Help Martin Usborne Save Mango

Martin Usborne and Mango

Yesterday’s post was about London-based photographer Martin Usborne, but there was more to tell (what else is new?). So I decided to chop it into two posts, and with today’s entry you can get your hands on one of his prints for a very good price AND help him save a little puppy called Mango from the meat trade at the same time.

It starts out like this: Martin loves animals and he decided to embark on a yearlong journey around the world to save as many as he can, and he’s named the project “A Year to Help”. Now I realize that sounds kind of granola and lofty and flowers-in-meadows, but this is also a personal odyssey for Martin. He’s a guy who, like a lot of us, has enormous compassion for animals but questions what he does with it on a daily basis. So he set out last July to do what he can, however he can. And when he says animals, he’s not excluding any species: he’s serving as savior to bugs as well. Here’s the manifesto from his project’s website:

1. Whenever I come across an animal in distress I must help (fruit flies included).
2. I must follow my heart, not my head. Ignore the nagging intellect Martin!
3. This project is deadly serious. Therefore I will try and be funny where possible.
4. I must risk failure, confusion and utter humiliation.
5. My allegiance is to the animals, not to any charity or religion.
6. I must stop eating bacon.

You can see that Martin has a good sense of humor. Read his “About the Project” page here for more of his reasoning behind his idea. It’s open, honest, and very entertaining, I must say. You’ll wonder if you’ve stumbled into a script for a new Ricky Gervais program or something.

At the moment, Martin is in the Philippines spending some time with a group called Network for Animals. In the last few days they’ve saved a puppy from the street where they sell dogs for the meat trade and named her Mango. He’s promised to get her back to the UK, and must raise at least £750 to do so. So he’s taken some beautiful photographs of her and is selling them through his project’s website to raise the money.

Mango by Martin Usborne

This one is my favorite. You can’t beat that stare of hope and expectation for keeping you up at night. If you’re thinking, “but it’s just one dog and there are so many in the same boat”, I’d say that’s true. But to this one lucky little Mango, giving her a chance is everything. Here are some others:

Mango by Martin Usborne

Sleepy Mango by Martin Usborne

There are also options with some added typography with a punch. I think Mango does a super job as a pin-up queen:

Stop the Dog Meat Trade by Martin Usborne

…and with a dash of Martin’s good humor. Or humour, I suppose:

Mango Wants Fish and Chips by Martin Usborne

So far Mango has been checked out by a vet and she’s become much more affectionate after getting some good meals in her tummy. It turns out getting off the chain and out of the grimy street is also a plus. Overall I think she’d say that it’s much better getting dinner than being dinner.

If you’d like to donate to Martin’s effort of getting Mango safely back to the UK and into a safe, loving home read his post here with the instructions on placing your photograph order (or just donating). The hardest part is deciding which print to get and what size.

If you can, please share this post to spread the word. You can also follow Martin’s journey on his Facebook page here.

The official “A Year to Help” project site can be found here.
Martin’s photography website can be found here.
All images courtesy and copyright Martin Usborne.

Everybody’s Working for the Weekend

Tito's Dogs

Thanks to the title of this post you probably now have that annoying 1980’s Loverboy song swirling around in your head. Apologies. But as the saying goes, it’s 5:00 somewhere so it’s time to mix up a nice cocktail and relax. There’s a vodka brand that you may or may not be familiar with that I happen to love: Tito’s Handmade Vodka, from right here in the good old USA. Texas, in fact. And guess what? They are some serious dog folks! The image above is from their most recent photo shoot and it features just half (HALF?) of the dogs owned by the staff. Little ones, big ones, woolly ones, shaggy ones, you name it (I’m talking about the dogs). I was also informed that there are packs of wild dogs near their facility just outside of Austin, so there’s always something new showing up. And these folks step up every time, believe me!

Here’s a photo of Tito himself (whose last name just happens to be Beveridge), with the trusty boy Roscoe. What a pair! They sure look content, and I don’t see a shaker anywhere near them!

Tito and Roscoe

So in honor of Tito, his staff, the wonderful dogs they love and the ones that are about to show up any minute now, and of course St. Patrick’s Day last Sunday, I decided to compose a little limerick. If you’re thinking “but Vodka’s not Irish!”, I would say that there’s probably not an Irishman anywhere that would deny someone their wee drink of choice! So, ahem…

Tito Limerick

Ah well, I tried. Anyway, my drink of choice — surprise — is a Salty Dog! Here is a simple recipe and photo from The Daily Noff:

Salty Dog from The Daily Noff

Salty Dog

2 oz Vodka
4 oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
Salt for the rim
Salt your rim. Pour vodka into rocks glass with ice, pour grapefruit juice over that. Slurp.

