Tag Archives: animal rescue

DNA Results are In. Charlie is ….


Well, here’s the deal. Charlie is a mutt, we know this. So a couple weeks ago, my husband and I went to Petco and picked up a DNA kit. After seeing the results of two of his litter mates, I was very curious to know what might be coursing through his little veins. His brother had different sire markers than his sister; but they shared the same dam markers… so because Charlie seems to be the only one in his brood with all his unique Bernese Mountain Dog / Border Collie -esque markings, we thought: if they can have different dads, then so can he. What I didn’t expect was the totally WHAT?! results we got. If you read these three together, you’d say that Charlie was a stowaway.

Anyway… back to two weeks ago: after a three-hour rest in his crate and on a snow-day, my son held him quietly and I swabbed between his inner cheek and his teeth.

Charlie’s cheek, not my son’s.

And then I sealed up the kit and sent it to the lab for reading. The lab received it on March 10. After much curiosity and ado, Charlie’s DNA results came in over email last night at 11:21.

I woke this morning, after expressing my gratitude for waking and being healthy, I rolled over, kissed my husband, then rolled back over, sat up, scratched my head, did a quick cat / cow to wake my back and then woke my son. After that, I went to get my smartphone and read my email.

At the bottom of a long line of messages, mostly of newspaper alerts and Daily Om messages, was a note from the DNA people.

I know you’re champing at the bit. So here… Read below … toot.

WHAT ?!? DACHSUND?! Are you kidding me?!

WHAT ?!? DACHSUND?! Are you $)@!(&% kidding me?!


My heart literally stopped for a moment.

Small dog. Wiener dog.

“Labrador retriever” went right past me. Didn’t even register.

Dachsund. All I could think about was the Dachsund part.


I am a Big Dog Person. I see small dogs and immediately I go into “snarly nasty gnashing clawing” dog-vision mode. I am biased. But beyond that, I mean… no. Charlie’s legs are probably 15″ long and his proportions are … proportional. I don’t dislike small dogs, I just don’t like them. Every small dog I’ve ever met on a walk with The Murph has been nasty and unpleasant.

I contacted the owners of his siblings to let them know the results because we’re all in this together, and as I mentioned, they had the same DNA test performed on Charlie’s sister and brother, and their results didn’t mention D…ach…sund (uch. I can’t even say it.) at all.

The fact that the lineage goes alllllllllllllll the way back to his great grandparents and only one on each side out of eight means I get a refund annnnnnd further analysis of their veterinary team and other dog people (not people who are actually dogs) who will look at his pictures and compare his results with his siblings’ results (which look more comprehensive than Charlie’s) and they’ll get back to me with more guesses.

What this means to me, is that basically, they will have people like me who love dogs and who know breeds and who love dogs and who will look at pictures and talk about how cool looking he is and that will be it.

His sibs each have a mention of Basenji in them. I liked that. They don’t shed. (I’m hoping for something beneficial beyond utter cuteness and boundless affection.)


It brings me great joy to say about Charlie that when we talk about the term “rescue” that it has always been a foreign concept to me. All my dogs have been bred for captivity. All of them are thoroughbreds. All of them were “spoken for” here before they were born. I’ve mentioned this before, but I didn’t really understand what was going on here, when we took in Charlie. His presence in this family has rescued us. It has lifted up our collective spirits after a time of great loss.

When we first met Charlie, he was 12# 4oz. He couldn’t reach the ottoman in our family room. He was smaller than our cats. He could slide under the kitchen chairs and noodle into the crick of your elbow and fall asleep there, likely dreaming of his dark and roofless caved-in deserted home that he knew for all of his life before he came to know car rides, warm laps, children’s laughter, music, carpeting, safety, and predictable mealtimes.

I remember fondly the first moment we had together outside after his inaugural night here. He trotted out the back door of our home and licked the dewy grass that was glistening in the low morning sun. That was how he got water. I took him out front and he lapped from a puddle of rainwater on the street. He didn’t know about bowls. He didn’t know about doors and steps and leashes. He was a wild dog.

Oh! How he hated his crate. He howled like a pentecostal preacher whenever he’d get in it. Yelping in tongues; if he had a can to drag against the grid, he would. After about a week of that, he began to understand that the crate was his new cave; his new refuge and that every time he went in it — no matter how often a day, a treat was always waiting for him. All we have to do now is say “kennel!” and he takes off like a jackrabbit and careens through the house to zip like a snake into his crate where he is practically smiling waiting for a treat. He has become a true Virginia Gentleman: ready at the door to greet with a smile and sincere good cheer.

