Friday, December 11, 2009
Sometimes, the individual or family adopting these Homeward Bound pets donate all or part of the waived fee back to HSSV to fund another Homeward Bound adoption, or they may use the savings to purchase necessary items for their new pet in our Whole Pets pet store. Either way, everyone wins!
Other individuals or companies who have taken an interest in a Homeward Bound pet, but who can’t adopt right now, have generously chosen to sponsor that pet’s adoption fee as well. (If you have a favorite dog, cat, or rabbit here at HSSV -- either at our Animal Community Center, or at our Petco El Paseo De Saratoga Satellite Adoption Center -- and would like to sponsor their adoption fee, you can call our front desk at 408-262-2133 ext. 150 and cover an adoption fee for someone else!)
We look forward to all of our animals being “homeward bound”, of course, but we get especially excited when those who have been with us for a while, and to whom we become attached, find the home of their dreams with the help of this great new program.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Thanks for helping!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I can't WAIT for the Humane Society Silicon Valley Holiday Arts and Crafts Faire this weekend! I was perusing the site to look at all of the vendors who are coming and found about a million things I "needed" to get. There's a great little website with links to all of the vendors and info on the day.
1) First, there's the cute, hand-knit turtleneck sweaters for Rocky and Lucy, my rescued German Shorthairs. Rachel Deichman, who makes these totally hip sweaters (see Bach modeling to the right), has been knitting up a storm. I am going to purchase a pink and grey wide stripe sweater for Lucy and will ask Rachel to custom make a brown and black one for Rocky. The best part? When Lucy rolls in cow manure in her sweater, I can just pop it into the washing machine. The felted-wool coats she makes for the little dogs are so cute, I'll have to get one of those for Ruby, my little terrier mix.
2) Sonya Paz, acclaimed artist and animal lover, will be selling her awesome art, including "wearable" art such as wristwatches and necklaces that have her paintings on them. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of her wearable art and artwork with animals in them goes to HSSV. Sonya is so generous AND she has great stuff!
3) "Pawfectionz", jewelry and crafts by Alexis Grenzer, inspired by her little muse, the darling chihuahua named Frida (adopted from HSSV) is next on my list. I simply must purchase a pair of silver earrings with little beagles on them for my friend who has a little beagle/basset mix. Alexis' wares are beautiful and creative. She also does jewelry in resin and many other types of materials.
4) Handknitted scarves by Homa Adelkhani will be the perfect gift for my friend Cassie. She has a little dog who won't wear sweaters, but will wear scarves, and I'm going to get a matching one for her to wear when she and her pup go out together. The scarves are gorgeous and not like anything I've ever seen - silky strands intermingled with boiled wool. Amazing, delicate and one-of-a-kind.
5) For my friend Judith, who amazingly has managed to get a foxhound, rabbit and chihuahua to all live together peaceably together (how on earth did she figure that out?).... a pair of "More Rabbit Pottery Mugs" from Gray Rabbit - great handpainted mugs with a whimsical feel.
I could go on and on...but I want to leave you with a little nugget of info. The prized raffle item of the day? Some lucky shopper will win the ultimate gift - to keep for him or herself, or to give away - a bronze-plated brick that will be permanently displayed at the new Animal Community Center where all sorts of amazing life-saving goes on.
Make sure to join us this Saturday, December 5th, for HSSV's first Animal Arts and Crafts Faire. Holiday Shopping that helps to save lives is the coolest.
P.S. For Delilah's new people: Rachel is knitting a beautiful little dress for your sweet girl. It's going to be mostly pink and Rachel is using recycled silk from saris. It's gorgeous, delicate and perfect for your little girl!
Monday, November 9, 2009
In October, everywhere I went, I saw decorations for the holidays already up! I couldn't believe it, but then I realized that the holidays are right around the corner so I used the reminder to think about how I could make it easier for all of HSSV's supporters and friends (and myself!) to shop for friends, their (my) pets (and themselves/myself!) in a way that helps HSSV's animals.
So, today, we are launching our own Humane Society Silicon Valley Shop for the Animals Campaign. It's called Shop! Save! Support! because each shopping purchase helps to save a life by supporting HSSV with a percentage of sales. Whatever you need to get, for whomever you need to get it, you can get it here. I have found that shopping from my chair has been great fun and takes the stress out of everything.
