The Day Everything Changed by Comedian Steve Hofstetter

The Day Everything Changed by Comedian Steve Hofstetter

Steve Hofstetter and Carlin

I just received an email from Sara Tenenbein, a long time rescue advocate and wife of Comedian Steve Hofstetter. It reads:

Two days ago, my husband and I found an abandoned dog in a gas station parking lot. My husband, who was not a dog person before I met him, caught the dog, fed it, and cared for it.

He wrote a piece for his Facebook about it because, in his words, “I wanted to create something beautiful for him.”

It is both a heart warming and heart breaking story. I am very proud of what he did, as well as what he wrote. I wanted to share it with you in hopes that you would share it with your readers, and it would inspire a few more people to take action and help.

When interviewing Hofstetter for Be the Change for Animals, I was moved by his unlikely shift toward becoming a rescue advocate and using his celebrity for good after he and Sara adopted a little dog named Bea Arthur. The story he shared yesterday has rocked me to the core. And so I am compelled to share his words with you here. I do so not just at Sarah’s request, but because this story reaches into the heart of what rescue is about: excitement, frustration, anguish, joy, sadness, relief and much, much more. When you reach the end, you’ll understand.

 

TOWLDivide

 

Today was the day that everything changed.

Just before noon, my wife Sara and I stopped in Modesto for lunch. I was driving us from San Francisco to Visalia, and couldn’t find a viable healthy restaurant on the way. Traveling with our dog, Bea Arthur, limited our choices to just those with outdoor seating. And Bea spending most of the trip whining increased the urgency of getting out of the car.

We finally settled on what we thought was a cute café. Once seated, we discovered the place had the menu of a Denny’s with three times the price, and the one open table was next to three women who made the cast of Sex And The City look well adjusted.

The women were actively complaining that their boyfriends were paying too much attention to them. Keep complaining, ladies. That problem will work itself out.

On top of that, it was cold out. We ate fast and got back in the car. Many miles and a two stomach aches later, Sara finished a delayed conference call and I pulled over so Sara could finally drive. And that’s when we saw him.

There was a mutt that couldn’t have been more than ten pounds, running around a gas station. I threw the car in park and Sara started chasing the dog. He was extremely fast – Sara couldn’t come within ten feet of him. I grabbed Bea and started chasing as well. We watch a lot of Animal Planet and this was not as easy as they make it look. I’d imagine I’d also be shaking my fist at HGTV if we ever renovated a house.

Someone from the gas station yelled to us that Animal Control had been trying to catch the dog for weeks. “Not trying hard enough,” I thought. I was not going to let this ten pounds of cute outwit me. I noticed the dog was going in circles around the gas station so I had Sara chase it into the station’s retired car wash tunnel as I ran to the other side.

When I was in college, I played tackle football with no padding every January. In a game of ultimate frisbee, I ran into someone so hard it took my face three weeks to heal. I once caught a Spring Training home run ball with a slide on concrete. But I have never been so proud of a tackle as I was today. Partially because it’s been ten years since I’ve exercised with any sort of regularity.

With Bea’s leash in my left hand, I got my right hand on the mutt’s back enough to stop it from running. The poor dog was terrified – it peed so much I felt like I had squeezed a water bottle. Sara took Bea from me and I tried to feed the mutt a few treats. It was too scared to eat. In fairness, if something 18 times my size scared me so much I peed on myself, my next thought wouldn’t be “oooh, snacks!”

Steve Hofstetter and CarlinHaving found the dog in a car wash, I decided to call him “Suds MacKenzie.” Sara grabbed a blanket from the car and we did what we could to clean Suds off and wrap him up. After ten minutes of heavy petting, Suds finally started eating. Again, I was reminded of college.

We drove to a nearby Petco and bought $50 worth of supplies. We figured we’d be back home in LA in two days – we could stop by a vet in Fresno to have Suds checked out, and then find a no-kill shelter in LA or a neighbor in need of an adorable friend. We bought a collar so we could walk him, some wipes to finish cleaning him off, a bunch of Nature’s Miracle to make sure our hotel would be fine, and some wet food since Suds’ teeth were mostly gone.

