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In the crowd at Strutt with your Mutt

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.

Loving dog friends

I’ll just take a peek through here…

Another between-the-legs moment: One of Kennel Creek Pet Resort owner Chris Sailors’  labradoodles decided to take a nap in the shade.

labradoodle in a Chiefs jersey

Fandom makes me tired.

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.

Poodle with zebra stripes

Dog or zebra?

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.

Emily and Cooper

Cooper is curious about everything.

These well-behaved little dachshunds amused everyone as they rode through the crowd in the trailer hatched to their man’s bicycle.

dachshunds on a bike trailer


Harley was my favorite dog of the day. Can you guess why?

Harley the min pin

Imagine if Scooby were very young with natural ears.

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!


A writer’s dogs: Gus and a girl named Charlie

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.

dogs playing tug of war

The stick is mine!

Tell us about your dogs. Who are they and what are their stories?

 We got Charlie almost exactly two years ago. We think she’s a cocker-dachshund mix and think she was about eight months old when we got her. She was picked up by the Wyandotte County pound as a stray, which makes a lot of sense when you get to know Charlie and her dynamic, complicated personality. She’s independent and willful. At the same time, she’s very afraid of thunderstorms — likely a product of her having to find shelter during some gullywashers from her time as a stray — and will hop on the bed to seek comfort from us. But all in all, she’s a very sociable dog and a great older sister to her brother Gus.
We got Gus a few months after getting Charlie. He was only about 12 weeks old at the time. We don’t know much about his background, but it’s clear he had a rough go of things early in his life. The thing that stuck out to me when I first met Gus was when I held him, I could feel him holding on to me, even digging his nails into my jacket. It was as though he either wanted me to take him with me or that he was afraid of yet another human. Either way, he was a very skittish dog around other humans and dogs. It’s been a lot of work to get him more comfortable in his own skin. But he’s come a long way, both physically and in terms of his confidence. He’s a very up and easy dog, always energetic and devoted to pleasing his owners. One of the better moments of my week is watching him search and locate a long lost toy and seeing him react in obvious pride to his own feat, with a torso that shakes in sync with a wildly wagging tail.

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?

I figured I’d always get dogs that were at least half a year old so that they would have a chance to get some socialization and a certain measure of housetraining. That’s what we had in Charlie, who despite a stretch of time as a stray, came to us understanding basic house rules and comfortable around other dogs and humans. But when we met Gus, we really did fall in love with him. And we like to think he wanted to come home with us, given how he seemed to latch on to us when we first held him. But it was a lot of work to get Gus up to Charlie’s speed. Complicating matters was that we lived in an apartment when we first got Gus, so it was worrisome to have neighbors annoyed with us if he would start barking when we were away, not to mention pooping in his cage. But his sister was a good example, and I think that helped us get Gus to grow up faster.
Gus as a young pup

Gus as a young pup.

How and when did you know you were ready to bring dogs into your life?

 I grew up with dogs and always loved them, so I knew one day I would get one. My mom promised me while I was in college that when I got my degree, she would get me a dog as a graduation gift. When I got done with college, I told her that it wasn’t practical to have a dog. During my childhood, my family’s dogs always had a backyard to run around in and people around to keep them company most of the time. I got my first newspaper job a week after finishing school and moved into a dingy little apartment in the Northland. At the time, it wasn’t uncommon to work 15 hour days at this newspaper where I thought I was somehow saving democracy. That obviously wasn’t a good environment to own a dog the way I thought was fair to them.

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?

We sought out rescue dogs when we decided we could get a pet. The principle of bringing a dog from difficult circumstances into a loving home appealed to us. We looked at the Petfinder type websites until we found Charlie and fell in love with her from the photos we saw. But the Wyandotte County pound was very difficult to work with in trying to adopt her. I went a couple of times during work and they wouldn’t let me see her because some factotum in the pound was out to lunch. Another time they told us that she was gone, without further explanation. Eventually, we went to a satellite adoption at a PetSmart on a whim, thinking maybe she would be there. We saw her in an aisle, played with her, filled out some forms, and left.
We also fell in love with Gus the same way, trolling the pet websites before visiting and taking the boy home.
Charlie with a chew toy

This is a lovable face.

What are some of the challenges of living in a multi-dog household?

