JB is doing well, but a very dear friend of mine–another with a real heart for rescue–passed away recently.  I have been busy planning his memorial service and working to place his remaining rescued greyhounds, so I have not had time to update JB’s blog.  As a tribute to Mike, I am posting the obituary that I wrote for him; hopefully you will be able to see him through my eyes, and why (to many) he was so special.

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MICHAEL L. MASSARO        1947-2009

Retired racing greyhounds lost a true friend and advocate when Michael Lester Massaro passed away on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at his residence in Pensacola, FL.

Mike was born to Thomas and Dorothy Massaro on March 15, 1947 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He grew up there and attended school, building many lasting friendships. A few years after high school he joined the Army. He served five years in Vietnam as a medic and staff sergeant, and was awarded the Bronze Star (with V device) for heroism in combat. Mike had several jobs during his lifetime, but was probably best known for his pest control business. He treated the properties of some of Pensacola’s best known residents, but was equally at home donating his services to the less fortunate.

Mike was a colorful man who lived his life with enthusiasm. He was a diamond in the rough—he had a wicked sense of humor and spoke his mind without reserve, but was truly gentle to those who knew him well. He was a fiery Italian, a steadfast Republican, a tenaciously proud Veteran, and an incredibly generous man. But Mike’s true passion, and what he will most be remembered for, was animal rescue. He was actively involved with the Humane Society of Pensacola for many years, serving on its Board of Directors and as caretaker for Pet Haven Cemetery. Mike was also founder and sole proprietor of Escarosa Greyhound Adoptions: he truly adored his greyhounds, and would eagerly discuss their wonderful qualities with anyone who would listen! Still, at the end of the day, it was only the company of his beloved hounds that Mike needed and wanted most.

Mike was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his brother Tom Massaro and niece Stacy Massaro, of Pensacola, FL, and by a legion of friends from here and across the country. Mike will be greatly missed—not just by the animals, but by everyone who knew him.

The memorial service for Mike Massaro will be held at Eastern Gate Memorial Funeral Home on Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 6:00 p.m., with Reverend Thomas K. Frizzell, Jr. officiating. Interment will follow at a later date.

Although Mike appreciated flowers, his dedication to animals should live on. If you wish to contribute, please send memorials in Mike’s name to the Humane Society of Pensacola (Pensacola, FL), Greyhound Pets of America-Emerald Coast (Pensacola, FL), or Rowe’s Orphanage for Cats and Kittens (Pensacola, FL).       

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The memorial service for Mike was crowded, and was unique in that 25 of his greyhound adoptees were in attendance (and actually welcomed in the chapel!)  It really was a fitting end and tribute to a TRUE FRIEND OF ANIMALS.

Not to hurt our humble brethren (the animals) is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough.  We have a higher mission:  to be of service to them whenever they require it.                                                                           ~St. Francis of Assisi

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JB  showing  his  a(ttitude)

JB showing his a(ttitude)

Two weeks old, and what a difference a week makes! 

JB has passed his second-week birthday, and is finally out of the woods. . . at least as far as his health is concerned.  His attitude may be another story.  The young orphaned donkey foal is beginning to show some of the disposition that his ancestors are famous for, and at times we are literally butting heads!  But a learned donkey owner contacted me shortly after JB came to be, with wisdom for handling the “troubled” times to come.  Without her advice I might have thrown in the towel by now, and JB would most certainly rule the world!

One of the antics tried by the adorable but sneaky little donkey is the “come up for love, then look down and bite” game . . . if you fall for this affection-shrouded mischief, your knees will suffer.  Or the “run up to Mom while she’s sitting down and just forget to stop” maneuver; this would only work if  I didn’t know that HE knows how to stop!  (Logic isn’t yet his strong-suit.)  Anyway, you get the picture–my guard must be up at all times for incoming physical insults, but I also have to interpret and accept JB’s real moments of sincerity.  Those are what really keep me going at the end of the day.

