A Visit To St. Vincent’s

2-6-2015 10-39-34 AMLast week, my wife had another infection in her body arise. She had a fever that spiked to approximately 104 F,with a high heart rate and her blood pressure just would not stabilize. So, she was hospitalized at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Pell City, AL, which is approximately twenty plus miles east of Birmingham. Anyway, Zues, my service dog, and I packed up and went down to see what was going on.

We arrived and found my wife was being admitted to the ICU. Before we found that out, we walked into the Emergency Room where my wife was, and Zues stuck his cold nose under the covers to let her know we were there. I wish I had taken a picture, because it was obvious he was saying “Hello, we are here!”

In the Army, we were taught be prepared, and if prepared be even more prepared. Sounds a bit paranoid, huh? I was prepared, though. I had packed an overnight bag and brought a bed for Zues with a blanket. Before anyone wonders, “How can a dog be in the hospital?” let me say that the Americans With Disabilities Act states that service animals are allowed into hospitals, but cannot enter Operating Rooms or Burn Units for obvious reasons. Of course we know not to take them into an area in the hospital where there could be an infection caused by the presence of the service animal. But don’t take my word for it, go to www.ada.gov. Search out service animals, and see what the law says.

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Well, during the first night there, Zues slept under his covers and the nursing staff was so amazed by his easy going attitude. I smiled and just stated the obvious, that he was working in his own way. “He is not like this at home,” I explained. This is how he is in public; relaxed and mindful of me unless he is sleeping. Keep in mind that when he needs to answer nature’s call, a plan of action was in place. I had already prepared security, and got permission to allow us access back into the hospital in the event Zues needed to go outside.

2-6-2015 10-39-56 AMWe stayed two nights down there until my wife was stabilized and I saw that other members of our family would be there for her before I was settled enough to return back to Athens. When Zues and I returned to Athens, she had surgery to remove the bacteria causing her trouble. She called me and seemed so feisty, I teased her and said things like “Maybe I should have the doctor put the bacteria back so I can have some peace.”

I thank everyone for their prayers, because God is moving and I am very thankful. Now, let us hope my wife will be returning home soon, and that there are no further complications. I was glad for all of us that Zues was able to go and be the perfect service dog, a true canine companion.
By: Joel Allen

1-3-2015 2-42-59 PMIt’s the New Year and with another Christmas passed, I know there are families who just added a new canine family member. Whether they are young or old, it does not matter. What matters is whether or not every member of the family understands what their new addition can be like. I see a lot of families get the dog they dream of having, and then they are disappointed because the dog, be it a puppy or full adult, is more than they can handle.

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If the dog is a pure blood of its kind, then I would suggest looking at the breed’s history through a well-established resource, and study what the breed is known to do, what it likes and dislikes, if they are energetic, etc. If the dog is mixed and the mixture of bloodlines is known, I would study all the different breeds, and be on the look out for the different characteristics so I could best prepare for what may come.

1-3-2015 2-43-22 PMCall me crazy, but I have found through my experiences that different breeds will act certain ways, and it can be predicted at times what they are going to be like as they grow up. Knowing the breed, adding a lot of love, and spending time with the dog may help avoid some of the troubles that most dogs like to display, such as eating our shoes, thinking the couch is on the menu, or even terrorizing the cat.

So it’s a puppy! Here is what is to be expected: (This is only my opinion)
1. Vaccines (7 and 1 shot)
2. House Breaking (go to www.athensnowal.com and look in the Dog Barker archives for help on this)
3. Eventual trouble with chewing
4. Calling a trainer for advice
Let us say the new addition to the family is an adult dog. What can be expected? Here is what I have noticed over the years:
1. Should be already vaccinated
2. Their true personality normally appears when they have been in the home for one to two weeks
3. Already house broken most of the time; that is not to say they won’t have an accident
4. They tend to understand that they were saved and normally love the family for it
5. Calling a trainer for any advice and concerns

For the adult dogs, my biggest concern is if they have been abused. When adopting, ask about the history of the dog. Even if they have been abused, please don’t rule them out because they are the ones that need a loving family the most. Now granted, don’t go out there and adopt a dog that is going to eat the family up because of what I said above. Know the limits and toleration of what can be handled, and don’t over do it. Like that commercial says, “There is a shelter pet who can’t wait to meet you.” Also, “Opt to adopt,” as Peace, Love and Animals would say.

