

Meet Brownie.

You could say we got tricked into this foster care situation. Greek tourists on our island witnessed the pointer mix dog get bumped by a car, later by another. He had no collar, apparently no owner, so they got him into their rental car to help him.

Where to go?

Someone gave them our telephone number. One of the negatives of living on a remote island is there’s no vet or shelter. My husband Alf, a photographer, is the one called to patch up all the critters in trouble.

Alf and some of his charges

Brownie, as the tourists named him, got a fiberglass cast. He moved in with us. We assume he’d never been inside a house before. So he could go outdoors when needed, we started sleeping with the kitchen door open. Our regular dog flap is too small for the likes of Brownie!

For whatever reason (my guess is from his licking) he got an infection in one of his wounds. Off came the cast. He got braces and bandages for a few days.

With our gang of 33 rescue cats and three rescue dogs around the house, we’re plenty busy as it is. Still, we’re doing our best to accommodate Brownie. He got a new cast. We had no more fiberglass in our makeshift volunteer clinic (better said, what we had was dried out and worthless), so Alf went to the hardware store for some plaster and got to work on creating a cast.

The Greek tourists came by our house with bones and restaurant treats a few times, but their vacation drew to a close and they headed to the ferry to depart our island.

In the meantime, Brownie was up to a few dog tricks. The plastic cone didn’t stop him from gnawing at his new cast, eventually shredding parts of it to bits. We tried to outsmart him. We stapled two cones together. We don’t live in the sort of place where there’s a pet shop or where we can buy needed supplies. Everything is improvised. We even put a cork at the bottom of the metal stabilizing bar in his cast. (Think of cork-soled shoes!)

Brownie has needed yet another replacement cast. With a little luck, this one will last six weeks. We hope he’ll recover to have full use of his leg, but part of his bone was splintered, so that remains to be seen.

Roberta has her own blog at the Seattle Post Intelligencer online, and can be found tweeting about the beach on Twitter.