Oh, how his beautiful little ears flop and bounce in the wind when he runs; his lean teenager legs taking him wherever his eyes wander. Squirrels, birds, the dogs across the fence. Gandalf. Ohhhh… if he could eat / mate / kill / harvest Gandalf, how happy he would be.

Charlie rescued Murphy, our six-year-old Golden, who was becoming more reclusive with the months. Something has spooked Murphy, we’ll never know what it is because he can’t talk, but Charlie has encouraged him to come back to us, to beg for a treat, to compete for a snuggle and lunge for a tennis ball again.

Yin and Yang.

Yin and Yang.

We talk about “rescue” as if we are doing the saving.

We talk about “rescue” as if we are somehow the better person, the more noble endeavor that shows our heart and our bigness to the world: Look at me save this animal from a tragic end; look at me, how big my heart is, to let in this creature who had no where else to go…  

What we don’t realize is that we are the ones who are saved.

It doesn’t matter what breed Charlie “is.” It’s purely a matter of curiosity and predicted dog behavior for me; I want to make sure I could train him right and understand any tendencies he showed. But in the end, aren’t most dogs the same? They bark, they play, they whine, they need love, they need protection and they are fiercely loyal. Charlie didn’t come to us as an adult. His only story is 8-10 weeks older than when we met him.

He can clear the couch effortlessly now.

He can clear the couch effortlessly now.

Today, he is about 33# and stands about 18″ tall. He has a mighty front chest; we’re talking very broad. His fur rivals that of a brushed sheep. His hair (on his head) is still just … crazy; he always has bed head. His eyes are deep dark chocolate. I don’t know what kind of dog has dark eyes like that… maybe a poodle? Does any of it matter? If he stayed this size, I’d be thrilled. Charlie has turned me into a Small Dog Person because he has a big heart.

We know what Charlie is. Charlie is our dog and Murphy’s brother.

Look! No snow! (For now.) I shot this today.

Look! No snow! (For now.) I shot this today.

Thank you.

ps — it’s so nice to be writing again. This is my 400th post! 🙂

Dear Diary,


Dear Diary,

It’s me, Charlie, the puppy here at the human’s house. Today, the lady gave me a bath. She was all alone or there would be humiliating photos of me with suds on my face and me sitting in the kitchen sink (i peed in it just to get back at her) looking like a wet rat.

Instead, she waited until the towel she put on me could hold no more water and took me outside for a picture. Here I am looking like an electrocuted wet rat:


She gave me the bath because I experienced the misfortune of placing my head under Murphy’s penis while he watered a plant this morning on our walk. It was my fault, I own it completely, but I did not like the bath. I did not think I smelled that bad. When the lady gave me a bath, I made sure that her shirt got very wet and that she got very cold because she ignored my dagger fangs on her wrist and my calls to any nearby wolves to release me. Serves her right. The lady kept on giving me treats while she scrubbed me; she thinks that will eventually make me like baths.

She is stupid.

Murphy said to just go along with it because the suds, the treats and the massaging are excellent.

This is Murphy, he is very cool:


He plays guitar with his tail.

When I run around this house and I try to steer, my feet slide on the floor and I slam into things at full speed. My fluffy hairs do not provide traction. The humans make sounds like they are having trouble breathing whenever this happens.

About four weeks ago, I was rescued from a hole in the ground in South Carolina. The lady and the man who have brought me here to run their home said that they did not plan on bringing me here at all but that the man saw a picture of me where I fell asleep in my food and he had to have me.


I do not know why this picture is what did it. I think I look like an idiot. I am embarrassed by this image; I have no self control.

I like this one better where I’m super cute. I was faking sleeping:


But “people are stupid; there’s no accounting for taste,” says Murphy. He is cool, so I believe him. He lets me knit with his tail hair. I know he likes it because he moans when I do it.


Since coming here, I have taught these humans how to do chores properly. No one understood the point of a dishwasher. I do.


It took many days for Murphy to warm up to me being his boss. He tries to act all big and 83 pounds, but we know that’s just a phase. The lady was so sad when he succumbed to my authority, she spoke into a small plastic box and shouted into it, “They’re getting along! They’re playing!” I do not think she understood what was going on. I was not playing. I was having a private meeting with Murphy expressing my domination; I have determined that hypnosis is best. Look into my eyes… You will do what I want…


I feel this photo is like one of those sensitive moments captured by White House photographers when JFK was in the middle of the Bay of Pigs crisis. Why did he not like the idea of a bay of pigs? Mud and bacon. What is not to like?