Suds wouldn’t walk in the parking lot, probably having never been on a leash before, so I carried him back to the car and tried to find something more conducive to calming a dog than a strip mall. According to Google, the nearest dog park was back in San Francisco. But I saw a patch of green on the map and headed for it.

CarlinThen something amazing happened – the patch of green was a dog park, and it was the nicest dog park I’ve ever seen. It was large, covered in grass, and empty. Meanwhile, the 60-degree day had magically warmed up to 68. This was order in the universe.

The cosmic nature of what was happening hit me. Bea’s whining, the terrible lunch, Sara’s delayed conference call – it all led up to us finding this amazingly sweet animal. And I was wrong – this dog’s name was not Suds. It was Carlin. It had to be. Part for the play on words that I met him in a car wash. But mostly because he inspired me to re-appreciate the universe in an entirely non-religious way.

There is also something amazing about having a dog named Bea Arthur towering over a dog named George Carlin.

Steve Hofstetter and CarlinWe let Bea explore while we fed Carlin and tried to get him to drink water and get some exercise. But even off leash, he wouldn’t walk. He ate a little bit – but he wouldn’t drink any water. We tried coaxing him by putting some of his food in the water bowl, but nothing. We tried getting him to walk towards the food, and he refused. He tried a few times, but his legs wouldn’t let him.

Something was seriously wrong. When we first picked him up, we attributed Carlin’s twitching to fear, his weakness to hunger, and his missing teeth to a life on the streets. It was becoming increasingly clear that Carlin was very sick – and a lifetime of running had only made it worse. He was so scared when we found him that even starving and with bad legs he still outran us. It was simultaneously impressive and sad.

But he wasn’t running from us now. He trusted us enough to just lay in the grass, alternating between eating and sleeping, two things he wasn’t able to do with any sense of certainty just an hour earlier.

We knew that we had to take him to a vet or a shelter. If this was New York or LA or a dozen other places, I’d have been able to find someone who could help. But we were a few miles north of Fresno – and after a few desperate unanswered posts to Reddit and Facebook, our only choice was to bring him in. I didn’t call Animal Control – they were the same people who couldn’t bother themselves with saving Carlin in the first place.

As we drove to the SPCA, we knew there was a good chance Carlin would be put down. We might have been saving his life – but the odds were we just gave him one nice afternoon after a lifetime of fear.

Two years ago, this story would have been impossible. I grew up terrified of dogs. I misinterpreted affection for aggression, and I let ignorance get the better of me. It wasn’t until I watched Sara volunteer with strays and we eventually adopted our own that I truly got it. Dogs are a human problem – we created them and we overbreed them. It is our responsibility to protect what we shaped. I love Sara for many reasons. But showing me that my fear was nothing compared to the fear of the four million dogs who go abandoned every year? For that, I will be eternally grateful.

Sarah Tenenbein and CarlinCarlin cuddled into Sara’s lap and fell asleep as I drove. Bea’s whining stopped, and she silently laid down in the back seat. Her new little brother was sick, and she somehow knew it was not the time to be selfish.

The Fresno SPCA knew Carlin was in trouble immediately. It was obvious to them that Carlin had an incurable condition called distemper, a disease that proves fatal in most cases. Though completely avoidable with a simple vaccination, distemper is one of the worst diseases a dog can contract, and it causes tooth loss, trouble walking, and dehydration with no desire to drink. The worst part is that, while incurable, distemper is treatable if caught in time. Had Animal Control – or anyone else – bothered to catch a scared little dog, while a long shot, his disease may have been manageable.

The optimist in me wanted to pay the several thousand dollars for a distemper test to make sure. The realist in me accepted what was happening, and gave my little gremlin one last hug goodbye.

I placed the bag of supplies we’d bought on the counter of the SPCA, muttered “keep them,” and walked away. I wish the story ended differently. I wish I could show you pictures three weeks from now, where Sara and Bea and I are all playing with my new doofy little gremlin. But I can’t.

When I say today was the day that everything changed, I don’t mean for me. Yes, I am more resigned to help any stray I see, to donate money to rescues, and to use my stage to influence others. But today, things didn’t change for me – they changed for Carlin. His life of fear ended quietly in a hospital instead of in agony in a gas station parking lot. And it ended with three things he’d never had before – love, protection, and the dignity of a name.

