Good dogs are with us for a little while to teach us how to love like it’s our job…

I came across the quote above on a card a few weeks ago – apparently preparing me for a sad day. Snoodle was an amazing loving adorable angel. I will miss her greatly.

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A few more dog quotes that may make you smile….

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”

― Josh Billings

“All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human. He wasn’t a dog.”

― Charles M. Schulz

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”

― Mark Twain

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.”

― Milan Kundera

“The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.”

― Johnny Depp

“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”

― Christopher Hitchens, The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever

WeLoveSnoodle (7)


Snoodle makes me happy!!!

The Rottweiler: cute, smart, protective, fierce and friendly, a hard worker, a pleaser, loving, rugged, adaptable and loyal.  Wow…I wish they made men like they make rotties!!  They sound perfect….great family dogs, but watch out strangers 🙂

This entry is to say Happy Birthday to Snoodle Doodle!!  If you know me, you know I LOVE Snoodle!!  She is preposterously adorable!!  Those of you who do not know me, Snoodle is my parents’ Rottweiler.  The inspiration for inviting Snoodle into their home was my perfect puppy, Sabu.  She was a gift from my late grandfather (better known as VP’s Poppy) and she honestly was the best dog ever – and this is not just a mother’s love talking here!!!
This 110 lbs. of cuteness was born in the Bronx and made her way to the country on my birthday a few years ago. You would think this large dog would appreciate all the land and trees, but no.  She appreciates the couch, where she lays all day watching birds and squirrels. Her favorite thing to do is eat. She is a bit of a food whore…anything from dog food (um yuck) to broccoli.

Last year’s birthday was celebrated with a Pupcake from Philly Cupcake!  First off, the name “Pupcake” is absolutely fabulous, second they had an orange one, fantastic! We sat Snoodle in a chair at a table and placed her delicacy in front of her.  She sat and we shot photos.  “Go ahead you can have it” I said while trying to get the perfect shot.  “Ah!  Camera malfunction! Do it again!”  My mom proceeded to ask Snoodle for the cake back.  She returned it.  Yes, we actually can take food out of our Rottweiler’s mouth.

This year, since I had no plans to visit the City of Brotherly Love, we made a Pupcake…it was nowhere as cute as the purchased one, but she seemed to enjoy it.

Sometimes when I tell people how sweet my Rottweiler is they seem surprised, due to representation in movies, their size, and their ability to be fantastic watch dogs.  There are many stories of Rottweilers as service dogs helping save the lives of disabled children and making people’s lives easier.  This quote in an article about a Rottweiler therapy dog, Turbo,  caught my eye “Joy is a brilliant term to signify the feeling of bliss we receive when truly happy. Joy is also a word to describe the faces of the many people that have been touched by having Turbo in their life.” These dogs go into schools and hospitals to make people smile. There are many great rotty stories, but one that I found especially amazing is about Cinder, a pet…

The story began with the heroic act of firefighter Lorenzo Abundiz rescuing two fellow firefighters trapped during a commercial building fire.  He was awarded the medal of valor from the California State Fireman’s Association and received a Rottweiler puppy named Cinder from one of the firefighters he saved as a special thank you.

Five years later Lorenzo and his two Rottweilers Cinder and Reeno started on a hike. Thirty minutes into it, Cinder began acting strange. “She’s usually the leader of the pack,” said Lorenzo. ” She was tagging behind me and Reeno. She would stop turn around and start heading back down the trail, I kept on calling her back to continue the hike but she kept on doing the same thing.” Worried that she might be sick, he  turned around and went back to his home and decided to call the vet. As he walked toward the phone, he started to feel an irregular pulse. “I felt like something had grabbed my lungs and squeezed all the air out of them with a great force,” he said. Before he could make it to the phone, he collapsed to the floor and lost consciousness. The next thing he remembers was Reeno licking his face. As Reeno kept Lorenzo awake Cinder performed her miracle.

She jumped on to the kitchen counter, grabbed the phone with her mouth and placed it next to Lorenzo’s outstretched hand. He was able to dial 911 with his thumb. When the dispatcher answered, Lorenzo was very weak and said ” I’m a fireman. I feel I am having a heart attack.” at the same time Reeno kept licking his face while he was talking to the dispatcher lying on the floor. He was saved and then spent four days in the hospital. Lorenzo said “I have no doubt that if I had kept on hiking, I would not be here now. Thank God for my little Cinder acting the way she did on the mountain trail.”

For her heroism, she was awarded “1995 Dog Hero of the Year” by the Los Angeles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and was named “Dog of the Year” by the Rottweiler Quarterly magazine. On May 29th, 1996 Cinder received a special recognition award from the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Fire Chief Freeman presented her with the special award.

Snoodle makes me very very happy.  There is nothing like walking in the door of my parents’ home and being greeted by someone so happy to see you they can’t even contain themselves.  In fact, when I arrive she often finds her “Orange is Joy” stuffed bear to show me that she cares!  Happy Birthday Snoodle Doodle!  Thanks for making me smile!

