Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hank Won!

If you have read my previous post, about voting for Hank as Circuit City's next Firedog mascot to support the Neuse River Golden Rescue... well great news... he won! Neuse will receive $50,000 to support their work (local!) and Hank will be the new face of CC's tech support program.

What a success! This totally made my day!

Raleigh Dog Wins Circuit City 'Firedog' Contest

Posted: Today at 10:15 a.m.
Updated: 29 minutes ago

Raleigh — Hank, a 2006 alum of Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue, has won Circuit City’s nationwide “Find the Next Firedog” Contest. Hank earned the all-volunteer rescue group a $50,000 donation plus $1 for each vote he received.

The electronics chain uses Firedog as its brand name for its in-home installation and help service.

Hank's win was a grassroots effort on the part of the community, adopters, friends, family, co-workers, fellow rescuers, businesses, acquaintances and strangers both locally and across the globe.

“We can’t thank everyone enough for getting the word out about our Hank,” said rescue group President Jennifer Edwards. “I want to thank each and every person who voted for Hank and everyone who encouraged others to vote for him. The grand prize money will be a huge help in rescuing and rehabilitating Golden Retrievers since our annual vet expenses can exceed $90,000. We are beyond thrilled!"

Hank will head to California to begin his new career as the next Firedog. His owners, Dave and Suzy Masini, asked that others donate to the rescue group to help other Golden Retrievers.

Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue Inc. is a non-profit organization staffed by volunteers who are dedicated to helping unwanted Golden Retrievers through rehabilitation and adoption.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

F You, Mike Vick.

I know, I know.... the "f-bomb" is NOT classy... but Michael Vick deserves no such respect since he has proven he is completely devoid of any class at all.

This story is a true testament to the power of caring hearts and compassion for animals of all breeds. Hopefully this will lead to more and more pups being evaluated on an individual basis instead of being put down based on appearance alone.

Oh, and like I said: "F you, Mike Vick. F you." 23 months and financial reprocussions are nothing compared to what you truly deserve. There is no one that I detest more in this world.

Associated Press Writer

His back resting comfortably against her chest, Hector nestles his massive canine head into Leslie Nuccio's shoulder, high-fiving pit bull paws against human hands.

The big dog – 52 pounds – is social, people-focused, happy now, it seems, wearing a rhinestone collar in his new home in sunny California.

But as Hector sits up, deep scars stand out on his chest, and his eyes are imploring.

"I wish he could let us know what happened to him," says Nuccio, the big tan dog's foster mother.

Hector ought to be dead, she knows – killed in one of his staged fights, or executed for not being "game" enough, not winning, or euthanized by those who see pit bulls seized in busts as "kennel trash," unsuited to any kind of normal life.

Instead, Hector is learning how to be a pet.

After the hell of a fighting ring, he has reached a heaven of sorts: Saved by a series of unlikely breaks, transported thousands of miles, along with other dogs rescued with him, by devoted strangers, and now nurtured by Nuccio, her roommate, Danielle White, and their three other dogs.

The animals barrel around the house, with 4-year-old Hector leading the puppy-like antics – stealth underwear grabs from the laundry basket, sprints across the living room, food heists from the coffee table – until it is "love time," and he decelerates and engulfs the women in a hug.

Nuccio wishes he could let her know all that happened.

But what she does know is this: Hector has come such a long way since he was trapped in the horrors of Michael Vick's Bad Newz Kennels.


Authorities descending last year on 1915 Moonlight Road in Surry County, Va., found where Vick, then an NFL quarterback, and others staged pit bull fights in covered sheds, tested the animals' fighting prowess and destroyed and disposed of dogs that were not good fighters.

Vick started serving a 23-month federal sentence after admitting that he bankrolled the dogfighting operation and helped kill six to eight dogs. Three co-defendants Purnell Peace, Quanis Phillips and Tony Taylor also pleaded guilty and were sentenced, and the four now face state animal cruelty charges. Oscar Allen, who sold a champion pit bull to Vick's dogfighting operation, was sentenced Friday on a federal dogfighting charge.

Officers who carried out the raid found dogs, some injured and scarred, chained to buried car axles. Forensic experts discovered remains of dogs that had been shot with a .22 caliber pistol, electrocuted, drowned, hanged or slammed to the ground for lacking a desire to fight.

A bewildered Hector and more than 50 other American Pit Bull Terriers or pit bull mixes were gathered up. So were "parting sticks" used to open fighting dogs' mouths, treadmills to condition them and a "rape stand" used to restrain female dogs that did not submit willingly to breeding.

The dogs, held as evidence in the criminal prosecutions, were taken to a half dozen city and county pounds and shelters in Virginia.

Hector was bunked in the Hanover pound in a cage below a dog named Uba who was smaller and more clearly showing anxiety.

Uba flattened on all fours when Tim Racer, an evaluator on a team assembled by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, arrived at his cage.

"Are you going to kill me now?" was the message another evaluator, Donna Reynolds, read in Uba's eyes.

The black-and-white dog tried to wriggle away once out of the cage, but he came around after a while. He wagged his tail when the team showed him a 4-foot doll to test his response to children. He spun around and got into a play position when they brought out a dog.

"This is the big secret. Most of them were dog-tolerant to dog-social. It was completely opposite of what we were led to believe," Reynolds said.

How much to trust the capacity of fighting dogs to have a new life as pets or working dogs in law enforcement or therapy settings is an issue that has divided animal advocates. Some believe most such animals should be put down as a precaution, while others say they must be evaluated individually.

One dog seized at Bad Newz was euthanized as too aggressive, but the others, four dozen plus in all, have had different fates.

Nearly half have been sent to a Utah sanctuary, Best Friends Animal Society, where handlers will work with them. None showed human aggression, and many have potential for adoption someday. Others, evaluated as being immediate candidates for foster care and eventual adoption, went to several other groups.

Among the latter was Hector.

A team of animal welfare experts got things rolling last July when federal authorities sought ownership of the seized dogs. The result, they say, was groundbreaking.

The Oakland, Ca.-based pit bull rescue and education group Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit bulls, or BAD RAP, which had done similar rescues from fighting busts in California, asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gill for permission to evaluate and rescue as many of the dogs as possible, with the hope of eventually placing them in adoptive homes.

"Much to our amazement, he said yes," said Reynolds, who heads BAD RAP. "This doesn't happen. People don't say yes to pit bulls."

Gill declined to comment, but those familiar with the Vick case said the Justice Department hoped early on to find a way to give the dogs a second chance. As part of his plea deal, Vick agreed to pay for the dogs' care.

The court even appointed a guardian and special master, Valparaiso University animal law expert Rebecca Huss, who oversaw the dogs' disposition and recommended which rescue groups would accept them.

One result of the unusual process, said ASPCA's Stephen Zawistowski, is that shelters that always euthanized such dogs are now saying "you've given us permission to care" about giving them a second chance.

Each dog was evaluated as an individual. Huss recalled the good-natured but quiet Rose, whose overbreeding had led to mammary tumors. In the end, needing surgery but unable to tolerate anesthesia, Rose was mercifully put down, just days after being transferred to a foster home.

"The good thing was she didn't die in the shelter," Huss said. "She had a little time in the sun, not enough, but a little time in the sun."

Huss received reports from an ASPCA-led evaluation team and from volunteers who observed and worked with the dogs where they were being held as evidence in shelters and pounds.

Nicole Rattay, a volunteer from BAD RAP, spent six weeks visiting the Vick dogs in shelters every day, e-mailing and phoning her observations to Huss.

"Some dogs were ready to learn 'sit' and obedience," she said. "Some needed more time to accept touch and feel comfortable in their surrounding. Sometimes I would just sit in their kennels." For some, bits of roasted chicken became a "motivator," she said.

She mentioned Handsome Dan, who bridled at touching at first but gradually grew more comfortable, though not enough for foster home placement, at least not yet. He ended up going to Best Friends.

"I hope that he can overcome what was done to him," said Rattay.


BAD RAP won government approval in mid October to transport a group of dogs to California foster homes to get them out of confinement.

Hector and a dozen others were about to make the cross-country trip in a rented 33-foot Cruise America RV.

But first, they had to get ready.

Four BAD RAP members – Racer, Reynolds, Rattay and Steve Smith – cruised a Richmond, Va., Wal-Mart, loading up with doggy sleeping mats, crates, bowls and chew sticks. The next day, they split up in twos to pick up, bathe and exercise the 13 pit bulls from four shelters. Then they loaded them up.

Rattay walked through the RV, cooing and checking her cargo to the thump-thump-thump of happy tails against dog crates. Alert to an adventure, one dog circled his bed. Another stretched and yawned. A third slathered her outstretched hand with kisses.

"Oh my goodness," she cooed to them. "It's nice to see you again. Hi, buddy, hi."

At first, the caretakers put cardboard between the crates to offer the dogs privacy and calm. "But they were happier when they could see their neighbor," Rattay said.

She and Smith took turns driving and napping on the 2 1/2-day trip (Racer and Reynolds flew home to prepare for the dogs' arrival).

The dogs drifted to sleep in their crates – atop the RV table, benches, queen bed, couch and an area above the cab – but jumped right up each time the RV stopped for a break at a highway rest area.

Assembly line style, the couple walked, watered, and fed each of the 13 dogs, causing some gawks from other drivers who had stopped but never any questions from the dogs.

"They did fabulous," Rattay said. "They understood the program right away and got in and out of their crates."

Mostly things went fine for Hector and his fellow passengers in the rolling kennel, although one incident briefly worried Smith and Rattay.

It hadn't occurred to them to map a route that avoided places with ordinances banning pit bulls. A groundskeeper at an Arkansas rest stop warned them that "further down the road, they will take that dog from you unless you have proper paperwork."

"We finished it up and got moving," Rattay said.

At 10 a.m. on a Tuesday, Rattay pulled the RV in front of Racer and Reynolds' house.

It had been a long trip, and soon after the two couples unloaded and walked the dogs, both drivers and animals fell asleep in the living room waiting for foster families to arrive.

Smith snored a little, Rattay remembered, and a dog gave a low grumble.


Hector's settling into his new life, getting further and further from his past.

Weekly AKC "canine good citizen" classes are correcting his social ineptitude. And he is taking cues on good manners from patient Pandora, a female pit bull mix who's queen of the household's dogs. Once Hector graduates, he will take classes to become a certified therapy dog, helping at nursing homes and the like.

For now, he is learning the simple pleasures of a blanket at bedtime, a peanut butter-filled chew toy, even classical music.

"I put on Yo-Yo Ma one day and he cocked his head, laid down and listened to the cello next to the speaker," Nuccio said. "He's turning out to be a man of high class and culture."

Completely the opposite of Vick, I'd say! ;-)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

75 Things Every North Carolinian Should Do

Check out the list of of NC favorites and see if yours made the cut!

Originally published in Our State magazine, this is something I read about on (which by the way, is one of my favorite new sites of 2008 - thsnks for the recommendation Ashton) and wanted to pass along!

My favorites (and those I plan to try soon) include:
3. Wright Brothers Memorial: online
9. Hatteras Lighthouse: online
10. Bill’s Hot Dog Stand: (252) 946-3343 Gladden Street, (252) 946-8535 Washington Square Mall (Note: if they're the pink hot dogs, I've got to get to little Washington to try them!)
16. North Carolina Seafood Festival: online
18. Fort Macon: online (Note: A great place to take the pups!)
22. Airlie Gardens: online (Note: One of the best places in Wilmington, by far!)
24. Masonboro Island: online (Note: A 4th of July classic!)

Ok, forget my favorites list, because it pretty much contains the whole original list!

Monday, January 21, 2008

2008 Krispy Kreme Challenge

1. Start at NCSU Belltower - Run 2 miles.
2. Eat a dozen fresh, warm, ooey-gooey Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
3. Run 2 miles back to the Belltower.
4. Do it all under an hour and survive.

Kudos to David Cosgrove for an amazing promotional trailer!!

TWW message board topic ... check out what students are saying.
The official site... where you can register using paypal!
Join the facebook event, too!

See you all out there!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Check This Guy Out: David Thibodeaux

He found me on MySpace and his message is one that can't be ignored. As an actively serving U.S. Marine and part-time musician, this is his clever retort to the Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice". He's not a once-in-a-lifetime stand-out voice, but as the cousin of a fallen Marine I'm well aware of the dedication that past, current, and all future Marines have to protecting our country and it's citizens and I'm more than glad to support this Marine and his music.

David Thibodeaux on Myspace.

David Thibodeaux on the web.

Here the song "Not Ready to End the Fight" here in it's own stand-alone player.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Vote for Hank!

If there's one thing we Southerners love, it's our dogs. This promotion is a great success all around, no matter which pup is chosen! If you've read all of my previous posts, you may remember me mentioning the Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue Group before!

Yay for CarolinaNewswire sending me the info on this and having the opportunity to hopefully help the Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue Group (NRGRR) win a great donation!

"Vote for HANK in Firedog Contest

RALEIGH, N.C. — Hank, a local rescued Golden Retriever is now just minutes away from stardom, fame and fortune – for the Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue Group (NRGRR).

Hank, a rescued NRGRR dog from 2006, has been selected as a finalist in Circuit City’s “Find the Next Firedog” Contest. As a result, NRGRR will receive an initial $1,000 donation and an additional $1 for each vote that Hank receives. If Hank wins the grand Prize, NRGRR will receive a $50,000 and Hank will star in a Circuit City commercial.

Hank’s family is very excited for him but knows the real winner is NRGRR who could potentially see a big donation from this contest. Hank is the only Golden Retriever in the contest and the only dog from North Carolina.

To vote for Hank, go to and look for Hank’s photo in the photo contest or go directly to Hank’s photo at From there, you will also be able to see the other dogs in the contest and read details on the rules and prizes. Voting ends on Friday, January 25.

ATTENTION MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA Hank and his family are available for a limited number of interviews. Please call NRGGR at 919-676-7144 or via cell at 919-656-2253.

Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue Inc. (NRGRR) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization staffed by volunteers who are dedicated to helping unwanted Golden Retrievers through rehabilitation and adoption. For more information on NRGRR visit"
Don't forget to vote online and forward this on to your friends, family, and dog lovers everywhere!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Great (Infill) Debate

For those of you who are at all interested in the development of the greater Raleigh area, I'm sure you have not been able to remain in the dark about this issue.

My lovely Asheton Mae sent me a link this morning to New Raleigh's blog where I stumbled upon "Raleigh McMansion Battle Royale".

(Of course, the article Asheton was sending me to was about the closing of Hideaway BBQ... which is just as sad as the rampant growth Raleigh is dealing with right now... put up 1000 new homes, lose another pulled-pork joint. NOT COOL.)

Back on topic, I guess it's time for me to weigh in on this issue. I understand the view of both sides and notably, have great friends on both, but this is my opinion and I'd like to think it's quite humble.

I was just telling my mom and dad tonight, who were talking about one of the $950K+ homes that was just built a fraction of a mile from their southern Wake County home, that I think these builders who are building so many new home communities that are exclusively from the $700's, $900's, $1M, etc. are going to see a bubble burst soon. There are just not THAT many people coming into this area with THAT much money.

Property that was once a nest egg, truly isn't anymore. These properties are being built to current market value that has significantly risen in the past 10 years, so much that I don't think they are going to continue to rise at this rate... they really can't forever.

I applaud the people who are buying nice homes with the intention of retiring IN them, but I firmly believe the ones who are buying NOW with the hopes of retiring FROM THE SALE OF THEM are going to get burnt. That ship has sailed. Sorry, you missed the boat. (Let's not even talk about the investors who are putting themselves into financial ruin to get into these properties they can't afford.)

Try another area all you'd like, but you have got to stop developing the mess out of Raleigh's once charming community and expecting and demanding the local government to bend over backward to give you financial benefits. They are not anti-growth, they are (as New Raleigh says) quality growth. And THAT my friends, is what in the end will truly provide homeowners with the lifetime value we Raleigh natives have come to know and love in this area for many more years to come.

While I can respect that homebuilders would like the city to account for where these increases in infill costs are being used (I believe they've risen 250% with no significant accounting of where the extra money is going), I do not sympathize with them any more than that. They are by far some of the biggest individuals and businesses profiting from the growth in this area, I think they are MORE than capable of helping to preserve a great quality of life here without spoiling it for future generations and lifetime homeowners.

I whole-heartedly agree with this next quote from New Raleigh and encourage you all to make yourself aware of the situation (especially if you currently, or ever plan to, call Raleigh home) and cast your own vote.

"The infill-standards opposition group, a.k.a. Raleigh developers and nest-eggers, claim that the “effort by Councilmen Thomas Crowder and Russ Stephenson is part of an overall anti-growth message.” These council members and others who support them are not “anti-growth,” they are PROPER-growth. They are RESPECTFUL-growth. And they are QUALITY-growth. These are the people that understand that something must be done to control the entities that are trivializing and de-valuing the established history and foundations of Raleigh’s unique character."

That's the end of my soapbox. I rarely have them, so I think I'm due one every now and then. :-)