dog listening with big ear






Barks from Starks,
Summer 2018


More and more, pets are part of the family. They ride with us on errands and sit with us at restaurants. They share our recliners and our beds. We buy them Christmas gifts and throw them birthday parties. Some pet sport enthusiasts devote every weekend to pet activities, as in the case of our cover story on flyball.

Pets are stars of social media, and pet parents show off their furkids just like parents post their children. One of my Facebook friends shared this after taking her sick dog to the vet: “I love him so much and don’t regret any of the money it takes to get him well.”

Last summer, when my grandma died, she left the memories of her pets and a lesson about sharing our world with animals. Her eulogy included this excerpt by my dad:

Mom always worried about the animals—the birds in the winter (“How do they stay warm?”), the deer (the same concern, and don’t even talk to her about deer hunters). But dogs were the species to be nicest to. And her dogs—Skippy, Boots, Yogi and Billy—were darn lucky dogs. Billy, her last dog, got the royal treatment. When she had to leave him alone, she would put the radio on for him so he wouldn’t feel lonesome. 

How silly, I told her, and gave her some good-natured ribbing about it. “Billy is a dog, Ma, and I don’t think he can understand WCCO talk radio.”

“You never mind,” she would say. “He likes it.” Now my wife reminds me that our dog Sophie listens to WCCO radio when she is alone.

Another place pets are appearing is obituaries.

Read the Happy Tails article, In Lieu of Flowers, on p. 30 for a story about an owner whose death left his three beloved dogs in a desperate situation. The obituary suggested memorials to the rescue that took the dogs. And it made me think.

There’s a lot we animal lovers can do to honor the memory of a pet parent or an animal in lieu of flowers.

Whether it’s Great Danes or pocket pets, horses, cats or chickens, there is a rescue that represents the animal you love. Donate to a breed-specific rescue or give to the care of a particular animal.

In April, we at Springer Rescue took in a puppy with a spinal cord injury. As she was being diagnosed, we received a call from a couple who wanted to donate to the rescue in honor of a Springer-loving friend who had died recently. When I told them the story of little Reba, they became her angel donors, and their support helped fund her laser therapy. They have her photo hanging on their refrigerator to remember their friend and the good they are doing in his name.

Just today, my Facebook feed showed me a fundraiser for a sweet Shepherd who had been found with a gun shot wound to her face and was being rushed to a vet. The rescue who committed to her did so knowing the expenses in her future. I won’t know her outcome before we send this issue to press—but I know that she deserves to be part of a family, sharing a recliner, receiving special treats on her birthday, and listening to talk radio when she stays home alone.

We love sharing your passion for animals. Keep sharing your stories with us and supporting animals who need it most. Have a great summer!