Monday, June 18, 2012


Our pup Kilo died last Wednesday. My wife, Josie, and I had him euthanized when the vet told us he had an aggressive cancer.   Surgery, while an option, wasn't a great choice, given his condition. He was 12 years old (we had him for his final three years).

We originally saved him from the euthanization list at the New York City Animal Care and Control (NYC ACC) thanks to a Craigslist post by Cristina Pronzati of DakodaLove. As you can see if you read the link, we originally took him as our first foster, but when Cristina found another home for him after a few months, we reneged on our deal, and kept him. Cristina didn't mind at all, and neither did Kilo.

Kilo was, from the moment we got him, insane. While they told us he was nine, I never believed them, (his gray ear hair notwithstanding). He had the energy of a six month old puppy, barely able to sit still, even when trying to ply him to do so with a treat. Walking him was not easy.

We got two different trainers to try to work with him. We knew we were in trouble when, after five minutes, one of the trainers said, "This is a tough dog." To be honest, we never really got him under control - he was a constant whiner (an embarrassment to pit bulls everywhere!) and didn't follow directions very well. I tried to sit next to him and pet him or kiss him but invariably, he would either lick or nibble at me (the licks were fine of course, the nibbling, again, we were never able to cure him of - he was a stubborn guy). In fact, the only time I think I ever was able to kiss his back was at the vet, just after he died (Josie and I were in the room with him). We didn't know his history, but he was generally distrustful of humans, usually preferring to keep his distance (unless you had treats, then he'd sit in front of you until he thought you were out of treats).

The thing is, he was a smart dog - Why do I know that?

Kilo ate his own food immediately, I don't even think he chewed it. He knew he wasn't supposed to eat our other dog's (River) food. How did he know? He didn't do it while we were around and if he started to eat it, one quick admonishment and he'd stop. However, once we left, we had to pick up River's food. Why? Because Kilo would eat it otherwise. How did I know Kilo ate it? Because once in a while, I would trick him, pretending to leave only to open the door, and sure enough, I'd find him hunched over River's food bowl.

He also knew how to tip over the garbage can to eat whatever food scraps it contained, and how to free River from behind the kitchen gate (invariably with a loud crash at 3 am).

Yup, he was smart. A smart asshole, to be exact.

But, of course, we loved him. And Kilo truly wanted to be a good dog. For example, he suffered from leash aggression (well, I suffered from his leash aggression). After me admonishing him for going after other dogs for while, he started to try to run past other dogs, so that he wasn't too tempted.

His tail was always wagging (even in the vet hospital when he had to be in some pain). It was always wonderful going home, seeing him happy to see me. Sure, I wish he didn't jump on me as he normally did, but that was our Kilo.

He always looked at us with his soft brown eyes, trying to convey some sort of understanding, some kind of mischief.

On some mornings, he would jump after River, looking like a giant bunny, and would chase her (including jumping on our bed).  Those were the happiest moments in our household - all of us watching and laughing at his playfulness.  

We never really knew how happy he was, as we always thought his whining was a form of anxiety. We hope that he was.  His faults made him who he was - our good boy.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Meet The Rescuers! Part 3, with Rescuzilla's Susan Cava!

Welcome to our third edition of our award-wnning (ok, not really) smash hit series, Meet The Rescuers, where I talk to some of NYC's (and beyond!) movers and shakers in the animal rescue world (Who cares about the other world?). To see other interviews, click here. Today's Q and A is with Susan Cava , who runs the awesomely monikored Rescuzilla!

Hey Susan...How many years have you been rescuing animals and why did you start?

Well, you don't walk into New York's Animal Care and Control and walk out without a desire to help the animals there.  I adopted my dog Juno, who has since passed, in 1996 and started volunteering with Pet-I-Care and the ACC shortly after.  With experience and passion some years later, it was a natural evolution into Rescuzilla.  

How many years has Rescuzilla been around?

Rescuzilla has been around for three years...but the current version of it with Katherine Good, Carolina Leon-Duarte and Lesli VanSchaick is around just over a year.  I was ready to hang Rescuzilla's little hat when these three amazing friends and ladies said they were ready to be partners in the rescue.  We have been able to save far more animals together and stay slightly sane while doing it.

What do you do when you're not rescuing animals?

Nothing.  I kid, I kid.  I just moved out to the beach and am really enjoying biking, running, soon surfing and hanging with friends and family.

Whats your favorite TV show?

