‘Horrific incident’: Family Speaks Out after Pet Dog Killed by ‘Cyanide Bomb’

By Shelbie Harris as published on The Idaho State Journal

“While at first glance this sad story might not appear to have much to do with wild horses and burros but it most certainly applies, with spades.  Some time ago, myself and fellow investigators from Wild Horse Freedom Federation were documenting BLM Contract long term holding facilities when we came across one contractor’s property, used to house former wild horses, with prominent signs indicating that like poison devices were in use on the very same property that captive wild horses were grazing.  To date, this finding haunts us as we continue to seek ways and means to stop the barbaric removal of protected wild horses and burros from their congressionaly approved, rightful range.” ~ R.T.

Signage on BLM contractor’s property housing former wild horses. (Click to Enlarge) ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

POCATELLO — As he walked his dog along the ridgeline of the hillside just south of his family’s home on West Buckskin Road, 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield noticed what he thought was a sprinkler head protruding 6 inches from the ground.

Like many curious teenagers would, he bent down and touched the pipe, which erupted with a loud popping noise that knocked Canyon off his feet. A hissing sound ensued and Canyon noticed his clothing and face were covered with an orange, powdery substance. After quickly washing his face and clothes in a nearby patch of snow, he called for his dog, a 3-year-old Lab named Casey.

But Canyon’s best friend didn’t respond.

“He just stayed on the ground mumbling,” Canyon said. “I thought he was playing with his toy, but I saw the toy a couple yards away from him. … So, I called him again and got really scared. I sprinted toward him and landed on my knees and saw this red froth coming from his mouth and his eyes turning glassy and he was having a seizure.”

Within minutes, Casey was dead.

“My little brother is lying in bed crying next to me,” said Canyon’s sister, Madison Mansfield. “He spent yesterday in the emergency room after stumbling upon an unmarked cyanide bomb in the woods directly behind my home. He watched his best friend suffocate as sodium cyanide was deposited in his mouth.”

Canyon was taken to Portneuf Medical Center, where he was treated and released. But he must continue daily follow-up appointments to check toxicity levels.

On Thursday afternoon, Casey joined thousands of other non-targeted animals — both wild and domestic — that have been mistakenly killed by one of the most lethal tools at the disposal of the U.S. Department of Agriculture — spring-loaded metal cylinders that are baited with scent that shoot sodium cyanide powder into the mouth or face of whatever or whoever touches them.

Known as M-44 devices, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) division of the USDA deploys these sodium cyanide capsules throughout the West to protect livestock from coyotes, wild dogs, and red and gray foxes.

M-44s are hollow metal tubes 5 to 7 inches long that are driven into the ground, loaded with 0.9 grams of sodium cyanide and coated with the smelliest bait possible…(CONTINUED)


Animal Protection Groups Commend Bill to Ban Dog and Cat Meat in the United States

Source: International Humane Society PR

“This story walks hand-in-hand with our discussion on Wild Horse and Burro Radio last night” ~ R.T.

Bill also shines a light on brutal trade in China and South Korea

Little Ricky, a dog rescued from the Yulin dog meat festival in 2015, plays in U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings’ office in Washington, DC. Kevin Wolf/AP Images for HSI

U.S. Representatives Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., Dave Trott, R-Mich. and Brendan Boyle, D-Pa., have introduced legislation to ban the dog and cat meat trade in the United States, earning applause from Humane Society International, The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund. The bill, the Dog and Cat Meat Prohibition Act of 2017, would amend the U.S Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the slaughter and trade of dogs and cats for human consumption, and would provide penalties for individuals involved in the dog or cat meat trade.

HSI is one of the leading organizations campaigning across Asia to end the dog meat trade that sees around 30 million dogs a year killed for human consumption. It’s a trade that subjects dogs to horrifying treatment and raises serious human health concerns for traders and consumers alike, all for a type of meat that relatively few people eat on a regular basis. Similar problems face an untold number of cats. In the United States, the dog and cat meat industry is limited. The new bill will prevent domestic trade and imports, and serve as an important symbol of unity with countries and regions such as Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Taiwan that have dog meat bans in place.

Kelly O’Meara, director of companion animals and engagement for HSI, said: “The dog and cat meat trade is immensely cruel, so much so that many Asian countries have bans in place. This bill prevents the dog and cat meat trade from taking hold in the United States, but it also shines a spotlight on those countries where this brutal industry is not yet outlawed and where action is desperately needed.”