Lastly, remember the Athens Animal Shelter. There are several animals needing a home. Shame on anyone who can do something for them but instead turns their backs. God watches us all. As Proverbs 12:10 says, “A righteous man regardeth the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”
By: Joel Allen

12-5-2014 3-40-10 PMDear Doggie Claus,?

This year has been memorable! I was a bad dog, but in a good way. Just because I escaped from my yard and prowled the neighborhood doesn’t mean I was the dog getting into the neighbor’s trash. Besides, my family needs to know that their security measures are not that good. Better fences make great neighbors and the statement the cat gave the “Dog Cop” was completely fabricated. He said he saw me tearing out the neighbor’s trash. But really, can he say it was truly me? There is another dog in the neighborhood who looks just like me and he lives at 108 Fido Lane. You reading this “Copper?”

I really believe the family cat is getting old. All his claims he makes against me about getting into the trash and chasing him makes me worry for him. So, just to show that my heart is in the right place, I ask that you bring my feline friend a pair of glasses so he can get his facts straight. Oh and some catnip would be nice too.

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I have a confession to make. I have been backsliding very badly on my chewing habits. Just the other day, Dad left his nice leather shoes down and I was passing by them when the memory of chewing a pair like them hit me. I found myself salivating so bad that before I could remember the “BAD Dog! No touchie!!” rule, I had them in my mouth running to another room. They were tasty. Just like old smelly socks and leather, yummy. My Dad was walking around looking for those shoes not long after and I played it so cool by laying there. I just stretched, yawned and gave him the look like, “What is wrong?” He kept giving me the look of “You got my shoes and if I could prove it, ewwweeee, I would tan your hide!” Well, he won’t find them because I buried them in the trash. Yes, I can dig in the trash and not get my paws dirty, can’t anyone? Can you bring him some new shoes to replace his old ones? They needed replacing anyway and it was just my way of doing him another favor.

About the “Pottie Patch” you brought me last year. Well, it worked great until I left a few poop mines and then my parents were like “What did you eat?” Or when they came home before they found the mess and said “What is that smell?” So, to alleviate my family coming home to that terrible smell and save face, could you bring me a dog door to be installed in my house? I really would like to come and go when I please. Besides, the cat should be able to wander out when he wants to also. Hehehe….

My year has been an awesome experience again, Doggie Claus, and should there be anything I didn’t cover (like bones and food), could you please surprise me and bring me some? Thanks and Merry Christmas!

Love Sincerely,?

Everybody’s Favorite Canine Family Member

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11-7-2014 2-47-28 PMFolks, guess what happened to me?! Earlier last month, I and my ever-faithful service dog, Zues, were in Anniston, Alabama visiting my wife who has been in the hospital for quite some time. We were in the Regional Medical Center and as I was leaving with Zues in tow, a Security Officer called out to me.

He said, “What is the dog for?” By now I am very versed in handling these situations because of the lack of education about the American’s Disability Act. So, I turned toward the Security Officer and stated, “You are allowed to ask me two questions by law. Is that a service dog and what is he trained to do? And yes he is a service dog.”

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The Security Officer then told me to show him documentation. I stated, “No sir, you cannot ask for that. But, you need to know you are violating the ADA laws as we speak.” This man was very professional about the entire interaction, so folks please don’t get angry. I handled it, I felt, with a very diplomatic stance.

As I stood there explaining to this Security Officer about the law, he began to inform me that he was trained in this area and that he could require documentation. I informed him he was incorrect and that he should telephone the Police. He did not call them upon my request. Instead he debated with me for about five minutes before he noticed Zues’ identification tag and read the ADA Law and Department of Justice’s phone number on the ID Card.

