Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Meet Dog Scout Troop No. 198

By Laura Fulda, VP of Marketing & Communications

Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV) recently launched the first Dog Scouts of America troop in the Bay Area, so I thought I’d check out a meeting to see what it’s all about.

Dog Scouts of America (DSA) is a national organization that functions much like the Girl or Boy Scouts we all know. Cadets work with their humans to earn badges in an effort to earn the coveted “Dog Scout” title. HSSV’s troop (No. 198) offers a fun, structured way for DSA members to collect badges, go on troop outings, and learn about positive training methods.

At the meeting, I met Robert Verdahl and his dog Jasper, an adorable black and white lab/collie mix. Jasper was the troop’s first scout member to earn the Dog Scout title. While waiting for the meeting to start, Jasper showed off by dancing in between Robert’s legs, spinning on command and kneeling down to ‘say his prayers.’ No wonder he was the first canine to earn the title!

The meeting was called to order. We listened to a lecture by Cecilia Sternzon, director of training and programs for A DOG'S LIFE, on “what makes a social dog” and Beth Ward, HSSV’s COO and the Troop Leader, awarded badges. Jasper earned five new badges including:

Lure Coursing - Jasper had to follow a plastic bag on a string through an obstacle course off leash and return to Robert on recall.
Sign Language - Jasper and Robert had to learn 15 different hand commands including ‘get my shoes,’ ‘get the ball,’ and ‘go outside.’
Naked Dog - Jasper had to be off leash (naked) and at least five feet away from Robert while accomplishing five consecutive moves.

When accepting Jasper’s badges, Robert told other members that even though Jasper is now a bona fide Dog Scout, that doesn’t mean he’s perfect and that’s OK. Robert said the real purpose of joining Dog Scouts is for people to spend more time quality with their dogs. Members nodded their heads and later told me they looked forward to attending the upcoming troop kayaking trip and hike. I left the meeting feeling like Dog Scouts offers families a great way to bond with their dogs, participate in fun outings and learn something about themselves and their dogs along the way.

HSSV’s Dog Scouts of American Troop meets every 4th Thursday of the month from 6:30-7:30pm at HSSV’s Animal Community Center. For more information about joining the HSSV Dog Scout Troop, visit or call Beth Ward at HSSV: 408.262.2133 ext. 178.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Foster Dad: Wayne Thompson

By Amber N. Yoo, HSSV Volunteer

Milpitas resident Wayne Thompson was thrilled when Humane Society Silicon Valley chose his neighborhood to build a new LEED Gold-certified Animal Community Center in. Wayne was first in line to be a dog volunteer, walking and playing with the dogs in HSSV’s care. Like most visitors, Wayne wanted to take every dog home. So, he did the next best thing. He started fostering.

A year later, Wayne has fostered seven dogs, helping build their confidence so that they could thrive in homes of their own. "I push the dogs to help them work through their issues. It gives me great satisfaction to see them get adopted," says Wayne.

Currently, Wayne is helping a 4-year-old German Shepherd / Chow mix, known as “Dino the Bionic Wonderdog,” recuperate from full hip replacement surgery. "Dino just seems to always see the bright side of things and doesn't move like a dog who has had hip replacement surgery,” says Wayne. It’s been two and a half months since Dino’s life-saving surgery, and now Wayne is helping HSSV search for the right family to adopt him.

What happens when Dino gets adopted? "People ask me how I can give them up after being with them for so long. I tell them 'I cry big crocodile tears when they go, but then I walk back into HSSV and they have another dog for me to take home.'"

It’s true that HSSV continually has orphaned animals who need foster homes. That’s because the organization rescues more than 3,000 animals a year and depends on foster volunteers to literally expand the shelter walls. By fostering, Wayne helps free up space inside the shelter and provides specialized care to those animals who need it the most … animals like Dino, who I’m sure will always be thankful to foster dad Wayne for opening up his heart and home.

If you want to open up your heart and home temporarily to help orphaned animals like Dino, please visit our foster page to learn more. If you are interested in adopting Dino, contact Casaundra Cruz at (408) 262-2133 ext. 183 or Jeri Seiden at ext. 185.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Tails: Zoey Goes to School

By Jamie Emming, Satellite Adoption Manager

At age one, Zoey, an exuberant German shepherd mix, had already been through two homes before she was brought to HSSV.