My suggestion: Hug a Rottweiler (probably not a strange one)! Note from American Kennel ClubRottweilers love their people and may behave in a clownish manner toward family and friends, but they are also protective of their territory and do not welcome strangers until properly introduced.” 🙂

A couple of videos….

INDogs Make Me Happy!

Honestly, dogs in general make me happy.  Their unconditional love, their loyalty and their unparalleled long history of helping humans have better lives unquestionably makes them man’s best friend.

The role of dogs in our society is always evolving.  Today studies suggest that dog ownership has many benefits. Dogs play a role in human psychological health and a therapeutic role in aiding the disabled at home, in hospitals and in prisons. Service dogs not only help disabled children and adults with physical disabilities, but dogs are also trained to go into hospitals and cheer up patients.

Purina has a program called the Purina Animal Hall of Fame where they honor pets that have proven themselves to be heroes with outstanding courage, loyalty and bravery in helping to save a human life. Many amazing stories like Jango who saved her family from a fire, Echo saved her owner from drowning and hypothermia, and Sophie and Patty alerted their owners to people in near death situations saving their lives.  There are so many unbelievable stories that after reading each I had tears in my eyes.

Clearly many pets feel a great attachment to humans, but I also found this miraculous story about a stray dog in Argentina who saved the life of an abandoned human baby. There is also a stray dog in Chennai, India that has been trained to keep people out of the water preventing many people from drowning; the dog has been so effective in saving lives that they want to train more.

During my most recent trip to India nothing effected me as much as my interactions with the dogs – the community dogs, the street dogs, the INDogs.

In Legship, a small town in Sikkim, I sat on a rock on the side of the road and waited for a shared jeep; a medium sized tan and white dog approached me.  He nudged my hand as if saying “please pet me”.  I stroked his head and he almost seemed to smile before jumping up on the rock and sitting beside me.  I looked at him curiously – not all that comfortable having my face and his practically touching.  What is his angle I thought to myself.  Food?  No…in fact instead of eating the samosa he was offered, he let another dog have it.  He then laid at my feet, I guess he just wanted some love.

Later in the week during an early morning in Yuksom, I sat outside in the chilly air and had breakfast with an amazing mountainous view surrounded by endearing dogs sleeping in the street.  One dog, affectionately called Tom by the daughter of my breakfast haunt,  won my heart.  His tour guide ability was unparalleled.  The day was dedicated to hiking, and the first hike of the day was to the oldest monastery in Sikkim built in 1701.  For over an hour, Tom hiked right beside us.  What fascinated me most about Tom was when we ran into a group of tourists  on their way down he did not stray.  The girls clearly had already met him, and as we stopped and said hello, they took photos with him and gave him cookies and hugs.  Yet as we departed ways, Tom continued the trek upwards with us without any nudging or reward.   He behaved better than any pet I have ever had 🙂

Walking through the streets of Darjeeling, a group of four dogs started to follow me.  This could be considered terrifying, but I stayed calm and put my hand down to pet them and they accepted. We continued on down the street and were soon stopped by a European couple that asked about trekking.  We chatted for a bit and then I looked down at my feet and saw that all the dogs stopped as well and were sitting by me behaving like well groomed show dogs.  I just smiled.  Later I found them snuggled up together sleeping in the streets.  A family.

These are only a few of my interactions with the dogs of India which inspired me to visit some people in Kolkata that are trying to help make a better life for these beautiful animals. My fantastically helpful guide for the day was Divyangshu who I met by simply emailing an organization I found online called YODA based in Mumbai. I selected YODA because the founders consider helping animals a lifestyle not just a non-profit organization. They want to make sure animals get the comfort they deserve whether it be a nice home or a permanent break from cruelty.  An important part of YODA’s work has been successfully getting stray dogs adopted into loving homes.

Divyangshu is not only starting a branch of YODA in Kolkata, but he also volunteers for the Debasree Roy Foundation which is dedicated to promoting the cause of animal suffering from lack of care and unwarranted torture. Their goal is to create proper harmony between man and animal and to provide a better and healthy living for both.  He took the time to schedule meetings for me all day with other wonderful people that want to help the stray dogs around Kolkata.

Our first stop was a visit with Oindrila and Tamaghna, two physics doctorate students that not only feed thirty street dogs a day, but also make sure they are vaccinated and healthy.  This dynamic duo also takes the time to go out on calls to help other dogs in need around the city – whether they were in a car accident or just ill.  They walked out of their building and the dogs immediately approached and looked sincerely happy to see them.  One small black and brown dog caught my eye; she had been injured and one leg was unusable, but she still struggled to get up to say hello.

We walked the local streets with a few dogs in tow and stopped at a small tea hut where two young puppies found refuge.  The mother was clearly scared as we drew near, not knowing if we were friends or foes.  Once we assured her that everything was going to be OK, she became calm and we were able to play with the puppies.  Lucky for these two the tea shop owner has been looking after them. Then further down the street we watched four puppies playing in the trash, reminding me of the Roma children I photographed playing in the trash in Macedonia, both young and unknowing. Sadly due to their living conditions, many puppies do not make it.