I AM JB!
I AM JB!

It was both sad and joyful last week on the Animal Farm. 

Those of you who know me are aware of my penchant for animal rescue; around here, it’s all rescue all the time.  Although JB thinks that he IS the wheel (and I have tried not to burst his little bubble just yet), he is in reality only one spoke on a very big wheel! 

My main rescue passion for the past few years has been for old age and hospice dogs; there is a never-ending supply of them funneled from my vet’s office, where I have become known for my work.  Sometimes I am called in when a beloved family pet needs too much intensive care . . . sometimes when someone just doesn’t want the bother of a senior pet.  They can be here for a month or a year; as long as they have a good quality of life– and want to live — I will love and care for them.  Subsequently, euthanasia has become a big part of my life as well.  When each pet’s time comes to cross the Rainbow Bridge, I am there for their journey.  It is hard to give your love unconditionally to a pet, knowing that it will soon be gone.  Many people will not get a pet because they cannot bear the thought of its death.  But I have this ability, and feel that it is my gift to these animals to give them that special time before they go.

Which brings me to the sad part of last week . . . two of my beloved old greyhounds had to be put to sleep.  Although I had only had them for a few months, they were very special and really bonded to me and to each other.  One of the dear old girls decided that her time was over on the first day of the week; by Thursday, the other one was ready to go also.  I was sad to lose them, but more touched by the devotion that they shared even after a short time.  It seems that the old dogs know about each other.  Very seldom do I have a problem introducing the next “patient”—they seem to understand that this is their last stop, and that they all should be friends.

But as each life ends, another begins . . . and JB was the joyful part of my week!  After caring for senior citizen pets for so long, it has been like a breath of fresh air to have a youngster in the house.  And trying to remember all of the ins-and-outs of baby animal care has gotten harder as the days of no sleep add up.  Although JB is generally a forgiving little donkey–he gently lets me know when his formula isn’t quite warm enough or when it’s time for a nap– he’s more like Simon Legree when I’m not on time with his meals or standing by when he’s ready to play!  So my little “spoke”, at least for now, thinks he’s the whole wheel—a shiny, new white wheel that’s  full of life and excited about the journey to come.

 

 

 

 

Rescue organizations need all types of people . . . the casual followers, who volunteer occasionally.  The urgent-need donors, who send a check when the group is in the media spotlight.  The regular supporters and members, who faithfully fortify the rescue with their time and money.  And the people with a more special, more elusive quality.  Whether a rescue serves humankind or animals, all of these people are necessary.

 

But volunteers and supporters come and go.  It is easy to ruffle feathers when you expose as many ugly truths as Panhandle Equine Rescue does . . . in a small town, “good old boy” atmosphere you can make enemies quickly.  You soon find out who in power and the public that you can count on; more oftentimes than not, the dependable people are a minority.  And the interest in equine rescue waxes and wanes:  affected by other more headline-grabbing crimes, the economy, and the fickle nature of the public.  It is easy to get donations and support with warm-and-cuddly cases like JB’s; in spite of his terrible start in life, he is one of the lucky ones.  Thanks to PER, he will never go hungry, or cold, or unloved.  Unlike so many of our other rescues, who came to us later in their lives . . . starved, hurting, physically and mentally abused.  But they, too, will get our guarantee: Although PER’s resources are totally determined (or limited) by donations, we WILL make sure that all of the equines lucky enough to find us will remain happy and healthy for the rest of their lives.

 

A very gallant lady who has become a dear friend is the catalyst behind the rescue organization of JB, Two-Stripes, the Santa Rosa 13, and many others.  With the help of one other woman, she started Panhandle Equine Rescue in 2005.  She immersed herself in all things equine rescue; attended accreditation classes for cruelty investigators, studied the Florida animal statutes, and boldly introduced herself and her cause to myriad law enforcement, legal, and judicial officials.  Giving a face to equine abuse and neglect led others to join the fight.  But on occasion my friend has been forced to go it alone . . . the extra hands and emotional support needed to do this job became scarce. She has faced total burnout more than once. Yet through all of this– the highs and the lows– she has persevered. 

