Bless her heart, Bess

Bess seemed to have laid down and went to sleep on Saturday.  It’s what we had hoped for and it certainly was time.  She had such a good day the day before and ate four times.  She had walked this place over.

Bess wasn’t here long but wow what an impression she made!  That old girl had steel inside.  Dogs never cease to amaze me with their silent bravery, they take what comes to them and deals with it without complaint.  I was so worried about her being cold this winter and glad she’ll never be cold again, but Lord, we’re gonna miss her.  Rest in peace sweet girl, you deserve it.


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The Reluctant First Mate (A Woman and her Dog take on the Atlantic Ocean)

by Melody Coulter,

published in The Bark no. 49 July/August 2008

Zach didn’t want to go.   I was about to embark on the sailing adventure I’d dreamed of for 20 years when the first mate jumped ship.

It was 1991 and we were going from Key West to the Mediterranean by way of Bermuda and the Azores.  Departure day was the culmination of weeks of preparation.  I had made lists of the lists that had to be finished and things that had to be crossed off.  Supplies, new equipment, bottom painted, sails double-stitched, on and on.  Finally, it was all done.  Friends were on the dock wishing fair winds and Bon voyage, but we couldn’t sail because the ship’s dog was on the other side of the marina, dodging the captain’s every effort at capture.

There have been few times in my life that I have been madder at another creature than I was that day at him.  This was so unlike Zach_he loved to go sailing, would go into a barking, wiggling, tail-wagging frenzy when the lines were being untied and we were pulling out of the slip.  Throughout his whole seven years with me, I had run a charter boat business; he’d been going sailing many times a week since he was a pup.

Finally, he surrendered.  I think he finally realized how much trouble he was in.  I carried him back to the boat, put him below (not in irons) and closed the hatch.  Saying my good-byes, we got underway.  It wasn’t until later, when the sails were up, course was set and I had calmed down, that it dawned on me that my crew was saying in the only way he cold, “I don’t want to go.”

I’m sure he wasn’t objecting to sailing the Atlantic Ocean.  After all, he didn’t know exactly where we were going; he sat on charts, he didn’t read them.  It was going offshore–which always happened after this kind of preparation–that he didn’t like.  Offshore meant leaving trees, dock pilings and a host of vertical things he could heist his leg on.  Zachary did not believe in peeing where he lived.  It was, I think, a moral issue with him: You don’t soil your nest.  He would hold it into the next day and finally, when he couldn’t stand it any longer, would go stiff and let urine run down his leg.  After that, it wasn’t okay, but he was resigned.

This would, of course, make me frantic, since I worried about bladder infections.  There are no vets offshore.  I would offer an example, squatting myself and peeing all over the deck.  “Look, honey, Mommy does it.” He would cut me a look and go below.  It was truly no big deal.  A bucket of saltwater–God knows we had plenty–one whoosh, and it was out the scuppers.  Tell him that.

We also went round and round about his pooping.  All sailboats have extra sails tied down at the bow, ready to go up if a change is needed.  And this is where he’d choose to poop.  To raise one of these sails, you turn into the wind, and the sail flaps wildly going up.  Which also sent the poop flying and caused me to swear like a sailor at top volume.  I learned to keep my potty mouth shut when, one day, some of Zach’s “offerings” flew into it!

A Close Call

We weren’t always at odds; actually, it was rare.  I loved that dog beyond reason.  I could look at him and know how I was feeling.  We both loved to sail, and he was a wise and wonderful companion.  Though people were fascinated by the idea of me single-handing the Atlantic, I never felt that was the case.  First of al, I didn’t get to single-hand the hold trip.  I took a charter (a father and son who had tried to sail to Bermuda before and hadn’t made it)  They went a quarter of the way, to Bermuda, and that helped pay for the trip.  I always tell people that I wasn’t alone for the other 3,000 or so miles;  I had Zach.  They usually brush that off as though he didn’t count, but I couldn’t have made the trip without him, and wouldn’t have wanted to–it wouldn’t have been any fun.  And truthfully, I wouldn’t have survived it; he saved my life. 

