Lisa Wogan

Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom.

News: Guest Posts
Military Working Dog to be Reunited with his Former Partner
After a long battle, Corporal Megan Leavey adopts Sergeant Rex

At last, a happy ending for Megan Leavey, an injured ex-Marine who has been fighting for years to adopt the German Shepherd with whom she spent “every waking moment” during two terms in Iraq. Together, they patrolled for IEDs, weapons caches and suicide bombers. In 2006, Leavey suffered a traumatic brain injury in an explosion that also injured Rex, and he was by her side during the rehabilitation process.

After she retired from the Marine Corps in 2007, she attempted to adopt Rex, but at seven-years-old he still had several more years of military service ahead. At 10, he retired and Leavey renewed her efforts to bring him to live out his days with her in Valley Cottage, N.Y.

With no luck, until now.

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) announced the Air Force had signed off on Leavey’s adoption request—largely thanks to Schumer’s intervention on her behalf and a 20,000-signature strong petition.

Don’t you just love it when the girl gets the dog?

News: Guest Posts
ASPCA-sponsored Adoptathon in D.C.
Great opportunity to adopt a shelter pup, March 31 and April 1

Whenever I see stories and emails about mega-adoption events, I always picture the “Crazy Eddie” ad man doing his nutty blow-out-blitz, the-prices-are-insane! shtick (New York, circa 1984). But just as there was a method to Eddie’s contrived madness, there is logic and a track record behind shelters’ “mega” events.

Multi-shelter adoptathons—such as the upcoming ASPCA Mega Match-A-Thon (Washington D.C., March 31–April 1)—work. Pooling marketing dollars and know-how, email lists and support networks, plus incentives like reduced adoption fees and the promise of many adoptable animals in one place, creates a rising tide that can lift all boats.

Maddie’s Matchmaker Adoptathon (June 9 and 10, San Francisco Bay Area) sets a high bar for these collaborations, bouyed by the resources of Maddie’s Fund, which makes donations to participating shelters and rescues for each animal adopted out to the tune of $2 million in 2011.

During the ASPCA Mega Match-A-Thon, animals from seven area shelters will be available at the Washington Animal Rescue League’s headquarters (71 Oglethorpe S,t, NW Washington, D.C.) on March 31 and April, 1 from 11 am to 5 pm. Adoption fees are reduced to $20 for cats and $40 for dogs. The fees will also apply at participating shelters during this event. For details and information on adoption requirements, call 202.726.2556 or visit warl.org/mega.

This same weekend, the ASPCA is also sponsoring a three-day adoption event in Santa Fe, N.M., with five agencies including the Hispañola Humane Society.

It's great to see the ASPCA helping to spearhead these adoptathons around the country. Is there an multi-rescue adoption event coming to your community? Tell us about it.

News: Guest Posts
Seamus Story Continues to Dog Romney
Pups in presidential politics

Is there anyone in America who is not aware that Mitt Romney put his Irish Setter, Seamus, in a crate lashed to the roof of the family car for an eight-hour drive to Ontario in the 1980s? And that when the results of an unscheduled bathroom break trickled down the car windows, Mitt stopped at a gas station and efficiently hosed down the dog, the crate and the car and carried on?

Anyone still in the dark about this?

That incident has spawned criticism from dog lovers, skits and jokes on late night television, a “super pack” called Dogs Against Romney with its charmingly pointed “I Ride Inside” bumpersticker, and countless op eds by Gail Collins, for which we gave The New York Times columnist our first-ever “Dogging the Hound Award.”


As Amy Davidson recently pointed out in The New Yorker (which gives cover play this week to Romney’s crucible but with opponent Rick Santorum on the roof), dogs have always been part of presidential politics. So this is no great exception. But presidents and candidates for that office generally attempt to use their good relations with dogs as a selling point.

I wonder: If you liked most everything about Romney and he was your candidate, would the Seamus story keep you from voting for him?

