Friday, October 05, 2007

Here's Dag, from Dag's House


IMG_0615, originally uploaded by kfoz.

Here's another shot from the party on Wednesday. Kim Dudek brought Dag, who has a wheelchair to get around due to damage to his back. You may also notice that his previous owner cut his ears off. This might be called "cropping" except that in this case it was done very badly, and most of each ear is now gone. Kim says he's intensely jealous of the other pit bulls at the party who all had their full ears flopping around.

Kim's opening a new business for rehabilitating animals. It is called Dag's House.

Zephyr & I

Last August, when I wrote about pit bulls for Salon, I claimed that Sula and I have our own song: Corinne Bailey Rae's "Like a Star." Just so you understand, here are some of the lyrics:

"Still I wonder why it is,
I don't argue like this,
With anyone else but you,
We do it all the time,
Blowing out my mind,

You've got this look I can't describe,
You make me feel like I'm alive,
When everything else is au fait,
Without a doubt you're on my side..."

It is really the arguing that made me think, "Obviously this was written about a pit bull." And then there's the "look I can't describe." Nothing could be clearer.

In any case, I'm happy to report that Zephyr and I now have our own song as well. It is called "Zephyr & I" and is the opening track on Suzanne Vega's new disc. It's not nearly as romantic as the Corinne Bailey Rae song about pit bulls. But it has a great guitar riff that sounds like something off an old Lou Reed record.

"Zephyr & I stand out on
West End Avenue
talking about the things that
all of us used to do

and the wind kicks up with the smell of rain
the kids are gone but the souls remain"

Of course, my Zephyr has never spent any time on West End Avenue, but that's okay. I have more to say about the new Suzanne Vega over at my Powells.com Q and A.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Pit Bulls Celebrate in New Orleans


IMG_0630, originally uploaded by kfoz.

Last night I had a party to celebrate the publication of "Dogs I Have Met" and to celebrate the pit bulls of New Orleans. The Hot 8 Brass Band played like crazy (you can see the exhausted look on their faces) and they brought some of their dogs. And Gloria Dauphin came from the LA-SPCA brought her dog; and ARNO came with some of their recent adoptees. And families came with their dogs. And some people, like me, let their dogs stay at home.

That's me in the yellow shirt, ruining another great picture. If you are wondering why the dogs seem a bit restrained, it is all because of Queenie, who was doing a crazy dance behind me. Queenie is the queen of the Hot 8, and looks almost exactly like my Sula, which is how this whole plan for a party got started....

More photos to come; meanwhile, at Powells.com, Dogs I Have Met is in the Top 5.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"Ink Q & A" at Powells.com

Over at Powells.com, they are running a brief question and answer session, in which I talk about my strangest jobs, some favorite dog characters, and the difference between writing and lying.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

ASPCA recommends adoption/sanctuary for 48 out 49 dogs seized from Michael Vick's property

I have to say, this was a surprise, even to me. A team of behaviorists has evaluated the dogs seized in the Vick case, and only one of the 49 was judged to be beyond hope. You can read all the details at the ASPCA website.

"Well-told, moving stories"--Library Journal

Foster, Ken. Dogs I Have Met: And the People They Found. Lyons: Globe Pequot. Oct. 2007. c.192p. ISBN 978-1-59921-129-9. pap. $14.95. PETS

Following a 2006 interview on NPR to promote his book The Dogs Who Found Me: What I Learned from Pets Who Were Left Behind, Foster received a flood of letters from people who had also rescued dogs, many of them pit bulls or mixed breeds and many with medical or psychological issues. These letters form the basis of this book and give Foster the opportunity to comment on the multifaceted aspects of the human-animal bond, particularly on how allowing a rescue dog into one's life can change it. Among the stories Foster relates is that of pit bull Trap, whose adoption forced his owner to move to a dog-friendly apartment, escaping the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. He retells the story of shepherd mix Max, the hemophiliac adopted hours before euthanasia, who works as a therapy dog and touches the lives of many people similarly afflicted. With well-told, moving stories, this is a good choice for public libraries.—Florence Scarinci, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY

Monday, October 01, 2007

Dogs I Have Met...discounted at Powell's.com

Powells.com is now offering unsigned copies of Dogs I Have Met at 30% off; you can also preorder signed copies at the regular retail price. You can get there by clicking the headline to this item.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Dog Without a Name: Stray fighting dog, Mid-City New Orleans


Abandoned fighting dog, New Orleans, originally uploaded by kfoz.

Yesterday afternoon I got a message online from Karen Gadbois, who had just received an email via the mid-city list serve from a woman who was trying to get someone to respond to an awful situation. A pit bull had attacked her neighbor's dog, had been subdued and was now tied to a tree in her front yard. She had called the LA-SPCA but was worried when no one answered. (They have voice mail to catch any calls that are missed if they are on the phone already, but this worries people.)

I called and said I'd come by, take a look at the dog, and if he seemed okay, maybe drive him over the SPCA or to ARNO.

I have to say, I've never seen an animal in this condition, except in photos or after several weeks of treatment. At first, I didn't even think he was a pit bull. His snout was too fleshy. But I quickly realized it was swollen and scarred. He was missing fur all over his body, either from fighting or mange or both. He was bleeding from the top of his head, where he'd been hit with a brick as they tried to get him off the other dog. There were cuts and scars all over his face, in particular, but also other parts of his body--and he was very thin and unneutered.

I said hello. He wagged his tail, but kept still. I talked to him for a while, then walked around behind him to see how he'd respond. He didn't move. The LA-SPCA arrived and an officer approached. When she went to get equipment from the truck, the dog took a few steps toward me, then went back to the tree. We decided not to use the dog catching stuff. He gave the officer a polite kiss, then moved to me, placed his front paws carefully on my tummy and looked into my eyes. We walked together to the truck and he climbed in on his own.

I wish I had a picture of the look in his eyes before we took that walk together.

The Times-Picayune on "Dogs I Have Met"

The Times-Picayune has a review today of my new book. Here's what Susan Larson had to say about the new book:

In his 2006 memoir, "The Dogs Who Found Me," Ken Foster introduced readers to his beloved Brando, the giant brindle Dane/pit mix who appears as the coverdog of his new book, "Dogs I Have Met and The People They Found." Brando's canine companions in Foster's New Orleans home are Zephyr, a Rottweiler mix, and Sula, a pit bull who will change any preconceptions you have about the breed with her first sloppy kiss. Foster's loving portrait of those dogs -- his companions through Sept. 11, 2001, a near fatal heart problem and Hurricane Katrina -- is a study in the steadfastness of mutual heartfelt affection.

In the book's sequel, "Dogs I Have Met and the People They Found," Foster chronicles more dog adventures, many of which came as a result of that book. He includes letters responding to his book, little reminders of the ties that bind dog lovers across time and geography. And he continues his campaign to dispense good information about worthy projects across the country.

The chapter, "Dogs on Desire Street: A Dog's's Eye View of the Recovery," offers a canine perspective on post-Katrina New Orleans, a warm tribute to his Bywater neighborhood and the visitors to Markey Park, where, Forster writes, "Throughout the day, it is possible to see one human or another standing at the gate to the park, yelling, 'Stella! Stella!' "

The travels Foster recounts in this book include visits to Costa Rica, where he forms a relationship with Duque, a dog that will win his heart but come to a sad end; to New York, where Foster, a carnivore himself, shares a vegan dinner, but begins to feel "like a social experiment"; and, most memorably to Oakland, Calif., where he does a fundraiser for the San Francisco SPCA and attends a BAD RAP conference, put on by a Bay Area organization of pit bull advocates who enforce high standards of training; and to Chicago, where he does a book-signing in a Kiehl's store. There, he writes, "I spend the afternoon watching well-dressed women arrive, seeking eye cream. They find two red-nosed pit bulls waiting to greet them instead. " Surprise, surprise! (In a useful list of resources at the back of the book, Foster describes the company's commitment to animals.)

Foster confronts head-on folks' fears about pit bulls and dog attacks, and writes of his own experience of being mauled by a beagle. Who'd have thought? But Snoopy has a powerful public relations machine, no?

What is so moving about "Dogs I Have Met" is Foster's own gentle humor, his sense of human frailty, of aging; when Foster describes his hysteria at finding his own beloved pets taking down a possum or a raccoon or a slow squirrel, you're right there with him, shrieking inwardly. And when he notices, "In Dog Years," that time is growing short, as time always does, we feel the intensity of the fleeting moment, in all its pain and pleasure.

"Dogs see us through more than they put us through," Foster writes, and he should know. This graceful meditation on the strength of our canine connections is an inspiration and a joy.