Sunday, November 29, 2009

Art for dog rescue groups

"Draw the Dog is drawn by Jim George, one of your typical ex-Disney animators who lives near the beach in Venice and once spent years animating in a cabin in the woods and who has been creating characters for film and TV and who has been a director and book author and who also has a counseling practice and who really likes animals and people, too." -from Jim's website.

I subscribe to Jim's daily Draw the Dog cartoons. They never fail to start my day with a smile. Now he has created a wonderful cartoon (above) that rescue groups are welcome to copy and use for fundraising t-shirts or whatever ideas they have. Thank you Jim, and I am happy to help spread the word. I have been involved in dog rescue for 20 years now, and know how groups struggle to find new ways to earn money to save homeless dogs.

Here is the link directly to the artwork:

Art for Dogs
And while we are on the subject of rescue, here's another artist who supports rescue. Ara Witmer, of Hemet CA, has a Cafe Press shop featuring her inspiring art. Also, she paints pet portraits of rescued dogs to help spread the word.

My art
I have a done a few of my own pieces of art for rescue groups. Here's one I did for Labrador Retriever Rescue. (Sorry, it is owned by the group, so it's not available for free distribution.) They sold out of shirts, but the second they get them reprinted, I will let you know. 

Foster a Dog for the Holidays
The San Diego Union Tribune ran an article yesterday about a nationwide effort to put pets in foster homes for the upcoming holidays. is looking for one million people who would like to have canine company for Christmas. The nationwide pet adoption database is teaming up with CBS and the new Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie, "A Dog Named Christmas" to campaign for holiday foster homes for all pets, canine and feline. 

In San Diego alone (city, not county) I counted 10 rescue groups, ranging from Siamese Cat Rescue to the House Rabbit Society, that have  signed up for the rescue effort. 

Even if you can't help all year long–for one homeless animal, for a few short days– you can make all the difference in the world. 
© 2009 Terry Albert. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The horses take a nap

I was surprised when I looked outside the other day and saw Star and Ari both lying on the ground stretched out in the sun, napping. Horses are prey animals, and you will usually see at least one in the group standing watch, or dozing upright. Then he can sound the alarm and do what horses do best: run.
So I figure my guys must feel pretty secure out back if they both lie down at the same time. So does this mean I am the alpha horse, standing watch over them?
I must admit, when I see them down, I immediately worry one is sick or dead or some other horrible fate. In my anxious-mother moments, I run out there and they both scramble to their feet and trot away.

©2009 Terry Albert. All rights reserved.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

The Dominance Dance: Three dogs and a couch

Put a Boxer, a Giant Schnauzer and an Australian Shepherd in a room together with a couch. Then you, the leader of the pack, try to cover it with a slipcover. Let the dance begin…

Boxer comes over and noses the cover as I am trying to arrange it. One paw comes up on the couch. “No!” I command in my pack leader voice, praising him when he removes the offending paw.

Schnauzer comes over and stands between Boxer and me, guarding “his” couch. I continue my work, while Schnauzer tries to put himself between the couch and me.
Aussie watches from afar, never missing a move, eyes shifting, plotting, planning. She clearly thinks she is smarter than these other two clowns, and is not going to engage in any wasted movement.

I move to the side of the couch in order to arrange the back and sides of the cover. Schnauzer makes his move to get up. “No!” I reprimand him, and he slowly, very… very… slowly, backs off.

Aussie takes notes.

Boxer thinks if Schnauzer isn’t allowed, then I’m certainly saving a spot for Boxer. He makes a leap at the opposite end of the sofa from Schnauzer, only to be thwarted as I yank the slipcover out from under him. He retreats.

The slipcover is finally in position, and I smooth out the wrinkles and straighten the skirt, scowling as a good pack leader should. You’d think I am protecting my kill from the wolves. Aussie plots her strategy.

I walk away. Boxer looks at the couch and loses interest. He follows me out to the patio and settles on the dog bed. Schnauzer follows to be sure Boxer isn’t taking a bed reserved for him.

Aussie moves in, climbs on the couch and settles in for a nap.

© 2009 Terry Albert. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Remembering Oscar

It doesn’t seem fair. As soon as I posted a story about Teddy, a former foster dog, I heard from my friend Ilona, who adopted Oscar from me years ago. It was one of the saddest phone calls I’ve received. She was inconsolable. She came home from babysitting her granddaughter to find Oscar had died with no warning. The only sign was that he seemed tired and wouldn’t eat that morning. 

