Pet Tales: Charlie Batch -- More than a football hero




Roxie was a Rottweiler who was loved by a man who is loved by many.

"Roxie's three different types of chemo treatment all failed," Charlie Batch posted on his Facebook page on Nov. 27. "The doctor said our 5-year-old rescue blessing may have a couple of weeks or a couple months. Please continue to pray for her."

But on Nov. 29, the Steelers' backup quarterback reported Roxie had died.

More than 6,000 people clicked the FB "like" button and more than 1,700 shared the post with the picture of Mr. Batch lying on a blanket with his arm around the big black-and-tan dog. Uncounted fans posted their condolences.

Roxie had been diagnosed with lymphoma in early March.

"It was tough," Mr. Batch told the Post-Gazette's Ray Fittipaldo on Friday. "I didn't know it was going to happen so fast.... It caught me off guard. That was one of the toughest things I've ever had to do."

Three days after Roxie died, Mr. Batch traveled to Baltimore to start as quarterback in a game that many fans, foes and "experts" said the Steelers could not win without Ben Roethlisberger. Steelers playoff hopes remained alive as the division-leading Ravens lost, 23-20.

An iconic end-game image showed Mr. Batch, head bowed, in the arms of Mr. Roethlisberger. Mr. Batch made no mention of that football game on his Facebook page, although he did congratulate WPIAL champion high school football teams.

More than 32,000 fans "like" the Batch page, which has many pictures of professional football players participating in community events and charity fund-raisers, including the Batch of Toys annual toy drive. The page included periodic pictures and updates on Roxie, who looked happy and healthy even until the very end.

"Let's go Roxie," said a June 10 post. " It's time for the Panera Pup Walk @ the Waterfront." The poster advertising the event in Homestead, his hometown, showed Mr. Batch, the grand marshall, with six of his dogs -- Roxie, a pit bull, two shiba inu and two fluffy little white dogs. The walk surpassed its $10,000 fundraising goal for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society.

The last Roxie post on Nov. 29 was posted in the dog's "voice."

"Well guys, I'm tired and I lost my hind leg strength. I put up a good fight but now I must rest & watch over my dad. Thank you everyone for all the love & prayers during this time. Ruv Roo all -- Roxie. #CancerSUCKS.

Max Cat 2003-2012

People who knew him well say that Max Cat was "a one-of-a-kind-kitty." He loved traveling and loved meeting strangers at public events and fundraisers.

And so it was "with heavy hearts and tears that we must report the passing of Max, our beloved shelter housecat," said the Nov. 28 post on the Face Book page of the Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center.

The photograph with the post showed a beautiful long-haired black-and-white cat, wearing a black and silver bow tie. You can't tell from the picture, but Max was a big boy, weighing more than 20 pounds -- and he wasn't fat.

Max was the only cat in the 2012 Penguins & Paws calendar, which features 16 Pittsburgh Penguins and 21 dogs raising money for the ARL. Max wore a black-and-gold Pens T-shirt and regally posed in the arms of hockey player Steve MacIntyre.

Max was left at the Larimer shelter several years ago by owners who "reported house soiling." Medical exams indicated that the cat with the amazing personality had kidney problems that would require special food and veterinary care that would exceed the costs many pet owners would be willing or able to pay.

So Max was not put up for adoption. Instead he became a permanent shelter resident and feline ambassador who had the run of the cat adoption center.

He frequently showed potential adopters around and helped hundreds of shelter cats find permanent homes, staff and volunteers say.

In recent weeks Max "stopped eating and became aloof, staring off into the distance," the ARL post said. Medical tests indicated he was in renal failure and he "passed quietly in the arms of staff."

Max was especially close to volunteer Bill Blair, who wanted to personally pay for Max's cremation, but Eternity Pet performed the service for free.

R.I.P., Max.

Hockey for homeless pets

Penguins-deprived hockey fans can watch a hockey game tonight, and it benefits the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society.

The Community College of Allegheny County North Campus Intercollegiate Ice Hockey Team is hosting its fifth benefit hockey game at 7:30 p.m. at the Mt. Lebanon Recreation Center, 900 Cedar Blvd., Pittsburgh 15228. They're playing California University of Pennsylvania. Tickets, $5, can be purchased at the door.

The CCAC team is wearing special gray-and-white WPHS jerseys that can be purchased for $50. Raffle tickets will be sold for 15 gift baskets and a Michael McKenry autographed baseball, an Emmanuel Sanders autographed football and memorabilia from the Clarks band.

Coach Chuck Bell describes himself as "the guardian of a rescued dog" and said the Humane Society was picked "because so many of the team members have rescued pets at home, and CCAC has a lot of animal lovers amongst its ranks."

Christmas deliveries

Here's an "Oh WOW" Christmas morning gift: a puppy or kitten under the Christmas tree.

Adopt a pet from The Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center between Dec. 16 and 23, pay an extra $25, and the new family member will be delivered to your home on Christmas morning between 6 and 10 a.m. Deliveries must be within a 20-mile radius of the Larimer shelter, and the maximum number of home deliveries will be 30.

I know, I know. Every year rescue groups and animal welfare organizations send out news releases saying Christmas is not a good time to adopt an animal because many homes have a lot of noise and confusion due to more visitors than usual.

On the other hand, according to the ARL news release, many families have lots of days off during the holidays, and children are home from school with lots of time to bond with a new pet.

Potential adopters have to go through the usual adoption screening. Potential pets will be tested with children, although not the children who are receiving a Christmas morning surprise.

For information about Adopt A Pet Christmas Program, send email to ghoffman@animalrescue.org or call GeorgAnne Hoffman at 412-345-7300 extension 222.

Gift wrapping

Volunteers from The Animal Rescue League will be wrapping packages at The Waterfront Town Center in Homestead every Saturday and Sunday in December, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the former storefront of American Eagle Outfitters, located across from King's Jewelry. Adoptable animals will be there, too, lookin' for love and what rescue people call a "forever home."

Pet Tales appears weekly in the Saturday Home & Garden section. Linda Wilson Fuoco: lfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3064. Got a pet health question? Email it to petpoints@post-gazette.com. It may be answered in an upcoming Pet Points column by veterinarians at the Point Breeze Veterinary Clinic




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