Not every story has to have a happy ending. Some can just have a happy couple of hours.

 

TOWLDivide

 

Thank you, Steve, for writing this so beautifully, and to you, Sara, for sharing it with me.

UPDATE: Some good news from Sara…

Hi Kim,

Thanks for your kind words – it means a lot.  Carlin was a very special dog.  There is a silver lining of the story – after reading it our landlord has decided to relax her one dog policy and let us adopt another one.  Carlin’s story is saving another life and his legacy will live on.

Keep doing what you do –
Sara

And the good news just keeps coming! Read the full scoop on Steve and Sara’s happy ending!

Edible Undies – for Dogs?

Edible Undies – for Dogs?

Edible Undies - For Dogs

Does your dog root through laundry in search of your undies to  – GASP – eat them!?!

The Honest KitchenFor years, one topic has consistently reared it’s head in The Honest Kitchen inbox… undies. According to THK, a prevalent problem among dog owners is “pets consuming foreign objects around the home, especially underwear like socks, briefs and even bras,”

Be honest. You wrote to them, didn’t you! Well, they responded.

Check out Undies, edible underwear for pets, made entirely from dehydrated, human grade vegetable protein. Ingredients have been shaped into a flexible, realistic pair of underwear with instructions on how to use them – and how to spare your own underwear.

Undies can be hidden around the house to create all the fun of stealing some real underwear, but none of the risks of ingesting harmful fabric, underwires or thread. Undies are made from one pure, single source vegetable per variety and are available in Pure Carrot (socks), Pure Celery (briefs) and Pure Beet (bras). All we’ve added is a natural turkey aroma, and nothing else.

Undies- The Honest Kitchen

Save yourself another expensive trip to Victoria’s Secret and spare the health of your perverted pup. And you might want to rub yourself down with turkey before you serve up some Undies, you know, for authenticity sake.  Okay, that’s our suggestion, not THK’s, but you’re no April Fool.

Shop Now for our Dehydrated Human Grade Edible Veggie Undies! 

It’s just a vote. It can help a dog. Vote Saratoga!

It’s just a vote. It can help a dog. Vote Saratoga!

VOTE SARATOGA! Help Dog House Adoptions!

Asking for votes to help my dog rescue feels like staring down your hot, steamy bowl of delicious free time while salivating on your slippered feet. Like any good dog, I’m doing it anyway. I’ll either get shooed off or you’ll give in.

Please, I beg of you. Give in. This contest is EASY, FAST, ADDICTING, and FUN!

VOTE SARATOGA SPRINGS BEST CITY FOR PET TRAVELERS!

Vote!

The first three rounds have been nail biters, cities screeching by with a single vote in the final hour. Saratoga made the Sweet Sixteen dance. If Saratoga wins the Final 4, I’ll give all the prizes to Dog House Adoptions. That means we all win by helping homeless dogs in Upstate, NY!

WHAT MAKES SARATOGA SPRINGS DOG FRIENDLY?

Saratoga isn’t just pet-friendly hotels and scenic parks. With it’s 40+ dog-friendly downtown businesses featuring a sticker to signify that entry with your dog is cool, no questions asked, it’s a model city for every destination pet travelers want to go.  I wrote all about it here.

Defeating Sonoma, Vancouver, and Sante Fe for being the dog-friendliest, now Saratoga faces it’s greatest challenge, Annapolis, MD. Their voters are fiercely committed. We need the same. So, get your March Madness on and GET IN THE GAME!

VOTE SARATOGA SPRINGS BEST CITY FOR PET TRAVELERS!

Vote!

WHO IS DOG HOUSE ADOPTIONS?

Dog House Adoptions

With just 5 core volunteers and terrific help from upstanding and committed dog lovers, Dog House Adoptions has spayed, neutered, vaccinated and rehomed 33 Rensselaer County orphaned dogs since our founding a year ago.

Our dogs come from the streets. When not claimed from their 5 day hold, the towns expect them to be put down. But we step in…

We care for the wounds of dogs, body and soul, and celebrate the healing of these discarded and vulnerable pups.  We earn the precious gift of their trust and watch them blossom when nurtured with love. Then we seek the perfect companions for each one, sending them on to a joyful life with a family of their own – orphans no more.