This lack of consistency at such a young age left Zoey with a few behavioral hurdles to overcome. She liked to use her mouth to say “hello!” or “don’t leave me yet”. New people, noises and situations worried her, and cats seemed like great fun to chase.

Seeing beyond her bad manners, we realized Zoey was eager to learn and a quick study. We began to search for an active family who would enroll Zoey in positive method based training classes.

Then we met Renee and Mike, a high-energy couple who relax from daily runs by going hiking. A perfect match for the energetic shepherd! We were thrilled when, a few weeks later, Zoey and her people graduated from their first canine education course.

Thanks to the patience and dedication of her new family, Zoey was able to join them during their Fourth of July festivities. Renee tells us Zoey “did so well with all the music and commotion, we were so proud!” They credit Zoey’s humane training classes, saying “it has made a huge impact on her behavior” and are continuing to work with her at everyday at home.

Professional training, whether through group classes or private lessons, helps bridge the canine-human communication gap. Now that Zoey knows what her two-legged family members are asking her to do, she is the happy, confident canine we knew she could be.

Looking for a trainer? Take your dog to HSSV for canine education!

Helping One Cat at a Time

By Amber N. Yoo, HSSV Volunteer

Inspired by HSSV’s “Helping Homeless Cats in Your Community” seminar, Virginia McCoy rescued her first feral kitten, Cisco, from behind the building where she works.

Next, Virginia trapped Cisco’s mother, spayed her at HSSV, and released her. “It gives me hope that I’m working towards the solution. Because this one cat--this one mom who is out there--there will not be any more kittens from her. One at a time, I figured. It may not make a big difference, but it makes a huge difference to that one.”

But it does make a difference! One unspayed female cat can have two litters within five months of each other, and those kittens can have kittens within five to six months. By spaying Cisco’s mom, Virginia prevented the birth of dozens more kittens who would have had a bleak existence on the streets.

One by one, Virginia trapped the rest of the litter and found foster homes for them. (The photo is of kitten SOX in his new home.) They will be spayed and neutered at HSSV once they are old enough. “The kittens are young enough that they can learn to be family pets. I’ll feed the momma cat for the rest of her life, and do whatever I can.”

For Virginia, this is only the beginning. She hopes by having the courage to take action, she will inspire others to do the same. “One little thing that one person does may feel small … but, if a whole bunch of people do little things, then it’s a big thing.” I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for being an inspiration to us all, Virginia!

If you’d like to learn more about helping homeless cats, visit

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pet of the Week

Meet Kisses

"Hi, I'm Kisses!

I got my name because I love kissing just about everyone.

The staff at HSSV say I’m special because I have three legs. But, I just feel like a normal puppy. I can run like the wind! I bet I’m faster than you. Plus, I’m learning lots of fun tricks, like “sit” and “down.”

Ready for Kisses? I’m waiting at HSSV!"

How You Can Help

Every week, we ask the community to help us find one special pet a loving home. There are three easy ways to help, and you can do them all from the comfort of your home!

1. Click here to see Kisses' video, then share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

2. Print out Kisses' profile and post it at your local hangouts.

3. Donate online to help animals like Kisses get the care they deserve.

How did you help the Pet of the Week? Post a comment and let us know!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Celebrating Foster Parents

by Amber N. Yoo, HSSV Volunteer

Have you ever met a foster parent – of a companion animal? At HSSV, foster parents are a vital part of its life-saving efforts. These special volunteers literally expand the shelter walls, providing temporary homes and individual care for more than 800 animals every year.

The types of pets who need foster care include:
• Kittens and puppies who are too young to be placed for adoption
• Animals recovering from a cold, who need daily medication and a quiet place to rest
• Pets who have received life-saving surgery and need time to recuperate before being placed in a home
• Dogs or cats who simply need a break from the shelter environment

By inviting dedicated volunteers to share in the care of these types of pets, HSSV is able to promise the community that it will save the life of every adoptable and treatable companion animal that comes through its doors.

To show how grateful HSSV is to its foster parents, the organization hosted a picnic earlier this month at Las Palmas Park in Sunnyvale. More than 100 foster parents and 45 dogs showed up. Foster parents mingled with one another, sharing photo albums and foster stories. Four-legged pooches wagged their tails enthusiastically and doled out smooches. Highlights of the event included watching the dogs compete for “Best Trick” and play “Musical Sit.” I’m sure the pups also enjoyed the massages being offered by Patsy Webb, of Patsy's Pet Massage. See more event photos on our Facebook page.

