Saturday, August 18, 2012

Meowser up for adoption! Welcome to another foster

We have had Meow Ser for a week.  When he first came to stay with us, he could barely open his eyes, they were so infected.  He would hide in the closet and not come out.  He let me give him medicine and showed no protest.

Every day we would go sit in the room with him.  We have one bedroom that we had designated as the "cattery", where the fosters go.  We have a bed made on the floor, a chair in front of the window and it is in the back corner of the house.   It is a quiet, calm place.  I like going in there to work on my computer or just sit quietly.

It took a couple days but Meow ser started coming out to sit with me and let me pet him.  Over the week, he got better and better.  His eyes got less goopy and he started to protest getting his medicine.  He was coming back to life!

Every night, Trevor would go sit with him for a bit and Meow ser always wanted to lay on his chest.

 The last day of his stay with us, I spent a couple hours with him, doing work.  He laid with me the entire time, most of it spent on his back, in utter bliss.

Just like with Farrah and Lola before him, I told him that his stay with us was coming to an end.  I told him that it would be okay, he was going back to the shelter where he would wait to find his forever home.  Then I cried, just like with the other two, as I hoped with all my heart that his next home would be his last and that they would love him and care for him and that when he took his last breath, the would be there with him.  While I will probably not know how life turns out, I know that he has a chance because of us and that feels good. I also know that I will love him forever.

Trevor took him back to the Humane Society for SW Washington and he went up for adoption immediately. I hope he is gone by the end of the weekend.  He came home with a new little one.  Her name is Penelope.  She was an owner surrender.  She is so depressed in the shelter that she has stopped eating.  She has lost two pounds, has multiple illnesses and infections and really has given up on life.

We got her home and she immediately started to eat. I sat with her for about an hour, trying to work on the computer and she was all over me!  I couldn't even work. I put my computer aside and just loved her.  She rubbed my face, purred and purred.  If I stopped petting her, she would reach out and touch me as if to say "I haven't been getting enough pets....please don't stop".  I petted her until she decided that was enough.  Then she just laid down next to me.  Content.  Happy to be out of the shelter.  We'll get her healthy and then she too can go find her forever home.  This is a cat that would surely not survive if left in the shelter, she would never get better and there isn't room for sick cats.  With a little TLC, she'll be able to be shown for adoption.  Of course, we love her already and can't wait to spend the next week showing her.

If you are local and you are interested in adopting Meow ser, please contact the Humane Society for SW Washington. No matter where you live, please do what you can - adopt, foster, donate, volunteer, spay and neuter your pets and chose to rescue, not buy or breed.   Please.  They need us.  All of us.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The next chapter in my story.

Have you noticed that no matter how much planning you do, life works out its own way?  I am always amazed at how that happens!

We have experienced a lot of change in the last couple months.  On July 1, we sold one of our stores. I worked there until the beginning of August.  Last Monday was my first day not being there.  The week before, I had been hired as a cycling/spin instructor at the local gym.  We had some plans for how I would spend my time - marketing the business, taking care of our pets, teaching as many cycling classes as I could, taking care of our training groups.

Last week, we also became a foster home for the Humane Society for SW Washington and have already had one set of cats to nurse back to health.  We are onto our third kitty now and loving it.   Trevor and I have wanted to be more involved in animal rescue and have talked a lot about that over the last year.

I find that so many of my friends and the pages I like on facebook have something to do with animals.  I love scrolling through my newsfeed and seeing all that!  A couple weeks ago, I saw a posting on the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society's facebook page for a Volunteer Services Manager.  Two years ago, I would not have given this job a second thought.  In fact, I probably would have said "I don't want to work with volunteers." Now, I looked at it and thought "I could do that".  I talked to Trevor about it and he told me to apply.

Three years ago, we started putting on events - it started with a half marathon, then we added a triathlon and a 5k.  I am the race director for those and handle all the volunteers.  While I have never considered myself a people person, I realized that I was actually really good at dealing with volunteers. I was able to recruit and retain them.  Last year, I was asked to be on the race committee for the Vancouver USA Marathon and when the race director started assigning duties, he asked if I would be the volunteer coordinator.  This took things to a whole different level.  My events required 50-75 volunteers, his would require about 400.  I wasn't so sure how that would go, but I said I would do it.  It was like second nature to me.  All the organizing and communication, planning and adjusting was right up my alley. The truth was, I really enjoyed it.

At the beginning of this year, I was approached by Rev3, a company from Virginia that puts on triathlons all over the country.  They have one in Portland and they needed a local volunteer coordinator. They asked if I was interested.  I interviewed and was hired in January.  The event was in July, so I spent the better part of this year recruiting volunteers.  Again, I found that it was second nature and I really enjoyed it.  We had over 400 volunteers for that event too.  I'm their local person and will be doing this same job for next years event as well.

