Romeo, Romeo, We Need a Home for You, Dear Romeo (Newark, NJ)

So, I am on Facebook networking with friends and a picture of the happiest looking pittie boy pops up.  Usual story – owner has no time anymore, and the landlord wants him out, he’s a good dog but he can be selective, lives with (and is great with) small kids, lives with a cat, he’s 7 yrs old, not neutered, not UTD on shots, and has some skin ‘issues’ which may or may not be allergy-related.


What’s wrong with this picture?  Romeo is indeed a pretty good dog by  all accounts.  His current owner though, I’m afraid, has not been all that diligent or attentive an owner.   How good can an owner be when he can’t really describe his pet’s likes and dislikes, can’t remember the last time the dog was to the vet’s office (or even the vet’s name, for that matter), can’t remember the last time he took the dog for a walk or to the dog park, and can’t even find the dog’s leash and collar.

So it goes for poor Romeo.  A sweetheart, wigglebutt of a pit who loves his humans and seemingly the majority of his fellow canines, but is lacking the affection and attention he so deeply deserves.

I bit the bullet this past Saturday after about 3 or 4 weeks of waffling and proscrastinating…all the while figuring that certainly someone in NJ would step up for this sweet 7 year old who is so loving and loyal.  NOT.   Bright and early off to Newark I was, my son Sam, my friend Yaffit, and my ESA/service dog Angie all in tow.  What better way to test the socialization of a dog around people and other dogs … bring an entourage out with you to do a meet and greet.  I had my reservations, but soon any doubt about Romeo’s disposition melted away with the day’s heat.  He and Angie interacted through the garage gate…this house in the middle of Newark (one of the rougher areas yet) was a neat attached house, painted a dirty white, with a parking deck (a concrete slab surrounded by a white fence with black wrought iron gating covered by chicken wire and fencing).  Apparently Romeo has been spending most of his time out on this parking deck, and is now plagued with God-only-knows-what kind of skin infection.  All four legs are affected, with the right rear bearing the brunt.  Seeping lesions…poor baby.  The owner provides me with what is supposed to be the contact information for Romeo’s vet; when I call, they have never heard of the owner nor the dog.  Nothing. Nada. Zero.

Now for the dilemmas…how do you get this poor dog up to date on shots, get him neutered and microchipped, with all this infection going on?  Simple…you can’t and you don’t.  The infections must be treated first.  Great.  Next dilemma…how do you vet a dog when the vet doesn’t know the client or the dog?  Simple, you can’t (at least not there) and you don’t (at least not there).  Next dilemma…how do you bring this poor dog into your car with you teen son, your best friend, and your best human friend when you have no clue whether what he has is transmissible?  Simple, you can’t (unless you want to risk infecting your kid and best friends with something) and you don’t (unless you really don’t care about your kid and your best friends).  Next dilemma…how do you leave this poor creature when all you want to do is get him to a better place?  Ahh, not so simple but eventually you just pull yourself away, get into your car and pray that you can fit all the solutions into a neat and tidy plan.

So poor Romeo remained with his less-than-stellar owner, and I left allergy meds and instructions on how to clean and dress his lesions/rashes in the hopes of staving off any further spread of infection until we can at least figure out a way to get him to a vet.  An expensive proposition to vet a dog…even when it is only for shots and chipping.  Throw in neutering and treatments for infection (especially an infection that seems widespread) and you are looking at a bill of at least $1,000. But that’s the cost of saving an animal from certain death at a high-kill shelter, for that is what this boy faces given his age and his skin issues  –  and raising funds sufficient to address the issues is the biggest dilemma we face.

I worry about Romeo…I honestly do.  I’ve been smitten by this stoic boy.  And truth be told, for every one Romeo there are dozens of others in the same or worse position.  Oh, how I wish I could rescue them all.  Every rescuer shares the sentiment.  Some lose sleep, some lose their minds, others lose every penny they have by paying the astronomical vet bills (and food and gear and transport costs) that are inevitable when you do rescue work.  Some lose friends (who, if they don’t support you, weren’t really friends at all anyway), some lose precious animals they’ve been trying to rescue – which is the most heartbreaking scenario.

We have a potential foster lined up for Romeo, but not without the vetting that is so necessary to protect that foster’s furry companions.  I hope that we can heal Romeo, that we can find him a loving home where he can shine for the rest of his years.

And more than anything, I hope he doesn’t become one of those who just get lost in the sea of helpless and homeless animals looking for love.

If you are willing and able to help us with Romeo’s vetting, please contact me immediately.  We are incredibly short on funds for his care (we aren’t talking about food…we are talking about medical care alone).  If all of our friends would each pitch in $5 or $10, we would have enough to cover Romeo and get him into a loving, nurturing home.


And so the new journey begins…

After much thought, I have decided to take all the recent (and some not-so-recent) events in my life and channel all that energy into something positive.  The Love of my life, my Alan, was diagnosed with brain cancer in June 2014 and passed away January 17, 2016, after a valiant year-and-a-half-long battle.  Alan always made me feel I had a purpose in life.  He never tore me down, never had a disparaging comment, was always supportive (even if he didn’t agree).  Maybe a bit of sarcasm, but never hurtful or derogatory.  NEVER.  And no matter how much a zombie I was in the morning, or how haggard I was by sunset, no matter my mood … well, that was my Alan.  In my heart and soul, still my Alan.  

Just hearing his voice made everything okay.

So I have created this space as a kind of combined outlet…an outlet for my love for Alan and my love for animals – big, small, furry, feathered or hairless – and the all-or-nothing passion that Alan always loved.

Alan, the Love of my life.

Alan was an animal lover.  Though he leaned towards the canine crew, he so loved my cats, particularly Buff (who always mushed with Alan – I’m pretty sure that Buff was waiting for him on the other side) and Rex (the “Jewcat” – Rex is a Cornish Rex and has a “jewish nose“).  He wasn’t a chest-thumping, card-carrying animal activist.  He was the type of guy that ALWAYS said hello to a dog passing in the street, new immediately the breed or mix, took the time to pet the pooch and interact with the owner.  It was one of the ways he got to ‘stop and smell the flowers’.  Alan sadly never got to meet Angie, and while he believed adding a dog to the fray might be overwhelming for me, to Alan all that mattered was my happiness and my son Sam’s happiness.  Adopting Angie from a shelter made me happy.  And while it added another mouth to feed and four feet to walk, the love she brings is simply beautiful.

And Alan believed that all lives matter – for the human variety, regardless of station in life, regardless of chosen profession; for animals, regardless of species.

So I am dedicating this blog to my Alan…because every moment of every day he reminded me of just how much I matter to him, and he finds ways daily to continue that from whatever the other side truly is.  I know that the Cohen critters all feel his presence, know that he is always there in the wings, watching  and protecting us.  Sam does too.

I feel Alan with me with every step, with every heartbeat and with every breath. And I know that when my time comes to leave this orb, he’ll be there on the other side with love and open arms when I arrive, with all my furbabies and human family at his side.

I miss you Alan…and I love you to infinity for eternity…