REMEMBERING ‘TONY’ AND ‘CEBA’…SAVING ‘REX’

The sun is shining, and the mockingbirds are warbling but it’s a sad day for me and my parents. We awoke to news that our friend, the amazing dog trainer and Malibu fixture, Tony Rollins, had passed away due to complications from diabetes. A popular cable network likes to boast, ‘Characters Welcome’. Well, Tony was a character with character, a loving, patient guy who overcame his tough Brooklyn childhood and some early scrapes with the law to build a devoted following working with dogs, and their equally unruly, neurotic humans, at Bluffs Park obedience classes. Fans of GIMME SHELTER might recall how he ‘coaxed’ me into following the rules and helped bring my relationship with mom and dad to a new level of trust and commitment. In time some new trainer will come along and fill the vacancy left by our friend. But for us, Tony will always be ‘the man’ and the Bluffs his place. RIP Tony. 

Tony Rollins

In Hamlet, Shakespeare writes “When sorrows come, they come not single spies but in battalions.” That was the case today. We no sooner heard about Tony when Lou received an email saying that my longtime pal, and all-round fabulous dog, Ceba, had moved on to the big dog park in the sky. Ceba was a tiny Shih Tzu but he had the heart of a lion, the rollicking good nature of an Irish bartender, and a sweet loving souL that no dog, or human, could resist. I met him when I first came to live with Lou & Eugenie. I love dogs, and I didn’t think twice about lunging to greet Ceba. But Lou and Ceba’s dad, Doug, saw it a tad differently ; “Watching Tanner drag me across the road, Doug was wary of greeting the new stud. Ceba wasn’t. He held his ground and sniffed Tanner from stem-to-stern. Having made his point, he hoisted his tail and led us down the sidewalk, pimp-rolling like a 4-legged gangsta, posse in tow. Whenever Ceba stopped to mark the bushes, Tanner followed suit. It was their version of social networking, where dogs friend each other by peeing on walls instead of writing on them.” (from GIMME SHELTER) For the past few months, Ceba, Doug and Jean have been living in San Jose so I didn’t get to say a proper ‘goodbye’. I guess I’ll take a quiet moment and toast him with a few extra treats – Lou always had a goodie for the little guy – and then go out and mark some bushes in his honor. 

CEBA

Lou says ‘never end on a negative’ and I’m going to follow his advice and urge all of our friends and followers to help us do just that and find a home for REX, an amazing pit bull who’s been marking time in the Santa Maria animal shelter for nearly 16 months! We’ve posted about him before and two potential adopters stepped up, only to run into snags with landlords that refused to let them shelter a pit bull. I know what it’s like to live behind bars and, while it’s better than scuffling along on the street, it’s no substitute for a loving family. So…let’s get back to work, spread the word, and get this boy a home. Now. 

REX

Rex is about 3 1/2 years, weighs between 55-60 lbs. He is potty trained and leash trained, gets along extremely well with other dogs but we’re not sure about cats. He loves his toys so he’d be okay as an only dog as long as he gets some love and play time. He was a loved domestic pet who slept in the bed was used to help assess & train other shelter dogs’ temperaments. If you know anyone who would love to share their life with this bundle of love, please contact CONNIE KRUSE, 805-878-801,  clkjmw@icloud.com. If not, please pass this to your contacts and/or post on your social media.

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CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY…HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS

Eugenie and I received a wonderful Christmas gift yesterday when Dr. Dean Graulich called to say that Tanner’s tumor was a low-grade malignancy that shouldn’t pose any future problems. Our brave boy has a gang of stitches on his chest but the bandages are gone and he’s down to just an 80s-style midriff (midruff?) T-shirt to keep him from clawing open the stitches. We’re glad to be done with his post-op meds but he’s not as happy since we camouflaged each pill with a mound of ground beef.

‘Buona Festa’ to our 2 and 4-legged friends
(Tanner flew to Italy via photoshop)


If you’re looking for a nice, inexpensive gift for that special animal lover in your life, take advantage of the GIMME SHELTER 20% holiday discount, now through January 1, 2015. Tanner thinks it’s great idea and he’s not alone; over three dozen Amazon readers have given us an average 5-star rating. If that doesn’t move you, maybe this video from last years Diesel Bookstore event will serve to whet your appetite. 

If books aren’t the answer, you might consider sculpture, specifically Eugenie’s awesome stone carvings. She currently has work on display at the CANVAS women’s store in Malibu, and at Studio Five08 in Santa Monica. You can view the latest sculptures and new at eugeniespirito.com.

‘White Angel’ @ Canvas

WE’RE BACK, AND THANKFUL!


Poor dad. He hasn’t been available to help me post in several weeks and here’s why. As he explains in GIMME SHELTER, it was 30+years ago that he left day-to-day teaching to follow a different drummer and pursue his artistic calling. Although he’s been sub-teaching at the local juvenile probation camps, working with incarcerated teens, nothing prepared him for a recent gig, filling in for an ailing  AP English teacher at a local high school. After two weeks, my black belt dad looked like he’d gone 5 rounds with UFC champ Anderson Silva: his eyes were glazed, his heart was racing, and his stomach was in knots. With another month looming, dad showed the better part of valor and tapped out, agreeing to take a greatly reduced workload. He’s sorry that he couldn’t push through, but mom and I are happy to have him back home with us and smiling again. Want to see just how thrilled I am to have my ‘big dog’ back? Here’s a video of us hanging at home, playing my favorite game, ‘ Jump’.
Congratulations to our dear friend and pup-lover Jennienne LeClercq of NYC. When her beloved Stella passed away, she wasn’t sure she’d ever share her life and love with another pooch. Enter, Darla, who’s already captured Jenniene’s heart…and most of the bed. The only tough spot so far – getting this discrete, 15-month-old country honey to squat on the New York sidewalks!
Jenniene and ‘Darla’ Darling @ the Central Park Boathouse
The fabulous Stella
Since it;s Holiday Season (and seemingly has been since July), we thought we’d share a Buzzfeed heart-warmer about Leo, a down-and-out Cambodian pooch and the guardian angel that turned his life around. If this evokes a ‘Bah, humbug!’, you’d best go see your cardiologist.

Leo with his angel, Meagan

TANNER COMES THROUGH…TWICE!

We all know that dogs are man’s best friend but, the past few weeks, Tanner has been going above and beyond. On Saturday, August 3, he was the star of our hugely successful Barnes & Noble book signing in Thousand Oaks. He was friendly, sweet and so well-behaved, even when other dogs cruised by. People adored him and stopped to trade dog stories and to buy GIMME SHELTER

Then on Sunday, August 4, Tanner was back at it again, helping me serve as Grand Marshal and kicking off the fundraising walk at the American Cancer Society ‘Bark For Life’ event. Luckily it was overcast and cool, so he didn’t poop out on a very short stroll. As a reward for his PR efforts, Tanner got to scarf down some rare roast beef and to cuddle all night on the bed. By popular request, here’s the text of the welcome speech we gave.

Dealing with cancer is challenging on many levels.  It is stressful, it’s frightening but it can also empowering. One thing that helps us cope with the struggle is the support of our friends, our families, caring strangers and our dogs. Given that this Malibu’s first annual BARK FOR LIFE fundraising walk, I should say especially our dogs. As someone who has grappled with cancer and other serious issues, I’ve seen firsthand the difference a 4-legged therapist can make. That’s why I’m here today…to speak about how dogs help comfort and heal us when we need it most.

1) THEY ARE CHEAPER THAN DOCTORS AND THERAPISTS, MORE FUN AND ALWAYS ON CALL.– That’s why they make such great healers. We know they will be there for us no matter what. They don’t care if we have insurance, and for most of us, their ‘fee’ is some cuddles and a rawhide treat or two…or five.

2) DOGS DON’T JUDGE – Except when it comes squeaky toys, they don’t judge. They don’t care if you lose weight, gain weight, have more hair, less hair or no hair. They don’t care about our jobs, the cars we drive or  the clothes we wear.  To our dogs, we have no flaws. We’re perfect just the way we are. They love us because that’s what they do. Period. All they ask from us in return is a little exercise and affection. if only all of our two-legged pals were so easy and accommodating.

3) DOG ARE PLAYFUL – Regardless of what’s going on in the world or our bodies – if the stock market’s down, or Dwight Howard ditches us for Houston, or Congress is behaving like
unruly kindergartners, or we’re feeling like we’ve been run over by a cement truck – our dogs are always up for play. We can take a lesson from them and when things get stressful, or seem hopeless, we can go for a ride and stick our head out the car window, or go for a run, a walk or just sit on a bench in the sun. Your dog never looks at you and says ‘We really need to work more’.

4) DOGS ARE WISE! – They live in harmony with nature. They don’t care about social trends, how many Twitter followers or Facebook friends you have, how much your movie grossed, how many books you’ve sold.  They have no list of  ‘should’s. They sleep when they’re tired, eat when they’re hungry (except pugs and labs, who eat all the time), play when they need exercise. They don’t worry (well, maybe just a little around dinner time) and they never give advice. They don’t dwell on the past, or try to control the future. They are fully PRESENT. Every day, they get, up wag their tails and go about their lives, doing their very best, living in the moment, every moment. They have one message: be joyous, be present, and LET’S PLAY! or as Laura so aptly put it, let’s BARK FOR LIFE.”

Lou & Tanner with Bark for Life organizer Laura Leonard and her rescue dog Barkley.