Even though Oscar was adopted through Southern California Lab Rescue, I confess he wasn’t even close to a Lab, but when I was at the Escondido Humane Society, picking up a Lab, here was this gorgeous white dog with kennel cough, and he came home with me too.

So after the un-Collie (Teddy), I brought home an un-Labrador. I remember the president of Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue reminded me once that this was not Seattle Mixed Breed Dog Rescue… but I was incurable, and I don’t regret it.

But now I was in San Diego, and Oscar was my latest project. Before he went to his home with Ilona, he had a lot of fun at my house. One day, he was digging up on the backyard slope in the iceplant. His head was practically underground, and his white tail was waving like a frantic flag in the air. As I watched, about 10 feet away, a gopher popped up out of his hole and watched Oscar dig. I swear he was leaning on one elbow and laughing at Oscar’s futile quest.

Ilona is an incredible artist and seamstress with an adult son, Todd, who is autistic and lives with her. She has struggled for many years with burdens I can only imagine, and Oscar was a big help to her, bringing happiness into both of their lives.

It seems that we all need to write about beloved pets when they pass away in the hopes that this special animal will be remembered. I have done it; every writer I know does it. Here is what Ilona wrote in memory of Oscar:

To all my friends who knew Oscar,

My long time companion dog, Oscar, passed away suddenly today. He was 12 years old and was much loved by all who knew him. I adopted Oscar in 1999 from Labrador Rescue in San Diego when he was barely two. The terrible two's. Terry Albert was his first Foster Mom, and she became my long time friend because of our connection through Oscar. At first he was so full of energy the only thing that helped was training, training and more training. Oscar passed Obedience I, and his Canine Good Citizen award after taking the class twice and totally forgot much of what he learned, immediately afterward. But not long after that we went through his training to become an Assisted Therapy Dog and he had found his calling. All through the years that my Mom and Dad were in convalescence in Rochester, New York, Oscar visited the nursing homes with me and people loved him wherever and whenever we went.

In January of 2004 we adopted Heaven, who is a beautiful Golden Retriever female, aged nine at that time, and she became the love of Oscar's life. Until then he was pretty much a spoiled boy, but when Heaven came into his life, things changed. He and Heaven bonded soon after, and they have been inseparable buddies ever since.

Later in 2005, when my son Todd came to live with me, Oscar found another new friend. Many was the day when Todd would be having a difficult morning and Oscar, in his wisdom, would start acting silly---jumping on Todd's bed, grabbing his shoes, rolling on his back and wiggling around trying to get Todd to pay attention to him, and if that didn't work he would actually bark at Todd for attention. In the mornings when the bus would come, Oscar would insist on going outside to say goodbye to Todd, or he would bark in the house until the bus left. In the afternoons, Oscar would wait by the window for the bus to return with Todd.

He was like a shining beacon of joy, sticking his nose in everywhere, even when it didn't belong sometimes. But it was hard to stay mad at him for anything, with his sweet loving eyes and gentle ways.
It’s hard to know what to say after ten years with a friend who is with you through thick and thin and never asks for anything except to be petted, fed and loved. One can never be "prepared" for the final moment when their time comes to pass away. I miss him already, even though I know that ultimately he had ten great years with us and that is about all anyone can ask for. He will be missed for a long, long time.

Goodbye sweet Oscar. I hope you're up in heaven guarding my Mom and Dad.

Just a few weeks before his death, Ilona took Oscar and Heaven to a Blessing of the Animals event in San Diego. Ilona told me, “The Priest was so touched by them he blessed them twice! There also was a lady taking photos of the event and she got one really sweet shot of both dogs with the Priest. I was so happy that I did that, especially now that Oscar is gone.”

© 2009 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved. Blessing of the Animals photo by Tamandra at

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I just love this photo

Fun time! Haley the Bearded Collie, Rex the Lab and Porter the Lab cavort in the yard. These are the two biggest labs I've ever seen, except maybe Nate, who also spends a lot of time here. They are each about 100 pounds and never sit still. As for Haley, well they don't call them Bouncing Beardies for nothing. She loves all the action, but whoa, what a grooming project!

© 2009 Terry Albert. All rights reserved.