After that he backed off, but I did not let up because of all the trouble I could see coming for another like myself. I felt bad for the Security Officer but I did inform him he had not been trained to standard and I would be filing an ADA complaint against his agency of work. I also stated I did not want to get him into any trouble and that he handled himself in a very professional manner but I wanted the people who trained him to know the ADA Laws and for his agency to expect to be contacted by the DOJ. No man or woman should have to be penalized because their supervisor is ignorant of the law.

Now, why did I share this with my readers? It is because there are a few of my readers who have service dogs that will one day have this very challenge thrown into their path. The first thing to remember is do not become confrontational but become diplomatic. Remember, raising the voice will only drown out the message. Be courteous about the situation, even if the one breaking the ADA Law is being a headache.

Take note of everything said or done, names, times and the location because when the reporting is done, it should read as if the reader was there. Go to www.ada.gov and file the complaint.

I hope all is well with everyone and Happy Thanksgiving! I have a lot to be thankful for.
By: Joel Allen

10-3-2014 1-34-25 PMHere we are, facing another winter and many of us neglect that faithful Canine Family Member by not preparing them for the cold. When I was a boy, I remember going to see Little Girl in her dog house on cold winter mornings. The crisp smell of the air, sun shining down on the white frosted lawn and the sky being a bright clear blue as the sun was still rising. I remember feeling her shivering coat under my boyish hand and how I would hug her in that cold dog house. She would be curled up in a tight ball shivering, and she smelled like a dog needing a bath. That did not stop me from hugging her and just enjoying the feel of her breathing as I tried to warm her up.

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My parents were good to Little Girl, and would see that she had a blanket, but sometimes that was not enough. Back then, life was a bit simpler because when it was cold, it was cold everywhere. Every room in the house was cold because we did not have central heat. We had heat from a fireplace and the smell of wood was always evident in our clothes. Eventually, Mom and Dad would give in and allow Little Girl to sleep in my bed to stay warm. So, we both would benefit from her sleeping under the covers. She kept the bed warm and I did not get cold feet. Anyone ever been camping and get out of bed on a cold morning and nearly freeze those toes off?

This winter may be a cold one for us all. Our Canine Family Members need shelter just like we do, and in saying that I have some small suggestions or ideas to assist everyone in staying warm. The first is simple, bring that “baby” in. A garage or someplace like the laundry room would suffice for those cold nights and days. A second idea would be to put hay in their dog houses and keep it changed weekly throughout the winter. Another idea would be a heating lamp in the dog house or on the porch. Be sure the wind is blocked if the porch is an option. Lastly, I ask that everyone pay attention to the needs of that Canine Family Member during the winter because they can get sick just like we can. One more thing, is keeping the house fur free really worth the life of a dog? If the answer is yes, then a worthy home should be found for that dog, a home where no one expects their dog to freeze outside in the name of a clean house. Houses can always be cleaned, but a dog’s life is more precious.
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Dog Barker – Rescue Me!!

9-5-2014 3-05-40 PMI have that old song “Come on Baby Rescue Me” playing through my mind right now. Seeing the dogs in need of homes, the abandoned, the betrayed, (and the list goes on,) I wish to address this need again and warn those who have been given this gift of stewardship. Wisdom has cried her voice in the wilderness of our lives, but how many of us paid attention? As much mercy as we show dogs or the like, that much mercy will be shown unto us. Heavenly Father watches everything we do, the good and the bad.

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Now, here is an exercise I want everyone to try. Those of us who have no dog in our lives are missing out. Take a sheet of paper and pen. Sit down at a table and relax because we are about to brainstorm together. At the header of the paper write “pros” and “cons” for getting a dog. Here are my Pro’s and Con’s:
(Note to children: Want a dog? Do this and brainstorm really well to convince Dad and Mom.)


