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Long Beach historian Claudine Burnett’s ‘Animal Tales’ offers horse laughs and details that may get your goat • Long Beach Post News

And if your back bristles, your fangs bare, or you curl up like a hedgehog at any mention of hunting, fur fashion or any other harm coming to animals, this book is for you, too. Burnett is a historian, meaning that she tells things as they were in days before spaying and neutering was strongly recommended if not put into law, before zoos became sanctuaries, and before pounds started morphing into shelters.

Burnett has written 13 books about everything Long Beach and is most rightfully considered one of this town’s finest historians, “reliable and generous,” as Long Beach Post columnist Tim Grobaty called her. A good number of Grobaty’s columns that he wrote in a previous incarnation tapped into her works and cited her skills as the city’s chronicler.

“Her indexing as a librarian of Long Beach newspapers going back to the 19th century is perhaps the most dependable resource for anyone researching the city’s history,” Grobaty said. “And all of her books are excellent reads. She really knows Long Beach’s past, probably more than anyone.”

Burnett is also a gifted storyteller. Her books flesh out Long Beach African American history, aviation, weird happenings over and under the sea, and my favorites—local hauntings and plot-heavy cemetery stories. Her latest work is titled “Animal Tales (Some a Little Fishy),” a clowder of short, clearly written anecdotes that meld pets, farm animals and wildlife with Long Beach’s history.

Claudine Burnett’s “Animal Tales”: Here be dogs, cats, bears, birds, rabbits, cows, horses, reptiles, frogs, toads, fish, whales, various wild fauna—even dinosaurs, found in Signal Hill oil fields in a different form, and woolly mammoths lumbering around where the Wilson High School Track would later lie.

 

Burnett wrote “Animal Tales” as a respite from writing about distressing and unsettling historical incidents, not that she didn’t find more of them in her research for this book.

“Basically, I needed a break from the often-disturbing story I was writing for my last book, ‘African Americans in Long Beach and Southern California,’” she said explaining her choice of animals as topic. “This book is mainly based on newspaper stories, which gave me the jumping-off point to add more as well as combine articles—such as the opossum sneaking into the theater. I looked up what was showing that day and came up with the X-rated films, which I incorporated into the story.”

Much of “Animal Tales” should take your own mind off troubles and educate you about animals’ effect on the city’s history and its quotidian events. Few of the subjects have tastes as prurient as the opossum’s, although there was a parrot called Jerry who was awarded a part in a high school play. He got the shepherd’s hook when he burst out in a medley of epithets and operatic arias during the second act. Many of the stories are thus entertaining: Mrs. Rapley’s neighbor’s puppy, who regularly pilfered items from the Rapley household and stowed them under the floor in a cache that would have put a crow to shame, the bored bovine who regularly got in the mooood for company and visited the hospital cow (that was a thing during the early days of the 20th century) to share lunch with her.

The reader will learn how attitudes and laws regarding animals developed over time. Dog-licensing laws, for instance, needed some tweaking, as one Jeremiah Lemons found out in 1907 when he went to pick up his dog at the pound and found that overnight, she’d birthed six puppies. Lemons was held responsible for paying an impound fee for each dog. Burnett isn’t above throwing in the occasional ad lib, either—in 1929, when urban farming wasn’t called urban farming, the city council’s ordinance allowed only one goat per household.

“The city’s new ‘one goat’ law ignored the fact that goats are social animals who need the company of at least one other goat,” Burnett wrote. “It brought lonesome days and nights for Long Beach goats living between Anaheim and Willow streets. Nanny goats had to divorce their Billy hubbies or live apart.”

woman with short blond hair looks at camera, holding a silver-gray tabby cat and a black cat

Burnett, shown with her meowing muses Amador and Esme, is not surprisingly an animal lover herself. She feathers the pages of “Animal Tales” with her own frolics and fiascos involving her cats and encounters with Mother Nature. She was involved in another opossum incident that’ll make you lock your doggie door at night.

 

Depending on their sensitivity, some readers may want to gloss over passages such as the hunting chapters and possibly the dog food section, which could bring up a furball. But, true with any historical account or study, the omission of uncomfortable or terrible aspects of animal history leaves the reader a false picture of the way things were then and a lack of appreciation or understanding of the way things are today. If you want to get a picture of what it was like for Long Beach animals during the last couple of centuries, purchase “Animal Tales” here. If you don’t yet own a Claudine Burnett library, all her books are available on the same link. You can also enjoy her blog absolutely free.

 Virtually pets

Maybe the second printing of “Animal Tales” will include rescues. Till then, here’s a brief tale of one that’s been a staple of Long Beach for a couple of decades. Live Love Animal Rescue was founded by Emily Ann Peters, who with her cadre of volunteers accomplished such feats of animal rescue as emptying the shelter during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and implementing Foster the Fourth to make kennel room for animals, mostly dogs, who were brought in, terrified, during the July fireworks season.