O’Meara adds: “Through our work in China, South Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia, we are urging policy makers to take decisive steps to end the trade. A similar law here in the United States would show important solidarity with those that have already enacted bans and inspire more to join the cause. We applaud Congressmen Hastings, Buchanan, Trott and Boyle for introducing this bill and their commitment to ending this brutal trade.”

Last year, and again this year, Congressman Hastings introduced a Congressional Resolution condemning China’s Yulin dog meat festival. Dog meat traders in China launched the festival in 2010 to increase sales, but popular outcry, both internationally and within China, has dramatically reduced the scope of the festival that takes place every year during the summer solstice. HSI and its Chinese partner groups have been on the ground every year to uncover the cruelty of the festival, and to stop the illegal transport of dogs into Yulin. Last year, HSI and its local partners rescued 170 dogs and cats from slaughterhouses on the outskirts of Yulin and transported them to the US, UK and Canada for adoption.

“Many people would be shocked to learn that it is still legal to slaughter dogs and cats for the purpose of human consumption in 44 states,” said Congressman Hastings. “This legislation will prohibit these practices and unify the animal cruelty laws across our country by explicitly prohibiting the slaughter and consumption of our most beloved companions. I am proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fight against these cruel and inhumane practices.”


  • In China, HSI works alongside Chinese groups to rescue dogs from trucks bound for the dog meat markets, uncover the immense cruelty that takes place at the slaughterhouses, and draw attention to the plight of the animals.
  • In South Korea, thousands of dog farms throughout the country rear an estimated 2.5 million dogs each year for human consumption. HSI has worked with six farmers since 2015 to shut down their farms and rescue 770 dogs. By helping farmers transition into humane trades, HSI is demonstrating that a government-led dog meat farm phase out is possible and desired by many farmers in the industry.

For more information visit hsi.org/dogmeat

Media Contact: Raúl Arce-Contreras, rcontreras@humanesociety.org, 301-721-6440

For US supporter inquiries: call 866-614-4371 or fill out our contact form

US Activist’s Efforts to Rescue Dogs from Asia’s Meat Trade Draw Both Praise and Censure

by Susan Pi as published on Earth Island Journal

“Here at SFTHH and WHFF we are all about the safety and future well being of wild horses and burros but of course that concern extends to domestic equine and all wildlife in general.  You will see articles appear hear that speak to the uncalled for slaughter and/or abuse of bison, wolves, bears, coyotes, mountain lion and the case of today’s article, domestic dogs.

I spent the past six years rotating in and of China on a monthly basis and unfortunately my eyes have witnessed acts of cruelty that I would prefer to forget versus regurgitating.  But everyday is a bad day for any sort of domestic animal who lives in rural China and I have witnessed the worst.  Although I might have been able to influence the educated young nationals who worked with me it was beyond my ability to influence the actions of rural farmers; all I could do was to divert my gaze and pray for an end to the suffering of the affected animal.  It is a cultural thing as there is little respect for human life so how can one expect the culture to respect animal pain and suffering, the mind set just is not there.

So today, stroke the head of your bird, cat, dog, horse or donkey and remind yourself how lucky they are to have you in their lives and how special a ingredient they are to your daily diet of goodness and how they enhance your spiritual well being.

We are all connected and we are all fellow passengers on this spaceship Earth.  A little courtesy to others goes a long, long way.  Keep the faith.” ~ R.T.

“You will never see, in my opinion, anything more brutal than the dog meat trade,”

Photo courtesy of Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation. Ching is aware that there are many who disagree with what he’s doing, but he believes his foundation can make a difference in the lives of thousands of dogs.

When a family in Korea discovered their beloved dog, Cheom Hwa, had been stolen, they were inconsolable. The German Shepherd had been with them since she was a puppy. “She is like my family,” the daughter says to Marc Ching, founder of Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation. “I am the only child so she was like my sister.”

It’s a nightmare no dog owner wants to have to go through. In Korea, where Cheom Hwa’s family lives, millions of dogs are stolen every year for their meat, and many are suspected to be stolen pets.

“The dog meat trade is big business,” Ching tells Earth Island Journal. “China exports meat to Korea. Cambodia exports to Vietnam.”

Ching, an American animal nutritionist who runs an organic pet food company in California, first heard about the Yulin dog meat festival that’s held every year in southern China only two years ago. The stories sounded so horrific that he had a hard time believing they were true. When he flew to China to see for himself what was going on, the atrocities turned out to be even worse. “What they’re doing is beyond inhumane,” Ching says. “It’s pure evil. They’ll boil dogs alive, hang and skin them alive.”

