About Animals 12


Once I read a short story by Marjory Stoneman Douglas about a dog fight, which she set in a dank place outside Miami. 

The character, Agnes, a Latin teacher and humane society volunteer, rushes away into the night from a party when she receives a tip about the fight.  Dressed in a black satin evening gown, she sneaks up on the action and makes her announcement when she’s inched in plain sightj  next to the cage holding the bobcat that is to fight a dog or two or quite a few: “Take those dogs out of here. I am a county deputy sheriff and I order this fight stopped.”  It does stop, with an assist. But I always wondered what happened to the dogs.

In the Michael Vicks dog case (federal prison 23 months, $928,000 to evaluate and care for the dogs) there is a story of serene and sometimes silly days for some survivors. 

Because of an unusual agreement in the Vicks case, the Best Friends Animal Society sanctuary in Utah is the retirement home for 22 of the abused dogs that lived. 

In a front-page New York Times feature, writer Juliet Macur deftly walks us through what dogs endured under the Vicks’ scheme  and what their lives are like now.  These are, of course, only the animals still alive at Bad Newz Kennels, a place on the serenely named Moonlight Road in Smithfield, VA.  This is quite a beautiful story.  Many in rescue think the lives these dogs lead today will make future euthanizations of pit bulls seized from fights less automatic.

In addition to Best Friends, Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit Bulls and at least seven other rescue groups are involved, with about 20 other of the dogs in foster families at many places in the U.S.






About Animals 11


The little owl ended up on a roadway in need of help.

She was picked up by a tourist and handed along until she found her way to one wildlife sanctuary for immediate care and then, another for continued help. She had been somehow injured and unable to return to a wild life. 

Before long, the owl, now called Maya,  was world-famous, having been photographed by a  New York City photographer on assignment in Florida, and having appeared in an Austrailian based website about owls.

Maya’s  story (with a mis-identified photo of another fine owl, Red, my apologies!) is told in Florida’s Famous Animals, a new book of stories of human interaction with 13 real animals that lived in Florida. 

It is hoped that this group of animal tales (& tails) will inspire students to think about careers in working with animals. 

For more info on Maya’s caretakers


for a tribute to Red, found as a baby with an injured wing and taken care of for 14 years until his death in 2006, see the 5th page at


Other owl info


www.cfbw.com   www.nature.org/initiatives/programs/birds/features

 ~ This blog gives a hoot~

About Animals 10

A BABY in the WATER  

Imagine you are a long-distance swimmer, in California. 

 In training, you swim way out in the Pacific Ocean,  beyond wave breaks.  You realize you are not alone.

GRAYSON is the other-worldly story marathon swimmer Lynne Cox wrote, inspired by her experience in the water, when she discovered that her steady path through the ocean now attracted the attention of a baby gray whale,  apparently separated from its mother on a long journey north to feeding grounds. 

Lynne Cox, who lectures worldwide & is the recipient of many honors, discusses her book and more Sunday, Feb. 17 in Florida at Fort Lauderdale, at the International Swimming Hall of Fame.  Sorry for the short notice but I found out about this recently through the Florida Center for the Book.



About Animals 9


This is short and sweet.


~ quite purr-fect don’t you think? ~ 

 Tubeclan is a new feature from The Buckmans, operators of bookmooch.com

At Tubeclan,

categories of fun, sweet, enlightening, silly, comedic, musical & otherwise worth-the-time YouTube videos are captured for your pleasure, making it easy to get the best of YouTube without looking at the dregs. 

This blog is in the clan of Tubeclan.  ~

About Animals 8


Thank the Franciscan order for its naming of the Capuchin friars.

The friars lent that name to a monkey, supposedly for the resemblance.

This connection escapes me but then after eerie, hungry nights out of place in the South American jungle, perhaps the friars, encountering skinny monkeys, fancied there was a resemblance?

Capuchins are involved in a national program of providing assistance to humans who have physical disabilites, brought on by spinal cord injuries and other maladies, often associated with military service and specifically in years of late, war.

Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled www.monkeyhelpers.org

is a Boston based non-profit that cares for and trains Capuchins to provide a bunch of help. The skinny simians turn on a client’s computer, bring them a glass of juice and can serve food. The Capuchins are taught to avoid the kitchen stovetop, open windowsills and other zones in an apartment or house, that could present danger for a monkey.  They are also trained to eliminate their waste in a certain site, similar to cat potty-training.

 Some amazing Capuchin-helper stories are told at this site. Some of the partnerships have lasted 20 years.  Training of a monkey, in foster homes, takes from three to five years. Care and training of one monkey up to the placement time can cost $37,000.  Donations are accepted by this nonprofit via the website and also: 541 Cambridge St. Boston, MA 01234. 

You can watch a video of some of the training at this website.  In Boston, the actual physical site offers scheduled visits at the Thomas and Agnes Carvel Foundation Center, operated out of a rennovated church building.  Other Helping Hands interpretation takes place at the unusual Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, Massachusetts.

While monkeys clearly belong in the wild,  Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled, proves that carefully cared for and trained monkeys can perform an unfathomable assist to certain individuals, providing a measure of independence for the physically limited.

As for discarded Capuchins that have not been trained from birth to care for the disabled, fortunately there are retirement shelters to assit them when they are too much for their humans to handle. Once such site in Florida is the Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary


24/7 the Sanctuary deals witn inappropriately housed New World primates (not just Capuchin) monkeys who bit in a home setting or otherwise could no longer be kept as an exotic pet. This is, not surprisingly, an unsuitable life pursuit for such a clever creature from the South American aboreal forest. Wishing to seem exotic, interesting, or animal-loving is what may motivate clueless folks to buy a monkey for a pet. But what happens next when the huge mistake is painfully discovered. Fortunate cast offs  end up here. 

~ Usually after driving the (former) exotic pet owner bananas. ~



About Animals 7


The school tradition of thinking a groundhog forecast the weather each February didn’t enfold a whisker of wisdom about the European hedgehog.

A yarn at a hedgehog site in British Columbia, Canada, spins the story that Romans decided that if a hedgehog, from its den, saw a shadow at this time of year, the hedgehog knew it was looking under a clear moon, which somehow meant a return to the den for six more weeks of winter.  http://hedgehogcentral.com

While a Punxsutawney, Pennsylvina groundhog and a Wiarton, Ontario groundhog are compelled to be in a weather sideshow at this time each year, very few people attempt to keep groundhogs as pets.

No so for the hedgehog, a wild creature not suited for milk, or bread soaked in milk.

But this is what many hedgehog pets are given, a prominent British hedgehog rescue group reports. Here in North America,  the pygmy hedgehog is now bred.

It has an undeniable cuteness factor but hedgehogs, which are wild creatures, can become discarded. Any kitten who has grown into a cat and found itself without a home can tell you that cutness is no guarantee to a life of leisure. 

Two groups helping hedgehogs in the US include

Hedgehog Rescue,  Box 148, Tigard, Oregon 97223

Information about that organization’s work is available on the links page at


which is The International Hedgehog Association, a source of connectivity among hedgehog groups.

Also listed there is The Flash and Thelma Memorial Hedgehog Rescue 


Some of the best hedgehog sites are in England.

Harrassment of the wild creatures there is a reality. They are chased by dogs and considered a garden (rooting among the hedges) nuisance, although they eat beetles.  (They, alas, also eat earthworms.)  

A busy animal shelter, St. Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital, in Aylesbury, England, which handles many species, was named for the Beatrix Potter hedgehog character, Tiggywinkles.

This clinic treats and releases about 3,000 wild European hedgehogs each year.  About 500 of the hedgies are overwintering.  http://stiggywinkles.org/uk

Hedgehogs, you might want to know, aren’t releated to porcupines.

That Tiggywinkles Hospital? The other rescue groups?

They could definitely use some hedge funds.