Know Ye Now True Loyalty and Love

Blackies Memorial

Blackies Memorial

Back in 1978 Charles Kuralt ran a story in his On The Road series about a dog, affectionately named Blackie, that stole the hearts of a community in Coles County, Illinois. It’s amazing to me that even these 50 years later, Blackie still maintains a level of respect that most people don’t acquire after a lifetime of working to be noticed. Blackie’s story is one that is played out by every dog I’ve ever known and loved, but his story happened to make it to the national stage where he could be an inspiration for all on what true love and dedication is made of while shining a light on the indignity too many suffer.

In the summer of 1965 a little black dog, who seemed to be lost, appeared at the juncture of IL Route 16 and 49. Bill Stiff, whose family’s farm adjoined the intersection, theorized that Blackie had been dumped and he was faithfully waiting for his master to return for him because he would never leave that stretch of road. People that traveled the road noticed him sitting there, always watching the traffic, as if waiting and watching for someone. Summer came and went and Blackie kept his vigil. People started to worry about his safety and how he was going to fare with winter coming, but when families tried to adopt him he always returned to his spot at the road, waiting for the one that had left him behind. His dedication was noticed and the people of town worried, so they brought him food. At Thanksgiving there were so many people bringing offerings there were more turkey bones than anyone could imagine, they were stacked that high. Blackie sat there for months, until one icy morning in February when he was struck and killed by a car. Saddened by the loss, the community put up a gravestone at the site where Blackie stood watch. All these many years since kids have taken turns mowing the grass to keep the area of his memorial cleaned up. Flowers continue to be left for him. It’s difficult to explain the impact that little dog had on this community, until you read what they inscribed on his grave marker. “Blackie. February 6, 1966. Know Ye Now True Loyalty and Love.” What that little soul showed was the spirit and meaning of true love and devotion, and through him the community was changed. Fifty years later they are still paying their respects. I hope and pray I have some impact remotely close to that of the little black dog of Coles County, Illinois, during my lifetime. If I do, I will have accomplished much.

Never forget, it is only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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I could live with this police interaction.

Tiny police dog

Tiny police dog

I believe every workplace should have a designated person that brings their animal to work, and this story from can explain it in actionable living why it’s the best idea ever:
A tiny 12-week-old toy rat terrier named Spot is having a huge impact on morale at a police department just north of Salt Lake City. Stephanie Gonzales, a crime prevention specialist for the Woods Cross Police Department, told her family adopted young Spot — full name, Spoticus — “right before Christmas,” when her husband’s co-worker had an unexpected litter of puppies. Soon thereafter, Gonzales had her reasons for bringing Spot to work. “I wanted to show off my new dog,” she said with a laugh. “Of course, they thought he was the cutest little thing.” And while Spot doesn’t have any official duties, he does offer a valuable service. “The detective walked in, he was in a grumpy mood,” Gonzales said of Spot’s first day reporting for duty. “He’d just had a horrible call, and [Spot] just runs up and completely loves him. And [Spot] does that with every officer.” The impression Spot had on her co-workers and visitors that first day convinced Gonzales to bring Spot along on a daily basis. “Everybody who came in the office — whether you work here or wanted to make a police report — has been like, ‘Oh, what a cute dog!'” she added. “Even if you’re in the worst mood, I mean, [there’s] a little puppy. How do you not love that?” Spot’s greatest accomplishment during his short tenure was calming a young boy who’d wandered into the police station. “We had a lost boy who was brought to the station, probably two weeks ago,” Gonzales said. “He did not know who police were, and was very, very reluctant to come in. But as soon as he was in here, and he saw the dog, he was like, ‘Oh, a dog!’ We let him throw [Spot] a toy. He completely warmed up, finally told us his name, finally got his phone number, and we were able to get him back to his parents.” In addition to learning a few tricks ranging from “stick ‘em up” to rolling over, Spot is described by Gonzales as “spunky, willing to learn and very energetic” — that is, when he’s not napping on a giant pile of stuffed animals. “As soon as he hears the door open, he jumps off my chair to the door to greet anybody who comes,” she added. “Not one person has complained.” Back at home, Spot continues to be affectionate, palling around with Gonzales’ husband, four children and two bullmastiffs — all dwarfing the pup who goes by “Officer Spot” on the police department’s website. Since Spot has been known to sleep on the job, a promotion might not be in his immediate future. But he doesn’t seem to mind.
I’ve said over and over again that lives are saved when you have an animal in your life. It can be as simple as bringing about a smile where there was a frown, lifting a spirit and bringing forth joy. Or it can be as dramatic as creating the tenuous thread that keeps a soul from doing what is unthinkable to the rest of us but is the only viable option in that moment of despair until those magic kisses kiss away the tears of despair. Furry and four-legged can bring about miracles that all the love and companionship two-legged mere mortals simply can’t muster. They look at us with their innocence of faith and devotion, and we melt into their trust and are healed. If you don’t have this miracle of living in your life now, visit a shelter today. It is there for you to have, in this moment, in every city of this great nation. Your soul mate is waiting for you. Four legs, fur and devoted understanding, kindness and companionship. It doesn’t get any better. And never forget, it’s only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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Everyone deserves to be loved this much.

