Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Friday, May 7, 2010
Wildrose Lady Heather Bracken of Oxford is the name scribed on her AKC registration papers. Born on April 2, 2006, she is the last female in lineage from one of the most well-known dogs in the UK, Pocklea Remus, and the only female in the last litter of her mother, Astraglen Sprint. She was a prize pup of Wildrose Kennel and its owner Mike Stewart.
Sandra Summers had been explaining how she came to have this small lab in her home. Heather is one of three black labs belonging to Sandra and her husband, Franz, and Sandra’s obvious favorite. “I first saw Heather when she was about 6 weeks old. Franz and I had returned to Wildrose to bring our male lab, Gumbo, for training. Gumbo was about a year old and we were regularly traveling from our home in Santa Fe to Oxford, Mississippi for visits during his training.”
“On one of those visits, I started walking Heather on a puppy lead. Everyone at Wildrose had been calling her Bracken but it just didn’t seem to fit and I started calling her Heather. I knew that heather is one of Scotland's most beautiful plants and that she is of Scottish ancestry. It didn’t take long before everyone was calling her by her new name.”
“When she was about 5 months old, we had really been missing Gumbo. So, with Mike’s permission, I rented a car and took Heather back to New Mexico with us.”
“We kept Heather for a while and I started her training ‘the Wildrose way’. I worked her every day in empty lots, in scrub, on roads, and in ditches. We worked with hand signals and on socialization skills. I took her on a ski-lift up Santa Fe Mountain and we walked all the way down in the first snow of the season.”
“In October, we went back to Wildrose and I noticed that Heather did not seem to be feeling well. She was taken to the vet and unfortunately diagnosed with hip dsyplasia. She was not able to be bred and was spayed at two years old. After that she was really my dog,” Sandra said with a little bit of a sad smile.
“We moved to Oxford in December and decided to adopt Heather. I got her papers on my birthday that February. That was indeed a special day.”
“Heather is very intelligent and intuitive. She is always making unusual faces and funny expressions with her mouth. We now have three labs from Wildrose. The others, the boys, Gumbo and Gator, are very laid back. Mike Stewart selects the dog he thinks will fit you and your family best. Heather would not have been a match for us. She is a bit hyper and intense —different from the other two. Still, she is the best behaved. She is the fearless one and she stands her ground with the boys. She is a seasoned hunter and has won several hunting awards. However, she does sometimes move too fast for her nose and gets ahead of herself.”
We had been sitting in the kitchen as the three labs dozed on their cozy round beds in the next room. Each separate from the other but the lofty beds tied them together into a single unit. I noticed that only one had eyes resting intently on Sandra. The other two slept soundly.
“Its weird. I named her, trained her, and most of her ‘firsts’ were with me and even though she wouldn’t have been a perfect match I think she has always been my dog.”
Some days Heather can be seen walking along side Sandra on the court square or waiting patiently just outside the local ice cream shop. Sometimes a small crowd of children gathers, even the ones that smile and say, “I’m afraid of dogs,” as they proudly pat her head. Heather just sits and watches Sandra waiting for that familiar signal for them to take their next step together.
Vicki Wood, JD 6/10 ©
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
When I arrived I learned that the Cresteds were shy due to their past living conditions and I would need to wait while they retrieved a few of the more social ones. I had made up my mind prior to arriving that I would go through this as if I had on blinders in an effort to lessen the hurtfulness produced by the scene of any animal shelter. So, I planted myself on what I thought was fairly neutral ground. As I waited, I couldn’t help but notice an 8 x 8 portable pen full of puppies. They were the non-descript dogs —medium height, medium weight, medium black hair, with a long tail— the ones that are so often seen on the side of the road eating anything and looking worse than half-starved.
A kennel worker passed and saw me. “They have been here a while,” he said and I knew that meant their time was short. I stood watching and noticed that some looked to be about 3 months old while others were just babies. Lost in my troubling thoughts, I saw that the smallest one had pushed her tiny head through one of the squares of the chain-link fence. With her head lowered and chin resting on the wet concrete she rolled her eyes up and was looking directly at me. Trying to pass the time and shift my thoughts to thinking that this was cute, unsuccessfully veneering over the true sadness, I snapped a few photos. She sat very still by herself, close to me, body in the pen and head out with her pen-mates piled up in the far corner. She watched as I moved trying to break her gaze in a thickened time that seemed like hours. “Today will be their last day here,” said the kennel attendant nodding toward the pups bringing me quickly forth to the harsh reality of the situation. I lowered my camera, “Look at that little one with her head sticking out …what a shame.” *
I was shown to an area where I could photograph the Cresteds. For a moment, I was completely absorbed in the darting movements of these nervous creatures of only skin and a few puffs of hair. I knew that, unlike the pups, their uniqueness would find them in adoptive homes.
The afternoon was hot. I began to feel uneasy and wanted to leave. I finished the last photo of the Cresteds and walked toward the office. I again passed the pen of puppies. Only now it was different. It was empty except for the little one who had moved to the far corner where her buddies had been. “After you noticed her, we decided she might get adopted and, really, were hoping that you might take her,” the attendant said half smiling.
My mental image of blinders and hope for numbness suddenly dissolved. I thought of my too many animals at home and then of this tiny one with a remarkable ability to vividly express herself. I knew that in spite of her infancy, her plea was clear,
“…don’t leave without me.”
Vicki Wood, JD ©
* I have worked with OLHS for years. I know they do all they can and it is inevitable that, as a single organization, they become overwhelmed at times by the shear numbers with which they are forced to deal. OLHS has taken approximately 30 animals from me over the years and most were the non-descript ones mentioned above that were abandoned on the roadside. Many have been so badly treated that they can’t be caught and wander the roadside and ditches for months and, unfortunately, produce litters forcing them into eventual captivity. OLHS knows all too well the prolonged starvation, freezing temperatures, and disease that these animals endure.