But, the most grateful of all are the hundreds of dogs and cats whose lives have been transformed by this special community of foster volunteers.

Next week, meet foster dad Wayne Thompson and his current “charge,” Dino the Bionic Wonderdog.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Finding the Courage to Help Feral Cats

by Amber N. Yoo, HSSV Volunteer

Virginia McCoy didn’t realize that attending HSSV’s seminar “Helping Homeless Cats in Your Community” would change her life forever. But that’s exactly what it did. Virginia had been feeding stray cats for years and it left her feeling emotionally drained. “I was aware of the problem, having all these cats. I’ve been feeding them, but I never took them in to have them spayed,” Virginia told us. “I felt like I wasn’t doing enough.”

The HSSV seminar Virginia attended discussed the Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) method, the only humane method proven to effectively control the population of stray cats. The method advocates trapping stray cats in order to have them spayed or neutered, and then returning them to their territory. “When you think about it, it’s the only way to put an end to the suffering,” Virginia said. “I saw all these people in the room, and I thought ‘If they can do it, why can’t I do it?’“

Convinced that she needed to take action, Virginia trapped her first kitten, a 4-week-old in the bushes behind a building on the Cisco campus where she works. “Cisco” weighed less than a pound. She was adopted immediately by a co-worker who gave her medical attention and is caring for her until she is big enough to be brought to HSSV to be spayed.

“Cisco is living the good life with my co-worker, her husband and their other two house cats. She is as sweet as can be, loves to be held, and cuddles in people’s arms for hours, purring and kneading.”

Rewarded by the first happy ending, Virginia was determined to help the momma cat and the rest of the litter. Check back on Thursday to find out what happened next…

Learn more about feral cats and TNR by visiting HSSV, Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project, and

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cavies by the Dozen: A Happy Ending

By Jamie Emming, Satellite Adoption Manager

We celebrate animals of all sizes at HSSV, so when we received 21 guinea pigs, we knew just what to do to find them homes of their own.

Guinea pigs love being together. Guinea pig aficionados call them “love potatoes” because of how affectionate they are with each other and their people. They even have their own guinea pig language of squeaks, wheaks, and chirps. So, we knew that if we could highlight their natural “lovability,” people would realize what great pets they make.

At HSSV’s Satellite Adoption Center, in PETCO at the El Paseo de Saratoga Shopping Center, we set up a special area for the guineas. It was complete with hay boxes, toys, hideouts, and lots of open room to chase each other around and squeal with delight. The guineas had a blast playing and cuddling together. To our delight, in just eight days we found homes for 18 guinea pigs!

Of course, this means we are still searching for loving families to adopt the remaining three guineas from this group and many others that we rescue year round. They are smart, social, great for apartment-living, and would do well with children. They can be clicker trained (read this great PDF article) and even learn how to navigate pig agility courses. There really is no limit to what these little guys can do!

Interested in adopting? Check out our available pocket pets.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pet of the Week

Meet Ricky

"Let's get ready to rumble! I am a rough and tumble little guy ready to run circles around your heart.

To me anything has the potential to be a toy, so watch out for those shoe laces and rubber bands when I am around! As a seasoned explorer of cabinets and under the bed, I can’t wait to see what your home has to offer.

Come down to HSSV’s Satellite Adoption Center inside of PETCO Saratoga and see me zoom in person!"

How You Can Help

Every week, we ask the community to help us find one special pet a loving home. There are three easy ways to help, and you can do them all from the comfort of your home!

1. Click here to see Ricky's video, then share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

2. Print out Ricky's profile and post it at your local hangouts.

3. Donate online to help animals like Ricky get the care they deserve.

Together We Can Make a Difference!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Makeover and a New Beginning!

By Amber N. Yoo, HSSV Volunteer

Last month, I met Gidget and Gizmo,7-year-old Maltese/Poodle mixes who came to Humane Society Silicon Valley filthy, with painfully matted and tangled fur. Staff sensed a playful side to these two best friends, but their personalities were buried beneath fur so long that it swept the ground!

Luckily for Gidget and Gizmo, HSSV has partnered with A DOG’S LIFE to provide full grooming services to all the dogs in our care. After HSSV veterinarians vaccinated and examined them, they sent Gidget and Gizmo to a day at the spa! The pair’s coats were carefully clipped and the matted fur was gently brushed out. Then they were given a bath and a warm bed to relax in.

