Tag Archives: dogs

Happy Easter! … and then some!

Lilac donning her Easter bonnet!:


Not-so-Happy District 4:

Charlton Street:


Lower Endicott Street:


Ward Street heading into the Canal District:




This Earth Day these filth hot spots will be cleaned up by the best of the best. The next day they’ll be clogged with garbage. A chronic problem!

City Leaders may want to institute FREE GARBAGE PICK UP IN SOME OF OUR INNER-CITY ‘HOODS. The illegal dumping will never go away …

Some questions:

Is it financial hardship that keeps folks from plunking down 10 bucks for city trash bags?

Or: Is it a symptom of something deeper, a kind of depression/malaise that stops our folks from keeping their environs clean?

We can debate the causes all year long. Meanwhile, my neighborhood grows dirtier and dirtier.


So wonderful when our readers show us the love:


Like William here! To hear the enthusiasm in his voice a week ago as he picked up the latest issue of ICT! To be bombarded with his compliments! To experience his intelligence and thoughtfulness! Our readers make it all STILL GREAT. After almost 15 years!



My friend works in a flower shop. She “sent” me these beauties a few days ago for Easter!:


Love the soft peach roses, gal pal!


And love the hundreds of vintage toy trucks and cars – some of them actually antiques dating back to the 1920s – for sale at Unique Finds Antiques and Vintage gift store at 1329 Main St., Worcester. These guys really take you back! Who can remember the Texaco jingle?



Lilac, my tenacious hunter, caught a rabbit (or squirrel?) a week ago:


A brutal, but quick, ending for the little guy. You can’t break your dog of his/her high prey drive. … Lilac slept like a babe that night, true to her soul:



Easter sans Lucinda? Never in a million Easters! Reposting one of my favorite Lu songs!


– pics+text by Rosalie Tirella

Looking out for pups – always in style!

Don’t be cold-hearted, let dogs inside!

By Lindsay Pollard-Post

It’s so cold in many parts of the country that car batteries are calling it quits, streets have been transformed into skating rinks because road salt isn’t working and exposed skin can become frostbitten in a matter of minutes. Yet countless dogs — domesticated animals who are suited to curling up in armchairs, not enduring Arctic temperatures — are left outside in this bone-chilling cold 24/7, on chains or in backyard pens. And not all of them will survive.
Every winter, dogs who are left outdoors freeze to death; suffer from frostbitten ears, toes and tails; and die of dehydration or starvation — often while the people who left them out there are just a few steps away inside a cozy, warm house.
Rita was one of those dogs. A police officer reportedly found her dead on Valentine’s Day 2014 inside a pen in Madison, Illinois, that was partially covered with snow and strewn with feces. Her food and water were frozen, there was blood in the pen, her ribs were protruding and she was chained, preventing her from reaching her doghouse. A neighbor testified that she was so concerned about Rita that she had rigged up a system to lower buckets of food and water to the dog and tossed straw into the pen in an attempt to give her some warmth.
Last month, a puppy was found frozen to death inside a plastic igloo-shaped doghouse in Atlantic County, New Jersey, after being left outside in dangerously cold temperatures. Another dog, possibly the puppy’s mother, who was also left outside, was severely malnourished and died after being rushed to a veterinarian. Both dogs’ water bowls were frozen solid.
Dogs’ fur doesn’t provide them with adequate protection from freezing temperatures and biting wind, especially the short fur of dogs like pit bulls, pointers, beagles, Rottweilers and Doberman pinschers. Puppies and elderly dogs are especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures, and older dogs who have spent many winters outside endure the added misery of aching, arthritic joints.
Many dogs who are chained or penned “out of sight, out of mind” in backyards are deprived of adequate and legally required shelter. They spend the winter shivering in drafty, overturned plastic barrels or huddling under haphazard lean-tos constructed out of old mattresses, rusty car parts or whatever else is lying around the yard. PETA’s fieldworkers routinely deliver sturdy, straw-filled doghouses to dogs who are forced to live like this. A doghouse is no substitute for a warm, loving home, but for these neglected animals, proper shelter often means the difference between life and a painful death.
But the coldest thing that chained and penned dogs have to endure isn’t the temperature —vit’s their owners’ indifference. Companionship means everything to dogs — they are social animals who want and need to be with their human “pack,” have their chins scratched, hear the words “Good dog!” and be loved unconditionally, as they love us. They need to exercise their bodies and minds with long walks, games of fetch and new sights, sounds and smells to explore. Stuck in the backyard like snow shovels, dogs get none of these things that make their lives worth living.
If you have dogs living outside, warm their hearts — and yours — let them inside. If there are chained or penned dogs in your neighborhood, make sure they have proper food, water and shelter — and notify authorities immediately if they don’t or if their lives are in danger. And urge their owners to welcome them inside to be with the rest of the family. There is nothing colder than leaving “man’s best friend” out in the snow.