Peters, who has moved with her family to the East Coast, remains head of the Live Love and hasn’t run out of plans for saving more dogs.

“One of our current areas of focus is expanding in the Eastern states as well as in Colorado,” she said. “Our heart will always be with SoCal dogs, and our goal is to create more lifesaving opportunities for them through our alternate state operations.”

This column’s focus remains with Long Beach animals. Here are four of them. To adopt, check out the available dogs and apply for an application here.

tan Chihuahua with one cloudy eye and wearing a black collar sits on a blue rug and stares at camera.

Awww, Becky! This little senior gal is also known as Pirate because she’s got just one eye. Rest assured that this doesn’t stop her from living life to the fullest, and what she lacks in sight, she makes up for in zest for life, fun, and snuggles. At 8 years old, she acts like a youngster! Becky loves going on outings, sunning herself in the backyard, and curling up with you on the couch to watch TV. She loves playing with toys and can’t wait to play a good game of tug-of-war! Becky is slow to open up. and she’s looking for a patient family who can make her feel safe in her new home. She is best in a home with kids 16 years or older. While she would prefer to be the only dog, she would be okay with another small to medium very calm dog. She is not good with cats.

 

brown pit bull lies on wooden floor, a leash attached to his collar.

Say hello to Zero, 1-year-old American Staffordshire terrier and resident supermodel. Look into his beautiful golden eyes and see why we instantly fell madly in love with him. Zero’s foster family found him abandoned in a lot in South LA. When examining his body, you will find scars and cuts from what we think are past fights and possible abuse, but his gentleness and ability to trust his humans would say otherwise. Zero loves toys and playing just as any young dog would. He has a ton of energy and bunches of love to give his forever family. He would make a great outdoor adventure buddy! He’s fully housetrained, but still need some help with basic obedience training, which should come easy given his intelligence and treat motivation! His foster family loves his pronounced underbite and his feeding-time dance! He likes small dogs but hasn’t had the opportunity to meet any large dogs or cats. With a slow, proper intro, he’ll be fine.

 

mild-looking black Chihuahua stands by a pool.

Maebe is 8 years old and 18 pounds. She’s sweet as tapioca pudding and would love a meet-and-greet!

 

Saint Bernard with white body and muzzle and brown mask and ears sits upright on green grass, a leash attached to her collar

Nine-year-old Brita‘s award-winning smile and world-famous jowls have admirers lining up to sing her praises! She’s everything you’d expect of a goofy Saint Bernard and then some. She’s got that squishy, huggable body and her favorite pastime is trying to shove her nose between your legs for extra scratches. She’s a gal who knows what she wants! Brita can be a little slow to warm up to new people, but she will soon be your best friend if you don’t put too much pressure on the relationship right away. She also enjoys the company of other dogs if she meets them gradually. Brita has been working on her training skills and is housetrained and crate trained, walks nicely on leash, and knows a few basic commands. She’d do best in a home that can give her a nice, slow introduction to new things and continue working on the training foundation she has! She would be okay as an only dog, or with other dogs in the home but would prefer to live without cats.

 

Adopt, adopt, adopt

white pit bull with brown half-mask sits on blanket and holds a rose in her mouth.

Photo by shelter volunteer Nici Daniels

 

Long Beach Animal Care Services open five days a week, with no appointment necessary

Please make our shelter at Long Beach Animal Care Service your first stop for adoption—it continues to fill with dogs and cats. LBACS is now open without any appointment necessary Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for adoptions and for intake of healthy stray dogs. Appointments to adopt one of these sweet animals are readily available at [email protected] or 562-570-4925.

The shelter is also for redemptions of personal pets during regular business hours and also accepts any sick, dangerous or injured animal without appointment during regular business hours.

two dogs and a cat on one border, two cats and two dogs on other. Caption says, "May we couch-surf at your place?"

May we couch-surf at your place?

Foster for awhile—or furever!

If you’ve always wanted a pet but aren’t sure if you’re ready for a lifetime (the animal’s) commitment, or if you’re past the pet-roommate days for any reason, fostering might be a great way to go, especially with one or more of the kittens popping up during kitten season. Every one of the organizations listed below is in desperate need of fosters who’ll social them and help save their little lives. Who knows—maybe one of those lives will change your mind about the not-ready-for-roommate thing!

These nonprofits also regularly feature cat, dog and rabbit adoptions. As of now, adoptions are mainly by appointment. Click on the links for each rescue in case of updates or changes. These organizations operate through donations and grants, and anything you can give would be welcome. Please suggest any Long Beach-area rescues to add to the list.

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