Today, Ching is most known for going undercover into slaughterhouses. By posing as a meat buyer, Ching often manages to get access to the kill floor where cages of whimpering animals are stacked on top of one another. The owner, hoping to make a sale, proudly talks up the facility, explaining their slaughtering process and how many dogs they go through on any given day. All the while, an iPhone in Ching’s pocket remains on video mode, surreptitiously recording everything.

If he’s caught, best-case scenario: He loses his phone. A previous trip to Vietnam ended with him beaten and nearly killed.

For Ching, the risk is worth it, even if too many of the dogs end up dying on the way to the veterinary hospital. Most are already close to death by the time he gets to them. In an interview with LA Weekly, he talks about coming across a dog with all four of her legs cut off. She died in his arms.

“You will never see, in my opinion, anything more brutal than the dog meat trade,” Ching says.

In the years since his first trip to China, he’s witnessed more than his share of unimaginable cruelty. The horror doesn’t deter him; it’s more like gasoline poured onto a smoldering flame urging him to save as many as he can. But while many activists are fueled into action by anger, Ching fervently believes that compassion is the key to lasting change.

“Even the people killing animals who, to me, aren’t good people,” Ching says, “I still try to be compassionate toward them. I think compassion wins in most cases and that’s what we do out in these countries. It’s all about compassion.”

Ching’s philosophy is evident with every trip back to Asia. He often works with locals, building his trip around the information they tell him. Before he steps onto a plane, he already knows who to talk to and where to go. For instance, in early 2017, locals in Korea helped to arrange a meeting with the owner of a slaughterhouse. This isn’t an undercover mission. The man knows that Ching wants to shut down his business.

Photo courtesy of Animals Asia. A dog meat market in Yulin, China. Several China-based animal welfare groups have asking international animal rights activists to stop buying dogs bound for the meat market saying that purchasing dogs only encourages the black market dog meat trade.

With the help of a local translator, Ching makes his appeal. “There’s a push against what you’re doing,” he tells him. “Whether it happens today, next year, or five years, you’ll be out of business soon. I’d like to work with you to stop what you’re doing and give you a chance at a decent living that doesn’t involve harming animals.”

The conversation is one Ching has had before with other slaughterhouse owners. His foundation’s economic development program is an attempt to build a viable model to affect far-reaching change. With enough successful cases, he hopes the Chinese government will someday take it over.

When asked about the people who slaughter dogs for a living, Ching recalls a man in Cambodia running a smaller operation that slaughters 50 to 100 dogs a day. “This guy sold his two daughters into prostitution. One of his daughters was four years old. I think he’s a terrible guy but he told me he didn’t choose to do this. He had to feed his family somehow and he became a dog slaughterer.”

It isn’t easy for Ching to sit across men who commit such horrific acts. Those who get into the business for money tend to be receptive, but there are always exceptions.

“In a slaughterhouse in Indonesia,” Ching says, “they hang dogs off these hooks and torture them. This guy is very popular for what he does because people come there believing the meat has healing powers. He’ll say, ‘I help people live better. I cure diseases like cancer.’ This guy will never close because he really believes in what he’s doing.”…(CONTINUED)


Feel Good Sunday: Rescue at The Rainbow Bridge

Author Unkown


Unlike most days at Rainbow Bridge, this day dawned cold and gray, damp as a swamp and as dismal as could be imagined. All of the recent arrivals had no idea what to think, as they had never experienced a day like this before.  But the animals who had been waiting for their beloved people knew exactly what was going on and started to gather at the pathway leading to The Bridge to watch.

It wasn’t long before an elderly animal came into view, head hung low and tail dragging. The other animals, the ones who had been there for a while, knew what his story was right away, for they had seen this happen far too often.

He approached slowly, obviously in great emotional pain, but with no sign of injury or illness. Unlike all of the other animals waiting at The Bridge, this animal had not been restored to youth and made healthy and vigorous again. As he walked toward The Bridge, he watched all of the other animals watching him. He knew he was out of place here and the sooner he could cross  over, the happier he would be.

But, alas, as he approached The Bridge, his way was barred by the appearance of an Angel who apologized, but told him that he would not be able to pass. Only those animals who were with their people could pass over Rainbow Bridge.

