Captain Jack


I didn’t mean to fall hard for Captain Jack. It just happened. One of those crazy, beyond-your-control, heart-pounding love connections you read about in romance novels. Yes, he was short and shaggy with a flat face and a raspy growl. But that isn’t what did it for me. What did it for me was the fact he only had one eye.

One perfectly round, perfectly trusting, chocolate-drop-adorable eyeball that tugged at my heartstrings and made me weak in the knees. According to Captain Jack’s back story, a bulldog had taken out his other eye long before I met him at a Belleville Area Humane Society Adoption event five years ago.

“Get ready ‘cause I’m about to beg you,” I texted my husband, who was reeling in bass somewhere in Kentucky. “There’s this dog I really want to foster. Before you say no, let me tell you about him.”

Jack now shares our bed. He snorts. I snore. And Mark, well, he talks about getting earplugs.

“It was supposed to be temporary,” he reminded me as Jack begged for carrots at the kitchen table.

Did I mention Jack could go vegan in a heartbeat? He prefers mangoes and watermelon to chicken and steak. Not sure why he has a weight problem, though it may have something to do with all the peanut butter.

“I love him,” I told my husband. “But don’t worry. I love you, too.”

“Maybe if I winked all the time you’d love me more.”

“Are you making fun of Jack’s condition?”

“Nothing funny about it,” he said. “That dog has you wrapped around his paw.”

This was never more evident than the day I brought home Lola, a 7-pound chihuahua who took on a Rottweiler before I rescued her from the shelter.

Lola barked at Jack. She pushed him away from his food bowl. She glared into his lone eye and snarled.

Ever the sensitive Shih Tzu, Jack stopped eating his mangoes. I couldn’t stand to watch his self-esteem plummet. So I did my best to embolden him.

“You’re spoiling him, Mom,” observed my son Sam, as I rocked Jack in my arms like a baby while dropping strips of cantaloupe into his mouth. “I know you’re trying to make up for Lola bullying him — but you’ve taken it too far.”

He was right. All that doting had gone to Jack’s head.

My once well-behaved Shih Tzu made me chase him in the yard. He also refused to eat his dog food unless it was garnished with cheese. Not just any cheese. Sharp cheddar with a sprinkling of Parmesan on top.

Last Halloween, I dressed Jack as a pirate with a little patch over his missing eye. He should have worn a black, leather motorcycle jacket. That’s the kind of bad boy he’s become.

These days, Lola and Jack get along fairly well. If they don’t share a mutual respect, they do share a throw on the couch. And though Lola still scarfs down Jack’s dog food, she leaves his watermelon alone.

Yes, for a one-eyed Jack, he’s got it made in the shade.

Well, actually the central air. Jack doesn’t go outside much in the summer.

Don’t lock your dog in a hot car

lenny the spaniel mixA

Ten Reasons To Adopt a Pet

In case “Because it’s the right thing to do” isn’t enough

Pet lovers know: Adoption is the snuggliest option. Photo by iStockphoto

Thinking of adding a pet to your family? Here are ten reasons to adopt your new best friend.

1. Because you’ll save a life

A shelter pet is more than one in a million—she’s one in 2.7 million. That’s the number of adoptable dogs and cats who are still euthanized each year in the United States, simply because too many pets come into shelters and too few people adopt.

The number of euthanized animals could be reduced dramatically if more people adopted pets instead of buying them. When you adopt, you save your animal and open up shelter space for another animal who might need it.

2. Because you’ll get a great animal.

Animal shelters and rescue groups are brimming with happy, healthy pets just waiting for someone to take them home. Most shelter pets ended up there because of a human problem like a move or a divorce, not because the animal did anything wrong.

3. Because you’ll get a great bargain.

When you adopt a pet, the cost of spay/neuter, first vaccinations and sometimes microchipping is usually included in the adoption price, which means you’ve scored a major deal—a fuzzy deal who will thank you with kisses or purrs for years to come.

  • Adopted pets turn your selfies into solid gold. Photo by Grace Markarian/The HSUS

4. Because of the bragging rights.

No one needs to see another selfie—unless it’s a selfie of you with the adorable cat you just adopted, like the hero you are! Adopt a pet, post the pictures and let the love (likes) roll in.

5. Because it’s one way to fight puppy mills.

You’re too smart to get a dog from a pet store or online seller—you might as well buy direct from a puppy mill.Puppy mills are “factory style” breeding facilities that put profit above the welfare of dogs. Animals from puppy mills are housed in shockingly poor conditions with improper medical care, and are often very sick and behaviorally troubled as a result. The moms of the puppies are kept in cages to be bred over and over for years, without human companionship and with little hope of ever joining a family. And after they’re no longer profitable, breeding dogs are simply discarded—either killed, abandoned or sold at auction.

Most puppies in pet stores and sold online come from puppy mills. The dogs are sold to unsuspecting consumers in pet stores, over the Internet and through classified ads. Puppy mills will continue to operate until people stop supporting them. By adopting a pet, you can be certain you aren’t giving them a dime.

6. Because your decor will thank you.

Many of the pets from shelters and rescues are already housetrained, which means you’re not only saving a pet’s life, you may be saving your rug.

7. Because all pets are good for your health, but an adopted pet is good for your self-esteem.

Not only do animals give you unconditional love, but they have been shown to be psychologically, emotionally and physically beneficial. Caring for a companion animal can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment and lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation in all age groups. And when you adopt, you can also feel proud about helping an animal in need.

8. Because you’re environmentally responsible.

You recycle your paper and plastic so it doesn’t end up in landfills, and you know that recycled materials make all sorts of things. A “recycled” pet can make something even better: She can make you happy.

9. Because The Shelter Pet Project will make it super-easy.

We like easy. Go to the Shelter Pet Project to find pets near you, of every size, color, temperament and breed. You want an orange cat who likes ear-scratches on alternate Tuesdays? You can probably find one.

10. Because you’ll change a homeless animal’s whole world.

And get a new best friend in the bargain. Seriously, what could be better than that?


Tell your friends why pet adoption rocks.

Of the opinion you need not spay or neuter your pet?

Paws and think about it…

  • For every person born, 15 dogs and 45 cats are also born. There are not enough homes for even a fraction of these animals – even if EVERY person in EACH household took in a pet.
  • Theoretically, a female cat can give birth to up to three litters a year throughout her lifetime. Female cats do not go into menopause like humans do. Assuming a cat lives 15 years, this could result in approximately 180 kittens.
  • A typical dog produces one litter per year with an average number of six puppies per litter. This means, an unspayed dog could result in the birth of 60 or more puppies over her lifetime.
  • Assuming all these kittens and puppies multiply – which they likely will if left unsterilized — the result will be thousands more homeless dogs and cats.
  • Unneutered male dogs and cats are half the equation of these conceptions.

Between six and eight million dogs and cats enter US shelters EACH YEAR.

Please spay and neuter your pets!