 

This elusive quality is a heart for rescue.  It requires not only heart, but a sharp mind as well.  And the balls to keep meeting the day-to-day stuff head-on.  Although we have achieved many milestones for equines, PER does not always “win”—some cases are lost, and some horses die. A heart for rescue is the gutsy drive and devotion—the PASSION– to continue on, in spite of the heartbreaks and setbacks. 

 

Diane Lowery has a true heart for rescue.  She has pushed her personal needs and trials to the rear so that PER can be the center of her life.  And the Equines (and all of us who know her) THANK her for it.

Catch  me  if  you  can!

Catch me if you can!

Mother’s Day was rather quiet for the two of us . . . I think JB realized that Mom needed a day of rest.  He DID do some cute things, though   . . . (duh!!)
 
JB has created a racetrack for himself that circles my truck and Jeep . . . it’s close enough to the pasture that my “big” horses can see him, but far enough away for his comfort.  I think he enjoys the attention that he gets from the three “railbirds”; they aren’t sure if he’s a fast sheep or a badly-trimmed poodle!  But around the track he goes– first one way, then the other, switching leads just like the REAL racehorses (but interjecting the occasional buck and kick, and stopping periodically to gnaw on the Jeep!)  I DID get some pictures of him with my trusty disposable camera, and they will be here shortly!
 
He didn’t get the bath he mentioned yesterday, but maybe today . . . that should make for a GREAT photo-op!  
 

JB here! 

 

Since it’s Mother’s Day, I decided to do the news report myself . . . sorry it’s so late, but typing with one finger is mighty slow-going!

 

Last night marked my “first” birthday:  I am officially one week old.  And so far, it has been the roughest week of my life!  I got off to a pretty bad start, as you all know . . . besides losing my Mom, I’ve had to ride in a trailer, get stuck with big needles, and drink from a stupid bottle!  But I did get a new Mom, and have been living in a nice quiet area with a really big bed.  Many people have called and written to wish me well, and I’ve even been on TV and the Internet.  Although things have really been changing fast for me, I am very happy and feel very loved. 

 

And I’m changing fast, too!  I’m up to 45 pounds now–that means I’ve gained a pound a day!  (Mom doesn’t seem very happy when SHE does that, but she thinks it’s great for ME!)  And my beautiful blue eyes have turned a beautiful brown.  I’m incredibly nosy, and getting braver by the day . . . I can go up and down steps, drink from a bucket, play in the dirt, and do a perfect sliding stop.  I love to jump up and down on my hospital mattress, and can snatch Mom’s blanket off of her as she’s trying to sleep!  Hmmm . . .

what should I do for my next trick?!

 

Well, Mom is calling me . . . she’s saying something about my first BATH . . . something about the fact that I’m supposed to be WHITE . . . (?)

 

Happy Mother’s Day,

JB

Well the JB Report is early this morning, as JB decided to make it that way!

JB’s lust for Foal-Lac finally ended his bottle-feeding days . . . at his 0500 meal, he sucked the end off of his Nuk baby bottle nipple!  This led to experimentation with the calf bottle, which is much larger and has a longer, more slender (more rubbery) nipple.  JB would have none of that–“Feed me NOW!  Figure it OUT!”  (I really expected to see his head spinning around and pea soup coming out of his mouth at that point.)  Anyway, out of desperation, I poured all of his remaining formula into a Country Crock Butter Spread tub, and held it up before him.  After trying to suck the edge of the tub, looking at me in disbelief, and sucking the tub again, he accidentally stuck his nose in the milk . . . he must have correctly gasped, because before HE knew it he was drinking!  He managed to drink about 1 1/2 baby-bottle’s-worth (I’ll need to come up with a new unit of measure now!), which was his usual.