 I think the biggest challenge was getting Charlie used to having the new pup around. She used to get all of the attention and didn’t take too kindly to Gus when we first brought him home. In fact, we brought her with us when we adopted Gus, which might have been a mistake. When we put them both in the back of the Jeep, Charlie literally plastered herself as much against a side door as possible to get away from Gus. Over time, they got used to each other. But I always took great care to feed Charlie first, pet Charlie first in the morning, let Charlie walk in the door first so as to not make it seem like we were suddenly favoring the new addition to the household.
But to dredge up an overused expression, Charlie and Gus are a couple of peas in a pod. They do everything together and have hardly spent any time apart and are easy to walk and take places together. And in some ways, it’s easier to keep them entertained. If I come home from a long day of work and am not up to playing too much ball in the front yard, Charlie and Gus take to their famous wrasslin’ matches to keep themselves occupied.

Do your dogs help you accomplish writerly things?

 Working in corporate business journalism, I’m not as lucky as my counterparts at The Pitch used to be in that I can’t bring dogs into the office on occasion. And work is where I do most of my writing. But Charlie and Gus are pretty respectful dogs and seem to recognize when I’m working at home. They let me focus on my work at home on the occasions I have to do some writing. They sleep lazily or quietly gnaw on their preferred toy — a stick in the front yard.
Gus in the car

Let’s go!

Do you still use your old typewriter? Do the dogs notice the sound of it?

 Unfortunately, my old Remington has a dried up ink ribbon and I’ve had a hell of a time finding a replacement. So it’s been a while since they’ve been acquainted with the rapid-fire sound of POP! POP! POPPOPPOP! DING! WHOOSH! WHACK! in some time. But like a lot of unfamiliar sounds, it stokes Charlie’s curiosity and Gus’ concern.

Have you ever written about your dogs?

 There was one time where writing about the dogs was particularly therapeutic. It was a few months ago when I walked the dogs over to the CVS Pharmacy in Brookside to do a couple of errands. When I was a kid, my dad always walked to the grocery store and would just tie up the dog’s leash to a pole and go grab groceries for the better part of half-an-hour. So I always thought that was sort of OK but with my own dogs would not leave them unattended for more than a minute or two. I went to CVS that day needing only paper towels. So I tied their leash to a sidewalk bench, and went straight to the aisle for paper towels and went straight to checkout and got out of there all in about 90 seconds, tops. When I got out, Gus was off his leash and surrounded by about five people. He was retreating from them and very nervous. They explained to me that he had gotten off his leash and run from somebody into heavy traffic at the corner of 63rd and Brookside Boulevard and narrowly avoided a gruesome fate. I’ll never have any idea how he got loose from his leash. I suspect maybe someone tried to play with him and he struggled free to get away from strangers he generally avoids. The prospect that Gus could have been killed overwhelmed me on my walk home. I wrote about the incident on an inactive Tumblr account of mine, which helped settle me down.
Charlie with her head out the car window.

I love the wind blowing on my ears.

What sage advice do you have for someone who is considering adding a rescue dog to their family?

 I would say that you should expect some behavioral issues and eccentricities from a dog that comes from rescue. That may go without saying, but my parents always got their dogs from breeders so they had an easier time with training and socializing dogs. But my advice is NEVER GIVE UP! There can be a lot of issues to work out with a dog, and it can tax your patience and your wallet. But dogs are amazingly resilient creatures. With enough time, work, love and devotion, your rescue dog can come a long way under your direction. No dog is perfect and rescue pets can seem to have more imperfections than others. But there’s hardly been a prouder feeling for me than watching a dog like Gus, who came to me as a nervous little guy who would quake in the presence of other canines, immerse himself in a pack of other dogs at the park and play like a wild little kid discovering his new favorite pastime.


You can check out some of Steve’s business writing in the Kansas City Business Journal.

Do you have rescue dogs? What have they overcome since joining your household?

Charlie Machete in a cage.

Adopt me?

You can have a rescue dog name Charlie, too — Charlie Machete! He is available through Midwest Adopt-a-Bull.

Why Charlie Machete didn’t die

This week’s series on traveling without your pets is being interrupted.

While traveling without our pets last weekend our peace of mind was interrupted by a phone call. It had nothing to do with Scooby and Luke, who were enjoying posh accomodations you’ll hear more about in a few days.

The phone call was about this guy:

Consider it his one phone call from the doggy slammer, ’cause that’s where he was.

