Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tribute to Lucky

Lucky's Story

The Beginning by Teddi Bynum

Lucky didn’t figure into anybody's plans. Not the plans of the people who found him wandering along the highway one day and certainly not the plans of Desert Haven Animal Refuge. Desert Haven wasn't open to dogs yet. No kennels, no dog facilities at all.

The staff that day could easily have said no, and that would have been that. And who knows, maybe they would have if they had foreseen how Lucky would test Desert Haven's commitment to its guiding principle: no animal, once granted asylum, will ever be asked to leave.

He wasn't exactly a puppy when he turned up, but still a kid, a little boy. And for a long time he remained the only dog, an only child with the place to himself. We who cared for him, fed him, cleaned up after him and chatted with him, belonged to him alone. He didn't have to share so he didn't learn to.
But little by little the kennels were built and other dogs moved in. To us, they were refugees just like Lucky. To Lucky, they were trespassers.

It would be one thing if Lucky was, say, a Chihuahua, but he wasn’t. He was a Staffordshire Terrier, with the stature and gait of a pro linebacker and who-knows-how-many psi of jaw strength. His resentment towards most other dogs posed not just a nuisance, but a menace, a danger. And the measures necessary to prevent contact between him and every other dog on Desert Haven's five acres amounted to more than just an inconvenience; it amounts to…well, see for yourself.

Dogtown in bloom

He became the sole occupant of a respectable hunk of real estate, a wood fenced compound complete with a two-story condo. If the inward-sloping chicken wire trim atop the six-foot perimeter gives it that prison look, it's clearly a country club prison, earmarked for high-rolling white collar criminals.

Fort Lucky didn't go up right away. Some thought was given to alternatives. Like carting him off to a breed-specific refuge for Staffordshires in particular or "pitbulls" (often a misnomer) in general. They certainly exist, and there was every reason to believe that one could be found that would welcome Lucky. But the idea was considered just long enough to remind us how wrong it would be. To the other dogs who have come and gone, those who are here now and those who have yet to come, Desert Haven is a refuge. For Lucky, it was home.

The Middle
Reprinted from Humane News 2005 by Eliana Aubin

Lucky gives kisses to Eliana

"A happy, handsome and very well mannered young dog who loves to be around people, and especially to take them on long walks, Lucky will melt your heart. Lucky is indeed a charmer! When he is not surveying his domain at Desert Haven, at the side of a dog-walker, he spends his days watching over Dog Town from his comfortable loft at The Penthouse.

Larry & Mavis at The Penthouse

The Penthouse, Lucky’s official residence, was built specifically for him by several volunteers, including Teddi Bynum, Jack Sloan and Larry & Mavis Juniper. Until last year, Lucky shared the spacious residence and its surrounding courtyard with his puppyhood buddy, Tobi, who was later adopted out, leaving Lucky without a close canine friend.

Lucky still misses Teddi, the human friend with whom he shares a very strong bond. Teddi left some weeks ago, to teach English at a China university for the next couple of years. Lucky – the Deputy-Dawg of Dog Town - does not let his sadness over the absence of his closest human friend overcome him, or the fact that he can no longer enjoy the company of Tobi, his former canine companion. He knows that he is loved and well-cared for at Dog Town and he performs his duties as Deputy-Dog very well. After all, he was raised right there, and he knows just about every inch, every nook and cranny, every filled-in-hole, every bush and even perhaps every wild rabbit on the entire property.

As the canine residents of Dog Town are adopted out and leave, full of anticipation at the chance to build a new life with their adoptive person, Lucky bids them farewell from his loft. Of course, he too, would like to be adopted and share the rest of his life at the side of his very own person, but he also knows that his ancestry may be keeping him at Dog Town. Until he crosses the path of the one special individual who will fully recognize his wonderful qualities and be willing to meet his needs, Lucky has a loving home at Dog Town and he is happy. After all, Dog Town is his home since he was a small puppy, and he knows that he is Top Dawg in the heart of all the volunteers at Desert Haven.

