(This week's guest blog is from Stephanie Ladeira, our VP of Development)
|Mousey after a bout with the pooch left him nose-less.|
I hated dolls when I was a child. I wanted animals and more animals. I loved animals more an anything. It’s why I work in animal welfare today. I can’t stand to see an animal neglected, abandoned or unloved. Animals bring comfort, joy, unconditional love – the stuff of life.
Now that I’ve graduated to helping and loving real animals (and working at Humane Society Silicon Valley) my stuffed animals are packed away. Mousey, my favorite stuffed animal, lives on a high shelf in my closet.
My husband and I were watching Toy Story 3 recently. The plot focuses on the toys Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and their friends dealing with an uncertain future as their owner, Andy, prepares to leave for college. The story is just heartbreaking – the animals tossed aside, potentially being donated to some horrible daycare center where children who don’t love or care for them will wipe snot on them and chew on them, accidentally ripping off their arms, carelessly leaving them in the rain…
I paused the movie to fetch Mousey from the dark closet. He needed some cuddling and I needed to reconnect with the comfort and unconditional love I felt from him my entire childhood. I remembered that when my mom would tell me I could sleep with only ONE stuffed animal Mousey was my first choice almost 100% of the time. He was my go-to, my snuggle buddy, the cloth that absorbed my tears, he-who-was-squeezed during happy times.
|Mousey gets a bath during his rehab.|
I held Mousey, absorbing his comfort for the rest of the movie. Afterwards my husband Paul and I went upstairs to bed with our real animals – three dogs and one cat – all rescued from shelters and rescue groups across California. I slept soundly, comforted by my evening with a loving husband, four live furry animals and a reconnection with one of the best parts of my childhood. The next morning the crew and I got up before Paul.
As I wandered into the living room with my coffee I was devastated to see that someone had ravaged Mousey during the night. His nose and snout had been destroyed and his insides were strewn across the living room. I felt terrible for not protecting him. I cleaned up the living room and put Mousey back in the dark of my closet. For days I was ravaged by guilt. His nose was never found. Not even in a poop in the backyard days later.
Fast forward a bit: at an HSSV event, I met Beth, a woman whose purpose is to rejuvenate dolls and stuffed animals so they can continue to be played with and loved. Her patients have been mauled by pets and loved nearly to death by children and adults. They come from all over the globe, sent in by the people that love them to be rehabilitated. All return to their families ready to be loved and played with for many years to come. She does amazing work. See for yourself. I made arrangements for Mousey to travel to Beth for some treatment.
|His 'heart' - made from original stuffing.|
It then occurred to me that what Beth does with stuffed toys is what we do at HSSV with real animals: Over 76% of the animals we rescue each year need care in order to be ready to be loved by someone new. Be it a dental cleaning, behavioral rehabilitation or major medical help, they all need a little TLC (and occasionally even some stitching up) to be made whole again. These animals should not be thrown away – they have so much love left to give. And we, too, approach each of these animals as an individual in need of specialized care.
Beth at Realms of Gold took an injured Mousey, lovingly repaired his physical ailment, restored his heart, provided him with a restorative “spa treatment” and made sure he had a home (my home) to love and protect him for the rest of his days.