My Sweetie Has Spent More Time in Jail than I Have

Back in ancient times when I drove a concrete mixer, I met a couple of drivers who partially convinced me that I’d missed something by not going to jail. Not so much that I was in a hurry to knock off a bank, mind you, but clearly my life experiences had a gap. More surprising is that my sweetie has spent more time behind bars than I have. In fact, she seems to be making a bit of a habit of it. Darn near monthly, she’s landing in the Idaho Correctional Institution in Orofino, ID. Last night, she brought home a former inmate.

Meet Summer. Summer was abandoned in a home filled with feces and frightened to death. Joyce Keefer, a  local Realtor who already does a tremendous amount of good work for the local Humane Society, discovered the poor dog (along with a trio of kittens) and alerted authorities. Summer ended up in the care of the Lewis Clark Animal Shelter and my sweetie. She was understandably skittish and had some trust issues when she arrived but started to come out her shell with the help of the staff at the Shelter.

Then, Summer went to jail with my sweetie accompanied by five other dogs. They were the introductory group for a new program at Orofino. The program is called PAWS (Paroling Animals With Skills) and was started by Lieutenant Earl Johnson. Started originally to help the dogs, the program has been even more transforming for the inmates/trainers. The dogs live with the men inside. Each dog has a pair of trainers and get training daily. KLEW-TV ran a segment on the program with my sweetie and Lieutenant Johnson.

The evidence nationwide, not just at Orofino, is that the program increases social interaction and teaches skills including patience, responsibility, compassion, and self-esteem for the prisoners. For the dogs, they get the benefit of 24/7 training. Both get a healthy and needed dose of unconditional love, perhaps the most transformative substance known to humanity.

Summer is a boxer mix. She’s sweet-tempered (she let our 2 year-old granddaughter pet her). She’s still a bit timid, but fully trained and available for adoption. If you’re not ready for a dog but want to support the program, you can donate at the Lewis Clark Animal Shelter website. They have a special wishlist on Amazon or you can donate at the button to the side. Volunteers are always welcome and appreciated.

If you meet Lieutenant Johnson on the street in Orofino, thank him for all the good work he's doing, please.

To watch an inspiring video of the program in Massachusetts, click here.

You can read A Walk With Rose for free on Kindle Unlimited

Old coot and the 3-Legged Dog

Report came into the Humane Society shelter, of a missing dog, named Ripley, a black 3-legged chihuahua, belonging to an elderly couple. Second report came in of FOUND chihuahua, by local animal welfare cop.

Call went out to Harold and Winnie, we might have found your dog.

Shelter followed protocol, no promises, please come down and ID your dog.

Everybody gathers, expecting a happy, happy ending.

Until Harold said, “It’s the wrong leg missing. That’s not my dog.” Sadness. Then shock, as Winnie whacked him on the shoulder, enough to rock him.

“You forgetful old coot, you’re dyslexic.”

Kendall Cares

Paul Farrally, general manager of Kendall Subaru, cutting the tape.

Paul Farrally, general manager of Kendall Subaru, cutting the tape.

Yesterday evening, Kendall Motors held their grand opening for their newest venture in town, the Subaru dealership on Thain Road. The ribbon cutting came first, though the early crowd was already inside, snacking. They were coaxed outside for the ceremony.

Paul Farrally, who just moved to the valley in December, did the honors with the traditional over-sized scissors and a bright red ribbon while the crowd cheered and applauded. Then everyone back inside, some for more snacks, some for a beer or glass of wine. 

The Lewis-Clark Animal Shelter attended - more later - with the whole staff and several members of the board. Representing the board was the ever-personable veterinarian John Hoch of Lewiston Veterinary Clinic; the president, Lonnie Ells, taking time off from his busy accounting practice to attend; and Joyce Keefer, who seems indefatigable as she works as one of the valley's best Realtors and serves (and works) on community boards. 

Aaron Jollymore, making sure the food was just perfect.

Aaron Jollymore, making sure the food was just perfect.

Jollymore's, a restaurant who seems always to be assisting the Shelter, provided the catering. Aaron Jollymore, the executive chef, and I chatted about the spread, which included bite-sized steak, and a tasty spinach-sun-dried tomatoes spread was a hit with the folks that attended. Like the rube I sometimes am, I had eaten the spinach spread as a standalone dish. The second time through the line (as always, Jollymore's had more than enough food for everyone,) I tried it as intended. Delicious both ways and hats off to Aaron, a wonderful chef.

The main presentation came at 5:45, when Paul Farrally presented a pair of checks to the Lewis-Clark Animal Shelter as part of the Kendall Cares and Subaru Share the Love programs for supporting worthy causes in the community. Lonnie Ells and John Hoch accepted the checks on behalf of the Shelter. The total contribution was a staggering $11,300 - much more than the Animal Shelter expected and thoroughly welcome.

