Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shelter success stories

I came across this video on Facebook the other day and immediately went "wow" after viewing it. Here's a shelter that knows how to share their mission and successes with their supporters.


Part Two of their story here:


What a wonderful way to promote what a shelter should truly strive to be: a place where those needing a hand up to a better life receive one.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

How about a little vacation with my vacation?



I don’t take many real vacations. You know, the kind where I’m out of the office for a full week, ready to rest up, relax and enjoy the joy and wonder of not being on a schedule for a few days. I’m only a few days into my time off and I’m slowly remembering why.

Pets have no concept of vacations. There are days when they are fully staffed and days when the staffing levels fall to tolerable, but not optimal standards. Beyond that, well, there is no “beyond that”, because as most pet owners are well aware, it’s all about them.

Day one of vacation time began the same as practically every other day --- with one cat screaming to get outside so he can use the litter box he created in a patch of yard rather than use the two that are conveniently located in the house. His rumblings then set off Darby, who begins jingling his tags as he shakes his head, hoping for an invitation to bed. As I reach for the phone to see what time it is, the cat sleeping on the pillow above my head starts up, since motion is a sure sign that I’m awake and ready to serve. It’s 4:40 a.m.

Yea vacation.

I stagger out of bed, giving up my warm, soft spot to the dog while I set about feeding the cats, cranking out some coffee so my eyes will fully open and letting Bad Kitty Bo outside so he can use the restroom and get his morning drink from the pool.

Well, at least the newspaper is here. The world is divided by two types of people; those who read the paper every morning and those who do not. Being the former, I decide to get my morning dose of news in the peace and quiet of my first pre-dawn vacation day. I can easily digest everything that interests me in twenty minutes or so. Well, that was my plan, anyway.

The cats had other things in mind, namely, using me as their personal doorman and treat procurer every four to six minutes for the next hour. In the door, out of the door, in singular or groups. Finally, their bellies, bladders and general curiosity sated, the cats settle down for their post-breakfast snooze.

Naturally, it’s now Darby’s turn to get up and repeat the same pattern, except for the twelve trips in and out the back door. He makes up for his lack of indoor/outdoor indecisiveness by grabbing the nearest toy, pushing it into the paper I’m still trying to finish reading. We play the closest thing to fetch Darby knows for a bit and he settles down in “his” chair. At least he settles down until he sees “Brindle”, the neighborhood stray, making his way through the backyard. The sight of the cat sends him into spasms of barking, whining and turning in circles, imploring me to open the back door so he can give chase.

And so it goes. Turns out they actually do nap --- while I’m out running last-minute errands, leaving them refreshed and ready for more inside/outside, head rubs, belly rubs, butt rubs, treats, eats and play the moment I get home.

Finally, the sun sets and everyone is in for the night, dozing in their respective spaces as my husband and I settle in for a bit of television before turning in for the night. I’ve already warned him that tomorrow it’s his turn to be lead servant to the four-footed emperors we’ve cultivated over the years.

Six more days of this and I’ll be begging to go back to work.

Here’s hoping you got a little rest and relaxation over the holidays, but if you’re reading this it’s highly probable that you are a pet owner, in which case I’m guessing you didn’t. Good thing they’re so adorable, isn’t it?

The promise of 2011

The living room floor is littered with squeaky balls, catnip cigars, Tuffie toys and little Kahnua toy that has proven to be every bit as durable as its claim. This is what the post-holiday house looks like when the kids are grown and gone, long past the years when Lego bits and comic books were left scattered about while video games lure them to other worlds ripe for conquering. The holiday itself hurtled towards me, only to pass in the blink of eye on its way to becoming one more memory of days gone by.

