Chug channels cat — and two mice are dead


Goldilocks, our 3-year-old “chug,” has assumed the role of Queen Mouser at the Kennedy Compound.

We live in a 104-year-old house, which means we have to deal with the maintenance issues that go along with owning a money pit. (Most of you who know me won’t be surprised that among my favorite television shows are “Love it or List it,” “Property Brothers,” and “Rehab Addict.) We have lived in this house almost 14 years, so we’ve also had a bit of experience with mice — four, to be exact.

The first two made their appearances soon after we moved in. We heard them at night, and we set traps; the mice were smarter than the humans, though: They never took the bait.

But at that time, we had a secret weapon: Maxine Mieux-Mieux.

Maxine, our black cat, found the critters at night. She waited patiently for us to arise in the morning; she kept watch over her prey in the kitchen, for she knew our second stop of every day was the coffee pot. Both times, she proudly stood over the dead mouse, and we properly praised her and gave her a breakfast of her beloved Fancy Feast. (Of course, she ate better food; but after a long night of mouse-catching, the cat deserved her junk food.)

Word got out in the mice community that there was a vicious cat at the Kennedy Compound, and we had no more problems.

But Maxine Mieux-Mieux died late last January at age 19 1/2 years old.

About a month ago, our Chihuahua-pug mix, Goldilocks, started stalking something in our pantry. She was so intent that I often had to shoo her out of the room just to get her to eat.

Last week, Joey and I were enjoying a quiet evening in our living room when Goldie ran into the room and jumped onto the sofa. I could see something in her mouth, but I thought it was a leaf or a piece of cellophane. She looked at me, then dropped the object; I saw that it was moving. She grabbed it, then dropped it again. This time, I saw a tail: It was a mouse — and it was still alive! It was so tiny that it fell into one of the tufts on the sofa and couldn’t get out. Joey took over, and disposed of the critter. (I don’t know whether it was a humane disposal; all I know is I wanted the thing out of my house.)

We praised and praised and praised Goldie. We gave her a treat. And we praised her some more. Our 17-pound “problem child” had become our heroine.

Then, last night, Goldie jumped at something in the pantry, grabbed it in her mouth, and took off for her favorite spot on the sofa. This time, this mouse was dead; she had killed it with one chomp.

Again, more praise and more treats for our Goldilocks.

I’m thinking the word is getting out that the vicious cat has been replaced by a vicious chug. At least, I hope this means the last of our mice adventures for awhile.

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Pearl finds a home at the Compound

I’ve saved Pearl twice now, and this time, she isn’t going anywhere.

In July, I told you about finding Pearl in a shelter in south Louisiana and adopting her just to get her out. Even though the shelter workers were fond of Pearl, she had suffered a spinal injury that interfered with her walking. That was the kiss of death, as far as I was concerned. It’s hard enough to save perfectly healthy animals in shelters; one with a problem has little chance.

Veronica Pearl Kennedy is now safe and secure at the Compound.

Veronica Pearl Kennedy is now safe and secure at the Compound.

But Pearl glamoured me with those big, buggy, brown eyes; I was under her spell.

After help from friends here and relatives in Houma, Louisiana, we got Pearl to the Dallas-Fort Worth Pug Rescue. I thought she was safe. Rescue volunteers had taken her to specialists, and she seemed to be improving.

Then, about three weeks ago, I got an email from one of the rescue’s volunteers telling me that Pearl’s condition had begun to deteriorate and they were evaluating her quality of life. The medications were no longer working, and Pearl was incontinent, I was told.

Of course, I started asking questions: Can she walk? Is she in pain? Is she alert? Is she eating? I’m sure I greatly annoyed my sister-in-rescue with all my emails.

Yes, she can walk, I was told. No, she in not in pain. Yes, she is alert. Yes, she is eating.

Well, then, what’s the problem?

Her foster is a teacher, and all was well during the summer, but when school started and the foster returned to her job, she asked the rescue to send Pearl elsewhere. The foster put a diaper on Pearl, and it was soaked when she got home from school. She was afraid the wet diaper would hurt Pearl’s skin.

That’s when the rescue decided to re-evaluate Pearl.

I asked my rescue contact to please let me know before any negative decision was made. She agreed.

A few days later, Pearl was taken to a vet, who determined that she didn’t have a decent enough quality of life to live. When I got the news, I was ready. I had talked to several of my rescue friends here, and Pam Mayes of Alabama Pug Rescue said the words I had been thinking: “Veronica, you have bonded with that little girl. She needs to be here.”

I asked my Texas friend to help me arrange for transport to get her here. I knew that if I saw her, I would be able to let her go if she did not have a good quality of life.

