A Taming yet *Tender* Touch

Alex Larenty gives full-grown lion Jamu a foot massage. Jamu is known to roll over and expectantly wave his paws for his keeper. (Barcroft Pacific)

What an amazing story about Alex Larenty, an English animal expert who has found a special way to bond with lions, elephants and grizzly bears. He has raised several lions from birth at the The Lion Park, outside Johannesburg, thus building a level of mutual trust with them.

Alex Larenty, 50, has built a unique bond with nine-year-old Jamu by tickling him on his giant paws at The Lion Park, outside Johannesburg.

“[He likes] being scratched and tickled and now his favourite game is ‘This Little Piggy’,” Larenty told the Daily Mail.

Click here to enjoy some additional cool photos of Alex with Jamu.


Senator Franken’s new office *staffer*

I’ve posted about Al Franken here, here, here & here, and continue to be so impressed by what he is trying to do in truly making a difference for his constituents. He is a dog lover, of course, as one would expect him to be. A Labrador Retriever guy, in fact.

Contributing Editor Warren Kalbacker squared off with Franken for hours across the comic’s dining room table while Franken’s Labrador relaxed underneath. “He’s intense and obviously opinionated. He’s also physical. He interrupted our sessions a couple of times to wrestle his huge retriever into a headlock.”

It was very hard to learn about his beloved Kirby.

Franken shifts positions and pulls his wallet out of his back pocket and throws it on the coffee table next to a wooden bowl full of fake cherries Franni bought at Target. It’s all chewed up—the work, he says, of the late Kirby, the dog pictured in the Vikings helmet in the campaign slideshow and also framed on the wall in this room. “Now I don’t want to get rid of it, because Kirby did this,” he says, looking at the gnawed wallet. “Because we had to put Kirby down about a month ago. It was awful. He was only 8. He had cancer in his leg, in his bone, and at any minute his bone could shatter. And so I would have cut his leg off—I’ve seen some very happy three-legged dogs—but it had metastasized, so we had to put him down, and it was just awful. You know, it’s the whole family being with Kirby and hugging him while he’s being injected, and it’s the worst.” Franken’s voice is cracking a little. “Let’s not bring it up anymore, because I get upset,” he says, wiping his eyes.

Learning that his first goal as a new Senator was to provide Service Dogs for war veterans did not surprise me in the least. [Learn more about Psychiatric Service Dogs here]. Of course, I loved that this desire was spurred by his meeting Luis Carlos Montalvan and his Service Golden Retriever Tuesday at a presidential inaugural event.

On December 13, 2009, by a vote of 57 to 35, the Senate gave its final approval to the FY2010 Omnibus Appropriations Act, so funding Franken’s provision of service dogs to veterans with disabilities.

Blaine and the Senator

I was so happy to see that the Senator has some new canine comfort and cheer in his life. He just announced adding a new member to his Washington staff. Blaine is a two-year-old mutt that he adopted from the Washington Animal Rescue League. Since he shares his name with a town in Minnesota, Al knew immediately that he would be a perfect fit.

Blaine is, of course, already a full-fledged member of the office. His particular strengths, you ask?

Well, he is simply great at  .  .  .  .  . carrying a stuffed duck around, sitting in on staff meetings, and lounging in the legislative bullpen.

Is that a face or what?

Golden Play …. youngens and oldens

This short film about how a young Golden Retriever is always trying to get his older Golden home-mate (lying on sofa) to play with him is just precious. It reminded me of when my Darcy was alive. She used to think Alfie was a goofball (which he is, of course) and dismissed him much of the time ….. unless tugging was involved. Then, she’d never let him win, actually pulling him across the floor as she tried to wrestle tugs from his grip.