News: Guest Posts
Very Big Fleas
New evidence of ancient bloodsuckers

Flea problems got you down? Well, count your lucky stars that you’re not raising a pack of pet Brachiosaurus. Recently, paleontologists in China discovered fossil evidence of Jurassic fleas that were as long as a thumbnail with sharp “mouth parts” all the better to dig into dinosaurs’ tough reptilian skin. Shudder.

News: Guest Posts
Dogs Know How to Have Fun [Video]
All they need is a soundtrack

My Monday is grateful to Dave Meinert, the Cape Town-based director and filmmaker who turned a weekend dog-sitting gig into an epic dog’s-eye-view music video that captures the zany fabulousness with which dogs inhabit the world when they are given free rein. Created for the song “Hearts” by Johnny Neon, the video follows a rescue dog named Lemon (via GoPro camera rigged to a harness) on a sun-filled ramble through beach and park and beyond. Get me out of this office!

Johnny Neon 'Hearts' from Dave Meinert on Vimeo.

News: Guest Posts
15 Shelter Dogs Get the Mad Ave Treatment
Pics of the Litter initiative aims to find homes for tough cases

You know how when you hear about something for the first time, it seems to pop up on your radar repeatedly after the fact? When it’s a good idea—such as talented photographers helping shelter dogs get adopted—the repetition is a source of satisfaction.

Last year, I wrote about HeARTs Speak, a coalition of professional photographers shooting adorable (and hopefully irresistible) portraits. Recently, I learned about an initiative called Pics of the Litter, which takes the idea one step further by incorporating a grooming session before a photo shoot in a swanky studio, then launching the pups into the webisphere with a slick, engaging campaign.

As part of its philanthropy and community service effort, The Brighton Agency, a marketing, advertising and public relations firm in St. Louis, Mo., teamed up with the Animal Protective Association of Missouri and photographer Lynn Terry to capture the je ne sais quoi of the 15 dogs who’ve been in the shelter longest and are having the hardest time getting adopted. (Read: Several are Pit Bulls or Pit Bull mixes or black.) Chris Lee of A Walk in the Park Pet Spa and Boutique donated his grooming skills using tools donated by St. Louis-based FURminator.

The project was launched ion Valentine's Day and already, 11 of 15 of the dogs have found homes. I gotta believe (and pray) that Marco, Peanut, Chunk and Willow won’t have to wait much longer. It’s a lot of effort for 15 dogs but a great example of what can be accomplished when creative, passionate people commit themselves to do good.

What's next? "We’re staying focused on finding homes for the site’s current dogs for now, but the response from the community so far has been tremendous," says Jazzy Loyal, a PR account executive at Brighton. "We can’t be sure yet where this project will go, but the agency will absolutely continue supporting local pets and shelters. We’ve had so much fun working with these great dogs and watching them find their families."

Check out the video story:

Pics of The Litter Photo Shoot: Behind The Scenes from Brighton Agency on Vimeo.

Culture: DogPatch
The Incredible Dr. Pol

Large-animal veterinarians put in long hours and spend lots of time on the road, visiting farms in sparsely populated rural areas. It can be bitter cold or swelteringly hot, and is often muddy work. These challenges, plus an ever-shrinking number of people involved in agriculture, have been driving a shortage of large-animal and mixed-practice veterinarians nation-wide. As of last fall, 1,300 counties did not have a single doctor for farm animals, according the American Veterinary Medical Association. And the problem was expected to get worse.
Time for a game-changer. Enter Dr. Jan Pol, unlikely star of National Geographic Wild’s “The Incredible Dr. Pol,” a sort of James Herriot reboot for the reality TV crowd. The 69-year-old Dutch immigrant with a mixed practice in Central Michigan brings an engagingly cantankerous manner to his work. He can be brusque and even a little biting with people, especially with his city-slicker son, Charles, but you never doubt that he’s a truly compassionate, committed and effective vet.
Whether he’s untwisting a cow’s stomach or yanking an astonishing number of quills out of a Hound’s muzzle, Dr. Pol gets the job done with a minimum of drama, which makes for really good TV—and maybe, for some, inspiration for a career.