One of the volunteers at the Texas rescue had accumulated lots of frequent flyer miles from her work, so she flew Pearl here. I met them at the airport, and, for the first time, held Pearl in my arms.

What a living doll she is.

Before I write another word, I want those of you who read this to know that I am not criticizing the Dallas-Fort Worth Pug Rescue. It is a wonderful group of people who do tons of good works. I will be forever grateful to them for helping me with Pearl.

We just disagree on the idea of what is a good quality of life.

Pearl walks with a stiff gait, but that doesn’t keep her from running or climbing the almost two dozen steps in our 1909-era house. She romps with the other four-legged residents of the Compound when the temperatures are nice enough outside. (Pugs don’t tolerate high temperatures well.) She eats like pig, er, pug. And she mostly does her potty business outside.

She has a good life. As I write this, she is sleeping right next to Sadee Lew, her friend.

I’m puzzled by the opinion of the folks in Texas, but in one of the emails I exchanged, the volunteer in Texas said she hoped I proved the doctor wrong because Pearl is such a sweet girl.

I don’t think I have to prove anyone wrong. Pearl is doing that herself.

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A plethora of pugs for a hot photo

These are the five pugs that live at the Kennedy Compound. From left: Sadee Lew, Lillian Mae, Onslow, Ralph Eugene, and Greta. All but Greta are rescues: Sadee and Onslow came from Alabama Pug Rescue; Lillian Mae and Ralph, from Peace, Love, and Dog Paws Rescue.

These are the five pugs that live at the Kennedy Compound. From left: Sadee Lew, Lillian Mae, Onslow, Ralph Eugene, and Greta. All but Greta are rescues: Sadee and Onslow came from Alabama Pug Rescue; Lillian Mae and Ralph, from Peace, Love, and Dog Paws Rescue.

The photograph for the upcoming Hottest Hounds of Birmingham turned out better than I ever imagined. I knew the photographer, Ann Wade Parrish, is good, but I was asking a lot: I wanted a photo with FIVE pugs in it!

She rose to the occasion with her usual amazing style, and we have a photo full of pug love.

That photo is part of the second “Hottest Hounds” book that premieres tonight at Zydeco. Joey and I will be there, and we probably will take one of the pugs with us. Since I am recovering from knee replacement surgery, I’m not quite ready to take on leash-walking one of our beloved smushed-faced creatures just yet.

The premiere party is going to be a fun event. It will run from 6 until 9 p.m. A donation of $10 at the door gets participants goodies from the Zydeco kitchen and live music by Sean Heninger. Raffle tickets for top-notch prizes will be sold, and a cash bar will be open for the evening.

Dogs are welcome on the patio, where they’ll have a well-stocked goodie bar and plenty of water.

Cassie Moore and her friend Ann Wade Parish created the first “Hottest Hounds” book two years ago as a way to raise funds for a local nonprofit animal rescue group. In Birmingham, that group is the Animal League of Birmingham, which hosts fundraisers to help other nonprofit shelter and rescue groups that promote the overall wellbeing and health of homeless animals in the metro Birmingham area. The Animal League will receive 30 percent from the sale of each $50 book.

The book has been such a success in Birmingham that this year, Moore took the show to New Orleans, where dog owners lined up to get photos of their favorite pooches. That didn’t surprise me: We dog owners love our animals; they are part of our families, after all.

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A village helps to save a young black pug


This is the photo that started my mission. (Chris Heller/Houma Today)

Sometimes it really does take a village to save a dog.

In Veronica Pearl’s case, it took a village of family and rescuers from three states to make sure this 2-year-old black pug was freed from a high-kill shelter.

Most of you know I have a real soft spot in my heart (and some would say my head as well) for pugs. Five of the smushed-face creatures live at the Kennedy Compound, and, quite frankly, I wouldn’t mind more. Joey, however, thinks we already have too many.

None of that mattered, though, when I saw this girl’s photo, and my mission began.

Veronica Pearl was being held by a shelter worker in a photo that accompanied a story in the Houma (La.) Courier about the parish commission setting aside funding to build a new shelter in Terrebone Parish. Joey spent much of his childhood in Houma, and we still have family and friends there, so I get a lot of south Louisiana news on Facebook. This particular story was shared by a good friend.

I called the shelter and was told that the dog was still there. The shelter spokeswoman thought she was about 2, but she didn’t know if she had whelped any litters.

“She seems to have a problem walking,” the spokeswoman told me.

Uh-oh. Trouble walking? Sounded like a good excuse to euthanize her.

I told the young woman that I wanted to adopt her — and to my surprise — she said OK. I told her I lived in Birmingham and that the dog most likely wouldn’t live with me. That was fine. I completed the adoption form online, she checked my vet references here, and I mailed her a check for $105.

A small price for such an awesome creature.

I think the shelter employee on the other end of the line really wanted to save her, too.