When you come up the long driveway to visit Desert Haven on a Tuesday, look towards Dog Town, and you will surely see Lucky, The Deputy-Dawg of Dog Town, standing up on his loft, while watching your arrival, as he waves his tail in joyful anticipation."

The Ending Contributed by Stan

"Lucky was my friend.

I’ve volunteered at the Refuge for one year now, three days each week, and that’s how many times I saw, walked with, and played with Lucky. When I first started volunteering, I’d walk Lucky, and not do much else with him. Then, one day I was trying to put the leash on him to walk him, and he grabbed one end of the leash, and started playing tug-of-war with me. Well, from that point forward, I was careful with the leash, but I also started playing tug-of-war with him, using a more appropriate toy. Then I started coming in about 10 minutes earlier each morning, and as soon as he saw my car, he found the tug-of-war toy we were using, and started running and jumping back and forth in his pen, waiting for me to come in and play with him, which I did for most of the year I knew him.

After playing with him each day, I’d start scratching him in back of the ears, as well as on his body, and from time to time, he’d jump up and either lick my face or give me a “love nip” somewhere on my body. I feel he and I became close friends as the months rolled by. And then I noticed the lumps in his neck, which turned out to be symptoms of Lymphoma, which he died from about 2 months later. But that’s not the end of the story.

I went with Lucky to the Vet when he had to be put to sleep because he no longer could eat. When the Vet put the needle in him, he turned to me (I was kneeling by his side, scratching in back of his ears), licked my face, turned back to face forward, and died. I’ll never forget that. I have a small, framed picture of him in my home. He and I were great friends and I’ll always miss him."

Lucky - Deputy Dawg of Dogtown from 2003 - 2008

"He was ours and we were his, through thick and thin, for as long as it took. That’s how it works at Desert Haven."

Week of 3/16/08 Humane Happenings

A hug in the flowers

The school year will soon come to an end and The Sierra County Humane Society, Inc. wishes to thank Rita Ortiz, as well as all the Middle and Elementary school teachers who participated this year in The Society’s sponsored Adopt-a-Classroom program. KIND News, the award-winning newspaper distributed monthly through the program by the National Association for Humane & Environmental Education to participating elementary and middle-school classrooms, contributes to the moral development of our community’s Youth.

One of the most important functions of any humane society is humane education. We can spay-neuter all we want, prosecute animal abusers all we want, but education is what changes people’s behavior. If that weren’t true, we would not send people to school. KIND News not only talks about proper pet care and having compassion and regard for animals, but it also sends messages about having compassion for fellow students, respect for teachers, the importance of volunteering in our community, and the need for recycling. Children have to be taught to be kind. KIND News helps them learn kindness to animals and to people.

Over the years, the Sierra County Humane Society has sponsored a large number of Elementary and Middle-school classrooms in Sierra County. Any teacher interested in receiving KIND News for the school year 2008-2009 should contact Jody Koch at 575-894-9226 or Linda Estavillo at 894-1694 before the end of school in May. The entire cost of KIND News is covered by the Sierra County Humane Society, Inc. It is totally free to teachers and the local school system. All a teacher has to do is let us know that he or she is interested in receiving the newspaper for every child in his or her classroom.

This week’s wish list: canned & dry cat food, canned dog food, sunflower seeds, volunteers at Paws & Claws thrift shop, Dog Walkers and Kitty Cuddlers at Desert Haven Animal Refuge. For more information or to volunteer a couple of hours or so a week, contact Freddie at 575-894-2778. Check-out our web site at

Week of 3/9/08 Humane Happenings

Bootz hand feeds guinea pigs their favorite snack - parsley!

Welcome to Desert Haven, Merle and Ginny Josten. This friendly RV’ing couple is planning to spend a couple of months at Desert Haven Animal Refuge, to help take care of the non-human residents there. We trust that they will enjoy the friendliness of the volunteer crew at DHAR as well as of our community.