Turns out that working with volunteers is one of my things.  I would never have thought that would be the case, but it is and I'm good with that.

Then, there are the animals.  I have always loved animals.  Always.  Trevor is the same way.  We have often talked about being move involved in animals rescue, we just weren't sure how and didn't think we had the time.  Three years ago, we adopted Maggie, who is a pitbull.  Because of her, we became very aware of many animal rights issues - from Breed Specific Legislation to dog fighting.  We started dipping our toes into the water of animal rescue.

Last year, we adopted Asha and learned about many other animal rights issues - from bad breeding, again dog fighting and rescue.  We were really feeling the pull, like we needed to jump into the water.  There are a lot of things that happen to animals and they are very difficult to know.  Most of my life has been spent ignoring those things because I felt they were too horrible to know. I know some of those things and they ARE too horrible to know, but they also cannot be ignored any longer.

A while back, I started following some people on facebook who are animal fosters and I have seen some the of dogs they have saved.  I have watched them nurse sad pups back to health and seen scared, timid dogs grin from ear to ear after being saved.  There were two dogs that pushed me over the edge.  One was named Myrtle.  The foster mom is located in Georgia.  The shelter there contacted all the fosters and asked them to take any dogs they could because the shelter was full and they needed to make room. If the dogs weren't taken, they would most likely be put down.  This foster mom went and took Myrtle home.  This face...I couldn't stop thinking about it.

Shortly after this, another dog came to live with this foster mom.  Her name was Rae.  Rae had been abused badly.  Her previous owners were being prosecuted.  They had poured acid on her back. They had also kept her in a kennel outside, never letter her be used in dog fighting.  You see, its common practice to take a bait dog and pour battery acid on them (because its cheap).  That way, they have open wounds and when they put that dog in the ring with a fighting dog they are trying to train, it hurts to move or be touched and so its more likely to fight back.  When I heard that about Rae, I cried.  I sat at my computer and sobbed.  It was then, that I knew.

That day, I sent an email to the local Humane Society's asking how we could become a foster home.  I could no longer sit back and hope that others would give of their time, money and love to help these animals. I needed to do something. I knew I could never save them all, but I needed to save at least one.

So when I saw the job posting for the volunteer manager job at the animal shelter, it was as if the universe was speaking to me. "Now is the time".  I wasn't sure I had the qualifications they wanted, but I applied anyway.  I was called in for an interview. It was the best interview of my life.  We sat in the cat room at the shelter and I had a cat sit on my lap for over an hour while I talked with the shelter director.

I've been to many interviews in my life.  My dad always told me to dress up.  When I was in high school and went to interview at a bakery for a part time job, he made me wear a skirt!  So I dressed nice for the interview.  A black shirt and teal sweater.  I was going to wear a skirt, but I have tattoos on my leg and I didn't want to not get a job because of that, so I wore back pants.  The cat, who sat on my lap, was all white. I was COVERED in cat hair.  And I didn't care one bit.

Before I left, I was asked back for a 2nd interview and I gladly accepted. I spent the next couple days trying not to get too excited, in case I didn't get the job, but boy....did I want that job.  I have had a couple different career paths in my life.  For a lot of years, I had a great job that paid a lot of money. I had tons of stuff and no purpose.  I had sales award and honors...and who was better for that?  What did that do to make my world a better place. I always struggled with that, with the question "what's the point".

The second interview went great. When the director asked me to come back again, she told me that she appreciated the effort but I could dress in shelter clothes when I came back!  Oh and she has tattoos.  When I went back on Friday I was in jeans.  A different cat sat on my lap and while I was there, the cat (named Kat) from my first interview got adopted. It was so great! I told Sassy (that cat on my lap during the second interview) that she was next, I must have a lucky lap.

Every story has chapters.  Each life is a story, full of different chapters.  Any good story takes twists and turns, it has drama, high points and low points.  A good story is unpredictable and makes you want to keep turning the pages to see where it takes you.  That is how I am feeling about the story of my life right now, like I don't want to put it down, I just have to know what happens next.  This week I start my new job as the part time Volunteer Services Manager at the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society. Its not glamorous or prestigious to most of the world, but it is to me and I don't think I have ever been more proud of myself for being hired somewhere.

I know this won't be easy, I know there will be heart ache and disappointment. Let's face it, the world is a cruel sad place.  At the same time, the worst in people can bring out the best in others and I look forward to seeing lots of the good.  Here's the link to the WCGHS....I work there now :)   

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Our next Foster

On Thursday, we took Lola and Farrah back to the Humane Society for SW Washington for a recheck.  Farrah got the all clear and Lola was still in good health, so we left them there to be put up for adoption.

I was sad to leave them because I didn't want them to be confused and think that we were abandoning them.  I think Farrah understood, but Lola is very emotional, so she will probably be worried.  Luckily, they will stay together and Farrah will be sure Lola is okay.

I was so happy that we were able to get them healthy and I just hope with all my heart and soul that someone will adopt them soon.  I hope that someone will be their final, forever home and that they will be loved until their very last breaths. I hope they have all the necessities and all the comforts that they deserve - laps to lay in, lots of pets and hugs and purrs.  I hope they have a great window to sit in and watch the world, a place to feel the sun on their fur. I know that I will probably not know how their lives turn out, but I know they now stand a chance because of us.  That feels good.

We left them there and came home with our next foster - Meow-ser.  He came to the shelter as a stray.  He has eye infections and a bit of an upper respiratory infection.  He was not happy when he got to our house. He spent the first two days in his kennel, then went and laid in the closet, behind the litter box.  I give him medicine every day and put an eye gel in his eyes 3 - 4 times a day.  He never fights it.  He lets me pet him, but you can tell he just doesn't feel good.

Yesterday, he started to come out to see us when we came in the room and even started to snuggle.  Today, he is all over us.  His eyes are clearing up, he has a pep in his step and even meowed a couple times after I left the room.  Right now, he is curled up next to me while I write this.  He is going to make someone a fabulous pet.

I love him already, I loved him the first second I laid eyes on him and even though he is not mine, I will love him forever.  
We will take Meow-ser back for a recheck next week and hopefully he is well and ready for adoption.  If you are local and you are interested in adopting him, please contact the Humane Society for SW Washington. No matter where you live, please do what you can - adopt, foster, donate, volunteer, spay and neuter your pets and chose to rescue, not buy or breed.   Please.  Then need us.  All of us.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Meet our fosters!!

Meet our first foster cats - Lola and Farrah.  Aren't they beautiful??  

Last week, Trevor and I became fosters for the Humane Society for Southwest Washington.   We expected to get dogs as fosters, but when we heard the need for cat foster homes, we gladly took these sweet kitties in.  You see, the shelter is at capacity for cats.  They cannot take anymore strays or owner surrenders.  Its not because they don't have the room, its because they don't have the staffing.  Each cat is required to get 15 minutes per day of enrichment and they don't have enough staff or volunteers to manage any more than they already have.

When kitties are put out on the floor for viewing, they get adopted pretty quickly.  But cats living in close quarters, under stress, pass illness very easily.  Then, they don't get the peace, quiet, attention and distance from other cats to get better.  And when they don't get better, they can end up being put down.  So once they get sick, their chances of survival go WAY down.

When Trevor and I had our interview to be fosters, the shelter worker told us that nationwide, less than 2 percent of cats make it out of shelters alive.  That is unacceptable.  We can't save all of them, but we can save some of them.

Enter Lola and Farrah!  Farrah has an eye infection and gets eye drops twice a day.  She and her sister Lola were owner surrenders and are bonded. The shelter workers said they sleep next to each other and needed to stay together.  We brought them both home and put them in the spare bedroom, now nicknamed "the cattery".  Here they can relax and stretch out.  They have food, water, a little box, comfy places to lay or hide and our love.  We go into the room several times a day and just sit with them or play or give them medicine.

Every once in a while, Farrah goes into the carrier as if to say "I am all better, we are ready to find our forever home".  She and Lola have very special personalities and it has been fun to watch them loosen up and be themselves.

 Lola, the gray one, was very nervous when they arrived at our house, but she has certainly gotten comfortable. She is very sweet and wants to be petted all the time.  She seems very carefree - she plays, stretches and sits in the window.  She is just a love.  She wants to pet butterflies and play in the glitter!

In contrast, there is Farrah. She is the more pragmatic of the two.  She seems to know that this is just a stop on their journey and while she enjoys being petted and occasionally will play, she is definitely more serious.

They are amazingly sweet.  It makes me sad that their previous owner surrendered them.  There was one day when I cried about that and told them how sorry I was and that we would get them healthy so they could find a great new home.

We will go back this week to get a medical recheck and I am hopeful that Lola and Farrah will get the all clear to be up for adoption.  I wish nothing for them but a lifetime of love and comfort. I hope that their next owner will keep them safe and will be with them until their last breaths.  I have no doubt they will be wonderful pets and will know that they were saved.

If you are interested in these two sweeties contact the Humane Society for Southwest Washington.  Please know that there are millions of animals waiting to be adopted at your local shelter or rescue.  Foster homes are also needed.  If you don't have the time or space, you can always volunteer or donate.  They need us.