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.