Specifically, Charlie Machete was doing the jailhouse rock in Omaha, Nebraska, where he had been surrendered by an unknown party. That is, not the people to whom we adopted him.


Thank goodness Charlie Machete’s microchip history revealed Zach’s and my contact information, for he was put on the euthanasia list. (As we always expected, he did not exhibit his best qualities in a shelter environment.)

With help from several women of the wonderful animal rescue network, we were able to get his euthanasia order stopped. So yesterday, Zach traveled to Omaha and sprung our sad, black foster dog from death row.

Four months after being adopted he’s now back at the Wayward House.


Are we eating humble pie? A little bit.

Although I still believe Craigslist can be a legit way to find a worthwhile adopter (it’s how Luxor the cat came to me, after all), no matter where new prospects come from we’re going to increase the stringency with which we screen them  and harass adopters who don’t keep in touch with us.

Our most recent interaction with the people who adopted Charlie Machete in March occured about a month and a half ago and included no troubling updates. Knowing not all dog parents feel the need to compulsively post pictures of and stories about their pet, we trusted that things must be OK.

Also, we had an agreement that should these people be unable to keep Charlie Machete he should be returned to us.

We may never know what really happened. “Landlord issues” were cited on Charlie Machete’s intake records at the shelter.

The important thing is, although he came quite close, Charlie Machete didn’t die. I can’t even fathom the guilt I would have experienced if he had.

Thank goodness for the microchip provided by Friends of KC Animals and the support we received from the rest of the midwest animal rescue community.

Now, it’s up to us to keep searching for his perfect forever family.

If you or someone you know is interested in meeting or sponsoring Charlie Machete, please contact me at

Pug dogtography by Stacy Ideus

Stacy Ideus: photographer, blogger, and hottie from Nebraska.

Yesterday, I shared the news that Wayward Dogs had received the Versatile Blogger Award and passed it on to several more fantastic blogs including that of my oldest friend and fantastic photographer Stacy Ideus.

Typically, for fun and her business, Stacy photographs a lot of people, kids and babies. But she has a soft spot for doggies — one of hers happens to be named after my childhood pet Tyson — so she responded with glee when I asked if she’d be willing to share occasional dog portraits with Wayward Dogs.

100 percent of the following content was provided by Stacy Ideus, my first guest blogger.

Addy the Pug, courtesy Stacy Ideus Photography.


make: pug

model: black

age: 3 yrs

Addy was rescued from a backyard breeder puppy mill by Pug Partners of Nebraska. She was first sent to foster care to a loving home. Megan was her foster mom. And everyone who was in the market for a pug puppy was suddenly Megan’s new bff. I guess rescued puppies are pretty rare in Omaha, so needless to say, emails and phone calls came flooding in.

Meanwhile, in Wahoo, NE, there lived a lady named Sheila. She had desired a puppy for several years.. begging, pleading, bribing, negotiating her new husband. One magical day…a Thursday, as she recalls… Pug Partners posted a photo of a little black pug puppy. Adorable, perfect and surprisingly healthy. Sheila began sending messages to the rescue group telling them how perfect she was for this particular puppy. Then they grew to full fledged essays. She pleaded her case to Megan. Then pleaded her case to her husband. Finally Sheila won.

What happened next is pretty facinating. Turns out Sheila was chosen as the new owner of Addy solely based on the fact that the two women shared a birthday.

The home inspection=passed.

Entire puppy section at PetCo= purchased.

Megan and Sheila have been close friends ever since.

And Addy has become an energetic and special member of the Dukolil family. They are so grateful to have her in their home… where she belongs.

Sheila blogs about cooking, Addy and family life at Sheila in the Kitchen

To see what inspires Stacy, head to

Chomps and Sexy Rexy, formerly wayward dogs

Had there been a best name component to the recent Wayward Dogs Magnet Contest, I think one of these two dogs might have won. Of course, you already knew that because each dog was identified by name in the contest. What you didn’t know is that each of these little guys is a rescue dog.

Chomps is a member of a three-rescue-dog household in the Kansas City metro. A formerly wayward dachshund/chihuahua mix found running in the streets of Overland Park, his owner adopted him from Animal Haven (now Heartland SPCA) in 2010. Having been bitten by the love bug for Chomps unexpectedly, she compares him to an “oops” baby. “He was not planned,” she says. “People laugh when I tell them that.”