CafeGive is HSSV's newest way to provide tons of stores for all of us to shop to benefit HSSV's animals. There are so many stores there - Home Depot, Shoebuy.com (same benefits and selection as Zappos.com), Gaiam.com for all your "green" shopping, tons of kids and baby shops and, most importantly, GREAT shops for dog/cat/rabbit shopping! 1800PetMeds.com, Doctors Foster and Smith, Dog.com (my fave) and more. Each business gives a percentage of your purchase and it really adds up for our animals. One of our supporters just bought an OVEN on the site and HSSV will get a great percentage of that! You can also use the site to create widgets of items that YOU like that you can post on your facebook or other social networking sites or email to a friend. I think that's pretty cool.
One of the other really neat ways to support HSSV and make my own life more convenient? FETCH! HSSV's new FETCH! Program allows you to shop online, pay via phone and have all your pet supplies ready to be picked up - just run in and run out! Great for people like me who always remember that I need dog food when I'm in a meeting and can't do anything about it. Boom! On my iphone, order my stuff and swing by to pick it up later!
DogTagArt is another new vendor that has waaaay cool, indestructible dog tags that can be personalized with your dog's/cat's picture, your favorite saying, etc. The tags are double-sided so there's room for all the usual, plus something much more fun. I plan to buy one that indicates how awesome "recycled pets" are!
Silpada Jewelry is another EXCELLENT site! HSSV supporter Sue Scheen gives HSSV a huge portion of her proceed from all sales from the Silpada catalog. She's extended it this year to go through December, which is soooo generous. I see pretty much all the gifts for every single woman I have to buy for in this catalog (and a few men, too - there are belts and such). Check it out.
HSSV is doing all that we can to make it easy for our friends and our community to support our work. I hope you'll take advantage of all the fun shopping stuff we're launching.
All the little stuff adds up to saving a life - lives like Angel's (read her story here on bringlight.com!)
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I never knew how much I loved my last HSSV foster dog, Wookie, until he was lost, literally. Four days after he was adopted into his forever home, Wookie bolted out of their slightly open front door, with his leash on. He ran around to the sidewalk on the busy street, and was last seen streaking down the street toward a busy intersection. His new owner immediately contacted me to seek advice and help.
When I heard the news, there was no way I could not go over there and try to look for him. Wookie is a shy dog that strongly bonds to his people, and he may have left to go looking for me. He is afraid of strangers, especially men, so we figured he might be hiding. My husband, the new owner and I walked the neighborhood, calling his name, and searching under bushes with flashlights until midnight, to no avail. The next day, an impromptu search party made up of five staff from HSSV, including me, spread out around their neighborhood and looked for Wookie. We also hung up about 150 Lost Dog flyers and asked people if they have seen him.
While we were out looking for him, it was announced at HSSV that Wookie was lost. The calls, emails and texts came pouring in, everyone wanted to help. We had all bonded to Wookie during his time in foster care, and wanted to do everything we could to help his new owners find him. I went back in the evening to search for him with my two Weimaraners (who are friends with Wookie) and asked them, “Where’s Wookie?” They pulled me all over sniffing bushes, but still to no avail. I went to bed worried about Wookie. I kept having a vision of him running out of the bushes when I called his name. I definitely still had hope. I would look again the next day. Casaundra Cruz, HSSV Regional Rescue & Special Needs Department, had formed another search party, made up of foster dog volunteers, that would join us the next day.
That next morning, I woke up slightly before dawn, and instinctively checked my phone for any news. I had received a text and a voicemail from Wookie’s owner: this could be good news!
I read the text, “He came home! He’s dirty but healthy. I’ll call you in the a.m.”.
My heart jumped and I immediately texted and emailed the update to everyone at HSSV. The news does not get better than that!! Apparently, he scratched on his new family’s door around 1:30 am, and immediately began to play with his new canine family member, L.C. What a smart dog! I am amazed he found his way home after only being there a few days. Wookie knew in his heart that they are his forever family!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Julia Lewis, DVM
Last week, I took on the joys of fostering a kitten. This was not the usual HSSV kitten that required fostering. Button, as I’ve named him, is a “bottle baby”. He was found as a stray and brought into HSSV by a Good Samaritan. Button was about 2 weeks old and weighed 6oz. I happened to be walking down the hall and heard very loud insistent meows and just had to take a look. What I saw was a grey and black striped bundle of fur loudly protesting about how unfair it was that he was hungry but no one was doing anything about it!
