Friday, May 28, 2010

This is an open thank you letter. It’s for the multitude of animal rescue and advocacy groups, shelters, sanctuaries and individuals including YOU. It’s in response to the tireless outpouring of love and concern for animals that you so generously devote to effect change. It’s for loving your pet every day.

Some of you give your time, some write letters and make phone calls, some of you adopt, transport, tweet, pray. Some of you give your money, your sweat and we all shed tears from time to time. Whatever it is that you do, it’s making a difference, and your passion is felt, respected and appreciated. You are loved unconditionally, whether you know it or not.

There are times when one wonders if the world is deaf, dumb and blind. Of course, we learn with age, those thoughts enter when our perception needs adjustment - we’ve given too much for too long and not stepped back to breathe, to take notice of the results of putting one foot in front of the other.

Yes, life is challenging. We have disasters and horrors, and death. There is hope, however. It’s always there doing its balancing act. It’s in the background of every moment. It's in the eyes of your pet. It’s in sunshine and song. It's danced by Ellen. It’s in the passing of Proposition 2. It’s wherever you look for it, but you must look up and forward. Gratitude abounds, I assure you.

So, on behalf of every animal from either side of the rainbow bridge, I say a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you. Rejoice in your hard work! Dance – Play – Love. And don’t ever give up.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

How Henry Keller Came to Be

This share is for anyone who enjoys a true rescue story. It’s about chance, heroism, going above and beyond, and a puppy’s will to live.

One evening, back on December 20, 2005, a man happened upon a near-lifeless puppy along Highway 101 in Monterey County. The pup was alone, scared, sick and covered in his own poo – he was suffering from a prolapsed rectum, which basically means that his rear had come inside out. The man, whose identity is unknown but who must have been sent by God himself, decided to take the pup to the Soledad Fire Department for help.

The kind-hearted firemen in Soledad bundled the smelly puppy in a blanket and drove him to the nearest emergency clinic, nearly an hour away. There the pup would give love in exchange for life. The veterinarian on staff that night was Dr. Kerrin Hoban and she has stated on more than one occasion that this special pup’s “loverboy” personality literally saved his life.

The lucky puppy was a Dalmatian. He was approximately two months old, weighed just six pounds and he was dehydrated. He tested negative for Parvo. Dr. Hoban operated on the little guy and then she operated on him again. It took two tries to repair his prolapsed rectum. She fed him, cared for him and provided him with much-needed love and affection. He was given the name Henry. It is unknown, to date, how he ended up along Highway 101.


With the outstanding care Henry received, he grew into quite a healthy young dog. But there was something else. Henry didn’t seem to be able to hear. Dr. Hoban discovered through the BAER test that Henry was 100% deaf. This certainly leant itself to the possibility that he may have been lost from his litter, but it also could mean he was abandoned. It is unfortunate, but an estimated 11 percent of Dalmatians are born totally deaf with as many as 30 percent experiencing some hearing problems. Fortunately, Deaf Dog Education Action Fund and Spirit of Deaf Dogs are excellent resources for those interested in adopting a deaf Dalmatian - or any deaf animal - and there are always many in need of a good home. Deaf Animals posts deaf cats and dogs desperately in need of adoption several times a week.

Shortly after it was determined Henry was deaf, the name Keller was added to his name and he officially and affectionately became known as Henry Keller. This, of course, is a sort of play-on-words referring to the very famous Helen Keller who was also deaf, as well as highly intelligent and a bit mischievous – also like Henry.

Dr. Hoban got busy teaching Henry Keller hand signals as well as manners. He matured into a seriously dapper but hopelessly silly juvenile Dalmatian and was ready for a good home. Dr. Hoban only decided to adopt Henry out because she also has horses – concerned that he might accidently become the victim of an unfortunate mishap due to his lack of hearing.

So, let’s fast forward to the here and now, no pun intended.


Henry lives a pretty good life with another dog, three cats and two bunnies, in the care of his forever parents. He loves to please and he’ll do just about anything for the “good boy” sign. Being deaf doesn’t bother Henry at all. His other senses are heightened so he sees and smells and feels a bit better than other dogs. He prefers to sleep with his body touching up against his mom or dad. A whole chapter could be written, and probably will, on how Henry’s deafness makes him special.


That’s the story of how Henry Keller came to be. His rescue undoubtedly affected all those he met along the way, and he continues to inspire every day. Rescuing an animal always rescues the rescuer. Just ask anyone who has ever saved a dog’s life.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

New Beginnings


The wind came up both afternoons - it ruffled the sale rack a bit and cooled down the bunnies who were relegated to a hutch on the deck during the event. Because of their strategic location, the buns got to see a lot more action than did the cats and dogs; they were keeping each other company in another part of the house. This allowed for the French doors to be wide open and welcoming. It was a beautiful May weekend and you could smell the redwoods in the breeze! The very tops of their bows could be heard whisper-shimmying while all remained still down below. Pray tell, what did the buns get to see that the cats and dogs missed out on?


The Honorable Dalmatian opened for a home show Saturday and Sunday – that’s what! It was a time for friends and friends of friends to see the culmination of what Mari Rodriguez has been up to all these months.

There were oodles of cute and stylish women’s clothing and accessories, most of it
recycled, some vintage and displayed in off-the-hook ways.

The fun and playful Dog is Good line, which happens to be new clothing the store carries, captured the eye of most everyone and often elicited a giggle.

There was jewelry by a couple of fantastic designers. The Stacey Lamothe Art was a smash, garnering the most sales in its respective category. In fact, the first purchases on both Saturday and Sunday were from her “Barnyard” metal-art collection, which features one of Mari’s very favorites – a horse necklace that reads “Hay!”

The art was limited to one of the most beautiful pieces of stained glass ever, donated by Moonshadow Mosaics, and Mari showing off two pieces of Amberson Art including a precious painting of her dear deaf Dalmatian, Henry Keller.


The Honorable Dalmatian proudly carries the artwork of Tanya Amberson – In fact, Mari loves her painting style so much that she commissioned her to paint the main charactor in the store logo...you know, the one with black spots?

The best part of The Honorable Dalmatian is that 5% of every sale benefits animals. While the store is not a non-profit organization, the business has chosen to donate to local animal non-profits such as the Santa Cruz SPCA, Project Purr, The Rabbit Haven and Animal Shelter Relief (ASR). Let’s see if we can start a new trend – for the love of animals.

“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more” ~ Anthony Robbins

So the friends, and friends of friends, came and went this past weekend, and everyone that shopped seemed genuinely happy they had trekked up to the boondocks in order to attend the store’s premier. The buns got a few pets on their head and ears, the dogs got walked midway through both days, and The Honorable Dalmatian conducted its first weekend of business. There is no denying it – it was a success!

Please look for the store to open online this month and a Santa Cruz storefront to follow soon. See you soon, friend!