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From The Vault Of Art Shay: Pets And Vets

By Art Shay in News on Sep 19, 2013 4:00PM

(Legendary Chicago-based photographer Art Shay has taken photos of kings, queens, celebrities and the common man in a 60-year career. This week, Art shares a prank he pulled in a newspaper 53 years ago.)

An attractive divorcee I know, who had been in great emotional pain, showed up for her Match picture all smiles. What had changed her in a very few weeks ? Her djlub of an ex- husband was still playing his same lachrymose tune—the St. Augustine melody "Oh Lord, deliver me from sin- but not just yet."

Naw. It was her imminent ownership of a small, curly haired black dog, the runt of a Godforsaken litter some kindly lady was saving for her. She proudly showed me her first phone snap of it. Cute. I've never owned a pooch, but the whole idea was tempting. I must be losing my marbles. Instead, I reminded myself I had donated a cute animal picture that was auctioned for big bucks at the annual fundraiser of Orphans of the Storm in Deefield, Ill.

Several of my kids are world class dog lovers. Steve lived on an ancient Seattle boat with his huge golden retriever. Jane has owned poodles for years until her final one, Dewey, had to be put down. I really felt her pain.

This brings me to Lola the 6-year-old Golden Doodle belonging to my dear friend and Florence's, Roger Mandel, who used to be a hard-hearted lawyer and is now a soft-hearted potter. Roger and his wife, Betsy, sold their house and bought another on less sacred ground. "I miss walking Lola and talking to her," he told me."I don't want another dog but I couldn't just abandon Lola, or give her away to just anyone."

So he started to check potential solutions to his and Lola's problem of decent habitation with new owners. His best bet worked—asking his favorite dog doctor, Dr. David McKenna of the West Lake Forest Animal Hospital. By luck and by gosh Dr. Dave served a family that had three dogs until one had to be recently put down. Their 6-year-old canine was a wreck. Bottom line: Lola is now living large in Lake Forest with plenty of running room, a swimming pool, good company and excellent food.

"It's such a load off me, knowing Lola is okay," Roger said, daring me to make a joke of his great need. No, hard-hearted me exulted with him and told him how I once paid a veterinarian bill of $210 to repair the broken bones of Lauren's pet skunk which fell out of her second floor window. The bill was longer than her skunk but it smelled better. And I had saved a life.

Published with permission.

If you can't wait until this time every week to get your Art Shay fix, please check out the photographer's blog, which is updated regularly. Art Shay's book, Chicago's Nelson Algren, is also available at Amazon.