2009-09-02 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson
“Alex, black Pit Bull” Part 2: Call it Kismet. The Aug. 20th “Pets” sought a home for Alex, a special Pit Bull, with a saga almost too sad to be true. Un­fortunately, no home yet- How­ever, something amazing has happened; something that could benefit both Alex and all his shel­ter compadres. Despite the fact that Alex is still at Babylon Shelter (in Cage 12….last cage on the right) due to the sudden death of a kind man who adopted him after the dog had spent almost 2 years in boarding, despite the fact that he blends in with the shelter’s overflowingPit population, Alex continues to have the uncanny ability to befriend all the right people.

For those just tuning in to Alex’s story, here’s a re­cap: About 3 years ago “Pam” saw kids tormenting Alex, then a stray pup on a Wyandanch street. Since she rented an apartment with her cats, rather than turn him into the shelter as she should have done, she boarded him for 18 months. Although she couldn’t affordthis kind gesture, Pam wanted to be sure he would finda good home. Alex displayed stressful behavior in this cramped setting, wearing out his welcome at various hospi­tals, and making it hard to “sell” himself. He spent 4 months kenneled at clinic adjoining Last Hope’s Dog Center where the vet staff there asked me to help. Meanwhile Pam found Billy Perselis, a lonely young man who said he needed Alex as much as the dog needed him. His old Lab had just died. Alex and Billy became inseparable. Theduo would exercise at Southards Pond (also the old Westminster Kennel Club property) each day. Fast forward one year. In July I got an email from Jeanne asking me to feature a dog at Babylon Shel­ter. She had just learned that Billy Perselis, a family friend, passed away unexpectedly, and that his dog remained by his side for a week until help arrived. Confusing things more, the landlord turned Alex into the shelter under the mistaken name “Puppy” plus he had on a rabies tag that traced to “Bruno” (the old Lab who had died). Aftermore of Billy’s friends heard the tragic news, we found out the dog was “Alex”, the same dog Pam had spent her life savings on; the dog that Billy cherished. To make matters worse, since the first column, we heard that Billy had an accident and without his car had lost his job which explains why his co-workers weren’t looking for him. With his father in Greece and no way to locate his estranged sister, his funeral was delayed until 2 weeks ago. Alex had a taste of an idyllic life and now it is gone. For about 6 weeks Alex has been cooped up again, this time at the shelter where he is just one of many poor Pits in a similar predicament. Even though Jeanne and his vet tech pals visit, and he plays in the yard or hangs out in the director’s office,like many ac­tive Pits, he spins and barks in his kennel. He doesn’t show well, giving off the wrong impression. When not caged, he reveals a much better “persona”. How do we convince someone responsible that Alex will make a great companion? Enter Barbara. She knows Alex well. Barbara can vouch for him. I always joke that the dog world is small, that all of us are connected. You never know who will pick up a “Pets” column or who you will chance to meet. Bar­bara Pezzanite walks her chocolate Lab at Southards, and we’ve spoken briefly as our goofy Afghans greet her Lab Storm. It seems her husband mentioned the Post piece about Alex, and it all clicked. Storm and Alex walked, fetched sticks and swam together many times in Southards Pond. She knew Billy as “Wil”, and actually had offered him her used car but hadn’t heard back from him.

Shown left, Alex ~ black Pit Bull Shown left, Alex ~ black Pit Bull Pets for Adoption Shown right, Roxy~ brindle Pit/Lab Pets for Adoption Shown right, Roxy~ brindle Pit/Lab Dr. Barbara Pezzanite, Ph.D, is a psychologist with in­credible credentials. Check out her website (www.liabc.com) before reading any further. In fact, she is an Animal Behavior Society Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), part of a small network of renowned scientists whose members read like a Who’s Who of Dogdom. She completed a 2 year postdoctoral residency at the ASPCA in Manhattan where she did behavior modification and training with shelter animals. Presently she does private pet behavior consults. My plea requesting a one dog home may have been too cautious and restrictive. Barbara says Alex “is a great dog, and he’s dog friendly…He’s slow to warm up to new owners, however he will warm up as he did with Wil.” Alex interacted well with Storm but seemed more into swimming and fetching than playing with other dogs. At the shelter he tends to ignore the other animals, actually a good trait. Barbara did warn that if he runs off,he goes at full speed and is hard to catch. It seems he interrupted dismissal one day at the el­ementary school to the students’ delight. A little girl stopped him. On another occasion, he stole the soc­cer ball at a practice. The coach threatened to report him. To whom? Pele? Barbara spent several hours with Alex on Friday. His adoption comes with a doggy dowry, Dr. Pezzan­ite’s free behavioral service, not because he has issues, but to help him settle into a new home…..and as a wish come true, she has also offered to volunteer with Babylon Shelter, either advising new owners, temper­ament testing, or sharing the ASPCA’s creative ideas. How great is this? To think: “One small step for Alex; one giant step for dogkind.”

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: So here he is-“Alex”, now about 4 years old, is posing in an “Adopt Me” vest. Come meet him out in the shelter yard. Next to Alex, is “Roxy” Cage 25, a female Pit/Lab who has been at the shelter since March. Brindle Pit mixes are inconspicuous too. Cats: “Winston” & “Lucy” eviction cats; Siamese mix or many other kittens, already spay/neutered. Male Dogs: sunny seniors-Maltese; “Old Soul” Shepherd Cage 1; “Bernie”-Rottie mix Cage 8. Female Dogs: “Hallie” Cage 38- longest resident; “Tyra” Cage 42- looks like a female “Bernie”.

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