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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Joe Benji and a dog auction

Tonight I met one of my favorite dog stars, and gained a new mentor. Joe Camp and Benji were at the Des Moines Animal Rescue League for a fundraiser. Now, perhaps the fact that I am such a big fan dates me a little. Those of you my age remember those movies fondly. This was a horse fundraiser, as Joe has a new affection for horses, and adopted one from the ARL, but he brought along little Benji. Visit his website for more .

Okay, so I KNOW that this Benji is not the Benji I grew up with... he would be in his 30's! But it was still Benji! She was a sweet little thing with the softest fur, rescued from a shelter in Mississippi! She wore "the nametag"... those of you who have seen the movies know what I am talking about. The little round brass tag with her name imprinted on it. What a thrill, and I was a total dork, shooting photos, oohing and aaahing over every move the little dog made. But there was an even bigger thrill about the evening.

Joe is a very mild mannered gentleman with an enthusiastic love of animals...all kinds. At times he was like a kid talking about his new horse...and at times he cried reminiscing the first time his horse trusted him. There is no "famous hollywood persona" about him. It probably helped that during the presentation, Benji opted to NOT listen to commands. Oh did we laugh. She started scratching during his horse speech regarding his new book, " The Soul of a Horse". He reached over, gently stopped her paw, and said, "Stars don't scratch..."

Talking to Joe, was like sitting on your front porch, drinking lemonade, and talking to your best friend or favorite cousin. He was in no rush, didn't brush anyone off to get through the line of autograph seekers quickly, just sat patiently signing books, and honestly became engaged in any conversation these strangers brought up. Now, being a vet, when I am at a party, and John Doe, whom I have never seen in my office, starts telling me how his cat is sneezing, I admit, I have a tendency to want to crawl away or just turn my ears off, and to a degree I probably do those things. Okay, so I sit and listen, but I don't believe for a second that I engage in the conversation the way Joe does. He treats you as a close friend. And when you leave, you think to yourself, "I will see him at the local diner tomorrow, or at soccer practice for another round of good talks!" I feel as though I left there with a new friend, and I hope I did.

Back to the dogs...
Today was an auction in Missouri. They are known as puppy mill auctions. I do believe they are illegal in Iowa, thank goodness. Puppy mill auctions are where commercial breeders send their retired stock, pups that aren't selling, any dog that for any reason they no longer want in their inventory. I have friends who have paid as little as a dime for a dog at these auctions. The rescue group that went planned to bid on 15 dogs. Sometimes the bidding gets too high for rescuers, and other breeders get the dog for a price. Back into another commercial breeding facility these dogs go. Not a heat cycle left unfertilized... Well the group won 5 dogs. Not sure what the breeds are. Will talk more about it tomorrow. These dogs often come to us with teeth rotting out of their is not uncommon for these dogs to have such bad teeth that the jaw is broken at the base of the tooth due to softening from severe infection. They are often matted, flea infested, chronic ear infections, hernias. I have had a few that when I spayed them, their uterus was scarred down to other organs within the abdomen making a routine spay, a difficult surgery, for both the surgeon and the patient...

I am anxious to see the new send them on to their new lives, for however long they have left. I plan to someday attend one of these auctions... it is just a difficult thing to commit to.

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