The lady tells Murphy not to drink from the white bowl in the small room. She growls in a stupid way, it sounds nothing like a dog. Murphy laughs at her and does it anyway. Here he is teaching me how it’s done. I can not reach the bowl. One day I will. She says, “Charlie, do not pick up that habit.”


Instead, I picked up this habit while I wait to get tall:


Here is Murphy pretending he is the boss:


On second thought, he looks very scary there. I will remember this picture. He does not like it when I try to eat his food when he is eating it. The lady feeds me last. That is mean. She says something like, “You are not alpha. I am alpha. Murphy is above you. You are Mu or Sigma….” Mu. That is stupid. But I try anyway.


It snowed here a couple weeks ago. I had a great time sitting on Murphy in it.


I am doing well. My mom, brother and sisters are living nearby. When the weather warms up, we will get together and have fun, the lady says. I have put on almost eight pounds since living here. Every time I wake up from a nap, a boy here says I have gotten bigger.

This is me, about to take a nap, so I can grow:


I have gotten the lady to do tricks; every time I sit down, I get her to use a clicker and then she gives me a treat and pats me on the face. She also does this when I decide to lie down and I have just started to go after things and then leave them alone and I get her to give me a treat. She also gives me one for taking a nap in my box. She is stupid.

I got a treat for this:


She keeps saying, “STAY. STAY… STAAAAAY.” I do nothing, and then I get her to give me a treat. Humans. They are so easily trained.

I like to think of this place as my toilet. The lady does not like that, so she has started to feed me off the floor.


Now I do not want to pee there so much anymore. But sometimes I forget. So now, she “wears” me by attaching herself to me wherever we go. It is funny, I never thought she would want to go where I get her to go.

I am glad I do not live in a hole in South Carolina.

Thank you.

Charlie’s Story — 5: The Finalé “A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words” #photography #humanitarianism #heroes #dogs #rescue


Here are some pictures from the rescue site, of Mini on her own the day before the reunion and of the reunion and the ride home.

If you’re just catching this post now and you haven’t read any of their story, please start here at “Something About Mini.”

This is Mini on Thursday Morning, January 2, safe and sound in Maryland, but definitely needing some nursing pups.

This is Mini on Thursday Morning, January 2, safe and sound in Maryland, but definitely needing some nursing pups. (I said I wasn’t going to say anything in this post, but I have to say this. Call me a weirdo, but Mini looks distracted here. If you compare her to the later images after her pups’ rescue, she just seems … content later.)

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Ahhh! Charlie and Tip.

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Charlie and Tip preparing for the ride home in a nice warm jacket. They look so tired and dare I anthropomorphize again and suggest: relieved??

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All Dogs In The Caaaaar! Annnnd, they’re out. I think that’s Charlie’s butt on the far right, I can see some of his brown wool.

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Um. Yeah. This is where they were lived and from where they were rescued. Here’s me… I’m thinking while I’m imagining this story, and before seeing these images, “trailer” “ramshackle” “dilapidated” and “fixer-upper.” It never occurred to me that upon the countless properties I’ve driven past in my lifetime which resemble this image, that anything, six anythings in fact, could be living in them. This whole thing brings a new perspective to me.

Roof, anyone?

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Believe it or not, this is a different view. All this cozy homesteading can be yours for the low, low price of … your soul.

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Over here, we have a lovely al fresco dining nook, complete with convenient trash depository area. When I saw these pictures, all I thought was “crack den” and feared “loose needles…”
Amy … Michele … holy canoli. You are heroes!

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Amy captioned this one, “The beginning of the tunnel under the foundation.” I think this is where she started digging. With her bare hands. At night. In 28˚ and falling temps.

this is where they were found. this is the hole Amy dug.

this is where they were found. this is the hole Amy dug.

Amy is a photographer. These next pics are so lovely. This is the ease I was suggesting earlier in Mini’s disposition.

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Amy and Michele — I remain speechless and humbled by your commitment. Thank you Thank you Thank you.

Several readers have asked me if the dogs have all been placed. Yes. All the dogs have been placed. Everyone’s heart just grew that much bigger…

Thank you.

ps — all of these images are copyright of and appear courtesy of Amy Santiago, (c) 2014.