Hmmm...I am loving Archer and Mad Men right now.  And I hold my head in shame while admitting I am hooked on Celebrity Apprentice...probably because I want to go on the show, do it better and win money for our rescue!  But oops, I'm not a celebrity! haha.

Who were you rooting for on Celebrity Apprentice this year? I can't stand the show (I hate most of the "celebs" as well as Trump and his brood) but my wife watches it, therefore, I watch it. Even though I'm a comic, I thought Lisa Lampanelli came off really poorly, and I thought that Miss World (or whatever) handled herself very well.

Yeah, Lisa came off like a weirdo but that's ok - better to have some passion than none! =)

Weirdo? More like an asshole, but, more importantly, something I've always been interested in - How do you decide which animals to pull?

The core of Rescuzilla - myself, Katherine and Carolina - are hands on volunteers at the ACC.  We get to know the animals there and find animals that would match up with our fosters.  Sometimes people need a low-energy dog or a cat-friendly pooch - we get to know the animals first hand and figure out what works...then you meet one that matches up to no one and grabs your heart and all logic goes out the window!  But generally speaking we try to focus on dogs that match up to our resources - vetting and age are not major factors - but behavior is the big one. 

Are you vegan?

Yes, I am vegan and don't understand the disconnect most rescuers have between saving some animals and eating others.  There is little difference between a pig and a dog, they have the same capacity to feel and to learn. Running an animal rescue while eating animals seems like a convenient type of morality.  I'm just saying!

I'll take a stab at that ...

1 - We don't see pigs every day - its tougher to get that emotional attachment when we never see them, and when we do, they aren't wagging their tails or rubbing up against us
2 - It's how most of us grew up - Sposedly, Obama ate dog as a child, and you know what, I don't hold that against him - That was his culture...our culture is eating meat, though not dog

3 - We all get into animal rescue for our own reasons, but some are very specific, like I got into it partially to overcome guilt I felt about my own dog being killed - It actually had nothing to do with animals in general... of course, the more I got into it, the more of a "lunatic" I am becoming....

I haven't eaten meat or chicken for a month and don't plan on going back to it, but I don't condemn those that do -

Well...I'm not sure how we grew up dictates who we are and yeah, I don't see pigs each day but when animal flesh is in front of me it is still a dead animal. I don't see the difference at all with eating dogs or eating cows - they are all living, feeling, helpless animals in hellish conditions prior to slaughter. 

Assuming current management stays the same and the budget does not increase, whats one change you would make if you were in a position of power at the ACC?

Well my dear Harris, let's deal with reality instead and note that there are way more volunteers and a lot more organization at the ACC nowadays.  The ACC still needs a bazillion changes (specifically the actual shelter itself [bigger cages in the overflow area being numero uno in my book]) but as long as the Board of Health is there to veto anything that requires logic or money, I'd like to see more people at the ACC volunteering. 

It's a basic orientation, some training online and a few hours being trained in the shelter - it's really not that complicated.  So people can donate as little as two hours of time each month to walk dogs or people can sew beds at home and drop them off - there is just so much that people can do!  Rather than daydream about the changes we'd like to see if we were in charge of the ACC, how about we simply do those changes as volunteers?  Rescuzilla is part of the force that is there doing it - let's see more people be part of it!

Wait... There's more organization now? In what way? 

There are more volunteers? Then why are some dogs still going days without getting outside (

There are far more volunteers there - easily, hands down, the Level 1's are always in and out and now Level 2's are growing. Little things like Lindsay, the vol coordinator, sending out pleas for vols or making sure the bins are stocked with walking logs or treats are stocked at all times. There are now shelves for the clean dishes - places for the dirty bowls. All the cats always have toys. The dogs often have kongs. Small diffs that those who hung on prior to Julie cannot deny. The place still needs oodles of work but for those who are physically in the shelter, there is certainly improvement.

I'm not in the trenches so I can't argue, but I think some would (comment if you disagree). How would you spend all the free time you'd have if you never got into rescue? 

Open a vegan baked goods line.  If people come to our fundraising events, I try to always have my killer cookies there!

Where are you originally from?

Yorktown Heights, NY.

Name something about you that most people don't know...

Before I volunteer at the shelter, I blast Alice in Chains in my headphones so I can get charged up to deal with all the lonely animals I am about to encounter...many of whom will die the next day.  It breaks your heart every single time...but this world of animal rescue we are in, it is not for the meek of heart.

I agree. Thanks for your time!

If you want to learn more about Rescuzilla, visit their website at

Susan Cava with Babe, her favorite foster pittie of all-time.

Harris Bloom
Stewie to the Rescue