With no place else to turn to, the elderly animal turned towards the fields before The Bridge and saw a group of other animals like himself, also elderly and infirm. They weren’t playing, but rather simply lying on the green grass, forlornly staring out at the pathway leading to The Bridge. And so, he took his place among them, watching the pathway and waiting.

One of the newest arrivals at The Bridge didn’t understand what he had just witnessed and asked one of the animals that had been there for a while to explain it to him.

You see, that poor animal was a rescue. He was turned in to rescue just as you see him now, an older animal with his fur graying and his eyes clouding. He never made it out of rescue and passed on with only the love of his rescuer to comfort him as he left his earthly existence. Because he had no family to give his love to, he has no one to escort him across The Bridge.

The first animal thought about this for a minute and then asked, “So what will happen now?” As he was about to receive his answer, the clouds suddenly parted and the gloom lifted. Approaching The Bridge could be seen a single person and among the older animals, a whole group was suddenly bathed in a golden light and they were all young and healthy again, just as they were in the prime of life.

“Watch, and see” said the second animal. A second group of animals from those waiting came to the pathway and bowed low as the person neared. At each bowed head, the person offered a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears. The newly restored animals fell into line and followed him towards The Bridge. They all crossed The Bridge together.

“What happened?”

“That was a rescuer.” The animals you saw bowing in respect were those who found new homes because of his work.  They will cross when their new families arrive. Those you saw restored were those who never found homes. When a rescuer arrives, they are allowed to perform one, final act of rescue. They are allowed to escort those poor animals that they couldn’t place on earth, across The Rainbow Bridge.

“I think I like rescuers,” said the first animal.

“So does GOD,” was the reply.

Feel Good Sunday Update: Sunday Dec 11th to be Horse and Donkey Health Day on SFTHH

Pele, Bart and Harley ~ photo by Terry Fitch

Pele, Bart and Harley ~ photo by Terry Fitch

With our thoughts on the holidays, family and friends let us not forget our kind companions that grace the pastures behind our homes; it is essential that we stay focused on the health, safety and welfare of not only our wild equine brothers and sisters but also our domestic friends be they equine, canine or feline…they are all beloved and cherished.

Over the past several weeks our volunteer News Editor has been gathering articles on equine health so in an effort to make Sunday a happy day we will be sharing a cornucopia of Horse and Donkey health articles for you to collect, review and utilize as you see fit.

Check in tomorrow, and download till you drop.

Merry Christmas.

Feel Good Sunday: Horse And Dog Have Been Best Friends Since The Moment They Met

By caitlinnjill as published on The Dodo

“They built this amazing trust and knowledge of each other and this has only grown over the years,”

Leslie grew up always having multiple dogs around, and so when she moved out on her own, there was never any question about who her housemates would be.


Currently, Leslie has four Dobermans: Boss, Kyra, Gaia and Zeus.

All the dogs love each other very much, and are always following each other around …

… and getting into mischief together, of course.

Leslie also grew up around horses, and her horse Contino is just as much a part of the pack as the dogs — especially with Boss.

“The pack just knows how to deal and live around horses,” Leslie told The Dodo. “They’ve been around horses since they were allowed to go outside. However, the case of Boss is a different one.”

From the very first time Boss wandered around Contino’s stables, the pair were simply drawn to one another. Neither has ever been afraid of the other, and their bond is truly unlike any other.

“Boss was always fearless around him and was even curious to come close to lick or smell him,” Leslie said. “Contino accepted him amazingly since day one, so that’s about time when I realized their relationship was something special.”

Boss and Contino love spending time together, giving each other kisses and cuddles. Despite being much bigger than him, Contino is always very gentle with Boss, and seems to know exactly what he needs.

“They built this amazing trust and knowledge of each other and this has only grown over the years,” Leslie said.


Tribute: Rosie, Cowboy and the Woman They Left Behind

by R.T. Fitch

I am without words, I just do not know what to say.  I had seen the headlines, I had read the words, but nothing registered.  Someone’s beloved dog and horse had died from eating poisoned laced cookies…but I moved on, elected not to share that news as it was sad and perhaps too painful to read.  Instead I moved on searching for stories about entire wild herds, corrupt government and changes in the law.  For several days those headlines haunted be but I did not relent, I did not read a one of them:

Beloved horse and dog die after eating poisoned cookies

Sebastopol-area horse, dog die after eating poisoned cookies

Horse and Dog Die After Eating Poisoned Cookies | FOX40

California dog and horse die after eating cookies laced with …

‘Just Despicable’: Sebastopol Woman’s Horse, Dog Die After …

Horse and dog killed with poisoned cookies in Sonoma …

California dog, horse possibly poisoned to death by tainted …

A Horse And Dog Were Poisoned To Death With Laced …

…until Debbie Coffey sent me an email and said “I think this is Leslie Anne Webb“.  My heart stopped.