Charlie’s Story — 4: “Who Wants to Go Car?” #dogs #rescue #heroes


So I told you all that the women who rescued Charlie and his mom, Mini and his sibs Freckles, Tip, Drama and Sleepy were named Annie and Mandi. I also told you those names were fake, because I didn’t want to disclose their names without their permission. I received permission. Annie is really Amy and Mandi is really Michele.

If you’re new here, please go to the first installment of this story. You’ll be glad you did.

When we last left Amy and Michele, Amy was desperately and exhaustedly trying to get Freckles from the teardown. It was terribly late, cold and she was soaked. She was calling in a favor, so to speak… Just not with the use of a phone. Those of you who have a sense of intuition and familiarity with channeling your friends as models in various moments will completely understand when Amy said, “My friend Margo is an animal catcher extraordinaire. She can get cats out from when they’re stuck between walls and other situations and so I just summoned her. You just need to go for it and see what happens. I feel like that’s what you need to do when you catch animals.”

“I’m not a natural animal-catching type person, but I thought of Margo and I just shoved my hand through the hole … and he started licking me. But the hole wasn’t big enough for the puppy and the puppy was too scared to come out. So for the longest time I would sit there and put my hand in and pull it out slowly, but he wouldn’t come out. He was the most stubborn … So again, I summoned Margo. I put my hand in and grabbed as much fur as I could just yanked as hard as I could against the hole and … he came out.”

“And then, he was just a little puppy! He still backed away and you couldn’t touch him without him flinching, but he was out, and fine, healthy and wonderful.”

Here’s me: Amy, you are officially an animal-catching type person now. Well done!

The seven-hour saga was over. Finally. There wasn’t a sixth puppy that they could discern, and it seemed as though everyone was where they needed to be.

It was after 3:00am.

After this, Amy and Michele, took Mini and her puppies to the nearby Days Inn hotel where they ate bologna and bread, probably their first solid food ever, and stayed until morning. No one slept though. The puppies spent a good deal of what was left of the predawn darkness screaming at the walls.

“I had made the error of telling someone at another hotel that we had rescued these puppies and they told me we were going to have to pay for any mess, so we left and went to the Days Inn… and we didn’t tell them about the puppies,” Amy said.

Although sleep was a nice idea, the fact is that no one was really able. The adrenaline rush from finally getting all the dogs out safely and then watch them eat bologna and bread was all Amy and Michele could ask for. “We just sat together on the floor for like a really long time, and watched them just be alive, and then we tried to sleep.”

“When we eventually woke up in the morning, the pup we named Sleepy, was the only one who was still asleep after everyone work up. Before that she was nameless, but then that seemed to work for her, since she was still asleep.”

So before heading home, for Maryland, Amy and Michele went back to the site in the daytime to make sure, absolutely sure that there wasn’t a sixth puppy and to try to get the male dog who was with Mini earlier. I know you guys were likely wondering… But they went back. They could see in the daylight that this wasn’t a trailer park at all. It was just three trailers, one that was absolutely decrepit, the one where the dogs were and the one where the kind woman lived and another abandoned one.

“We had a long conversation with the woman’s found out that there are all sorts of dogs that go through there. There’s one with a curly tail and another one — a bunch of other strays that come in and out of there who eat the leftover good she puts out. And so we tried to get the dad, by leaving food and Mini out, but she was food-aggressive against him, so that wasn’t going to work out because she ran him off from the perimeter of the car. So then, there was just no way. If Mini wasn’t on board, there was no way we’d be able to get him in the car with us. But we stayed there a few hours and then we went and spoke with some cops and see if they could help us. We were there a while trying to work that out.” It was hard to leave them all behind.

Amy told me that when they were ready to leave to head back home and call it a day and a half, they laid out the blankets in the back of the car and the dogs all laid together as a group. “But for at least a half hour to an hour, the dogs were screaming and yelping and howling in the back of the car. Michele and I, we just laughed.”

What else can you do? I like to think they were singing. That’s easy enough for me to say… I wasn’t in the car.

After dropping off Michele and a few of the pups with her at her home, Charlie among them, Amy finally headed home to her own house, “completely unprepared” to have a bunch of puppies stay with her.

Still, a little reminder: this was three days after they first found Mini and then two days before the first Polar Vortex. We just had the second Polar Vortex hit yesterday here; with snow this time. I am loathe to think of how the dogs would have fared during this second hit were they not spared from the first one.