One beautiful afternoon, about 400 miles out from the Azores, things were perfect–the wind was just right and the skies were blue, with puffy trade wind clouds.  We were rocking along making good time, right on course.  I decided this called for fixing my favorite lunch–yellow food.  Eating out of cans is monotonous when, like me, you can’t cook, but I never got tired of macaroni, tuna and peas.

As I was fooling around down below, waiting for the water to boil, Zachary, who was in the cockpit, started a low mean-sounding growl.  I glanced up at him and saw the hair raised along his spine.  He was always on watch for dolphins, gulls and great big imaginations.  I said, “Take it easy, big guy, there’s nothing around here for hundreds of miles.” But he kept it up, so, to please him, I popped my head up to see what he was looking at.  There was a gigantic sea monster!  It was headed right for us.

There are sea monsters in the world and for small sailboats, they’re called freighters.  I dived for the engine switch, pushed the throttle down hard, threw the tiller over and got the hell out of there at a 90 degree angle.  I watched the freighter’s wake and saw that it never changed course or speed.  The big ships are run by computers, and the lookout, if there is one, is watching for something big enough to hurt the ship.  This one wouldn’t even have noticed running us down.  The thing was hug; it was like a city going by.  The flag of registry–red with a hammer and sickle–flying off the back was as big as a house.She was a Russian ship bound for the Americas.  I could’ve used a jolt of vodka myself about then.

When my heart rate returned to something compatible with life, I was able to fix and eat my yellow food, but the crew dined on a large can of chicken breast, a meal befitting the best lookout and first mate in the whole Atlantic Ocean.

Dog Star

When we made landfall in the Azores, we were treated like royalty.  While I was completely surprised by his, Zach took it as our due.  There were invitations to a different boat every night for drinks and dinner, and to swap sea stories.  A local family had us to their home in the hills for a magical midsummer’s eve party and bonfire.  We had so many offers that if Zach wasn’t invited too, we could always hold out for one where he was welcome.  For 11 days, we played, explored the island, met lots of interesting people and dogs, and just had fun.  Then we were rested, the galley was restocked and it was time to push on.  Europe waited.

Zach wore a bandanna (regular collars stayed wet too long) and it was a measure of his charm that someone was always adding to his collection.  He had all colors and designs.  As we started to motor out of the Horta, Azores, marina, someone I didn’t know came running down the dock behind us, yelling in a heavy accent, “Come back, come back!” Now, sailboats are not made for backing up, there asn’t room to turn, and we were surrounded by multimillion-dollar yachts, but this guy was excited.  I slowed, shifted into reverse, and made a wobbly, nerve-wracking retreat to the dock.  He wanted to give Zach a bandanna and have one last chance to pet him!  I didn’t remember the guy, and don’t think I made much of an impression on him either.  He barely spoke to me, but he was sure sorry to see Zach go.

Something similar happened later when we were in Spain.  An older English couple on holiday had heard about us and knocked on the boat late one night after we had gone to bed.  I sleepily went on deck to see what they wanted; Zach, for once in his life, stayed below.  They chatted me up briefly about the Atlantic trip, and then there was a long, awkward pause.  Finally, the woman said, “Really, luv, we came to see the dog.”

The dog and I had many more adventures; he was always up for anything new, always in a good mood, never borrowed money, never got drunk.  Zach was truly the best first mate on any ocean.



Posted in Random Posts from the Pups | 1 Comment


 Gina goes to the vet first thing tomorrow she has a back leg out of the socket. Oh My God that must hurt or it did when it happened;and I’m betting it still does. She got hit by a car and was so shy nobody could catch her,she would show up at the Caseys in Fairfield they fed her for almost 2 months and finally caught her.

It may be too late to save her leg,that’s up to the vet,we have a great vet,she’ll know what to do. Will keep you posted.

If anyone wants to help with the vet bill,that would be great,if you can’t help,please share maybe one of your friends can.