I’m not someone who frequently laments about how quickly a year has passed, primarily because during most years they seem to grind by slowly that I’m welcoming the chance to put it behind me and move on to the promise of a new calendar. This year, though, I have to concede that it did fly past me. Days, then weeks seemed to slide through my hand like droplets of water, running from my palm no matter how tightly I tried to cup my fingers. I felt perpetually behind. Not so far behind that there was no catching up --- there’s a lovely sort of beauty to be found in the occasional throwing up of the hands and declaring it all beyond your control --- but just far enough behind that it still feels doable, if I can just…

But sitting on the edge of the last week of 2010, the sand has about emptied in the hourglass and I just couldn’t quite get there. Rather than lament about all that’s been left undone, my husband and I began planning for 2011 with a week to spare, as if getting the early jump on the list will give us the time we need to make it all come true. For a change.

We’re again bantering around the idea of another pet, preferably a kitten. With the three who currently employ us all enjoying double-digit ages, we feel a need to insure ourselves that there will continue to be a purrbag should something insidious happen. It’s a straight-up bonus that Darby loves kittens, so another set of velvety paws would seem, to him, a gift.

I’m also seriously contemplating attending BlogPaws, something I had all but out-of-hand dismissed just a few weeks ago when I saw the announcement on Facebook. I’ve always wanted to be someplace where I’m knee-deep in other people who share my passion for critters and writing about them, but this year’s event was simply out of reach, from both a practical and financial perspective.

Now 2011 is peeking at me from just around the corner up the way, whispering hints of what might be possible. BlogPaws may be in my future after all.    

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Helping pets for the holidays


Chances are pretty good that if you are reading this column your pets are some of the most fortunate companion animals in Kern County. Not because my writing is that terrific, mind you, but because you care enough about pets to give up several minutes of your day to read up on what’s happening in the world of the four-legged critters in your area. In my experience, that translates as people who try their best to do right by the animals they bring into their lives.

As the holidays creep ever closer more than a few of you will have a little something under the tree for your pet, if the 2009 AP-Petside poll is any indication. When asked, 52 percent of respondents said they planned to purchase gifts for their pets for the holidays, despite the difficult economy.

I’m all for spoiling the fur-footed house inhabitants, but if you have a few extra dollars to spare perhaps during the season of giving we can all do a little something to benefit the pets who are not so lucky as ours.

Kern County Animal Control can really use blanket donations to provide a little warmth and comfort for the dogs out in their kennels during these wet, cold months. They ask that the donations be blankets, not comforters, because comforters can be shredded and the padding inside creates both a huge mess and a potential hazard if swallowed. You can drop blankets off at the shelter at 201 S. Mount Vernon Ave.

Bakersfield Pet Food Pantry can always use cat and dog food donations. Their goal is to help disabled and/or homebound seniors and low-income folks keep their pets by helping provide food to get them through the rough patches. Cat food always seems to run in short supply. You may go to their website to find out where to drop off your donation.

Helping Animals Live Tomorrow (H.A.L.T.) Rescue is selling one-pound boxes of See’s Candy during the holiday season to help raise funds. If you are planning to gift some folks on your holiday list with chocolately goodness, why not get in touch with H.A.L.T. and make your purchase doubly-sweet? Give them a call at (661) 395-3018 for more information about ordering.

Bakersfield Cat Control can use a little holiday love to assist in their mission to Trap-Neuter-Release feral cats and adopt out kitten rescues. They can always use cat litter and cat and kitten food. They are also looking for folks willing to sponsor the cost of humane cat traps, donate towards the cost of transporting cats to be sterilized and donations to help offset the costs of veterinary care for the kittens they rescue. For more information go to their website.

Finally, if your mailbox is anything like mine, you are probably being beset with requests for year-end donations, with many of those requests coming from pet and animal organizations. Please remember to think locally when giving money to help companion animals and donate directly to our local animal shelters, rescues and welfare organizations. Many people don’t realize that when they donate to the big national groups --- the ones who send out calendars, address labels and note pads --- that none of that money comes back to the local community. Help the pets in this area by donating directly to the groups who work to make a difference in the lives of homeless pets right here in Kern County.

Happy holidays to you and your fur-covered friends.
 

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