By Rosalie Tirella

I was shooting for the stars: a purebred German Shepherd (gorgeous! majestic!) puppy (trainable, no bad habits/baggage) – a rescue (fixed, vaccinated, relatively inexpensive compared to a GSD pup from a breeder) who looked like the Old Injun Fighter’s vicious German Shepherd, Sparky (my dog would be the squirrely love tunnel back into the heart of the ex-beau I WILL NEVER EVER GET OVER) but acted like Rin Tin Tin (brave, loyal, serious, smart – just the ticket for my rough, crime-ridden Worcester inner-city neighborhood) ….but some how, like it always happens with me in life, love and dogs … I ended up with the POLAR OPPOSITE of my expectations! I ended up with Lilac!

A jingly jangly, wicked smart (plott?)hound-collie-shepherd-(coon?)hound mutt from Tennessee who runs circles around this old lady’s heart! She’s ALL Star American athlete while my other dog, 7-year-old Husky-mix Jett, and I wallow in middle age. She is strong and sure-footed while Jett and I sometimes miss a beat and stumble during our afternoon walks. She is silly and high-spirited – Jett and I are more serious, wise … philosophical.

She is spring. Jett and I are autumn.

She climbs trees! That’s the coon hound in her! Have you ever seen a dog pursuing a squirrel so relentlessly, so “doggedly” that she chases it right up the tree and climbs into the tree after it? It’s a wild sight! Lilac, just 9 months old, but three times as strong as Jett, with all her muscular grace bounding up to the tree, then her paws “running up” the tree trunk, four paws off the ground … and she’s all ecstasy, all fearlessness, no distracting thoughts, despite my yells of COME LILAC! COME! as she clambers up that tree trunk, in the most insane, ungainly way! Beautiful!

I have never hung out with such a natural hunter. My first dog, Grace, was a greyhound mix, and her prey drive was sky-high. But all she could do was run amazingly fast after rabbits, squirrels and deer (yes, Grace was a deer hunter!). But she didn’t like to swim – she would stop short in a pond or stream once the water reached her chest. But Lilac is super aquatic! She doggy paddles in various and sundry bodies of water with childlike abandon! Did I mention she can swim, run, climb, hop! hop! as in all four of her paws go off the ground in Tigger-like joyfulness, leap, scamper, lope and bound in pursuit of prey? She does all this with magnificent ease and sometimes grace, with a compact strength that’s overwhelmed me, once knocked me to the ground, left me squirming and crying in pain with a sprained ankle … watching Lilac glide on by, a loose, canine smile spread across her long face, her tongue lolling merrily, as if to say: See ya later, Mommy!

LILAC!!!! I yell as the college kids are lifting me up and gingerly placing me in my car … LILAC!! I scream in agony. But I do not – will not – leave the field until a tuckered-out, panting, chest-heaving Lilac finally notices me from a great distance, finally heeds the call and comes racing back to me, bounding into the car, splattering me and Jett (he never leaves my side these days) with mud and fetid water (Lilac took the scenic route and swam in the little pond) making us all one unholy mess!

Once home, I am busy wrapping my ankle with an ace bandage and popping Advil like PEZ, Jett is sitting on my bed, visibly upset (we had such a nice routine when it was just we two! he seems to say to me), Lilac is sleeping on a mat on the hardwood floor, sleeping a heavy sleep punctuated with sighs and deep moans, as if still chasing that damned squirrel in a dream. …or maybe it’s a wily raccoon in her home state of Tennessee. She is all wet and smelly from her jaunt over fields, through woods, under water, but I want her on the bed with Jett, I want her to feel his equal, build her self-confidence. I go to the linen drawer and pull out an old sheet, fold it in half and spread it over the foot of my bed. LILAC! UP! LILAC! UP! I say to my little athlete, tapping the bed with my the palm of my hand. Lilac rouses, sits up and stretches all the way back, yawning, like a little bathing beauty. She looks so pretty and soft – even with muddy underbelly and paw pads. Then she lopes over to my bed and with the slightest effort (like the true athlete she is) is lying next to Jett, curled up in a ball, in two seconds. Lilac plops down and plops down hard whenever she goes to rest. She never merely lies down. This makes her seem more raw-boned and “country” to me! Which I love! But her long tail always looks slightly feathery and oh so elegant!

We are home.

Jett is annoyed.