News: Guest Posts
Is the Guardian Campaign Losing Steam?
Does it matter?

Back in the early 2000s, a number of municipal governments around the country and in Canada revised their city codes, county ordinances and state legislation as they related to companion animals, replacing the term “owner” with “animal guardian.” In addition, animal welfare professionals, such as animal shelter staff and police and humane society officers, were referred to as guardians. The idea was to reflect in official language the role our dogs, cats and other animals play as members of our families and our role in protecting and providing for them.

The first city to make the change was Boulder, Colo., in 2000. But during the next four years, 40 cities and the entire state of Rhode Island adopted guardian language. Since then, only six cities in the United States have embraced the concept—an average of fewer than one per year, according to In Defense of Animals’ Guardian Campaign.

I wonder if it’s a reflection of hard times. Does a campaign like this seem frivolous with world economic instability, unemployment, climate change, protracted wars and other more urgent issues claiming our attention?

Is this an idea for better, less distracting times or is it as important today as it ever was?

News: Guest Posts
House Fire Survivors Need Forever Homes
Tragedy strikes home of foster volunteer

Volunteering to help rescue animals can be gratifying work but it can also be hard; there are setbacks and disappointments, as we were just reminded by Judy Devine-Geuther of Kennewick, Wash. As a member of HeARTs Speak, Devine-Geuther volunteers her time and substantial talents to photograph dogs in such a way that helps them get adopted. Recently, she photographed an adorable crew of foster dogs in the care of volunteer Linda Brown. Soon after the photo shoot, she learned Brown’s Benton City, Wash., home had burned down in an accidental fire on February 4. Initially, as many as 12 dogs were presumed dead.

Several of the dogs were being fostered for Forgotten Dogs Rescue. Katherine Farrington, who runs that group, stopped by the house at midnight after the fire. While peering through a fence the fire department had erected, she saw a dog. She called dispatch. A policeman searched the burned out house and spotted Chloe (left, in a photo taken by Devine-Geuther before the fire). He called Farrington in to help catch Chloe, who bolted under the bed when they tried to get close. Because of all the debris and ash, he insisted they return in daylight to rescue the dog.

Farrington called the fire department the following morning without results. Brown went to her house around 11 and called for Chloe, who came to the fence. Brown was able to grab her. She also saw Sugar and one of her own Pomeranians, but they were too scared to come out.

On the following day, four more canine survivors were discovered including three foster dogs—Sunshine, Teddy and Sugar—as well as one of Brown’s own dogs. They probably survived by hiding under the bed.

Chloe has been adopted but Sunshine, Teddy and Sugar need homes now more than ever. As Devine-Geuther says, “These dogs have been through so much, they are truly deserving a permanent place to call home.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful to turn this terrible accident into something good for these survivors? Learn more at Forgotten Dogs Rescue (Teddy and Sugar) and Mikey’s Chance Canine Rescue (Sunshine).

All the surviving dogs were treated by a veterinarian for smoke exposure. You can contribute to cover the dogs’ $500 veterinary bill via Forgotten Dogs Rescue page on Petfinder.com.

News: Guest Posts
Dog Show Severs Ties with Pedigree
A little too much sad reality

I don’t feed my dog Pedigree dog food, but I am a huge fan of their ads. I know the company is pushing product, but I admire all the time, attention and high-production effort they give to promoting the adoption of shelter dogs and celebrating mixed-breed pups. Some of their ads are funny and celebratory; others make me weep in my cups (above).

On Friday, the Associated Press reported that the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show had ended its long-running relationship with Pedigree as a show sponsor. According to several stories, dog show honchos felt the adoption/shelter message and associated images of sad-eyed shelter dogs was too big of a bummer, a little too much reality.

The real bummer is the American Kennel Club’s disconnect from the problem of too many homeless dogs and outrageous euthanasia rates. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show doesn’t happen in a vacuum even if organizers might want to pretend it does—and kicking Pedigree to the curb only highlights that reality.