Sissy the Schnauzer

Sissy the Schnauzer

Every day I read stories about the love between humans and their animals but none has touched me as much as the one I read about Sissy, the miniature Schnauzer. Because I can’t tell it better than from the mouths of those that lived it, here from of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is the story of Sissy, the Schnauzer:
CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) – If you ever doubted the connection between a dog and their human companion, you might want to think again: For the Francks and their daughter Sarah Wood, it was something they can’t really explain. Sissy, a 10-year old Miniature Schnauzer, walked nearly 20 blocks straight through Mercy Medical Center’s 10th Street entrance doors and right into the hospital lobby. “I said, ‘Did you sneak this dog in?’ Sarah said, ‘No, (Sissy) snuck herself in,'” said Nancy Franck. “Set the door off – she got in by herself too. So she was on a mission.” Sissy was apparently on a mission to find Franck, who is recovering at Mercy due to complications of a cancer-related surgery. “A big boost — it helped a lot, just to see her and talk to her,” said Franck. Before being reunited, Franck’s husband Dale thought the worst. Early Saturday morning, while Nancy Franck was still in the hospital, Dale Franck realized the furnace in their home was not working. So he took Sissy and her brother, Barney, out to use the bathroom at around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. “I thought they both came back in the house,” said Dale Franck. ” I was panicking. (Sissy’s) my baby. I’m sorry.” However, Sissy was nowhere to be found. Dale Franck looked all over the house and outside trying to find her. He eventually called the animal shelter and Cedar Rapids Police before calling Wood. “Dad’s playing another joke,” Wood said she thought. About four hours later, Wood learned it was not a joke. “Then I get a call from Mercy (Medical Center) security,” said Dale Franck. “They say, ‘We have a little dog here.'” Sure enough, it was Sissy. Wood went to the hospital security office to pick up Sissy, and says she was waiting in the office looking out the window when Sissy turned around and gave Wood a clear look. “”Bout time you showed up, I’ve been here for a while now,'” Wood said, mimicking Sissy. “‘Let’s go see Mom, then you can take me home. Security cameras in the hospital caught Sissy roaming the 10th Street entrance of Mercy Hospital, prancing around the hospital hallways, looking for Nancy Franck. “I didn’t think they could do it,” Nancy Franck said. “I thought dogs could find their way home, but this one found the hospital.” The Francks say Sissy has never run away from home, and couldn’t have any idea that Nancy was at Mercy — or even where Mercy was. The security officer let Wood take Sissy up to Franck’s room to spend a few minutes with her. “She was on a mission,” said Wood. “The way she walked into the hospital, she was on a mission – she was determined to do something and she was going to do it. “I’m sure when Sissy got home she told Barney, ‘Guess who I got to see, and what I got to do and where I went?’” Wood added. Nancy is hoping to be released from Mercy soon, so she can spoil Sissy even more. “It’s amazing, and it’s God’s wish that we got her back,” said Dale Franck. “What else can you say?”
These are the words from a video, so when you read Dale Franck say “I’m sorry” after saying Sissy is his baby, it’s because he tears up at the thought of losing her. It’s especially difficult during his time of worry about his beloved wife. There is some pain that is so intense that it’s almost unbearable, and when you’re suffering in one area, like worrying about having your soul mate snatched from your arms as you stand there helpless, to also lose your beloved pet that brings sunshine to your soul is almost too painful to bear. I know because I walked that very path when my beloved Action Jackson went to spirit and I thought my world had collapsed in on me. There are moments in living when you need their joy to remind you how to continue to put one foot in front of the other, and to have them torn from your arms is just too painful. I am so grateful their story has a happy ending. Some blessings are priceless, and this story tells of the miracle of love of family. To be family all you need is you and your beloved pet. It is, after all, about the love. Everyone deserves to be loved this much
This story can be your story. You never have to be lonely or alone again. Visit a shelter today. And never forget, it’s only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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A Moose on the Loose is Shining the Light of Love in Our Lives