Leslie Anne Webb, an old friend of ours whose paintings of our horses adorn the walls of our home was in pain and I ignored it for days, I am forever sorry, Leslie Anne, I did not know

But this day, instead of repeating and reprinting the words of sadness and human depravity I would rather celebrate the kind and tender spirit of the woman in mourning and highlight the joy that she brings to the animals and people she shares her life with.  There is great goodness in the heart of this artist and an insight into the soul of those who are voiceless like no other other.

Today I share with you a story of a magical weekend Terry and I spent at Leslie’s ranch with her and her critter family; a time that touched me so very deeply and now lives on in our book Straight from the Horse’s Heart.

I give you The Valley of Laughter

Leslie Anne Webb

Leslie Anne Webb

It’s rare to find one’s self in another land, a different world, without even remembering how, when, or where you passed a boundary. Granted the journey is a long one: up and down California mountain roads past many gorgeous vistas. First, the roads are paved and spread out in multiple lanes. Then, they twist and wind about until they are only two lanes; then one; next gravel; then dirt; and, as you pull up to the mystical entrance gate, only one vehicle could make it’s way through at a time.

Perhaps it is when you step out of your earthbound vehicle, at the gate, that you know you are getting close to a place that is truly different, unique, and very special. Maybe it is the wooden fence rails that run beside you bound together, by hand, with rope. Perhaps it is the vibrant hand-painted welcome sign that reads, in a brilliant blue, “Circle 7”; or, perchance, it is the whispering in the leaves of the trees. Yes, perhaps that is it. From over head and far away the leaves in the trees whisper a distant laugh, a barely audible giggle, a sigh of happiness. Yes, that is when you first are aware that you have arrived.

As you drive through the narrow gate and up the path, you pass a series of barns on your right. There, several free roaming horses, many very large, look your way, smile, and nod. The whisper of laughter is heavy in the air. As you make a sharp turn to the left and descend into the valley you may pick up several companions: dogs, running beside you with mouths in an open smile while tongues bounce to and fro as they keep pace with your motorized decent. More sounds of happiness seep in through your vehicle’s ventilation system. A smile breaks across your face.

Terry and Leslie

Terry and Leslie

As you slowly and carefully make your way down to the valley floor, you feel that perhaps you have truly passed into another time or dimension as, off to the right in the distance, two Native American Teepee’s stand majestically in a clearing under ancient oak trees. Then, after you pass through another gate into the main yard, there is a quaint turn-of-the-century bath house to your right. Nestled into the mountain side, on your left, is a clean-cut two story building that reminds you of a school house from years gone by, right down to the cupola atop the shinning metal roof. From its ample porch, your hostess, the sole human inhabitant of this valley, waves and smiles a big welcome.

You have arrived at a very special place and, within seconds, you are blessed with the sound of laughter ringing from the sides of the mountain and across the valley floor. This is an incredibly extraordinary residence that has been carved out of the wilderness by one of America’s last, true, pioneer woman. Over the years, living first in a tent, then in the Teepees and finally in the gallery/home, this woman has made this unique plot of land a place for her to work; a place for her to live; and, a place for her to love and be loved by the animal companions that fill her life with joy. This is the home of equine artist, Leslie Anne Webb.

015One feels privileged to walk upon this sacred ground. Many years of toil and tears went into making it the place of sharing that it is today. The original intent was to create an environment conducive for working with oils and telling the individual stories of horses by immortalizing their likenesses in paintings. The painting turned out to be the easy portion of this long and incredible journey. Along the way, horses were rescued; wells were dug; dogs were saved; and buildings were built. All accomplished through the hands of this artist and the spirit that makes this country great.

One can easily get lost in hearing the stories of challenge, triumph, and ultimate victory. In fact, before you realize it, an entire day can slip through your fingers as quickly as if you had fallen over a waterfall. Listening to Leslie, while rubbing down the horses and petting the dogs, causes a shift in the normal time continuum and you soon find yourself longing to go back to the beginning and start all over again. Sadly, much to your chagrin, even in this magical valley the earth will not spin in reverse. Therefore, you must relent; say your good-night’s; and, if you are lucky enough, you head off to the Teepees to refresh and recharge both body and soul.