While the work that Oindrila and Tamaghna are doing is greatly appreciated by their community’s dogs, they have a bigger picture in mind for the future.  Oindrila told me the story of the INDog.  The Indian Native Dog (INDog) is an ancient dog that is found all over India and Bangladesh.  This is the original breed of India and possibly the first domesticated dog.  The dogs found in villages around India are purebred INDogs as well as many of the strays and street dogs around the cities.  These dogs have never been selectively bred, leaving their appearance and mental character to evolve by natural selection alone. Oindrila wants the INDog to be recognized as an important part of Indian culture.  Tamaghna and she hope to start an organization to petition for and protect the Native Indian Dog.  These alert, social, healthy and intelligent dogs should be considered an important cultural icon.

Divyangshu also brought me to visit two personal homes where each day they cook food for the strays of their neighborhoods. Accompanied by Jayanti Aunty, Divyangshu’s inspiration to work in animal welfare, we visited the home of Sulekha where she and her daughter feed about 30 to 45 dogs in the Dhakuria Lake Region. We also visited the home of Israt and her mother where they were cooking for the 40 dogs that they feed around their home.

Then Divyangshu told me the story of Beena, a maid in Kolkata. Even with her low income, she cooks for and feeds about 35 stray dogs and two dozen cats. In order to get the food to feed the animals, she carries about ten buckets of water to meat and fish sellers who in turn give her a handful of scraps.

Our main visit of the day was Chhaya Animal Shelter which is on two acres of donated land in the village Aswathberia, about 30 minutes outside of Kolkata.  This organization takes unwanted and disabled animals, strays and abandoned pets and cares for them as well as sterilizes and vaccinates them.  In addition to the in-house work, Chhaya has a program where they sterilize dogs in pockets of the city, do post operative care and then return the animals to their localities when they are healed.  All dogs that are not fit to return to the streets become permanent residents.

As we approached the huge gated cement building, I did not know what to expect.  Sharda Radhakrishnan, one of the founders and now caretaker, as well as two dogs, greeted us.  Sharda, along with her furry companions, guided us around the facility which is still under construction.  Completed, were several indoor pens where postoperative dogs were healing.  Each room had a board detailing the patients procedures, medication and status.  Removal of tumors, removal of maggots, sterilization and car accidents are a few of the situations the staff vet has to deal with on a weekly sometimes daily basis. I stared in at each resident and was amazed that many just sat quietly staring back at me as I peaked in. They were behaving as if they were students trying to get into a posh country club school.  Maybe saying “I am a good kid, please take me home.”

Next we visited the puppies – I prefer not to discuss cruelty in general, but in order to help others understand the hardship that some of man’s best friends are going through, I must mention the absurd cruelty and idiocy that some people show to life.  What horrible horrible human would throw puppies in the trash to die? While infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering to animals is illegal per the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Acts 1960 (No.59 of 1960), sadly these acts still happen. Thankfully, there are kind people that are trying to help.

We watched on as a puppy that had been dropped off at the gate a few weeks earlier started to have a seizure.  Not being in the medical field, it was very upsetting for me and difficult to look on while feeling helpless; but the way Sharda came to his immediate aid made it clear to me that she really cared a great deal for the animals and was doing all she could to make their lives better.

Next I sat and watched a young man bottle feeding an abandoned puppy. Sharada told me that he was just a boy living in the village with no experience, but he quickly learned on the job how to care for the dogs.  The workers have become so proficient that at times the vet even looks to them for solutions. They are quite an inspiring group.

We then went outside to the pens where several dogs were running around.  One of the pens had dogs that had their back legs paralyzed from accidents.  They were wearing socks so when they dragged themselves around they would not further hurt themselves.  We approached the largest pen.  “Do you want to go in?” she asked. “OK” I quickly responded.  We crossed through the first gate and then the second. Twenty or so dogs instantly started jumping on me in excitement.  Luckily, I wore dark pants for the occasion.  It was quite intimidating, but I stayed calm and the dogs started to calm as well.   Later, my guide, now friend, Divyangshu, asked me if I had ever been around that many dogs before. “No” I replied.  “You were so brave – it really made me smile to watch you,”  he said. For some reason this made me feel really good – maybe I was proud of myself.  It was an incredible day.

Many of the INDogs made me very happy.  There is nothing like holding a puppy. I feel lucky to have met so many wonderful people sharing their lives with these fantastic animals.   My suggestion: If you have an opportunity to help an INDog or any dog in need, please do it.  Our world is without a doubt a better place having man’s best friend around, and we want to make sure they are healthy and happy.

When researching INDogs I found a few interesting articles I would like to share…


The performance of stray dogs (Canis familiaris) living in a shelter on human-guided object-choice tasks

Cur cognition: Do stray dogs have qualitatively different kinds of canine minds?

Dogs’ Bark: Not fair! Study shows pups get jealous

The absence of reward induces inequity aversion in dogs

Genetic Secrets of Man’s Best Friend Revealed