Who to believe? Do you think it was little jumping Reggie or “The big guy” Elmo?
Who to believe? Do you think it was little jumping Reggie or “The big guy” Elmo?
Photographing dead bodies in Vietnam, undergoing 37 operations and suffering from head-to-toe disabilities may make some of us kind of disgusted with life. Heck, stubbing a toe can make some of us disgusted with life.
Unless, of course, you happen to have a pet.
Getting free pets for military veterans is the mission of the new Pets 4 Vets Program launched by the Tucson nonprofit 4-Legged Friends Inc. Once the program is up and running, the group hopes to help provide free pets for any vet who wants one but can’t afford the adoption fees.
“When a vet gets a free pet it gives them hope!” group co-founder Lee Vork writes in an email. The exclamation point is all his. Vork’s enthusiasm comes easily despite his 37 operations, his 100 percent service-related disability status and his being pronounced dead in 2002 after a heart attack.
Another group co-founder is Tucsonan Bill Wilson, a vet who spent four years taking pictures of dead bodies in Vietnam, and whose experiences there include being shot down in a helicopter. His 100 percent service-related disability status is still pending, although he currently rates at 90 percent.
Vork and Wilson both grew up around animals on Midwest farms. They met in Tucson in 2005 and 4-Legged Friends was born a few years later. While the Pets 4 Vets Program is new, the group has been helping animals since the get-go. [Read more…] about Horrors turn to hope when you give a vet a pet (and go for holistic pet care)
It was bad enough when the family dog died on the Korns’ wedding anniversary.
What made it even worse, Ben Korn said, was that he and his wife paid about $1,200 for a burial at Pet Cemetery of Tucson and have yet to see a headstone.
The June 6 agreement the Korns signed, for a total of $1,173, covers the grave, endowment care, interment fee, casket and a granite memorial for their beloved Dalmatian Floyd.
It’s going on November and there’s still no headstone.
“I feel they kind of took advantage of us in a real tough situation, ” said Korn, 30.
He repeatedly contacted cemetery owner Darla Norrish, who eventually stopped returning his calls.
She did respond with a certified letter and refund check for $300 he received Friday, referring him to two memorial companies where he could get a marker.
“Isn’t that terrible?” Korn asked. He said every time he deals with the headstone issue, he revisits Floyd’s death.
“My wife was hysterical for weeks,” he said of his bride of two years, Melissa, 32, who had Floyd in her life for 10 years.
“Floyd was her baby, and he was loved by everyone who dealt with him.”
Norrish, whom the newspaper first tried to contact two days before Korn received the refund check, returned the calls Monday. She said she did not wish to comment on any clients’ business to respect their privacy. She offered a phone number for the cemetery’s management company, which did not return calls for comment.
Korn had visited Floyd’s grave at the cemetery, 5720 E. Glenn St, at least half a dozen times since July, looking for the 15-inch granite headstone they selected, complete with a paw print and “Our Little Man” etched on it.
Floyd’s plot is nestled between one for a dog named Annie, who died in 2003, and a pet named Crystal, who lived until 1993. Across the aisle sits headstones for a pack of pugs with the surname Laster who have their own subgarden cordoned off.
“All we wanted was a nice place to go to in his memory,” Korn said at the cemetery Monday afternoon. The tinkling of wind chimes was the only sound at the quiet expanse just south of Glenn Street.
“Now his whole memory is ruined,” he said.
Korn’s experience is not a singular one. The Better Business Bureau lists Pet Cemetery of Tucson, also known as Petland Memorial Park, as unsatisfactory, citing its failure to respond to complaints. One was lodged by Korn against the company; a second, by another customer – both within the past three years.
No further information was available because the company is not an accredited BBB member, said Kathy Maytum, an administrative assistant with the bureau.
“The whole thing is a heartbreaker,” Korn said. “It’s so frustrating and just a bad deal from the beginning.”
It all started back in June, when Floyd was stricken by an ailment that paralyzed his esophagus. He could no longer keep food down, was in extreme misery and had to be put to sleep about five days after he fell ill, Korn said. “He was just a shell of himself.”
Floyd’s death was so traumatizing the Korns had to take several days off work to recuperate.
“We ended up spending the next two or three days just staring at the TV on the wall in our bedroom,” he recalled.
The backyard was not an option: Floyd deserved a proper resting place, Korn said.
Buena Pet Clinic, where Floyd was taken for veterinarian care, referred them to the cemetery.
With Pet Haven Memorial Park no longer handling burials, Pet Cemetery of Tucson is the only operating pet cemetery in town.
But, Korn believes, it’s not a proper resting place for Floyd.
“The talk about this place is supposedly it’s all loving and compassionate,” he said, “but this is a disgrace.”
This article originally appeared in the Oct. 31, 2007, issue of the Tucson Citizen newspaper.
A Siberian Husky named Nike may have been a dog gone after he got lost as a puppy five years ago, but he was certainly never forgotten.
Tucson owner Zuleica Sans and her family still kept pictures of the perky pup on their fridge all these years, but they also figured that would be all they would ever see of him.
They were wrong.
More than half a decade after getting lost, Nike ended up last week at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona when someone found him near East 22nd Street and Prudence Road as a stray – but he didn’t stay that way for long.
His microchip info pointed to the Sans family as his owners and Society staff gave them a call. Of course, Zuleica and her mother hightailed it down to the Kelvin Boulevard shelter.