Once Gidget and Gizmo were feeling clean and looking great, they eagerly greeted visitors with tail wags and puppy kisses. The simple act of grooming transformed these two friends by allowing their true personalities to shine.

Today I learned that Gidget and Gizmo were adopted by a woman and her daughter. They have a new dog sibling, 15-year-old “Mister” and the entire family is doing great. I’m so proud to be a part of an organization like HSSV who gives second chances to dogs like Gidget and Gizmo!

Did you know? HSSV also offers grooming to the public! If you have a dog who deserves a day at the spa, visit to learn more.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cavies by the Dozen

By Jamie Emming, Satellite Adoption Manager

There I was in our receiving lobby, standing over three noisy cages holding a pencil, ready to write down a guinea pig herd’s “family tree.” “Okay, that big fuzzy white one is Chubby, the dad. The mom is Princess, and their babies are Chorizo, Lucien, and Cal,” their caretaker informed me as I quickly scribbled down who begot whom. Identities sorted, we were left standing in front of 21 guinea pigs, all between the ages of six months and two years. Their owners had started with 7 guineas, and accidentally grew their group three-fold in just a year. Given the magnitude of the situation, one of our volunteers jokingly asked if they breed like rabbits, to which I replied “better.”

A guinea pig population can quickly get out of control because their gestation period lasts only eight to ten weeks and each litter can have up to six pups. Furthermore, guinea pigs can become pregnant again as little as six hours after giving birth!

Luckily for guinea pig enthusiasts, there are easy solutions to this potential dilemma:
1. Decide on a Gender. Many owners decide early on whether they want all boys or all girls. This same-sex pairing is the easiest way to avoid unexpected additions.
2. Neuter, Neuter, Neuter! Many veterinarians offer spay and neuter services for guinea pigs. Out of our 21 new charges, 12 were males who are now happily neutered. The little white pig in the photo is Chubby, now Billie Joe, recovering from anesthesia under the watchful eye of our medical team.

The breeding cycle stopped, it was now time to find these little ones new homes. Join us next week as our guinea pig story continues on to adoption.

Want to learn more about guinea pigs? Click here to download our PDF, “Caring for Guinea Pigs.”

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pet of the Week

Meet Dennis

"Ahhh, the bunny life sure is sweet here at HSSV, but it would be even sweeter in a home to call my own.

My name is Dennis and I love to hang out with my two-legged friends, especially when they have my favorite fruits and veggies!

I'm a calm and gentle rabbit, but give me some room to stretch my legs and you'll see just how much I love to run and jump.

Are you ready for some bunny to love? Come see me today! "

How You Can Help

Every week, we ask the community to help us find one special pet a loving home. There are three easy ways to help, and you can do them all from the comfort of your home!

1. Click here to see Dennis' video, then share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

2. Print out Dennis' profile and post it at your local hangouts.

3. Donate online to help animals like Dennis get the care they deserve.

Together We Can Make a Difference!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Jacques Had Life-Saving Heart Surgery and Now Needs a Home

By Amber N. Yoo, HSSV Volunteer

Every now and then the veterinarians at Humane Society Silicon Valley come across a special animal that needs life-saving surgery. This was the case for Jacques, a shy, lovable 1-year-old Papillon mix who was found roaming the streets trying to fend for himself.

Jacques had a severe heart murmur and subsequent chest x-rays revealed an enlarged heart. Without surgery to correct the problem, Jacques was destined for an abbreviated and painful life. At other shelters, dogs like Jacques wouldn’t be considered “adoptable.” But at HSSV, the staff goes to extreme lengths to save lives. In this case, the vet team partnered with a cardiologist at Veterinary Medical Specialists to provide open-heart surgery on little Jacques. It’s a risky surgery, but Jacques fought alongside HSSV for his new lease on life. He survived the surgery and was placed in a loving foster home where he received around-the-clock care as he slowly recovered.

Unfortunately, as Jacques grew stronger, another problem revealed itself; Jacques was extremely afraid of strangers, especially men. His fear was so severe that staff asked Daphne Robert-Hamilton, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer for K9 Partnership, if she would be willing to foster him through her Board-and-Train program so that he could start to learn to trust again. Daphne agreed and Jacques has made terrific progress.

We know there is still a long road ahead for Jacques to overcome his troubled past, but we also believe there is a family out there who may be ready to welcome Jacques into their hearts. The ideal family will patiently work with Jacques to build his trust and Daphne has generously offered free behavioral consultations with his adopters to help him keep moving in the right direction.