Any money donated to Dog Star goes for one of two things: vet bills or dog food. Not salaries,not the light bill,nothing but the dogs.

As you can imagine with all these old, sick, injured dogs our vet bills are high. But, I wish they were higher there’s old ones that need their teeth done,we need arthritis meds, dogs that just should go in for a check-up cause they’re old and slow and I’m not sure what’s wrong, just know somethings not quite right

When you have the responsibility of all these animals and limited funds a vet visit is a carefully thought out thing, it’s never done lightly, old age happens and all their expensive meds aren’t going to change that.

That being said, over and over I have made a diagnosis, took the dog in and been so wrong. Like with Tessie, what I thought was a skin infection was an infected molar for God’s sake that had broken thru her face GEEZ how wrong can you be. Painfully wrong, for her… I love ‘em, God knows but they need a vet–not me diagnosing.

I just need to be able to take them in–then pay the bill.

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Wrigley & Ozzie – Guest Editors (aka Katy Hanus)

This gallery contains 2 photos.

I am Wrigley and I am here with my brother, Ozzie. My mom doesn’t think we are real brothers because we don’t look alike we are we best friends and that’s what counts.  Our adventure started on a cold dark … Continue reading

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Lets Get the Ball Rolling 2012!!!!! Please Donate!!!

This time of year it is very important to think of the upcoming year: where do we want to be, what are we going to need for the dogs, what expenses need to be met?  The shelter and utilities for these dogs are already paid and there is no salary for anyone.

When you donate to Dog Star, all donations go to medical provisions and food for the dogs.  You are paying for medical treatment for Skittles’ teeth, when Sissy had problems with her eye, for Atticus to get neutered and when we lost poor Jimmy Jack because of his neck tumor.  Some of these dogs have suffered greatly at the hands of their owners and need continual medical care.  Some of them are just from a home that couldn’t handle them and they need spay or neutered.  Some are just passing through and need antibiotics.  The need for a fund is great.  With several new dogs coming into the pack just in the last week the medical budget is dwindling.  Neuter alone for Atticus will be well over $130, Sophie, bless her heart, will be under $100.

Let’s talk about Dog Food – We need a constant supply of GOOD dog food.  When you donate money, we go buy the GOOD dog food at an affordable price that keeps these dogs as healthy as we can keep them.  We receive donations of food from Hogs 4 Dogs USA and it helps but we go through 2 1/2 bags of food per week – that’s about 100 lbs of dog food.  If you figure it out that’s 5200 lbs of dog food per year.  The 700 pounds donated earlier this year will last only 7 to 8 weeks.  The Hogs 4 Dogs USA people will also be donating some wet food that we can feed out to Bess and some of our elderly or weaker dogs. We are so happy with the donations!!!

Please remember Dog Star Animal Sanctuary when you are looking for a place to make a charitable donation this year.  Your money is going to the dogs, literally!  Please help them live their lives in the peace that all creatures deserve.


Posted in Thank you, Thank you for the donations! | 1 Comment

Onslow Tater – Guest Editor (aka Mindy Beekman)

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Hi!  My name is Onslow Tater and I am going to be 7 in January.  I will pop in from time to time and post when mom leaves her laptop on.  I was never a Dog Star Dog but Melody … Continue reading

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Atticus the Timid

This is Atticus,he came last week. He has been on a chain, abandoned by his owner (good thing he’s gone I’m certain he beat him.) The owner’s girlfriend was asked by some people if they could use Atticus for bait for dog fighting; with that thick coat even though he’s old (12) they would have got some use out of him.

Life’s been hard for Atticus but he finally found a hero guess I should say shero in his neighbor, Rhonda Cox, she’s been fighting for him for a long time and finally got the guy out of there and to us.

He still can’t believe it but is coming around. You have got to be careful about waving your arms around, he immediately drops to the ground and quivers. He just melts when you’re good to him,such a sweet guy. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, Rhonda!