I am in pain. I will go to urgent care tomorrow – my ankle has swelled up to grape-fruit size and is KILLING me. I’ll have it x-rayed. Could it be broken?

But Princess Lilac, the little abused puppy who was dumped outside the Animal Control building in a Worcester County town … pretty, dreamy Lilac with limpid brown eyes and white feathery chest … pretty, sensitive Lilac who was kept caged in a too small puppy crate for hours at a time and S-T-R-T-C-H-E-D O-U-T on floor, mat, bed when I first brought her home, pretty collie Lilac who seems to read my mind when I am lonely and comes up to me and plops down hard against my side and rests her head on my chest or stomach and makes me feel warm, safe and, yes, loved, pretty not-so-little-any-more Lilac who drops her wet, chewed up doggy toys in my face when I’m lying on the sofa and talking on the phone with a friend (she does this to grab my attention), the lovely Lilac who takes Jett’s leash in her mouth and tries to lead him where she wants to go, smart Lilac who carries her empty water bowl to my bed and flicks it onto the comforter as if to say: FILL ‘ER UP! PRONTO! I’M THIRSTY, MA! has totally, absolutely won my heart.

… What German Shepherd puppy?????

Lilac, resting in Rose’s bed

Is your dog in danger of being “flipped”?

By Lindsay Pollard-Post

Do you know where your dog is right now? If the answer is “outside” and not under your watchful eye, don’t keep reading—go get your dog. A disturbing crime called “dog flipping” is on the rise, and unattended animals are the prime targets.

“Flippers” prowl neighborhoods looking for animals they can obtain for free and then sell on sites like Craigslist. Friendly, roaming dogs and cats are flippers’ favorite victims. Some animals have even been abducted right out of their guardians’ yards.

Last December, a Texas family’s 11-year-old dog, Sushi, went missing after apparently escaping through a hole in their backyard fence. Weeks later, her family spotted an ad on Craigslist featuring a dog who looked exactly like her. But after they inquired about the dog, the ad was removed.

Another Craigslist ad appeared advertising a dog who resembled Sushi. This time, Sushi’s guardian arranged a meeting with the seller to buy the dog at a store parking lot. The dog’s fur was a different color—it had apparently been dyed—but a scan of her microchip revealed that it was indeed Sushi, who had disappeared seven months earlier. Sushi was lucky—many victims of dog flipping never see their families again.

Being torn away from the people they love and sold to strangers is just one of many perils that animals face when they are left outdoors alone. Bunchers—people who abduct animals to sell to laboratories for experiments—also cruise neighborhoods, as do dogfighters looking for animals to use as “bait.”

Unsupervised dogs and cats also make easy targets for abusers. Most of the 400-plus reports of cruelty cases that PETA receives weekly involve animals who were victimized while outside unsupervised.

Last year in Colorado, a home security camera showed a man entering a backyard and spraying three small dogs with what investigators believe was pepper spray. The man returned hours later and violently swung at one of the dogs with a golf club, chased her into the house and emerged carrying a garbage bag. The dog was never seen again.

In Washington, a dog named Butterfinger died after a neighbor allegedly shot him with a pellet gun, piercing his liver and stomach and causing hemorrhaging. According to Butterfinger’s guardians, the neighbor was upset because the dog kept going onto his property.

Poison, traffic, disease, extreme weather and many other hazards claim the lives of animals who are left outdoors every year. One homeowner in Florida called PETA because her cat, who lived outdoors, died after her home was fumigated for insects.. The cat had apparently gotten trapped under the tent that was draped over the house during the fumigation and was killed by the insecticide.

It’s crucial to protect our animal companions from the many dangers lurking outside by keeping them indoors with the rest of the family and letting them out only on a leash and harness or in a fenced area under close supervision.

Spaying or neutering our animals (which we should do anyway, given the millions of cats and dogs who must be euthanized every year for lack of a good home) can make them less attractive to flippers, who often hope to breed them. Having them microchipped and fitted with collars and identification tags can also help bring them back to us if they ever go missing.

Dogs and cats are as vulnerable as toddlers in the great outdoors. No parents in their right mind would turn their 2-year-old child loose to wander the streets alone. Letting our animal companions do so is just as risky.