One of the privileges of being a veterinarian at HSSV is that I get first dibs on fostering a too-young kitten. Before I, or Button, knew it, I had a bottle in my hand, a can of KMR (kitten milk replacer) and a screaming kitten in my office. Luckily, Jeanne, our VP of Human Resources was also fostering a bottle baby and I ran to her office to get a bottle of KMR that was already mixed and got to the job of feeding Button. It took a little effort, since Button was so hungry and scared, he didn’t know what the thing being shoved into his mouth was, but he managed to drink a little bit of the formula. We then went through the ritual of stimulating him to eliminate and I put him back into his carrier that I fixed up with clean towels and a fluffy blanket (made available through the generous donations that the public brings to HSSV). He took a short nap and woke up screaming again. Briefly, what flashed through my mind was “What did I take on” and “I should have discussed taking on this responsibility with my husband”. Then, the meows drew me out of my worries and I got down to the task of repeating the earlier ritual.
On the way home, I finally called my husband to inform him that I did a very impetuous thing. This was followed by a dramatic pause to allow my husband to think the worse so that when I sprang on him that I was fostering a kitten, it should be no big deal. It worked! We’ve had Button for almost a week now. I’m a night owl so I stay up until 2am to give Button his bottle. Then my husband, who is an early bird, gets up at 6am to give Button a bottle again. I bring Button to work with me where he gets a bottle whenever he wakes up and feels like eating again. So far, Button has just about doubled in weight. He’s had several baths already to get rid of fleas and clean up, and spends about 5-10 minutes playing and purring on his back after each meal. He also has met lots of the wonderful staff and volunteers at HSSV to get him used to new experiences.
In another week or so, we will start the weaning process. That will be a messy affair as kittens tend to walk in and dunk their faces in the food. Button will also start to learn to use a litter box, and that could be a hit-or-miss affair until he figures things out. I anticipate Button getting many baths a day to keep him clean and fresh. Then once he reaches 2 pounds in weight (wow, that seems like so long in the future!) he will be neutered and then made available for adoption after he recovers. So, in about 6 weeks or so, look for Button on HSSV’s available animals site!
P.S. I just started fostering a new bottle baby to play with Button, and his name is Zipper!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
When I give tours of our new Animal Community Center, I love to spend time in our Education Center, explaining to our “tourists” that Education is a powerful way to really make a difference regarding pet homelessness in the future of Santa Clara County. Teach a child why a dog barks or why a cat scratches, and they will bring this information home to their families and help their parents understand why the puppy needs training, or why the cat needs a scratching post, so mom and dad don’t get so frustrated with the pet that they are surrendered to a shelter. Teach children that animals are individual beings — that they can make the animal feel loved or feel hurt, happy or sad, safe or scared — and you are teaching children how to be responsible pet owners, and ultimately responsible members of society.
For four weeks this summer at our “Amazing Animals Summer Camp”, we enjoyed a flow of about 75 children between the ages of 6 and 12, who each for one week came to our Animal Community Center and learned about dogs, cats, rabbits, snakes, tarantulas, frogs, and more. There were nearly 20 teenage camp counselors who worked with the children; these counselors may have learned more about animals and children than even their younger charges did! After their summer here, our counselors shared their favorite experiences.
Adam Donald reported: “Another activity was about the overpopulation of cats. During this activity, the campers were able to discover why there were so many cats in Santa Clara County and learned ways to prevent this….the campers [learned] about a variety of different animals and that all animals are valuable.”
Sarah De Vargas shared, “The children were also focused on how to take care of animals because they wanted to make sure that they were treating pets right and that they were being great caretakers of their animals.”
And Sammi Mielke wrote, “My favorite activity that we did was making habitat boxes and it seemed like the kids liked it, too…Although this was a fun activity, it also taught all the kids what animals needed to survive. A lot of the necessities for the animals turned out to be the same for us.”
Our campers and counselors learned important lessons that will stay with them their entire lives. I like to think that, because of our incredible Education Programs, we are much closer than ever toward ending pet homelessness in our community.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Among others adopted this weekend who have been at Humane Society Silicon Valley for 100 days or more:
Alex and Rocky - bonded kitty pair at HSSV for 135 days
Roxy - longest doggie resident - been with us since before we moved into the new facility - a whopping 243 days!!!
Mika - 8 year old fabulous cat, at HSSV 114 days
Vigo - our resident white deaf cat who we were ALL in love with (his video was on HSSV's site for a little bit)
Bagheera - Great cat who was here for 128 days
Cindy - gorgeous older longhaired black kitty - 198 days!