“She is so sweet,” the young woman said.

I started looking for a rescue to accept her. Southeastern Pug Rescue and Adoption has only one foster in Louisiana, so that wasn’t going to work. I was told the pug rescue in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, area often handled Louisiana cases.

I sent an email.

Within hours, I received an email from my friend Pam Mayes, president of Alabama Pug Rescue and Adoption, asking if I needed help transporting the dog to Birmingham. She said she had been contacted by the Texas group.

When I explained Veronica Pearl’s situation, Pam decided to help get the Texas rescue involved. After all, it was closer to the dog.

I arranged for one of Joey and my nieces, Kristin Farmer, to pick up Veronica Pearl at the shelter and keep her for a few days.

Our niece, Kristin Farmer, and her fiancé, Andrew Yamasta, with Veronica Pearl.

Our niece, Kristin Farmer, and her fiancé, Andrew Yamasta, with Veronica Pearl.

That was almost Kristin’s undoing because she got attached to the little girl and didn’t want to give her up. But Kristin and her fiancé, Andrew Yamasta, got her to a DFW volunteer for transport to Texas.

Veronica Pearl made it to Dallas-Fort Worth, and rescue volunteers took her to a general vet and then to a neurologist. It seems that the dog, which was picked up as a stray, had sustained a spinal injury four to six months earlier that had gone untreated. She had some swelling and scar tissue that was interfering with her elimination processes.

She’s now on medication, and she’s enjoying the benefits of doggy acupuncture (yep, that’s right!). She’s walking better, eating well, and playing in her Texas foster home.

I didn’t name her. The Louisiana shelter workers had named her Pearl. The DFW rescue already had a Pearl in its midst, so the volunteers chose to add my first name to hers. I am truly honored.

I probably won’t ever meet this little girl face to face, but that’s OK. I know that through the efforts of a group of caring people, Veronica Pearl will live a happy life.

I will remember this village always.

Note: If, by chance, you have missed my posts, it’s because I’ve been recuperating from total knee replacement surgery. I hope to be back on a regular schedule now.

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A sad ending to a long life

Roscoe willingly accepted a ride with Phil Doster.

Roscoe willingly accepted a ride with Phil Doster.

Roscoe is dead, and it’s all because of an irresponsible owner.

Roscoe showed up in the Five Points South neighborhood the last week of May.  A resident of the area posted Roscoe’s photo on the group’s Facebook page, seeking information. The dog appeared to be old and confused, and he almost was hit by drivers a couple of times.

Amanda Forrest Fulford and her friend Keela put out food and water for him, and started calling him Roscoe. All the while, they were posting on the Facebook page asking for advice on how to help him.

I enlisted the help of my friend Phil Doster, who now works as an educator with the Greater Birmingham Humane Society. Phil spent several afternoons cruising the neighborhood in search of Roscoe. On June 5, Phil finally found him and put Roscoe in his truck. He said the dog was not a problem, that he almost willingly got into the truck.

Phil took Roscoe to the Birmingham-Jefferson County Animal Control building, where another rescue friend, Tami Joh, works. Both Phil and Tami Joh know how I feel about unnecessary euthanasia, so I knew he would be safe.  Besides, Diana Brewer, intake coordinator for Peace, Love, and Dog Paws Rescue had agreed to take him into the rescue once his seven-day hold was up. (By law, BJCAC has to keep any animal picked up for seven days to give the owner a change to reclaim it.) I posted a message to my neighbors, and we all were happy.

Here’s where the irresponsible owner comes in.

Roscoe showed up in the Five Points South Neighborhood the last week of May.

Roscoe showed up in the Five Points South Neighborhood the last week of May.

Nicole Metcalf, the BJCAC staff veterinarian, gave Roscoe a thorough checkup – and the result was devastating: Roscoe was in the end stages of heartworm disease. He was already showing signs of heart failure.

The vet estimated Roscoe was about 14 – that’s 88 in human years, according to — and he had hearing and vision problems. He was a gentle giant, who loved everyone who came in contact with him.

He didn’t need to die the way he did. He could have lived a while longer, happy and pain free, if his owner had just spent a little money each month on heartworm preventative. And he didn’t need to die as a stray because his owner dumped him in a strange neighborhood.

How do I know he was dumped? I have observed these circumstances time and time again. The dog, obviously disoriented and frightened, suddenly appeared in our neighborhood. His owner decided that someone else could take care of him.

I have to remember that Roscoe’s last week of life was good. He was petted and loved and given treats. He took a turn for the worse on Tuesday. Dr. Metcalf noticed his behavior was different; she checked him, and found that his belly was filling up with fluid from the heart failure.