The work is constant and our love never wanes – from the minute these dogs arrive until, well, infinity. Just because they leave us doesn’t end our caring.

HOW DOES MY VOTE HELP DOGS AGAIN?

Dog House Adoptions

To continue our work requires more funding. If Saratoga wins, the following prizes will further our fundraising. Wouldn’t these entice you to bid at our birthday party?

  • A three-night stay in the super pet-friendly Kimpton hotel of your choosing
  • a plethora of pet travel gear from Kurgo valued at over $300
  • dog food, supplements, and treats from The Honest Kitchen
  • a Critter Zone air purifier, a convenient travel bag set, complete with folding bowls, from Petmate
  • a snazzy matching collar and leash set from 2 Hounds Design
  • and a Sherpa soft-sided pet carrier.

It’s just a vote. It can help a dog. You can feel good about it. Please… I beg you.

Dog House Adoptions

VOTE SARATOGA SPRINGS BEST CITY FOR PET TRAVELERS!

Vote!

Best City for Pet Travelers? VOTE Saratoga Springs!

Best City for Pet Travelers? VOTE Saratoga Springs!

Saratoga Springs  Best City for Pet Travelers

What’s the best city for pet travelers in 2013? Top voted cities will win the annual Best City for Pet Travelers Tournament hosted by GoPetFriendly.com!

Saratoga Springs, NY beat Sonoma, CA in round one;Vancouver, BC in round two; and Sante Fe, NM in round three. While dog parks and pet-friendly hotels are nice, Saratoga has much, much more!

What Makes Saratoga Springs
“Best City for Pet Travelers?”

Saratoga Springs has made a concerted effort since 2009 to increase the dog-friendliness of it’s downtown business district, thanks to Melanie Dallas of Sloppy Kisses, a treat boutique for dogs, and Adrianna Flax of Saratoga Arts. Dog-Friendly Downtown is their brainchild.

DOG-FRIENDLY DOWNTOWN
THE WAY IT WORKS:

Dog-Friendly-DowntownThe blue sticker pictured here, when displayed on participating storefronts, acts as an invitation to walk in with your dog, year round and no questions asked.

Strut right in with your best friend to retail establishments, hotels, restaurants with outdoor dining options and even art galleries. That’s right. Dogs and their humans can see some of the region’s highest-quality contemporary art at The [dog-friendly] Arts Center gallery space!

Visit Saratoga Springs’ Dog-Friendly Downtown website for an interactive map listing all participating businesses and their possible size or food related limitations. According to Dallas, “You can shop, you can eat, you can go to the gallery, go get your nails done, and you can do all that with your dog.”

Sloppy Kisses

For more about Saratoga’s Dog-Friendly Downtown initiative, history, and growth, watch Dallas’ interview on Saratoga.com.

VOTE SARATOGA SPRINGS BEST CITY FOR PET TRAVELERS!

Vote!

DOG-FRIENDLY – ALL YEAR LONG

Howl-o-ween ParadeFor the Howl-o-ween hound
Join Sloppy Kisses for their Annual Canine Costume Parade/Contest!

Have a booze hound?
Yappy Hours are a frequent event. In 2012, they took place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. every other Thursday, May through September. Prior hosts have been The Mill at Round Lake, Gideon Putnam Resort, Saratoga State Park, The Mouzon House, and The Inn at Saratoga.

For the Patriotic Pups
The Patriotic Pooch Parade marched down Broadway as part of Saratoga’s All American Celebration on July 4th.

Is your hound a history buff?
Samantha Bosshart, Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation executive director, led a 2012 tour of the fine homes on North Broadway. Prominent residents included Lucy Skidmore Scribner, George B. Cluett, William B. Gage, Henry Hathorn, and Senator Brackett. Dog treats and water were provided along the route, and the walk was followed by “Yappy Hour” at The Ice House on Putnam Street.

VOTE SARATOGA SPRINGS BEST CITY FOR PET TRAVELERS!

Vote!