Sleeping MooseIn November we brought a new love monkey into our lives, our Mooselle, now just known as Moose. He has grown into the best fit of any adoptees we’ve ever brought on board, something I’m grateful for beyond words because the older I get the more difficult it becomes to mother the wild child. Not because I’m not up to it emotionally but simply because I don’t have the strength to hold on to a 100 pound Moose on the loose, so the fact that he’s such a good boy is my special blessing. I simply cannot imagine what would have brought his family to the place they felt the need to surrender him, but whatever took them to that decision has been the best thing that could have happened to our family. Moose is in love with one of the cats, SissyDo. He stares at her until she walks under his belly, tickling him with her tail. It’s a special game they play, and he’ll follow her around until she gives in to play time, then they go about their day doing dog things and cat things, independent of each other. The rest of the day our three whites, Zoey, Moose and Y.T. (the cat), all hang together. I’m not sure why that is except I have to go back to the old phrase “birds of a feather hang together.” Y.T. seems to be more at home with the white dogs than with the other cats, and she holds her own even though she is 1/10th their size. She runs roughshod over Moose, and to watch them play is a treat because she is about the size of his nose. He’s such a klutz our biggest worry is he’ll inadvertently step on her. His foot is wide enough that he covers my foot when he steps on it, and there is nothing petite about my feet. He’s a Moose in every sense of the word. He has no manners and thinks it’s my job to wake up and let him outside, rather than poking his dad when he needs to poop in the middle of the night. If the big nose poking me doesn’t wake me the sound of his tail hitting the wall as he happily stands there, waiting for me to awaken only serves to drive me further into the angst of trying to sleep. Then reality sinks in that if I don’t get up an accident will surely follow, and as he turns to lead the way in the dark of night I hear a loud “thud” as he runs into the door and I can’t help but laugh at my poor boy that is the only soul I know that is more uncoordinated than me. Maybe that’s why I love him so, he’s me in fur. Not quite right, never meeting the mark, but has a smile on his face and keeps on trying. He loves all the toys that are here from those that have walked these halls before him. I pick them up and put them away and yet they reappear, all over the floor of all the rooms, as he plays with each and every one to insure none is left unloved. He is a chewer, but only chews the eyes and noses off the soft toys and the sticks off the cat toys, but no shoes or furniture. He leaves the chickens alone so he gets to be a farm dog and do farm stuff at times none of our other dogs have ever been allowed outside before. He wants to be so close our joke is don’t stop too quickly or you’ll have Moose tail. In all things he wants to please. Like I said, I don’t know how we got so lucky to get our Mooselle, but to have an animal come into our lives that lives to please, makes us laugh, loves all the animals that are part of his extended family, and shines the Light of Love in every moment of his living is a blessing beyond words. Even when he’s irritating he makes me laugh. Now that’s a gift of the spirit that is priceless because you simply can’t get enough laughter in your life. There are many, many dogs just like Mooselle that are dying every day in high kill shelters, so every time you adopt, even from a no-kill shelter, you save a dog that will die today unless you are their miracle. Every spot that opens in a no-kill shelter allows a dog to be pulled from a high-kill environment. Every save is a miracle in someone’s life. I have had so many miracles in my own life I cannot even begin to name them all. Be your own miracle today. Adopt, don’t shop. Spay and neuter. Be the blessing that changes the world. If it’s to be, it’s up to me. And never forget, it’s only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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Pets are beloveds, not internet mimes, and we forget this at their peril.