018During the night, you can still hear the gentle giggling amongst the leaves in the trees. In fact, you can see the limbs shiver and quake above your head through the opening in the Teepee’s peak. The trees dance with the wind to some ancient melody as your energy circulates around the teepee; around and upward, until in your dreams you too are dancing to a very far away but persistent tribal song. You sleep very, very well.

Upon awakening, you question your dreams of dancing with nature only to discover that you have been blessed and covered with a delicate blanket of oak leaves that was added to your man-made blanket during the night. Perhaps it was not a dream, after all.

Over a mug of coffee, more stories are shared; laughter rings anew; paintings are admired; and, plans to save even more horses are made. You nurse the coffee for, when it is gone, you must leave; so, the sharing of life’s tall tales continues. But, time moves quickly in the valley; soon the bottom of your coffee mug comes into view and you must journey back into the world from whence you came.

025You say your good-byes to the rescued horses; you pet the dogs that have been saved; you stroke the cat whose life has been salvaged; and embrace the pioneer woman, one last time, before departing. In that last fleeting moment, you steal a departing glance at the art that she has created and gaze, again, at the land that she has transformed into art. From one heart, so much living beauty has been fashioned that you find a tear slowly creeping down your cheek as you reluctantly turn the key in the ignition.

A wave of the hand, the bark of a dog, and the crunch of tires on gravel signal that you are on a journey forward into time; back to the contemporary world where technology is king and where man has forgotten his roots. As you ascend out of the valley, an emptiness begins to grow inside your heart; or, perhaps it is only returning. Nevertheless, you desperately fight the urge to turn around.

Once through the gate, up high on the mountain, you exit your vehicle to close and latch it ensuring the safety of the horses. Above you, the leaves whisper a farewell. You linger for a moment and hold onto one of the hand-lashed fence rails while you take in the music of the trees. There, in the nearest rope lashing, you see something: a delicate object twisting in the gentle breeze. Carefully, you pluck it from between the lashings of the binding rope and, to your delight, you realize it is the ornate and delicate tail feather of a native hawk. And, as you twirl it before your eyes and absorb its beauty, you hear from very far away, echoing softly from the valley below, the cry of its owner wishing you well as you reluctantly depart the Valley of Laughter.

Videos: Police Horses Lick Dogs To Celebrate Labor Day Weekend

Compiled by the The Gothamist

“It’s an Extended ‘Feel Good Sunday'”


Labor Day Weekend is the symbolic end of the summer, the time of year when beaches begin shuttering their shores and bitter screeds about Summer Fridays go the way of the dodo. The long weekend provides the chance for a moment of reflection for millions of overworked, overtaxed, Simpsons-marathoning Americans. Or you could be like us, and just watch a bunch of videos of curious police horses licking, nuzzling, and generally being adorable with dogs like Carrie at TreeHousePuppies.  It’s Magnificant Monday so let’s enjoy!

From all of us at SFTHH and WHFF: “May the last lick of summer lather you in the slobber of true love!”

For the Love of a Dog, Companion and Friend

An original story by R.T. Fitch

“It’s ‘Feel Good Sunday’ and I am going to do something different, today.  Instead of sharing something that someone else has written I have penned, for you, a few thoughts and feelings that crossed across my heart this very morning.  A true blog is supposed to be an online journal of the creators thoughts and plans but we use this as a sounding board for the causes and issues that engulf our American Equines both wild and domestic.  But today I wax a little emotional with an eye turned inward, not a bad thing to do to revitalize one’s heart and soul.  So today I share this moment in time and hope that the love and the glow reaches out through the words to touch your heart and brings you great joy.  Keep the faith, my friends.” ~ R.T.


Suzie ~ photo by Terry Fitch

Suzie ~ photo by Terry Fitch

I woke up rather differently this morning.  Only three days into attempting to pull myself backwards in time from living 13 hours ahead of U.S. Central time; the night had been sporadic and unsettled enough without my wife’s phone pinging an audible text message signal at 0523 hrs.

“Who would be texting her at this hour?”, my jet lagged brain attempted to deduce when it chimed again, followed by a ping.

I tried as I may to keep my eyes closed and my mind turned off when it happened yet a third time and when I heard the following ping I realized that the last tone was and had been coming from my phone recharging in the kitchen.

