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Gabby hit the books this week for summer book club and realized it was high time to catch up with a favorite writer, Prof. Andrei Markovits.
Markovits, of the University of Michigan, is an expert on dog rescues, one of the Gabby Dog’s favorite subjects. His new book – “From Property to Family: American Dog Rescue and the Discourse of Compassion” – continues the research about women and dog rescues, information he first published in a 2009 case study with Robin Queen.
If you ever wondered when Americans overwhelmingly started to view the dogs and cats like family, you’ll find the answer here – and much more.
According to Prof. Markovits, the shift happened in the 1960s and 1970s as part of a bigger cultural revolution, and women led the way. It was women who largely started the breed-specific rescues, which sprouted up in the 1980s, and women who introduced terms like “foster moms” and “foster homes.”
Of course, in some cases, they have made the adoption process so daunting, they’ve drawn fire from other animal lovers, but on the whole, he says, they don’t deserve a bad rap. They’ve saved millions of dogs who otherwise would have been euthanized. And although some rescue workers have veered into hoarding and other problems, most are middle class, educated and stable empty-nesters who’ve opted to devote their energy to a good cause.
Whew. Gabby recently signed up with a collie rescue and hopes someday to transport homeless Lassie look-alikes to foster homes. It could happen someday, if we manage to fix the SUV’s brakes.
But why breed-specific rescues? He’s a bit uncomfortable with the term “pure breed rescues,” he said because it reminds him of Nazi Germany. Also, he believes most people accept mixed-breed dogs and don’t care about the pet’s pedigree.
But serendipity led him to undertake the research, he said.
As a young Harvard professor, he wanted a dog and a veterinarian directed him to Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue in Newton, Mass. He came home with Dovi, so named for his resemblance to a “little bear.” Dovi padded along to classes and soon became a Cambridge legend.
“He had a wonderful life,” Markovits said, and even flew on the Concorde to accompany the professor to Europe. But Dovi also inspired his master to look into rescues, like the one that saved Dovi, and try to understand why some succeed and some fail.
The new book, written with Katherine N. Crosby, reaches beyond Michigan and the territory in the case study – “Women and the World of Dog Rescue: A Case Study of the State of Michigan” – and looks at rescues nationwide. Gabby will be back with a review in upcoming weeks.
Meanwhile, our friend Lucius, the blind cat, from San Antonio, has a couple of book suggestions. (He was on Gabby’s mind this week because of the Texas floods, but fortunately, he’s OK.) Lucius likes James Bowen’s “A Street Cat Named Bob.” His Mom even knitted a couple of scarves for Bob and sent over a Lucius-inspired bow tie. His Mom also likes “Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love,” by Larry Levin (2010); “Making the Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat,” by David Dosa (2010) and “Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World,” by Vicki Myron, with contributions from Bret Witter (2008).
Finally, a little good news to report about the horses mentioned in this column over past weeks. First, on the wild horses: the Grulla Stallion 3907 and two other older horses on the government’s Internet auction have been saved by rescues, according to the American Wild Horse Protection Campaign. Closer to home, Flora, the horse the MSPCA saved from near starvation, is still at the Nevins Farm in Methuen, according to Rob Halpin. They’re now up to 52 horses, with 21 in foster care and the rest at the farm, and they’re stretched. But the Boston Yeti stepped up and gave a $2,000 donation. Back in March, Halpin said, the Yeti made a pledge to help homeless animals, and now he’s followed through.
Margo Ann Sullivan is a pet columnist who has written for ZooToo, and numerous publications in New York and in New England. She’s had pets all her life, starting with a rescue collie named Lollypop. The Gabby Dog column chases the news that helps pets and people. It also chronicles the adventures of Gabby, the peke-a-poo, and Asia, the tabby cat, and their many pals, hitting the high spots between Providence, RI, and Manchester, NH.
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