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Eldon didn’t forget

March 13, 2010.  This is Eldon a Benji dog/Bassett mix. When he and his homey, Pongo, came last fall they really hurt my feelings. I’m used to dogs being ecstatic when they get here;just freed from a chain or a small,dirty pen,but these two were heartsick.
They walked the front fence for days looking down the road.I would walk with them at times offering hot dog bits and friendship. Pongo caved pretty quickly but Eldon acted as if to say”You’re real nice,but you’re not my mom and my mom’s coming to get me.”
What they couldn’t know was their mom had a heart attack and died–she wasn’t ever coming to get them. She must have loved them very much and gave them a wonderful home.
It’s been months now and they have adjusted. Eldon lays right in the center of things between the kitchen and living room and surveys his domain. He’s arthritic and has a quick temper so we have all learned to not bump him.
Eldon and I have become fast friends. He comes and sits down close and spends time with me. He doesn’t seem to enjoy being touched so he doesn’t come for petting, but companionship. We hang out.
I know tho if by some miracle his mom could drive in the driveway he wud run to her without a backward glance. We’re friends, but I’m not his mom.
People say they forget–I doubt that. They are so good at love and loving. They go on,but they don’t forget…

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Skittles is named for her behavior.  We try not to dwell on the past at Dog Star but Skittles is one beautiful girl that has overcome a lot. We are trying to find her a forever home with a quiet family, a nice retired couple who are home quite a bit.

Skittles’ story sticks out because a man, a mean man, looked into her precious face and beat her with a 2 x 4.  She has had multiple dental surgeries in the past to correct the damage but we think she is finally through the woods.  We think there must have been another man that took care of her because she will make up to men.  Skittles remembers you when you visit.  The first time you visit,  she will shadow you.  The next time you visit, however, be ready to pet her because she is ready for all the love you can give.  She is ready to give love back and the more calm the home is, the more this pretty girl will thrive.

UPDATE:  Skittles finally gets a taste of the rainbow!!!

Superwoman, Katy Hanus, took Skittles as a foster dog recently and noticed she drank way too much water and peed buckets in the house (something not picked up on at the Sanctuary because of the pond and outside heated water buckets). Katy took Skittles to the vet where tests found that Skittles has water diabetes, which can come from a blow.  Skittles was started on medication and saw almost immediate improvement.
Skittles would have had horrible swings in fluid, like PMS, only instead of irritability–fear. Katy reports Skittles’ tail is wagging!! This is huge! She gets up on the couch with Katy and sleeps on the pillow beside her.
The medications are expensive, but not as bad as we thought, at 90 cents a day instead of $250 a month. Doable and Skittles is oh,so worth it.
THANK YOU Superwoman, Katy Hanus!!!

From Katy:

Skittles has been on her new medication about a week. The biggest difference is I can leave the toilet seat up and a bowl full of water on the floor and skittles doesn’t guzzle it down like she is dying of thirst. Prior, she would drink bowls and bowls of water which caused doggie accidents inside. Since the medication, we have not had an accident and Skittles and I are thrilled. Giving her medication is a breeze; she eats it in the good stuff, the canned dog food right off the spoon. She enjoys running around the backyard and checking out the neighbor dogs. Skittles is still skittish and some days she is better than others, but she hides in the corner less and now prefers the coffee table in the living room which while a baby step I am considering it progress. Skittles while skittish, is a grade A snuggler. She will crawl up on the couch and lay across your lap which will melt your heart make it all worth it. She also crawls in bed and snuggles at night and is an excellent foot warmer. Skittles may always be scared but she truly is a wonderful dog.

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This is Toby, he was one of the rescued Noelle Stanbridge dogs.  He’s elderly, a little hard of hearing and seeing.  We thought he’d fit right in here with our senior citizens.  He’s a dignified ol’ fellow, instead of everyone sniffing his rear end like they do when all the newcomers arrive, he marked some tall grass, they all went there to sniff while he calmly stood back and watched their reactions.  He loves the timber, I see him coming up from there often.  Toby has made a friend – Miss Skittles (She’s the activity director and does her best to make everyone feel welcome)  They play as much as his stiff shoulder allows.

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