Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Homicidal Genius Seeks World Domination. Or Appropriate Home.

I eat puppies. 

We adore this seven month old herding dog mix but we have to tell you: La Niña is not for the faint of heart.

True, she's adorable. Who doesn't love a speckled little dog that can jump straight into your arms because she's so delighted to see you?

Other dogs. That's who doesn't love La Niña. Because she keeps trying to eat them.

Now that's an oogie mess...
Much like the turbulent but much needed weather system with a similar name, La Niña is a whole lot of trouble wrapped up  in an adorable package. 

Who me? NEVER.
Don't get us wrong, she's incredibly loving with people. She's more social than a presidential candidate at a fundraising event. It's just other dogs she can't stand. And by can't stand what we really mean is 'wants to disembowel with absolutely no warning'. 

We're not insinuating anything...but there's a similarity. 
We see a lot of dogs who dislike other dogs. It's not a big deal. What makes La Niña's brand of dislike so pernicious is that she doesn't give off any signs to let the other dog know she's thinking of making a snack out of them. In fact she'll often give off play signals, luring the poor pooch into believing this happy little muffin just wants to play hopscotch with them. When in reality, well, her intentions are a little different: 

Do NOT try to re-enact this with actual La Niña.
La Niña needs a very special person. Preferably a very, very smart person because she is incredibly smart. Sit, down, roll-over, jump through the hoop - she's got that all nailed down. What she doesn't know, she can learn within minutes.

Except 'don't eat other dogs'. That doesn't seem to be on her list of teachable items. At least not in this environment. While she might some day learn to control herself around other dogs, it's unlikely she'll ever be seeking out a furry bestie. 

Who me? Okay. Sometimes. Always. Yes. 
Just to clarify, La Niña has never actually hurt another dog. That said, it doesn't mean she doesn't try. Being a petite/medium sized gal, she's pretty easy to manage if you know what you're doing and are aware of your surroundings. 

In lieu of a doggy bestie, she wants to be your bestie. Because she's incredibly loyal. 

Like most bright creatures, La Niña needs something to do. The good news is she's athletic and active which means you don't have to try and teach her accounting or anything. She would love to go running or hiking, provided you do it far from other dogs. She'd even excel at frisbee and possibly agility provided you can curb her homicidal impulses towards her competitors. 

La Niña's potential owner could have lots of human friends but probably not very many dog friends. We're unsure about the cat thing but we wouldn't put it past her. She might be great with kids - she's nuts about people - but being a herding dog (and hence a bit of a control freak) she might try and herd them around. 

If you're thinking your life needs a little more chaos, a little more love, a lot more fun and a good bit of trouble, pop by and meet her. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

No Such Thing As A Shelter Worker: The Pugilist At Best

In the back our Admin Area, Facilities Assistant Josh San Diego moves quietly through the cubes and offices, dropping off invoices and making folks aware of deliveries. Soft spoken and calm, he's a favorite with the office dogs - tails wag frantically when they see Josh. He squats to greet them on their own level and talk to them.

He's as beloved to staff as to their dogs: despite having a large list of duties, he always has a second to install a baby gate on someone's office and offer a hand with deliveries. An Animal Community Center as large as ours is often a fast paced work place and Josh is a walking island of calm within it.

Back in the IT and Facilities office, his own adopted dog Bella is waiting for him. The impeccably groomed little Pomeranian spins happy circles when she sees him.

You never would guess that Josh broke someone's nose last week. And undeniably he's going to do it again. And again. And again. 

In addition to being a tireless worker for animals, Josh is a professional Muy Thai and  MMA fighter. He's been training for about eight years and competing for six or seven. Undefeated as an amateur, he made the jump to pro. 

"I've always been into animals" says Josh. While fighting and training is nearly a full time job, he was also working construction. So when a job opened up at HSSV, he jumped on it. It was close to his house and being around dogs and cats all day seemed like a good deal. Though he didn't have a dog at the time, being here made him need one. 

"You come in and everyone has a dog in there office. It made me want one."

And then there was Bella. When the three year old Pom came in as a stray, Josh couldn't help but notice her. "I'd stand outside her room and she'd spin and jump. Then I'd walk away and she'd cry". When a staff member brought him in for a face to face meeting with the puffy little dog, it was over. 

In addition to coming to work with Josh sometimes, Bella also occasionally joins him at the gym where she hangs out with his girlfriend on the sidelines. "Bella doesn't like it when I'm doing the hitting practice. If she sees me hitting she starts barking because she thinks I'm in danger. She wants to protect me."

Josh isn't necessarily busting stereotypes about fighters - MMA veteran Gordon Shell and the Show Us Your Soft Side folks have been advocating for animals for years. But Josh does buck a very common misconception about who shelter workers are and what motivates them. 

Stereotypes and rumors swirl around animal shelters - from misinformation about the animals to inaccurate ideas about who shelter workers even are. 

"I could never work at a shelter. I love animals too much" is something a lot of us hear when we tell people where we work. The inference being, of course, that shelter folks don't love animals. They don't love them like Josh loves Bella. 

HSSV is home to all sorts of different people whose daily lives outside of work all look very different. Josh fights. Christina trains for marathons. Dr. Berger's travel schedule would kill a normal person. Brooke takes her young son out to watch the garbage man every Wednesday morning (he's in love with the truck). Erlana and Laura roll around on their cruiser bikes. Amy dorks out at NPR live shows.* Anna bakes cookies. 

The one thing that unites them all? A love for the animals. And a willingness to work for them and with them every day. 

Just as there's no such thing as a shelter dog, there's no such thing as a shelter worker. 

If you don't believe us, ask Bella.

Inspired to find a Bella of your own? Check out our adoptable animals. 
Want to know more about who we are? Stand in awe of our awesomeness. 
Interested in being a shelter worker? We have open positions.
Interested in seeing Josh fight? Follow his fan page for details on his upcoming December bout. 


Friday, October 2, 2015

Six Pack Abs, Riches Beyond Belief, A Litterbox Full Of Gold? Thank The Black Cat.

Bad luck? Seriously? 
Pity the poor housepanthers. If there was ever a pet that needed better PR, it's the black cat. For years they've been accused of all sorts of bad things - bad luck, black magic, tax evasion,  not liking that adorable pic of your baby smeared in applesauce you posted on Facebook - everything. Sometimes even well meaning folks wind up spreading untruths that hurt the little fuzznuggets. The common (but completely unfounded) myth that people adopt black cats at Halloween to do terrible things to them has left numerous cats sitting in shelters for an additional extra month. A month is a serious long time when you're waiting for a forever home. Sitting around waiting for life to start isn't good.

Because we're super extra wicked good at PR, we decided the best way to combat the scourge of myth surrounding our coal colored feline friends is just to create new and better myths. Are any of these true? Oh, heck no. In fact we invented every single fact, statistic and quote in this blog. But since black cats seem to attract myths faster than tech start ups attract ping pong tables, we decided to swirl up some myths of our own that will help the little muffins find homes.

1) Black Cats Make You Fit.

Forget GNC - it's all about the cat hair. 
Rock Hard Abs! A recent study found that people who owned black cats were 75% more likely to exercise less but get better results than non-black cat owners. "There's something about the amount of pigment in the black cat coat that actually speeds up metabolism when humans are exposed to it." says Dr. Mentiroso, a noted dietician and author of several fitness books. "And if you wind up with stray hairs of a black cat scattered across your work out clothing we're getting into Incredible Hulk territory."

2) The Adoption Of A Black Kitten Will Bring You Financial Success.

I'm all about the cheddar...
Bring the bling, baby! Of the past 400 lottery winners, 386 owned black cats or kittens. The remaining 14 winners were pretty miserable people and all the money in the world won't help that.

Shortly after adopting her black kitten Truffatore, owner Ima Lugner of Hamburg, Germany discovered a backpack her estranged uncle had left her in his will had over 2 million Euro stuffed in a side pocket. "I never would have found it had Truffatore not been sitting on it eating a moth" Lugner said. "I was just going to dump it in the garbage!".

3) Some Black Cats Are Actually Unicorns.

I poop gold. 
They're Magical! Extensive studies by the Equine Department of Canard University in Canular, France have definitely proven the existence of unicorns. More shocking than the presence of these formerly mythological creatures is the origin of them. "Unlike anything we previously thought, unicorns don't come from horses" states Professeur Menteur, who headed up the study. "They actually are kittens. Black kittens, specifically. It's very unusual to see them but some black cats will morph into unicorns at night. As their excreta is made of gold, this is incredibly fortuitous for people big hearted enough to adopt them."

Are any of these things true? 

Absolutely not but we did have a blast looking up the word 'liar' and 'hoax' in different languages to name our experts.

If you're a stickler for the truth, here are some actual, genuine superstitions about black cats thanks to our friends at Wikipedia. 

Ahoy, matey!

  • In Japan, black cats are considered good luck.
  • 18th century pirates also considered them fortuitous. 
  • In Great Britian a black cat crossing your path is considered a positive omen.
  •  A woman who owns a black cat will have many suitors.
  • Ask many cat people and they'll swear black cats have better personalities. "It's like they know they have to try harder" said an animal care tech at a large shelter in Colorado.*

And that, my friends, is lucky for you. 

*That's actually a legit quote. A wonderful woman name Glo who had spent years working with the cats said it often.