He was euthanized this morning, June 13, 2013. “Mister Roscoe is now safe and free from pain,” Tami Joh wrote to me. “They let him go this morning, and I was told he was a sweetheart the entire time, lots of slobber kisses.”

Rest in Peace, Roscoe. You are loved by many.

Posted in Birmingham-Jefferson Animal Control, Greater Birmingham Humane Society, Pets and rescue | Tagged | 2 Comments

June activities planned to help homeless animals

ALB-Fashion-Show-Poster-2013This weekend starts a month of animal-related events that offer opportunities to help rescue groups.

June 1 brings a special kickoff as well as cocktails for good causes.

Saturday is a big day for the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, 300 Snow Drive in Homewood. From 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., the shelter is kicking off its participation in the ASPCA Rachael Ray $100k Challenge. The annual competition awards grants to shelters who do the best job of decreasing euthanasia rates of cats and dogs.

Activities include adoptable pets, food trucks, and face-painting. Donations also will be accepted for the shelter’s Pet Pantry program.

In addition, the shelter hosts Community Day on the first Saturday of each month from noon until 2 p.m. A veterinarian offers low-cost annual vaccinations and microchipping. Due to the event on the shelter campus, the traveling clinic will be set up at Grainger Industrial Supply, 185 West Oxmoor Road.

For those who prefer a more adult setting, K9 Cocktails is planned for 4 until 6 p.m. at Bottletree Café, 3719 Third Ave. South. A percentage of food and beverage sales during those hours will benefit the Birmingham Boston Terrier Rescue.

On Tuesday, June 4, the Birmingham-Jefferson County Animal Control will hostcomedyclub

Yappy Hour at Al’s on Seventh, 2627 Seventh Ave. South, from 7 until 9 p.m. The event is part of the city’s Pride celebration.

Dogs are welcome at the event, which will feature drink specials and a doggie costume contest.

One of my favorite annual events is planned for June 11. The “Come, Sit, Stay, Laugh Comedy Show,” begins at 7:30 p.m. at Stardome Comedy Club, 1818 Data Drive, Hoover. Tickets are $10, and may be purchased at the Stardome box office, online at, or by calling the club at 444-0008

The show will feature PG-13 comics Greg Morton and Deno Posey. A portion of the evening’s food and drinks sales will benefit Peace, Love, and Dog Paws Rescue.

I’m also looking forward to the Dog Days of Summer Fashion Show, planned for June 13 from 5:30 until 8 p.m. in the Contemporary Department at Saks Fifth Avenue at The Summit.

Cocktails, appetizers, giveaways, and a fashion show featuring summer styles will mark the evening. A $10 donation at the door will be given to the Animal League of Birmingham as well as 10 percent of all sales during the event.

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Looking for a dog? Here are three great choices!

More than 13,000 dogs and cats currently are available for adoption in the greater Birmingham area.

These are the lucky ones: Rescue groups have pulled them from kill shelters in order to save their lives and find them loving homes.

At least that many more will be killed; call it being “put down,” or “put to sleep,” or “euthanized” – the result is the same: A creature of God loses its life because of human beings who will not have it spayed or neutered.

Each week, I will feature a few of the lucky animals in an effort to help the rescues find them forever homes:



Baby Girl is a 2-year-old Basset Hound who has had at least two litters of puppies before being dumped by the road. A good citizen found her and took her to the Basset Hound Rescue of Alabama. She was malnourished, and she had fleas, hookworms, and some hair loss on her ears. She is heartworm negative, and she has no aggression issues. Her tax-deductible adoption fee is $250, which includes all shots, spaying, and microchip. For more information on Baby Girl, contact the rescue foster and adoption coordinator at, or call 205-680-4313. The rescue’s web site is




Abbey is a 10-year-old schnauzer who was picked up as a stray and taken to a shelter. She had not been groomed in awhile, and she was underweight. She is heartworm negative, but she did have several teeth pulled. She currently weighs about seven pounds, and she is a quiet and gentle dog.  Because of her diminutive size, she cannot be in a home with small children. Abbey’s adoption fee will range from $250 to $450. For more information on Abbey, email her foster human at For more information on Schnauzer Love Rescue, visit the group’s web site at




Louie is a 4- or 5-year-old pug who has special needs. He is diabetic, but his diabetes is controlled on 5.5 units of NPH insulin twice a day; he also requires thyroid medication daily as well as application of two different types of eye drops. When he was taken in by Alabama Pug Rescue and Adoption, he was totally blind from cataracts caused by uncontrolled diabetes. Surgery to restore his sight was a total success. Louis eats a special food for diabetic dogs. While Louis’ care may sound high maintenance, it really is a matter of routine. He is crate trained, housebroken, and he knows how to roll over! Louie’s adoption fee is $300. For more information on Louie, email The group’s website is







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