The Far North Dallasanimals we love
Lose your job? Break up with the boyfriend? Blubbering over a sappy movie? Funny how that ever-present furry family member can fix the world with a big sloppy kiss some days. The Advocate this year received an unprecedented amount of entries into the annual Best Pet contest. Each submission, accompanied by photos and amusing anecdotes, confirmed the power of a pet’s unconditional love. Though we could only highlight a few in this magazine, the whole collection, which you can see on our facebook page, had us oohing and ahhing, laughing and crying for days.
A shaggy, unkempt mutt sat curled up in the corner of a kennel at the Dallas Animal Shelter. She peered up, and the whites of her eyes were solid red, infected with “cherry eye.” Snowflake didn’t quite look “adoptable,” but Monica Mirea saw potential in the lhasa apso and wheaten terrier mix. “You could tell that if you bathed her and cleaned her up, she could look really nice.” Mirea also saw an opportunity to rescue a sweet dog that, due to the medical care she needed, might not otherwise find a home before being euthanized in the coming weeks. The shelter’s records showed that Snowflake’s previous owners surrendered her in that condition after unsuccessful eye surgery. Snowflake recovered in about six months and formed a bond with Mirea. “Snowflake was a very shy girl in the beginning but adapted to life with me very quickly.”
Most dogs can catch a Frisbee in the air. But can they catch one while performing choreographed stunts? The Captain can. Well, someday. Chuck Middleton, co-founder of Dallas Dog & Disc Club, is training his 4-month-old dog — a mix of Australian shepherd, border collie and Australian cattle — to become another champion in his long line of successful disc dogs. “We’ve added him to our arsenal of Frisbee dogs,” says Middleton’s wife, Lisa. Middleton’s other dogs, Donnie, Bling Bling and Bam Bam, have dominated the United Frisbee Dog Operations (UFO) World Finals. The first step in training The Captain involves feeding him from a disc so that it becomes a reward. Then, he’ll start jumping off his owner’s leg to catch the disc. Advanced moves include flips and catching several discs one after another. The club hosts play days on the second Saturday of every month at Walnut Hill Park. Even if they never end up competing, these working dogs burn off energy and form strong bonds with their owners. “Frisbee is a great outlet even if you don’t want to compete. You take out a Frisbee, and they go crazy.”
He comes from a strong bloodline of champion hunters. His brethren braved temperatures 10 degrees below zero and treaded icy water like Olympic athletes. But, everywhere he goes, he’s mistaken for another dog. Such is the life of Bull, the 7-month-old Chesapeake Bay retriever who everyone thinks is a chocolate Labrador. “He looks like a lab, but he has a different coat,” says Bull’s owner, Josh Flesher, who moved to Prestonwood with his wife, Sarah, a year ago. “It’s thick and curly. It’s to protect them from harsh elements.” But since most people think he’s a lab, the appearance of his coat prompts questions such as, “Does he have worms?” or “Does he need to go to the vet?” Flesher explains that Bull is not a lab but a Chesapeake Bay retriever and is supposed to look that way. Prestonwood neighbors have accepted Bull as the “resident puppy.” Now, he’s undergoing rigorous obedience and field training, and Flesher hopes to take him duck hunting this season. As for the inevitable breed confusion? “I’m thinking about getting him a collar that says, ‘I’m not a lab.’ ”
Faith James will never forget the day she almost lost Pepper. “It was Aug. 1, 2009,” she says. “There was a storm the night before.” Pepper was 12 years old at the time, but the fearless pug-beagle mix hadn’t lost her spunk. A few minutes after James let her into the backyard, the doorbell rang incessantly. James opened the door to find two young boys from the neighborhood standing there. They stepped to the side to reveal Pepper lying motionless on the ground next to a distraught man who simply uttered, “I hit your dog.” James realized the gate had been left open. “My heart fell,” she says. “Her tongue was hanging out of her mouth, and her eyes were out of focus. It happened right here on our street.” Pepper had been hit on her left side and suffered from head trauma, a bruised lung and a cracked rib. After two days of intensive care inside an oxygen tank, taking food from a Popsicle stick and water from a syringe, Pepper showed signs of life. She began to recognize James and wagged her tail again for the first time. Now 14 years old, she’s back to her old self, save her permanent limp and some loss of hearing. “What we’ve learned from Pepper has been immeasurable. No dog is loved more. Or has loved more.”