Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lou Dog, the Heart Stealer

By Lauren Gallagher, Controller

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 I was assigned the most withdrawn beagle of the group, a strikingly cute, almost 3 year old male.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 Made It!

By Elena Battles, Chief Operating Officer

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

It’s Moving Day!

By Elena Battles, Chief Operating Officer

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!

Monday, April 6, 2009

In Anticipation of Our New HSSV

by Bridget Keenan, Director of Development

Humane Society Silicon Valley held an open party on Saturday, March 28th, where 6,000 of our close friends came! And it was about 5,000 more than we expected…the response to our new Animal Community Center from the community far and wide was outstanding and overwhelming. People wept as they came through our doors, clearly understanding just what our friendly, inviting new home will mean to the “homeless” animals that will be in our care.

Because we’re still finishing up construction here, and the noises, fumes, and movement would be too stressful to our animals, we made the decision to still go forward with this party even without the animals — that we’d simply introduce the facility and its potential….and honestly, I don’t think anyone noticed! There were too many great dogs walking around with their guardians, checking out the digs. Even a cat or two made their way here. Many of these pets were alumni of our old Lafayette location, their guardians proudly showing off what a wonderful companion and part of their life they have become.

It was go-go-go the whole day. I was meeting our friends and donors who have supported us through this capital campaign…you can imagine how meaningful it was for THEM! Seeing their support come to fruition. They had given a gift to HSSV to help build our dream, based on a 2-dimensional map of the building and a few artist’s renderings. And now, here they were, walking the beautiful stained concrete “boulevards”, knowing they are forever a part of this game-changing effort….a model for animal welfare organizations across the country.

Even though the animals haven’t moved yet, our administrative offices have. Several colleagues and I are working in our incredible new home, waiting patiently for our co-workers and our sweet animals to join us. As I walk the quiet halls today, I envision the animals soon living relaxed in their quiet habitats, the small children with their noses pressed against the glass watching the frolicking dogs in the Socialization Area, the elderly woman therapeutically stroking a purring older cat in her lap in our Cat Community room, the dog sitting under the cafĂ© table munching on his biscuit while his owner enjoys her latte in the afternoon sun, the rabbits hopping down the ramp of the Rabbitat to greet their new visitors, the children filling our Education Center to learn how to understand and be compassionate toward animals.

Even now, while our facility is quiet, in anticipation of HSSV’s new life…before our animals settle in and their future adopters come for a visit…before the dog-lovers fill our dog park…before all of the activity begins, I see what it will be like. And it will be incredibly exciting to be a part of it.