Congratulations to HSSV's stellar adoptions team and of course, to all those wonderful adopters and the donors who make this work possible!
When I heard that HSSV was going to host its First Annual Summer Music, Wine & Adoption Festival on August 22nd, I knew that is was going to be my kind of event - dog friendly, outdoor, sunshine, live music, appetizers, and wine tasting, all to support HSSV. What more could a girl ask for! I was so excited to attend the event. Later on I realized that I had promised to baby-sit my niece, Riley, that weekend. I asked her if she wanted to attend the event, and of course, she was so thrilled and eager to go.
Just like her mom and me, Riley is a big animal lover. She LOVES
coming to HSSV’s Animal Community Center, and likes to visit each
cat, dog and bunny in the animal habitats, to pick out her favorites.
She was asking me all morning how much longer until we go to the
Humane Society. When she arrived, she immediately wanted to look for her favorite cat from her last visit. She kept loudly repeating, “Where’s that cute fat cat?” which resulted in giggles from those around us. Did I mention that she is five? That handsome plus-sized cat, Binky (see picture), had happily been adopted, so Riley looked for a new favorite.
We wandered into the Education Classrooms,
and Riley (see picture on left) participated in all the activities that
were set up, at no cost, for the children (see picture on right). She made toys for my two cats, and for the HSSV cats, got her face painted, and played games where she learned about supplies needed for each type of pet. She loved it, and as her babysitter, I really appreciated the organized activities.
We wandered outside, and Riley joined the small crowd of people and dogs dancing to the live band, Ruthie and the Gents.
Many of the adults were tasting the local wines, and sampling beer from Los Gatos Brewing Company while enjoying the music and the appetizers. We saw people lounging with their dogs in the dog parks. In Riley’s words, “This is the best party!”
As we walked around inside, we noticed that the Animal Community Center was packed, and we could feel that magical energy in the air, as there were many families that were going through the adoption interviews, and hopefully meeting their 4-legged match.
Riley noticed that the type of dog that she longs to adopt, a small poodle mix, was adopted earlier in the week, because we saw his picture on the adoption board.
She has been trying to persuade her parents to adopt a second dog; therefore she closely studied each of the dogs in the canine habitats. During the event weekend, there were 20 adoptions of dogs, puppies, cats, kittens and rabbits.
The purpose of the event was to bring more people to the ACC, show them some fun, and to hopefully find new homes for our adoptable dogs, cats, and rabbits. The event was definitely a success for HSSV, for the hundreds of attendees, including Riley and me, and most important, for the animals that went home with their new families to their forever homes.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Adam, who was a camp counselor at HSSV’s summer camp stood out to me this year. The summer camp program was a joyful thing to see here on the HSSV campus – kids running around in bright orange camp t-shirts, learning, having a ton of fun, playing games and creating different projects
(see Jesse and his artwork) – and most important, becoming compassionate future community members who connect with something larger than themselves.
We asked Adam to share what was special to him at summer camp this year. When I found out that he had originally been required to complete community service through his high school, I was especially excited about what he ultimately shared about his experience during the summer. He wanted to come back to be a counselor again – and not as a requirement for school – he was inspired! I’ll share a few paragraphs of his letter, but highlights for me were that he most valued forming a bond with the campers and that camp gave him an opportunity to be a role model for other boys in the program.
This is from Adam:
While volunteering, the funniest moments were those that happened when the kids were in the opening circle. The kids were so involved and excited about the songs, and that involvement always brought a smile to my face. There was such creativity in those songs – one camper performed it “Valley Girl” style and another performed it astronaut style. Those versions made me laugh the hardest.
As a camp counselor, the most important thing for me is forming a bond with the campers. This happened for me within a matter of hours! My most memorable camper was Josiah. He absolutely adored me from the minute I sat down to color a picture with him. He had so much energy while jumping around on me and playing with a beach ball. He was always in good spirits. He loved to introduce new games for the other campers. I will always remember him and the relationship we formed during those five days.
The camp involved a lot of fun activities that taught the kids about animals while still keeping it interesting. We made dog food and had a competition to see whose dog food was the best (Buster was our taste-tester and admittedly, he seemed to pretty much like ALL food). It taught the kids what type of food is good for animals and highlighted which foods are bad, especially in large quantities.