I visited Sweet Pea animal shelter in Paxton a few weeks ago …

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

… after the fire; after the horrible fatalities (nearly 50 dogs and cats perished in the flames); after the TV news trucks, their satellite dishes and anorexic girl reporters shoved off; after the ignorant comments that went like this had passed: Well, the animals didn’t suffer too much – it was the carbon monoxide that killed them, not the flames; after all the noise and media whores faded away. … I drove up with a friend and found owner Melanie still shaken but quietly tenacious – totally focused on regrouping and reopening her beloved animal shelter.
Melanie’s kennels and shelter space, based on the mini-tour she gave me after the fire, did seem a bit antiquated, but this dog lover felt that IN NO WAY were her dogs crammed in cages. The kennels seemed fine – not shoddily built; there was a play area, there were runs, there was a quarantine building with kennels, there was a heating system, a washer and dryer for dog bedding, a place to wash the dogs.

Melanie had a lot  to contend with when she bought the place: first, it was built in the 1970s – the kennels, building, electrical work were old, just plain old. But probably fine for the time they were built. Melanie doesn’t have a ton of dough so gave it her all –  100% –  to make the shelter she had WORK.

And it did!

Everyone says she DEFINITELY RAN A TRUE NO KILL SHELTER. She took the dogs and cats no one wanted, kept them and loved them and PLACED THEM in loving homes. She told me she even housed feral cats, taming them down – it takes a few years – and then placing them in forever homes! As someone who had cared for two feral cat colonies in Worcester’s inner city  for 10 YEARS, I know how challenging taming down a feral cat can be and thought WOW! This lady is GOOD!

Melanie welcomed ALL to her shelter, the place  was open to every person in the community – no snobby attitude at Sweet Pea! She had 100 volunteers walking the dogs, helping with donations. Her animal shelter hid nothing, had nothing to hide, was accessible – a fun place to volunteer. On any given day you could visit Sweet Pea and see volunteers walking the dogs, a stretch of woods making a lovely backdrop. Sweet Pea is definitely in the country – a tonic for abandoned dogs, critters who are hurtin’!

There is so much to be done now!
So much rebuilding before this single working women can reopen her animal shelter, her not so small biz!



Melanie  needs our help! The Town of Paxton has now come up with a set of standards for all kennels in town: kennel dimensions, the kind of materials that need to go into kennel floors, the kinds of walls that need to go between kennels, lengths of runs, sprinkler systems, etc. THIS IS A GOOD THING. FOR THE DOGS AND CATS and PEOPLE! These new regulations will help ensure that a fire – or other calamity-  will not wreak havoc in places where helpless animals are locked up – are unable to flee the flames, the flooding, etc. Can you imagine the FEAR, THE OUTRIGHT PANIC the Sweet Pea dogs and cats felt as they gnawed or pawed away at their cages to free themselves from FIRE … HELL? Horrific.

We will always remember them…WE MUST NEVER FORGET!

But it’s time for Melanie to rebuild, take Paxton’s blueprint for animal SAFETY and success and make it REAL!

Please CLICK HERE and make a donation to the SWEET PEA GoFundMe or PayPal accounts!

Learn about Sweet Pea and the wonderful work that Melanie and her volunteers have done!

Make Sweet Pea come alive with dogs and cats and all critters great and small once again!


Chef Joey just adopted another shelter pup!


This makes three adorable little dogs for Joey! (Vinny and Abby are pups #1 and #2.) This sweetie’s a boy and eight weeks old! Joey hasn’t named him yet – that’s how new he is to Chef Joey’s “pack”!

Go, Chef Joey, go!

Go, little dog, go!

– R.T.

Pic: Chef Joey

5 holiday pet hazards you never thought about

Lilac says: Mommy, let’s play! FOREVER!

You’ve probably heard the standard advice about keeping your pets safe during the holidays: Don’t let dogs gnaw on turkey bones, make sure cats don’t swallow tinsel.

But veterinarians see a slew of other holiday emergencies you may never have considered. Here are just a few:

Christmas lights:

A string of Christmas lights may not sound dangerous, but every year veterinarians treat dogs and cats with electrical burns on their mouths. The reason? Some pets, especially cats and puppies, just love to chew those power cords.
A jingle bell toy. Buy a big package of cat toys and you’re likely to get a small plastic ball with jingle bells inside it. When is this dangerous? When your dog decides it’s a delectable treat and swallows it.


If you give your dog some fatty human food, vomiting and diarrhea may result. But low-calorie food could hurt dogs even more – and possibly kill them  –  if it includes the artificial sweetener xylitol. The substance is highly toxic to dogs. It shows up in gum, sugar-free candies and baked goods  –  even in a few types of specialty peanut butters. Check labels to avoid the danger.

The ribbons on your presents:

Ribbons can cause big problems when dogs or cats ingest them, especially if they travel all the way into the intestines.

Grandma’s purse:

Or anyone else’s! Especially if they leave it on the floor where your inquisitive pet may stick a nose inside it and wind up eating something dangerous like a bottle of medicine.