WHAT DOG-FRIENDLY LOOKS LIKE:

I took Shamus, my Newf, to shop the shops on Dog-Friendly Downtown Day one year. Afterward, we hit up a rockin’ Yappy Hour at The Putnam Den where Mayor Johnson, his wife and their recently adopted dog Chase mingled with other dog lovers. After a day of meeting & greeting, dogs and owners were well acquainted. We were all “Snacks? Drinks? This party is ON!” Then it was off for a patio dinner with Amy and Rod from GoPetFriendly.com. This is where we met for the first time and where our idea for co-founding Be the Change for Animals was born!

VOTE SARATOGA SPRINGS BEST CITY FOR PET TRAVELERS!

Vote!

THE PARTICIPATING PACK

The best part is that the program is growing. Dog-Friendly Downtown welcomed 4 new businesses for 2013 so far: Dog Friendly Downtown ProgramLucia BoutiqueYellow BoutiquePaperDolls of Saratoga and Saratoga Saddlery & International Boutique. More than 40 participating establishments have joined the pack, escalating totals from last year’s 30+.

Note the providers featuring lovely Upstate New York wines, Sonoma. We’ve proven you’re not the only gig in wine country. And Vancouver, we have you in our sites next.

VOTE SARATOGA SPRINGS BEST CITY FOR PET TRAVELERS!

Vote!

 

Saratoga Springs may be notorious for race horses, but Mayor Johnson wouldn’t mind if it were notorious for dogs too – and that’s no sour grapes. C’mon Saratoga fans! Show your support for Dog-Friendly Downtown!

 

WHO WINS WHAT?

Because I nominated Saratoga, and if I win the Final 4 with your help, I’ll give the following to Dog House Adoptions in Poestenkill, NY for their (our) first birthday fundraiser in May… So, we all win by helping homeless dogs!

The tournament champion will receive: a three-night stay in the super pet friendly Kimpton hotel of their choosing, a pleathora of pet travel gear from Kurgo valued at over $300, dog food, supplements, and treats from The Honest Kitchen, a Critter Zone air purifier, a convenient travel bag set, complete with folding bowls, from Petmate, a snazzy matching collar and leash set from 2 Hounds Design, and a Sherpa soft-sided pet carrier.

Dog House Adoptions Banner

An Honest Recall from The Honest Kitchen

An Honest Recall from The Honest Kitchen

Jed Loves The Honest Kitchen

The Honest Kitchen

What is The Honest Kitchen?

The Honest Kitchen has been a beloved dog food brand in this household for several years now. I couldn’t have felt more confident about our pet food being gently dehydrated with all the safety precautions and controls afforded to humans – controls other pet foods can’t offer. Every bit of protein is hormone and antibiotic free, responsibly farm raised or wild caught. Fresh, GMO-free fruit and vegetables are never processed, nor are vitamins sprayed on to make up for lacking amounts due to processing.

Cookie Monster Kim Clune

In fact, The Honest Kitchen is healthier than what our household humans often eat. If I ate like my dogs, I’d be running circles around marathoners. Every day would be a good, healthy hair day. And if I want to, I can eat what my dogs eat because, as I said, The Honest Kitchen is human grade food. (It smells like the most delicious homemade chicken soup to me.)

What Happened to The Honest Kitchen?

Certain lots of food are being recalled. (See below for details.) My heart sank with the news. I’m well aware that human food preparation still faces risk of contamination regardless of higher FDA controls in place, but this brand has been conscientious in every way. Even their boxes are recyclable and inks are soy based to protect the environment (or chewing cats like Jed above). So, what could have happened?

Nothing Happened – But to be safe…

That’s right. Nothing happened with The Honest Kitchen specifically. Spokesperson Carmon Valasquez had this to say,

Carmen VelasquezWe have had absolutely no positive tests for Salmonella and no reports of illness; however, a supplier has informed us that they have found a positive Salmonella test from the same batch we used in our food.

If you read about THK’s own quality control process, you’ll see that it is very stringent. Still, to be safe, THK is treating the report as if their own food may be affected, just in case, even though their own tests came back clean.

My Faith: Unshaken and Strengthened

While nothing happened to THK, something did happen for me. My faith in The Honest Kitchen was strengthened by proactive and forthcoming nature of  THK’s Founder and President, Lucy Postins. This is what she had to say about why the recall exists and how she’s working toward it never happening again.

From THK Founder and President, Lucy Postins

Lucy Postins and WillowDear Honest Kitchen Customer,

I’m writing to inform you that today we are voluntarily recalling five lots of our Verve, Zeal and Thrive products, which were produced between August and November 2012 and sold nationwide in the US and Canada via retail stores, mail order and online after August 2012.

We are taking this precautionary action after learning that one of our raw ingredients suppliers has recalled a batch of human-grade parsley that has the potential to contain Salmonella. The batch of parsley was shipped to us in 2012 and used in the five lots of finished Honest Kitchen products. We’ve included specific details about which lots are being recalled, directions on how you can obtain a full refund for the affected lots, and information on the potential effects of Salmonella in our
official recall press release.

At The Honest Kitchen, we are accountable for every pound of food that we produce and ultimately, when it comes to the way we do business, the buck stops with me. We are committed to always providing healthy, quality products that balance gentle production methods with a focus on safety and integrity, and along with my team, I have built our company over the last decade on the principles of honesty, transparency and openness.

We work closely with each of our suppliers to carefully source our human grade ingredients. Our finished products are made in a human food facility and held to the same high quality control standards as human food products. And, humans taste the products we make as part of our quality control and R&D processes.

As you may know, Salmonella can appear in many human foods, from pistachios to mangoes, but it trends particularly high in meats, eggs and leafy greens such as spinach, lettuce and herbs. To further protect you from the risks Salmonella can pose, we’re adding additional steps to our food safety program:

  • All dehydrated leafy greens (parsley, basil, dandelion, spinach and alfalfa) will be steamed, to eliminate pathogens while maintaining our commitment to very gentle production that retains and protects the nutrients that nature provides.
  • We will conduct additional tests for pathogens on all leafy greens when they arrive at our manufacturing facility.
  • We are no longer purchasing any ingredients from the supplier that provided the parsley being recalled.

We are committed to continually evolving and adapting our procedures to prevent problems like this from occurring in the future. If you have questions, concerns, or frustrations, please call our toll free number, 1-866-437-9729 or send an email to info@thehonestkitchen.com. Customer service representatives will be available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. PST to respond to inquiries.

I apologize for the inconvenience this situation has created and I promise that we will continue to operate our family business in a way that lives up to the high standards that you have always expected from us.

Lucy

 

Thank you, Lucy, and to all the THK staff, for protecting our animals in every way conceivable, and for the precautionary measures you’ll now implement to make them even safer. My faith remains unshaken thanks to the honest foundation this company provides to all it’s customers, costumers who are treated like family because we all eat from the same THK table.

Please Check Your Inventory

If you have any of this product in hand, contact THK for a refund. More information can be found at The Honest Kitchen’s Quality Control FAQ.

Verve_Web Verve:
Item Code: V4, VR
Production Date: 8/20/12
Expiration Date: 8/20/13
Size: 4 lb. box, 10 lb. box
Lot Number: 2332A (batches 1-3)

Item Code: VR
Production Date: 11/1/12
Expiration Date: 11/1/13
Size: 10 lb. box
Lot Number: 3062A (batches 8 & 9)

Zeal_WebZeal:
Item Code: Z4, ZR
Production Date: 8/14/12
Expiration Date: 8/14/13
Size: 4 lb. box, 10 lb. box
Lot Number: 2272A (batches 1-5)

Item Code: ZR
Production Date: 9/21/12
Expiration Date: 9/21/13
Size: 10 lb. box
Lot Number: 2652A (batches 1-4)

Thrive_WebThrive:
Item Code: TM
Production Date: 9/18/12
Expiration Date: 9/18/13
Size: 1 oz. sample
Lot Number: 2622A (batch 3)

The people who stand behind The Honest Kitchen genuinely want your pets to be safe – just as much as you do. How could they not? Every day, they and their pets eat this food too.

The Honest Kitchen

I am a proud participant in The Honest Kitchen’s ally program. I joined because, after increased deception about what constitutes “healthy” food in the pet food industry, I’ve found a human grade, socially and environmentally conscious dog and cat food company that I can trust my pets’ life with. While I do receive samples and a discount through the program, I tell everybody I know about The Honest Kitchen because – bottom line – I want people to feel as good about what they feed their pets as I do.