The kids also learned to train with the Director of Education's dog, Buzz, a CGC certified pitbull adopted from Bad Rap. They also learned to always ask the pet owner before petting an animal. They learned about cats and why there are so many in Santa Clara County and how to help. They also got to see presentations by the Youth Science Institute and Happy Hollow Zoo so that they could, learn which animals actually make appropriate pets.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
HSSV recently started providing DNA testing for dogs through our medical center using the Mars Wisdom Panel MX. Pretty exciting stuff – and not just frivolous, either. The benefits of DNA testing are many, but probably the two most useful are to better understand your dog’s behavior and to provide preventative care for breed specific health issues. Have a Lab mix that seems more oriented to one person than entire populations, like a normal Labrador? You might find out that there’s a large percentage of Rottweiler in there, which would explain the behavior and help you to provide the most appropriate environment for your dog. Or maybe you have a little dog that looks like a Chihuahua, but nips toes and heels to keep you moving in the right direction. DNA testing can help identify that your small dog actually has a large percentage of Heeler in him. Explaining behavior can be tantamount to managing undesirable behaviors and teaching dogs in ways that they learn best.
Recently, HSSV’s Animal Welfare Director, Dr. Julia Lewis, sponsored HSSV’s first DNA test. She asked HSSV staff and volunteers to vote on a dog to be the first DNA test at HSSV. Many dogs (favorites of staff and volunteers) were voted on, but the winner was Teeka. Teeka and her mother, Cannelita, have been with us at HSSV for 5 months, while they wait for us to find them the perfect home, together (watch their funny video here). We rescued these two silly girls from a public shelter when their time was up (at that point, they were depressed and shy) and they have blossomed into fun-loving, affectionate little “piglets” in the time we’ve been caring for them. To see them in action, watch the video of them after a vigorous play session here.
After 2 weeks, the DNA test came back – and while the most popular breeds guessed were chihuahua and pot bellied pig, only one person even came close to guessing what these girls had in them! In fact, only one person guessed a large breed dog could exist in these little waggy wiggle worms.
Drum roll: 25% Chihuahua, and 12.5% GOLDEN RETRIEVER (which makes sense, as Cannelita loves to fetch!) and 12.5% Cocker Spaniel! I bet that last 50% is pot bellied pig, which just doesn’t show up on the test...
BTW, Teeka and Cannelita are on hold for a potential adopter – so keep your fingers crossed that all goes well with their introductions to the other dogs in the household and that these girls can finally be in a home of their own. If you are interested in finding your own Teeka or Cannelita, check out our special animals available for adoption.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
If ever there was a magic elixir to cure our ailments, frets, and the day to day annoyances that plague our lives, it’s a litter of homeless kittens. From the moment they come into your life, you will spend your day (and sometimes nights) caring for these precious balls of fur. You’re now Mom and they’re looking lovingly into your eyes.
The task ahead of you can be both exciting and humbling. Suddenly, a small, helpless creature depends upon you for their survival. No time for narcissism now, you’ve got meaningful work to do!
As they grow, ounce by hard-earned ounce, they become more lively and playful; they will become your real-time treadmill around your home, as you enthusiastically follow them while they discover every nook and cranny with fascination. Why invest in expensive exercise equipment when you’ve got kittens?
Now let’s put your problems into perspective. Unless you’re wondering where your next meal is coming from or have no roof over your head, the kittens’ problems trump yours. Yes, it’s a tough economy and you may have good reason for feeling blue, but does your ability to have a nice life depend upon your cuteness? So, get yourself some foster kittens. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
We've been blogging alot about cats these days. Truth is, each of us here at HSSV has feline-on-the-brain right now. It's kitten season- the time of year when cat breeding peaks and thousands of homeless kittens find their way to shelters as a result. And in case you hadn't noticed, kittens are cute. Darn cute. They scamper. They wrestle. They bat their eyelashes. Just look at Noodles here, a kitten available for adoption at HSSV. Are you kidding me with those whiskers?
It's just too easy for the amazing adult cats looking for homes to be overlooked when they're bunking next to cuties like Noodles. So today we launched a new promotion to encourage adopters to take a second look. Between now and August 31st, anyone adopting a cat 2 years old and over will receive a $125 gift card for any HSSV service- it can even be used toward the adoption fee! As a nonprofit organization, we depend on our adoption fees to provide for the animals in our care, BUT the cats need us to get creative. Whatever it takes!
