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Save the African Painted Dogs

Project Update October 2009

Rotating image of painted dogs

Nov 11, 2009

I find it hard, it’s hard to find words, which can adequately express the emotions we are feeling at this moment.

Mashambo is dead.

I don’t know if my sense of loss or despair reaches a greater depth than that felt by Jealous, Xmas or Mk, the other people who worked most closely with Mashambo. I gave the instruction to capture him when he was only ten months old, when he turned up at our Rehab Facility on his own; they are the ones who carried out the capture. They were with me during the days on Starvation Island, when he, Mashambo, came of age, his hunting prowess keeping his pack mates alive.

It’s not the effort, the emotional investment and certainly not the financial investment that make the tears fall. It’s the absolute senselessness of the loss of a life that had already delivered so much and promised so much more. Mashambo was magnificent. A shining example of a species with so many commendable characteristics.

He died in a snare set in the Gwayi Conservancy. The snare that killed him was a seven strand woven cable, the type used for a vehicle handbrake or similar. It was set by someone perhaps hungry for food, someone looking for a way to ease his own personal existence. We don’t know the exact location that the snare was set, because Mashambo broke the snare in his struggle for life. If you know or are familiar with the type of cable I am talking about, you will know how strong it is. You need a seriously good pair of side cutters to cut through such a cable. Mashambo broke it, aided by his protective collar and certainly a will to live. The agony he must have suffered as the cable cut through his throat is impossible to imagine.

Jealous had been searching frantically for Mashambo and the rest of the fragmented Bambanani pack. The female, Vusile, was missing and we only had a decent handle on Sithule and Sibuyile, her two brothers and their cohort, Lobels.

Our Phd student, long time friend and supporter, Ester van der Meer, was helping Jealous. She called upon some pilots for help, who were in the area for a bit of a holiday and they responded by letting her fly with them to locate the missing dogs. Ester found the dogs quickly from the air, however when she came back to the PDC office, the concern on her face spoke volumes. The two brothers were north of the airfield, Lobels was far to the east and Mashambo was in the north-east. Njiva, who had been moving with Mashambo, was also missing and there was still no sign of Vusile. This wasn’t the worst of it. The signal from the collars worn by Lobels and Mashambo indicated that they were not moving.

Lobels was the easiest to locate and his body was recovered on Saturday. His desiccated remains were still attached to the tree by the snare that had killed him. His snare was made from copper telephone wire. I met with Xmas and Mk at our Rehab Facility on Sunday morning as they dug Lobels grave, we talked openly of our frustrations and the sadness felt at his loss. We had become familiar of course with Lobels, but that relationship was nothing compared to the one we felt we had with Mashambo.

It was fitting that Jealous came alone to my office with the news I was expecting about Mashambo. I walked to my land rover with him and we drove the short distance to the Rehab together, in silence. It was hard to hold the tears back and we arrived at the Rehab as Xmas and Mk dug the second grave of the day. Ester and her husband, Hans, stood in silence as I crouched down to inspect what was left of Mashambo. Uncertain of my voice, I silently apologised for letting him down, as I teased the seven strands of the cable snare apart.

He was buried without words from us, the raucous, somehow sinister chorus of calls from five pied crows provided a back drop of sound on a suitably, dismal, grey, over cast day.

Sithule and Sibuyile are still alive.

The Bambanani had been released on August 28th. Only two months have passed and the pack no longer exists in any real sense of the word. Sithule and Sibuyile were still alive for now, Vusile and Njiva are missing. This shows the enormity of the situation we are fighting against. A country ravaged by political and subsequent economic turmoil, which has impacted so devastatingly on many sectors, wildlife preserves being one of the most severely affected.

The Children from Gwayi Primary School learn about the life of Painted Dogs.

Online Donations:

Wildlife Conservation Network
Specifying “Painted Dog” in your online donation will ensure that 100% of the donation comes to the Painted Dog Project.
WCN is a non-profit 501(c)3 – #30-0108469

Send a cheque to:

In US Dollars:

Wildlife Conservation Network
(Specifying “Painted Dog” in your online donation will ensure that 100% of the donation comes to the PDC project.
Wildlife Conservation Network
25745 Bassett Lane
Los Altos, CA 94022 USA
Tel: 650.949.3533

Australia:

100% of donation will go to PDC in the field.
Painted Dog Foundation Inc
24 Earnley Way, Balga , WA, 6061
Incorporated in Western Australia
Registered Deductible Gif Recipient

UK (In Pounds Sterling)

100% of donation will go to PDC in the field.
Painted Dog Conservation UK
9 King’s Rd, St Albans Hertfordshire AL3 4TQ
Registered Charity No. 1074559

Europe (In Euros)

100% of donation will go to PDC in the field.
Stichting Painted Dog Conservation,
Terwindtplein 3,
2807 RP,
Gouda,
The Netherlands

December 15, 2009 Posted by | animals, Just One More Pet, Political Change, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Nubs the Dog: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle’

Major Brian Dennis and Nubs the Dog today.
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

When Major Brian Dennis of the United States Marine Corps met a wild stray dog with shorn ears while serving in Iraq, he had no idea of the bond they would form, leading to seismic changes in both their lives. “The general theme of the story of Nubs is that if you’re kind to someone, they’ll never forget you — whether it be person or animal,” Dennis tells Paw Nation.

