26 February

Zinnia:”Spirit Dog” Of Bishop Maginn. The New Wish List

by Jon Katz

Please help Zinnia support the school she loves.

Zinnia has been adopted by Bishop Maginn High School’s Senior Class as their official mascot for their forthcoming graduation. They also voted her as a spokesperson and cheer dog for the new Bishop Magin High School Prom And Graduation Wish List posted this morning.

Help if you can. This is the sweetest and most deserving and least expensive Wish List I’ve ever put up. Zinnia adores Bishop Maginn, her tail starts wagging when we pull into the parking lot, and she has more friends there than I can name.

They have watched her grow up, loved her, helped me train her and learn what a good therapy dog does. She will make a great poster dog for the new Wish List

Last night, hearing the news about the virus and watching a few disheartening minutes of the Democratic debate, I decided to postpone posting the Wish List until this morning, when the meaning and power – and need –  of doing good would be crystal clear.

I got a great lift out of doing that, it was like taking a deep breath and exhaling all the poison and fear in the atmosphere. Try it if you doubt me.

This morning, I went onto the Wish List and bought four items for a total of $28.

This is how we can remain hopeful and grounded, no matter how much awful news they pour onto us. If she could speak, Zinnia would be the first to say this list – inexpensive from top to bottom – will make an enormous difference to these children, who are used to having to fend for themselves, along with their families, and doing without.

I wanted to cry when I saw how much these children love and trust Zinnia, one of the girls said “she is a spirit dog, come to help us.” Yes! She said in her country white animals were spirit animals, come to bring good things.

These children and their families have suffered enough and sacrificed everything to come to this country, where they are often made to feel unwelcome and are no longer being supported by their new government.

I hope we can help give them proper graduation, as they go off to college and build themselves a new life in our country, which they love no matter what.


25 February

Zinnia Wins Over Biddy. Yes To Love

by Jon Katz

When it comes to love, Zinnia does not take no for an answer. Biddy, one of our grumpy Romney sheep snuck up on Zinnia and butted her in the side, pushing her back a couple of feet.

Zinna marched right back up to Zinnia and kissed her on the nose. One by one, Zinnia has been charming and winning over every animal on the farm. When it comes to love, she never accepts no.

25 February

Bishop Maginn Morning: Zinnia At Jean’s

by Jon Katz

Maria and I had lunch at Jean’s Place Monday after we ate and the diner was closing, Carol and Amy asked to see Zinnia. Jean’s is like a second home to her, Kevin comes out of the kitchen and Carol and Amy snuggled with her and commented on her growth and good manners.

As always, she sits in the middle of all this and takes it in. Everybody gets a kiss who wants one.

An older man was sitting at the counter. I heard everyone who works there come over to him, say they are sorry about the loss of his wife, hug him and touch his arm.

There is a powerful feeling about Jean’s place, a sense of caring and community that goes way beyond food. People are known there, they matter. Jean’s place is the anti-corporate place, personal, comforting, familiar.

They know who comes in and what is happening to them. This is now so rare it is almost shocking. Jean’s Place matters to me, and to many other people.

Zinnia and I are off to Bishop Maginn High School in Albany this morning.

The mission is to help support a new Wish List that will buy the small and inexpensive things these children need to take to graduation, coming up in a month or so. Their needs are small, but their family resources are exhausted.

This will be a fun Wish List, a classic small act of great kindness that will make a big difference to people in need. I hope to put it up on the blog tonight.

24 February

Sweet: Fate Is Teaching Zinnia To Be A Dog

by Jon Katz

Fate was not thrilled when Zinnia came into our lives. She has never been fond of other dogs, except for Red, who she loved.

She did everything to get Zinnia out of the house but pack her in a crate and ship her to California. She snarls and nips at her, steals her food and treats if we’re not looking and ignores or avoids her whenever possible.

But slowly and visibly, their relationship is changing. Zinnia adores Fate, follows her around, runs with her, kisses her on the nose, watches her closely and in recent days I’ve noticed that Fate has been teaching her how to be a dog in the country.

Zinna sees that Fate keeps her distance from the donkeys and sheep when they are eating. She has learned to be cautious.

On our walks, if Zinnia wanders too far away, Fate circles around her and guides her back to us (our border collies have never run away from the people who bring them to work).

Now, Zinnia turns and waits for us, just as Fate does if we fall behind.

Zinnia is learning how to run longer and faster by watching Fate. Fate is showing her how to climb into the pond, and cool off, and even swim a bit (border collies are not big swimmers, Labs are). Today, Zinnia swam a bit.

She watches Fate when the coyotes howl at night, and pays them no mind, as Fate pays them no mind. Fate is teaching her how to chase balls in the yard and bring them back to the thrower.

When the ball is thrown, Fate rushes in and steals it from Bud. Zinnia is doing the same.


Fate used to bark or growl Zinnia away when she tried to run with her. Now she doesn’t object at all. These are two very different animals, they have little in common but us and the farm, but they communicate all the time and are working things out, unlike so many people.

It is a beautiful thing to see this beautiful, aloof and very bright dog take her biological opposite – Zinnia is easy, friendly, forgiving and sweet – under her wing, even though she still wishes she might go away and stop bothering her.

But there is no nipping and snarling, no more growling. Fate is accepting Zinnia day by day, and consciously or not – how can I know? – she is teaching her how to be a dog on Bedlam Farm and in the country.


Bedlam Farm