Top, Ranny Green with Abby, a dog he brought home with him from rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina. Below, Green poses with just one of the awards he won the night he was inducted into the Dog Writers Association of America's Hall of Fame.
For nearly 30 years, Ranny Green wrote a popular Seattle Times column about pets. He helped rescue stranded cats and dogs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and at home in Washington state he and his family have nurtured stray animals all his life. In “retirement” he’s part of the PR team for the Westminster Dog Show, while writing a monthly feature and reviewing books for the Seattle Kennel Club.
Now, fittingly, Green is one of the two newest inductees into the Dog Writers Association of America’s Hall of Fame.
“I felt very honored, humbled,” Green says, reading down the list of previous winners, some of the country’s most authoritative dog writers.
Green’s column ran in the Seattle Times from 1973 until late 2000, when he and fellow Pacific Northwest Guild members went on strike.
He took the early morning shift on the picket line each day. “It was a really tough time -- not an experience I’d want to repeat,” he says. Still, he remembers some of better moments: Guild members taking care of each other like family and the largely pro-union Seattle community embracing and feeding the strikers.
When it was finally over after 47 days, his editor told him that for “economic” reasons they would no longer run his column, even though it generated lots of feedback and ideas from faithful readers.
Green had freelanced the weekly column while working a regular shift as a copy editor. He was disappointed to see it go, but seized other opportunities to write about animals.
Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was one. The paper sent him to New Orleans to work with a rescue agency, Noah’s Wish. He spent 12 memorable days with them.
“I didn’t want to go down as a reporter and sit and interview people,” Green said. “I wanted to roll up my sleeves and do the work.”
Trained on the spot with some 800 other volunteers, Green bottle-fed kittens, walked and bathed dogs, cleaned cages and unloaded vans from across the country filled with donations of pet supplies, food and toys. Most eye-opening of all, he went on daily
missions rescuing animals trapped alone inside flooded homes.
While it could have been heartbreaking, thinking about the animals that perished, “There really wasn’t time to cry down there,” he said. “Everyone was there to do a job.”
Sometimes, though, there were tears of joy. In his coverage, he writes of a middle-aged man coming to the shelter hoping to find his black Labrador retriever, Gumbo.
“A few moments later, we enter the kennel and when Gumbo hears his voice, the dog begins barking furiously from his crate a couple long rows away,” Green wrote. “When the two see each other tears stream down the owner's face. ‘This is the happiest day of my life,’ he says, as the jubilant Gumbo furiously licks his tear-strewn cheeks. ‘You're going home, Gumbo. You're going home,’ he says, apologizing for crying. That prompts smiles, high fives and hugs among staffers and volunteers gathered nearby, some of whom appear near burnout.”
Volunteers paid their own way, surviving in sweltering heat without electricity and sleeping on floors in old motels and even a furniture warehouse.
Green said he made lifelong friends and discovered one of the things he wanted to do when he retired - - rescue more animals. Aside from his efforts closer to home, he’s made three trips to Mexico to bring north small breed dogs rescued by a local Humane Society.
Media coverage of one trip led a member of the Nordstrom family, of Seattle retail fame, to sponsor another. “If you’ve never brought back six dogs on a trip through Customs, you have not lived,” Green said.
At age 73, he is as busy as ever in retirement – a subject, his daughter jokes, that he’s “flunking.”
He thinks back on the years of writing his popular column, and a decade before that when he covered sports, getting to go everywhere from the Indy 500 to the 1964 Olympics.
As careers go, he says, “It doesn’t get much better than that.”