If you’d like to learn more about Tito’s Vodka (which I think they should rename “dogka”), check out the official Tito’s Handmade Vodka website here. And cheers!

Typographic Tuesday: Best Friends

Best Friends Animal Society Ad

It’s Typographic Tuesday, and today I’m featuring a message from Best Friends Animal Society. They’ve cleverly packed some good facts into this puppy head about pet overpopulation here in the US, and the importance of spaying and neutering. Not only did they do a great job with this project, they always seem to hit the mark with their communication efforts. Ah, the power of good design.

It’s World Spay Day

Doris Day and Doggie

You tell ’em, Doris!

Doris Day, that is. And she’s featured here because she, along with her Doris Day Animal Foundation, founded World Spay Day—and that’s today, folks! Always the last Tuesday in February, this day is meant to draw attention to pet overpopulation and encourage spaying worldwide. It comes at the end of February (and I’m wondering if it shouldn’t be held at the beginning instead) because all month long it’s been Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. All over the world there have been great free or low cost clinics available to get as many pets spayed as possible, and you’ve gotta love these names: Spay It Forward, Hunka Hunka Furry Love, Neuter Your Scooter… um, you get the idea. So if you know about a certain furry being that needs to be “tended to”, check out what’s going on in your area before the end of the month—or get the word out to others—and save some money at the same time.

Here are a few more photos of dear Doris, because well darn it, they just don’t make celebrities like they used to!

Doris Day with black doggie

Doris Day with dogs

You can find more information about World Spay Day, locate a spay event in your area, or enter the spay pageant on the official portal here. Various groups and clinics around the world have been uploading photos from different spay events, mobile services, etc. and it’s really great to see the reach.

Information on the Doris Day Animal Foundation here.

Typographic Tuesday: Groucho Marx

Groucho plus quote

Originally with Typographic Tuesdays, I wasn’t going to actually write anything. But the problem is that I usually end up having something to say and today is no exception, so here goes…

The lovely dog atop the quote is aptly named Groucho. I first noticed his photo on the Best Friends Los Angeles Facebook page, because they had a very clever campaign timed with the Super Bowl titled “The Super Bull”. I think these folks do a fantastic job with their approach to not only finding homes for all sorts of dogs, but also with their efforts to show the public what great dogs the “Bull” breeds can be when given the chance to thrive. This campaign focused on their love of playing hard, giving it all they’ve got just like any given football hero. Here are some more photos of handsome Groucho, who by the way is still available for adoption! Besides getting an amazing dog, what a great conversation starter he would be! Sigh, I’m starstruck.

Best Friends LA dog Groucho

And here is the main image for their campaign, with some of the other dogs they featured, every single one of them a hero in so many ways.

BFLA's Super Bull Campaign

If you’d like more information on Groucho or any other dog, please do visit Best Friends of Los Angeles on their website here. Okay, I’m done talking :-)

Cory Booker Saves Freezing Dog

Mayor Cory Booker saves freezing dog

Newark, New Jersey super mayor Cory Booker is in the news today for saving a freezing dog after seeing a tweet from a local TV news reporter. This is one guy who really jumps in and saves the day, having saved people from burning homes and shoveling snow for residents of his city. Once this pup was warm and safe he even went on to personally shred the careless owners. Go Cory!

From the story on mashable.com:
“This is brutal weather,” Booker told WABC. “This dog is shaking really bad and you just can’t leave your dogs out here on a day like this and go away and expect them to be OK. Hypothermia on any animal including a human animal will set in pretty quickly. So this is very sad. You can just feel the dog shaking pretty badly.”

Booker put the dog in a heated police car, called its owners and scolded them for leaving the dog outside. The owners said they were away from home and didn’t know how the dog, named Cha Cha, got out of the house. They apologized to Booker.

Check out the story here on Mashable, including the tweets that led to the rescue here, or the WABC news story here.

Typographic Tuesday: Martin Luther King, Jr.

mlk_quote_final

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Today’s quote for Typographic Tuesday is by Martin Luther King Jr., in honor of his recent birthday plus all the warm, hopeful feelings here in America that are in the air with an inauguration and a new year for setting things right. I’m including this photo because I think it’s one of the most tender images I’ve seen in a while.