Sexy Rexy used to be a streetwalker, too. Here’s what his owner had to say about him:

“He was found wandering the streets of KC. After he was hit by a car, my nephew scooped him up so he wouldn’t die alone.  Much to his suprise Rex jumped up and tried to run off.  After a brief stay with my mother, whose favorite thing to do was watch Animal Planet and smoke cigarettes, he is now living with me and my husband. He travels with us everywhere, walks thru airports like he has done it his whole life. He is the best little guy.”

I love to hear stories of formerly wayward dogs. Do you have one? If so, please share it in the comments or send it to me at

A tribute to Gretchen the gentle German Shepherd

As I mentioned before, I was really touched by some of the stories that accompanied the photo entries for the Wayward Dogs Magnet Contest. Naturally, that’s because a lot of the dogs in the contest were rescues and formerly wayward dogs. Gretchen’s story truly brought tears to my eyes. Here it is, in her owner’s words:

I adopted Gretchen from a local rescue group. Her former master died of cancer and none of his family wanted her. She sat in a kennel for 3 months in Hiawatha, KS, and was so upset when she lost him that she had stopped eating. By the time I got her, she was a rack of bones. I agreed to foster her—while waiting for a little dog—but when I saw how beautiful she was and that her demeanor was the epitome of docile and peace, she had a home for the rest of her life. She was the kindest “person” I think I’ve ever met.

After I adopted Gretchen, I noticed she favored her hip a little, so I paid a vet check her out. Turned out in her x-ray, there was a very sophisticated pin and spring installation. The vet was very impressed with it. I know that operation had to have cost her former master a lot of money, which told me he had loved Gretchen with all his heart. I hope he knew after he died that Gretchen went on to be loved and lived a very good life.

We’d go walking all the time and if an aggressive dog came at her, she didn’t even bother looking at him; just kept walking; and she was a German Shepherd! Smart. She sure changed my perception of that breed. Even the cat I later brought home–skittish and scared of anything that moved–became friends with Gretchen. I have a very simple video of them sitting at the door soaking up some sun.

This photo shows her passion—water. She loved being in the water. I had Gretchen for about 8 years; then about a year ago on Labor Day, I woke up to find her on the floor in seizures. I was devastated and my heart broken in a thousand pieces….and that was her last day. I had to put her down at the local vet hospital. As she was fading, I told her to “Watch for King. See King? Run to him!” and then she was gone. Whether there is a Heaven for dogs or anyone for that matter, was not the point. I wanted her to see something something familiar and friendly… and maybe… because she saw him, it became true. What a great soul she was. As for King, he was a beautiful Golden Retriever—the life of every party—who died of cancer about a month and a half before Gretchen. King, my brother’s dog, was Gretchen’s best buddy. She’s playing with him now and both their graves are side by side in my sister’s beautiful floral garden.

I have another dog now—also rescued from having been passed through 5 homes before he was 3. He has a permanent home now. However, for this contest, I want people to know about Gretchen.

I wonder if Gretchen’s owner would consider her a once-in-a-lifetime dog, the kind whose memory will always stand a little above the rest. I have one of those in my house right now, and I am grateful to be sharing a fifth Thanksgiving with my little Scooby. Who is the canine love of your life?

Tilly jumped out of a window

Lost dog

I ran into a nice guy putting up these posters near the Trolley Trail around 55th Street today. His foster dog, Tilly, went to great lengths to escape his home. She busted out of a kennel and managed to pry a slightly open window wide enough to jump out…of the second story.

What’s more, the electric company happened to be working in the area around that time, and, apparently, one of the workers recorded Tilly’s escape on his cameraphone. I would love to see that video. And I would love more for this guy to get his foster dog back.

Tilly came from the Missouri German Shepherd Rescue (MOGS). Incidentally, after meeting her foster dad, I happened upon a pet fair at A Dog’s Fun Playce, where MOGS had a booth.

These adoptable puppies were at the pet fair.

These rescue dogs were also available.

When I mentioned Tilly to one of the MOGS representatives at the pet fair, she implied that prior to entering the rescue program, Tilly had been on her own for a while.

Of course, that reminded me of another once wayward dog. That’s right, Charlie Machete, who seems to be gradually growing out of his waywardness. We seem to be at the point now that if he happens to wiggle through our gate or under a fence, he will take freedom at top speed, even running out of our sight. But he comes back. For us, that’s a huge step.

I hope Tilly makes it back to her foster dad. If you think you can help, call the number on the poster.

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