I had a chance to chat afterward with both Paul Farrally and Megan Dooley, the community relations specialist who traveled up from Boise for the event. Very open and hospitable individuals, both, and a pleasure to talk to. It seemed a trend with the Kendall staff. 

John Hoch, Lonnie Ells, and Paul Farrally

John Hoch, Lonnie Ells, and Paul Farrally

It's a good day for the dog

Our old guy of a dog looks his age. He's a Chesapeake Bay Retriever who the vets predicted would be dead by age eight. As a pup, he got badly mauled by a neighbor dog/wolf cross. Thousands of dollars later, Stitch looked like Frankendog and developed a severe paranoia of both vets and the car that took him to the vet.

Then he went in for x-rays and exited with more sutures, this time to remove tubes that got missed on the first round of surgeries. That's when the vets told us that he had bad elbows, messed up hips, and a life expectancy of seven, maybe eight years.

Stitch was still in puppy phase and didn't care. He was my middle daughter's dog, though he adopted me as well. He retrieved tennis balls since he couldn't go into the field, and smiled, happy to be 'productive'.

He still retrieves the same paper every day. We don't have it delivered, so my wife tosses it out when she gets up. Stitch waits until I get up to get the paper so he can bring it back to me. For a fee, of course. A cookie for good work, a smile from the dog. Happy to please, he is.

Same with retrieving tennis balls. He wants to, but yesterday, after fetching a couple, did the doggy version of "Hey, boss? I'ma hurtin' and could use a break." Inside we went and he got his treats.

The treats are important - he's hungry all the time. At seven, he developed Cushing's disease and the options are to poison him until he's cured or has Addison's, or to let the Cushing's follow the normal course.

Cushing's makes him hungry all the time, and thirsty. His weight ballooned so we put him on a diet. Clearly a first-world type of problem, but we cook his meals now. It's nearly as cheap as the dog food was and he lost most of the excess weight. Ten minutes of prep twice a week to make the food and Stitch supervises, hoping for something to fall from the cutting board.

Someday the Cushing's will kill him, or a heart attack, but today he fetched the paper. He moved with a gimp but it was better than yesterday. Yesterday we gave him an extra pill, an aspirin, which seems to help sometimes more than the more powerful medications he gets daily. For the first half of the day after trying to retrieve and asking to be relieved, he laid on his bed and watched us instead of following us around.

The aspirin helped.

Today was a good day for the dog. He didn't seem to hurt as much, and ran for the paper instead of walking. At one point or another, he brought all his toys for approval - and a treat, always a treat. He's a working dog, and expects his pay.

Stitch is closing in on twelve years old now. Some days are hard on him, but he's proved the vets wrong and keeps proving it every day, not that he cares. He's simply living, completely in this moment and appreciating it.

But we know it won't be too much longer. The signs are there, and the balance of good days and hard days is beginning to tip away. Still, he meets the day with a smile, and an eagerness to try to please. So until the inevitable, he gets an extra treat, a few more minutes of belly rubs, and slow walks that don't tax him too much.

As long as it's a good day for the dog, it awfully hard for us to have too bad a day.

It's Tuesday, in July, and it's hot.

What, you thought there might be actual content here today?

Fine. Cutting a check for the Lewis Clark Animal Shelter for their share of the sales of A Walk with Rose. Actually, cutting a bigger check. The shelter can use the funds and the story hasn't sold as well as I hoped. Slightly bummed about that.

More. Okay, How about the US Mountain Running Championships in Lincoln, New Hampshire over the weekend? The race was the Loon Mountain Race, rated by Runners World as one of the toughest in the country with an insane 2200' of climb in 5.5 miles. Friends and former running buddies Ashley and Ross Krause took the line as members of their respective teams. Ashley runs with the ladies on Western Mass Distance Project while Ross is part of the Central Mass Striders. Both teams took first place in the Overall Divisions. Very pleased for my friends. BTW, here's the USATF page for the race. Fortunately, others actually thought people would like to know how things turned out. Here's some links that have news about the athletes. Here, here, and results. A nice blog post with photos is here.

The local running club, the Seaport Striders, are putting on a race on August 8th in Asotin. It's the Striders Benefit Run, and the proceeds get divvied up between the participating local schools - Asotin, Clarkson, and Lewiston. When? Friday, August 8 @ 7 p.m.  Here's the entry form.

If you're running with your dog, it's supposed to be hitting triple digits most of this week and next. Here's a post I wrote about keeping your best friend safe.

Don't forget to keep yourselves safe out there.

