Category Archives: Neighbors
“I’ve wined and dined with kings and queens and slept in alleys eating pork and beans.”- Dusty Rhodes
Remember that sad, little shepherd mix my friends found recently on the hard streets of Kansas City?
Well, he’s doing much better now.
In fact, you might say little Dusty Rhodes, named for a pro wrestler, is living “The American Dream.”
Because my friends were able to get around a dog weight restriction at their apartment, Dusty Rhodes came home with them.
He now has a mom, a dad and a tiny beagle sister named Daphne.
No more sleeping at the park for this guy!
Unfortunately, the list of dogs in need is neverending.
Another friend found an equally adorable shepherd mix with no collar, tags or microchip around 73rd and Harrison streets in the Waldo neighborhood of Kansas City yesterday.
Please share her photo if you have Kansas City contacts so that we may track down an owner before the dog is turned over to animal control.
This post is the continuation of yesterday’s Q&A with Nicole, an animal advocate in Kansas City.
How many pets total do you have of your own?
We currently have four cats and two dogs. Two of the cats, Dirk and Frankie, we’ve had since they were kittens, and really were the first and only pets we ever ‘sought’ out. One of the cats, Lucy, was a foster that we were only supposed to be responsible for for a short time, but her owner never reclaimed her. Kingsley we found on Cliff Drive, and never even tried to find a home for.
As for the dogs, Butters and Max Powers, I’ve told you how Butters came into our lives. Max Power is really the luckiest of all of our rescues. I found him in a tennis court in Valentine Park. I was walking Chester Sauce and we came across these two dogs. I stopped to see if they had tags. One of them did. The other, Max Power, bit me when I stretched my hand out for him to sniff. After that, I began to walk away, and he snapped at me again. Even though he didn’t want me to touch him, they both followed Chester and I. He’s been by my side since then. He has also stopped biting people, but remains suspicious of most new comers. He’s completely food and disc golf driven.
Tell me about Butters.
Oh, Butters. Butters was a dog that showed up one day roaming our block. I had seen him following a younger couple, and they kept throwing sticks at him saying, “Get away” He just followed along with his tail wagging desperate for some love. One day I was sitting on the front porch when he passed, and I hollered out to him. He came immediately over and melted my heart. His tail and back hips wiggle with such an intense rhythm, that made him impossible to turn away. He is a big dog, and the husband and I were really trying not to take in any more animals, so we advertised the shit out of him. We asked everyone we knew, we made him his own Facebook page, and would post cute pictures of him and describe the things he likes to do…and still couldn’t find him a willing companion. Then, eventually we stopped trying. I couldn’t imagine him living anywhere else now. He’s so incredibly in love with my husband.
Butters did have to spend some time at a training camp though. He was horrible on a leash, and loved to jump up on everyone. He’s better at both, but will never be trusted to hang out off of his leash. He’s also so protective of us, that when we come across other dogs on a walk, he freaks out. He’ll lunge and bark and, act a fool, embarrassing us. We hope this will continue to get better with age, but it seems unlikely. He loves to play with other dogs, and is very social, but once you leash him, he thinks it’s his job to make sure no one gets near.
Do you think your pets are ready for the baby?
It’s hard to say. They seem to be more glued to me than ever. Here at 40 weeks pregnant, I never have any personal space, there is always at least one animal guarding me. Often times my husband will come home from work and find all six animals on the couch with me. The dogs I don’t really worry about at all. Only the juggling act that walking them and the baby will create. However, there are two of the cats that are a little less friendly. And one cat who no matter what we rig up, is capable of climbing over the baby gate and getting into the baby’s crib. This is a pattern we are trying hard to break. I think everyone will be fine once the initial dust settles. After all, with all the different animals that have come and gone through our pack, and all the times we’ve moved, our animals are actually quite flexible and willing to give strangers a chance.
What is the most important thing about animals you want your child to know?
For me, it’s to respect them and to have empathy. I don’t think of any of the animals that live with us to be our ‘pets’. They’re our companions and they are here because of a mutual respect and trust. We don’t own them. I think he’ll pick this up just from what he sees around our house, and those of our friends and families.
However, I know it’ll be hard to explain why the five cats that live on or under the porch live outside, while the inside cats live inside. One day, I know we’ll have our hands full when he starts bringing home animals too.
Readers: What do you want children – yours or anyone else’s – about animals?
I’ve been told that if you have a heart for animals, they know it, and they will find you. This has certainly been true in my own life. It has been even more true in the life of my friend Nicole.
In looking out for neighborhood animals in need, she and her husband have helped keep bellies full, bodies warm and provided new starts on life.
What follows is Part 1 of my Q&A with Nicole.
What is your neighborhood like?
