Monday, October 12, 2009

Dallas Rising & Max and Warren

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Dallas Rising, and our dogs, Max and Warren. Max is a beagle. He's 9 years old now, we adopted him when he was three. I am the program director for the Animal Rights Coalition in Minnesota and Max loves to march in parades and go to all of the outreach events with me for work. His little brother, Warren, likes to come, too. Warren is an Affenpinscher, he's about 7, and was posing for a photo shoot for a website called Start Seeing Black Dogs. Warren is a great help in combating Black Dog Syndrome and Max is great at educating people about animals being used in research.

I'm also president and board chair of Small Dog Rescue of Minnesota, which is an all-volunteer group committed to the rescue, rehabilitation, and placement of dogs 20 pounds and under.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My husband Brandon is the coffee drinker. I drink Pero, which is a caffeine-free drink made of roasted chicory root, and I put soy creamer in it. Papa does something with a french press and he likes light roast, only fair trade and organic. Oh, and shade grown (because that's better for birds).

What's brewing?

Pero with soy milk.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Our whole family is vegan, so if it's vegan, we like it. We especially like biscuits and gravy, Brandon makes amazing cinnamon buns, and when he makes pancakes the dogs each get their own "dog cake."

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

They love their dog cakes! Especially with fresh blueberries.

How did your dogs come to be united with you?

Brandon had been volunteering with a global effort to shut down a notoriously cruel animal testing facility called Huntingdon Life Sciences (the campaign is still happening, visit for more info). Brandon witnessed beagles being gassed, mutilated, and burned. He saw workers punch beagle puppies in the face. The reason that beagles are used so much is because they are relatively small and pretty timid. You can do a lot of terrible things to a beagle and they won't fight back, they're submissive. That broke Brandon's heart and he decided he wanted to adopt a beagle when he was ready. When we were ready to adopt, we already knew our dog would be a beagle. I found Max on and we adopted him a few days later. He wasn't physically abused, but he had been severely neglected and it took him a few years to bond with us. Now he'd a happy and secure guy who knows how much he's loved.

Warren was also found on His person had died and no one in the family wanted him, which I still cannot fathom to this day. He's amazing and we love him to pieces. Black dogs are usually the last to be adopted and the first dogs to be put down in shelters, so we try to educate people about Black Dog Syndrome when we can.

How did they get their names?

Both dogs came with their names. Because "Max" is such a common name, we embellished it and his full name is Maxwell Banjo. Both of them have a list of nicknames as long as my arm, though.

Could you briefly tell us about the work of the Animal Rights Coalition?

The Animal Rights Coalition is dedicated to ending the suffering, abuse, and exploitation of non-human animals through information, education, and advocacy. We believe that animals matter for their own reasons and that they should not be used by human beings for profit, pleasure, amusement, or simply because it is our habit to do so.

What's an ordinary day like for your dogs?

Max and Warren sleep in or near our bed. Everyone morning we wake up and they get a rub down and told how wonderful and amazing they are. When they've had their fill of that we have breakfast. Sometimes we go to the dog park in the early morning, but usually it's in the evening after work. They generally have lazy mornings... and afternoons... and evenings. They're pretty lazy, actually. :) We just got Max a dog backpack because we plan to start hiking more with the boys.

Who are your dog's best pet-pals?

Max likes any dogs who like to place chase at the dog park. Warren is too serious for many friends. He prefers to stay close to mom. They pretty much ignore one another unless they're at the dog park, then they are a pack.

What's each dog's best quality?

Max is loyal beyond belief. He keeps a close eye on me and if I'm having a hard day, he does his best to comfort me. That's pretty amazing considering how long it took for him to bond to us (two years). Warren is very earnest. He is a serious guy, so when he lets himself be silly it's a big treat. He is effusive when I come home from being away (even for a few hours) and it usually lasts for about two minutes and then he's back to being serious and vigilant.

What's each dog's proudest moment so far? His most embarrassing?

I honestly don't know about "proudest" or "most embarrassing" but Max was pretty darn happy when we accidentally bought some soup that had bonito (fish flakes) in it. I started to cook it and it didn't smell right. Rather than waste it, I let Max eat the whole pot of it and he was pretty darned happy about that. And round.

Warren has broken his leg twice and he limped for quite a while after getting a plate and several screws put in after the second break. Needless to say he got a LOT of pampering when he was recovering. He will walk beside me on a walk sometimes to solicit a treat ("Look, Mom, I'm heeling so perfectly!"). Brandon had him on a walk and Warren tried "heeling" for a treat - he prances next to your ankles while looking up at you with a huge smile. Brandon isn't the sucker I am and wouldn't give him a treat, so Warren picked up a leg and started limping. Clearly saying "I'm cute and pathetic, where is my treat?" He sure knows how to manipulate mom and dad.

Learn more about the Animal Rights Coalition, including its efforts to address the hunting of wolves, end pound seizure (ie, the sale of cats and dogs from a pound or shelter to research labs), and introduce humane education materials in schools.

Find out how to Start Seeing Black Dogs, and visit the website of Small Dog Rescue of Minnesota.

--Marshal Zeringue