“Who would be texting both of us at this time of day?” I thought as I stood up from the bed and scooped up my clothing, flashlight and Big Max from their every ready state next to our bed.  (Yes, being a former volunteer fire fighter has taught me to be ready in an instant, even when you are asleep.)

I scrambled to the kitchen while pulling on pants, shirt and socks only to realize that I could not read the messages on the phone without my glasses, getting old is such a bitch.

Once I had the Coke bottle bottoms latched onto my face I could read that the messages had come from one of the barn’s internal surveillance cameras as movement within our closed up barn had activated it and there were no horses inside…this peaked my interest.

So I strapped Big Max onto my right hip, not for protection from critters but the two-legged kind, and put the torch in my left pocket while heading for the garage door only to almost trip over our geriatric German Shepherd, Suzie, sprawled out in front of the back door.  She struggled to stand when she spied me out of her last working eye; I could tell by her expression that she wanted to go out.  So I helped her up, as she has trouble standing, and opened the back door for her to go out.  I closed the door behind her and turned away as it pains me to watch her struggle to negotiate the three low steps that take her down to the patio, she is tough though.

I exited the house through the garages and opened up half the barn door with torch in hand.  Quickly flipping on the light switches I was greeted to a great big nothing, no one or no thing was there.

I entered and listened for any sort of sound and nothing came bouncing back to my ears.  Methodically I opened up each stall door and peered inside with the LED torch ablaze, nothing.  I looked up into the haylofts and walked over to the ladder, “A raccoon could be up there I thought”, so I pocketed the torch and headed up.

Once up I could clearly see the second hayloft and it was clear, I could look down into all of the stalls and nothing stirring.  Likewise I surveyed the storage area over the tack room and the bales of hay in the loft itself and not a creature was stirring, not even a rat.

Hmmm, something must have triggered the camera but it was obviously not inside anymore so I carried my search outside to the parameter of the barn.  Nothing to the north, east or south but down in the western pasture the eyes of the grazing horses and deer reflected back to me as did two rabbits nibbling grass in the backyard.

False alarm, so I retraced my steps down the barn’s drive, across the driveway and into the garages and back into the house where I knew a hot cup of tea would help clear away the cobwebs of jet lag, as it always did.

But once wide awake with a steaming hot cup of hand carried Chinese Ginseng tea in hand I noted yet another alert coming across my phone, a weather warning.  It seemed that a narrow band of thunderstorms was bearing down on us from the northwest so instead of making a detour into my home office to work on a morning installation for the blog I headed back out the garage door to sit and watch the natural fireworks in the darkness of the early morning.  It would be refreshing and rejuvenating.

So I sat under the west garage’s porch as I sipped my tea and listened to the distant rumble of the storm; suddenly my chair nudged from behind.  It was Suzie, she had finally made her way around from the back and was coming to the garages to see if any of her people were about, and they were…I was there.

I looked down at her and scratched her graying chin, she closed her eyes and instead of gracefully lying down next to me she did the only thing she can now do to recline, she fell with a thud.  Riddled with arthritis she cannot bend like she used to so she just falls and each time she does it I become a little shaken.  But she does not cry, whimper or complain; it just is.

I have talked with Terry about releasing her, about allowing her to transcend her aging and crippled body but Terry claims that she has not asked nor is she ready.  We must be patient and help her whenever we can; she deserves that much respect.

But I see her fail more each time I am away and then return, so much so that I said my heartfelt goodbyes before I left last month as I was certain that she would not be here upon my return, she proved me wrong.

As the breeze began to freshen and the petals from the Bradford Pear tree blossoms fell on us like snow I looked into her one seeing eye and listened, I tried to shut my mind off so I could hear her and to my dismay I found that my brain would not stop talking and continued to yapp away about her condition.

I looked away as the first drops of the storm began to fall and noted that both of us were a little too close to the edge of the roof line to be fully protected from the rain.  I stood up to move my chair back and Suzie took that as a cue to move, too.  She sat up on her front two legs and paused, I saw her hesitate and then she looked right into my heart and said, “Help me”.

I did; I hugged my arms around her and gently slid her back to my chair so that she would not have to go through the effort of trying to stand up, move and then fall down again.  I just placed her next to me and we both watched the rain.

As the rain fell I softly laid my left hand on her head and gently rubbed her ancient brow as my heart felt yet another hole beginning to form as a piece of me was beginning to dissolve.  It hurt, the knowing of impending loss yet there was a glow under my hand as I softly rubbed her ears as she looked out upon the storm.