Welcome back, Ted and Fay Early. For the second year in a row now, Ted and Fay have stopped at DHAR on their way to and from their winter campground in Arizona. It is always a great pleasure to see this wonderful animal loving couple and the only complaint that we all have is that they don’t stay long enough at the sanctuary.

This week’s kudos go to Lucy Farrester – Bootz - for her on-going involvement at DHAR. She came to us a couple of years ago, when we needed extra help from our local supporters. Since then, Bootz has become one of Desert Haven’s most dedicated volunteers. When the need arises, Bootz fosters some of DHAR rescued dogs who benefit most from the extra attention in a home environment. Bootz was recently elected member of the Board of Directors and we are confident that her commitment will be long-term and beneficial to everyone.

It was a beautiful day at DHAR last Tuesday, and several members of the volunteer crew took advantage of the weather to plant a number of small native and semi native bushes and trees, that, when mature, will enhance the appearance of the entire property. We wish to thank The Sierra Soil and Water Conservation Department for donating to DHAR, every year for the past several years, a large number of seedlings of evergreen trees and bushes natives to this area.

This week’s wish list: Dry and canned pet food. Kitty-cuddlers and Dogalkers. Helpers at Paws & Claws thrift shop. The shop will continue to be open at its current location for several more weeks, before it is relocated. Please continue to support us with your purchases as well as your donations to Paws & Claws. Desert Haven is open for visitors every Tuesday, and by appointments. Contact us at 894-2778 or 894-1694 for more information. You can also check out our web sites:

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Week of March 2 Humane Happenings


The Sierra County Humane Society president & Desert Haven Animal Refuge CEO - Eliana Aubin - was recently invited to speak at the monthly meeting of the Rotary Club of Elephant Butte, held at Hodges Restaurant. What a gregarious group of community minded folks! The generous contribution made by the club as well as those by club members Kandie Lanford of Cornerstone Accounting & Payroll Service, Ray Hodges of Hodges Restaurant, Laura Jane Tinon and several other members of the club are very appreciated and will be put to good use at the no-kill sanctuary. A wonderful group of community minded folks indeed!

Paws & Claws thrift shop is in the process of being relocated and over 19 folks came to help last Sunday. From Robbin Brodsky of Hillsboro, to Johnny and Linda Jones of Mimbres, Leo & Diana Rivera, Walt Allen, Becca Weybright, Dolly Loftus, Margo and Michael, as well as the entire volunteer crew at Desert Haven, everyone worked very hard through the afternoon and a large number of shelving was set up, cleaned and painted. We thank ALCO for donating several shelving fixtures for the new store, also Eliana Aubin, Johnny & Linda Jones for transporting them to the new location. At this time, we still need clothes racks for seasonal storage of donated clothing.

On Tuesday morning, after animal care, the DHAR crew met again at the new store’s location, together with Leo Rivera, Vicki & Fritz Sorg, Carl Morse, Robbin Brodsky of Hillsboro and Gaye. Special thanks are in order for Darren Travis of Pizza Hut, for giving a special discount on enough pizza to feed over 26 workers at lunch time. We also appreciate the generosity of Vicki & Fritz Sorg who donated a large cooler full of bottled water, ice tea and soft drinks for everyone present. What a great group of workers and supporters!

On a sad note: Lucky, the sweet and gentle Desert Haven canine mascot, was euthanized a few days ago. He had been recently diagnosed with lymphoma, a rapidly spreading form of cancer in dogs, and his quality of life had degenerated quickly over the last couple of weeks. Cutting his life short was a very difficult decision that was not made lightly. Losing Lucky hurt just as much as if he was our very own dog. In a way, he was, to all whose lives he had touched, as they volunteered their time at the Sanctuary throughout the five years that Dog Town had become his home. Lucky did not die alone; Two of his many friends were there with him, Freddie Loveless of DHAR and Stan Brodsky, who had driven all the way from Hillsboro that morning, especially to be near him during the last moments of his life. Lucky was indeed very special to all of us. We will speak of him often, so his memory does not faint into the night. He was ours and we were his, through thick and thin, for as long as it took. That’s how it works at Desert Haven.