Let's start with Pretzel. You can't tell me she's not as adorable as Noodles. And she can scamper and bat those eyelashes with the best of them, trust me.
Ready to help? Adopt. Share this post. Spread the word. Thank you!
Monday, July 13, 2009
Director of Development
Our Cat Community Room is certainly a crowd-pleaser. Visitors ask if our cats are revolved from the individual condominiums into this room and back so they all benefit from this fabulous space, but that is not the case. You may wonder how certain cats are lucky enough to live in this room and the adjoining “Sun Porch”, and there’s quite a science to it, dependent on the proper mix of age, health, personality, and activity level. Appropriate cats for this room have been at HSSV for at least 2 weeks so the team can ensure they are healthy (think daycare where “little kids = germ bombs”).
They must be at least 6 months of age, but because they’re mellow and get along with everyone, they’re often “Golden Pets” (age 6 or older). But there may be a few rowdy cats thrown into the mix…the ones who get “The Zoomies”…because they have lots of room to expend their energy, and plenty of space for other less-active cats to get out of their way! These cats must be comfortable being introduced to new cats, and aren’t the type to hide (no fun going into the cat room and everyone is in a crawlspace!). So Cat Community Room residents are often the extroverts, although our cats in the condos can be extroverted, too! It adds up to a diverse room of interesting adoptables (or adopters, I should say, since everyone knows that cats adopt us!).
I myself got “adopted” in the Cat Community Room a few weeks ago, and it was a magical moment. I went into the room for a little kitty-therapy one Monday. I was jetlagged from a European flight the night before, and grieving the recent loss of my sister. I sat down on the wicker couch in HSSV’s Cat Community Room and this cute gray-and-cream muted tabby with green eyes immediately took one look at me, jumped off his perch, and hopped up into my lap. He put his paws on my shoulder and nuzzled my face. Hiya, fella!
But I was told there was a bonded pair, Alex and Rocky, in the room that I should check out, so after a few minutes I put him down and wandered over to see them. They had zero interest in me – it just wasn’t a love match. But ol’ Green Eyes kept following me around, putting his paws on my thighs to get picked up and held like a baby being burped. I finally asked “what’s your name, love?” and went outside to see his card and info. I my jaw dropped when I read his name was “Keenan”! (My last name being Keenan, talk about having a cat with my name written all over him!) After five straight days of similar visits, it was clear that Keenan was the one for me, and WE'RE now the bonded pair. (He had it all figured out on Day 1, and to this day wonders what took me so long.)
That’s why I love the Cat Community Room and condos…you can have your eye on one cat, but another will adopt you instead. Stop by and see who picks you out next time you’re at the Animal Community Center.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
It’s a common occurrence. Casaundra Cruz from HSSV’s Regional Rescue department shows up at my office door, asking me if I am ready to take another foster dog home. She says “You have to come meet this one, he is right up your alley, extremely shy”. I can never resist the shy ones, probably because I consider myself on the shy side too. Casaundra also let me know that he was a rare breed, a Mexican Hairless, also called Xolo or Xoloitzcuintli. I quickly googled the breed. I discovered that the Xolos are an ancient dog breed that was considered sacred by the Aztecs. I was intrigued.
When I met Leo, he was very scared, shaking, and not eating. He also had an odd gait, kind of like a tiny newborn fawn, which was very unusual since he was almost two years old. Veterinarians had determined that Leo had a neurological disorder, but it did not affect his quality of life.
But what struck me most about Leo was his appearance. He had dark, rough, and wrinkled skin, which felt like an elephant’s skin on his lower back. He had only a tuft of hair on the end of his tail, a little hair on his feet, and a flat toupee of black hair on his head. Underneath his tee shirt, however, his skin was very soft. Therefore, we concluded that he had been left in the sun a lot (probably too much) wearing tee shirts. He had a farmer’s tan!
So I took Leo home, and he quickly became part of my pack. He was such a gentle and sensitive little guy, scared of sudden movements and noises. We knew he would need to go to an experienced, adult only home. He had the sweetest way of jumping up on me in such a gentle, tentative way, tugging at the heart. Leo was very mellow. He loved to lounge either on my lap, nearby me on the couch, or in the round cat bed. Legend says that Xolo owners could wrap their mellow dog's warm body around an ailing body part, even over the shoulders and around the neck, to relieve pain like a heating pad!