Here’s the background: a few months ago I did a post on Sara Turetta and the group she started called Save the Dogs. One group that really helps Save the Dogs is the Swedish-based Hundhjälpen. Not only do these guys send pallets loaded with all kinds of dog food, treats, toys, medicines, etc. they also take regular trips to Romania and volunteer however they can. In the end, they transport a lot of these dogs back to Sweden and find them warm, loving homes. This photo is from their trip just a few days ago, and the kindness of this simple gesture melts my heart. Thank you, Hundhjälpen and Save the Dogs for never looking the other way.

To find out more about Hundhjälpen or donate, go here. To see all of the photos from their trip, visit their Facebook page here. And of course, Save the Dogs’ website is here.

Tournament of Roses (and Dogs) Parade 2013

Early Rose Parade with Dog

For as long as I can remember (but not quite as far back as this photo), southern California’s Tournament of Roses Parade has been a non-negotiable part of my New Years Day. For anyone unfamiliar with the parade, it is shown on television live from Pasadena. A very colorful display, it’s a welcome sight to people living in drab frozen places who want to see vibrant flowers while their own are covered in ice. The floats are strictly made out of real flowers and other vegetation, and they get pretty darn creative. Normally the weather is sunny and glorious in southern California (but not this year) and they often share a recently updated statistic about how many frozen people are lured to the Golden State after watching, ditching their snow shovels and hitting the road for t-shirt weather. The parade always includes the best marching bands from across the country (and increasingly around the world), people on horseback, a few celebrities, and of course some great dogs. A few from the LA Times:

Beagle on HGTV's Rose Parade float

Rose Parade Pup on Bike

This year’s Grand Marshall is the amazing Dr. Jane Goodall, and the theme is based on Dr. Seuss’s book, Oh the Places You’ll Go! Best Friends Los Angeles, part of the main Best Friends rescue group based in Utah, is aiming for their shelter to be a no-kill, and one of their dogs by the name of Chuck was chosen to walk alongside the carriage with Dr. Goodall to represent America’s homeless pets. Sweet. He did a great job. Here are two pictures of Chuck from the BFLA Facebook page, the second one being just before his television debut!

Chuck with BFLA's Marc Peralta and Jane Goodall

Another float sponsored by the Beverly Hills Pet Care Foundation was beautifully designed and executed, with giant flower-clad dogs and cats but also lots of real dogs held by volunteers. The announcers said that all of the pets on the float are available for adoption and you could connect with them at the end of the route. The star Jack Russell terrier Uggie from movies like The Artist was even onboard with his trainer (but I don’t think you could adopt him) as the official mascot of the float, because he’d also been given a second chance.

But the best part of this year’s parade brought together many wonderful things: dogs, our military service members, and reunions. A few minutes before the float arrived, a woman and her son were introduced as lucky winners of a contest for military families living in Germany, and she said that her husband was currently serving in Afghanistan. The prize included a trip to California plus tickets to the famous parade. Next arrived the Canines of Courage float, sponsored by the Natural Balance pet food company, to honor (big hooray!!) canines that serve our country alongside troops. This float was inspired by a monument that’s currently being built to these canine heroes in San Antonio. Various branches of the military were represented by members in their dress uniforms and dogs that have served including one sweetheart German Shepherd mix named Lucca, who had lost a leg to a land mine in Afghanistan. In addition to a representative soldier, there were 4 dogs also made of flowers to represent the four most common breeds that typically serve: Doberman Pinscher, Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, and Belgian Malinois. Beautiful. Below are some photos of the float during its construction and in the parade, and also the happy girl Lucca, to whom we owe a great debt.

Canines with Courage Float

Last but definitely not least, the contest winner and her son were pulled from the crowd to be reunited with one other rider on the float, her husband in his army fatigues. I jumped off my treadmill, not very gracefully, to make this video. It’s really wonderful, even the parade announcers were choked up. And, one last thing I noticed: this military family’s last name is Pazz, and it’s pronounced like “paws”. How cool is that?

Happy New Year everyone!

Article on the Canines of Courage float from the Los Angeles Times here.
If you’d like to watch the whole parade, KTLA’s website has it here.

Comfort Comes to Newtown

K-9 Comforts Dogs with Kids in Newtown

A group of ten Golden Retrievers made the trip from the Chicago area to Newtown, Connecticut over the weekend to provide some measure of comfort to survivors and families affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday. These dogs are part of a group called the K-9 Comfort Dogs and they are from the Lutheran Church Charities organization in Illinois. I think these dogs are doing a great thing, and I really appreciate the individuals involved with providing this incredible source of strength during a time like this that’s beyond words.