  • Companionship
  • Security
  • Loyalty
  • Unconditional Love
  • Laughter
  • Calming
  • Can Work and meet the needs of the disabled
  • Keeps Life Interesting


  • House Breaking (if not)
  • Feeding
  • Poo in the yard
  • Vet Bills
  • Fleas (just their way to share their love)
  • Chewing up things (just love chewing)
  • Odor
  • We out-live them

9-5-2014 3-06-12 PMSo, what is the excuse? It could be worse. I have thirteen Great Danes, one Beagle, and one Chihuahua. Did they ask to be born into their predicament? No, and if anyone can help them then I suggest they take a ride to the pound and open their doors to a dog in need. Those of us who do this are in for a surprise because most rescues know what has been done for them and they show their appreciation unless they have a short in their brain. Remember, it takes two weeks for the new addition of the family to completely adjust. So, be patient. There may be an accident or two. The dog may even be traumatized from their last home, so watch that temper.

Lastly, I leave everyone with a parting tidbit of advice. Should your new dog come to your home and there are other dogs, let them meet one at a time in your front yard or some other neutral ground. Remember, one at a time and have a water hose ready to spray them if they start to disagree. If they should lock up take a broom handle and place it in one of their mouths, pushing in just enough to get a gag reflex causing the aggressor to let go. Be careful, because damage can be done if the handle is pushed too hard.

Remember to love your dogs because they love you. Maybe not the way you want them to, like chewing up your favorite shoes or what not, but that is just love chewing. Be thankful for the time you have with them always.
By: Joel Allen

8-1-2014 3-01-57 PMIs there life after death? Is there really a God? Do animals have a spirit? I say “Yes” to all these questions. Here are my reasons for believing as I do.

In the early 1980’s, my Pee Paw was dying from brain cancer. As I have stated in a previous article, he was known for helping dogs in need. During this difficult time he had seven dogs. Two were elderly and my Mom decided to take them to the veterinarian to have them put to sleep. She told no one what she had done and when she returned to look after Pee Paw, she thought she had done the right thing. Anyone who has seen what brain cancer can do to someone understands that most people with this diagnosis usually have dementia or some form of memory loss and even can relive moments from their past. Well, Pee Paw was reliving a moment in his life while my Mom was looking after him and suddenly he became quiet and looked at my Mom with an angry look. He then asked her, “Rickie, how many dogs do I have?” She replied, “Seven Dad.” He stated, “No, you are lying.” Mom said, “No Dad, you have seven.” He then replied, “Rickie, you are lying because Trouble and Suzy are standing by the door telling me you murdered them and they are waiting for me now.” Needless to say Mom was spooked and quickly left Pee Paw’s glaring look.

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When I was thirteen, my dog, Little Girl passed away and I grieved for her so badly. I lay in my bed for a long time and cried. For two weeks I grieved for her. One night I dreamed I was in front of the house we were living in at the time in Letohatchee, AL. I was sitting on a splitting log and Little Girl appeared in front of me. She ran to me barking and jumped into my arms, licking my face. The joy I felt was so strong that when I awoke I did not grieve anymore.

Recently, last November, we lost Maggie. She was four years old and bone cancer had set into her right leg. We made her comfortable after her diagnosis and tried several homeopathic remedies in hopes of beating this disease. A few days before Thanksgiving, she died in the loving arms of her family. Once again, I grieved over her very hard. About two weeks later, I dreamed she was there in our home wagging her tail and loving all over me and her siblings. It was like she was letting me know that she was fine and that she would see me again.

Ever hear of the dogs that grieve over the loss of their Pet Parents? How about stories of soldiers dying overseas and being returned in a casket with their dog at the funeral lying by them? I have seen news articles where dogs would be grieving over their Pet Parent at a funeral. There are several stories out there that are true about dogs and their feelings. To have no soul or spirit would leave them as blank as a rock or an inanimate object.

If there are any unbelievers among us who read this, it is my hope to help them realize that they will see that Canine Family Member again when we are done with this life. One more thing, if there are no dogs in Heaven, then I don’t want to go there. My piece of Heaven is with my “babies”.
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7-4-2014 1-26-52 PMWhen I was a kid I grew up not knowing that a dog should be trained. I thought that Lassie, Old Yeller, and Rin Tin Tin were just plain smart dogs. TV has a funny way of encouraging the way we think and believe, and life has a way of educating all of us to what reality is. So, when “Little Girl,” whose mother was a Dacshund and her father a Pitbull, came into my life, I believed she could do anything. Well, she did and she didn’t. She didn’t talk like me and she didn’t eat everything I ate, though she would have loved to. As we grew up together, I would talk to her and she would just look at me as if she knew exactly what I was saying. She also liked to bark excitedly when we came home, jumping into anyone’s stomach she was glad to see. Talk about getting the wind knocked out of you!

