Friday, January 30, 2009
The family knew that their son would want Lex to live with them. They already had Corporal Lee's first canine partner, Doenja, living with them. The Lees lobbied the military for months, launched an Internet petition and sought the help of North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones, (R. N.C) before Lex was given special permission to retire from the Marines to live with the Lees.
This real life story reminded me of a book I read two years ago. Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam. This book is so much more than a heart-warming, gut wrenching story embedded in the horrors of war. Newberry award winning (Kira Kira) author Cynthia Kadohata focuses on the power of the human animal bond during a time in U.S. history that is rarely discussed. When Rick Hanski signs up for the army, leaving the security of his Wisconsin home and a waiting job in his Dad’s hardware store, he is ready to “whip the world.” Hanski, however, quickly begins to second guess his decision and ability when, as a dog handler, he is teamed with strong-willed German Shepherd named Cracker.
Initially, Cracker is leery of everyone. She does not understand why her former best friend, a boy named Willie, gave her to the army. Hanski and Cracker, however, soon develop an understanding and form a bond that goes beyond friendship; they become one of the most sought after and respected U. S. Army dog search teams in Vietnam.
The novel, recommended for ages 10 and up, is told alternatively through Hanski’s and Cracker’s points of view. It is graphic, but not gruesome. Kadohata does not sugar-coat the heroics of the dogs for reasons based on facts. An author’s note reads “...at the war’s end [dogs] were considered surplus military equipment. Although precise records were not kept, most historians agree that at least 4,000 dogs served during the war and are credited with saving some 10,000 human lives. About 1,000 dogs died from combat, jungle disease or other reasons. At the war’s end, only approximately 200 dogs were reassigned to other U.S. military bases. The remaining dogs were either euthanized or given to the South Vietnamese Army. The fate of those dogs remains unknown.” The book has a bitter-sweet ending. Cracker and Hanski survive the war. Unfortunately, true to the hazards of war, other characters, dogs and soldiers, do not.
According to the article about the heroic Marine team of Corporal Lee and Lex, the military currently has 1,700 dogs working alongside American troops. These relationships, real and fictionalized should be noted and celebrated. I cried when I read about Hanski's reunion with Cracker. I cried, too, for Corporal Lee, for his family and for Lex, one of the best dogs currently living in Mississippi.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Max & Nigel are now warm and dry inside.
Enjoy the snow, but be sure to dry off your dog's feet after a romp outside.
AND, keep your cats indoors!
Sunday, January 25, 2009
The blurb detailed how an unsuspecting driver heard a kitten (meowing) from under her car's hood. She drove to a veterinarian's office where an animal control officer came and safely retrieved a 4-month-old kitten. That was one LUCKY kitten.
Many times kittens and cats will seek warmth under the hood of a car. What happens is the kitty crawls up the front tire and beds down in the warm engine of a parked car. An unsuspicious driver comes out and starts the car. Sometimes the cat takes a warm ride, like the kitten in the article. Oftentimes, however a tragic scene is played out -- the driver starts the car and YEOW!!!!! the cat is mangled or killed by the fan belt. Best way to avoid the deadly CAT-in-ENGINE situation is to keep your cat safe and warm indoors!
**** Tell drivers to bang on the hood or honk the horn before starting the ignition. The loud noise should be a warning to napping kitties to find another spot.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Catastrophe!! Too Many Cats and Not Enough Homes
What do Aggie, Starbuck, London, Aberdeen, Aruba, Jamica, Wooshie, Wynken, Argle, Repeat, and Spanky all have in common? They are all cats who have lived at the Washington Animal Rescue League for 6 months or more! Valentine's Day marks Aggie's one-year anniversary at the League. We would love to celebrate that day with Aggie moving on to a real home. One where she will be loved and cared-for -- forever!
To help us introduce the absolutely purrrfect cats to prospective adopters, we are hosting a special event, CATAPALOOZA, on Saturday, February 14th.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
What's In a Title?
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
See puppies play, eat, nap and poop! Remember, if you view the puppy cam after hours it may be dark; puppies need their rest. AND, for an entertaining in-person show, stop by the League and see lots and lots of kittens in our three lobby display windows. The kittens are tumbling, pouncing, and leaping right now. Check out the League's web site, www.warl.org for current visiting hours.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Recycling Projects -- Think Animal Toys
What can you do with one old sock? Fill the foot with catnip, knot the ankle and give it to a cat who wants a toy!
Do you have a stuffed animal or two that you don't cuddle with any more? Donate them to the League or another local animal shelter. Not all stuffed animals are okay, they need to have the batting-type of stuffing -- not sawdust or beans.
You can make fun tuggy toys with old towels. Tear (or cut) them into strips and tie them together, pull the knots super tight and then use the tuggy toys to play with your dog. You can sneak some dog cookies into the knots and watch your dog untie the toy!
Can't get the last little bit of peanut butter out of the jar? Bet your dog can. Peanut butter is a yummy treat. A dog with a nearly empty jar of peanut butter can be occupied for a long time.
There are lots of reuse/recycle ideas that can be used to create fun cat and dog toys, do you have some that you have created? Please share them here. Let's reuse and recycle ideas so our animals will have lots of fun things to do.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
A Little Savings Goes A Long Way
Monday, January 12, 2009
Five Things YOU Can Do to Help the Animals During These COLD WINTER DAYS!!!! BRRRRRRR!!!
- Keep dogs and cats inside
- If there is snow on the ground and/or salt in street, make sure to wipe your dog's pads with a warm water cloth after a walk
- Tell drivers to knock on the hoods of their cars to frighten away any unsuspecting cats who may have climbed up under the hood seeking warmth in the car's engine
- If you know someone who leaves their dog outside, make sure the dog has a proper dog house. That means that the house is elevated off of ground, has a flap over the entry way to keep out wind and has hay or shredded newspaper inside for bedding -- not a towel or blanket. Better yet, also alert the local animal welfare agency and let them check out the dog house
- Feed the birds and other wildlife. It's hard for birds, squirrels and other animal friends to find food in the winter. Put seed and/or suet in a convenient place. Once you commit to feeding the birds, don't stop until spring. The animals will be come dependent on your generosity and come to feed regularly at the designated spot.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Good News for Life Living Under The Sea
Yesterday -- President Bush moved to create three new marine national monuments in the Pacific Ocean. Renee Schoof of the McClatchy Newspapers reported that The monuments — in the Mariana Islands in the western Pacific, the Rose Atoll off American Samoa and remote islands in the central Pacific — cover 195,280 square miles, the largest protected area of ocean. The Marianas Marine National Monument will protect the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on Earth — deeper than Mount Everest is high and explored for the first time only in 1960. The monuments also protect corals and the ecosystems that include large migratory, resting and feeding sea birds, and endangered animals such as sea turtles.
Search the web. Learn more about this historic environmental protection designation.
Monday, January 5, 2009
A Quick, Funny Back-to-School Story to Start Off the New Year
Max got on all fours and meowed loudly at the door. That's what Merl, our brown tabby, does when he wants inside. I laughed and Max meowed louder. Bruce and Merl came running from other parts of the house to see who the new cat was. Max meowed again and our tough guy cats crouched down into one of those, "I'm not so sure about you" positions.
When I opened the door to let Max-cat in, Bruce hissed, ran away and hid under a chair. I think he was embarrassed by being fooled by Max. It took several minutes of coaxing before Bruce came out, acted like nothing happened, and was content to bat around his favorite toy, a teeny, tiny blue crab.