In October 2007, Dennis and his team of 11 men were in Iraq patrolling the Syrian border. One day, as his team arrived at a border fort, they encountered a pack of stray dogs — not uncommon in the barren, rocky desert that was home to wolves and wild dogs.

“We all got out of the Humvee and I started working when this dog came running up,” recalls Dennis. “I said, ‘Hey buddy’ and bent down to pet him.” Dennis noticed the dog’s ears had been cut. “I said, ‘You got little nubs for ears.'” The name stuck. The dog whose ears had been shorn off as a puppy by an Iraqi soldier (to make the dog “look tougher,” Dennis says) became known as Nubs.

Dennis fed Nubs scraps from his field rations, including bits of ham and frosted strawberry Pop Tarts. “I didn’t think he’d eat the Pop Tart, but he did,” says Dennis.

At night, Nubs accompanied the men on night patrols. “I’d get up in the middle of the night to walk the perimeter with my weapon and Nubs would get up and walk next to me like he was doing guard duty,” says Dennis.

The next day, Dennis said goodbye to Nubs, but he didn’t forget about the dog. He began mentioning Nubs in emails he wrote to friends and family back home. “I found a dog in the desert,” Dennis wrote in an email in October 2007. “I call him Nubs. We clicked right away. He flips on his back and makes me rub his stomach.”

“Every couple of weeks, we’d go back to the border fort and I’d see Nubs every time,” says Dennis. “Each time, he followed us around a little more.” And every time the men rumbled away in their Humvees, Nubs would run after them. “We’re going forty miles an hour and he’d be right next to the Humvee,” says Dennis. “He’s a crazy fast dog. Eventually, he’d wear out, fall behind and disappear in the dust.”

On one trip to the border fort in December 2007, Dennis found Nubs was badly wounded in his left side where he’d been stabbed with a screwdriver. “The wound was infected and full of pus,” Dennis recalls. “We pulled out our battle kits and poured antiseptic on his wound and force fed him some antibiotics wrapped in peanut butter.” That night, Nubs was in so much pain that he refused food and water and slept standing up because he couldn’t lay down. The next morning, Nubs seemed better. Dennis and his team left again, but he thought about Nubs the entire time, hoping the dog was still alive.

Excerpt, “Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle,”
Little, Brown for Young Readers

Two weeks later, when Dennis and his team returned, he found Nubs alive and well. “I had patched him up and that seemed to be a turning point in how he viewed me,” says Dennis. This time, when Dennis and his team left the fort, Nubs followed. Though the dog lost sight of the Humvees, he never gave up. For two days, Nubs endured freezing temperatures and packs of wild dogs and wolves, eventually finding his way to Dennis at a camp an incredible 70 miles south near the Jordanian border.

“There he was, all beaten and chewed up,” says Dennis. “I knew immediately that Nubs had crossed through several dog territories and fought and ran, and fought and ran,” says Dennis. The dog jumped on Dennis, licking his face.

Most of the 80 men at the camp welcomed Nubs, even building him a doghouse. But a couple of soldiers complained, leading Dennis’ superiors to order him to get rid of the dog. With his hand forced, Dennis decided that the only thing to do was bring Nubs to America. He began coordinating Nubs’ rescue effort. Friends and family in the States helped, raising the $5,000 it would cost to transport Nubs overseas.

Finally, it was all arranged. Nubs was handed over to volunteers in Jordan, who looked after the dog and sent him onto to Chicago, then San Diego, where Dennis’ friends waited to pick him up. Nubs lived with Dennis’ friends and began getting trained by local dog trainer Graham Bloem of the Snug Pet Resort. “I focused on basic obedience and socializing him with dogs, people and the environment,” says Bloem.

A month later, Dennis finished his deployment in Iraq and returned home to San Diego, where he immediately boarded a bus to Camp Pendleton to be reunited with Nubs. “I was worried he wouldn’t remember me,” says Dennis. But he needn’t have worried. “Nubs went crazy,” recalls Dennis. “He was jumping up on me, licking my head.”

Dennis’ experience with Nubs led to a children’s picture book, called “Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle,” published by Little, Brown for Young Readers. They have appeared on the Today Show and will be appearing on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien on Monday.

Was it destiny that Dennis met Nubs and brought him to America? “I don’t know about that,” says Dennis. “It’s been a strange phenomenon. It’s been a blessing. I get drawings mailed to me that children have drawn of Nubs with his ears cut off. It makes me laugh.”

by Helena Sung – PawNation Nov 3rd 2009 @ 6:00PM
Nubbs:  The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine, and a Miracle

Great Gift for Any Child, Veteran and Animal Lover!!

Order Today: Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle

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Posted:  Just One More Pet

November 11, 2009 Posted by | animal abuse, animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Rescues, animals, Fostering and Rescue, Just One More Pet, Pet Adoption, Pet Friendship and Love, Pets, Unusual Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments