My Photo

Keep Up


    christiekeith's items Go to christiekeith's photostream

« This time it ' s not canine selective hearing | Main | A little more Lucy from the HRC gala »

17 July 2007


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

E. Hamilton

Touching and if you take that and multiply it by several thousand and then *another* several thousand who will suffer illness for life, then maybe Oprah will know what happened here and all the people who pleaded for her help when this recall started and why I cannot watch her show because of all the Proctor and Gamble ads.

I am sorry for her pain and hope she gets some comfort. Thrilled as I am that Oprah will take time for herself, many pet parents will be working two jobs to pay vet bills or doing without vacations this year to pay vet bills or eating cheaper food themselves to pay for the expensive care to keep their suffering pets alive.


It's about time!

Here's some sad news for Oprah. 2yr. old dog dies choking on a plastic ball:


Weeks have passed. And the pain has not subsided. Every time I think about it, my heart starts racing and I feel like I just got stabbed in the chest. It's a jolt, still. Gracie's death.

Gracie is the smallest of the golden retrievers photographed with me on O, The Oprah Magazine's January '06 and '07 covers. She had just turned 2 on May 21. I thought we'd grow old together.

She choked to death on a plastic ball she found in the grass (it belonged to Sophie, my 12-year-old cocker spaniel). The goldens were not allowed to play with those clear little balls that light up. I feared they'd chew them, or worse.

The worst happened on May 26. Gracie was out with her dog walker, on a walk I often do myself after their evening meal. On this sunny Saturday, having just returned from a late lunch with friends, I decided to let the caretaker do it—walk all three.

I hugged them all goodbye, leaving a lipstick print on Gracie's furry white forehead, where she loved getting kisses. Twenty minutes later, I got a call: "She's down and isn't breathing."

I ran barefoot out of the house and found the dog walker and one of my security guys pumping her chest. Just as I reached them, the security guy looked up and said, "I'm sorry, ma'am. We tried everything. I'm sorry. She's gone."

Gone??!! I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Yes, I saw it. I saw the caretaker rocking back and forth on the ground, his arms wrapped around himself, crying hysterically. My brain took in the whole scene, but it wasn't tracking properly. The first thing I remember saying is, "It's okay. It'll be okay. Tell me what happened." Through his sobs I heard: "…choked on a ball."

And I knew, this was real. Gracie is gone, Gracie is gone, Gracie is gone kept repeating in my head.

I stood there dazed, stunned, crying—and watched as they placed her in the back of a golf cart, her still-warm body with the lipstick stain on her fur.

But even in my stunned state, I knew this was not what it appeared to be: a freak accident with a clear plastic ball that lit up inside. I don't believe in accidents. I know for sure that everything in life happens to help us live.

So through my tears and stabbing pain and disbelief and wonder and questions about how and why this happened, I leaned over my sweet and wild and curious and mind-of-her-own Gracie, and asked, "Dear Gracie, what were you here to teach me that only your death could show me?" And this is the answer: This lovely little runt whom I'd brought home sick—on his first visit with her, the vet told me to return her and get my money back—did more living in two years than most dogs do in 12. She never stopped moving. Was energy in motion. Chasing squirrels, hop-leaping through the pond like a rabbit. Finding anything she could to play with, chew, run with. Dashing, frolicking. Speeding across the lawn as though she were in a rush for life. I was always saying, "Gracie, slow down." She gulped her food. Gulped treats. Would let you hug her for a second, then race off to—where? She was the only dog I was always looking for. Going out on the porch calling, "Graaaacie! Gracie, come!"

The day after she died, I went to the spot where she took her last breath and called again, "Graaaacie! Graaaacie!" I was hoping security wouldn't hear me and think I needed medical—or psychological—attention. Of course I knew this time she wouldn't come running through the brush. Out of the pond. Shaking her wet fur and racing to my arms with a smile. She was always, always smiling.

Not until I knew there'd be no response did I realize how much pleasure I had taken in calling for her. So I called and cried. Called and cried. "Graaaacie!" Tears of sadness for the shocking loss. Tears of joy for the pure happiness she'd given me for nearly two years. I have never seen a being, human or animal, always so full of joy. This dog lived every moment as though it were her last.

Her life was a gift to me. Her death, a greater one.

Ten days before she died, I was getting a yearly physical, and to lower my blood pressure I'd think of Gracie's smiling face.

Just days before the "freak accident," the head of my company came into my office to have a serious talk about "taking some things off your schedule—you're doing too much." Maya Angelou called me to say the same thing. "You're doing too much. Don't make me come to Chicago," she chided. "I want you to slow down."

I'd broken a cardinal rule: The whole month of May I'd had no day off, dashing from one event to the next. But though I appreciated everyone's concern, I still had to finish the season. Wrap up the year's shows. Have foundation meetings. Meet with auditors. Review plans for a new building, and on and on. So many people on my list. I literally forgot to put myself on the list for a follow-up checkup.

When the doctor's office called, I confessed. I hadn't heeded what I know for sure. I said, "Doctor, I'm sorry. I had so many meetings with different people, I forgot to put myself on the list."

The next day, Gracie died.

Slow down, you're moving too fast. I got the message.

Thank you for being my saving Gracie. I now know for sure angels come in all forms.

Mary Ann

Espn is haveing breaking news on this.


Oprah NEVER did a show about the pet food recall. Check out the preceding post, as that is exactly what I remember - that she did a show about one of her dog's medical problems and had her vet on. She gave perhaps 10 seconds of lip service to pet food recall - kind of, vaguely, maybe - watered down so as not to upset sponsors, I suppose.

I just read the piece about Gracie and while the article starts off about Gracie, somehow it morphed into something "all about Oprah." Maybe it was her choice of words, but I definitely came away with the interpretation that Gracie's death served a purpose for Oprah, rather than, "Isn't it so sad that this happened to such a wonderful 2 year old dog?"

I do not believe that animals were put on earth to serve mankind. I don't believe their purpose is to teach us anything.....though you have to admit that we could all take a lesson from them. Call me crazy, but I do not see that mankind is the superior species, as evidenced by Michael Vick and all the idiots who caused the pet food recall.

Having said all that, I would like to add one thing: It is not unusual for grieving pet owners [i.e., Oprah] to flounder and search for a reason for the unexpected death of a young pet. Sometimes it helps the grieving process to find purpose in death.


That would be "accused dirtbag" Michael Vick. Or "indicted dirtbag" Michael Vick. A real charmer either way, no?

Here's a link to the Michigan State University College of Law: Animal Legal & Historical Web Center --- a terrific site for policy wonks and info-nerds like me. They have animal laws organized by state:

Here's Virginia:

Scroll down for the statute in full. And since I'm back on the blogroll [thanks, Gina!], I'll make a tiny but shameless plug and mention that there's a link to the MSU Animal Law site on my blog, under More Dog Links. More info on dogfighting as well, in this post:


Barb & Luisa: thanks for the info. I'm glad to see that the laws in question simply reference "dogs."

Like Cate said, I hope that, if nothing else, this case gets the message out that dog fighting is not okay.

Mary Ann



Ugh, that creep Vick makes me embarrassed to admit Virginia is my home. On the other hand, he & his co-conspirators were indicted here in Virginia. Maybe the message will get out to others here who think dog fighting is okay. Yuck.

E. Hamilton

Get the facts, Oprah did a show about HER dog , who had kidney failure from an unspecified cause and the personal advice of HER vet about what to feed and she NEVER did a show about the recall or all the dead pets! NEVER. If you are watching imaginary TV shows perhaps placing the tinfoil shiny side OUT would improve reception? OPRAH did a lovely hour long show about HER pet,

and that is certainly her right. Just as it is my right not to hero worship someone.

Yes, it is very sad that her pet died, there has been plenty of that around.

The whole thing about the dog dying to teach Oprah something was puke worthy, in my opinion.

I hope Oprah has learned all she needs to learn for the sake of her surviving pets, who would no doubt be HONORED to die in her service but might prefer to live.

E. Hamilton

Comment by Mary Ann — July 17, 2007 @ 7:39 pm

Perhaps you missed the part where I gave Oprah far far more sympathy than she displayed to the many people here on this blog and itchmo who begged and pleaded and emailed and wrote snail mail letters to Oprah asking for some coverage about this recall situation?

It is sad her dog choked on a ball while being walked by a servant. Perhaps Oprah will do a special show on the dangers of pet toys, it is all but certain she will NOT be doing a show about the thousands of our pets who died.

I reserve the majority of my concern for those pet parents who not only do not have the resources of Oprah but got damned little sympathy FROM Oprah.

Oprah and the revelation that the death of her dog was entirely for the benefit of Oprah almost cost me my lunch.

Self involved to a disturbing degree is the kindest thing I can say about that and considerably kinder than things I *could* say.


Have you ever read a book on a non-pet subject?

Quite a few. Enough to have a BA in history (Early Modern European was my primary area) and a Master of Science in Library Science.

And quite a few more in the decades since.

More than enough to know that that particular rant comes from a certain kind of extremist on both sides of the liberal/conservative divide, and that you have to hear someone's opinions/positions on current or recent political issues to accurately peg them on that. It's just not possible to do it on the basis of this kind of through-the-looking-glass rant.

Personal responsibility is not the sole preserve of conservatives. The idea that dogs are "just" personal property, and that an individual is entitled to do anything at all with their personal property, and that therefore any laws or regulations interfering with that use are an intolerable infringement of essential rights--to the extent that there's any intellectual support for that attitude, it comes from a certain strand of libertarian-conservatism, not from liberalism (or from more traditional conservativsm, either.)

If the quotes you offered come from that blogger's site (note that you didn't provide any citations or links, something historians and librarians tend to care about), there is, yawn, some admixture of, oh, perhaps Nation of Islam identity politics, perhaps something else, but mostly, an obsession with sports and a certainty that if His Heroes are being harassed in any way, it must be for illegitimate reasons.

The real issue here is Michael Vick and his animal abuse, which for normal people is not a left/right issue.


OMG! just turned on Anderson Cooper and they had dog fighting footage on!! Warning to anyone turning on CNN!!

glad they are doing the story, but I could have done with less visuals.

Mary Ann



Vick's house is in Virginia

"The 18-page federal indictment, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia"

Gina Spadafori

That's HIS point of view, not "if that's not left wing, I don't know what is."

The lede bloggers here skew pretty liberal, in case you haven't noticed. And we're big on personal responsibility. Sure you've noticed that, too.

Just as with patriotism, personal responsibility isn't the exclusive trademark of the right wing.

So ... address the issues, please, and drop the labels.

Andrea 2CatMom

I will now sing O Happy Day!

Let's see if we can't help Mr. Vick get what he deserves. I'm going to email/call his sponsors and the Falcons and let them know that I expect them to take immediate action against this sorry excuse for a human being. Feel free to join in the fun. Sometimes mauling is a good thing.


Actually, that was California law I just quoted above. I am unable to access the link above to this story, so not sure which state he was arrested in but hopefully laws in his State are similar.


CNN radio news has been covering the Vick story all afternoon, too. And thanks, Barb, for posting the Oprah story--so sad but it can (and has) happened to so many. It made me stop and realize how much I've been running around like crazy with work the last several days and haven't been giving my kitties the usual amount of time and attention they deserve ... I'm gonna go give 'em some extra big hugs, kisses, and tummy and chinny rubs, and help them chase a couple of fireflies :-)


Re: Does anyone know if that’s how the law is actually phrased?

Last summer I attended a 3 week Animal Law Enforcement Academy and have my handy Animal Laws Handbook right in front of me. Here's the law as written last year (probably still the same now.)-

Penal Code 597.5 Fighting Dogs: Felony: Punishment: Spectators: Misdemeanor -

(a) Any person who does any of the following is guilty of a felony and is punishable by imprisonment in a state prison for 16 months, or two or three years, or by a fine not to exceed fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), or by both such fine and imprisonment:

(1) Owns, posesses, keeps, or trains any dog, with the intent that the dog shall be engaged in an exhibition of fighting with another dog.

(2) For amusement or gain, causes any dog to fight with another dog, or causes any dogs to injure each other.

(3) Permits any act in violation of paragraph (1) or (2) to be done on any premises under his or her charge or control, or aids or abets that act.

(b) Any person who is knowingly present, as a spectator, at any place, building, or tenement where preparations are being made for an exhibition of the fighting of dogs, with the intent to be present at those preparations, or is knowingly present at that exhibition or at any other fighting or injuring as described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (a), with the intent to be present at that exhibition, fighting, or injuring, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(c) Nothing in this section shall prohibit any of the following:

(1) The use of dogs in the management of livestock, as defined by Section 14205 of the Food and Agricultural Code, by the owner of the livestock or his or her employees or agents or other persons in lawful custody thereof.

(2) The use of dogs in hunting as permitted by the Fish and Game Code, including, but not limited to, Sections 3286,3509,3510,4002 and 4756, and by the rules and regulations of the Fish and Game Commission.

(3) The training of dogs or the use of equipment in the training of dogs for any purpose not prohibited by law. (Enacted 1975, last amended 1987.)


Here-t back up my assertion- is a lenghty quote on the nature of whites:


Those of you who act and live in fear hide behind your skin color, the tone set up for your success. It’s the color used to conquer the world and commit genocide at every turn in the seas and oceans of our planet; pitting good - white, against evil - black.

Think about this. There is no continent on the Earth that you have set foot upon and attempted to live with the existing peoples of that continent. In no corner of the Earth has an indigenous culture been allowed to live without you claiming to “discover” them as if they do not exist until you see them.

Instead, you debate whether or not they are human or savage animals. Instead, you provide them with blankets laden with the small pox virus so you are not faced to force them in battle; so they perish and you burn the dead bodies and live off their good Earth. You come with treaties and platitudes and trickery, telling peoples you come with documents of peace. You come like macroscopic cancer cells tricking the peoples not like you into believing you are the same as those whose bounty you seek. Then, you turn and inject your corrupt, morally bankrupt selves into their ways and tell these people not like you at all, that they never be you; and you kill them and the host - Earth - on which you feed if you must.



Glad to hear this news.

I do have one question, though: the story lists one of the charges in the indictment as "procuring and training pit bulls for fighting." Does anyone know if that's how the law is actually phrased? If so, that strikes me as incredibly problematic. What if someone's procuring and training other breeds of dogs--or mutts--for fighting? Hrmm...


“Left-wing” ????

Appears to be just another sports blog, linking to a bunch of other sports blog, and somewhat obsessed with Michael Vick. Nothing about politics, not much about race, except that he thinks that the only possible reason for this otherwise unaccountable pursuit of Michael Vick is race. I mean, it can’t be the dogs, after all!

“Left-wing” appears to be a bit of a projection, expat

Just got back from my 21/2 hour walk/run with my two Sibes.

If you read his material he clearly has the standard PC/Multiculturalist interpretaion of society and history. Whites are uniquely evil, white racism is everywhere, the history of Western Civilization is nothing but a trail of horrors. If that isn't left-wing what the hell is it? Have you ever read a book on a non-pet subject?

E. Hamilton

Gina, true, and since he likes the "fighting" so much maybe he would like to be put in a ring with some of us animal-lovers, see who walks out and who is carried out?

Just for the fun of it, you know.

Gina Spadafori

Finally something all animal-lovers can agree on: Michael Vick is a dirtbag.


Here ya go GDA!

Mr. Roger Goodell


National Football League

280 Park Ave.

New York, NY 10017


I found this:

National Football League

280 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10017

Great Dane Addict

I need some help with something.

My friend's son has a Michael Vick jersey. She wants to send the jersey to Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, with a letter of disgust.

I can not figure out how to find an address for her to send it to? Help?


Comment by expat — July 18, 2007 @ 4:25 am

"Left-wing" ????

Appears to be just another sports blog, linking to a bunch of other sports blog, and somewhat obsessed with Michael Vick. Nothing about politics, not much about race, except that he thinks that the only possible reason for this otherwise unaccountable pursuit of Michael Vick is race. I mean, it can't be the dogs, after all!

"Left-wing" appears to be a bit of a projection, expat.


Left-wing jock sniffer defends Vick:


See on the local news this morning that if Vick is

convicted, he could get 6 years in prison. Also that for some of the dogs that had lost fights, they were either electrocuted or drowned. What a monstrous S.O.B.


OK, he's a sports blogger using standard Multicultist/PC rhetoric to obscure the issue at hand. If you look at his archive at that site he does the same thing all the time. If he had been a libertarian defending the abuse of animals(they're just property, after all) I would have described him as such. I just haven't found a libertarian dumb(or honest) enough to do that.


Are you aware that the NFL so far refuses to suspend Michael Vick and Nike footwear still plans to release Michael Vick sneakers some time in the future (they're taking a "wait and see" attitude)?


I agree with the chaplain, we must also reflect back on our on history and know that all species of men have at one time or another been persecuted and made to fight to the death by another and it still happens today throughout the world. People need to accept each other and find that there is bad and good in all of us and we need to try to stop all of these unjust cruelties.



Anyone else hear the rumor that Vick has implicated other NFL and NBA athletes in the dog fighting scandal?

Animal Chaplain Nancy

If there is anything good about the Michael Vick story, it is that there is an emerging increased awareness about animal cruelty and animal fighting. There is so much anger about this issue. If we channel it into a positive direction, hopefully, something good can come of it. However...

I watched Vick's public apology with my little son who USED TO wear Michael Vick jerseys to school. It is disturbing to think a certain percentage of the population is honestly going to be swayed by Michael Vick's "enlightenment" carefully crafted by his overpaid attorneys. Call me a cynic, but I don't believe a man who has been allegedly torturing animals since childhood coincidentally has a religious epiphany as a result of getting caught and losing his job. I hope I am wrong.

I think it is a sad commentary that we, as a culture, are using the Vick story to compare "What's worse?" "What's worse", we ask, "carelessly fathering illegitimate children, or dogfighting?". "Dogfighting or gambling?" "Dogfighting or rape?" "Dogfighting or racism?" "Dogfighting or hateful nationalism?" "Dogfighting or (fill in the blank)....?" The comparisons to dogfighting have been endless.

Dogfighting is one more piece of evidence our country is in need of a spiritual transformation (please note I said spiritual and not necessarily religious). Animals are sentient beings - they feel pain, and they suffer, just like we do. They are not more important, or less important than human beings, but like human beings, they are important, too.

Dogfighting pits one dog against another until one of them dies. The survivor gets his flesh torn off, ears ripped off, eyes pulled out, etc., and the reward for being "a winner" is to writhe in pain until the next fight. Enough said. The pictures make my flesh crawl. The losers are tortured, beaten, starved, electrocuted or drowned. For what? Because these poor creatures were unlucky enough to be born a dog!

Every major faith teaches its followers to be responsible stewards of animals and the Earth. Please help us get the word out that caring for animals, just like caring for people, is an important part of just being a decent person and citizen. If we make this a priority, there will be no more dogfighting horror stories, and no more pointless comparisons of evils. Let us all rise, together, to be better people than we are today, shall we?

Chaplain Nancy Cronk


The comments to this entry are closed.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner