Tuesday, September 27, 2011

HSSV Guests and their Favorite Things! (Part 1)

Hi! My name is MILTON and my favorite things are...receiving belly rubs, playing tug, curling up next to you for snuggle-time, playing fetch, hanging out with kids, and ummmmm…did I mention that I enjoy belly rubs?

Hi! My name is CHEEKS and my favorite things are...having my cheeks rubbed (go figure!), lounging on my cat tree, chasing my toy mouse, purring nonstop, and eating wet food. Mmmmm…I’m hungry.

Hi! My name is SHARPIE and my favorite things are...making cute faces, receiving pats and bum scratches, and going out for walks. Some say I’m too mellow for my own good, but I’ll really perk up for a good walk!

Hi! My name is CHENEY-MAE and my favorite things are...lounging in laps, spending time with my feline buddies, chasing feather wands, and settling in for a thorough chin scratching session!

Hi! My name is LANCELOT and my favorite things are...playing with (and okay, sometimes teasing) other doggies, chasing toys, snuggling after a play session, and telling tall tales about how I got my “mini ear”.

Hi! My name is BANDIT and my favorite things are...curling up into a tiny ball and wedging myself into hidey-holes, chasing feather wands, climbing my cat tree, and snuggling with my favorite HSSV volunteers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Kind Kids

I’ve always thought that empowerment is one of the most essential human needs: important for adults and especially crucial for kids as they are growing up.  Empowerment boosts youths’ self-confidence, strengthens their self-worth and helps them realize and develop skills they may not have thought they had; all great contributors to a successful adulthood!   Unfortunately, the reality is that many children don’t always grow up in an empowering environment that they deserve.
That’s why I was extremely excited to learn about the HSSV Compassion in Action (CIA) program, which is doing exactly that: empowering kids who need it most.  HSSV education staff and San Jose’s Academy school worked together to provided middle-school students with an opportunity to be leaders.  The kids bravely put on their volunteer hats to work directly with HSSV’s adoptable animals and then teach their second grade buddies to be Kind Kids through compassionate and responsible pet ownership. 
Here, Kenny notices the camera while he's teaching his buddies
The CIA program challenged the students to be leaders, to set (and achieve) their own goals, and motivated them to evaluate and adjust their behaviors, now that they had their little buddies depending and looking up to them.  As the older students proudly took on roles of leaders and trusted experts, they felt empowered.   
Juan asks the second grade buddies about animal communication
 The program also taught teens how to recognize, understand and correct negative animal behavior, with compassion and without using force.  And as students learned the importance of respecting animals’ feelings and let their compassion shine, they started to see kindness as a strength, not a weakness.
DeLondre spends some quality time in the Sunshine Community Room
 The student’s school teacher, Sara Piazzola said the program “helped them internalize the messages that they send out to people.  It also helped them step out of the realm of ‘my own needs’ and into a realm where they needed to think about what someone else was ‘saying’ and how they needed to respond”. 
Miguel and senior dachshund, "Lefty," who has since been adopted!
Many of the teens saw a transformation in themselves and their friends.  One student “learned how to be patient and kind to little kids”.  Several students observed that “their classmates are more careful with others and they help each other more”.  And another shared, “I saw in my mood and behavior that I became a lot more nice to my peers, and I actually go and play with my animal now.”
The animals added a unique twist because sometimes just being loved unconditionally is extremely empowering.   And fortunately unconditional love is a skill that animals excel at!  One student commented on the positive emotions that she felt about HSSV and being around animals “When it came to being Tuesday, I got real pumped…It can really take you somewhere else.  The HSSV is a great, exciting, touching place.  Not anyone was in a bad mood.”
 This program couldn’t have happened without the support of Youth Community Service, the California Department of Education’s S.T.E.M Initiative, transportation provided by the City of San Jose's Safe School Campus Initiative, and the partnership between the Oak Grove School District’s Academy School and HSSV to give these children a chance to show all of us what it means to be Kind Kid.

-Natasha Dolginsky, HSSV volunteer blogger

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Watch! Guinea Pig Learns His Name

Watch one of our HSSV alumni learn how to come when called! Clicker training is a great tool for any sized pet and a great way to bond with your little one.

Looking for a guinea pig of your own? Our Satellite locations are expecting large groups of cavies soon, check out our available animals section to see who we have now or email us at petcoadoptions@hssv.org to find out how to be added to our pocket pet wait list.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Thinking Outside The (Litter) Box

For Adoption Specialists, litter box counseling "101" comes as second nature. As such, we sometimes take for granted the insider tips we've accumulated over years in the trenches...so to speak.

So, whether you're currently battling the whims of a finicky feline or would just like to be prepared for the potentially evolving preferences of a senior kitty...here are some useful tricks of the trade to keep in mind!

Covered vs. Uncovered - Kitty claustrophobia? You better believe it! Some kitties will only use an uncovered litter box for fear of being trapped with the potty goblins. Conversely, some are very demure and need their privacy. To which camp does your cat belong? Offer both options and wait to see where the action happens!

Pearls, Corn, and Clay...Oh My! - Gone are the days of the kitty sandbox, my friend. Selecting a litter today may require an Excel spreadsheet, Consumer Reports, and a degree in chemistry! Moreover, unless you and your cat communicate telepathically, the litter preference game is likely going to be one of trial and error. Our advice? If you know what your kitty was using in her previous setting, start there. If past litter choices don't meet with your approval, introduce an ADDITIONAL box with the new litter and wait until Fluffy is using it reliably before removing the old box.

The Maytag Monster - Do you enjoy using the loo on a plane, train, or in a wind tunnel? Not the most relaxing setting. Likewise, many of our feline friends have expressed a preference for a quiet litter box setting - i.e., not six inches from the washing machine or dryer! Keep in mind, if you are restricted by space, your kitty may be confident enough to potty near the Maytag Monster, so don't be afraid to try if that's your best option. But again, (and you may be sensing a theme here), offer an additional box elsewhere for a while to make sure that Fluffy doesn't avoid the laundry room altogether, lest she be gobbled up and fluffed to frenzied perfection.

To Automate or Not to Automate? - If you are a bit purrrrsnickety about the litter box, an automatic "sifter" may appeal to you. Continuing with our current theme, we recommend offering a low-tech box as well in case Fluffy is squeamish about the mechanical noises and movements. This will prevent spooked kitties from having accidents. Although automatic boxes don't sift until they have been free of motion for at least ten seconds, elderly kitties or others who may just enjoy taking their time have been known to be caught unawares by the sifter after standing still in the box for a few. So, proceed with caution!

Multi-CAT-astrophic! - Have four kitties, only three of whom are using the box? You may need more boxes. To play it safe, provide a box for each kitty then ADD ONE. For instance, five boxes for a household of four kitties. That may sound excessive, but it's better than discovering that your clean laundry has been used in place of the box! Keep in mind our other tips too. Maybe one kitty only likes covered boxes and another refuses to use a covered box - offer both. Also, if possible, keep some distance between the boxes. Rather than placing them side-by-side, try opposite ends of the room for optimal privacy.

Already Trouble Shooting? These Tips May be Useful 1) Scoop daily! It only takes a few seconds and can save you a lifetime of heartache. Many cats won't use a dirty box so it may be THAT simple. 2) Sanitize and refill. Completely emptying, cleaning, and refilling the box with fresh litter weekly or bi-weekly can make it much more enticing. 3) If your cat is inappropriately urinating or defecating outside the box, treat the spot with an ENZYME cleaner. If accidents persist, try placing a litter box in the problem area. Severe cases may necessitate professional carpet cleaning, carpet removal, or other "deep cleaning" techniques. 4) Alternatively to number three, some cats will stop inappropriate potty behaviors if they are FED in the problem area. If you attempt this approach, monitor closely to ensure that it doesn't inhibit Fluffy's appetite!

HSSV's Whole Pets Store We offer myriad litter choices, including the top-selling "World's Best Cat Litter" which is made of a biodegradable corn-based material, is dust-free, and fragrance-free. We also offer some wonderful enzyme-based cleaners like the ever-popular "Anti-Icky Poo". When you shop at Whole Pets , the proceeds from your purchase benefit HSSV's Animal Community Center and the pets in our care. Even better, our prices are very competetive! See the attached link for more information about Whole Pets or come check us out today!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Princess (Part Three of Four)

By Jamie Morgan, Satellite Adoption Manger

Princess had changed castles but still no one had come to carry her off to a far away land of happily ever after.

It was in mid-May when we realized it wasn’t just our Satellite Center that was in need of some spring-cleaning. Resistant to daily grooming on her own or by our hands, Princess had developed a lot of tangles. It was time for a trip back to our Animal Community Center for a hair cut!

A lion-cut is the grooming option of choice for a long-haired cat in the warmer months who doesn’t like to DIY at bath time. Princess was shaved all the way down to her pink skin leaving her head, feet, and tail end in fluffy tufts. You may think this sudden nakedness would cause our girl some embarrassment, but the opposite occurred. Free of all that fur she started moving around more and found she enjoys massages now that hands can get closer to her body.

The sight of a shaved cat can be a little alarming for some, but it’s still much too warm for sweater season. We are hoping Princess finds a new home before we have to start up the knitting needles and create her a winter clothing line.

We’ve gotten to know Princess very well in her time with us. She prefers to be the only four three-legged animal in the home and likes petting on her terms. She may be a little picky about her ideal new home, but just like the Princess and Pea, the littlest thing not to her liking can make her a little cranky. After all she’s been through, we think if she needs to hold out for her perfect home, it’s the least we can do to find it for her.

What can you do for Princess? Share her story with family and friends; it’s her glass slipper. Maybe someone will pick it up and find they are the right fit to give Princess her fairy tale ending.