I listened over the thunder, wind and rain and I could hear a faint sound of warmth, a feeling of love and a musical note that came not to my heart but instead to my soul.  I listened without my ears and I could hear Suzie humming, not loudly but contently and with great love.

I looked down at her as she looked up to me and I swear that she smiled as I heard her say, “Not today, but soon.  I love you.”

It was not a raindrop but a tear from me that landed between her paws and with her tongue outstretched she gently licked it up and kissed my hand.

We smiled and then turned to the storm.

“Not today,” I sighed.

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Caring for Aging Companion Animals

by By Kelly Harris of the Marin CA Humane Society ~ from the MarinIJ.com

“When we bring a pet into our lives, we are completely committed to them…”

It’s Sunday and our day to reflect, recharge and prepare for the week ahead; it’s gearing up to be a big one.  So for this “feel good Sunday” we share with you a story about a California couple that struggles to do their level best for the animals that they have rescued and share their home.  They are special people when it comes to their care and concern; their story hits home as Terry and I experienced the same struggle and emotions as we fought to save one of our canine children just one year ago this time.  Likewise, this story touches us deeply as it is about our animal law attorney for Wild Horse Freedom Federation, Bruce Wagman and his lovely bride Deborah.  Bruce is not only a business associate but a very close friend and advocate, indeed.” ~ R.T.


Bruce and Deborah Wagman with Zuri

Recently, DR. Marcella Harb-Hauser and the nursing team at Pet Emergency and Specialty Center of Marin, CA met Zuri, an adorable 17-year-old mixed-breed dog. Zuri lived with a family of seven other rescued pets and was dearly loved by its guardians Bruce and Deborah Wagman, who brought Zuri in after the animal quit eating and urinating.

After evaluation, Zuri was diagnosed with sudden kidney failure. Typically an age-related illness, kidney failure can also be brought on by infection or toxins. At Zuri’s age, the situation was dire.

“Initially she had a 10 percent chance of survival,” says Harb-Hauser.

But Zuri was a fighter and the Wagmans were passionate about helping the animal through this illness as they had many times before — as long as the dog could maintain a high quality of life.

“When we bring a pet into our lives, we are completely committed to them, through thick and thin — we treat our pets as if they are members of our human family,” says Bruce Wagman. “We asked Harb-Hauser and the incredible support staff at PESCM to help guide us. We wanted to know whether she could be happy and pain-free again if she made it out of the hospital.”

“Considering quality of life during and after treatment is one of the first conversations I have with pet parents going through an illness with an aging pet,” says Harb-Hauser. “It’s different with every family. Some families are satisfied hat their older pet has had a long and fruitful life. Others, like the Wagmans, would do anything in their power to prolong life, as long as the pet is comfortable. There’s no right or wrong answer as long as your pet isn’t suffering.”

With high-quality medical care by a team working around the clock, Zuri was kept as comfortable as possible. Day by day, the dog got stronger and, after 15 days in the hospital, Zuri was able to return to home in Stinson Beach.

“Those were easily 15 of the longest days of our lives together. We knew her illness would eventually be terminal, but we asked the PESCM staff to help us get Zuri back home for continued care,” says Bruce Wagman.

So the Wagmans began a daily regimen of giving Zuri fluid injections beneath her skin and special diets through feeding tubes. They provided Zuri with around-the-clock care in her familiar home environment.

“But it wasn’t like she wasn’t having her Zuri life in her Zuri house on her Zuri beach with her Zuri family,” says Bruce. “Her quality of life was great — she was bounding around the beach again like she always had! We considered every extra day we had with her a success and a promise.”

“By looking at her, you wouldn’t even know she was sick,” said Deborah Wagman. “She was walking up and down the stairs again and running the beach as its mayor — just like she used to. She was happy and pain free and we just knew we’d made the right decisions for her.”

Sadly, Zuri did pass away from the disease, but the animal had another four months of life at home.

“I knew Zuri was a special dog because I’d seen her fight and fight,” says Harb-Hauser. “The Wagmans made the right choice for their family, and it gave them extra time with their beloved Zuri that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Her advice to guardians of aging pets: “Carefully consider their pets’ quality of life, pain levels and what they can financially and emotionally afford. The answer is uniquely different for every family,” she says. “If you are uncertain about how to care for an aging pet, your trusted family veterinarian can often help guide you in finding the right balance.”

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