So our conversation went on and we talked about the dogs and how they are all doing, and how they were adjusting to their new lives without one another and without the trailer and their new open spaces and families.

It seems that everyone is doing well.  I’ve written about Charlie here on the blog already, comparing his feisty, scrappy ways to the regal and more poised affectation of my gorgeous thoroughbred Murphy, for whom I wanted Charlie to be a friend. It was hard for me, bringing in this new dog, and unknown breed and unknown story. To trust him with my golden boy, was going to be asking a lot, and trusting Murphy to be kind to him and to not be mean. I felt in no small way that I was betraying Murph. That I was bringing home another baby to my first-grade son, because in effect, that was what I was doing. I told Amy about how Murphy has returned to us, how he’s come out from his hiding. I didn’t know it would’ve worked and I’m so happy it did.

I told Amy that I see myself as the person who gets to have Charlie, rather than as the dog that belongs to me. I’ve considered these animals, even before I met Charlie, as everyone’s dogs, because they were born without anyone, and it’s humanity’s job, as a whole to look out for its fellow man as much as it is to look after its fellow mammals and earth. Granted, Charlie is “ours” and my sons are in love with him, but the relationship between him and Murphy is what this is really about. They get along beautifully pretty well.  Murphy can appeal for respite any time he likes by going up the 14 stairs that lead to the upper level; this is something Charlie has never considered.

Charlie cries in his crate still, when we put him in it each night at bedtime, and Murphy walks on by, with a satisfied air, knowing he has paid his dues. Charlie sounds like Robert DeNiro in the closing scenes of “Cape Fear” when DeNiro goes down with the sinking riverboat, attached by handcuffs as it was slowly swallowed by the churning water amidst a torrential downpour in some backwater North Carolina backwater. It’s a scene I’ll never ever forget, because DeNiro knew he was going to die and he was crying out scripture in English and in tongues, mixed with some odd southern twangy Cajun, “blahdebla God will not forsake me… bluudobloodo blodo judgement is mine… Thus sayeth The Lord… glaalabalaggagh bloodooblotablaaah… Counselor!”

He quiets down now, much sooner than his first nights here, in a few minutes. He is safe, in his little crate with his wooba toy, his wrestling towel, a little nylabone and a bacon sock (a Molly original — it’s an old sock tied in a knot with some bacon oil on it for good measure). He loves it. He loves it all. Sometimes he will take a toy of Murphy’s and then Murphy will return the favor.

In other areas of the house, he has a little day care area:

charlie zone.

charlie zone.

I’ve tied a plush squeaky toy bone to a long string which is attached to a door knob leading from the kitchen to the dining room. When he pulls on that toy, he keeps himself detained in the kitchen, which is pretty ingenious if I do say so myself.

Murphy is showing interest in his own toys again. When I write, they are behind me in the doorway between the playroom and this office. Murphy used to lie at my feet, but now he’s got Charlie to play with. Sometimes all I hear are snorts and teeth clashing followed by the occasional toy squeak and tiny pounce of 15# paws on a carpet.

Charlie has lived with us a week now, longer than any other human family on earth. He has put on almost one and one-half pounds since his arrival. He goes on a daily six-fireplug tour, which lasts about 15-20 minutes, depending on how often he decides he’s done with the walk. Then after that, he and Murphy play the leash-a-lympics. He greets his humans at the door with a happy wagging tail and a measure of enthusiasm that should be harnessed to power small homes. He smiles up at you, giving you the sense that he is really super glad to be alive.

We feel blessed to be a part of this little brood’s legacy. Charlie is one of a kind. You can’t go to a breeder and ask for a Charlie from Mini. That’s what’s great about mutts; they break the mold with each incarnation.

Thank you Amy and Michele.

Today, I am feeling sympathy for the wife of Noah (Ark). I’ve got four animals and 11 fish in my house. The animals can’t go outside for long because it’s 7˚ out with wind chills of -10˚.

there's a dog in my son's hands. he's so dark, you can't see him.

there’s a dog in my son’s hands. he’s so dark, you can’t see him, but you can make out his paws and the tip of his nose.

I’ll be writing more about Charlie and Murphy and the cats who pretend the dogs aren’t here. Please do come back tomorrow to see some amazing photos from the rescue site. I don’t want to plug them in here because words fail and because I saw them after I finished this post. Suffice it to say, I believe they warrant some form of award to Amy and Michele for their over-the-top efforts to rescue these dogs. (It’s also a pain in the butt to insert photos into posts.)

Thank you.