We currently live in the Scarritt Renaissance neighborhood, which is just east of the river market. Some days, it’s diversity is uplifting and makes you feel great. Other days, you are confronted with some of the uglier aspects of any city; crime, abandonment, lack of funds or interest, etc.
There seem to be a lot of stray/feral cats in this neighborhood. My husband and I feed the cats in the winter, and do our best to befriend them enough to be able to put them in a carrier and take them to Great Plains SPCA to be spayed or neutered. Also, I’ll see quite a few roaming dogs, sometimes in small awkwardly matched packs,(I’ve seen a Chihuahua, pomeranian, and a German shepherd mix all cruising together) and others just out on their own. This sometimes makes for a scary situation when walking our two dogs.
How many animals have you helped rehome?
We’ve helped a total of twenty animals, 9 dogs and 11 cats find new homes. For the most part, we just happen upon an animal that is friendly, and it’s too hard to say no. They seem to know that we the type of people who can’t argue with a cold wet nose, or a tail wrapped around one’s leg.
It usually goes like this: I find a dog or cat somewhere, I sell its sad story to my husband who will agree to keeping it until we can place it. Then, I call, text, e-mail, and Facebook all my friends and family trying to find a match. We get our house back to a reasonable pack, then another sweet four-legger shows up and the cycle starts again.
Who are the most memorable dogs?
The dogs, we tend to keep ourselves. Chester Sauce is a pit/black lab mix that used to live out his sad life tied to a tree in a neighbor’s yard. These people were some of the most negligent dog owners we’ve ever had the displeasure of living near. We lived next to Chester for a summer that was really hot. Every day before work I would fill his bowl with food, and bring him a solid chunk of ice to have for the day. He spent every moment of his life tied to a tree by a six foot rope. His head was scarred and scabby from the flies that would bother him all day. And while we found his coat to be a brilliant shiny black, the whole time he lived at that house, he was a stinky brown.
We eventually moved from that apartment, and into a house with a large backyard in south Kansas City. After a few weeks, we decided to go and liberate Chester. We drove back to his house, and after a brief conversation with his owners, I was told, “Sure. You can take him for a walk.”
I walked him up the street, put him in the car, and drove him to his new home, ours. Chester became the best dog ever. He was very eager to learn, and was always very gentle with people and other animals. We came home once to find him sitting under a tree crying. When we got close we found he was sitting next to a baby bird that had fallen from it’s nest. He wouldn’t leave that bird’s side.
When we moved to midtown I could walk him up to Mr. Z’s or Chipotle on 39th street and leave him outside of the store without having to worry about him wondering off. He would sit, untethered, waiting for me to return. No dog or curious person would be able to make him leave his post. He’s now retired and living a softer life in Lee’s Summit with my husband’s grandma.
Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of the interview!
Meet Charlie Machete’s new enemy.
Loud LaCroix, aka the Bad Dog Can, is on a mission to end Charlie Machete‘s reign as
the scary black dog who barks at passersby the self-appointed guardian of the Trolley Trail.
While it’s kind of nice that my foster dog could effectively scare off bad people with his mean-sounding bark, it’s less cool that he makes joggers, walkers and their dogs feel that they have to rush by our house for fear that the big black dog might hurl himself over the fence. (Knock on the wood of the new deck, he hasn’t yet.)
Letting a dog get all riled up can result in unintended consequences.
For example, if either Luke or Charlie Machete get overly excited about something, they are more likely to get into a scuffle with each other. And there’s no need to encourage that kind of behavior.
So, I’ve been trying to figure out how to keep Charlie Machete from getting all worked up when he’s in the backyard (a definite trigger zone for him).
My voice alone is not enough to startle him out of the territorial posturing he demonstrates for passersby.
A splash of water works, but the hose is never handy. Plus, I don’t want him to become any more suspicious of the hose than he already is at bath time.
Another volunteer from Midwest Adopt-a-Bull who was having trouble with her dog fence fighting with the neighbor dog gave me the “bad dog can” idea.
Basically, you just drop a few small, metal items in an empty aluminum can, seal the opening with tape and rattle it when your dog does something he shouldn’t.
I wasn’t sure the can I dubbed Loud LaCroix would be enough to intimidate old Charlie Machete, but so far it works. In fact, after one vigorous shake of the can two nights ago, he seems to barely make a peep on the deck anymore, even if I’m not standing right over him with the can in hand.
As long as Charlie Machete doesn’t develop an immunity to the sound of Loud LaCroix, I think my neighbors might be a little happier with me from now on.