Soon after we took Leo in, a friend of mine was visiting us here at HSSV's Animal Community Center, and met Leo. She quickly told me that she has close friends who really love to adopt this rare Mexican Hairless breed. So we sent pictures of Leo to them. Well, after a couple conversations, they decided to drive here from north of Seattle, Washington with their two female dogs, one, also a Mexican Hairless, and the other, a terrier mix. Both of their dogs were very fearful when they adopted them, so they had extensive experience. They sounded like an ideal family for Leo.
It was love at first sight and they adopted him. I recently received a report that Leo is settling into his new home quite well. He follows around his new canine sisters and recently was seen basking with them in the rare Seattle sun. He will certainly lose his tan up there in the northern Seattle area, and will need to wear sweaters! Leo was by far, my furthest foster dog placement, but he is in his perfect forever home!
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Ever heard of Underdog? Of course you have! Maybe you thought of a flying cartoon canine. Or perhaps you thought about the NY Giants in Super Bowl XLII. Now how about an undercat? Nothing comes to mind? Allow me to introduce you to a few.
Homeless cats, also referred to as feral cats, don’t often get a fair shake. Some people consider them a nuisance. Others don’t notice them at all. They’re the cats that have been abandoned by their owners or those have grown up outdoors with little human contact. As a result, they face an uncertain future: scavenging for food; dodging fast cars, loose dogs, and unfriendly humans; living without proper medical care. The undercats.
Here’s the good news. There is a lifesaving solution. It’s called TNR (trap-neuter-return). We're always been known for adoptions here at HSSV. Since moving to our new Animal Community Center, we can save more lives than ever before. But the truth is we're working for the undercats too- we even made a documentary film about them. Thanks to a generous donor, HSSV has teamed up with Peninsula Fix Our Ferals (PFOF) to offer monthly TNR clinics just for this special animal population. PFOF provides the volunteers and humane trapping mojo (homeless cats are smart but the PFOF pros are smarter!) and HSSV provides the medical staff and clinic space. MEOW- a perfect match!
As a result of our first clinic this past Sunday, 31 undercats are now safely back in their environment after being spayed or neutered, microchipped, and vaccinated. 31 undercats who can be fed and looked after by a volunteer caregiver. 31 more undercats who are not contributing to the homeless feline population by producing unwanted litters of kittens. What better way to wrap-up Adopt-A-Cat Month!
This is Sandi. She was an undercat back in the day. Shy, but not so unsocialized to humans that she couldn’t be rehomed. Because of HSSV’s TNR program, Sandi’s now living indoors with a family who loves her. And because of the HSSV-PFOF partnership, the other Sandis out there will have their chance at a healthy life as well.
Friday, June 26, 2009
I am an enthusiastic foster parent for Humane Society Silicon Valley, with an unenthusiastic foster-husband. When HSSV’s Regional Rescue Team approached me to foster a puppy, it was because all other seasoned foster puppy parents have current pups, or because the team is dealing with the hairy (pun intended) task of juggling foster parent vacation schedules. This is always the case in the summertime!
I’m a great foster parent (or so I think). I have 3 dogs and a cat…a bossy female terrier that makes the puppies earn playtime, a 16 year old big dog that will let puppies do anything to him and a boisterous 3 year old dog on springs. My cat is unflappable and is a super practice cat for puppies who have never seen cats before.
When Casaundra from the Regional Rescue Team stopped by my office this past week, she looked a little frazzled. “There’s a little 6 week old puppy with a soft fontanelle, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fontanelle that needs a place to stay until he’s old enough to be neutered. Can you take him? I’ve been trying to find him a place for about a week now and the shelter he’s at can’t keep him any more –he’s just too small and needs more time than they can commit. They just called me and said I’d need to pick him up today. He’s red – your favorite!”
Um, sure. Did I call Paul (the reluctant husband) to ask if he’d mind if I brought home a little one? Nope. He always adjusts and besides, why give him the opportunity to say no?
My first post that night on Facebook? “Tonka’s the name and screaming’s the game!” (We were starting our crate training!) Little, fluffy, brown (not red!), sassy, silly, soft, googly-eyed Tonka. We’re on day 7 with the little guy and he’s fitting in just right. Crate-trained, potty-paper trained, knows his name. What a smart little guy. Watch his video! He just loves his kong!