And it’s time to get to work–

Golden Retrievers arrive in NewtownPart of the group from K-9 Comforts

Here is text from an article from the Chicago Tribune (or you can use this link):

A team of golden retrievers made an 800-mile journey from the Chicago area to Newtown, Conn., over the weekend to comfort those affected by the recent school massacre.

Lutheran Church Charities deployed about 10 of the canines Saturday evening for residents who want to pet them while they talk or pray with the dog’s handler, said Tim Hetzner, president of the Addison-based organization.

“Dogs are non-judgmental. They are loving. They are accepting of anyone,” Hetzner said. “It creates the atmosphere for people to share.”

When the charities’ dogs are not responding to a national tragedy, they will often visit people in hospitals, nursing homes and parks. Each dog carries a business card with its name, Facebook page, twitter account and email so those that meet the canine can keep in touch

“The dogs have become the bridge,” said Lynn Buhrke, 66, who is a dog handler for a female golden retriever named Chewie. “People just sit down and talk to you.”

The dogs’ first stop Sunday in Newtown was Christ the King Lutheran Church, which is holding two funerals this week for two children who were slain during the shooting, Hetzner said.

“You could tell which ones …were really struggling with their grief because they were quiet,” Hetzner said. “They would pet the dog, and they would just be quiet.”

The dogs have been helpful even to those without children in Sandy Hook Elementary School, where the massacre occurred Friday, organizers said.

“I asked (one man) how he is doing. He just kind of teared up and said: ”This year, I’ve lost five loved ones and now this happened,’ “ Hetzner said. ”The whole town is suffering.“

The comfort-dog initiative first started in 2008 at Northern Illinois University after a gunman killed five students. A group of dog caretakers associated with Lutheran Church Charities trekked to campus in hopes of providing a distraction to the student community.

The trip was so successful that weeks later students petitioned university leadership to bring comfort dogs back to campus, Hetzner said.

The initiative has grown from a handful of dogs in the Chicago area to 60 dogs in six different states, he said.

Since then, the dogs have traveled across the nation to comfort people in the aftermath of major tragedies such as, Hurricane Sandy, and the tornado that hit Joplin, Mo.

On Monday, the dogs plan to be with Sandy Hook students for after-school activities, Hetzner said.

”There are a lot of people that are hurting,“ he said. It’s ”good for the children to have something that is not the shooting.“

All images courtesy of Lutheran Church Charities. For more information on this group or the K-9 Comfort Dogs, click here.

Operation Animal Airlift

Plane, puppy and palms

This past weekend in California, a major undertaking took place: the airlift of hundreds of dogs from overcrowded shelters in Los Angeles to the Pacific Northwest where there’s apparently a shortage of adoptable dogs (nice to hear that’s the case in a few places). The group that’s in the pilot’s seat, so to speak, is Wings of Rescue, a volunteer network of kind-hearted folks that are dedicated to flying adoptable dogs from point A to point B. According to the spokeswoman in the interview, they’ve saved 5000 dogs in the last 18 months alone!

“Dogs going to Olympia, Washington!” “All of those going to Hillsborough!” The video from NBC Nightly News is a flurry of activity: shouted destinations, happy goodbyes, crates being loaded, happy volunteers working like Santa’s elves, and also a lot of twinkling doggy eyes as they get ready to take off.

This story appeals to me for a few reasons: saving dogs of course, but also the southern California connection (because that’s where I’m from) and aviation’s role (my family tree is full of aircraft-related careers). It’s definitely one of those feel-good stories that just makes you applaud humanity. For me, it’s a well-rounded gush of love, pride and gratitude.

Volunteers, dogs and planes

The story mentions specifically the case of Sedona, shown below, who was saved on the day she was scheduled to be euthanized at a shelter. Instead, she’s greeted by her new owner in Oregon who says the perfect thing: “This is like Christmas morning!” I’ve watched the video about 10 times now and that’s where the lump-in-the-throat hits.

Sedona closeup and boarding flight

Sedona arrives in Oregon

If you’d like to watch the video, please do so! You can find it here. It’s really worth it, and they have a nice segue to the piece by showing the Obama’s 2012 Christmas card featuring their dog Bo at the White House in the snow. The idyllic image serves as a great reminder that the only thing that separates dogs languishing in shelters from dogs in loving homes is action. Happy holidays, Wings of Rescue!

If you’d like to volunteer or donate to Wings of Rescue, you can find the information here.

All images from NBC Nightly News segment