Make Your Own Bad Dog Can
1. Find an empty aluminum can.
2. Drop in a five to ten coins, small screws or other items that will make noise when you shake the can.
3. Seal the opening of the can with tape.
4. SHAKE IT!
Tip: Don’t rattle the can in the dog’s face or use it in a threatening manner. The sound alone should be enough to break his concentration on whatever he’s doing wrong so that you can redirect his attention positively.
Have you ever used a bad dog can? What else works to keep your dog from barking?
After running in the Strutt with Your Mutt 5K on Saturday, I walked my foster mutt Charlie Machete home.
He needed to rest up for the escape attempt he was planning for later that day. And I wanted to check out the festival portion of the event, unencumbered by my nervous-in-a-crowd running buddy.
My first point of action was to redeem my tickets for a plate of free pancakes from the local purveyor Chris Cakes. Then, I set too snapping camera pics of the many adorable doggies in attendance.
Another between-the-legs moment: One of Kennel Creek Pet Resort owner Chris Sailors’ labradoodles decided to take a nap in the shade.
Lots of dogs were dressed up and dyed for a costume competition. This poodle named Koda came from Richmond, Missouri, where his mom runs Haute Dog Grooming.
I was happy to run into my neighbor Emily and her rescue puppy Cooper. Emily has a soft spot for Charlie Machete because for many years she had a big, handsome black rescue dog who adored her but wasn’t so great in crowds and took a while to warm up to new people.
Now, she has Cooper, whose personality exists on the polar opposite end of the spectrum. She said they had fun walking in the 3K Strutt.
These well-behaved little dachshunds amused everyone as they rode through the crowd in the trailer hatched to their man’s bicycle.
Harley was my favorite dog of the day. Can you guess why?
I couldn’t take my eyes off Harley once I spotted him. He was there with several members of his human family, plus a doberman in a rhinestone collar and a beagle who was wearing denim pants.
As the event wound down, Harley’s leash slipped out of his mama’s hands, and suddenly, there he was skittering past my feet and into the crowd. I was thrilled to be the one to scoop him up and return him!
His mama, who hadn’t yet realized he’d escaped, was overjoyed. And she was excited to see that I was wearing the same Midwest Adopt-a-Bull t-shirt she purchased at a different doggy event recently. Yay for pit bull-loving miniature pinscher people!
Thanks to Wayside Waifs for putting on this great event. And, again, thanks to everyone who sponsored Charlie Machete and me in the run.
We’re on the lookout for another dog-friendly race. In fact, Charlie Machete keeps telling me he wants to try a 10K next time!
My business reporter friend Steve is one of the kindest people I know. Back when we were neighbors in the Westport neighborhood of Kansas City, he didn’t have dogs, but it was only a matter of time. Here’s the story of Gus and Charlie, two lucky rescue pups who eventually landed in his lap.
Tell us about your dogs. Who are they and what are their stories?
You’ve had Gus since he was just a tiny baby. Did you know you wanted to adopt a puppy, or did you just happen to fall in love with him?
How and when did you know you were ready to bring dogs into your life?
As time went on, I got a better perspective of the space that professional life occupied in my life in general. As such, I worked more efficiently and spent reasonable hours doing my job. I also met the person whom I will marry in two weeks, who was also a dog person. Together we knew we had the means and the shared ability to keep after a couple of little dogs. And we were going to move into a house in Brookside, which would give the pups more room to roam. At first, I wondered if I was ready to give up the free lifestyle that your mid- to late-20s can offer — spending time at the bars, hours on the bicycle, traveling on a whim — to keep a dog healthy and happy. But I can say without question the tradeoff has been worth it. There’s a unique happiness that dogs can bring into your life, as anyone reading this blog almost certainly knows.
Why did you choose the dogs you did?
What are some of the challenges of living in a multi-dog household?
Do your dogs help you accomplish writerly things?
Do you still use your old typewriter? Do the dogs notice the sound of it?
Have you ever written about your dogs?
What sage advice do you have for someone who is considering adding a rescue dog to their family?
Do you have rescue dogs? What have they overcome since joining your household?
Dogs like this are why I started this blog:
Zach’s mom happened upon this sweet yellow lab not long ago in her neighborhood. He had no tags or microchip.
She kept him for the night, and luckily his owner recognized him in her front yard the next day.
My parents also kindly gave shelter for a few hours to a smaller neighborhood dog that went wayward around St. Patrick’s Day.
It’s awesome that our families made the effort to help these lost dogs, especially considering our mothers were each very privy to the many months of challenges Zach and I endured after taking in the stray Charlie Machete.
I’ll always try to help a dog in need if I can. But I’m honestly glad I haven’t recently run into any wayward dogs I didn’t recognize.
They’re out there.
Their pictures pop up in my e-mail, on Facebook and even on my Waldo street corner.
I saw a woman posting that lost dog flyer yesterday.