I’ll be darned if I can feel that soft fontanelle. I think Casaundra just tells me stuff like that to get me to say "yes" – and my god, I just love fostering.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
When I heard HSSV had brought in 5 beagles that were rescued from a research lab, I immediately asked our Special Needs Department if I could foster one. I felt so compelled to reach out and help them. I was assigned the most withdrawn beagle of the group, a strikingly cute, almost 3 year old male. On the drive home, I felt like I needed to adopt him. He looked at me with sad brown eyes, and I thought about his past, and I was in love, connected to him.
We named him Louie, or affectionately Lou Dog. For the first couple of days, he did not want to eat. I assume that is because he had been on a consistent schedule at the lab. But now, about 3 weeks later, I can see he has come out of his shell and has become one of the coolest dogs around.
In the lab, he was only known as a number, which is tattooed inside his ear. These days he comes running with his tail wagging when I call out Lou Dog. My heart just jumps when I first hear his ID tag jingling, and then see him, excited to come to me, since for almost three years, he never had a name.
In the lab, he was conditioned to freeze up when handled, so measurements and tests could be administered. These days, he seeks out human touch and leans in for extra cuddling. He timidly jumps up on people's legs, asking for attention. My heart aches and I wonder how he can still trust humans after almost three years of testing.
Louie is extremely mellow for a beagle, and we assume that research beagles are bred to be lower energy. He loves to lounge quietly and nap most of the day, which makes him so incredibly easy to care for.
There is a potential adopter in the picture now, and I know my husband and I will miss Lou Dog tremendously when he leaves us for his forever home. We think that he will miss us, at least at first, but we know he can handle change. He has taught us about the incredible capacity that dogs have to trust and to live in the moment. We have watched him heal and grow into the coolest dog around, and know that he will be happy in his forever home.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
We moved! Humane Society Silicon Valley is officially open for business at its Animal Community Center!
The move day couldn’t have gone any better. In keeping with their reputation as the BEST volunteers out there, our volunteer move team arrived earlier than their reporting time. Everyone was ready to go by 8:30 AM…on a Sunday! Even the animals were buzzing and could clearly sense that this was not going to be a regular day. Our cats, typically snoozing at this time of the morning, were meowing away.
First up was our closing ceremony- a time to reflect on the years of lifesaving work at the Lafayette location and to honor the thousands of lives that passed through those doors. For me, it was a once-in-a-lifetime moment of connecting our organization’s past to the incredible happenings of the present and limitless potential of the future. Truly inspiring.
Next, it was time to get to work. What followed was a carefully choreographed dance...and not one toe was stepped on. Cats and bunnies were loaded into carriers and carried to their volunteer chauffeur, waiting outside. Dogs walked to the cars on lead with a handler and a helper following with treats. I swear there was a thought bubble above each dog’s head that said, “I don’t know where we’re off to, but you’re my friend and I trust you to lead me only to good things. Let’s go!” Once they safely arrived at the Animal Community Center, that same volunteer and animal spent quiet time together to make sure each cat, dog, and bunny felt relaxed in their new space. By 3 PM, all animals were settled and happily resting after their busy morning. For the staff and volunteers, our work of unpacking and organizing had just begun, but that didn’t matter. When the animals are content, we are content.
And so I sign off for today, content…
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I know, I know...we said that last month! As I told the HSSV team, no, your eyes are not deceiving you and this is not a late April Fool's Day joke. We are moving our remaining departments, teams, and animals to the Animal Community Center on Sunday, April 19th!
It’s been a long road to this incredibly exciting day. As with any construction project, particularly one this large, that road has sometimes been bumpy and crooked and sometimes smooth and straight. In that way, it’s not that much different from working in animal welfare. The love, passion, and commitment we have for animals in our care make any challenge worth doing, whatever it takes to succeed. As a bonus, we all have added a few new words to our vocabulary. Who knew when I joined HSSV that one day I’d be talking punch lists, coving, and VOCs like a pro?!
Over the next three days, we’ll finish prepping the Community Center animal habitats with fluffy blankets, cozy beds, and fun toys so that each cat, dog, and rabbit will feel comfortable in their new cage-free space. On Sunday, our dedicated team of staff and volunteers will help move the ~150 animals presently in our care to the Animal Community Center. Each person will make sure that the animal(s) they bring over is settled and comfortable in their habitat…a few minutes of gentle touch and soothing words from a kind soul.
I’ll be back next week to report on how the move went, but I hope you won’t wait for that. Come see the Animal Community Center for yourself- we’re open for business Monday, April 20!