7-4-2014 1-26-42 PMShe also loved fireworks. She would chase down bottle rockets and catch them. When they exploded in her mouth she would shake it off and bark for more. Fireworks were not the only thing that excited her. She loved to fish with the family and was the main reason we lost a few fish. Every time we cast our corks out, she would swim out and bring them back. We often had to tie her up if we were going to catch anything. She loved to bark at the fish and would dance back and forth while the person who had the fish was trying to unhook it and dance back and forth dodging her. The look alone she had was priceless. It was screaming, “Oh give it to me!” The whole scene usually ended in the fish flipping out of our hands and landing back in the water. Thus, if hunger was an issue, we were gonna starve. Then there was the time we caught a snapping turtle that made the mistake of “honking” Little Girl’s nose. Needless to say she got even by cracking the turtle’s shell and eating it. From then on we renamed her “Turtle Girl.”

We never trained Little Girl, but she just learned what we showed her and allowed her to do. Take for instance, the three growl warning. She growled three times and then someone got bit. My Dad taught her that when she was still a puppy. One night she kept on whimpering and Dad told her three times to stop and finally after the third time he picked her up and threw her into her doghouse. From that time forth she gave three warnings and then “chomp.” I believe had we taken Little Girl in for training, she would have been a better dog for it.

Since 2010, I have been a Certified Dog Trainer and have trained a thousand plus dogs. Recently a growing demand has caught my attention. I have been asked many times if I will ever offer advanced training. Well, everyone, I have some news. I can be a stubborn man when it comes to change, and after much prompting by friends and family, I have moved up on the technology board. No longer will you have to find me by tracking smoke signals, Morse code, or sending me a message by bird. I can now be found on Facebook.
7-4-2014 1-27-57 PMHere is what we are telling people from our newly born Facebook page: “Alexander’s Kingdom of Training offers dog training from the very basic to the more advanced skill levels. Basic classes are $75 for a 4 week class, covering Loose Leash Walking, Stay, Sit, Sit and Stay, Come, Down, and Down and Stay. Intermediate classes are $100 for a 6 week course and covers Stop and Go, Stay, Come When Called, Bring It and Drop it, and Leave It. Advanced classes are $125 for a 6 week class and covers Too Far, Formation Walking, Hand Signals, No Leash and more.” We are currently working on a web page where pictures and videos will be available from these sites.

Now ask yourselves, “Does my canine family member need training?” “Do I need training?” “Is my dog like Little Girl?” I believe there is no dog that cannot be trained. Sure the dog(s) can be stubborn and reject the training, or they may even take to part of the training. All training takes time and direction. Besides, training is an investment of the heart and mind. Plus, the prices listed give less of an excuse not to train that canine family member.

So, sit down with your family and make a list of what you would like Fido/Fidoette to do. Family meetings are important because without the entire family sharing the responsibility of training the canine family member, training can become difficult.
By: Joel Allen

Dog On A Hot Tin Roof?

2014-06-06_15-08-27Last year I witnessed a woman leave her Schnauzer, trapped in her minivan, in front of the Chinese restaurant. She was getting her nails done and it was really hot outside. The dog barked and barked. Someone dialed the Athens Police and they responded promptly. The officer who arrived noted that the dog was locked in the vehicle and no air-conditioning was running. The windows were slightly opened with the doors locked. The woman, seeing the officer at her vehicle approached the officer. He asked her why she had her dog locked in the van on a hot day like it was. She stated she left a water dish with water in the vehicle. The officer pointed out that the vehicle was extremely hot and that no dog should be confined like this. He let her off with a warning.