A few pink signs also recently appeared, reminding us that waywardness isn’t reserved just for pet dogs.
My heart goes out to anyone whose pets have gone missing.
I hope kind souls recognize the animals as someone’s beloved and help them home.
Spreading the word helps – in addition to all of the usual spots, feel free to post pictures of lost or found pets on the Wayward Dogs Facebook page or Tweet me @crystalwayward. (This goes for readers everywhere, not just Kansas City.)
Together, we can save lives.
For a big list of helpful tips on what to do if you find or lose a pet, check out the Adoptions & Services section of hspca.org.
Sometimes, helping a wayward dog get home isn’t that big of a deal.
If you’re a fan of Wayward Dogs on Facebook, you may have caught a recent status update about me stopping to help a neighborhood dog before work.
That dog was Tara.
She’s a tough tank of an elderbull who lives around the corner. She belongs to a retired couple who take her for a walk along the Trolley Track Trail every afternoon.
This pit bull type dog was found wandering a dangerous street in Kansas City in her younger days. She landed with a rescue group and eventually with my neighbors’ daughter. They took over Tara’s care when their daughter was deployed in the military.
When I saw Tara trotting down the street without her people I knew something wasn’t right, so I pulled over.
When I knelt down and solicited her, she just cocked her head and turned in the other direction — toward home.
I followed her in the car, arriving in front of her house about the same time that her owner screamed around the corner in his truck. His face was stricken.
“Have you seen Tara?”
“Yes!” I said and pointed to where she was just emerging, nose in the grass, from behind a neighbor’s house.
He leapt out of his truck and ran to her.
Although Tara probably would have made it home on her own — and if not, she is licensed, wears an ID tag and is microchipped — I was glad I stuck around to make sure she got back with her people.
Have you ever helped a neighbor dog get home?
My neighbor is one of those unusual people who went to the shelter with the intention of bringing home an old dog.
He found Scooby.
Obviously, we’re not talking about my ancient miniature pinscher and star of a post about why people should adopt elderdogs.
Neighbor Scooby is a 9-year-old chow mix (note the purplish splotches on his tongue) with the softest black fur and gray speckles across his kind face.
After being seized from a Kansas City area home where he lived with 12 other dogs, Neighbor Scooby bounced from shelter to shelter. He picked up a microchip and got neutered along the way.
Clearly, the rescue community could see the potential in this good-natured boy. But it took someone special — someone who wouldn’t mind the flecks of gray and the slower pace of a dog in his twilight years — to provide Scooby’s second chance.
A few weeks ago, Scooby’s saving grace arrived in the form of my neighbor Jeff, who had recently lost an elderdog and wanted another mature companion for daily walks on the Trolley Track Trail.
That’s where my pack ran into Jeff and his Scooby, who was delighted at the opportunity to interact with other dogs.
Jeff expressed an interest in socializing Scooby further — getting him over the habit of jumping on people when he meets them and helping him feel less threatened around bigger male dogs.
So, I invited the pair to join the KC Pittie Pack, which is all about improving the social skills of all kinds of dogs at all points in their lives.
Neighbor Scooby is now one of the newest members of our pack, which was mentioned this week in my favorite local newspaper The Pitch. (Check out Our Waldo Bungie’s coverage of the coverage.)
If you live in Kansas City and would like to join the KC Pittie Pack, just head to our Meetup page for more information about our next walk!
The Wayward House has a frontyard garden, which means the whole neighborhood can see what we’re growing. In fact, passersby often pause to inspect our growth and ask about what we have in the ground. (Some of them have even thanked us.)
We also like to look at other people’s gardens. Like our friend and neighbor Mike.
Recently, Mike and his girlfriend Berry joined me for a little environmentally-minded community cleanup.
We joined a crew organized by the Waldo Homes Association to help remove the honeysuckle, a prolific and invasive species that chokes out native woods and greenery in this area.
After a couple hours of hauling honeysuckle branches into a giant pile the city would remove from nearby South Oak Park and enjoying a complimentary lunch for our efforts, Mike showed me his backyard lettuce garden.
Mike is growing several types of leaf lettuce and kale. Most of them he started from seedlings he purchased, but a couple of plants shown here actually lived through our creepily mild winter.
Rabbits run rampant in our neighborhood, so you can see that Mike has fenced his raised beds with chicken wire.
Later in the season, Mike plans to add some more vegetables to his pair of raised beds. He says he might even try sprouting some seeds from an heirloom melon I gave him and Berry last summer.
Although I offered him some of my extra pepper seedlings, I confess that I just planted all of them. And they actually aren’t that big or healthy-looking, anyway.
Do a lot of your neighbors have gardens? Do they grow different things than you do?