Every day you see more and more videos online posted by parents and grandparents showing how wonderful their animals are in accepting the babies in their midst. However, if you really observe what the dogs are saying by observing their body language, what you’ll see is the dogs are sending a message that not only are they not happy but there soon will be a situation that will not serve anyone, and the one that will suffer the most egregious of consequences will be the beloved pet. According to Amy Bender, a dog behavior expert on, be aware of the following behaviors indicate your dog is about to bite:

1. Growling and Snapping

Growling and snapping are probably the most obvious signs that a dog is about to bite. Dogs growl or snap to let you know they are unhappy or uncomfortable. If a dog growls or snaps at you when you approach him, it’s time to give him some space. Growling and snapping can be helpful, too. Pay attention to the times your dog growls or snaps. Does it happen when you approach him when he’s eating, when strangers approach, or when you touch him while he’s asleep? Knowing what elicits the growling and snapping allows you to manage the problem and work on changing the behavior.

2. Wagging Tail

This is one of the signs that many people find surprising. Dog trainers often hear dog owners comment that their dog was wagging his tail right up until the moment he bit someone. But pay attention to the way your dog wags his tail. A happy dog may wag his tail and get his whole body involved. A dog who is about to bite is usually fairly rigid, and his tail will be pointed high and moving more quickly back and forth. This may be a sign of an impending dog bite. More »

3. Raised Fur

When dogs are afraid or overly stimulated, you may see the hair on their backs stand up. In some dogs, just the hair on the back of the neck between the shoulders stands up. Other dogs have it at the neck and also near their tails. Still other dogs may have a ridge of hair that stands up down the entire length of their backs. If you notice a dog has his hackles raised, it’s a signal that he needs you to back off.

4. Rigid Body Posture

Often when a dog is about to become aggressive, his body language is a dead giveaway – no pun intended. A comfortable, happy dog usually has a relaxed body with his ears low and a happy, wagging tail. An aggressive dog is just the opposite. His entire body may go stiff, and his ears and tail are raised high. If you reach out to pet a dog, and his entire body freezes rather than wiggling to get closer, he is not happy with being touched. It’s time to move away to make him more comfortable.

5. Lip Licking, Yawning and Averting Gaze

If you notice a dog is licking his lips (when food is not involved), yawning repeatedly, or turning his head to avoid meeting your gaze, he is trying to tell you something. Dogs engage in these behaviors to let you know they are uncomfortable with something going on around them. For instance, a dog who has never been around children may lick his lips or yawn when a child comes over to pet him. It does not necessarily mean that he is about to bite, but it is a warning that he is not comfortable. A dog who is uncomfortable, afraid, or stressed is more likely to bite. Your best bet when a dog uses one of these appeasement gestures is to try to alleviate his discomfort.

6. Cowering and Tail Tucking

Cowering and tail tucking are more overt signs than lip licking or yawning that you are dealing with a fearful dog. While fearful dogs don’t always bite, fear does increase the likelihood. If you encounter a dog who cowers away from you with his tail tucked between his legs, back off. Let him approach you in his own time, and he’ll be less likely to feel the need to bite to defend himself.

7. Seeing the Whites of the Eyes

Many dog trainers refer to this as whale eye. You’ll see the whites of a dog’s eye when he moves his head slightly, but doesn’t move his eyes. A half moon of white will show around the dog’s eyes. Whale eye is a sign of anxiety in dogs. It’s an expression many animal shelter workers are familiar with. Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a dog is about to bite. It means that a dog is feeling anxious, and anxious dogs are more likely to bite. If you see a dog showing the whites of his eyes, it’s a good idea to give him some space until he feels more relaxed.

Don’t assume your animals are okay with your smallest family members. You’re setting your family on a course you may not be able to recover from and once the deed is done, you can’t go back. So be the adult, put the camera away, and allow your dogs to be the beloved house pet and not the family horse or play toy. It’s not their job and not their place, so do your due diligence in protecting them and cherish them for the value they bring to your lives. It is your first and most solemn duty while they are in your care. And never forget, it’s only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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