The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Michele Bender

June 28, 2014

Licorice lends a paw

— I bet you expected to find Michele Bender’s column here today.

She just came home from the hospital. She’s doing fine but resting, so I thought I’d lend a paw.

By now you’ve noticed – I’m a dog.

I’m a 5-year-old Scottish terrier named Licorice, and my pet human, Joe, is one of Michele’s pals.

The last time I wrote, I revealed canine secrets. For instance, humans hear “arf,” “bow-wow,” and “woof,” but that’s Dogspeak, our language.

I also blabbed that some of us can read and write.

When I read The Tribune-Democrat and saw that we missed Michele’s birthday party, I confess I was so angry that I chewed a slipper.

Joe displays affection by petting and cuddling, but Michele is a kisser. I enjoy the variety.

When we visit, I jump on her lap and we share “poochie ‘moochies.’ ”

I welcome this chance to focus on a serious problem facing humans and animals alike: bullying.

We live in a woodsy, secluded part of Brownstown.

Lots of forest critters – deer, groundhogs, raccoons – inhabit the area, too.

Despite my poise and sophistication, sometimes I snap at the sight of another creature invading my turf.

I accept that being tethered in our yard and on our porch is for my protection, just like Joe accepts me walking him on our leash.

Owning a human is a big responsibility. You never know what they’re going to do.

One spring evening, as I napped soundly on our porch, Joe walked up the street on a quick errand.

I woke up to a thud. The porch shook. Two huge German shepherds snarled at me menacingly.

“Hey, what’s up?” I asked nervously.

“Your time!” growled the larger one.

 They pounced. They brutally bit and gouged me, tearing my fur and skin. Trapped on my own porch, I yelped helplessly at the intense pain.

Suddenly, they ran off. I tried to stand up, but couldn’t. Bloody wounds and gashes covered my 13-pound body.

Then Joe appeared. He wrapped me gently in a blanket and rushed me to Cambria Veterinary Care on Broad Street.

I was so happy to see Dr. Johanna (Vena). She gives me all my vaccinations

I  heard a lot of mysterious words that night that no pooch should ever have to hear: internal injuries, traumatic ruptures, spleenectomy, operate immediately.

She told Joe that my attackers missed my carotid artery by less than an inch. That sounded awful!

I know how much I hurt, and it took a long time for me to heal.

My pet human proved to be an excellent nurse.

But, like Michele, I’m way better now.

Too often we hear stories about unrestrained animals inflicting injuries on pets and humans, too. We dogs get a bad rep.

There’s more to responsibility than purchasing licenses, getting shots and scooping.

Pet parents, protect your loved ones.

I’ll write again about happier stuff.

Wags and woofs to all.

Michele Mikesic Bender is a Johnstown resident and a member of The Tribune-Democrat’s Readership Advisory Committee.


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Michele Bender
  • Michele Bender Licorice lends a paw

    I bet you expected to find Michele Bender’s column here today.
    She just came home from the hospital. She’s doing fine but resting, so I thought I’d lend a paw.

    June 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender MICHELE M. BENDER | Time to can clutter

    I’m “downsizing.” Sixteen years ago, this house was perfect for me. I gave parties. Friends came and stayed for weekends. Great insulation protected visitors from highway noise.
    Yep, I had the time of my life.
    But I’m 16 years older, and my friends are, too.  They no longer travel like they did. Parties wear us out by 10 p.m.

    June 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele Those oldies, but goodies

    Twice yearly Hollywood marches out a platoon of war movies.

    May 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Living life out loud

    “If I make it to Medicare,” I declared, “I’m going to throw a party people will not forget! It’ll be something no one’s ever done!”
    Well, I made it to 65.

    May 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Watch the stars come out

    Every spring, I catch drive-in movie fever. We are blessed to have three outdoor theaters in a 30-mile radius. Movies under the stars … heavenly!

    May 3, 2014

  • Michele Bender Bye, bye, Easter birdies

    Animals fascinated my mom. Riding the train between Johnstown and Philly, she saw horses, pigs, sheep, cows … a Mattel See ’n Say of farm critters.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele.JPG MICHELE M. BENDER | Whisper sweet nothings in my ear

    “Your call is very important to us,” growled the crabby lady at the utility company. “Please wait for the next available representative.”

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele MICHELE M. BENDER | Sock it to me


    March 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele.JPG MICHELE M. BENDER | What happened to Christmas?

    Headaches rarely bother me. I always felt sorry for folks trapped in the Advil/Dristan web.
    I woke up at 4 a.m. Dec 17 with a headache that probably registered on a Richter scale. (People in New Zealand experienced aftershocks.)

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele.JPG Judge Judy’s tough in any language

    In her relentless effort to “correct and serve,” Judge Judy Scheindlin is “on the road” promoting her new program, “Hot Bench.”

    February 8, 2014 1 Photo


What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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