Wine, Whiskers, and Wags

I was drinking last night, but it was for a good cause. Honest.

Last night, the Lewis-Clark Animal Shelter held its annual fundraiser. I've gone every year except one, from the first one that was hosted by Basalt Cellars. Last night, my wife (the Director of Operations) and I were the guests of Carol and Arnie Beckman, patrons of the shelter who purchased a table.

For those not familiar with the concept, Wine, Whiskers, and Wag is a night of sampling locally crafted libations. Instead of a sit-down meal, we mingled and met friends. The food was varied and tasty - more on that later and, unlike last year, there were options other than wine as artisan beers and a hard cider were offered. For those that don't imbibe, soft drinks and water were available.

There is a silent auction - two, actually - with an assortment of items ranging for artwork to a rifle scope, jewelry to hand tools. I only bid on a couple of items this year and didn't win any. I also entered to win the booze barrel, which was stocked with a range of whiskeys, tequila, vodka, and the like. Fortunately I didn't win. Four years ago, I did and, even sharing, it was more than I could handle.

I did win a bottle of wine, from Clearwater Canyon, a 2010 Syrah. Karl and Coco, the winemakers, were there and chatting, though Karl was losing his voice. I sampled their Renaissance Red. A very nice blend, very pleasant. I tried to talk to Karl about the wine but his voice was fading fast. I'm looking forward to trying the Syrah - and visiting them to learn more.

The Cider House sponsored one of the tasting tables, driving down from Pullman. They brought their sweetest cider. Tasty and went very well with the hot wings from Zone 208. The wings were spicy hot - though not sweat-on-the-brow hot. I'm thinking I'll volunteer my services as a taste-tester for hotness.

Jollymores was there - Donna and I have visited their restaurant and enjoyed it. It was nice to see them there making a nice impression. They had the broadest spread of food, serving a pork tenderloin with raspberry sauce but having hummus (two types), fresh veggies (very welcome as no one else had fruits or veggies), pita chips, and bread.

We had dessert from Jillybean and a new-to-us cake-maker, Julie Frazey of Frazy's Crazy Cakes, while the live auction went off. Lots of great items supplied by local businesses were available and people were bidding with enthusiasm. Both desserts were tasty.

I did donate some money for new Kuranda beds - they ran an intermission where the auctioneer solicited donations. Nice guy but he needs some training on the intermission process. It's not an auction. He was dropping the price so fast to generate interest that a person sitting at our table had to ask to give more money than the current bid.

Carol Moore, one of the committee members that set up the event, had no problem taking the larger donations. She seemed to be everywhere, always with a smile. Joyce Keefer was in constant motion, too, helping where needed. Like Carol, Joyce wore a friendly smile all night. Wonderful ladies.

Speaking of the Kuranda beds - if you have an older dog, these are a neat item to ease achy bones. The beds sit above the floor and made of chew-proof materials. In a shelter environment, they keep the dogs off pads on the concrete, keeping them warmer and more comfortable. I don't know if they made enough on The Furry Fund intermission to supply each kennel with one.

The night ended with dancing to a live band, High Street. I don't dance (or, at least not well) but some of the folks that were on the floor could move. Fun to watch.

A special thanks to Lonnie Ells - he's a board member for the Shelter and ran the 'bank'. That's not the most glamorous job but Lonnie does it every year, cheerfully, even when the equipment was balky.

Mostly, a very large thank you from the people and animals of the Lewis-Clark Animal Shelter to all the people that so graciously donated time to visit, who contributed to the auctions, who volunteer at the shelter.

One of the guests made a point of coming over to my wife early in the evening. Her family adopted Payton, a border collie mix several years ago. Payton was a skinny-as-a-rail dog who had been abandoned. Donna worked with the family, looking for the right dog to fit with them. There are four kids in the family, so they wanted an active dog.

They picked Payton. This year, on a vet visit, skinny Payton weighed in 14 pounds above her normal weight. The vet cautioned them that a large weight gain could be a problem but, given her normal low weight, it was nice to see some extra meat on her bones.

Payton's owner, a wonderfully pleasant lady, said she went home and kept watch over the dog. She watched as one child played with Payton - and rewarded the dog with a cookie. Another did the same thing. Border collies love to work/play. They don't need cookies for encouragement but Payton certainly wasn't discouraging it, either.

Dinner time arrived. Three different people, including the Dad, fed Payton dinner.

Weight gain explained. I suspect that Payton will be on a slightly restricted treat schedule but the story made my wife smile. She loves to hear the success stories, of happy dogs that aren't pets any more, but part of the family.

As the guy married to the Director of Operations, it is heart-warming to see your support for the Shelter and all the people associated with it.

Thank you.