Please, help us find Jacques a home of his own. He is sweet, playful, and very smart. If you or someone you know is ready to join Jacques on his journey, contact Casaundra Cruz at 408-262-2133 ext. 183 or Jeri Seiden @ ext. 185.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Pet First Aid and CPR Class: “Make a Plan!”

By Valerie K. Kane, HSSV Volunteer

In my last post, I wrote about the latest HSSV class I’d signed up for: Pet First Aid and CPR, taught by Diane Troup of CParf! and A Dog’s Life. Diane is not only a professional dog trainer, but also a Santa Clara firefighter and certified CPR and Basic Life Support instructor (for humans).

We started the class learning to perform CPR and basic life support on a dog or cat. We practiced on a variety of life-sized stuffed dogs of various breeds. We also learned and practiced several first aid techniques including how to bandage a wound, treat shock and poisoning, and perform the “Heimlich” maneuver on a choking pet.

Knowing how to perform these first aid skills could be a lifesaver for your pet. But ironically, the most important lesson I took away from class had nothing to do with these techniques. The most important takeaway for me was: always have a plan. You certainly don’t want to create your emergency plan in the middle of the emergency, so make your plan now.

For example, when you are home alone or are out on a walk, make sure you have someone to call if you need help. Know the phone numbers and directions to your veterinarian’s office and the nearest 24 hour emergency animal hospital.

The first thing I did after class was program my vet and emergency hospital numbers into my cell phone—the simplest thing, but I hadn’t thought of it until I took Diane’s class.

Check out the HSSV event calendar, where you’ll find more useful and informative classes and events.

Happy Tails: Must Love Dogs

By Jamie Emming, Satellite Adoption Manager

When you are in a relationship, inevitably someone will ask how you met. Luckily for me and countless others, “online” is now an acceptable answer. At HSSV, Internet love connections are made every day. That’s how Peanut fell in love with Leroy, one of our shelter guests.

We’d been searching for a match for Leroy for a couple of weeks when we received a dog survey in our inbox from an interested suitor. Leroy’s admirer only had eyes for him and wanted to make her feelings clear. She talked about her past relationships with other dogs, and how life would be for Leroy if he came to live with her and her human companion, Florence. Peanut, a 5-year-old SSF (single spayed female) Chihuahua mix wanted to meet F2F (face-to-face). The next morning, Florence drove Peanut the 90 minutes from Patterson to Milpitas so that she could meet Leroy.

It wasn’t exactly love at first sight. Leroy, excited to meet a new friend, was a little too forward for Peanut’s tastes. Luckily, our staff was there to help Leroy take things slow and calm Peanut’s first-date jitters. Less than 24 hours after her initial inquiry, Peanut and Leroy buckled into doggie car seats to make the long trip back home.

Florence wrote us a week later to let us know that “Leroy turned out to be the best dog for us.” Every day Peanut and Leroy grow closer and she is picking up the tricks he’s learned during his bachelor period. Our matchmaker’s success rate is also partly due to our compatibility counseling for the humans. Through her adoption experience at HSSV, Florence tells us, “I learned so much about dogs and even learned things about my dog Peanut.” The canine couple is sharing a set of twin beds and is working on plans for Peanut’s upcoming birthday bash with the neighborhood dogs.

Join us next week for Pig Palooza, the story of 21 guinea pigs brought to HSSV!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pet of the Week

More Love for Lola and Bruce?

We are still searching for the right family to adopt last week's dynamic duo, Lola and Bruce! They are so special that we decided to feature them this week, too!

Lola is the go-getter and Bruce is more laid back and sensible, and together they are unstoppable! They love to go for walks and get along great with kitties.

Lola and Bruce are currently in a loving foster home, but they are ready for adoption. If you'd like to arrange a visit, contact Casaundra Cruz at (408) 262-2133 ext. 183. OR if you aren't looking to adopt, please consider sending this link to your friends and family! You never know, you may just be matchmaker of the week!

How You Can Help

Every week, we ask the community to help us find one special pet a loving home. There are three easy ways to help, and you can do them all from the comfort of your home!

1. Click here to see Lola and Bruce's video, then share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

2. Print out Lola and Bruce's profile and post it at your local hangouts.

3. Donate online to help animals like Lola and Bruce get the care they deserve.

Together We Can Make a Difference!