That being shared, the hot season has returned. That means taking the extra precautions for our “Canine Family Members’” safety. As I have stated before, cars with dogs in them and the windows up get a free broken window. At least that was the bumper sticker I saw last year. Be warned, even if the air-condition is working, the vehicle could still break down and blow heat instead, thereby causing the poor dog trapped in the car to heat stroke and possibly die. Then what will be said? “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to?” or “I forgot about the dog?” If that be the case, it is most likely a human child could be easily forgotten by that person(s) and I shudder to think that.

2014-06-06_15-09-39Ever heard the saying, “Look back?” I saw a poster saying that and it depicted a woman looking at her parked car to ensure she left no child or pet behind in the car.
Let’s talk about some other things to consider. Ever been to the beach without sandals? Remember how hot the sand was? Ever walk across asphalt or hot tin during a really hot day? That burned didn’t it? When I get Zues out on the hot asphalt, I can tell he wants to get to the store or indoors quickly because he starts lifting his feet. There are times I see dogs in the back of trucks standing on hot metal looking uncomfortable. These are simple things that we as humans don’t really consider. Next time it is really hot, try this experiment: place a raw egg on the hot metal and see if it cooks. If the egg cooks then common sense indicates that the dog’s feet are getting cooked too. Here is a suggestion: try placing a mat down for the dog(s) to protect their feet or allow them to lie down.

Here is something else to think about: shade. Try planting trees. Elms are notorious for good shade. It is approximately 20 degrees hotter in direct sunlight than in the shade. In my opinion, doghouses are not considered shelter from the heat. Being inside a building of any kind with no ventilation is extremely unsafe for anyone.
Beat the heat! Drink WATER!
Joel and Zues Allen


2014-04-04_15-34-58Folks, I could not help but put this story out there. I do not normally do another person’s needs in my article and I do not plan to make a habit of this. Maggie has a heart for dogs and I believe that God has a reason that we should be the voice of the voiceless. They can bark but sometimes a translator is needed. Here is Maggie’s story about a dog named Girly.


We’ve been helping homeless animals for six years, but this past February we rescued a very special girl that was abandoned on a farm. She was very thin and timid. We named her Girly after a lady from Gurley, AL named Karen that donated for her vet care. Sadly just nine days after her spay, we came home to blood everywhere; dog paw prints of blood and blood puddles. It was horrific! We then found Girly curled up in the corner under the kitchen table. She was lying in a pool of blood. At 11pm, she was rushed to our vet where she was diagnosed with an unknown severe infection, and she stayed at the clinic on IV fluids, vitamin K, and antibiotics overnight. She was kept on antibiotics for 2 more weeks and was finally gaining some weight. Two more weeks passed, and one day she would not get out of her crate and turned away food for the first time. She wouldn’t stand and was running a 105.5 temperature; very dangerous for any animal.

2014-04-04_15-37-07I immediately rushed her to the vet and was told her spleen would likely burst if not removed promptly. The vet quoted me $1000, and I thought “Yes I can raise that amount to save her!”
After her surgery, I got a call that it wasn’t her spleen but her kidney. It was infected and 5 times the size of a normal kidney. I was then quoted $2400-$3000 for the kidney removal on top of the $900 already spent. I knew it would be nearly impossible to raise that much, so I found a more affordable vet, and he removed her kidney that day with success. The healthy kidney did its job and took over!

She is thriving and finally feels like playing with the other dogs for the first time in a long time. I have raised almost $1000 selling handmade jewelry and other fundraising, but there is still $800 remaining. I need everyone’s help please, because donations have come to a halt. We have 10+ dogs in our care at all times, and all of the recent donations have gone straight to Girly’s medical bills. Donations can be called in to 2 vets for “Girly- owner Maggie Tucker” at Family Pet Care 256-232-1906 and All Animal Clinic 256-446-8888. Donations can also be sent through paypal to MagsUNA8284@aol.com. We are not a 501c3 animal rescue, but we open our home to animals in need. Thank you for your donations! Sincerely, Maggie and Girly
Well, God Bless you all. I hope this helps Maggie and Girly.
By: Joel Allen

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