But the 0700 feeding wasn’t that easy–you know, two steps forward, one (GIANT) step back.  I prepared his formula in bulk this time, and took a butter-tub-full to him.  He sniffed all around, tried to nurse my knee, then STUCK HIS WHOLE FACE IN IT!  After taking a few gulps, he tossed his head and covered me, the floor, and the walls with formula; he then proceeded to wipe his wet beard/muzzle/nose all over me.   I was laughing so hard that I didn’t even try to stop him!

Hopefully the learning curve on this “drinking from a bucket” thing isn’t very steep; if it is, you should all go out and buy stock in Foal-Lac, because we’re going to use a lot of it!

I’ve got to go sponge-bathe a white donkey foal, wash down the walls, mop the floor, start a load of laundry, and take a shower . . . GOT MILK?

Yesterday was a little more newsworthy . . .

JB spent the first part of the morning outside; he galloped around for about 15 minutes!  When he started getting a little far away I would call him, and he immediately changed direction every time.  He also worked on his sliding stop:  the first one was great, the second one . . . . NOT so great!  Suffice it to say that (a) that’s what practice is for, and (b) white donkeys CAN be cleaned!

When he was tired of running, he came to me for praise:  “How was that, Mom?  Did you SEE me!?”  I assured him of his extreme cuteness (although he already knew it), and started to walk back toward the house.  JB followed me in lock-step, just like a heeling dog–I would change direction, stop, start, move slow, then fast–he never left my side.

But he still needs major work on the house-training thing!

We were also re-interviewed by the WKRG-TV5 news team; once again, JB strutted his stuff! 

We did have a little cause for concern last night, however.  As I’ve mentioned before, JB’s days 5-7 are the most likely time for him to get sick from lack of his mother’s colostrum–even though he got the synthetic stuff, he still might get sick.  And last night (that was Day 5), he started having diarrhea.  It wasn’t really bad, and he was still frisky, eating well, and acting healthy.  But I DID call his vet first thing this morning to make sure!  According to his doctor, he may experience this periodically due to the formula he takes, variable exercise, changes, stress, etc.  But I know now WHEN to worry, and fortunately now is NOT the time!

Yesterday was the first uneventful day in little JB’s short life . . . . he ate, slept, played in the yard, and was loved by his mother — his foster-mother, anyway.  And he thoroughly enjoyed it . . .  his first experience of the peace that should have been his since his birth.

 

(WARNING:  DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE EASILY DISGUSTED BY THE RANTINGS OF A PROUD DONKEY MOTHER!) 

All of the regular stuff is normal/progressing well:  eating (nursing the bottle), peeing, and pooping, and he’s gained 2 pounds.

This was to be a day of firsts, however!

It started with the arrival of the WKRG-TV News 5 crew from Mobile.  Since the weather was nice and the ground fairly dry, we decided to shoot the video outdoors.  JB put on quite a show trotting, bucking, and admiring trees . . . the first time he’s REALLY gotten to stretch his legs.  The fickle little fellow also took a special shine to the pretty TV reporter-lady, and really mugged for the camera   . . . the TV-bit is old hat for him now! 

After everyone left, I returned him to his hallway “bedroom”.  He promptly got on the bed, by himself, and went to sleep!

The late afternoon prompted another outing in the front yard.  He was confident enough to gallop this time, and would run about 50 feet away . . . whenever he heard a new noise, he would tear back to me-his Mother- and hide behind my legs!  But most exciting to me, he “answered the call of nature” OUTSIDE — you can see the possibilities in that!

He also started cutting his teeth last night . . . he was more fussy with his feedings, and wanted to lick/chew/suck everything he could find, ALL NIGHT!!  I actually put some of his formula in my hand and he licked it off . . . first step toward the all-important bucket-training (in about 2 weeks)!

I’m going to go start a load of baby laundry (the house-training stuff was a fluke!), and then take him back outside . . .