“Nike and Zuleica recognized each other instantly in a beautiful reunion that unfolded with hugs, smiles, a wagging tail, and cheers all around,” noted the news release announcing the turn of events.
“He looks exactly the same,” Zuleica Sans said upon their reunion, “just bigger.”
The family, too, had gotten bigger. Nike was brought home to an expanded brood that now includes a Chihuahua and a Shih Tzu.
No one knows where Nike had been all that time, but he apparently did OK.
He initially got loose after jumping the fence, but now Zeluica and crew live in a home with a more secure yard.
The Sans also got one more added bonus – they didn’t even have to pay the adoption fee to get Nike back, although he did have to be licensed with the county for $15.50.
“Now safe and sound, Nike’s story serves as a great reminder of the importance of properly identifying your pets and the inspiring power of unconditional love,” the release said.
Nike is not the only dog gone that was recently reunited with its family thanks to a microchip.
A Weimaraner named Jake was stolen as a puppy from a Michigan backyard seven years ago – and reunited with his owners earlier this year.
The Davis family, of Lake Orion, got a phone call from Kentucky saying microchip info on a now-grown Weimaraner was pointing back to the Davis family.
At first Brad Davis did not believe the call telling him his dog was found. After all, the family got a new dog just three months before and the dog was at their home. But when the caller mentioned the microchip, Brad told the host on his “The Early Show” appearance, “Right then, I knew it was Jake from seven years ago.”
Microchips, which are about the size of a grain of rice, are inserted into the scruff of the dog’s neck between the shoulders. The information on the chip includes a 10-character identification number registered with a service that keeps records on microchipped pets.
Hand-held scanners read the info and, voila, you hopefully get your pet back.
Inserting a microchip is quick, painless and relatively cheap – especially compared to those priceless reunions.
Where to get a microchip:
Humane Society of Southern Arizona
The Society offers microchipping during normal business hours at the shelter, 3450 N. Kelvin Blvd, as well as at its vaccination clinics. CLICK here for clinic schedule or visit: http://www.hssaz.org/site/PageServer?pagename=as_vaccinations
What do you think?
Does your pet have a micrcochip? If not, why not?
Have you ever had a pet go missing? Did you get the pet back?
Tucson dog D’Artagnan has been featured on TV’s “Animal Planet, ” entered and won his first show when he was only 6 months old and has amassed so many ribbons that they probably weigh more than he does.
The 87-pound shaggy star, one of the top five Bouviers des Flandres in the nation, has been invited to the Westminster Kennel Club’s 133rd Annual Dog Show in New York City.
The show, which starts Feb. 9 at Madison Square Garden, is considered the greatest dog show in America, if not the world. The 3-year-old’s first visit to Westminster was two years ago and he made the finals.
Not bad for a dog that was basically born dead.
His handler, Tracy Turner, and his co-owner, Mary Alice Bushey, recall that fateful night all too well.
Mother dog Vinca began giving birth to what Turner and Bushey thought would be five puppies.
Instead there were only two. The female was delivered with no complications. The male needed help from the womb.
“I finally got him out,” said Turner, “and he wasn’t breathing.”
Turner, who has worked with dogs for 25 years and has helped deliver about 100 litters, kept rubbing the puppy’s chest and giving him mouth-to-snout resuscitation.
After more than an hour of that, Bushey said to let the dog go.
Mom dog Vinca began to have more complications, so the women loaded the dogs into a van to go to the vet.
“By now it’s 5 a.m., I’ve been working for two hours on the puppy and all of a sudden he latches onto the mom’s nipple,” she said. Turner screamed with glee so loudly that Bushey nearly slammed on the brakes.
“He’s never put a foot down wrong since,” Turner said.
Every time D’Artagnan chalks up another win, Turner said, she gets to rub it in that Bushey wanted to let him go.
” ‘Aren’t you glad I saved that dog?’ I ask her.”
D’Artagnan is co-owned by Tucson breeder and Groomingdales Pet Salon owner Bushey and a couple in Phoenix, but he lives with handler Turner.
“He is so devoted to her,” Bushey said. “When I ask him to do something he looks at me almost like he’s flipping me off.”
D’Artagnan, officially known as “Champion Desert Sage Musketeer,” was so named because Turner was watching the movie “The Three Musketeers” when he was born.
His breed is well-known, even by those who don’t think they are familiar with the Bouvier des Flandres.
“Remember the Wile E. Coyote cartoons?” Turner asked. “That watchdog on the hill is a Bouvier des Flandres.”
Bred to herd cattle, the breed is stocky, solid and powerful enough not only to herd cattle to be milked but also to haul the milk wagon once it’s loaded.
But it’s not just power and beauty that make D’Artagnan popular.
“People want to breed him for his attitude,” Turner said. “You can’t bring a kid by him without him rolling on his back and going ‘Pet me, pet me!’ ”
He’s also a certified service dog and a real ham.
“He loves to be at the dog shows,” Bushey said. “He goes into his big metal crate at the show, lies there and watches everybody go by. Then when it’s his turn it’s like, ‘Oh, boy! It’s time to play!’ ”
Turner added, “He turns into Mr. Macho. We have high hopes at Westminster.”
This article originally appeared in the Jan. 17, 2009, issue of the Tucson Citizen.